The Gentleman Usher

By George Chapman

1606

 

 

Dramatis Personae:

Duke Alphonso.

     Prince Vincentio, his son.

     Medice, the duke's favourite.

          A servant of Medice.

Strozza, a Lord.

     Cynanche, wife of Strozza.

     Poggio, his nephew.

          Ancilla, a servant.

Earl Lasso, an old Lord.

          Bassiolo, gentleman usher to Lasso.

          Fungus, a servant of Lasso.

     Cortezza, sister of Lasso.

     Margaret, daughter of Lasso.

Benevemus, a doctor.

Sarpego, a pedant.

Julio, a courtier.

Attendants, servants, huntsmen,

guards, two pages, maids.

Figures in the Masques:

Enchanter, Spirits, Sylvanus,

A Nymph, Broom-man, Rush-man,

a man-bug, a woman-bug.

ACT I.

SCENE I.

Before the House of Strozza.

Enter Strozza, Cynanche, and Poggio.

Stroz.  Haste, nephew; what, a sluggard? Fie, for shame!

Shall he that was our morning cock, turn owl,

And lock out daylight from his drowsy eyes?

Pog.  Pray pardon me for once, lord uncle, for I'll be

sworn I had such a dream this morning: methought one

came with a commission to take a sorrel curtal that was

stolen from him, wheresoever he could find him. And

because I feared he would lay claim to my sorrel curtal

in my stable, I ran to the smith to have him set on his

mane again and his tail presently, that the commission-

man might not think him a curtal. And when the smith

would not do it, I fell a-beating of him, so that I could

not wake for my life till I was revenged on him.

Cyn.  This is your old valour, nephew, that will fight

sleeping as well as waking.

Pog.  'Slud, aunt, what if my dream had been true (as it

might have been for anything I knew)! There's never a

smith in Italy shall make an ass of me in my sleep, if I

can choose.

Stroz.  Well said, my furious nephew; but I see

You quite forget that we must rouse to-day

The sharp-tusked boar; and blaze our huntsmanship

Before the Duke.

Pog.  Forget, lord uncle? I hope not; you think belike

my wits are as brittle as a beetle, or as skittish as your

Barbary mare; one cannot cry wehee, but straight she

cries tehee.

Stroz.  Well guessed, cousin Hysteron Proteron!

Pog.  But which way will the Duke's Grace hunt to-day?

Stroz.  Toward Count Lasso's house his Grace will hunt,

Where he will visit his late honoured mistress.

Pog.  Who, Lady Margaret, that dear young dame? Will

his antiquity never leave his iniquity?

Cyn.  Why, how now, nephew? Turned Parnassus lately?

Pog.  “Nassus”? I know not; but I would I had all the

Duke's living for her sake; I'd make him a poor duke,

i'faith!

Stroz.  No doubt of that, if thou hadst all his living.

Pog.  I would not stand dreaming of the matter as I do

now.

Cyn.  Why, how do you dream, nephew?

Pog.  Marry, all last night methought I was tying her

shoe-string.

Stroz.  What, all night tying her shoe-string?

Pog.  Ay, that I was, and yet I tied it not neither; for,

as I was tying it, the string broke, methought, and

then, methought, having but one point at my hose,

methought, I gave her that to tie her shoe withal.

Cyn.  A point of much kindness, I assure you.

Pog.  Whereupon, in the very nick, methought, the

Count came rushing in, and I ran rushing out, with my

heels about my hose for haste.

Stroz.  So, will you leave your dreaming, and dispatch?

Pog.  Mum, not a word more, I'll go before, and

overtake you presently.

[Exit.]

Cyn.  My lord, I fancy not these hunting sports,

When the bold game you follow turns again

And stares you in the face. Let me behold

A cast of falcons on their merry wings

Daring the stoopèd prey, that shifting flies;

Or let me view the fearful hare or hind,

Tossed like a music point with harmony

Of well-mouthed hounds. This is a sport for princes.

The other rude; boars yield fit game for boors.

Stroz.  Thy timorous spirit blinds thy judgment, wife;

Those are most royal sports, that most approve

The huntsman's prowess and his hardy mind.

Cyn.  My lord, I know too well your virtuous spirit;

Take heed, for God's love, if you rouse the boar,

You come not near him, but discharge aloof

Your wounding pistol, or well-aimèd dart.

Stroz.  Ay, marry, wife, this counsel rightly flows

Out of thy bosom; pray thee take less care;

Let ladies at their tables judge of boars,

Lords in the field. And so farewell, sweet love;

Fail not to meet me at Earl Lasso's house.

Cyn.  Pray pardon me for that. You know I love not

These solemn meetings.

Stroz.                             You must needs for once

Constrain your disposition; and indeed

I would acquaint you more with Lady Margaret

For special reason.

Cyn.                     Very good, my lord.

Then I must needs go fit me for that presence.

Stroz.  I pray thee do, farewell!

[Exit Cynanche.]

Enter Vincentio.

                                           Here comes my friend. −

Good day, my lord! Why does your Grace confront

So clear a morning with so cloudy looks?

Vinc.  Ask'st thou my griefs that know'st my desp'rate love

Curbed by my father's stern riválity?

Must not I mourn that know not whether yet

I shall enjoy a stepdame or a wife?

Stroz.  A wife, Prince, never doubt it; your deserts

And youthful graces have engaged so far

The beauteous Margaret that she is your own.

Vinc.  Oh, but the eye of watchful jealousy

Robs my desires of means t' enjoy her favour.

Stroz.  Despair not: there are means enow for you:

Suborn some servant of some good respect

That's near your choice, who, though she needs no wooing,

May yet imagine you are to begin

Your strange young love-suit, and so speak for you,

Bear your kind letters, and get safe accéss.

All which when he shall do, you need not fear

His trusty secrecy, because he dares not

Reveal escapes whereof himself is author;

Whom you may best attempt, she must reveal;

For, if she loves you, she already knows,

And in an instant can resolve you that.

Vinc.  And so she will, I doubt not; would to Heaven

I had fit time, even now, to know her mind!

This counsel feeds my heart with much sweet hope. 

Stroz.  Pursue it then; 'twill not be hard t' effect:

The Duke has none for him, but Medice,

That fustian lord, who in his buckram face

Bewrays, in my conceit, a map of baseness.

Vinc.  Ay, there's a parcel of unconstruèd stuff,

That unknown minion raised to honour's height,

Without the help of virtue, or of art

Or (to say true) of any honest part.

Oh, how he shames my father! He goes like

A prince's footman, in old-fashioned silks, 

And most times in his hose and doubtlet only;

So miseráble, that his own few men

Do beg by virtue of his livery;

For he gives none, for any service done him,

Or any honour, any least reward. 

Stroz.  'Tis pity such should live about a prince:

I would have such a noble counterfeit nailed

Upon the pillory, and, after, whipped

For his adultery with nobility.

Vinc.  Faith, I would fain disgrace him by all means,

As enemy to his base-bred ignorance,

That, being a great lord, cannot write nor read.

Stroz.  For that, we'll follow the blind side of him,

And make it sometimes subject of our mirth.

Enter Poggio post-haste.

Vinc.  See, what news with your nephew Poggio? 

Stroz.  None good, I warrant you!

Pog.  Where should I find my lord uncle?

Stroz.  What's the huge haste with you?

Pog.  O ho, you will hunt to-day!

Stroz.  I hope I will. 

Pog.  But you may hap to hop without your hope, for

the truth is, Killbuck is run mad.

Stroz.  What's this?

Pog.  Nay, 'tis true, sir: and Killbuck being run mad, 

bit Ringwood so by the left buttock, you might have

turned your nose in it.

Vinc. Out, ass!

Pog.  By Heaven, you might, my lord! D'ye think I lie?

Vinc.  Zounds, might I? Let's blanket him, my lord. A

blanket here!

Pog.  Nay, good my lord Vincentio, by this rush I tell

you for good will: and Venus, your brach there, runs so

proud that your huntsman cannot take her down for his

life.

Stroz.  Take her up, fool, thou wouldst say.

Pog.  Why, sir, he would soon take her down, and he

could take her up, I warrant her!

Vinc.  Well said, hammer, hammer!

Pog.  Nay, good now, let's alone. And there's your

horse, Gray Strozza, too, has the staggers, and has

strook Bay Bettrice, your Barbary mare, so that she

goes halting o' this fashion, most filthily.

Stroz. What poison blisters thy unhappy tongue,

Evermore braying forth unhappy news? −

Our hunting sport is at the best, my lord:

How shall I satisfy the Duke your father,

Defrauding him of his expected sport?

See, see, he comes.

Enter Alphonso, Medice, Sarpego, with attendants.

Alph.  Is this the copy of the speech you wrote, Signor

Sarpego?

Sarp.  It is a blaze of wit poetical;  

Read it, brave Duke, with eyes pathetical.

Alph.  We will peruse it straight: − well met, Vincentio,

And good Lord Strozza; we commend you both

For your attendance; but you must conceive

'Tis no true hunting we intend to-day,

But an inducement to a certain show,

Wherewith we will present our beauteous love,

And therein we bespeak your company.

Vinc.  We both are ready to attend your Highness.

Alph.  See then, here is a poem that requires 

Your worthy censures, offered, if it like,

To furnish our intended amorous show:

Read it, Vincentio.

Vinc.                      Pardon me, my lord.

Lord Medice's reading will express it better.

Med.  My patience can digest your scoffs, my lord. 

I care not to proclaim it to the world:

I can nor write nor read; and what of that?

I can both see and hear as well as you.

Alph.  Still are your wits at war.

                   [To Vincentio] Here, read this poem.

Vinc.  [Reads]

“The red-faced sun hath firked the flundering shades,

And cast bright ammel on Aurora's brow.”

Alph.  High words and strange! Read on, Vincentio.

Vinc.  “The busky groves that gag-toothed boars do shroud

With cringle-crangle horns do ring aloud.”

Pog.  My lord, my lord, I have a speech here worth ten  

of this, and yet I'll mend it too.

Alph.  How likes Vincentio?

Vinc.                                 It is strangely good,

No inkhorn ever did bring forth the like.

Could these brave prancing words with action's spur,

Be ridden throughly, and managed right, 

'Twould fright the audience, and perhaps delight.

Sarp.  Doubt you of action, sir?

Vinc.                                      Ay, for such stuff.

Sarp.  Then know, my lord, I can both act and teach

To any words; when I in Padua schooled it,

I played in one of Plautus' comedies,

Namely, Curculio, where his part I acted,

Projecting from the poor sum of four lines

Forty fair actions.

Alph.                     Let's see that, I pray.

Sarp.  Your Highness shall command.

But pardon me, if in my action's heat, 

Entering in post post haste, I chance to take up

Some of your honoured heels.

Pog.                                      Y' ad best leave out

That action for a thing that I know, sir.

Sarp.  Then shall you see what I can do without it.

[Sarpego puts on his parasite's costume.]

 

Alph.  See, see! He hath his furniture and all. 

Sarp.  You must imagine, lords, I bring good news,

Whereof being princely proud I scour the street,

And over-tumble every man I meet.

[Exit Sarpego.]

Pog.  Beshrew my heart if he take up my heels!

Enter Sarpego, running about the stage.

Sarp.  Date viam mihi, noti atque ignoti, dum ego

hic officium meum.

Facio: fugite omnes, abite, et de via secedite,

Ne quern in cursu capite aut cubito aut pectore

offendam aut genu.

Alph.  Thanks, good Signor Sarpego.

How like you, lords, this stirring action?

Stroz.  In a cold morning it were good, my lord, 

But something harsh upon repletiön.

Sarp.  Sir, I have ventured, being enjoined, to eat

Three scholars' commons, and yet drew it neat.

Pog.  Come, sir, you meddle in too many matters; let us,

I pray, tend on our own show at my lord Lasso's. 

Sarp.  Doing obeisance then to every lord,

I now consort you, sir, even toto corde.

[Exit Sarpego and Poggio.]

Med.  My lord, away with these scholastic wits,

Lay the invention of your speech on me,

And the performance too; I'll play my part

That you shall say, Nature yields more than Art.

Alph.  Be't so resolved; unartificial truth

And unfeigned passion can decipher best.

Vinc.  But 'twill be hard, my lord, for one unlearn'd.

Med.  Unlearn'd? I cry you mercy, sir; unlearn'd? 

Vinc. I  mean untaught, my lord, to make a speech

As a pretended actor, without clothes

More gracious than your doublet and your hose.

Alph.  What, think you, son, we mean t' express a speech

Of special weight without a like attire? 

[Alphonso puts rich robes on Medice.]

Vinc.  Excuse me then, my lord; so stands it well.

Stroz.  Has brought them rarely in to pageant him.

Med.  What, think you, lord, we think not of attire?

Can we not make us ready at this age?

Stroz.  Alas, my lord, your wit must pardon his. 

Vinc.  I hope it will; his wit is pitiful.

Stroz.  [To Medice]

I pray stand by, my lord; y' are troublesome.

Med.  To none but you; − am I to you, my lord?

Vinc.  Not unto me.

Med.               Why, then, you wrong me, Strozza.

Vinc.  Nay, fall not out, my lords. 

Stroz.                                        May I not know

What your speech is, my Liege?

Alph.  None but myself, and the Lord Medice.

Med.  No, pray, my lord,

Let none partake with us.

Alph.                               No, be assured.

But for another cause:

[Aside to Strozza]     a word, Lord Strozza;

I tell you true I fear Lord Medice

Will scarce discharge the speech effectually;

As we go, therefore, I'll explain to you

My whole intent, that you may second him

If need and his debility require.

Stroz.  Thanks for this grace, my Liege.

[Vincentio overhears.]

Med.  My lord, your son!

Alph.  Why, how now, son? Forbear. − Yet 'tis no matter,

We talk of other business, Medice;

And come, we will prepare us to our show. 

[Exeunt Alphonso, Medice, and attendants.]

 

Stroz. and Vinc.  Which, as we can, we'll cast to overthrow.

[Exeunt.]

ACT I, SCENE II.

A Room in the House of Lasso.

Enter Lasso, Bassiolo, Sarpego, two Pages;

Bassiolo bare before.

Bass.  Stand by there, make place!

Lasso.  Say, now, Bassiolo, you on whom relies

The general disposition of my house

In this our preparation for the Duke,

Are all our officers at large instructed 

For fit discharge of their peculiar places?

Bass.  At large, my lord, instructed.

Lasso. Are all our chambers hung? Think you our house

Amply capacious to lodge all the train?

Bass.  Amply capacious, I am passing glad. 

And now, then, to our mirth and musical show,

Which, after supper, we intend t' endure,

Welcome's chief dainties; for choice cates at home

Ever attend on princes, mirth abroad.

Are all parts perfect?

Sarp.                          One I know there is. 

Lasso.  And that is yours.

Sarp.                           Well guessed, in earnest, lord!

I need not erubescere to take

So much upon me; that my back will bear.

Bass.  Nay, he will be perfectiön itself

For wording well and dextrous action, too. 

Lasso.  And will these waggish pages hit their songs?

Both Pages.  Re, mi, fa, sol, la.

Lasso.  Oh they are practising; good boys, well done!

But where is Poggio? There y' are overshot,

To lay a capital part upon his brain,

Whose absence tells me plainly he'll neglect him.

Bass.  Oh no, my lord, he dreams of nothing else,

And gives it out in wagers he'll excel;

And see (I told your lordship) he is come.

Enter Poggio.

Pog.  How now, my lord, have you borrowed a suit for

me? Signor Bassiolo, can all say, are all things ready?

The Duke is hard by, and little thinks that I'll be an

actor, i'faith; I keep all close, my lord.

Lasso.  Oh, 'tis well done, call all the ladies in; −

Sister and daughter, come, for God's sake, come,

Prepare your courtliest carriage for the Duke.

Enter Cortezza, Margaret, and Maids.

Cort.  And, niece, in any case remember this:

Praise the old man, and when you see him first,

Look me on none but him, smiling and lovingly;

And then, when he comes near, make beisance low, 

With both your hands thus moving, which not only

Is, as 'twere, courtly, and most comely too,

But speaks (as who should say “Come hither, Duke.”)

And yet says nothing, but you may deny.

Lasso.  Well taught, sister! 

Marg.                             Ay, and to much end;

I am exceeding fond to humour him.

Enter Enchanter, with spirits singing;

after them Medice like Sylvanus, next the Duke

bound, Vincentio, Strozza, with others.

Lasso.  Hark! Does he come with music? What, and bound?

An amorous device; daughter, observe!

Vinc.  [Aside to Strozza]

Now let's gull Medice; I do not doubt

But this attire put on, will put him out. 

Stroz.  [Aside to Vincentio]

We'll do our best to that end, therefore mark.

Enchanter.  Lady or Princess, both your choice commands,

These spirits and I, all servants of your beauty,

Present this royal captive to your mercy.

Marg.  Captive to me, a subject?

Vinc.                                       Ay, fair nymph!

And how the worthy mystery befell,

Sylvanus here, this wooden god, can tell.

Alph.  Now, my lord!

Vinc.  Now is the time, man, speak!

Med.                                         Peace!

Alph.                                              Peace, Vincentio!

Vinc.  'Swounds, my lord,

Shall I stand by and suffer him to shame you? −

My lord Medice!

Stroz.                 Will you not speak, my lord?

Med.  How can I?

Vinc.                    But you must speak, in earnest. −

Would not your Highness have him speak, my lord?

Med.  Yes, and I will speak, and perhaps speak so 

As you shall never mend: I can, I know.

Vinc.  Do then, my good lord.

Alph.                                     Medice, forth!

Med.  Goddess, fair goddess, for no less − no less –

[Medice hesitates.]

Alph.  No less, no less? No more, no more!

                                             [To Strozza] Speak you.

Med.  'Swounds, they have put me out! 

Vinc.                                    Laugh you, fair goddess?

This nobleman disdains to be your fool.

Alph.  Vincentio, peace!

Vinc.  'Swounds, my lord, it is as good a show! −

Pray speak, Lord Strozza.

Stroz.                                Honourable dame –

Vinc.  Take heed you be not out, I pray, my lord.

Stroz.  I pray forbear, my lord Vincentio. −

How this distressèd Prince came thus enthralled,

I must relate with words of height and wonder:

His Grace this morning, visiting the woods,

And straying far to find game for the chase, 

At last out of a myrtle grove he roused

A vast and dreadful boar, so stern and fierce.

As if the fiend, fell Cruèlty herself,

Had come to fright the woods in that strange shape.

Alph.  Excellent good! 

Vinc.                         Too good, a plague on him!

Stroz.  The princely savage being thus on foot,

Tearing the earth up with his thundering hoof,

And with th' enragèd Ætna of his breath

Firing the air, and scorching all the woods,

Horror held all us huntsmen from pursuit;

Only the Duke, incensed with our cold fear,

Encouraged like a second Hercules –

Vinc.  Zounds, too good, man!

Stroz.                                     Pray thee let me alone!

And like the English sign of great Saint George –

Vinc.  Plague of that simile! 

Stroz.  Gave valorous example, and, like fire,

Hunted the monster close, and charged so fierce

That he enforced him (as our sense conceived)

To leap for soil into a crystal spring;

Where on the sudden strangely vanishing, 

Nymph-like, for him, out of the waves arose

Your sacred figure, like Diana armed,

And (as in purpose of the beast's revenge)

Discharged an arrow through his Highness' breast,

Whence yet no wound or any blood appeared; 

With which the angry shadow left the light;

And this enchanter, with his power of spirits,

Brake from a cave, scattering enchanted sounds,

That strook us senseless, while in these strange bands

These cruèl spirits thus enchained his arms,

And led him captive to your heavenly eyes,

Th' intent whereof on their report relies.

Enchanter.  Bright nymph, that boar figured your cruèlty,

Chargèd by love, defended by your beauty.

This amorous huntsman here we thus enthralled

As the attendants on your Grace's charms,

And brought him hither, by your bounteous hands

To be released, or live in endless bands.

Lasso.  Daughter, release the Duke! − Alas, my Liege,

What meant your Highness to endure this wrong? 

Cort.  Enlarge him, niece; come, dame, it must be so.

Marg.  What, madam, shall I arrogate so much?

Lasso.  His Highness' pleasure is to grace you so.

Alph.  Perform it then, sweet love, it is a deed

Worthy the office of your honoured hand. 

Marg.  Too worthy, I confess, my lord, for me,

If it were serious; but it is in sport,

And women are fit actors for such pageants.

[She unbinds Alphonso.]

Alph.  Thanks, gracious love; why made you strange of this?

I rest no less your captive than before;

For me untying, you have tied me more. −

Thanks, Strozza, for your speech. −

                             [To Medice] No thanks to you!

Med.  No, thank your son, my lord!

Lasso.                                            'Twas very well,

Exceeding well performed on every part;

How say you, Bassiolo? 

Bass.                              Rare, I protest, my lord!

Cort.  Oh, my lord Medice became it rarely;

Methought I liked his manly being out;

It becomes noblemen to do nothing well.

Lasso.  Now then, will't please your Grace to grace our house,

And still vouchsafe our service further honour? 

Alph.  Lead us, my lord; we will your daughter lead.

[Exeunt all but Vincentio and Strozza.]

Vinc.  You do not lead, but drag her leaden steps.

Stroz.  How did you like my speech?

Vinc.                                                Oh, fie upon't!

Your rhetoric was too fine.

Stroz.                                 Nothing at all;

I hope Saint George's sign was gross enough: 

But (to be serious) as these warnings pass,

Watch you your father, I'll watch Medice,

That in your love-suit we may shun suspect;

To which end, with your next occasion urge

Your love to name the person she will choose, 

By whose means you may safely write or meet.

Vinc.  That's our chief business; and see, here she comes.

Enter Margaret in haste.

Marg.  My lord, I only come to say, y' are welcome,

And so must say farewell.

Vinc.                                  One word, I pray.

Marg.  What's that? 

Vinc.                   You needs must presently devise

What person trusted chiefly with your guard

You think is aptest for me to corrupt

In making him a mean for our safe meeting.

Marg.  My father's usher, none so fit.

If you can work him well; − and so farewell,

With thanks, my good lord Strozza, for your speech.

[Exit.]

Stroz.  I thank you for your patience, mocking lady.

Vinc.  Oh, what a fellow has she picked us out!

One that I would have choosed past all the rest

For his close stockings only. 

Stroz.                                     And why not

For the most constant fashion of his hat?

Vinc.  Nay, then, if nothing must be left unspoke,

For his strict form thus still to wear his cloak.

Stroz.  Well, sir, he is your own, I make no doubt;

For to these outward figures of his mind 

He hath two inward swallowing properties

Of any gudgeons, servile avarice

And overweening thought of his own worth,

Ready to snatch at every shade of glory:

And, therefore, till you can directly board him, 

Waft him aloof with hats and other favours

Still as you meet him.

Vinc.                          Well, let me alone:

He that is one man's slave is free from none.

[Exeunt.]

ACT II.

SCENE I.

A Room in the House of Lasso.

Enter Medice, Cortezza,

a Page with a cup of sack.

Med.  Come, lady, sit you here. Page, fill some sack.

[Aside] I am to work upon this agèd dame,

To glean from her if there be any cause

(In loving others) of her niece's coyness

To the most gracious love-suit of the Duke. –

Here, noble lady, this is healthful drink

After our supper.

Cort.                  Oh, 'tis that, my lord,

That of all drinks keeps life and soul in me.

Med.  Here, fill it, page, for this my worthy love.

Oh, how I could embrace this good old widow! 

Cort.  Now, lord, when you do thus you make me think

Of my sweet husband, for he was as like you;

E'en the same words and fashion, the same eyes,

Manly, and choleric, e'en as you are, just;

And e'en as kind as you for all the world. 

Med.  Oh, my sweet widow, thou dost make me proud!

Cort.  Nay, I am too old for you.

Med.                                       Too old! That's nothing;

Come, pledge me, wench, for I am dry again,

And straight will charge your widowhood fresh, i'faith:

[She drinks.]

Why, that's well done!

Cort.                           Now fie on't, here's a draught! 

Med.  Oh, it will warm your blood; if you should sip,

'Twould make you heartburned.

Cort.                                        'Faith, and so they say;

Yet I must tell you, since I plied this gear,

I have been haunted with a whoreson pain here,

And every moon, almost, with a shrewd fever, 

And yet I cannot leave it; for, thank God!

I never was more sound of wind and limb.

[Enter Strozza behind.]

 

Look you, I warrant you I have a leg,

[Cortezza shows a great bumbasted leg.]

Holds out as handsomely –

Med.                               Beshrew my life,

But 'tis a leg indeed, a goodly limb! 

Stroz. [Aside] This is most excellent!

Med.                                             Oh, that your niece

Were of as mild a spirit as yourself!

Cort.  Alas, Lord Medice, would you have a girl

As well seen in behaviöur as I?

Ah, she's a fond young thing, and grown so proud, 

The wind must blow at west still or she'll be angry.

Med.  Mass, so methinks; how coy she's to the Duke!

I lay my life she has some younger love.

Cort.  'Faith, like enough!

Med.                             Gods me, who should it be?

Cort.  If it be any − Page, a little sack − 

If it be any, hark now, if it be –

I know not, by this sack − but if it be,

Mark what I say, my lord − I drink t'ye first.

Med.  Well said, good widow; much good do't thy heart!

So, now what if it be?

Cort.                         Well, if it be −

To come to that, I said, for so I said –

If it be any, 'tis the shrewd young Prince;

For eyes can speak, and eyes can understand,

And I have marked her eyes; yet by this cup,

Which I will only kiss –

[She drinks.] 

Stroz.             [Aside] Oh, noble crone!

Now such a huddle and kettle never was.

Cort.  I never yet have seen − not yet, I say –

But I will mark her after for your sake.

Med.  And do, I pray, for it is passing like;

And there is Strozza, a sly counsellór 

To the young boy: Oh, I would give a limb

To have their knavery limned and painted out.

They stand upon their wits and paper-learning;

Give me a fellow with a natural wit

That can make wit of no wit; and wade through 

Great things with nothing, when their wits stick fast.

Oh, they be scurvy lords!

Cort.                                Faith, so they be!

Your lordship still is of my mind in all,

And e'en so was my husband.

Med. [Spying Strozza.]        Gods my life!

Strozza hath eavesdropped here, and overheard us. 

Stroz.  They have descried me.

                     [Advancing.] What, Lord Medice,

Courting the lusty widow?

Med.                              Ay, and why not?

Perhaps one does as much for you at home.

Stroz.  What, choleric, man? And toward wedlock too?

Cort.  And if he be, my lord, he may do worse. 

Stroz.  If he be not, madam, he may do better.

Enter Bassiolo with Servants,

with rushes and a carpet.

Bass.  My lords, and madam, the Duke's Grace entreats you

T'attend his new-made Duchess for this night

Into his presence.

Stroz.                  We are ready, sir.

[Exeunt Cortezza, Medice, Strozza and Page.]

Bass.  Come, strew this room afresh; spread here this carpet; 

Nay, quickly, man, I pray thee; this way, fool;

Lay me it smooth, and even; look if he will!

This way a little more; a little there.

Hast thou no forecast? 'Sblood, methinks a man

Should not of mere necessity be an ass. 

Look, how he strows here, too: come, Sir Giles Goosecap,

I must do all myself; lay me 'em thus,

In fine smooth threaves; look you, sir, thus, in threaves.

Perhaps some tender lady will squat here,

And if some standing rush should chance to prick her, 

She'd squeak, and spoil the songs that must be sung.

Enter Vincentio and Strozza.

Stroz.  See, where he is; now to him, and prepare

Your familiarity.

Vinc.                   Save you, master Bassiolo!

I pray a word, sir; but I fear I let you.

Bass.  No, my good lord, no let.

Vinc.                                         I thank you, sir. 

Nay, pray be covered; oh, I cry you mercy,

You must be bare.

Bass.                     Ever to you, my lord.

Vinc.  Nay, not to me, sir.

But to the fair right of your worshipful place.

[Vincentio uncovers.]

Stroz.  [Aside] A shame of both your worships. 

Bass.  What means your lordship?

[Exit Strozza.]

Vinc.  Only to do you right, sir, and myself ease.

And what, sir, will there be some show to-night?

Bass.  A slender presentation of some music,

And something else, my lord.

Vinc.                                     'Tis passing good, sir; 

I'll not be overbold t' ask the particulars.

Bass.  Yes, if your lordship please.

Vinc.                                          Oh, no, good sir;

But I did wonder much, for, as me thought,

I saw your hands at work.

Bass.                                 Or else, my lord,

Our busïness would be but badly done. 

Vinc.  How virtuous is a worthy man's example!

Who is this throne for, pray?

Bass.                                      For my lord's daughter.

Whom the Duke makes to represent his Duchess.

Vinc.  'Twill be exceeding fit; and all this room

Is passing well prepared; a man would swear

That all presentments in it would be rare.

Bass.  Nay, see if thou canst lay 'em thus, in threaves.

Vinc. In threaves, d'ye call it?

Bass.                                   Ay, my lord, in threaves.

Vinc.  A pretty term!

Well, sir, I thank you highly for this kindness, 

And pray you always make as bold with me

For kindness more than this, if more may be.

Bass.  Oh, my lord, this is nothing.

Vinc.                                             Sir, 'tis much!

And now I'll leave you, sir; I know y' are busy.

Bass.  Faith, sir, a little!

Vinc.                             I commend me t' ye, sir. 

[Exit Vincentio.]

Bass.  A courteous prince, believe it; I am sorry

I was no bolder with him; what a phrase

He used at parting, “I commend me t' ye.”

I'll ha't, i'faith!

[Enter Sarpego, half dressed.]

Sarp.  Good Master Usher, will you dictate to me 

Which is the part precédent of this night-cap,

And which posterior? I do ignorare

How I should wear it.

Bass.                       Why, sir, this, I take it,

Is the precédent part; ay, so it is.

Sarp.  And is all well, sir, think you?

Bass.                                              Passing well.  

Enter Poggio and Fungus.

Pog.  Why, sir, come on; the usher shall be judge. −

See, Master Usher, this same Fungus here,

Your lord's retainer, whom I hope you rule,

Would wear this better jerkin for the Rush-man,

When I do play the Broom-man, and speak first. 

Fung.  Why, sir, I borrowed it, and I will wear it.

Pog.  What, sir; in spite of your lord's gentleman usher?

Fung.  No spite, sir, but you have changed twice already,

And now would ha't again.

Pog.                                Why, that's all one, sir,

Gentility must be fantastical.

Bass.  I pray thee, Fungus, let Master Poggio wear it.

Fung.  And what shall I wear then?

Pog.                                           Why, here is one

That was a rush-man's jerkin, and I pray,

Were't not absurd then, a broom-man should wear it?

Fung.  Foh, there's a reason! I will keep it, sir. 

Pog.  Will, sir? Then do your office, Master Usher,

Make him put off his jerkin; you may pluck

His coat over his ears, much more his jerkin.

Bass.  Fungus, y' ad best be ruled.

Fung.                                          Best, sir! I care not.

Pog.  No, sir? I hope you are my lord's retainer. 

I need not care a pudding for your lord:

But spare not, keep it, for perhaps I'll play

My part as well in this as you in that.

Bass.  Well said. Master Poggio!

                          [To Fungus.] My lord shall know it.

Enter Cortezza, with the Broom-wench and

Rush-wench in their petticoats, cloaks over them,

with hats over their head-tires.

Cort.  Look, Master Usher, are these wags well dressed? 

I have been so in labour with 'em truly.

Bass.  Y' ave had a very good deliverance, lady.

[Aside] How I did take her at her labour there;

I use to gird these ladies so sometimes.

Enter Lasso, with Sylvanus and a Nymph,

a man Bug, and a woman Bug.

1st Bug.  I pray, my lord, must not I wear this hair? 

Lasso.  I pray thee, ask my usher; come, dispatch,

The Duke is ready; are you ready there?

2nd Bug.  See, Master Usher, must he wear this hair?

1st Bug.  Pray, Master Usher, where must I come in?

2nd Bug.  Am not I well for a Bug, Master Usher? 

Bass.  What stir is with these boys here! God forgive me,

If 'twere not for the credit on't, I'd see

Your apish trash afire, ere I'd endure this.

1st Bug.  But pray, good Master Usher –

Bass.                                                Hence, ye brats!

You stand upon your tire; but for your action

Which you must use in singing of your songs

Exceeding dextrously and full of life,

I hope you'll then stand like a sort of blocks,

Without due motion of your hands and heads,

And wresting your whole bodies to your words;

Look to't, y' are best, and in; go, all go in!

Pog.  Come in, my masters; let's be out anon.

[Exeunt all but Lasso and Bassiolo.]

Lasso.  What, are all furnished well?

Bass.                                           All well, my lord.

Lasso.  More lights then here, and let loud music sound.

Bass.  Sound music!

[Exeunt.]

Enter Vincentio, Strozza, bare, Margaret,

Cortezza and Cynanche bearing her train.

After her the Duke whispering with Medice,

Lasso with Bassiolo, etc.

Alph.  Advance yourself, fair Duchess, to this throne,

As we have long since raised you to our heart;

Better decorum never was beheld,

Than twixt this state and you: and as all eyes

Now fixed on your bright graces think it fit, 

So frame your favour to continue it.

Marg.  My lord, but to obey your earnest will,

And not make serious scruple of a toy,

I scarce durst have presumed this minute's height.

Lasso.  Usher, cause other music; begin your show. 

Bass.  Sound, consort! Warn the Pedant to be ready.

Cort.  Madam, I think you'll see a pretty show.

Cyn.  I can expect no less in such a presence.

Alph.  Lo! what attention and state beauty breeds,

Whose moving silence no shrill herald needs. 

Enter Sarpego.

Sarp.  Lords of high degree,

And ladies of low courtesy,

I the Pedant here,

Whom some call schoolmaster,

Because I can speak best, 

Approach before the rest.

Vinc.  A very good reason.

Sarp.  But there are others coming,

Without mask or mumming;

For they are not ashamed, 

If need be, to be named;

Nor will they hide their faces,

In any place or places;

For though they seem to come,

Loaded with rush and broom,

The Broom-man, you must know,

Is Signor Poggio,

Nephew, as shall appear,

To my Lord Strozza here –

Stroz.  Oh, Lord! I thank you, sir; you grace me much. 

Sarp.  And to this noble dame,

Whom I with finger name.

[Pointing to Cynanche.]

Vinc.  A plague of that fool's finger!

Sarp.  And women will ensue,

Which, I must tell you true,

No women are indeed,

But pages made, for need,

To fill up women's places,

By virtue of their faces,

And other hidden graces. 

A hall, a hall! Whist, still, be mum!

For now with silver song they come.

Enter Poggio, Fungus, with the song,

Broom-maid and Rush-maid.

Sylvanus, a Nymph, and two Bugs.

After which Poggio.

Pog.  Heroes and heroines of gallant strain,

Let not these brooms' motes in your eyes remain,

For in the moon there's one bears withered bushes; 

But we (dear wights) do bear green brooms, green rushes,

Whereof these verdant herbals, clepèd broom,

Do pierce and enter every lady's room;

And to prove them high-born, and no base trash,

Water, with which your physnomies you wash, 

Is but a broom. And, more truth to deliver,

Grim Hercules swept a stable with a river.

The wind, that sweeps foul clouds out of the air,

And for you ladies makes the welkin fair,

Is but a broom: and oh, Dan Titan bright, 

Most clerkly called the scavenger of night,

What art thou, but a very broom of gold

For all this world not to be cried nor sold?

Philosophy, that passion sweeps from thought,

Is the soul's broom, and by all brave wits sought: 

Now if philosophers but broom-men are,

Each broom-man then is a philosopher.

And so we come (gracing your gracious Graces)

To sweep Care's cobwebs from your cleanly faces.

Alph.  Thanks, good Master Broom-man!

Fung.                                     For me Rush-man, then, 

To make rush ruffle in a verse of ten.

A rush, which now your heels do lie on here –

[Pointing to Vincentio.]

Vinc.  Cry mercy, sir!

Fung.  Was whilome usèd for a pungent spear,

In that odd battle never fought but twice 

(As Homer sings) betwixt the frogs and mice.

Rushes make true-love knots; rushes make rings;

Your rush maugre the beard of Winter springs.

And when with gentle, amorous, lazy limbs,

Each lord with his fair lady sweetly swims

On these cool rushes, they may with these bables,

Cradles for children make, children for cradles.

And lest some Momus here might now cry “Push!”

Saying our pageant is not worth a rush,

Bundles of rushes, lo, we bring along,

To pick his teeth that bites them with his tongue.

Stroz.  See, see, that's Lord Medice!

Vinc.                                              Gods me, my lord!

Has he picked you out, picking of your teeth?

Med.  What pick you out of that?

Stroz.                                          Not such stale stuff

As you pick from your teeth.

Alph.                                Leave this war with rushes. 

Good Master Pedant, pray forth with your show.

Sarp.  Lo, thus far then (brave Duke) you see

Mere entertainment. Now our glee

Shall march forth in morality:

And this quaint Duchess here shall see 

The fault of virgin nicety,

First wooed with rural courtesy.

Disburthen them, prance on this ground,

And make your Exit with your round.

[Poggio and Fungus dance with the

Broom-maid and Rush-maid, and exeunt.]

Well have they danced, as it is meet, 

Both with their nimble heads and feet.

Now, as our country girls held off,

And rudely did their lovers scoff,

Our Nymph, likewise, shall only glance

By your fair eyes, and look askance 

Upon her feral friend that woos her,

Who is in plain field forced to loose her.

And after them, to conclude all

The purlieu of our pastoral,

A female bug, and eke her friend, 

Shall only come and sing, and end.

Bugs' Song:

Thus, Lady and Duchess, we conclude:

Fair virgins must not be too rude;

For though the rural wild and antic

Abused their loves as they were frantic, 

Yet take you in your ivory clutches

This noble Duke, and be his Duchess.

Thus thanking all for their tacete,

I void the room, and cry valete.

[Exit Sarpego with Nymph, Sylvanus,

and the two Bugs.]

Alph.  Generally well and pleasingly performed.

Marg.  Now I resign this borrowed majesty,

Which sate unseemly on my worthless head,

With humble service to your Highness' hands.

Alph.  Well you became it, lady, and I know

All here could wish it might be ever so. 

Stroz.  [Aside] Here's one says nay to that.

Vinc.  [Aside to Strozza]           Plague on you, peace! 

Lasso.  Now let it please your Highness to accept

A homely banquet to close these rude sports.

Alph.  I thank your Lordship much.

Bass.                                     Bring lights, make place! 

Enter Poggio in his cloak and broom-man's attire.

Pog.  How d'ye, my lord?

Alph.  Oh, Master Broom-man, you did passing well.

Vinc.  Ah, you mad slave, you! You are a tickling actor.

Pog.  I was not out, like my Lord Medice. −

How did you like me, aunt?

Cyn.                                   Oh, rarely, rarely! 

Stroz.  Oh, thou hast done a work of memory,

And raised our house up higher by a story.

Vinc.  Friend, how conceit you my young mother here?

Cyn.  Fitter for you, my lord, than for your father.

Vinc.  No more of that, sweet friend; those are bugs' words.

[Exeunt.]

ACT III.

SCENE I.

A Room in the House of Lasso.

Medice after the song whispers alone with his servant.

Med.  Thou art my trusty servant, and thou know'st

I have been ever bountiful lord to thee,

As still I will be; be thou thankful then,

And do me now a service of import.

Serv.  Any, my lord, in compass of my life.

Med.  To-morrow, then, the Duke intends to hunt,

Where Strozza, my despiteful enemy,

Will give attendance busy in the chase;

Wherein (as if by chance, when others shoot

At the wild boar) do thou discharge at him, 

And with an arrow cleave his cankered heart.

Serv.  I will not fail, my lord.

Med.                                   Be secret, then,

And thou to me shalt be the dear’st of men.

[Exeunt.]

ACT III, SCENE II.

Another Room in the House of Lasso.

Enter Vincentio and Bassiolo severally.

Vinc.  [Aside] Now Vanity and Policy enrich me

With some ridiculous fortune on this usher. −

Where's Master Usher?

Bass.                           Now I come, my lord.

Vinc.  Besides, good sir, your show did show so well.

Bass.  Did it, indeed, my lord?

Vinc.                                     Oh, sir, believe it! 

'Twas the best-fashioned and well-ordered thing

That ever eye beheld; and, therewithal,

The fit attendance by the servants used,

The gentle guise in serving every guest

In other entertainments; everything 

About your house so sortfully disposed,

That even as in a turn-spit called a jack

One vice assists another, the great wheels,

Turning but softly, make the less to whirr

About their business, every different part 

Concurring to one cómmendable end, −

So, and in such conformance, with rare grace,

Were all things ordered in your good lord's house.

Bass.  The most fit simile that ever was.

Vinc.  But shall I tell you plainly my conceit, 

Touching the man that I think caused this order?

Bass.  Ay, good my lord!

Vinc.                             You note my simile?

Bass.  Drawn from the turn-spit.

Vinc.                                         I see you have me.

Even as in that quaint engine you have seen

A little man in shreds stand at the winder, 

And seems to put all things in act about him,

Lifting and pulling with a mighty stir,

Yet adds no force to it, nor nothing does:

So (though your lord be a brave gentleman

And seems to do this business) he does nothing; 

Some man about him was the festival robe

That made him show so glorious and divine.

Bass.  I cannot tell, my lord, yet I should know

If any such there were.

Vinc.                            Should know, quoth you;

I warrant you know! Well, some there be 

Shall have the fortune to have such rare men

(Like brave beasts to their arms) support their state,

When others of as high a worth and breed

Are made the wasteful food of them they feed.

What state hath your lord made you for your service? 

Bass.  He has been my good lord, for I can spend

Some fifteen hundred crowns in lands a year,

Which I have gotten since I served him first.

Vinc.  No more than fifteen hundred crowns a year?

Bass.  It is so much as makes me live, my lord, 

Like a poor gentleman.

Vinc.                            Nay, 'tis pretty well;

But certainly my nature does esteem

Nothing enough for virtue; and had I

The Duke my father's means, all should be spent

To keep brave men about me; but, good sir, 

Accept this simple jewèl at my hands,

Till I can work persuasion of my friendship

With worthier arguments.

Bass.                                No, good my lord!

I can by no means merit the free bounties

You have bestowed besides.

Vinc.                                     Nay, be not strange, 

But do yourself right, and be all one man

In all your actions; do not think but some

Have extraordinary spirits like yourself,

And will not stand in their society

On birth and riches, but on worth and virtue; 

With whom there is no niceness, nor respect

Of others' common friendship; be he poor

Or basely born, so he be rich in soul

And noble in degrees of qualities,

He shall be my friend sooner than a king. 

Bass.  'Tis a most kingly judgment in your lordship.

Vinc.  Faith, sir, I know not, but 'tis my vain humour.

Bass.  Oh, 'tis an honour in a nobleman.

Vinc.  Y' ave some lords, now, so politic and proud,

They scorn to give good looks to worthy men. 

Bass.  Oh, fie upon 'em! By that light, my lord,

I am but servant to a nobleman,

But if I would not scorn such puppet lords,

Would I were breathless!

Vinc.                                You, sir? So you may;

For they will cog so when they wish to use men, 

With, “Pray be covered, sir”, “I beseech you sit”,

“Who's there? Wait of Master Usher to the door”.

Oh, these be godly gudgeons: where's the deeds?

The perfect nobleman?

Bass.                            Oh, good my lord −

Vinc.  Away, away, ere I would flatter so, 

I would eat rushes like Lord Medice!

Bass.  Well, well, my lord, would there were more such princes!

Vinc.  Alas, 'twere pity, sir! They would be gulled

Out of their very skins.

Bass.                           Why, how are you, my lord?

Vinc.  Who, I? I care not: 

If I be gulled where I profess plain love,

Twill be their faults, you know.

Bass.                                    Oh, 'twere their shames.

Vinc.  Well, take my jewèl, you shall not be strange;

I love not many words.

Bass.                            My Lord, I thank you;

I am of few words too.

Vinc.                           'Tis friendly said;

You prove yourself a friend, and I would have you

Advance your thoughts, and lay about for state

Worthy your virtues; be the miniön

Of some great king or duke; there's Medice

The minion of my father − Oh, the Father! 

What difference is there? But I cannot flatter;

A word to wise men!

Bass.                      I perceive your lordship,

Vinc.  Your lordship? Talk you now like a friend?

Is this plain kindness?

Bass.                           Is it not, my lord?

Vinc.  A palpable flatt'ring figure for men common: 

O my word, I should think, if 'twere another,

He meant to gull me.

Bass.                        Why, 'tis but your due.

Vinc.  'Tis but my due if you be still a stranger;

But as I wish to choose you for my friend,

As I intend, when God shall call my father, 

To do I can tell what − but let that pass −

Thus 'tis not fit; let my friend be familiar,

Use not "my lordship", nor yet call me lord,

Nor my whole name, Vincentio, but Vince,

As they call Jack or Will; 'tis now in use

Twixt men of no equality or kindness.

Bass.  I shall be quickly bold enough, my lord.

Vinc.  Nay, see how still you use that coy term, “lord.”

What argues this but that you shun my friendship?

Bass.  Nay, pray, say not so.

Vinc.                                Who should not say so? 

Will you afford me now no name at all?

Bass.  What should I call you?

Vinc.                                      Nay, then 'tis no matter.

But I told you, “Vince”.

Bass.                           Why, then, my sweet Vince.

Vinc. Why, so, then; and yet still there is a fault

In using these kind words without kind deeds; 

Pray thee embrace me too.

Bass.                     Why then, sweet Vince.

[He embraces Vincentio.]

Vinc.  Why, now I thank you; 'sblood, shall friends be strange?

Where there is plainness, there is ever truth;

And I will still be plain since I am true.

Come, let us lie a little; I am weary. 

Bass.  And so am I, I swear, since yesterday.

[They lie down together.]

Vinc.  You may, sir, by my faith; and, sirrah, hark thee,

What lordship wouldst thou wish to have, i'faith,

When my old father dies?

Bass.                              Who, I? Alas!

Vinc. Oh, not you! Well, sir, you shall have none; 

You are as coy a piece as your lord's daughter.

Bass.  Who, my mistress?

Vinc.                              Indeed! Is she your mistress?

Bass.  I'faith, sweet Vince, since she was three year old.

Vinc.  And are not we two friends?

Bass.                                          Who doubts of that?

Vinc.  And are not two friends one?

Bass.                                           Even man and wife. 

Vinc.  Then what to you she is, to me she should be.

Bass.  Why, Vince, thou wouldst not have her?

Vinc.                                                           Oh, not I!

I do not fancy anything like you.

Bass.  Nay, but I pray thee tell me.

Vinc.  You do not mean to marry her yourself? 

Bass.  Not I, by Heaven!

Vinc.                         Take heed now; do not gull me.

Bass.  No, by that candle!

Vinc.                              Then will I be plain.

Think you she dotes not too much on my father?

Bass.  Oh yes, no doubt on't!

Vinc.                                   Nay, I pray you speak!

Bass.  You seely man, you! She cannot abide him. 

Vinc.  Why, sweet friend, pardon me; alas, I knew not!

Bass.  But I do note you are in some things simple,

And wrong yourself too much.

Vinc.                                       Thank you, good friend.

For your plain dealing, I do mean, so well.

Bass.  But who saw ever summer mixed with winter? 

There must be equal years where firm love is.

Could we two love so well so suddenly,

Were we not something equaller in years

Than he and she are?

Vinc.                          I cry ye mercy, sir,

I know we could not; but yet be not too bitter, 

Considering love is fearful. And, sweet friend,

I have a letter t' entreat her kindness,

Which, if you would convey −

Bass.                                     Ay, if I would, sir!

Vinc.  Why, faith, dear friend, I would not die requiteless.

Bass.  Would you not so, sir?

By Heaven a little thing would make me box you!

"Which if you would convey?" Why not, I pray,

“Which, friend, thou shalt convey?”

Vinc.                              Which, friend, you shall then.

Bass.  Well, friend, and I will then.

Vinc.  And use some kind persuasive words for me? 

Bass.  The best, I swear, that my poor tongue can forge.

Vinc.  Ay, well said, "poor tongue!" Oh, 'tis rich in meekness;

You are not known to speak well? You have won

Direction of the Earl and all his house,

The favour of his daughter, and all dames 

That ever I saw come within your sight,

With a poor tongue? A plague o' your sweet lips!

Bass.  Well, we will do our best; and faith, my Vince,

She shall have an unwieldy and dull soul

If she be nothing moved with my poor tongue − 

Call it no better, be it what it will.

Vinc.  Well said, i'faith! Now if I do not think

'Tis possible, besides her bare receipt

Of that my letter, with thy friendly tongue

To get an answer of it, never trust me. 

Bass.  An answer, man? 'Sblood, make no doubt of that!

Vinc.  By Heaven, I think so; now a plague of Nature,

That she gives all to some, and none to others!

Bass.  [rising, aside]

How I endear him to me! − Come, Vince, rise;

Next time I see her I will give her this; 

Which when she sees, she'll think it wondrous strange

Love should go by descent and make the son

Follow the father in his amorous steps.

Vinc.  She needs must think it strange, that ne'er yet saw

I durst speak to her, or had scarce her sight. 

Bass.  Well, Vince, I swear thou shalt both see and kiss her.

Vinc.  Swears my dear friend? By what?

Bass.                                       Even by our friendship.

Vinc.  Oh, sacred oath! Which how long will you keep?

Bass.  While there be bees in Hybla, or white swans

In bright Meander; while the banks of Po

Shall bear brave lilies; or Italian dames

Be called the bona-robas of the world.

Vinc.  'Tis elegantly said; and when I fail,

Let there be found in Hybla hives no bees;

Let no swans swim in bright Meander stream, 

Nor lilies spring upon the banks of Po,

Nor let one fat Italian dame be found,

But lean and brawn-fall'n; ay, and scarcely sound.

Bass.  It is enough, but let's embrace withal.

Vinc.  With all my heart.

Bass.                           So, now farewell, sweet Vince!

[Exit.]

Vinc.  Farewell, my worthy friend! − I think I have him.

Enter Bassiolo.

Bass.  [Aside]

I had forgot the parting phrase he taught me. −

I commend me t'ye, sir.

[Exit instanter.]

Vinc.                           At your wished service, sir. −

Oh fine friend, he had forgot the phrase:

How serious apish souls are in vain form! 

Well, he is mine and he, being trusted most

With my dear love, may often work our meeting,

And being thus engaged, dare not reveal.

Enter Poggio in haste, Strozza following.

Pog.  Horse, horse, horse, my lord, horse! Your father 

is going a hunting. 

Vinc.  My lord horse? You ass, you! D'ye call my lord

horse?

Stroz.  Nay, he speaks huddles still; let's slit his tongue.

Pog.  Nay, good uncle now, 'sblood, what captious

merchants you be! So the Duke took me up even now,

my lord uncle here, and my old Lord Lasso. By Heaven

y' are all too witty for me; I am the veriest fool on you

all, I'll be sworn!

Vinc.  Therein thou art worth us all, for thou know'st

thyself.

Stroz.  But your wisdom was in a pretty taking last

night; was it not, I pray?

Pog.  Oh, for taking my drink a little? I'faith, my lord, 

for that, you shall have the best sport presently, with

Madam Cortezza, that ever was; I have made her so

drunk that she does nothing but kiss my lord Medice.

See, she comes riding the Duke; she's passing well

mounted, believe it.

Enter Alphonso, Cortezza leaning on the Duke,

Cynanche, Margaret, Bassiolo first, two women

attendants, and Huntsmen, Lasso.

Alph.  Good wench, forbear!

Cort.  My lord, you must put forth yourself among 

ladies. I warrant you have much in you, if you would

show it; see, a cheek o' twenty, the body of a George,

a good leg still, still a good calf, and not flabby, nor

hanging, I warrant you; a brawn of a thumb here,

and 'twere a pulled partridge. − Niece Meg, thou shalt

have the sweetest bedfellow on him that ever called

lady husband; try him, you shame-faced bable you,

try him.

Marg.  Good madam, be ruled.

Cort.  What a nice thing it is! My lord, you must 

set forth this gear, and kiss her; i'faith, you must! Get 

you together and be naughts awhile, get you together.

Alph.  Now, what a merry, harmless dame it is!

Cort.  My lord Medice, you are a right noble man, and

will do a woman right in a wrong matter, and need be;

pray, do you give the Duke ensample upon me; you

come a wooing to me now; I accept it.

Lasso.  What mean you, sister?

Cort.  Pray, my lord, away; − consider me as I am, a

woman.

Pog.  [Aside] Lord, how I have whittled her! 

Cort.  You come a wooing to me now; −  pray thee,

Duke, mark my lord Medice; and do you mark me,

virgin. Stand you aside, my lords all, and you, give

place. Now, my lord Medice, put case I be strange a

little, yet you like a man put me to it. Come, kiss me,

my lord; be not ashamed.

Med.  Not I, madam! I come not a wooing to you.

Cort.  'Tis no matter, my lord, make as though you did,

and come kiss me; I won't be strange a whit.

Lasso.  Fie, sister, y' are to blame! Pray will you go to

your chamber?

Cort.  Why, hark you, brother.

Lasso.  What's the matter?

Cort.  D'ye think I am drunk?

Lasso.  I think so, truly. 

Cort.  But are you sure I am drunk?

Lasso.  Else I would not think so.

Cort.  But I would be glad to be sure on't.

Lasso.  I assure you then.

Cort.  Why, then, say nothing, and I'll begone.

God b'w'y', Lord Duke, I'll come again anon.

[Exit.]

Lasso.  I hope your Grace will pardon her, my Liege,

For 'tis most strange; she's as discreet a dame

As any in these countries, and as sober,

But for this only humour of the cup. 

Alph.  'Tis good, my lord, sometimes.

Come, to our hunting; now 'tis time, I think.

Omnes.  The very best time of the day, my lord.

Alph.  Then, my lord, I will take my leave till night,

Reserving thanks for all my entertainment 

Till I return; − in meantime, lovely dame,

Remember the high state you last presented,

And think it was not a mere festival show,

But an essential type of that you are

In full consent of all my faculties, −

And hark you, good my lord.

[He whispers to Lasso.]

[Vincentio and Strozza have all this while

talked together a pretty way.]

Vinc.  [Aside to Strozza and Cynanche]

                                           See now, they whisper

Some private order (I dare lay my life)

For a forced marriage 'twixt my love and father;

I therefore must make sure; and, noble friends,

I'll leave you all when I have brought you forth 

And seen you in the chase; meanwhile observe

In all the time this solemn hunting lasts

My father and his minion, Medice,

And note if you can gather any sign

That they have missed me, and suspect my being; 

If which fall out, send home my page before.

Stroz.  I will not fail, my lord.

[Medice whispers with 1st Huntsman all this while.]

Med.                                   Now take thy time.

1st Hunts.  I warrant you, my lord, he shall not scape me.

Alph.  Now, my dear mistress, till our sports intended

End with my absence, I will take my leave. 

Lasso.  Bassiolo, attend you on my daughter.

[Exeunt Alphonso, Lasso, Medice, Strozza,

Poggio, Huntsmen, and attendants.]

Bass.  I will, my lord.

Vinc.  [Aside] Now will the sport begin; I think my love

Will handle him as well as I have done.

[Exit.]

Cyn.  Madam, I take my leave, and humbly thank you. 

Marg.  Welcome, good madam; − maids, wait on my lady.

[Exit Cynanche.]

Bass.  So, mistress, this is fit.

Marg.                                  Fit, sir; why so?

Bass.  Why so? I have most fortunate news for you.

Marg.  For me, sir? I beseech you, what are they?

Bass.  Merit and fortune, for you both agree; 

Merit what you have, and have what you merit.

Marg.  Lord, with what rhetoric you prepare your news!

Bass.  I need not; for the plain contents they bear,

Uttered in any words, deserve their welcome;

And yet I hope the words will serve the turn. 

Marg.  What, in a letter?

[He offers her the letter.]

Bass.                         Why not?

Marg.                                    Whence is it?

Bass.  From one that will not shame it with his name,

And that is Lord Vincentio.

Marg.                                   King of Heaven!

Is the man mad?

Bass.                 Mad, madam, why?

Marg.  Oh, Heaven! I muse a man of your importance 

Will offer to bring me a letter thus.

Bass.  Why, why, good mistress, are you hurt in that?

Your answer may be what you will yourself.

Marg.  Ay, but you should not do it; God's my life!

You shall answer it. 

Bass.                        Nay, you must answer it.

Marg.  I answer it! Are you the man I trusted,

And will betray me to a stranger thus?

Bass.  That's nothing, dame; all friends were strangers first.

Marg.  Now, was there ever woman over-seen so 

In a wise man's discretion?

Bass.  Your brain is shallow; come, receive this letter.

Marg.  How dare you say so, when you know so well

How much I am engagèd to the duke?

Bass.  The duke? A proper match! A grave old gentleman,

Has beard at will, and would, in my conceit,

Make a most excellent pattern for a potter,

To have his picture stampèd on a jug,

To keep ale-knights in memory of sobriety.

Here, gentle madam, take it.

Marg.                                   Take it, sir? 

Am I a common taker of love-letters?

Bass.  Common? Why, when received you one before?

Marg.  Come 'tis no matter; I had thought your care

Of my bestowing would not tempt me thus

To one I know not; but it is because 

You know I dote so much on your direction.

Bass.  On my direction?

Marg.                         No, sir, not on yours!

Bass.  Well, mistress, if you will take my advice

At any time, then take this letter now.

Marg.  'Tis strange; I wonder the coy gentleman, 

That seeing me so oft would never speak,

Is on the sudden so far rapt to write.

Bass.  It showed his judgment that he would not speak,

Knowing with what a strict and jealous eye

He should be noted; hold, if you love yourself.

Now will you take this letter? Pray be ruled.

[Gives her the letter.]

Marg.  Come, you have such another plaguy tongue!

And yet, i'faith, I will not.

[Drops the letter.]

Bass.                             Lord of Heaven!

What, did it burn your hands? Hold, hold, I pray.

And let the words within it fire your heart. 

[Gives her the letter again.]

Marg.  I wonder how the devil he found you out

To be his spokesman. − Oh, the Duke would thank you

If he knew how you urged me for his son.

[Reads the letter.]

Bass.  [Aside] The Duke! I have fretted her,

Even to the liver, and had much ado 

To make her take it; but I knew 'twas sure,

For he that cannot turn and wind a woman

Like silk about his finger is no man.

I'll make her answer 't too.

Marg.                                 Oh, here's good stuff!

Hold, pray take it for your pains to bring it. 

[Returning the letter.]

Bass.  Lady, you err in my reward a little,

Which must be a kind answer to this letter.

Marg.  Nay then, i'faith, 'twere best you brought a priest,

And then your client, and then keep the door.

Gods me, I never knew so rude a man! 

Bass.  Well, you shall answer; I'll fetch pen and paper.

[Exit.]

Marg.  Poor usher, how wert thou wrought to this brake?

Men work on one another for we women,

Nay, each man on himself; and all in one

Say, “No man is content that lies alone.”

Here comes our gullèd squire.

Bass.                                      Here, mistress, write.

Marg.  What should I write?

Bass.                                An answer to this letter.

Marg.  Why, sir, I see no cause of answer in it;

But if you needs will show how much you rule me,

Sit down and answer it as you please yourself; 

Here is your paper, lay it fair afore you.

Bass.  Lady, content; I'll be your secretary.

[He sits down to write.]

Marg.  [Aside] I fit him in this task; he thinks his pen

The shaft of Cupid in an amorous letter.

Bass.  Is here no great worth of your answer, say you? 

Believe it, 'tis exceedingly well writ.

Marg.  So much the more unfit for me to answer,

And therefore let your style and it contend.

Bass.  Well, you shall see I will not be far short,

Although, indeed, I cannot write so well 

When one is by as when I am alone.

Marg.  Oh, a good scribe must write though twenty talk,

And he talk to them too.

Bass.                              Well, you shall see.

[He writes.]

Marg.  [Aside]

A proper piece of scribeship, there's no doubt;

Some words picked out of proclamatiöns,

Or great men's speeches, or well-selling pamphlets:

See how he rubs his temples; I believe

His muse lies in the back part of his brain,

Which, thick and gross, is hard to be brought forward. −

What, is it loath to come?

Bass.                             No, not a whit: 

Pray hold your peace a little.

Marg.  [Aside]

He sweats with bringing on his heavy style;

I'll ply him still till he sweat all his wit out. −

What man, not yet?

Bass.  'Swoons, you'll not extort it from a man!

How do you like the word endear? 

Marg.  O fie upon't!

Bass.  Nay, then, I see your judgment. What say you

to condole?

Marg.  Worse and worse!

Bass.  Oh brave! I should make a sweet answer, if I 

should use no words but of your admittance.

Marg.  Well, sir, write what you please.

Bass.  Is model a good word with you?

Marg.  Put them together, I pray.

Bass.  So I will, I warrant you! [He writes.] 

Marg.  [Aside] See, see, see, now it comes pouring

down.

Bass.  I hope you'll take no exceptions to believe it.

Marg.  Out upon't! That phrase is so run out of breath 

in trifles, that we shall have no belief at all in earnest

shortly. “Believe it, 'tis a pretty feather.” “Believe it, a

dainty rush.” “Believe it, an excellent cockscomb.”

Bass.  So, so, so; your exceptions sort very collaterally.

Marg.  Collaterally! There's a fine word now; wrest

in that if you can by any means.

Bass.  I thought she would like the very worst of them

all! − How think you? Do not I write, and hear, and

talk too now?

Marg.  By my soul, if you can tell what you write now,

you write very readily.

Bass.  That you shall see straight. 

Marg.  But do you not write that you speak now?

Bass.  Oh yes; do you not see how I write it? I cannot

write when anybody is by me, I!

Marg.  God's my life! Stay, man; you'll make it too 

long.

Bass.  Nay, if I cannot tell what belongs to the length

of a lady's device, i'faith!

Marg.  But I will not have it so long.

Bass.  If I cannot fit you!

Marg.  Oh me, how it comes upon him! Prithee be

short.

Bass.  Well, now I have done, and now I will read it:

     Your lordship's motive accommodating my

thoughts with the very model of my heart's mature

consideration, it shall not be out of my element to

negotiate with you in this amorous duello; wherein

I will condole with you that our project cannot he so

collaterally made as our endeared hearts may very

well seem to insinuate.

Marg.  No more, no more; fie upon this!

Bass.  Fie upon this? He's accursed that has to do with

these unsound women of judgment: if this be not good,

i'faith!

Marg.  But 'tis so good, 'twill not be thought to come 

from a woman's brain.

Bass.  That's another matter. 

Marg.  Come, I will write myself.

[She sits down to write.]

Bass.  O' God's name lady! And yet I will not lose this

I warrant you; I know for what lady this will serve as

fit.

[Folding up his letter.]

Now we shall have a sweet piece of inditement. 

Marg.  How spell you foolish?

Bass.  F-oo-l-i-sh.

[Aside] She will presume t' indite that cannot spell.

Marg.  How spell you usher?

Bass.  'Sblood, you put not in those words together, do

you?

Marg.  No, not together.

Bass.  What is betwixt, I pray?

Marg.  As the.

Bass.  Ass the? Betwixt foolish and usher? God's 

my life, foolish ass the usher!

Marg.  Nay, then, you are so jealous of your wit! Now

read all I have written, I pray.

Bass.  [Reads] “I am not so foolish as the usher 

would make me” − Oh, so foolish as the usher would 

make me? Wherein would I make you foolish?

Marg.  Why, sir, in willing me to believe he loved me 

so well, being so mere a stranger.

Bass.  Oh, is't so? You may say so, indeed.