c. 1590








Midas, King of Phrygia.

     Sophronia, daughter of Midas.

Counselors of Midas:




          Petulus, Page to Mellacrites

     Celia, daughter of Mellacrites.

          Pipenetta, Maid to Celia.

          Licio, Page to Celia.

Minutius, another Page.

The gods:










Motto, a Barber.

     Dello, his Boy.

A Huntsman.

Erato, a Nymph.

Other Nymphs.

Ladies of the Court:




Scene: Phrygia and Delphi.


     GENTLEMEN, so nice is the world, that for

apparel there is no fashion, for music no instrument,

for diet no delicate, for plays no invention, but

breedeth satiety before noon, and contempt before


     Come to the tailor, he is gone to the painters, to

learn how more cunning may lurk in the fashion, then

can be expressed in the making. Ask the musicians,

they will say their heads ache with devising notes

beyond Ela. Inquire at ordinaries, there must be salads

for the Italian; picktooths for the Spaniard; pots for the

German; pottage for the Englishman. At our exercises,

soldiers call for tragedies, their object is blood:

courtiers for comedies, their subject is love;

countrymen for pastorals, shepherds are their saints.

Traffic and travel hath woven the nature of all nations

into ours; and made this land like arras, full of device;

which was broad-cloth, full of workmanship.

     Time hath confounded our minds, our minds the

matter; but all commeth to this pass, that what

heretofore hath been served in several dishes for a

feast, is now minced in a charger for a gallimaufrey. If

we present a mingle-mangle, our fault is to be excused,

because the whole world is become an hodge-podge.

     We are jealous of your judgments, because you 

are wise; of our own performance, because we are

unperfect; of our author's device, because he is idle.

Only this doth encourage us, that presenting our

studies before gentlemen, though they receive an

inward mislike, we shall not be hissed with an open


     Stirps rudis urtica est; stirps generosa, rosa.



The gardens before Midas’ palace.

Enter Bacchus, Midas, Eristus, Martius

and Mellacrites.

Bacc. Midas, where the gods bestow benefits they ask

thanks, but where they receive good turns, they give

rewards. Thou hast filled my belly with meat, mine

ears with music, mine eyes with wonders. Bacchus of

all the gods is the best fellow, and Midas amongst men

a king of fellows. All thy grounds are vineyards, thy

corn grapes; thy chambers cellars, thy household stuff

standing cups: and therefore ask anything, it shall be

granted. Wouldest thou have the pipes of thy conducts

to run wine, the udders of thy beasts to drop nectar, or

thy trees to bud ambrosia? Desirest thou to be

fortunate in thy love, or in thy victories famous, or to

have the years of thy life as many as the hairs on thy

head? Nothing shall be denied, so great is Bacchus, so

happy is Midas.

Midas. Bacchus, for a king to beg of a god it is no

shame, but to ask with advice, wisdom; give me leave

to consult: lest desiring things above my reach, I be

fired with Phaeton: or against nature, I be drowned

with Icarus: and so perishing, the world shall both

laugh and wonder, crying, Magnis tamen excidit ausis.

Bacc. Consult, Bacchus will consent.

Midas. Now, my lords, let me hear your opinions;

what wish may make my days most happy, and his

subjects best content?

Erist. Were I a king I would wish to possess my

mistress, for what sweetness can there be found in life,

but love? whose wounds the more mortal they are to

the heart, the more immortal they make the possessors:

and who knoweth not that the possessing of that must

be most precious, the pursuing whereof is so pleasing.

Mar. Love is a pastime for children, breeding nothing

but folly, and nourishing nothing but idleness. I would

wish to be monarch of the world, conquering

kingdoms like villages, and being greatest on the earth

be commander of the whole earth: for what is there

that more tickles the mind of a king, then a hope to be

the only king, wringing out of every country tribute,

and in his own to sit in triumph? Those that call

conquerors ambitious, are like those that term thrift

covetousness, cleanliness, pride, honesty, preciseness.

Command the world, Midas, a greater thing you

cannot desire, a less you should not.

Midas. What say you, Mellacrites?

Mell. Nothing, but that these two have said nothing. I

would wish that everything I touched might turn to

gold: this is the sinews of war, and the sweetness of

peace. Is it not gold that maketh the chastest to yield to

lust, the honestest to lewdness, the wisest to folly, the

faithfullest to deceit, and the most holy in heart, to be

most hollow of heart? In this word gold are all the

powers of the gods, the desires of men, the wonders of

the world, the miracles of nature, the looseness of

fortune and triumphs of time. By gold may you shake

the courts of other princes, and have your own settled;

one spade of gold undermines faster than an hundred

mattocks of steel. Would one be thought religious and

devout? Quantum quisque sua nummorum servat in

arca, tantum habet et fidei: religion’s balance are

golden bags. Desire you virtue? Quӕrenda pecunia

primum est, virtus post nummos: the first stair of virtue

is money. Doth any thirst after gentry, and wish to be

esteemed beautiful? Et genus et formam regina

pecunia donat: king coin hath a mint to stamp

gentlemen, and art to make amiableness. I deny not but

love is sweet, and the marrow of a man's mind; that to

conquer kings is the quintessence of the thoughts of

kings: why then follow both, aurea sunt verč nunc

sӕcula, plurimus auro venit honos, auro conciliatur

amor: it is a world for gold; honor and love are both

taken up on interest. Doth Midas determine to tempt

the minds of true subjects? to draw them from

obedience to treachery, from their allegiance and oaths

to treason and perjury? quid non mortalia pectora

cogit auri sacra fames? what holes doth not gold bore

in mens' hearts? Such virtue is there in gold, that being

bred in the barrenest ground, and trodden under foot, it

mounteth to sit on princes' heads. Wish gold, Midas, or

wish not to be Midas. In the counsel of the gods, was

not Anubis with his long nose of gold preferred

before Neptune’s, whose statue was but brass? And

Ćsculapius more honoured for his golden beard, than

Apollo for his sweet harmony?

Erist. To have gold and not love, (which cannot be

purchased by gold) is to be a slave to gold.

Mar. To possess mountains of gold, and a mistress

more precious than gold, and not to command the

world, is to make Midas new prentice to a mint, and

journeyman to a woman.

Mell. To enjoy a fair lady in love, and want fair gold to

give: to have thousands of people to fight, and no

penny to pay − will make one's mistress wild, and his

soldiers tame. Jupiter was a god, but he knew gold was

a greater: and flew into those grates with his golden

wings, where he could not enter with his swan's wings.

What stayed Atalanta's course with Hippomenes? an

apple of gold: what made the three goddesses strive?

an apple of gold. If therefore thou make not thy

mistress a goldfinch, thou mayest chance to find her a

wagtail: believe me, Res est ingeniosa dare. Besides,

how many gates of cities this golden key hath opened,

we may remember of late, and ought to fear hereafter.

That iron world is worn out, the golden is now come.

Sub Jove nunc mundus, iussa sequare Jovis.

Erist. Gold is but the guts of the earth.

Mell. I had rather have the earth's guts, than the moon's

brains. What is it that gold cannot command, or hath

not conquered? Justice herself, that sitteth wimpled

about the eyes, doth it, not because she will take no

gold, but that she would not be seen blushing when she

takes it: the balance she holdeth are not to weigh the

right of the cause, but the weight of the bribe; she will

put up her naked sword if thou offer her a golden


Midas. Cease you to dispute, I am determined. It is

gold, Bacchus, that Midas desireth, let everything that

Midas toucheth be turned to gold, so shalt thou bless

thy guest, and manifest thy godhead. Let it be gold,


Bacc. Midas, thy wish cleaveth to thy last word. Take

up this stone.

Midas. Fortunate Midas! It is gold, Mellacrites! gold!

it is gold!

Mell. This stick.

Midas. Gold, Mellacrites! my sweet boy, all is gold!

forever honoured be Bacchus, that above measure hath

made Midas fortunate.

Bacc. If Midas be pleased, Bacchus is. I will to my

temple with Silenus, for by this time there are many to

offer unto me sacrifices: Pśnam pro munere poscis.

Midas. Come, my lords, I will with gold pave my

court, and deck with gold my turrets, these petty

islands near to Phrygia shall totter, and other kingdoms

be turned topsy-turvy: I will command both the

affections of men, and the fortunes. Chastity will grow

cheap where gold is thought dear; Celia, chaste Celia,

shall yield. You, my lords, shall have my hands in

your houses, turning your brazen gates to fine gold.

Thus shall Midas be monarch of the world, the darer of

fortune, the commander of love. Come let us in.

Mell. We follow, desiring that our thoughts may be

touched with thy fingers, that they also may become


Erist. Well, I fear the event, because of Bacchus' last

words, pśnam pro munere poscis.

Midas. Tush, he is a drunken god, else he would not

have given so great a gift. Now it is done, I care not

for anything he can do.



The same.

Enter Petulus, Licio.

Licio. Thou servest Mellacrites, and I his daughter,

which is the better man?

Pet. The masculine gender is more worthy than the

feminine, therefore Licio, backare.

Licio. That is when those two genders are at jar, but

when they belong both to one thing, then –

Pet. What then?

Licio. Then they agree like the fiddle and the stick.

Pet. Pulchrč sanč. God's blessing on thy blue nose!

but, Licio, my mistress is a proper woman.

Licio. Ay, but thou knowest not her properties.

Pet. I care not for her qualities, so I may embrace her


Licio. Are you so pert?

Pet. Ay, and so expert, that I can as well tell the

thoughts of a woman's heart by her eyes, as the change

of the weather by an almanac.

Licio. Sir boy, you must not be saucy.

Pet. No, but faithful and serviceable.

Licio. Lock up your lips, or I will lop them off. But

sirrah, for thy better instructions I will unfold every

wrinkle of my mistress’ disposition.

Pet. I pray thee do.

Licio. But for this time I will only handle the head and


Pet. Nothing else?

Licio. Why, will not that be a long hour's work to

describe, that is almost a whole day's work to dress?

Pet. Proceed.

Licio. First, she hath a head as round as a tennis ball.

Pet. I would my bed were a hazard.

Licio. Why?

Pet. Nothing, but that I would have her head there

among other balls.

Licio. Video, pro Intelligo. Then hath she an hawk's


Pet. O, that I were a partridge head.

Licio. To what end?

Pet. That she might tire with her eyes on my


Licio. Wouldst thou be hanged?

Pet. Scilicet.

Licio. Well, she hath the tongue of a parrot.

Pet. That's a leaden dagger in a velvet sheath, to have a

black tongue in a fair mouth.

Licio. Tush, it is not for the blackness, but for the

babbling, for every hour she will cry “Walk, knave,


Pet. Then will I mutter, “A rope for parrot, a rope.”

Licio. So maist thou be hanged, not by the lips, but by

the neck. Then, sir, hath she a calve's tooth.

Pet. O monstrous mouth! I would then it had been a

sheep's eye, and a neat's tongue.

Licio. It is not for the bigness, but the sweetness: all

her teeth are as sweet as the sweet tooth of a calf.

Pet. Sweetly meant.

Licio. She hath the ears of a want.

Pet. Doth she want ears?

Licio. I say the ears of a want, a mole; thou dost want

wit to understand me. She will hear though she be

never so low on the ground.

Pet. Why then if one ask her a question, it is likely she

will hearken to it.

Licio. Hearken thou after that. She hath the nose of a


Pet. Then belike there she wears her wedding ring.

Licio. No, she can smell a knave a mile off.

Pet. Let us go farther, Licio, she hath both us in the


Licio. She hath a beetle brow.

Pet. What, is she beetle browed?

Licio. Thou hast a beetle head! I say the brow of a

beetle, a little fly, whose brow is as black as velvet.

Pet. What lips hath she?

Licio. Tush, the lips are no part of the head, only made

for a double-leaf door for the mouth.

Pet. What is then the chin?

Licio. That is only the threshold to the door.

Pet. I perceive you are driven to the wall that stands

behind the door, for this is ridiculous: but now you can

say no more of the head, begin with the purtenances,

for that was your promise.

Licio. The purtenances! it is impossible to reckon them

up, much less to tell the nature of them. Hoods,

frontlets, wires, caules, curling-irons, perriwigs,

bodkins, fillets, hairlaces, ribbons, rolls, knotstrings,

glasses, combs, caps, hats, coifs, kerchers, clothes,

earings, borders, crippins, shadows, spots, and so

many other trifles, as both I want the words of art to

name them, time to utter them, and wit to remember

them: these be but a few notes.

Pet. Notes quoth you, I note one thing.

Licio. What is that?

Pet. That if every part require so much as the head, it

will make the richest husband in the world ache at the


Enter Pipenetta.

Licio. But soft, here comes Pipenetta: what news?

Pip. I would not be in your coats for anything.

Licio. Indeed, if thou shouldest rig up and down in our

jackets, thou wouldst be thought a very tomboy.

Pip. I mean I would not be in your cases.

Pet. Neither shalt thou, Pipenetta, for first, they are too

little for thy body, and then too fair, to pull over so

foul a skin.

Pip. These boys be drunk! I would not be in your


Licio. I think so, for we take nothing in our hands but

weapons, it is for thee to use needles and pins, a

sampler, not a buckler.

Pip. Nay then, we shall never have done! I mean I

would not be so curst as you shall be.

Pet. Worse and worse! We are no chase (pretty mops,)

for deer we are not, neither red nor fallow, because we

are bachelors and have not cornu copia, we want

heads: hares we cannot be, because they are male one

year, and the next female, we change not our sex:

badgers we are not, for our legs are one as long as

another: and who will take us to be foxes, that stand so

near a goose, and bite not?

Pip. Fools you are, and therefore good game for wise

men to hunt: but knaves I leave you, for honest

wenches to talk of.

Licio. Nay, stay sweet Pipenetta, we are but disposed

to be merry.

Pip. I marvel how old you will be before you be

disposed to be honest. But this is the matter, my

master is gone abroad, and wants his page to wait on

him: my mistress would rise, and lacks your worship

to fetch her hair.

Pet. Why, is it not on her head?

Pip. Methinks it should, but I mean the hair that she

must wear today.

Licio. Why, doth she wear any but her own?

Pip. In faith, sir, no, I am sure it's her own when she

pays for it. But do you hear the strange news at the


Pet. No, except this be it, to have one's hair lie all

night out of the house from one's head.

Pip. Tush! Everything that Midas toucheth is gold.

Pet. The devil it is!

Pip. Indeed, gold is the devil.

Licio. Thou art deceived, wench, angels are gold. But

is it true?

Pip. True? Why the meat that he toucheth turneth to

gold, so doth the drink, so doth his raiment.

Pet. I would he would give me a good box on the ear,

that I might have a golden cheek.

Licio. How happy shall we be if he would but stroke

our heads, that we might have golden hairs. But let us

all in, lest he lose the virtue of the gift before we taste

the benefit.

Pip. If he take a cudgel and that turn to gold, yet

beating you with it, you shall only feel the weight of


Pet. What difference to be beaten with gold, and to be

beaten gold?

Pip. As much as to say, drink before you go, and go

before you drink.

Licio. Come, let us go, lest we drink of a dry cup for

our long tarrying.




The same.

Enter Eristus and Celia.

Erist. Fair Celia, thou seest of gold there is satiety, of

love there cannot.

Cel. If thou shouldst wish that whatsoever thou

thoughtest might be love, as Midas whatever he

touched might be gold, it may be love would be as

loathsome to thine ears, as gold is to his eyes, and

make thy heart pinch with melancholy, as his guts

do with famine.

Erist. No, sweet Celia, in love there is variety.

Cel. Indeed men vary in their love.

Erist. They vary their love, yet change it not.

Cel. Love and change are at variance, therefore if they

vary, they must change.

Erist. Men change the manner of their love, not the

humor; the means how to obtain, not the mistress they

honour. So did Jupiter, that could not entreat Danae by

golden words, posses his love by a golden shower,

not altering his affection, but using art.

Cel. The same Jupiter was an eagle, a swan, a bull; 

and for every saint a new shape; as men have for 

every mistress a new shadow. If you take example

of the gods, who more wanton, more wavering?

if of yourselves, being but men, who will think you more

constant than gods? Eristus, if gold could have allured

mine eyes, thou knowest Midas that commandeth all

things to be gold, had conquered: if threats might have

feared my heart, Midas being a king, might have

commanded my affections: if love, gold, or authority

might have enchanted me, Midas had obtained by

love, gold, and authority, Quorum si singula nostrum

flectere non poterant, potuissent omnia mentem.

Erist. Ah, Celia, if kings say they love and yet

dissemble, who dare say that they dissemble, and not

love? They command the affections of others to yield,

and their own to be believed. My tears, which have

made furrows in my cheeks, and in mine eyes

fountains: my sighs, which have made of my heart a

furnace, and kindled in my head flames; my body that

melteth by piecemeal, and my mind that pineth at an

instant, may witness that my love is both unspotted,

and unspeakable, Quorum si singula duram flectere

non poterant, deberent, omnia mentem. But soft, here

cometh the princess, with the rest of the lords.

Enter Sophronia, Mellacrites, Martius

and other courtiers.

Soph. Mellacrites, I cannot tell whether I should more

mislike thy counsel, or Midas' consent, but the

covetous humour of you both I contemn and wonder

at, being unfit for a king, whose honour should consist

in liberality, not greediness; and unworthy the calling

of Mellacrites, whose fame should rise by the soldiers'

god, Mars, not by the merchants' god, Gold.

Mell. Madam, things past cannot be recalled, but

repented; and therefore are rather to be pitied than

punished. It now behooveth us how to redress the

miserable estate of our king, not to dispute of the

occasion. Your highness sees, and without grief you

cannot see, that his meat turneth to massy gold in his

mouth, and his wine slideth down his throat like liquid

gold: if he touch his robes they are turned to gold, and

what is not that toucheth him, but becommeth gold?

Erist. Ay, Mellacrites, if thy tongue had been turned to

gold before thou gavest our king such counsel, Midas'

heart had been full of ease, and thy mouth of gold.

Mar. If my advice had taken place, Midas that now

sitteth over head and ears in crowns, had worn upon

his head many kings' crowns, and been conqueror of

the world, that now is commander of dross. That

greediness of Mellacrites, whose heart-strings are

made of Plutus' purse-strings, hath made Midas a lump

of earth, that should be a god on earth; and thy

effeminate mind, Eristus, whose eyes are stitched on

Celia's face, and thoughts gyved to her beauty, hath

bred in all the court such a tender wantonness, that

nothing is thought of but love, a passion proceeding of

beastly lust, and coloured with a courtly name of love.

Thus whilest we follow the nature of things, we forget

the names. Since this unsatiable thirst of gold, and

untemperate humor of lust crept into the king's court,

soldiers have begged alms of artificers, and with their

helmet on their head been glad to follow a lover with a

glove in his hat, which so much abateth the courage of

true captains, that they must account it more honorable

in the court to be a coward, so rich and amorous, than

in a camp to be valiant, if poor and maimed. He is

more favoured that pricks his finger with his mistress’

needle, then he that breaks his lance on his enemy’s

face: and he that hath his mouth full of fair words, than

he that hath his body full of deep scars. If one be old,

and have silver hairs on his beard, so he have golden

ruddocks in his bags, he must be wise and honourable.

If young and have curled locks on his head, amorous

glances with his eyes, smooth speeches in his mouth,

every lady’s lap shall be his pillow, every lady’s face

his glass, every lady’s ear a sheath for his flatteries;

only soldiers, if they be old, must beg in their own

countries; if young, try the fortune of wars in another.

He is the man, that being let blood carries his arm in a

scarf of his mistress’ favour, not he that bears his leg

on a stilt for his country’s safety.

Soph. Stay, Martius, though I know love to grow to

such looseness, and hoarding to such misery, that I

may rather grieve at both, than remedy either: yet thy

animating my father to continual arms, to conquer

crowns, hath only brought him into imminent danger

of his own head. The love he hath followed − I fear

unnatural, the riches he hath got − I know

unmeasurable, the wars he hath levied − I doubt

unlawful, hath drawn his body with gray hairs to the

grave's mouth; and his mind with eating cares to

desperate determinations: ambition hath but two steps,

the lowest blood, the highest envy: both these hath my

unhappy father climbed, digging mines of gold with

the lives of men, and now envied of the whole world,

is environed with enemies round about the world, not

knowing that ambition hath one heel nailed in hell,

though she stretch her finger to touch the heavens. I

would the gods would remove this punishment, so that

Midas would be penitent. Let him thrust thee, Eristus,

with thy love, into Italy, where they honour lust for a

god, as the Egyptians did dogs: thee, Mellacrites, with

thy greediness of gold, to the utmost parts of the west,

where all the guts of the earth are gold: and thee,

Martius, that soundest but blood and terror, into those

barbarous nations, where nothing is to be found but

blood and terror. Let Phrygia be an example of

chastity, not lust; liberality, not covetousness; valor,

not tyranny. I wish not your bodies banished, but your

minds, that my father and your king may be our honor,

and the world's wonder. And thou, Celia, and all you

ladies, learn this of Sophronia, that beauty in a minute

is both a blossom and a blast: love, a worm which

seeming to live in the eye, dies in the heart. You be all

young, and fair, endeavour all to be wise and virtuous,

that when, like roses, you shall fall from the stalk, you

may be gathered and put to the still.

Cel. Madam, I am free from love, and unfortunate to

be beloved.

Erist. To be free from love is strange, but to think

scorn to be beloved, monstrous.

Soph. Eristus, thy tongue doth itch to talk of love, and

my ears tingle to hear it. I charge you all, if you owe

any duty to your king, to go presently unto the temple

of Bacchus, offer praise-gifts and sacrifice, that Midas

may be released of his wish, or his life: this I entreat

you, this Midas commands you. Jar not with

yourselves, agree in one for your king, if ever you took

Midas for your lawful king.

Mell. Madam, we will go, and omit nothing that duty

may perform, or pains.

Soph. Go speedily, lest Midas die before you return:

and you, Celia, shall go with me, that with talk we

may beguile the time, and my father think of no meat.

Cel. I attend.



The same.

Enter Licio, Petulus, Pipenetta.

Licio. Ah, my girl, is not this a golden world?

Pip. It is all one as if it were lead with me, and yet as

golden with me as with the king, for I see it, and feel it

not; he feels it, and enjoys it not.

Licio. Gold is but the earth's garbage, a weed bred by

the sun, the very rubbish of barren ground.

Pet. Tush, Licio, thou art unlettered; all the earth is an

egg: the white, silver; the yolk, gold.

Licio. Why, thou fool, what hen should lay that egg?

Pip. I warrant a goose.

Licio. Nay, I believe a bull.

Pet. Blurt to you both! it was laid by the sun.

Pip. The sun is rather a cock than a hen.

Licio. 'Tis true girl, else how could Titan have trodden


Pet. I weep over both your wits! if I prove in every

respect no difference between an egg and gold, will

you not then grant gold to be an egg?

Pip. Yes, but I believe thy idle imagination will make

it an addle egg.

Licio. Let us hear. Proceed, Doctor Egg.

Pet. Gold will be cracked: a common saying, a cracked


Pip. Ay, that's a broken head.

Pet. Nay, then I see thou hast a broken wit.

Licio. Well, suppose gold will crack.

Pet. So will an egg.

Licio. On.

Pet. An egg is roasted in the fire.

Pip. Well.

Pet. So is gold tried in the fire.

Licio. Forth.

Pet. An egg (as physicians say) will make one lusty.

Pip. Conclude.

Pet. And who knows not that gold will make one


Licio. Pipenetta, this is true, for it is called egg, as a

thing that doth egg on; so doth gold.

Pip. Let us hear all.

Pet. Eggs poached are for a weak stomach; and gold

boiled, for a consuming body.

Licio. Spoken like a physician.

Pip. Or a fool of necessity.

Pet. An egg is eaten at one sup, and a portage lost at

one cast.

Licio. Gamester-like concluded.

Pet. Eggs make custards, and gold makes spoons to eat


Pip. A reason dough-baked.

Licio. O! the oven of his wit was not throughly heated.

Pet. Only this odds I find between money and eggs,

which makes me wonder; that being more pence in the

world than eggs, that one should have three eggs for a

penny, and not three pence for an egg.

Pip. A wonderful matter! but your wisdom is over-shot

in your comparison, for eggs have chickens, gold hath


Pet. Mops, I pity thee! gold hath eggs; change an angel

into ten shillings, and all those pieces are the angel's


Licio. He hath made a spoke, wilt thou eat an egg? but

soft, here come our masters, let us shrink aside.

Enter Mellacrites, Martius, Eristus.

Mell. A short answer, yet a sound; Bacchus is pithy

and pitiful.

[Reads the oracle.]

In Pactolus go bathe thy wish and thee,

Thy wish the waves shall have, and thou be free.

Mar. I understand no oracles! shall the water turn

everything to gold? what then shall become of the

fish? shall he be free from gold? what then shall

become of us, of his crown, of our country? I like not

these riddles.

Mell. Thou, Martius, art so warlike, that thou wouldest

cut off the wish with a sword, not cure it with a salve:

but the gods, that can give the desires of the heart, can

as easily withdraw the torment. Suppose Vulcan

should so temper thy sword, that were thy heart never

so valiant, thine arm never so strong, yet thy blade

should never draw blood, wouldest not thou wish to

have a weaker hand, and a sharper edge?

Mar. Yes.

Mell. If Mars should answer thee thus, "Go bathe thy

sword in water, and wash thy hands in milk, and thy

sword shall cleave adamant, and thy heart answer the

sharpness of thy sword"; wouldest not thou try the


Mar. What else?

Mell. Then let Midas believe till he have tried, and

think that the gods rule as well by giving remedies, as

granting wishes. But Eristus is mum.

Mar. Celia hath sealed his mouth.

Erist. Celia hath sealed her face in my heart, which I

am no more ashamed to confess, than thou that Mars

hath made a scar in thy face, Martius. But let us in to

the king. Sir boys, you wait well!

Pet. We durst not go to Bacchus, for if I see a grape,

my head aches.

Erist. And if I find a cudgel, I’ll make your shoulders


Mell. And you, Licio, wait on yourself.

Licio. I cannot choose, sir, I am always so near myself.

Mell. I’ll be as near you as your skin presently.




The same.

Enter Midas, Mellacrites, Martius, Eristus.

Midas. [Reading the Oracle.]

     In Pactolus go bathe thy wish and thee,

     Thy wish the waves shall have, and thou be free.

Miserable Midas, as unadvised in thy wish, as in thy

success unfortunate. O, unquenchable thirst of gold,

which turneth men's heads to lead, and makest them

blockish; their hearts to iron, and makest them

covetous; their eyes to delight in the view, and makest

them blind in the use. I that did possess mines of gold,

could not be contented till my mind were also a mine.

Could not the treasure of Phrygia, nor the tributes of

Greece, nor mountains in the east, whose guts are

gold, satisfy thy mind with gold? Ambition eateth

gold, and drinketh blood; climbeth so high by other

men's heads, that she breaketh her own neck. What

should I do with a world of ground, whose body must

be content with seven foot of earth?

     Or why did I covet to get so many crowns, having

myself but one head? Those that took small vessels

at the sea, I accompted pirates; and myself that

suppressed whole fleets, a conqueror: as though

robberies of Midas might mask under the names of

triumphs, and the traffic of other nations be called

treachery. Thou hast pampered up thyself with

slaughter, as Diomedes did his horse with blood;

so unsatiable thy thirst, so heavy thy sword. Two

books have I always carried in my bosom, calling

them the dagger and the sword; in which the names of

all princes, noblemen, and gentlemen were dedicated

to slaughter, or if not (which worse is) to slavery. 

     O, my lords, when I call to mind my cruelties in

Lycaonia, my usurping in Getulia, my oppression in

Sola: then do I find neither mercies in my conquests,

nor colour for my wars, nor measure in my taxes. I

have written my laws in blood, and made my gods of

gold: I have caused the mothers' wombs to be their

children's tombs, cradles to swim in blood like boats,

and the temples of the gods a stews for strumpets.

Have not I made the sea to groan under the number of

my ships: and have they not perished, that there was

not two left to make a number? Have I not thrust my

subjects into a camp, like oxen into a cart; whom

having made slaves by unjust wars, I use now as slaves

for all wars?

     Have not I enticed the subjects of my neighbor

princes to destroy their natural kings? like moths

that eat the cloth in which they were bred, like vipers

that gnaw the bowels of which they were born,

and like worms that consume the wood in which they

were engendered? To what kingdoms have not I

pretended claim? as though I had been by the gods

created heir apparent to the world, making every trifle

a title; and all the territories about me, traitors to me.

Why did I wish that all might be gold I touched, but

that I thought all men's hearts would be touched with

gold; that what policy could not compass, nor prows,

gold might have commanded, and conquered? A

bridge of gold did I mean to make in that island where

all my navy could not make a breach. Those islands

did I long to touch, that I might turn them to gold, and

myself to glory. But unhappy Midas, who by the same

means perisheth himself, that he thought to conquer

others: being now become a shame to the world, a

scorn to that petty prince, and to thyself a


     A petty prince, Midas? no, a prince protected by

the gods, by nature, by his own virtue, and his subjects'

obedience. Have not all treasons been discovered by

miracle, not counsel? that do the gods challenge. Is

not the country walled with huge waves? that doth

nature claim. Is he not through the whole world a

wonder, for wisdom and temperance? that is his own

strength. Do not all his subjects (like bees) swarm

to preserve the king of bees? that their loyalty


     My lords, I faint both for lack of food, and want

of grace. I will to the river, where if I be rid of this

intolerable disease of gold, I will next shake off that

untemperate desire of government, and measure my

territories, not by the greatness of my mind, but the

right of my succession.

Mar. I am not a little sorry, that because all that your

highness toucheth turneth to pure gold, therefore all

your princely affections should be converted to dross.

Doth your majesty begin to melt your own crown, that

should make it with other monarchies massy? Begin

you to make enclosure of your mind, and to debate of

inheritance, when the sword proclaims you conqueror?

If your highness’ heart be not of kingdom proof, every

pelting prince will batter it. Though you use this garish

gold, let your mind be still of steel, and let the sharpest

sword decide the right of scepters.

Midas. Every little king is a king, and the title

consisteth not in the compass of ground, but in the

right of inheritance.

Mar. Are not conquests good titles?

Midas. Conquests are great thefts.

Mar. If your highness would be advised by me, 

then would I rob for kingdoms, and if I obtained, 

fain would I see him that durst call the conqueror

a thief.

Midas. Martius, thy counsel hath shed as much blood

as would make another sea. Valour I cannot call it, and

barbarousness is a word too mild. Come, Mellacrites,

let us go, and come you Eristus, that if I obtain mercy

of Bacchus, we may offer sacrifice to Bacchus.

Martius, if you be not disposed to go, dispose as you

will of yourself.

Mar. I will humbly attend on your highness, as still

hoping to have my hearts' desire, and you your height

of honour.



The same.

Enter Licio and Petulus.

Pet. Ah, Licio, a bots on the barber! ever since I

cozened him of the golden beard I have had the


Licio. I think Motto hath poisoned thy gums.

Pet. It is a deadly pain.

Licio. I knew a dog run mad with it.

Pet. I believe it, Licio, and thereof it is that they call it

a dogged pain. Thou knowest I have tried all old

women's medicines, and cunning men's charms, but

interim my teeth ache.

Enter Dello, the Barber’s Boy.

Dello. I am glad I have heard the wags, to be quittance

for over-hearing us. We will take the vantage, they

shall find us quick barbers. I’ll tell Motto, my master,

and then we will have quid pro quo, a tooth for a



Pet. Licio, to make me merry, I pray thee go forward

with the description of thy mistress; thou must begin

now at the paps.

Licio. Indeed, Petulus, a good beginning for thee, for

thou canst eat pap now, because thou canst bite

nothing else. But I have not mind on those matters. If

the king lose his golden wish, we shall have but a

brazen court; − but what became of the beard, Petulus?

Pet. I have pawned it, for I durst not coin it.

Licio. What doest thou pay for the pawning?

Pet. Twelve pence in the pound for the month.

Licio. What for the herbage?

Pet. It is not at herbage.

Licio. Yes, Petulus, if it be a beard it must be at

herbage, for a beard is a badge of hair; and a badge of

hair, hair-badge.

Enter Motto with Dello.

Motto. Dello, thou knowest Midas touched his beard,

and twas gold.

Dello. Well.

Motto. That the pages cozened me of it.

Dello. No lie.

Motto. That I must be revenged.

Dello. In good time.

Motto. Thou knowest I have taught thee the knacking

of the hands, the tickling on a man's hairs, like the

tuning of a cittern.

Dello. True.

Motto. Besides, I instructed thee in the phrases of our

eloquent occupation, as “How, sir, will you be

trimmed? will you have your beard like a spade, or a

bodkin? a penthouse on your upper lip, or an ally on

your chin? a low curl on your head like a bull, or

dangling lock like a spaniel? Your mustachoes sharp at

the ends like shoemaker’s awls, or hanging down to

your mouth like goat’s flakes? your love-locks

wreathed with a silken twist, or shaggy to fall on your


Dello. I confess you have taught me Tullie de oratore,

the very art of trimming.

Motto. Well, for all this I desire no more at thy hands,

than to keep secret the revenge I have prepared or the


Dello. O, sir, you know I am a barber, and cannot

tittle-tattle, I am one of those whose tongues are

swelled with silence.

Motto. Indeed, thou shouldst be no blab, because a

barber, therefore be secret. – [Louder.] Was it not a

good cure, Dello, to ease the toothache and never

touch the tooth?

Dello. O master, he that is your patient for the

toothache, I warrant is patient of all aches.

Motto. I did but rub his gums, and presently the rheum


Licio. Deus bone, is that word come into the barber's


Dello. Ay, sir, and why not? My master is a barber and

a surgeon.

Licio. In good time.

Pet. O, Motto, I am almost dead with the toothache, all

my gums are swollen, and my teeth stand in my head

like thorns.

Motto. It may be that it is only the breeding of a beard,

and being the first beard, you shall have a hard travel.

Pet. Old fool, doest thou think hairs will breed in my


Motto. As likely, sir, for anything I know, as on your


Pet. O teeth! O torments! − O torments! O teeth!

Motto. [Aside to his boy] May I but touch them, Dello,

I’ll teach his tongue to tell a tale, what villainy it is to

cozen one of a beard, but stand not thou nigh, for it is

odds when he spits, but that all his teeth fly in thy face.

Licio. Good Motto, give some ease, for at thy coming

in, I overheard of a cure thou hadst done.

Pet. My teeth! I will not have this pain, that's certain!

Motto. Ay, so did you overhear me, when you cozened

me of a beard: but I forget all.

Dello. My master is mild and merciful: and merciful,

because a barber, for when he hath the throat at

command, you know he taketh revenge but on a silly


Motto. How now, Petulus, do they still ache?

Pet. Ay, Motto.

Motto. Let me rub your gums with this leaf.

Pet. Do, Motto, and for thy labour I will requite thee.

[Under pretense of easing Motto hurts him.]

Out, rascal! what hast thou done? all my nether teeth

are loose, and wag like the keys of a pair of virginals.

Dello. O, sir, if you will, I will sing to them, your

mouth being the instrument.

Pet. Do, Dello.

Dello. Out, villain! thou bitest. I cannot tune these

virginal keys.

Pet. They were the jacks above, the keys beneath were


Dello. A bots on your jacks and jaws too!

Licio. They were virginals of your master's making.

Pet. O my teeth! good Motto, what will ease my pain?

Motto. Nothing in the world, but to let me lay a golden

beard to your chin.

Pet. It is at pawn.

Motto. You are like to fetch it out with your teeth, or

go without your teeth.

Pet. Motto, withdraw thyself, it may be thou shalt

draw my teeth; attend my resolution.

[Motto and Dello retire.]

A doubtful dispute, whether I were best to lose my

golden beard, or my bone tooth? Help me, Licio, to


Licio. Your teeth ache, Petulus, your beard doth not.

Pet. Ay, but, Licio, if I part from my beard, my heart

will ache.

Licio. If your tooth be hollow it must be stopped, or

pulled out; and stop it the barber will not, without the


Pet. My heart is hollow too, and nothing can stop it but


Licio. Thou canst not eat meat without teeth.

Pet. Nor buy it without money.

Licio. Thou mayest get more gold; if thou lose these,

more teeth thou canst not.

Pet. Ay, but the golden beard will last me ten years in

porridge, and then to what use are teeth?

Licio. If thou want teeth, thy tongue will catch cold.

Pet. 'Tis true, and if I lack money, my whole body may

go naked. But Licio, let the barber have his beard, I

will have a device (by thy help) to get it again, and a

cozenage beyond that, maugre his beard.

Licio. That's the best way, both to ease thy pains, and

try our wits.

Pet. Barber, eleven of my teeth have gone on a jury, to

try whether the beard be thine, they have chosen my

tongue for the foreman, which cryeth, guilty.

Motto. Guilded, nay, boy, all my beard was gold. It

was not guilt, I will not be so overmatched.

Dello. You cannot pose my master in a beard. Come to

his house you shall sit upon twenty, all his cushions

are stuffed with beards.

Licio. Let him go home with thee, ease him, and thou

shalt have thy beard.

Motto. I am content, but I will have the beard in my

hand to be sure.

Pet. And I thy finger in my mouth, to be sure of ease.

Motto. Agreed.

Pet. Dello, sing a song to the tune of "My Teeth Do


Dello. I will.

The Song:

Pet. O my teeth! dear barber ease me,

Tongue tell me, why my teeth disease me,

O! what will rid me of this pain?

Motto. Some pellitory fetched from Spain.

Licio. Take mastic else.

Pet.                                Mastic’s a patch.

Mastic does many a fool’s face catch.

If such a pain should breed the horn,

Twere happy to be cuckolds born.

Should beards with such an ache begin,

Each boy to th' bone would scrub his chin.

Licio. His teeth now ache not.

Motto.                                      Caper then,

And cry up checkered-apron men:

There is no trade but shaves,

For barbers are trim knaves,

Some are in shaving so profound,

By tricks they shave a kingdom round.



The same.

Enter Sophronia, Celia, Camilla,

Amerula, and Suavia.

Soph. Ladies, here must we attend the happy return of

my father, but in the mean season, what pastime shall

we use to pass the time? I will agree to any, so it be

not to talk of love.

Suav. Then sleep is the best exercise.

Soph. Why, Suavia, are you so light, that you must

chat of love; or so heavy, that you must needs sleep?

Penelope in the absence of her lord beguiled the days

with spinning.

Suav. Indeed she spun a fair thread, if it were to make

a string to the bow wherein she drew her wooers.

Soph. Why, Suavia, it was a bow which she knew to

be above thy strength, and therein she showed her wit.

Suav. Qui latus arguerit corneus arcus erat: it was

made of horn, madam, and therein she showed her


Soph. Why, doest thou not think she was chaste?

Suav. Yes, of all her wooers.


Soph. To talk with thee is to lose time, not well to spend

it; how say you, Amerula, what shall we do?

Amer. Tell tales.

Soph. What say you, Celia?

Cel. Sing.

Soph. What think you, Camilla?

Cam. Dance.

Soph. You see, Suavia, that there are other things to

keep one from idleness, besides love; nay, that there is

nothing to make idleness, but love.

Suav. Well, let me stand by and feed mine own

thoughts with sweetness, whilest they fill your eyes

and ears with songs and dancings.

Soph. Amerula, begin thy tale.

Amer. There dwelt sometimes in Phrygia a lady very

fair, but passing froward, as much marveled at for

beauty, as for peevishness misliked. High she was in

the instep, but short in the heel; straitlaced, but loose

bodied. It came to pass, that a gentleman, as young in

wit as years, and in years a very boy, chanced to

glance his eyes on her, and there were they dazzled on

her beauty, as larks that are caught in the sun with the

glittering of a glass. In her fair looks were his thoughts

entangled, like the birds of Canary, that fall into a

silken net. Dote he did without measure, and die he

must without her love. She on the other side, as one

that knew her good, began to look askance, yet felt the

passions of love eating into her heart, though she

dissembled them with her eyes.

Suav. Ha, ha, he!

Soph. Why laughest thou?

Suav. To see you, madam, so tame as to be brought to

hear a tale of love, that before were so wild you would

not come to the name; and that Amerula could devise

how to spend the time with a tale, only that she might

not talk of love, and now to make love only her tale.

Soph. Indeed, I was overshot in judgment, and she in

discretion. Amerula, another tale or none, this is too


Suav. Nay, let me hear any woman tell a tale of ten

lines long without it tend to love, and I will be bound

never to come at the court. And you, Camilla, that

would fain trip on your pettitoes; can you persuade me

to take delight to dance, and not love? or you that

cannot rule your feet, can guide your affections,

having the one as unstaid as the other unsteady:

dancing is love sauce, therefore I dare be so saucy, as

if you love to dance, to say you dance for love. But

Celia, she will sing, whose voice if it should utter her

thoughts, would make the tune of a heart out of tune.

She that hath crotchets in her head, hath also love

conceits. I dare swear she harpeth not only on plain

song: and before you, Sophronia, none of them all use

plain dealing; but because they see you so curious they

frame themselves counterfeit. For myself, as I know

honest love to be a thing inseparable from our sex, so

do I think it most allowable in the court; unless we

would have all our thoughts made of church-work, and

so carry a holy face, and a hollow heart.

Soph. Ladies, how like you Suavia in her loving vain?

Cel. We are content at this time to soothe her in her


Amer. She casts all our minds in the mould of her own

head, and yet erreth as far from our meanings, as she

doth from her own modesty.

Suav. Amerula, if you were not bitter, your name had

been ill bestowed: but I think it as lawful in the court

to be counted loving and chaste, as you in the temple

to seem religious, and be spiteful.

Cam. I marvel you will reply any more, Amerula, her

tongue is so nimble it will never lie still.

Suav. The liker thy feet, Camilla, which were taught

not to stand still.

Soph. So, no more ladies: let our coming to sport not

turn to spite. Love thou, Suavia, if thou think it sweet:

sing thou, Celia, for thine own content: tell thou tales,

and dance thou, Camilla: and so every one using her

own delight, shall have no cause to be discontent. But

here commeth Martius and the rest.

Enter Martius, Mellacrites and others.

What news, Martius, of my sovereign and father


Mar. Madame, he no sooner bathed his limbs in the

river, but it turned to a golden stream, the sands to fine

gold, and all to gold that was cast into the water.

Midas, dismayed at the sudden alteration, assayed

again to touch a stone, but he could not alter the nature

of the stone. Then went we with him to the temple of

Bacchus, where we offered a lance wreathed about

with ivy, garlands of ripe grapes, and skins of wolves

and panthers, and a great standing cup of the water

which so lately was turned to gold. Bacchus accepted

our gifts, commanding Midas to honour the gods, and

also in wishing to be as wise, as he meant to have

made him fortunate.

Soph. Happy Sophronia, thou hast lived to hear these

news, and happy Midas, if thou live better to govern

thy fortune. But what is become of our king?

Mell. Midas, overjoyed with this good fortune,

determined to use some solace in the woods; where, by

chance we roused a great boar: he, eager of the sport,

outrid us; and we, thinking he had been come to his

palace some other way, came ourselves the next way.

If he be not returned, he cannot be long: we have also

lost our pages, which we think are with him.

Soph. The gods shield him from all harms: the woods

are full of tigers, and he of courage: wild beasts make

no difference between a king and a clown; nor hunters

in the heat of their pastime, fear no more the fierceness

of the boar, than the fearfulness of the hare. But I hope

well, let us in to see all well.




A glade in the forest on Mount Tmolus.

Enter Apollo, Pan, Erato and Nymphs.

Apol. Pan, wilt thou contend with Apollo, who tunes

the heavens, and makes them all hang by harmony?

Orpheus, that caused trees to move with the sweetness

of his harp, offereth yearly homage to my lute: so doth

Arion, that brought dolphins to his sugared notes; and

Amphion, that by music reared the walls of Thebes.

Only Pan with his harsh whistle (which makes beasts

shake for fear, not men dance for joy) seeks to

compare with Apollo.

Pan. Pan is a god, Apollo is no more. Comparisons

cannot be odious, where the deities are equal. This

pipe (my sweet pipe) was once a nymph, a fair nymph,

once my lovely mistress, now my heavenly music. Tell

me, Apollo, is there any instrument so sweet to play on

as one's mistress? Had thy lute been of laurel, and the

strings of Daphne's hair, thy tunes might have been

compared to my notes: for then Daphne would have

added to thy stroke sweetness, and to thy thoughts


Apol. Doth Pan talk of the passions of love? of the

passions of divine love? O, how that word "Daphne"

wounds Apollo, pronounced by the barbarous mouth

of Pan. I fear his breath will blast the fair green, if I

dazzle not his eyes, that he may not behold it. Thy pipe

a nymph? Some hag rather, haunting these shady

groves, and desiring not thy love, but the fellowship of

such a monster. What god is Pan but the god of beasts,

of woods, and hills? excluded from heaven, and in

earth not honoured. Break thy pipe, or with my sweet

lute will I break thy heart. Let not love enter into those

savage lips, a word for Jove, for Apollo, for the

heavenly gods, whose thoughts are gods, and gods are

all love.

Pan. Apollo, I told thee before that Pan was a god, I

tell thee now again, as great a god as Apollo, I had

almost said a greater: and because thou shalt know I

care not to tell my thoughts, I say a greater. Pan feels

the passions of love deeply engraven in his heart, with

as fair nymphs, with as great fortune, as Apollo, as

Neptune, as Jove; and better than Pan can none

describe love. Not Apollo, not Neptune, not Jove! My

temple is in Arcadia, where they burn continual flames

to Pan. In Arcadia is mine oracle, where Erato the

nymph giveth answers for Pan. In Arcadia, the place of

love, is the honour of Pan. Ay, but I am god of hills.

So I am, Apollo! and that of hills so high, as I can pry

into the juggling of the highest gods. Of woods! so I

am, Apollo! of woods so thick, that thou with thy

beams canst not pierce them. I knew Apollo's prying, I

knew mine own jealousy. Sun and shadow cozen one

another. Be thou sun still, the shadow is fast at thy

heels, Apollo. I as near to thy love, as thou to mine. A

carter with his whistle and his whip in true ear, moves

as much as Phoebus with his fiery chariot and winged

horses. Love-leaves are as well for country porridge,

as heavenly nectar. Love made Jupiter a goose, and

Neptune a swine, and both for love of an earthly

mistress. What hath made Pan, or any god on earth

(for gods on earth can change their shapes) turn

themselves for an heavenly goddess? Believe me,

Apollo, our groves are pleasanter than your heavens,

our milkmaids than your goddesses, our rude ditties to

a pipe than your sonnets to a lute. Here is flat faith

amo amas; where you cry, o utinam amarent vel non

amassem. I let pass, Apollo, thy hard words, as calling

Pan monster; which is as much as to call all monsters:

for Pan is all, Apollo but one. But touch thy strings,

and let these nymphs decide.

Apol. These nymphs shall decide, unless thy rude

speech have made them deaf: as for any other answer

to Pan, take this, that it becommeth not Apollo to

answer Pan. Pan is all, and all is Pan; thou art Pan and

all, all Pan and tinkerly. But to this music, wherein all

thy shame shall be seen, and all my skill.

Enter Midas.

Midas. In the chase, I lost all my company, and missed

the game too. I think Midas shall in all things be


Apol. What is he that talketh?

Midas. Midas, the unfortunate king of Phrygia.

Apol. To be a king is next to being a god. Thy fortune

is not bad: what is thy folly?

Midas. To abuse a god.

Apol. An ungrateful part of a king. But, Midas, seeing

by chance thou art come, or sent by some god of

purpose; none can in the earth better judge of gods

than kings. Sit down with these nymphs. I am Apollo,

this Pan, both gods. We contend for sovereignty in

music. Seeing it happens in earth, we must be judged

of those on earth; in which there are none more worthy

than kings and nymphs. Therefore give ear, that thy

judgment err not.

Midas. If gods you be, although I dare wish nothing of

gods, being so deeply wounded with wishing; yet let

my judgment prevail before these nymphs, if we agree

not, because I am a king.

Pan. There must be no condition, but judge Midas,

and judge nymphs.

Apol. Then thus I begin both my song and my play.

A Song of Daphne to the Lute.

Apol.    My Daphne’s hair is twisted gold,

Bright stars a-piece her eyes do hold,

My Daphne's brow enthrones the graces,

My Daphne's beauty stains all faces,

On Daphne's cheek grow rose and cherry,

On Daphne's lip a sweeter berry,

Daphne's snowy hand but touched does melt,

And then no heavenlier warmth is felt,

My Daphne's voice tunes all the spheres,

My Daphne's music charms all ears.

Fond am I thus to sing her praise;

These glories now are turned to bays.

Nymph Erato. O divine Apollo, o sweet consent!

Nymph Thalia. If the god of music should not be above

our reach, who should?

Midas. I like it not.

Pan. Now let me tune my pipes. I cannot pipe and

sing, that's the odds in the instrument, not the art: but I

will pipe and then sing; and then judge both of the art

and instrument.

[He pipes, and then sings.]


Pan. Pan's Syrinx was a girl indeed,

Though now she's turned into a reed,

From that dear reed Pan's pipe does come,

A pipe that strikes Apollo dumb;

Nor flute, nor lute, nor cittern can

So chant it, as the pipe of Pan;

Cross-gartered swains, and dairy girls,

With faces smug, and round as pearls,

When Pan's shrill pipe begins to play,

With dancing wear out night and day;

The bag-pipe's drone his hum lays by,

When Pan sounds up his minstrelsy,

His minstrelsy! O base! This quill

Which at my mouth with wind I fill,

Puts me in mind, though her I miss,

That still my Syrinx lips I kiss.

Apol. Hast thou done, Pan?

Pan. Ay, and done well, as I think.

Apol. Now, Nymphs, what say you?

Erato. We all say that Apollo hath showed himself

both a god, and of music the god; Pan himself a rude

satyr, neither keeping measure, nor time; his piping as

far out of tune, as his body out of form. To thee, divine

Apollo, we give the prize and reverence.

Apol. But what says Midas?

Midas. Methinks there's more sweetness in the pipe of

Pan, than Apollo's lute; I brook not that nice tickling

of strings, that contents me that makes one start. What

a shrillness came into mine ears out of that pipe, and

what a goodly noise it made! Apollo, I must needs

judge that Pan deserveth most praise.

Pan. Blessed be Midas, worthy to be a god: these girls,

whose ears do but itch with daintiness, give the verdict

without weighing the virtue; they have been brought

up in chambers with soft music, not where I make the

woods ring with my pipe, Midas.

Apol. Wretched, unworthy to be a king, thou shalt

know what it is to displease Apollo. I will leave thee

but the two last letters of thy name, to be thy whole

name; which if thou canst not guess, touch thine ears,

they shall tell thee.

Midas. What hast thou done, Apollo? the ears of an ass

upon the head of a king?

Apol. And well worthy, when the dullness of an ass is

in the ears of a king.

Midas. Help, Pan! or Midas perisheth.

Pan. I cannot undo what Apollo hath done, nor give

thee any amends, unless to those ears thou wilt have

added these horns.

1st Nymph. It were very well, that it might be hard to

judge whether he were more ox or ass.

Apol. Farewell, Midas.

Pan. Midas, farewell.

2nd Nymph. I warrant they be dainty ears, nothing can

please them but Pan's pipe.

Erato. He hath the advantage of all ears, except the

mouse; for else there's none so sharp of hearing as the

ass. Farewell, Midas.

2nd Nymph. Midas, farewell.

3rd Nymph. Farewell, Midas.

[Exeunt Erato and Nymphs.]

Midas. Ah, Midas! why was not thy whole body

metamorphosed, that there might have been no part

left of Midas? Where shall I shroud this shame? or

how may I be restored to mine old shape? Apollo is

angry: blame not Apollo, whom being god of music

thou didst both dislike and dishonour; preferring the

barbarous noise of Pan's pipe, before the sweet melody

of Apollo's lute. If I return to Phrygia, I shall be

pointed at; if I live in these woods, savage beasts must

be my companions: and what other companions should

Midas hope for than beasts, being of all beasts himself

the dullest? Had it not been better for thee to have

perished by a golden death, than now to lead a beastly

life? Unfortunate in thy wish, unwise in thy judgment;

first a golden fool, now a leaden ass. What will they

say in Lesbos (if haply these news come to Lesbos)? If

they come, Midas? yes, report flies as swift as

thoughts, gathering wings in the air, and doubling

rumors by her own running, insomuch as having here

the ears of an ass, it will there be told, all my hairs are

ass's ears. Then will this be the byword; is Midas, that

sought to be monarch of the world, become the mock

of the world? are his golden mines turned into water,

as free for every one that will fetch, as for himself, that

possessed them by wish? Ah, poor Midas! are his

conceits become blockish, his counsels unfortunate,

his judgments unskillful? Ah, foolish Midas! a just

reward, for thy pride to wax poor, for thy overweening

to wax dull, for thy ambition to wax humble, for thy

cruelty to say, Sisque miser simper, nec sis miserabilis

ulli. But I must seek to cover my shame by art, lest

being once discovered to these petty kings of Mysia,

Pisidia and Galatia, they all join to add to mine ass's

ears, of all the beasts the dullest, a sheep’s heart, of all

the beasts the fearfullest: and so cast lots for those

kingdoms, that I have won with so many lives, and

kept with so many envies.



A reedy place.

Enter five shepherds; Menalcas, Coryn,

Celthus, Driapon, and Amyntas.

Menal. I muse what the nymphs meant, that so sang in

the groves, “Midas of Phrygia hath ass’s ears”.

Cor. I marvel not, for one of them plainly told me he

had ass’s ears.

Celt. Ay, but it is not safe to say it: he is a great king,

and his hands are longer than his ears: therefore for us

that keep sheep, it is wisdom enough to tell sheep.

Dria. 'Tis true; yet since Midas grew so mischievous

as to blur his diadem with blood, which should glister

with nothing but pity; and so miserable, that he made

gold his god, that was framed to be his slave, many

broad speeches have flown abroad: in his own country

they stick not to call him tyrant, and elsewhere

usurper. They flatly say, that he eateth into other

dominions, as the sea doth into the land, not knowing,

that in swallowing a poor island as big as Lesbos, he

may cast up three territories thrice as big as Phrygia:

for what the sea winneth in the marsh, it loseth in the


Amyn. Take me with you, but speak softly, for these

reeds may have ears, and hear us.

Menal. Suppose they have, yet they may be without

tongues to bewray us.

Cor. Nay, let them have tongues too, we have eyes to

see that they have none, and therefore if they hear, and

speak, they know not from whence it comes.

Amyn, Well, then this I say, when a lion doth so much

degenerate from princely kind, that he will borrow of

the beasts, I say he is no lion, but a monster; pieced

with the craftiness of the fox, the cruelty of the tiger,

the ravening of the wolf, the dissembling of the hyena,

he is worthy also to have the ears of an ass.

Menal. He seeks to conquer Lesbos, and like a foolish

gamester, having a bagfull of his own, ventures it all to

win a groat of another.

Cor. He that fishes for Lesbos, must have such a

wooden net, as all the trees in Phrygia will not serve to

make the cod, nor all the woods in Pisidia provide the


Dria. Nay, he means to angle for it with an hook of

gold and a bait of gold, and so to strike the fish with a

pleasing bait, that will slide out of an open net.

Amyn. Tush! tush! those islanders are too subtle to

nibble at craft, and too rich to swallow treasure: if that

be his hope, he may as well dive to the bottom of the

sea, and bring up an anchor of a thousand weight, as

plod with his gold to corrupt a people so wise. And

besides, a nation (as I have heard) so valiant, that are

readier to strike than ward.

Celt. More than all this, Amyntas (though we dare not

so much as mutter it), their king is such a one as

dazzleth the clearest eyes with majesty, daunteth the

valiantest hearts with courage, and for virtue filleth all

the world with wonder. If beauty go beyond sight,

confidence above valour, and virtue exceed miracle,

what is it to be thought, but that Midas goeth to

undermine that by the simplicity of man, that is

fastened to a rock, by the providence of the gods.

Menal. We poor commons (who tasting war, are made

to relish nothing but taxes), can do nothing but grieve,

to see things unlawful practiced, to obtain things

impossible. All his mines do but guild his comb, to

make it glister in the wars, and cut ours that are forced

to follow him in his wars.

Cor. Well! that must be borne, not blamed, that cannot

be changed: for my part, if I may enjoy the fleece of

my silly flock with quietness, I will never care three

flocks for his ambition.

Menal. Let this suffice, we may talk too much, and

being overheard, be all undone. I am so jealous, that

methinks the very reeds bow down, as though they

listened to our talk: and soft: I hear some coming,

let us in, and meet at a place more meet.



The same.

Enter Licio, Petulus, Minutius, Huntsman.

Licio. Is not hunting a tedious occupation?

Pet. Ay, and troublesome, for if you call a dog a dog,

you are undone.

Hunts. You be both fools! and besides, baseminded;

hunting is for kings, not peasants. Such as you are

unworthy to be hounds, much less huntsmen, that

know not when a hound is fleet, fair flewed, and

well hanged; being ignorant of the deepness of a

hound's mouth, and the sweetness.

Minut. Why I hope, sir, a cur’s mouth is no deeper

than the sea, nor sweeter than a honeycomb.

Hunts. Pretty cockscomb! a hound will swallow thee

as easily as a great pit a small pebble.

Minut. Indeed, hunting were a pleasant sport, but the

dogs make such barking, that one cannot hear the

hounds cry.

Hunts. I'll make thee cry! If I catch thee in the forest

thou shalt be leashed.

Minut. What's that?

Licio. Doest thou not understand their language?

Minut. Not I!

Pet. 'Tis the best calamance in the world, as easily

deciphered as the characters in a nutmeg.

Minut. I pray thee, speak some.

Pet. I will.

Hunts. But speak in order, or I'll pay you.

Licio. To it, Petulus.

Pet. There was a boy leashed on the single, because

when he was embossed, he took soil.

Minut. What's that?

Pet. Why, a boy was beaten on the tail with a leathern

thong, because when he foamed at the mouth with

running, he went into the water.

Hunts. This is worse than fustian! Mum you were

best! Hunting is an honorable pastime, and for my part

I had as lief hunt a deer in a park, as court a lady in a


Minut. Give me a pasty for a park, and let me shake

off a whole kennel of teeth for hounds, then shalt thou

see a notable champing, after that will I carouse a bowl

of wine, and so in the stomach let the venison take


Licio. He hath laid the plot to be prudent, why 'tis

pasty crust, "Eat enough and it will make you wise”,

an old proverb.

Pet. Ay, and eloquent, for you must tipple wine freely,

et fćcundi calices quem non fecere disertum?

Hunts. Fecere dizardum! Leave off these toys, and let

us seek out Midas, whom we lost in the chase.

Pet. I’ll warrant he hath by this started a covey of

bucks, or roused a school of pheasants.

Hunts. Treason to two brave sports, hawking and

hunting: thou shouldest say, start a hare, rouse the

deer, spring the partridge.

Pet. I'll warrant that was devised by some country

swad; that seeing a hare skip up, which made him

start, he presently said he started the hare.

Licio. Ay, and some lubber lying besides a spring, and

seeing a partridge come by, said he did spring the


Hunts. Well, remember all this!

Pet. Remember all? nay, then had we good memories,

for there be more phrases than thou hast hairs! but let

me see, I pray thee, what's this about thy neck?

Hunts. A bugle.

Pet. If it had stood on thy head I should have called

it a horn. Well, 'tis hard to have one's brows

embroidered with bugle.

Licio. But canst thou blow it?

Hunts. What else?

Minut. But not away.

Pet. No, 'twill make Boreas out of breath, to blow his

horns away.

Licio. There was good blowing, I'll warrant, before

they came there.

Pet. Well, 'tis a shrewd blow.

Hunts. Spare your winds in this, or I'll wind your

necks in a cord: but soft, I heard my master's blast.

Minut. Some have felt it!

Hunts. Thy mother, when such a flyblow was buzzed

out! but I must be gone, I perceive Midas is come.


Licio. Then let not us tarry, for now shall we shave

the barber's house. The world will grow full of wiles

seeing Midas hath lost his golden wish.

Minut. I care not, my head shall dig devises, and my

tongue stamp them; so as my mouth shall be a mint,

and my brains a mine.

Licio. Then help us to cozen the barber.

Minut. The barber shall know every hair of my chin to

be as good as a choke-pear for his purse.



The same.

Enter Mellacrites, Martius, and Eristus.

Erist. I marvel what Midas meaneth to be so

melancholy since his hunting.

Mell. It is a good word in Midas, otherwise I should

term it in another blockishness. I cannot tell whether it

be a sourness commonly incident to age, or a

severeness particular to the kings of Phrygia, or a

suspicion cleaving to great estates; but methinks he

seemeth so jealous of us all, and becomes so

overthwart to all others, that either I must conjecture

his wits are not his own, or his meaning very hard to


Mar. For my part, I neither care nor wonder, I see all

his expeditions for wars are laid in water: for now

when he should execute, he begins to consult; and

suffers the enemies to bid us good morrow at our own

doors, to whom we long since might have given the

last good night in their own beds. He weareth (I know

not whether for warmth or wantonness) a great tiara on

his head, as though his head were not heavy enough,

unless he loaded it with great rolls: an attire never used

(that I could hear of) but of old women, or pelting

priests. This will make Pisidia wanton, Lycaonia stiff,

all his territories wavering; and he that hath couched

so many kingdoms in one crown, will have his

kingdom scattered into as many crowns as he

posseseth countries. I will rouse him up, and if his ears

be not ass's ears, I will make them tingle. I respect not

my life, I know it is my duty, and certainly I dare

swear war is my profession.

Erist. Martius, we will all join: and though I have been

(as in Phrygia they term) a brave courtier, that is, (as

they expound it) a fine lover; yet will I set both aside,

love and courting, and follow Martius: for never shall

it be said, Bella gerant alij, semper Eristus amet.

Mell. And I, Martius, that honored gold for a god, and

accounted all other gods but lead; will follow Martius,

and say, Vilius argentum est auro, virtutibus aurum.

Mar. My lords, I give you thanks, and am glad: for

there are no stouter soldiers in the world, than those

that are made of lovers; nor any more liberal in wars,

than they that in peace have been covetous. Then

doubt not, if courage and coin can prevail, but we shall

prevail; and besides, nothing can prevail but fortune.

But here comes Sophronia, I will first talk with her.

Enter Sophronia, Camilia, Amerula.

Madame, either our king hath no ears to hear, or no

care to consider, both in what state we stand being his

subjects, and what danger he is in being our king. Duty

is not regarded, courage contemned; altogether

careless of us, and his own safety.

Soph. Martius, I mislike not thy plain dealing: but pity

my father's trance; a trance I must call that, where

nature cannot move, nor counsel, nor music, nor

physic, nor danger, nor death, nor all. But that which

maketh me most both to sorrow and wonder, is that

music (a mithridate for melancholy) should make him

mad; crying still, Uno namque modo Pan et Apollo

nocent. None hath access to him but Motto, as though

melancholy were to be shaven with a razor, not cured

with a medicine. But stay, what noise is this in those


Mell. What sound is this? who dares utter that he


Soph. I dare, Mellacrites, the words are plain, − "Midas

the king hath ass's ears."

Cam. This is strange, and yet to be told the king.

Soph. So dare I, Camilla: for it concerneth me in duty,

and us all in discretion. But soft, let us hearken better.

The Reeds. Midas of Phrygia hath ass's ears.

Erist. This is monstrous, and either portends some

mischief to the king, or unto the state confusion. Midas

of Phrygia hath ass's ears? It is unpossible! let us with

speed to the king to know his resolution, for to some

oracle he must send. Till his majesty be acquainted

with this matter, we dare not root out the reeds;

himself must both hear the sound, and guess at the


Soph. Unfortunate Midas! that being so great a king,

there should out of the earth spring so great a shame.

Mar. It may be that his wishing for gold, being but

dross of the world, is by all the gods accounted

foolish, and so discovered out of the earth: for a king

to thirst for gold instead of honour, to prefer heaps of

worldly coin before triumphs in warlike conquests,

was in my mind no princely mind.

Mell. Let us not debate the cause, but seek to prevent

the snares; for in mind it foretelleth that which

woundeth my mind. Let us in.




The reedy place.

Enter Midas, Sophronia, Mellacrites, and Martius.

Midas. Sophronia, thou seest I am become a shame to

the world, and a wonder. Mine ears glow. Mine ears?

Ah, miserable Midas! to have such ears as make thy

cheeks blush, thy head monstrous, and thy heart

desperate? Yet in blushing I am impudent, for I walk

in the streets; in deformity I seem comely, for I have

left off my tiara; and my heart the more heavy it is for

grief, the more hope it conceiveth of recovery.

Soph. Dread sovereign and loving sire, there are nine

days past, and therefore the wonder is past; there are

many years to come, and therefore a remedy to be

hoped for. Though your ears be long, yet is there room

left on your head for a diadem: though they resemble

the ears of the dullest beast, yet should they not daunt

the spirit of so great a king. The gods dally with men,

kings are no more; they disgrace kings, lest they

should be thought gods: sacrifice pleaseth them, so

that if you know by the oracle what god wrought it,

you shall by humble submission by that god be


Midas. Sophronia, I commend thy care and courage,

but let me hear these reeds, that these loathsome ears

may be glutted with the report, and that is as good as a


The Reeds. Midas of Phrygia hath ass's ears.

Midas. Midas of Phrygia hath ass's ears? So he hath,

unhappy Midas. If these reeds sing my shame so loud,

will men whisper it softly? No, all the world already

rings of it: and as impossible it is to stay the rumor, as

to catch the wind in a net that bloweth in the air; or to

stop the wind of all men's mouths that breathe out air. I

will to Apollo whose oracle must be my doom, and I

fear me, my dishonor, because my doom was his, if

kings may disgrace gods: and gods they disgrace,

when they forget their duties.

Mell. What saith Midas?

Midas. Nothing, but that Apollo must determine all, or

Midas see ruin of all. To Apollo will I offer an ivory

lute for his sweet harmony, and berries of bays as

black as jet, for his love Daphne, pure simples for his

physic, and continual incense for his prophesying.

Mar. Apollo may discover some odd riddle, but not

give the redress; for yet did I never hear that his

oracles were without doubtfulness, nor his remedies

without impossibilities. This superstition of yours is

able to bring errors among the common sort, not ease

to your discontented mind.

Midas. Dost thou not know, Martius, that when

Bacchus commanded me to bathe myself in Pactolus,

thou thoughtedst it a meer mockery, before with thine

eyes thou sawest the remedy.

Mar. Ay, Bacchus gave the wish, and therefore was

like also to give the remedy.

Midas. And who knows whether Apollo gave me these

ears, and therefore may release the punishment? Well,

reply not, for I will to Delphos: in the meantime, let it

be proclaimed that if there be any so cunning that can

tell the reason of these reeds creaking, he shall have

my daughter to his wife, or if she refuse it, a dukedom

for his pains: and withal, that whosoever is so bold as

to say that Midas hath ass's ears, shall presently lose


Soph. Dear father, then go forwards, prepare for the

sacrifice, and dispose of Sophronia as it best pleaseth


Midas. Come, let us in.



The gardens before the palace.

Enter Licio and Petulus.

Pet. What a rascal was Motto to cozen us, and say

there were thirty men in a room that would undo us,

and when all came to all, they were but table-men.

Licio. Ay, and then to give us an inventory of all his

goods, only to redeem the beard! but we will be even

with him, and I'll be forsworn, but I'll be revenged.

Pet. And here I vow by my concealed beard, if ever it

chance to be discovered to the world, that it may make

a pike devant, I will have it so sharp pointed, that it

shall stab Motto like a poignado.

Licio. And I protest by these hairs on my head, which

are but casualties, − for alas, who knows not how soon

they are lost, autumn shaves like a razor: − if these

locks be rooted against wind and weather, spring and

fall, I swear they shall not be lopped, till Motto by my

knavery be so bald that I may write verses on his

scalp. In witness whereof I eat this hair: now must

thou, Petulus, kiss thy beard, for that was the book

thou swearest by.

Pet. Nay, I would I could come but to kiss my chin,

which is as yet the cover of my book! but my word

shall stand. Now let us read the inventory, we'll share

it equally.

Licio. What else?

Pet. [Reading] “An inventory of all Motto's moveable

bads and goods, as also of such debts as are owing

him, with such household stuff as cannot be removed.

Imprimis, in the bed-chamber, one foul wife, and five

small children.”

Licio. I'll not share in that.

Pet. I am content, take thou all. These be his moveable


Licio. And from me they shall be removables.

Pet.Item, in the servant's chamber, two pair of curst

queans' tongues.”

Licio. Tongs thou wouldst say.

Pet. Nay, they pinch worse than tongs.

Licio. They are moveables, I'll warrant.

Pet.Item, one pair of horns in the bride-chamber, on

the bed's head.”

Licio. The beast's head, for Motto is stuffed in the

head, and these are among unmoveable goods.

Pet. Well, Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum,

happy are they whom other men's homes do make to

beware. “Item, a broken pate owing me by one of the

Cole house, for notching his head like a chessboard.”

Licio. Take thou that, and I give thee all the rest of his


[Makes as to strike him.]

Pet. Noli me tangere, I refuse the executorship,

because I will not meddle with his desperate debts.

Item, an hundred shrewd turns owing me by the 

pages in the court, because I will not trust them for


Licio. That's due debt.

Pet. Well, because Motto is poor, they shall be paid

him cum recumbentibus. All the pages shall enter into

recognizance, but ecce, Pipenetta chants it.

Enter Pipenetta singing.

Song by Pipenetta:

1. 'Las! How long shall I

And my maidenhead lie

In a cold bed all the night long,

I cannot abide it,

Yet away cannot chide it,

Though I find it does me some wrong.

2. Can anyone tell

Where this fine thing doth dwell,

That carries nor form, nor fashion?

It both heats and cools,

Tis a bauble for fools,

Yet catched at in every nation.


3. Say a maid were so crossed,

As to see this toy lost,

Cannot hue and cry fetch it again?

'Las! No, for 'tis driven

Nor to hell, nor to Heaven,

When 'tis found, 'tis lost even then.

Pip. Hey ho! would I were a witch, that I might be a


Pet. I know not whether thy fortune is to be a duchess,

but sure I am thy face serves thee well for a witch:

what's the matter?

Pip. The matter? marry, 'tis proclaimed, that

whosoever can tell the cause of the reeds' song, shall

either have Sophronia to wife, or (if she refuse it) a

dukedom for his wisdom. Besides, whosoever saith

that Midas hath ass's ears shall lose theirs.

Licio. I'll be a duke, I find honour to bud in my head,

and methinks every joint of mine arms, from the

shoulder to the little finger, says “Send for the herald”.

Mine arms are all armoury, gules, sables, azure, or

vert, pur, post, pair, &c.

Pet. And my heart is like a hearth where Cupid is

making a fire, for Sophronia shall be my wife:

methinks Venus and Nature stand, with each of them

a pair of bellows, the one cooling my low birth, the

other kindling my lofty affections.

Pip. Apollo will help me because I can sing.

Licio. Mercury me, because I can lie.

Pet. All the gods me, because I can lie, sing, swear,

and love. But soft, here comes Motto, now shall we

have a fit time to be revenged, if by device we can

make him say, "Midas hath ass's ears."

Enter Motto and Dello.

Licio. Let us not seem to be angry about the inventory,

and you shall see my wit to be the hangman for his


Pip. Why fools, hath a barber a tongue?

Pet. We'll make him have a tongue, that his teeth that

look like a comb shall be the scissors to cut it off.

Pip. I pray let me have the odd ends. I fear nothing so

much as to be tongue-tawde.

Licio. Thou shalt have all the shavings, and then a

woman's tongue imped with a barber's, will prove a

razor or a raser.

Pet. How now, Motto, what, all amort?

Motto. I am as melancholy as a cat.

Licio. Melancholy? marry gup, is "melancholy" a 

word for a barber's mouth? thou shouldst say, heavy,

dull and doltish: melancholy is the crest of courtiers'

arms, and now every base companion, being in his

mubble-fubbles, says he is melancholy.

Pet. Motto, thou shouldst say thou art lumpish. If thou

encroach upon our courtly terms, we’ll trounce thee:

belike if thou shouldst spit often, thou wouldst call it

"rheum". Motto, in men of reputation and credit it is 

the rheum; in such mechanical mushrumps, it is a

catarrh, a pose, the water evil. You were best wears

a velvet patch on your temples too.

Motto. [Aside] What a world it is to see eggs forwarder

than cocks! these infants are as cunning in diseases, as

I that have run them over all, backward and forward. –

I tell you, boys, it is melancholy that now troubleth


Dello. My master could tickle you with diseases, and

that old ones, that have continued in his ancestors'

bones these three hundred years. He is the last of the

family that is left uneaten.

Motto. What meanest thou, Dello?

Pet. He means you are the last of the stock alive, the

rest the worms have eaten.

Dello. A pox of those saucy worms, that eat men

before they be dead.

Pet. But tell us, Motto, why art thou sad?

Motto. Because all the court is sad.

Licio. Why are they sad in court?

Motto. Because the king hath a pain in his ears.

Pet. Belike it is the wens.