the Annotated Popular Edition of






by Philip Massinger

Before 1633


Featuring complete and easy-to-read annotations.


Annotations and notes © Copyright ElizabethanDrama.org, 2018
This annotated play may be freely copied and distributed.


Dramatis Persons:


Lord Lovell.

     A New Way to Pay Old Debts has proven to be Philip

     Tom Allworth, a Young Gentleman, Page to Lord

Massinger's most popular and enduring play. This comedy's


reputation is due thanks to the presence of one of the era's

Sir Giles Overreach, a Cruel Extortioner.

more acclaimed villains outside the Shakespeare canon, the

     Margaret, Daughter of Sir Overreach.

avaricious and occasionally vulgar Sir Giles Overreach.

     Marrall, a Term-Driver; a Creature of Sir Giles

With just the right balance of drama and humour, A New


Way to Pay Old Debts deserves to be read and enjoyed by

any lover of Elizabethan drama.

Frank Wellborn, a Prodigal.

Greedy, a Hungry Justice Of Peace.


Lady Allworth, a rich Widow.

The text of A New Way to Pay Old Debts is adapted from

     Order, Steward.

Philip Massinger, Volume I, edited by Arthur Symons,

     Amble, Usher.

cited at #3 below.

     Furnace, Cook.

     Watchall, Porter.


Wllldo, a Parson.

     Mention of Symons, Stronach, Deighton, Gifford and

Sherman in the annotations refer to the notes provided by

Tapwell, an Alehouse Keeper.

each of these editors respectively in their editions of this

     Froth, Wife of Tapwell.

play, each cited fully below.

     The most commonly cited sources are listed in the


footnotes immediately below. The complete list of footnotes

Waiting Woman.

appears at the end of this play.

Creditors, Servants, &c.

     1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online.

     2. Crystal, David and Ben. Shakespeare's Words.

SCENE:  The Country near Nottingham.

London; New York: Penguin, 2002

     3. Symons, Arthur. Philip Massinger, Vol. I. London:

T. Fisher Unwin, 1887-1889.

     4. Stronach, George, ed. A New Way To Pay Old Debts.

London: J.M. Dent and Co., 1904.

     5. Deighton, K., ed. Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old

Debts. London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1924.

     6. Gifford, William. The Plays of Philip Massinger.

London: William Templeton, 1840.

     9. Sherman, Lucius A. Philip Massinger. New York:

American Book Co., 1912.

     19. The Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th edition. New

York: 1911.




Before Tapwell's House.

Enter Wellborn in tattered apparel,

Entering Characters: Frank Wellborn is a formerly 

Tapwell, and Froth.

wealthy gentleman who has squandered away all his money doing the usual things young gallants do, including sporting, drinking and whoring.
     Tapwell and Froth are husband and wife tavern-keepers. The play opens with Tapwell refusing service to the indigent Wellborn.


Well.  No bouse? nor no tobacco?

1: bouse = drink, an old cant term, and precursor to today's booze.4
     nor no = double negatives were common and acceptable in earlier English.
     In typical Massinger fashion, as the play and scene opens, we find ourselves joining a conversation in progress.


Tap.                                             Not a suck, sir;

3: "not even a small drink (suck), sir."1


Nor the remainder of a single can

4: ie. "nor what is left in a metal cup (can)28 of ale".

Left by a drunken porter, all night palled too.

= "which has gone stale (palled) after sitting out all night."


Froth.  Not the dropping of the tap for your morning's
     draught, sir:

7: Not the dropping of = "nor the incidental drops of ale
     which fall from".
         morning's draught = in the old days, a morning drink
    of ale was common.5


'Tis verity, I assure you.

= "it is a fact",5 ie. "we are not kidding".


Well.                            Verity, you brache!

= bitch-hound. This is the first of several dog-related
     epithets Wellborn will direct toward the publicans.

The devil turned precisian! Rogue, what am I?

= "the devil himself has turned Puritan!"6  = "do you know
     who I am?"


Tap.  Troth, durst I trust you with a looking-glass,

13-15: "in truth (troth), if I dare give you a mirror in which


To let you see your trim shape, you would quit me,

     you could see your own fine appearance (trim shape,

And take the name yourself,

     ironic), you would clear me (quit me) of the name of


     rogue, and  apply it to yourself."

Well.                                   How, dog!


Tap.                                                    Even so, sir.


And I must tell you, if you but advance

= raise, as about to use.

Your Plymouth cloak, you shall be soon instructed

= slang for "staff" or "cudgel".3,4  = soon learn, ie. find out.


There dwells, and within call, if it please your worship,

= common phrase of deference used when one speaks to
     one's superiors, but here used mockingly.

A potent monarch called the constable,

= powerful; in 23-25, Tapwell compares the local peace
     officer to a king or military commander.


That does command a citadel called the stocks;

= famous means of punishment consisting of a board
     with holes cut out in which the victim, while sitting,
     horizontally places his or her feet up to the ankles.26

Whose guards are certain files of rusty billmen

= watchmen armed with rusty bills; a bill was a distinctive
      English polearm, comprised of a staff with a blade,
     several spikes and a hook at one end, and carried by
     both infantry and watchmen.5,7 The adjective rusty
     applies to the bills, not the men.4


Such as with great dexterity will hale

= drag.

Your tattered, lousy

= filthy.


Well.                       Rascal! slave!


Froth.                                           No rage, sir.


Tap.  At his own peril: − do not put yourself

= "let him threaten violence at his own risk". The dash is


In too much heat, there being no water near

     frequently used to indicate a change in addressee.

To quench your thirst; and sure, for other liquor,


As mighty ale, or beer, they are things, I take it,

36-37: Wellborn should no longer even dream of being

You must no more remember; not in a dream, sir.

     served any alcohol in this alehouse.


Well.  Why, thou unthankful villain, dar'st thou talk thus!

39ff: Wellborn addresses the tavern-keepers with thee to
     signal his disdain and fury. Tapwell and his wife, you
     will notice, keep a thin veneer of respect in their speeches
     by continuing to use the formal you in addressing their


Is not thy house, and all thou hast, my gift?

40: this enigmatic line will be explained shortly.


Tap.  I find it not in chalk; and Timothy Tapwell

42: ie. "written anywhere." The image is of the customer's 
     bill which a tavern-keeper would keep track of on a slate.

Does keep no other register.

= record.


Well.                                    Am not I he


Whose riots fed and clothed thee? wert thou not

= dissolute lifestyle; the Tapwells, says Wellborn, have his  extravagant spending to thank for much of what they now own.

Born on my father's land, and proud to be


A drudge in his house?

= slave; Wellborn's point is that Tapwell, who formerly was a servant in Wellborn's father's household, was then satisfied to do even the most menial work.


Tap.                           What I was, sir, it skills not;

= does not matter.

What you are, is apparent: now, for a farewell,


Since you talk of father, in my hope it will torment you,

I'll briefly tell your story. Your dead father,


My quondam master, was a man of worship,

= former.  = ie. of high standing or honour.

Old Sir John Wellborn, justice of peace and quorum,

= a title for certain distinguished jurists.8


And stood fair to be custos rotulorum;

56: "and had a good chance (stood fair) to become Keeper
     of the Rolls (custos rotulorum), the title for the principle
     justice of a county.8

Bore the whole sway of the shire, kept a great house,

= "had authority across the entire county".


Relieved the poor, and so forth; but he dying,

And the twelve hundred a year coming to you,

59: the line describes the income of the Wellborn household,
     inherited by Frank on his father's death; according to
     the Bank of England's inflation calculator, the indicated
     amount comes to over a quarter-million pounds annually
     in today's money.21


Late Master Francis, but now forlorn Wellborn −

60: "formerly known by the respectful title of Master
, but now called the wretch (forlorn) Wellborn."


Well.  Slave, stop! or I shall lose myself.

= ie. lose control of.


Froth.                                                    Very hardly;

64: "only with difficulty".

You cannot out of your way.

65: Froth attempts a feeble pun, taking lose myself to mean


     "cease to be what I have become", which Wellborn
     cannot do.5

Tap.                                     But to my story:


You were then a lord of acres, the prime gallant,

= the number-one wastrel.9

And I your under-butler; note the change now:


You had a merry time of’t; hawks and hounds,

70-73: hawks…sizes = Tapwell describes the typical hobbies
     of the young and wealthy.

With choice of running horses; mistresses

= racing.


Of all sorts and all sizes, yet so hot,

As their embraces made your lordship melt;


Which your uncle, Sir Giles Overreach, observing,

(Resolving not to lose a drop of them,)


On foolish mortgages, statutes, and bonds,

76-77: Wellborn's uncle, Sir Giles Overreach, supported

For a while supplied your looseness, and then left you.

     Wellborn's licentious lifestyle for a time, lending him
     money, while requiring Wellborn to sign mortgages
     and statutes (debts secured by one's real property) and
     bonds (basically IOU's)10 over to him; at a strategic
     moment, Overreach demanded repayment of the loans,
     and Wellborn, out of cash and unable to pay, forfeited
     all his property to his uncle.


Well.  Some curate hath penned this invective, mongrel,

79-80: Wellborn accuses Tapwell of memorizing a speech


And you have studied it.

     which only a literate person like a pastor (curate) could
     have written.


Tap.                              I have not done yet:

= finished.

Your land gone, and your credit not worth a token,

= a privately-issued piece of metal acting as a coin which
     might be issued by a tradesman for change, worth about
     a farthing;6 hence, something of little value.


You grew the common borrower; no man 'scaped

84: the common borrower = "one who would borrow from
     anyone foolish enough to lend you money" (Deighton,
     p. 87).5
        'scaped = escaped, ie. could avoid.

Your paper-pellets, from the gentleman

= ie. IOU's.5


To the beggars on highways, that sold you switches

86-87: the image of a destitute person trying to make ends

In your gallantry.

     meet by selling shoots of trees for use as riding switches  


     on the side of the road appears in several old plays.

Well.                  I shall switch your brains out.


Tap.  Where poor Tim Tapwell, with a little stock,

= whereas.6  = ie. savings.


Some forty pounds or so, bought a small cottage;

Humbled myself to marriage with my Froth here,


Gave entertainment −

94: "received as lodgers" (Deighton, p. 87).5


Well.                      Yes, to whores and canters,

= whining beggars.4

Clubbers by night −

= the OED suggests clubbers are those who belong to


     a club or gang,1 but perhaps preferable is Deighton's
     interpretation of clubbers as robbers who committed
     their villainies while armed with clubs.5

Tap.                     True, but they brought in profit,


And had a gift to pay for what they called for,

= ie. were in the habit.5

And stuck not like your mastership. The poor income

101: stuck not = were not stingy, ie. did not hesitate to pay. 
     your mastership = mocking title of respect.


I gleaned from them hath made me in my parish

Thought worthy to be scavenger, and in time

103: Tapwell was thought well enough of to be given a job 
     of street-cleaner, or perhaps overseer of street-cleaners


I may rise to be overseer of the poor;

= a position first created in 1572; this parish officer was
     responsible for distributing assistance to the worthy
     poor and assigning work to those who were able.1

Which if I do, on your petition, Wellborn,

= "if you file a petition requesting relief".


I may allow you thirteen-pence a quarter.

= pennies; the described rate comes to one penny a week.5

And you shall thank my worship.


Well.                                           Thus, you dog-bolt,

= wretch: a term of abuse, frequently appearing in plays


And thus −

     of the era.1 Note Wellborn's continuing use of canine-

     related insults.


[Beats and kicks him.]


Tap.  [to his wife] Cry out for help!


Well.                                          Stir, and thou diest: −

= move; this line is spoken to Froth.

Your potent prince, the constable, shall not save you.

= Wellborn alludes back to Tapwell's description of the
     constable as a potent monarch (line 23).


Hear me, ungrateful hell-hound! did not I

Make purses for you? then you licked my boots,

= raise money.5


And thought your holiday cloak too coarse to clean them.

120: holiday cloak = best cloak (literally a cloak worn only
     on special occasions, such as festivals).1
         too coarse = ie. not good enough. The sense is that no
     job was too base for Tapwell to gladly do for Wellborn.

'Twas I that, when I heard thee swear if ever

121-4: Wellborn further explains his meaning in line 40: he


Thou couldst arrive at forty pounds thou wouldst

     literally gave Tapwell the start-up money to open his

Live like an emperor, twas I that gave it


In ready gold. Deny this, wretch!

= in cash, as opposed to a promise to pay.


Tap.                                              I must, sir;

126-130: Tapwell's answer is smart-alecky, and he comes
     across as cruelly ungrateful.

For, from the tavern to the taphouse, all,

= from the highest to the lowest sort of inn.5


On forfeiture of their licenses, stand bound

= ie. are obligated, by tradition or as a good business

Ne'er to remember who their best guests were,



If they grew poor like you.


Well.                                 They are well rewarded

That beggar themselves to make such cuckolds rich.

133: husbands whose wives are unfaithful to them.


Thou viper, thankless viper! impudent bawd! −

= the allusion, a common one, is to a snake which Wellborn
     has taken into his bosom, but which stung him out of

But since you are grown forgetful, I will help


Your memory, and tread you into mortar,

= "stomp you into pieces or a paste"; the reference is to an

Nor leave one bone unbroken.

     old method of making mortar, by which men wearing


     wooden shoes would trod on and crush lumps of lime.5

[Beats him again.]


Tap.                                     Oh!


Froth.                                       Ask mercy.


Enter Allworth.

Entering Character: Tom Allworth is a young gentleman


who is a retainer of Lord Lovell, whom we have not yet met; which is to say, Allworth has attached himself to the Lord, serving him in return for Lovell's patronage and support.

Well.  'Twill not be granted.


All.                                    Hold − for my sake, hold. −

= "stop".


Deny me, Frank! they are not worth your anger.

= Wellborn is ignoring Allworth, and continues to beat the


Well.  For once thou hast redeemed them from this sceptre;

152: Allworth relents: "this time you have saved them from
     this cudgel."

But let them vanish, creeping on their knees,


And, if they grumble, I revoke my pardon.


Froth. This comes of your prating, husband; you presumed

156-7: you presumed…wit = "you thought you could prevail

On your ambling wit, and must use your glib tongue,

     with your smooth talking (ambling wit)".


Though you are beaten lame for't.


Tap.                                              Patience, Froth;

There's law to cure our bruises.

161: Tapwell expects to be able to sue Wellborn for assault


     and receive damages.

[They crawl off on their hands and knees.]


Well.                                     Sent to your mother?

165: ie. "has your patron, Lord Lovell, sent you to see
     your step-mother?"6


All.  My lady, Frank, my patroness, my all!

167-171: Allworth is effusive as he describes his affection


She's such a mourner for my father's death,

     for his step-mother, Lady Allworth, who, though
     Allworth's natural father has died, still treats him as
     kindly and as generously as if he were her own son.

And, in her love to him, so favours me,


That I cannot pay too much observance to her.

= act too dutifully towards.

There are few such stepdames.


Well.                                     'Tis a noble widow,

173-8: Wellborn expresses a typical concern of Elizabethan


And keeps her reputation pure, and clear

     drama, that Lady Allworth has honourably refused to

From the least taint of infamy; her life,

     sully her good name by scandalously taking on any new
     lovers, even as she is of course now legally free to do so.


With the splendour of her actions, leaves no tongue

To envy or detraction. Prithee tell me,

= malice or slander.2


Has she no suitors?


All.                       Even the best of the shire, Frank,

My lord excepted; such as sue and send,

181: My lord excepted = Lovell is the only person in the county, it seems, who has not attempted to win Lady Allworth's hand.
         181-2: such as…purpose = "her suitors court her continuously, but to no avail." To sue is to entreat or court, to send is to send for.


And send and sue again, but to no purpose:

Their frequent visits have not gained her presence.

183: Lady Allworth will not even meet those who come to
     court her.


Yet she's so far from sullenness and pride,

184-6: Yet she's…entertainment = "but she is so much the

That I dare undertake you shall meet from her

     opposite of moody and proud, that I am certain that if


A liberal entertainment: I can give you

     you were to visit her she would give you a generous

A catalogue of her suitors' names.



Well.                                            Forbear it,

= ie. "not now".


While I give you good counsel: I am bound to it.

190-2: As a close friend of Allworth's now-deceased father

Thy father was my friend, and that affection

     (and which friendship automatically passes to young
     Allworth), Wellborn feels obligated to give Tom some


I bore to him, in right descends to thee;


Thou art a handsome and a hopeful youth,

= promising.2


Nor will I have the least affront stick on thee,

194-5: "I would not have the least offense or insult be

If I with any danger can prevent it.

     attached to you, if there is anything I can do to prevent


All.  I thank your noble care; but, pray you, in what

197-8: in what…hazard = ie. "how am I at risk?"


Do I run the hazard?


Well.                      Art thou not in love?

Put it not off with wonder.

201: "don't try to avoid answering me by acting surprised."


All.                                     In love, at my years!

203: Allworth suggests he is too young to be thinking
     about love.


Well.  You think you walk in clouds, but are transparent.

= ie. "are surrounded by a mist which prevents others from
     seeing what you are up to."


I have heard all, and the choice that you have made,

And, with my finger, can point out the north star

207-8: Allworth's folly follows the magnet (loadstone, ie.


By which the loadstone of your folly's guided;

     compass) which points toward the north star, which in
     turn represents the lady whom Allworth is in love with,
     and whom Wellborn can readily identify.

And, to confirm this true, what think you of


Fair Margaret, the only child and heir

Of Cormorant Overreach? Does it blush and start,

211: Cormorant Overreach = a cormorant is a voracious
     sea bird, and hence describes an obscenely greedy
     person;12 Wellborn applies the word as a mock-title to
     Sir Giles Overreach, Margaret's father, and Wellborn's
         Does it = ie. "do you".


To hear her only named? blush at your want

= ie. "blush instead".  = lack.

Of wit and reason.


All.                     You are too bitter, sir.


Well.  Wounds of this nature are not to be cured


With balms, but corrosives. I must be plain:

218: balms = soothing, healing ointments.
          corrosives = medications that act by eating away at
     corrupted tissue.1

Art thou scarce manumised from the porter's lodge

219: manumised = freed.
         the porter's lodge = the gate of a castle or park, where
     domestics were usually punished;1 Wellborn's point is
     that Allworth is only just old enough to no longer be
     subject to corporal punishment; the porter is the gate-


And yet sworn servant to the pantofle,

220: literally, "and yet you are already a professed follower
     (sworn servant) of the slipper (pantofle)",1 suggesting
     Allworth carries his lady's slipper,5 ie. Allworth is already
     acting the part of a courtier or lover. Sherman suggests
     the reference is to a page who is assigned to literally carry
     the slippers of his mistress.9

And dar'st thou dream of marriage? I fear


'Twill be concluded for impossible

222-5: in short, "I cannot escape the conclusion that there can exist any young man who is not either in love with or loved by a woman"

That there is now, or e'er shall be hereafter,


A handsome page or player's boy of fourteen

224: page = young male servant.
     player's boy = servant to an actor.
     of fourteen = Wellborn seems to be suggesting Allworth is a young teenager; there are a number of such hints in the play that Allworth is so young, including the fact that he is identified as a page, a position reserved for boys, to Lord Lovell.
     Allworth is seeking already to be married, and though it was unusual for anyone to be married at such a young age at the time, it was legal to do so.

But either loves a wench or drabs love him;

= strumpets.


Court-waiters not exempted.

= pages at court.


All.                                     This is madness.

Howe'er you have discovered my intents,


You know my aims are lawful; and if ever

= honourable: his intention is to marry, and not just seduce,

The queen of flowers, the glory of the spring,



The sweetest comfort to our smell, the rose,

Sprang from an envious briar, I may infer

=  malicious.


There's such disparity in their conditions

Between the goodness of my soul, the daughter,

= ie. Sir Giles' daughter.


And the base churl her father.

230-6: and if ever…father = Allworth's point is that, just as a rose, the best of flowers, can grow from a thorny and even harmful briar, so Margaret, a fine girl, can issue from a father as malignant as Sir Giles; churl = boor.


Well.                                      Grant this true,

As I believe it, canst thou ever hope

= Wellborn, perhaps of the same generation as Allworth's father, can address the young man with thou without causing offense; Allworth, on the other hand, addresses Wellborn correctly, even despite the latter's downtrodden state, with the respectful you.


To enjoy a quiet bed with her whose father 

Ruined thy state?

240-1: Wellborn points out that Overreach is responsible for


Allworth's present poverty, and not just his own; as we will learn later, Sir Giles had long ago ruined Allworth's father, just as he did Wellborn more recently, leaving young Allworth without any significant inheritance of his own.

All.                     And yours too.


Well.                                         I confess it;


True; I must tell you as a friend, and freely,

That, where impossibilities are apparent,

247-8: "that it is reckless to be hopeful for a result which
     is clearly impossible."


'Tis indiscretiön to nourish hopes.

Canst thou imagine (let not self-love blind thee)

249-253: Overreach has been plotting for years to make Margaret an attractive enough catch for a wealthy and powerful man, so that she may enjoy high rank, titles and privilege. So how can Allworth imagine he would let her marry him?


That Sir Giles Overreach, that, to make her great

In swelling titles, without touch of conscience

= grandiose.9  = any sense of guilt.


Will cut his neighbour's throat, and I hope his own too,

Will e'er consent to make her thine? Give o'er,

= "give up this train of thought".


And think of some course suitable to thy rank,

And prosper in it.


All.                      You have well advised me.


But in the mean time you that are so studious

Of my affairs wholly neglect your own:


Remember yourself, and in what plight you are.

260: Allworth is suggesting Wellborn is in no position to be

     giving him advice.


Well.  No matter, no matter.


All.                                      Yes, 'tis much material:

= ie. "it directly affects you."

You know my fortune and my means; yet something

= ie. which is not extensive.


I can spare from myself to help your wants.


Well.  How's this?


All.                    Nay, be not angry; there's eight pieces

= gold coins. Allworth's attempt to help Wellborn out,
     though heartfelt and born from genuine sympathy, is
     naïve, and Wellborn does not take the offer well.

To put you in better fashion.

271: "so you may buy new clothes."


Well.                                   Money from thee!


From a boy! a stipendiary! one that lives

274-6: a stipendiary…lord = Wellborn points out that any

At the devotion of a stepmother

     money Allworth has comes in the form of an allowance
     (stipend) from his step-mother who loves him, and the
     generosity of his patron Lovell, the latter's payments on
     which he cannot always depend.


And the uncertain favour of a lord!

I'll eat my arms first. Howsoe'er blind Fortune

277: arms = I think he means his bodily arms, so as to
     prevent them from accepting any such handout.
         blind Fortune = personified Fortune is normally
     arbitrary (blind) regarding whose luck she raises or
     lowers, but she seems to have targeted Wellborn with
     extra misfortune (line 278).


Hath spent the utmost of her malice on me −

Though I am vomited out of an alehouse,

= an appropriate word for being tossed out of a tavern.


And thus accoutred − know not where to eat,

= dressed, ie. poorly.

Or drink, or sleep, but underneath this canopy

= ie. the sky.


Although I thank thee, I despise thy offer:

And as I in my madness broke my state

= "allowed my estate (ie. myself) to go broke".


Without the assistance of another's brain,

In my right wits I'll piece it; at the worst,

= "put it back together again."


Die thus and be forgotten.

= ie. "I'll die".


All.                                    A strange humour!

= mood.




A Room in Lady Allworth's House.

Enter Order, Amble, Furnace, and Watchall. 

Entering Characters: the named characters are all servants in Lady Allworth's household: Order is the steward, the head domestic who runs the entire household; Amble is the usher, or attendant; Furnace the cook; and Watchall the porter, or door-keeper.12


Ord.  Set all things right, or, as my name is Order,


And by this staff of office that commands you,

2-3: the steward lists several attributes of his authority;
     the chain held his keys; the ruff was the uncomfortable-
     looking frill worn at the time around the fashionable
     person's neck.

This chain and double ruff, symbols of power,


Whoever misses in his functiön,

4: "whoever falls short in his duties".

For one whole week makes forfeiture of his breakfast,


And privilege in the wine-cellar.

6: ie. he gets no drink!


Amb.                                       You are merry,

Good master steward.


Furn.                        Let him; I'll be angry.

11: Furnace, as his name suggests, is usually ill-tempered.


Amb.  Why, fellow Furnace, 'tis not twelve o'clock yet,

13-14: noon was the normal time for dinner in those days.13


Nor dinner taking up; then, 'tis allowed,

14-15: then…choleric = Amble suggests cooks should be
     ill-tempered only at meal times.

Cooks, by their places, may be choleric.

15: cooks, by nature of their exacting duties, are licensed to


     be short-tempered (choleric).

Furn.  You think you have spoke wisely, goodman Amble,


My lady's go-before!

18: the usher would precede his master or mistress when he

     or she makes an entrance; Furnace means this as an


Ord.                        Nay, nay, no wrangling.


Furn.  Twit me with the authority of the kitchen!

At all hours, and all places, I'll be angry;

23: Furnace responds to Amble's assertion of lines 14-15; 
     he will not be circumscribed regarding when he will be


And thus provoked, when I am at my prayers

= read as "even when".

I will be angry.


Amb.            There was no hurt meant.


Furn.  I am friends with thee; and yet I will be angry.


Ord.  With whom?


Furn.              No matter whom: yet, now I think on it,


I am angry with my lady.

= ie. Lady Allworth.


Watch.                           Heaven forbid, man!


Ord.  What cause has she given thee?


Furn.                            Cause enough, master steward.

I was entertained by her to please her palate,

= hired.


And, till she forswore eating, I performed it.

= gave up.

Now, since our master, noble Allworth, died,


Though I crack my brains to find out tempting sauces,

And raise fortifications in the pastry

45-48: Furnace compares the raised sides of his puff pastry
     to the walls of a fortress; Sherman notes that the ability
     to raise pastry artfully was prized by chefs.9


Such as might serve for models in the Low Countries;

46-48: a very topical allusion to the 10-month long siege by

Which, if they had been practisèd at Breda,

     the Spanish of the Dutch city of Breda; the good people


Spinola might have thrown his cap at it, and ne'er took it.

     of the Netherlands (Low Countries) had been trying
     to shake off Spanish rule since 1566, and upon the
     conclusion of a 12-year truce in 1621, the Spanish began
     to aggressively recapture lost territory. In August 1624
     the great Italian general Ambrogio Spinola (who was
     serving the Spanish) besieged the well-defended port
     city of Breda. Despite repeated efforts to relieve the city,
     including assistance from the English, Breda finally
     surrendered on 1 July 1625. In the intervening months,
     the garrison and civilian population suffered incredible
     hardship, including near-starvation.6


Amb.  But you had wanted matter there to work on.

50: "but you would have lacked (wanted) ingredients to
     work with there", a reference to the near-complete
     absence of food during the siege of Breda; Amble is
     teasing Furnace.


Furn.  Matter! with six eggs, and a strike of rye meal,

= an archaic unit of dry-measure, about a bushel.1

I had kept the town till doomsday, perhaps longer.

= ie. would have supplied the city with food.


Ord.  But what's this to your pet against my lady?

= "what does this have to do with".  = sulking.1


Furn.  What's this? marry this; when I am three parts

= an oath, derived from the Virgin Mary.


And the fourth part parboiled, to prepare her viands,

She keeps her chamber, dines with a panada

= "stays in her room".  = a sweetened but thin porridge
     containing slices of bread.3


Or water-gruel, my sweat never thought on.

= a thin oatmeal, also sometimes sweetened.1


Ord.  But your art is seen in the dining-room.


Furn.                                                         By whom?

By such as pretend love to her, but come

65-66: By such…upon her = "only by those who come here
     on the pretense of loving her, but really only want to
     enjoy her dinner table."


To feed upon her. Yet, of all the harpies

= mythical monsters notorious for their disgustingness;
     half-bird and half-woman, harpies were known for their
     propensity to devour food, or foul it, rendering it inedible.

That do devour her, I am out of charity

= ie. patience.


With none so much as the thin-gutted squire

68-69: Furnace alludes to their frequent guest, the painfully-
     thin Justice Greedy.

That's stolen into commission.

= "who has bribed (or employed other forms of corruption)


     to get himself appointed Justice of the Peace."

Ord.                                        Justice Greedy?


Furn.  The same, the same: meat's cast away upon him,

= thrown away, ie. wasted.


It never thrives; he holds this paradox,

= manifests or demonstrates.

Who eats not well, can ne'er do justice well:

75: perhaps a variation of Jeremiah 22:15: "did not thy father
     eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, etc." (King


His stomach's as insatiate as the grave,

= ie. insatiable or unsatisfiable.

Or strumpets' ravenous appetites.

77: "or as the sexual desire of whores."


[Knocking within.]


Watch.                                        One knocks.



83: as the porter, Watchall goes to answer the door.


Ord.  Our late young master!


Re-enter Watchall and Allworth.


Amb.                                   Welcome, sir.


Furn.                                                       Your hand;

91: Furnace offers to shake hands.


If you have a stomach, a cold bake-meat's ready.

= appetite.  = meat-pie or pastry.1


Ord.  His father's picture in little.

94: "he is his father's very image."


Furn.                                    We are all your servants.

= ie. "at your service."


Amb.  In you he lives.


All.                             At once, my thanks to all;

= in short.

This is yet some comfort. Is my lady stirring?

= Allworth is glad for this welcome, which makes up a bit


     for his fallen condition.

Enter Lady Allworth,


Waiting Woman, and Chambermaid.


Ord.  Her presence answers for us.


L. All.                                         Sort those silks well.

I'll take the air alone.

= get some air, ie. take a walk.


[Exeunt Waiting Woman and Chambermaid.]


Furn.                     You air and air;


But will you never taste but spoon-meat more?

= anything except for.  =  liquid food, such as soups and

To what use serve I?



L. All.                    Prithee, be not angry;

= please, short for "pray thee".


I shall ere long; i' the mean time, there is gold

= "I shall begin again to take proper meals before long."

To buy thee aprons, and a summer suit.


Furn.  I am appeased, and Furnace now grows cool.


L. All.  And, as I gave directions, if this morning


I am visited by any, entertain them

= ie. feed.5

As heretofore; but say, in my excuse,

= "as before."


I am indisposed.


Ord.                  I shall, madam.


L. All.                                     Do, and leave them.

Nay, stay you, Allworth.


[Exeunt Order, Amble, Furnace, and Watchall.]


All.                              I shall gladly grow here,

= remain.


To wait on your commands.


L. All.                                 So soon turned courtier!

138: Lady Allworth is impressed that her young stepson
     has already learned to speak so flatteringly.


All.  Style not that courtship, madam, which is duty

140-1: "don't call (style) the way I act as court behavior;

Purchased on your part.

     rather, you have earned my obedience and loyalty to


L. All.                        Well, you shall o'ercome;

= ie. "come out victorious in this argument," ie. Lady
     Allworth will not argue the point with him.


I'll not contend in words. How is it with

Your noble master?

145: ie. Lord Lovell.


All.                        Ever like himself,

147-8: as always, Lord Lovell is scrupulously honourable


No scruple lessened in the full weight of honour.

     in his behavior.

He did command me, pardon my presumption,


As his unworthy deputy, to kiss

Your ladyship's fair hands.


L. All.                               I am honoured in


His favour to me. Does he hold his purpose

154-5: Does he…Countries = Lovell is planning to raise a

For the Low Countries?

     troop of soldiers, and bring them to the continent to


     lead against the Spanish on behalf of the Dutch.

All.                               Constantly, good madam;


But he will in person first present his service.

158: Lovell will not leave England before he pays a visit
     (presents his service) to Lady Allworth.


L. All.  And how approve you of his course? you are yet

= what do you think of".

Like virgin parchment, capable of any


Inscription, vicious or honourable.

I will not force your will, but leave you free

163-4: Lady Allworth means she will let her stepson decide


To your own election.

     for himself if he wants to accompany Lovell to the wars.


 All.                            Any form you please,

I will put on; but, might I make my choice,


With humble emulation I would follow

The path my lord marks to me.

= ie. "Lord Lovell suggests I should take."


L. All.                                      'Tis well answered,


And I commend your spirit: you had a father,

= praise, approve.

Blessed be his memory! that some few hours


Before the will of Heaven took him from me,

Who did commend you, by the dearest ties

= entrust.2


Of perfect love between us, to my charge;

= responsibility.

And, therefore, what I speak, you are bound to hear


With such respect as if he lived in me.

= "as if your father is speaking through me."

He was my husband, and howe'er you are not


Son of my womb, you may be of my love,

Provided you deserve it.


All.                               I have found you,


Most honoured madam, the best mother to me;

And, with my utmost strengths of care and service,


Will labour that you never may repent

Your bounties showered upon me.

= generous favours.


L. All.                                           I much hope it.


These were your father's words: "If e'er my son

Follow the war, tell him it is a school


Where all the principles tending to honour

Are taught, if truly followed: but for such

= those.


As repair thither as a place in which

= "who go to there (ie. to wars)".

They do presume they may with license practise

= ie. complete freedom.


Their lusts and riots, they shall never merit

= debaucheries, wild behavior.

The noble name of soldiers. To dare boldly,

= the sense is "fight".


In a fair cause, and for their country's safety,

To run upon the cannon's mouth undaunted;

= without fear.


To obey their leaders, and shun mutinies;

To bear with patiënce the winter's cold


And summer's scorching heat, and not to faint

When plenty of provision fails, with hunger;


Are the essential parts make up a soldier,

= ie. that make up.

Not swearing, dice, or drinking."


All.                                           There's no syllable


You speak, but is to me an oracle,

= ie. like a divinely-inspired statement of the truth.

Which but to doubt were impious.

= would be.


L. All.                                           To conclude:


Beware ill company, for often men

212f: Lady Allworth warns her stepson from speaking any

Are like to those with whom they do converse;

     further from with Wellborn, not because he is destitute,


And, from one man I warn you, and that's Wellborn:

     but because young Allworth might be tempted to pick

Not 'cause he's poor, that rather claims your pity;

     up the prodigal's bad habits.


But that he's in his manners so debauched,

And hath to vicious courses sold himself.

= an immoral or evil course of behavior.


'Tis true, your father loved him, while he was

Worthy the loving; but if he had lived

= "of his love."


To have seen him as he is, he had cast him off,

= would have.

As you must do.


All.                    I shall obey in all things.


L. All.  Follow me to my chamber, you shall have gold


To furnish you like my son, and still supplied,

= equip.  = ie. further.

As I hear from you.


All.                        I am still your creature.

= always, ever.




A Hall in the same.

The Scene: ie. still in Lady Allworth's house.

Enter Overreach, Greedy, Order, Amble,

Entering Characters: we finally meet the play's villain, Sir

Furnace, Watchall, and Marrall. 

Giles Overreach, the ruthless collector of others' property by any means, legal or not; his only possible claim to humanity is his repeated assertion that he does what he does for the benefit of his daughter Margaret, as he cares not for his own reputation.
     Marrall is Sir Giles' hired hand, the one who does much of Sir Giles' dirty work.
     Greedy, a Justice of the Peace, is, despite his role as Overreach's ally on the bench, the play's comic relief. Dramatist Ben Jonson had years earlier pioneered the conceit of having a character defined by a particular and dominating quirk in his personality; Greedy himself fills such a role, his idiosyncrasy being an insatiable hunger. Greedy can barely speak or think of anything but food, and one must wonder whether a 17th century audience found his single unvarying joke as funny in the fifth act as it might have been in the first.


Greedy.  Not to be seen!

1ff: the scene begins with the recent arrivals learning that
     Lady Allworth never visits with her guests.


Over.                             Still cloistered up! Her reason,

3-6: "she is still in seclusion! I expect that her sane good


I hope, assures her, though she make herself

     judgment tells her, despite the fact that she keeps herself

Close prisoner ever for her husband's loss,

     in isolation (close prisoner) in her mourning, that her


'Twill not recover him.

     hiding from the world won't bring her husband back."


Ord.                             Sir, it is her will.

Which we, that are her servants, ought to serve,


And not dispute: howe'er, you are nobly welcome;

And, if you please to stay, that you may think so,


There came, not six days since, from Hull, a pipe

12: Hull = a port city in Yorkshire, about 60 miles north-east
     of the play's setting in Nottingham. 
         pipe = cask.2

Of rich Canary, which shall spend itself

= a sweet wine from the Canary Islands.


For my lady's honour.


Greedy.                     Is it of the right race?

= ie. the best kind of grape.5


Ord.  Yes, Master Greedy. 


Amb.                                 How his mouth runs o'er!

= salivates.


Furn.  I'll make it run, and run. Save your good worship!

= ie. "God save your worship", a phase of good will.

     Furnace is obviously pleased that Greedy appreciates his


Greedy.  Honest Master Cook, thy hand; again: how I
     love thee!

Are the good dishes still in being? speak, boy.


Furn.  If you have a mind to feed, there is a chine

= joint.2


Of beef, well seasoned.


Greedy.                         Good!


Furn.                                    A pheasant, larded.


Greedy.  That I might now give thanks for't!


Furn.                                               Other kickshaws.

= fancy French dishes.4

Besides, there came last night, from the forest of

= famous forest of Nottinghamshire.


The fattest stag I ever cooked.


Greedy.                                   A stag, man!


Furn.  A stag, sir; part of it prepared for dinner,

And baked in puff-paste.


Greedy.                          Puff-paste too! Sir Giles,


A ponderous chine of beef! a pheasant larded!

And red deer too, Sir Giles, and baked in puff-paste!


All business set aside, let us give thanks here.

= right now.5


Furn.  How the lean skeleton's rapt!

50: part of the humour surrounding Greedy is that he
     remains painfully thin, no matter how much he consumes.
     It is interesting to speculate whether Massinger wrote
     the part with a particularly scrawny actor in mind.


Over.                                         You know we cannot.

52: Overreach reminds Greedy they have no time to eat.


Mar.  Your worships are to sit on a commission,

54: Marrall reminds the gentlemen that they are scheduled

And if you fail to come, you lose the cause.

     to attend a hearing of a case (cause) to which Sir Giles


     is a party, and over which Greedy will be presiding. If
     Overreach fails to appear, he will lose his suit by default.

Greedy.  Cause me no causes. I'll prove't, for such dinner,


We may put off a commission: you shall find it

Henrici decimo quarto.

= ie. in an Act passed during the fourteenth year of the reign
     of Henry VIII.9


Over.                            Fie, Master Greedy!

= for shame.


Will you lose me a thousand pounds for a dinner?

No more, for shame! we must forget the belly


When we think of profit.


Greedy.                          Well, you shall o'er-rule me;

I could e'en cry now. − Do you hear, Master Cook,


Send but a corner of that immortal pasty,

= fragment or piece.  = meat-pie which deserves eternal

And I, in thankfulness, will, by your boy,


Send you − a brace of three-pences.

= a pair of three-pence, or six pennies; certainly an underwhelming amount, as indicated by Furnace's ironic response. Note the dash, which allows for a dramatic pause before Greedy names his anticlimactic reward.


Furn.  Will you be so prodigal?

= extravagant.


Enter Wellborn.


Over.  Remember me to your lady. − Who have we here?


Well.  You know me.