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The Old Law, or A New Way to Please You. La Loi des anciens, ou Comment vous plaire à nouveau, De Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, Philip Massinger. Texte établi, traduit, présenté et annoté par Antoine Ertlé

Act III

Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton et William Rowley
Traduction(s) :
Acte 3

Texte intégral

Act III, scene i

Enter the clown and clerk.

CLOWN
You have searched o’er the parish chronicle, sir?

CLERK
Yes, sir, I have found out the true age and date of the party you wot on.

CLOWN
Pray you be covered, sir.

CLERK
When you have showed me the way, sir.

CLOWN
Oh, sir, remember yourself, you are a clerk.

CLERK
A small clerk, sir.

CLOWN
Likely to be the wiser man, sir, for your greatest clerks are not always so, as ’tis reported.

CLERK
You are a great man in the parish, sir.

CLOWN
I understand myself so much the better, sir, for all the best in the parish pay duties to the clerk, and I would owe you none, sir.

CLERK
Since you’ll have it so, I’ll be the first to hide my head.

CLOWN
Mine is a capcase. Now, to our business in your hand; good luck, I hope; I long to be resolved.

CLERK
Look you, sir, this is that cannot deceive you,
This is the dial that goes ever true.
You may say
ipse dixit upon this witness,
and ’tis good in law too.

CLOWN
Pray you, let’s hear what it speaks.

CLERK
Mark, sir:
Agatha, the daughter of Pollux (this is your wife’s name and the name of her father) born

CLOWN
Whose daughter say you?

CLERK
The daughter of Pollux.

CLOWN
I take it his name was Bollux.

CLERK
P O L L U X the orthography, I assure you, sir, the word is corrupted else.

CLOWN
Well, on, sir, of Pollux; now come on Castor.

CLERK
Born in an[no] 1540, and now ’tis ‘99. By this infallible record, sir, let me see, she is now just fifty-nine and wants but one.

CLOWN
I am sorry she wants so much.

CLERK
Why, sir? Alas, ’tis nothing, ’tis but so many months, so many weeks, so many –

CLOWN
Do not deduct it to days; ’twill be the more tedious,     and to measure it by hour- glasses were intolerable.

CLERK
Do not think on it, sir. Half the time goes away in sleep; ’tis half the year in nights.

CLOWN
Oh, you mistake me, neighbour, I am loath to leave the good old woman. If she were gone now it would not grieve me, for what is a year, alas, but a lingering torment? And were it not better she were out of her pain? It must needs be a grief to us both.

CLERK
I would I knew how to ease you, neighbour.

CLOWN
You speak kindly, truly, and if you say but Amen to it, which is a word that I know you are perfect in, it might be done. Clerks are the most indifferent honest men, for to the marriage of your enemy, or the burial of your friend, the curses or the blessings to you are all one; you say Amen to all.

CLERK
With a better will to the one than the other, neighbour, but I shall be glad to say Amen to anything might do you a pleasure.

CLOWN
There is, first, something above your duty. Now I would have you set forward the clock a little, to help the old woman out of her pain.

CLERK
I will speak to the sexton for that, but the day will go ne’er the faster for that.

CLOWN
Oh, neighbour, you do not conceit me; not the jack of the clock-house, the hand of the dial, I mean. Come, I know you, being a great clerk, cannot choose but have the art to cast a figure.

CLERK
Never indeed, neighbour; I never had the judgment to cast a figure.

CLOWN
I’ll show you on the backside of your book. Look you, what figure’s this?

CLERK
Four with a cipher; that’s forty.

CLOWN
So, forty; what’s this now?

CLERK
The cipher is turned into 9 by adding the tail, which makes forty-nine.

CLOWN
Very well understood. What is it now?

CLERK
The 4 is turned into 3; ’tis now thirty-nine.

CLOWN
Very well understood, and can you do this again?

CLERK
Oh, easily, sir.

CLOWN
A wager of that! Let me see the place of my wife’s age again.

CLERK
Look you, sir, ’tis here, 1540.

CLOWN
Forty drachmas, you do not turn that forty into thirty-nine.

CLERK
A match with you!

CLOWN
Done! And you shall keep stakes yourself. There they are.

  • 1 Scirophorion] Shaw; Scirophon Q.
  • 2 Hecatombaion] Shaw ; Hecatomcaon Q.

CLERK
A firm match! But, stay, sir, now I consider it, I shall add a year to your wife’s age. Let me see,
Scirophorion1 the 17, and now ’tis Hecatombaion2 the 11. If I alter this, your wife will have but a month to live by the law.

CLOWN
That’s all one, sir; either do it or pay me my wager.

CLERK
Will you lose your wife before you lose your wager?

CLOWN
A man may get two wives before half so much money by ’em. Will you do’t?

CLERK
I hope you will conceal me, for ’tis flat corruption.

CLOWN
Nay, sir, I would have you keep counsel for I lose my money by it, and should be laughed at for my labour if it should be known.

CLERK
Well, sir, there! ’Tis done, as perfect 39 as can be found in black and white. But, mum, sir, there’s danger in this figure casting.

CLOWN
Aye, sir, I know that better men than you have been thrown over the bar for as little. The best is, you can be but thrown out of the belfry.

Enter the Cook, the Tailor, [the] Bailiff, and Butler.

CLERK
Look close; here comes company. Asses have ears as well as pitchers.

COOK
Oh, Gnothos, how is it? Here’s a trick of discarded cards of us; we were ranked with coats as long as our old master lived.

CLOWN
And is this then the end of serving-men?

COOK
Yes, faith, this is the end of serving-men. A wise man were better serve one God than all the men in the world.

CLOWN
’Twas well spoke of a cook. And are all fallen into fasting days and ember weeks, that cooks are out of use?

TAILOR
And all tailors will be cut into lists and shreds. If this world hold, we shall grow both out of request.

BUTLER
And why not butlers as well as tailors? If they can go naked, let ‘em neither eat nor drink.

CLERK
That’s strange, methinks, a lord should turn away his tailor of all men. And how dost thou, tailor?

TAILOR
I do so-so. But, indeed, all our wants are long of this publican, my lord’s bailiff, for had he been rent-gatherer still, our places had held together still that are now seam- rent, nay, cracked in the whole piece.

BAILIFF
Sir, if my lord had not sold his lands that claim his rents, I should still have been the rent-gatherer.

COOK
The truth is, except the coachman and the footman, all serving-men are out of request.

  • 3 begging] Shaw ; a begging Q.

CLOWN
Nay, say not so, for you were never in more request than now, for requesting is but a kind of begging
3; for when you say, "I beseech your worship’s charity," ‘tis all one if you say I request it, and, in that kind of requesting, I am sure serving men were never in more request.

COOK
Troth, he says true. Well, let that pass, we are upon a better adventure. I see, Gnothos, you have been before us; we came to deal with this merchant for some commodities.

CLERK
With me, sir? Anything that I can.

BUTLER
Nay, we have looked out our wives already. Marry, to you we come to know the prices, that is, to know their ages; for so much reverence we bear to age, that the more aged they shall be the more dear to us.

TAILOR
The truth is, every man has laid by his widow; so they be lame enough, blind enough, and old, ’tis good enough.

CLERK
I keep the town stock. If you can but name ’em, I can tell their ages to-day.

ALL
We can tell their fortunes to an hour then.

CLERK
Only you must pay for turning of the leaves.

COOK
Oh, bountifully! Come, mine first!

BUTLER
The butler before the cook, while you live; there’s few that eat before they drink in a morning.

TAILOR
Nay, then the tailor puts in his needle of priority, for men do clothe themselves before they either drink or eat.

BAILIFF
I will strive for no place. The longer e’er I marry my wife, the older she will be, and nearer her end and my ends.

CLERK
I will serve you all, gentlemen, if you will have patience.

CLOWN
I commend you modesty, sir; you are a bailiff whose place is to come behind other men, as it were, in the bum of all the rest.

BAILIFF
So, sir, and you were about this business too, seeking out for a widow?

CLOWN
Alack! No, sir, I am a married man and have those cares upon me that you would fain run into.

BAILIFF
What, an old rich wife? Any man in this age desires such a care.

CLOWN
Troth, sir, I’ll put a venture with you, if you will. I have a lusty old quean to my wife, sound of wind and limb, yet I’ll give out to take three for one at the marriage of my second wife.

BAILIFF
Aye, sir, but how near is she to the law?

CLOWN
Take that at hazard, sir; there must be time, you know, to get a new. Unsight, unseen, I take three to one.

BAILIFF
Two to one I’ll give, if she have but two teeth in her head.

CLOWN
A match! There’s five drachmas for ten at my next wife.

BAILIFF
A match!

[The clerk gives each man a name-slip]

COOK
I shall be fitted bravely: fifty-eight and upwards; ’tis but a year and a half, and I may chance make friends and beg a year of the Duke.

BUTLER
Hey, boys, I am made sir butler! My wife that shall be wants but two months of her time. It shall be one ere I marry her, and then the next will be a honeymoon.

TAILOR
I outstrip you all! I shall have but six weeks of Lent if I get my widow, and then comes eating-tide, plump and gorgeous.

CLOWN
This tailor will be a man if ever there were any.

BAILIFF
Now comes my turn. I hope, goodman, Finis, you that are still at the end of all with a "so be it." Well now, sirs, do you venture there as I have done, and I’ll venture here after you. Good luck, I beseech thee!

CLERK
Amen, sir.

BAILIFF
That deserves a fee already. There ’tis. Please me and have a better.

CLERK
Amen, sir.

COOK
How, two for one at your next wife? Is the old one living?

CLOWN
You have a fair match; I offer you no foul one. If death make not haste to call her, she’ll make none to go to him.

BUTLER
I know her; she’s a lusty woman. I’ll take the venture.

CLOWN
There’s five drachmas for ten at my next wife.

BUTLER
A bargain.

COOK
Nay, then we’ll be all merchants, give me.

TAILOR
And me.

BUTLER
What, has the bailiff sped?

BAILIFF
I am content, but none of you shall know my happiness.

CLERK
As well as any of you all, believe it, sir.

BAILIFF
Oh, clerk, you are to speak last always.

CLERK
I’ll remember it hereafter, sir. You have done with me, gentlemen?

Enter [CLOWN’S] wife.

ALL
For this time, honest register.

CLERK
Fare you well then; if you do, I’ll cry Amen to it.

Exit.

COOK
Look you, sir, is not this your wife?

CLOWN
My first wife, sir.

BUTLER
Nay, then we have made a good match on’t. If she have no forward disease, the woman may live this dozen years by her age.

TAILOR
I’m afraid she’s broken-winded; she holds silence so long.

COOK
We’ll now leave our venture to the event. I must a-wooing.

BUTLER
I’ll but buy me a new dagger and overtake you.

BAILIFF
So we must all, for he that goes a-wooing to a widow without a weapon will never get her.

Exeunt.

CLOWN
Oh, wife, wife!

AGATHA
What ails you, man, you speak so passionately?

CLOWN
’Tis for thy sake, sweet wife. Who would think so lusty an old woman, with reasonable good teeth, and her tongue in as perfect use as ever it was, should be so near her time? But the fates will have it so.

AGATHA
What’s the matter, man? You do amaze me.

CLOWN
Thou art not sick neither, I warrant thee.

AGATHA
Not that I know of, sure.

CLOWN
What pity ’tis, a woman should be so near her end and yet not sick.

AGATHA
Near her end, man! Tush, I can guess at that: I have years good yet of life in the remainder. I want two yet, at least, of the full number; then the law, I know, craves impotent and useless and not the able women.

CLOWN
Aye, alas! I see thou hast been repairing time as well as thou couldst; the old wrinkles are well fill’d up, but the vermillion is seen too thick, too thick, and I read what’s written in thy forehead. It agrees with the church-book.

AGATHA
Have you sought my age, man? And, I prithee, how is it?

CLOWN
I shall but discomfort thee.

AGATHA
Not at all, man; when there’s no remedy, I will go, though unwillingly.

CLOWN
1539. Just; it agrees with the book: you have but a year to prepare yourself.

AGATHA
Out, alas! I hope there’s more than so. But do you not think a reprieve might be gotten for half a score? And ‘twere but five year[s], I would not care; an able woman, methinks, were to be pitied.

CLOWN
Aye, to be pitied, but not helped, no hope of that; for, indeed, women have so blemish’d their own reputations now-a-days, that it is thought the law will meet them at fifty very shortly.

AGATHA
Marry, the heavens forbid!

CLOWN
There’s so many of you that, when you are old become witches: some profess physic and kill good subjects faster than a burning fever; and then schoolmistresses of the sweet sin, which commonly we call bawds, innumerable of that sort; for these and such causes ’tis thought they shall not live above fifty.

AGATHA
Aye, man, but this hurts not the good old women.

CLOWN
Aye, faith, you are so like one another that a man cannot distinguish ’em now. Were I an old woman, I would desire to go before my time, and offer myself willingly two or three years before. Oh, those are brave women and worthy to be commended of all men in the world, that when their husbands die, they run to be burnt to death with ’em. There’s honour and credit; give me half a dozen such wives!

AGATHA
Aye, if her husband were dead before, ’twere a reasonable request. If you were dead, I could be content to be so.

CLOWN
Fie, that’s not likely, for thou had’st two husband before me.

AGATHA
Thou wouldst not have me die, wouldst thou, husband?

CLOWN
No, I do not speak to that purpose, but I say what credit it were for me and thee if thou would’st, then thou should’st never be suspected for a witch, a physician, a bawd, or any of those things, and then how daintily should I mourn for thee, how bravely should I see thee buried. When, alas, if he goes before, it cannot choose but be a great grief to him to think he has not seen his wife well buried. There be such virtuous women in the world, but too few, too few, who desire to die seven years before their time with all their hearts.

AGATHA
I have not the heart to be of that mind. But, indeed, husband, I think you would have me gone.

CLOWN
No, alas! I speak but for your good and your credit, for when a woman may die quickly, why should she go to law for her death? Alack! I need not wish thee gone for thou hast but a short time to stay with me; you do not know how near ‘tis. It must out, you have but a month to live by the law.

AGATHA
Out, alas!

CLOWN
Nay, scarce so much.

AGATHA
Oh, oh, oh, my heart! [
She] swoons.

CLOWN
Aye, so, if thou wouldst go away quietly, ’twere sweetly done and like a kind wife. Lie but a little longer and the bell shall toll for thee.

AGATHA
Oh, my heart, but a month to live!

CLOWN [Aside]
Alas, why wouldst thou come back again for a month? I’ll throw her down again. [
To Wife] Oh, woman, ’tis not three weeks; I think a fortnight is the most.

AGATHA
Nay, then, I am gone already. [
She] swoons.

CLOWN
I would make haste to the sexton now, but I’m afraid the tolling of the bell will wake her again. If she be so wise as to go now – she stirs again, there’s two lives of the nine gone.

AGATHA
Oh, wouldst not thou help to recover me, husband?

CLOWN
Alas, I could not find in my heart to hold thee by thy nose, or box thy cheeks, it goes against my conscience.

AGATHA
I will not be thus frighted to my death,
I’ll search the church record a fortnight;
’Tis too little conscience, I cannot be so near.
Oh time, if thou be’est kind, lend me but a year.

Exit.

  • 4 broker] Shaw ; brother Q.

CLOWN
What a spite’s this, that a man cannot persuade his wife to die in any time with her good will! I have another bespoke already. Though a piece of old beef will serve to breakfast, yet a man would be glad of a chicken to supper. The clerk, I hope, understands no Hebrew and cannot write backward what he hath writ forward already, and then I am well enough. ’Tis but a month at most; if that were gone, my venture comes in with her two for one. ’Tis use enough, a conscience for a broker
4
– If he had a conscience.

Act III, scene ii

Enter EUGENIA at one door, SIMONIDES, Courtiers, at the other.

EUGENIA
Gentlemen courtiers.

FIRST COURTIER
All your servants vowed, lady.

  • 5 EUGENIA] attribués à FIRST COURTIER dans Q.

[EUGENIA]5
Oh, I shall kill myself with infinite laughter!
Will nobody take my part?

SIMONIDES
And it be a laughing business,
Put it to me; I’m one of the best in Europe.
My father died last too; I have the most cause.

EUGENIA
You have picked out such a time, sweet gentlemen,
To make your spleen a banquet.

SIMONIDES
Oh, the jest, lady!
I have a jaw stands ready for’t, I’ll gape
Half way and meet it.

EUGENIA
My old husband,
That cannot say his prayers out for jealousy
And madness, at your coming first to woo me –

SIMONIDES
Well said!

FIRST COURTIER
Go on!

SECOND COURIER
On, on!

EUGENIA
Takes counsel with the secrets of all art to make himself youthful again.

SIMONIDES
How? Youthful! Ha, ha, ha!

EUGENIA
A man of forty-five he would feign seem to be,
Or scarce so much, if he might have his will indeed.

SIMONIDES
Aye, but his white hairs, they’ll betray his hoariness.

EUGENIA
Why, there you are wide, he’s not the man you take him for;
Nor will you know him when you see him again,
There will be five to one laid upon that.

FIRST COURIER
How?

EUGENIA
Nay, you did well to laugh faintly there.
I promise you, I think he’ll outlive me now
And deceive law and all.

SIMONIDES
Marry, gout forbid!

EUGENIA
You little think he was at fencing school
At four o’clock this morning.

SIMONIDES
How, at fencing school!

EUGENIA
Else give no trust to woman.

SIMONIDES
By this light
I do not like him, then; he’s like to live
Longer than I, for he may kill me first, now.

EUGENIA
His dancer now came in, as I met you.

FIRST COURTIER
His dancer, too!

EUGENIA
They observe turns and hours with him;
The great French rider will be here at ten
With his curvetting horse.

SECOND COURIER
These notwithstanding,
His hair and wrinkles will betray his age.

EUGENIA
I’m sure his head and beard, as he has ordered it,
Looks not past fifty now. He’ll bring it to forty
Within these four days, for nine times an hour at least
He takes a black lead comb and kembs it over.
Three-quarters of his beard is under fifty;
There’s but a little tuft of fourscore left
All of one side which will be black by Monday.

Enter LISANDER

And to approve my truth, see where he comes!
Laugh softly, gentlemen, and look upon him.

SIMONIDES
Now, by this hand, he’s almost black in the mouth indeed.

FIRST COURTIER
He should die shortly, then.

SIMONIDES
Marry, methinks he dies too fast already,
For he was all white but a week ago.

FIRST COURIER
Oh, this same coney-white takes an excellent black
Too soon. A mischief on’t!

SECOND COURTIER
He will beguile us all
If that little tuft northward turn black too.

EUGENIA
Nay, sir, I wonder ’tis so long a-turning.

SIMONIDES
Maybe some fairy’s child, held forth at midnight, Has pissed upon that side.

FIRST COURTIER
Is this the beard?

  • 6 mangy] Q (mangle).

LISANDER
Ah, sirrah! My young boys, I shall be for you.
This little mangy
6 tuft takes up more time
Than all the beard beside! – Come you a-wooing
And I alive and lusty? You shall find
An alteration, jack-boys; I have a spirit yet,
And I could match my hair to it, there’s the fault,
And can do offices of youth yet lightly.
At least I will do, though it pain me a little.
Shall not a man for a little foolish age
Enjoy his wife to himself? Must young court tits
Play tomboys’ tricks with her and he live, ha?
I have blood that will not bear it; yet, I confess
I should be at my prayers. But! where’s the dancer there?

Ent[er] Dan[cing Master]

DANCING MASTER
Here, sir.

LISANDER
Come, come, come, one trick a day
And I shall soon recover all again.

EUGENIA
’Slight, and you laugh too loud, we are all discovered, gentlemen.

  • 7 o’ mine own] Shaw ; a’ mine own Q.

SIMONIDES
And I have a scurvy, ginny laugh o’ mine own
7
Will spoil all, I’m afraid.

EUGENIA
Marry, take heed, sir.

SIMONIDES
Nay, and I should be hanged, I can’t leave it.
Pup! There ’tis!

EUGENIA
Peace! Oh, peace!

LISANDER
Come, I am ready, sir.
I hear the church-book’s lost where I was born too,
And that shall set me back one-and-twenty years;
There is no little comfort left in that.
And, my three court codlings, that look parboiled,
As if they came from Cupid’s scalding house, –

SIMONIDES
He means me specially, I hold my life.

DANCING MASTER
What trick will your old worship learn this morning, sir?

LISANDER
Marry, a trick? If thou couldst teach a man
To keep his wife to himself, I’d fain learn that.

DANCING MASTER
That’s a hard trick for an old man specially;
The horse-trick comes the nearest.

LISANDER
Thou sayest true, i’faith;
They must be horsed indeed, else there’s no keeping on ‘em,
And horseplay at fourscore is not so ready.

DANCING MASTER
Look you, here’s your worship’s horse-trick, sir.

LISANDER
Nay, say not so,
’Tis none of mine; I fall down horse and man
If I but offer at it.

DANCING MASTER
My life for yours, sir.

LISANDER
Sayest thou me so?

DANCING MASTER
Well offered, by my viol, sir.

LISANDER
A pox of this horse-trick, it has played the jade with me
And given me a wrench in the back.

DANCING MASTER
Now, here’s your inturn, and your trick above ground.

LISANDER
Prithee, no more, unless thou hast a mind
To lay me underground. One of these tricks
Is enough in a morning.

DANCING MASTER
For your galliard, sir,
You are complete enough. Aye, and may challenge
The proudest coxcomb of ‘emall, I’ll stand to it.

LISANDER
Faith, and I’ve other weapons for the rest too.
I have prepared for ’em, if e’er I take
My Gregories here again.

SIMONIDES
Oh, I shall burst, I can hold out no longer.

EUGENIA
He spoils all.

LISANDER
The devil and his grinners! Are you come?
Bring forth the weapons, we shall find you play!
All feats of youth too, jack-boys, feats of youth!
And these weapons: drinking, fencing, dancing,
Your own roadways, you glisterpipes! I’m old, you say?
Yes, parlous old, kids, and you mark me well;
This beard cannot get children, you lank suck-eggs,
Unless such weasels come from court to help us!
We will get our own brats, you lecherous dog-bolts!

Enter [servant] with glasses.

Well said, down with ’em; now we shall see your spirits.
What, dwindle you already?

SECOND COURTIER
I have no quality.

SIMONIDES
Nor I, unless drinking may be reckoned for one.

FIRST COURTIER
Why, Sim, it shall.

LISANDER
Come, dare you choose your weapon now?

FIRST COURTIER
I? Dancing, sir, and you will be so hasty.

LISANDER
We’re for you, sir.

SECOND COURTIER
Fencing, I.

LISANDER
We’ll answer you too.

SIMONIDES
I’m for drinking, your wet weapon there.

LISANDER
That wet one has cost many a princox life,
And I will send it through you with a powder.

SIMONIDES
Let come with a pox, I care not so it be drink.
I hope my guts will hold, and that’s even all
A gentleman can look for of such trillibubs.

LISANDER
Play the first weapon; come, strike, strike I say!
Yes, yes, you shall be first; I’ll observe court rules.
Always the worst goes foremost, so ’twill prove, I hope.

[The first courtier dances a galliard].

So, sir, you’ve spit your poison; now come I.
[
Aside] Now forty years go backward and assist me,
Fall from me half my age but for three minutes
That I may feel no crick! I will put fair for’t
Although I hazard twenty sciaticas.

[LISANDER dances a galliard]

So, I have hit you!

FIRST COURTIER
You’ve done well, i’faith, sir.

LISANDER
If you confess it well, ‘tis excellent,
And I have hit you soundly. I am warm now,
The second weapon instantly.

SECOND COURTIER
What, so quick, sir? Will you not allow yourself a breathing time?

LISANDER
I’ve breath enough at all times, Lucifer’s muskcod,
To give your perfumed worship three vennies!
A sound old man puts his thrust better home
Than a spiced young man. There, aye!

SECOND COURIER
Then have at you, fourscore.

LISANDER
You lie, twenty, I hope, and you shall find it.

SIMONIDES
I’m glad I missed this weapon. I [’d] had an eye
Popped out ere this time, or my two butter-teeth
Thrust down my throat instead of a flap-dragon.

  • 8 pentweezle] Shaw ; peptwizle Q.

LISANDER
There’s two, pentweezle
8!

DANCING MASTER
Excellently touched, sir.

SECOND COURTIER
Had ever man such luck? Speak your opinion, gentlemen.

SIMONIDES
Methinks your luck’s good that your eyes are in still;
Mine would have dropped out like a pig’s half-roasted.

LISANDER
There wants a third, and there ’tis again!

SECOND COURTIER
The devil has steeled him.

EUGENIA
What a strong fiend is jealousy!

LISANDER
You’re dispatched, bear-whelp!

SIMONIDES
Now comes my weapon in.

LISANDER
Here, toadstool, here!
’Tis you and I must play these three wet vennies.

SIMONIDES
Vennies in Venice glasses, let ’em come!
They’ll bruise no flesh, I’m sure, nor break no bones.

FIRST COURTIER
Yet you may drink your eyes out, sir.

SIMONIDES
Aye, but that’s nothing, then they go voluntarily. I do not
Love to have ’em thrust out whether they will or no.

LISANDER
Here’s your first weapon, duck’s meat!

SIMONIDES
How? A Dutch what-you-call-’em
’Stead of a German faulchion? A shrewd weapon,
And, of all things, hard to be taken down.
Yet, down it must. I have a nose goes into it;
I shall drink double, I think.

FIRST COURTIER
The sooner off, Sim.

LISANDER
I’ll pay you speedily
          , with a trick
I learned once amongst drunkards. Here’s half-pike.

SIMONIDES
Half-pike comes well after Dutch what-you-call-’em,
They’d never be asunder by their good will.

FIRST COURTIER
Well pulled of an old fellow!

LISANDER
Oh, but you fellows pull better at a rope.

FIRST COURTIER
There’s a hair, Sim, in that glass.

SIMONIDES
And it be as long as a halter, down it goes.
No hair shall cross me.

LISANDER
I’ll make you stink worse than your polecats do.
Here’s longsword, your last weapon.

SIMONIDES
No more weapons.

FIRST COURTIER
Why! How now, Sim? Bear up, thou shamest us all else.

SIMONIDES
[S’]light, I shall shame you worse and I stay longer.
I ha’ got the scotomy in my head already.
The whimsy, you all turn around! Do not you dance, gallants?

SECOND COURTIER
Pish, what’s all this? Why, Sim, look, the last venny.

SIMONIDES
No more vennies go down here, for these two are coming up again.

SECOND COURTIER
Out! The disgrace of drinkers!

SIMONIDES
Yes, ’twill out.
Do you smell nothing yet?

FIRST COURTIER
Smell?

SIMONIDES
Farewell quickly, then; it will do if I stay.
Exit.

FIRST COURIER
A foil go with thee!

LISANDER
What! Shall we put down youth at her own virtues?
Beat folly in her own ground? Wondrous much!
Why may not we be held as full sufficient
To love our own wives then, get our own children,
And live in free peace till we be dissolved?
For such spring butterflies that are gaudy-winged,
But no more substance than those shamble-flies
Which butchers’ boys snap between sleep and waking,
Come but to crush you once; you are all but maggots
For all your beamy outsides!

Enter CLEANTHES.

EUGENIA
Here’s Cleanthes,
He comes to chide. Let him alone a little;
Our cause will be revenged. Look, look, his face
Is set for stormy weather. Do but mark
How the clouds gather in it; ’twill pour down straight.

CLEANTHES
Methinks I partly know you, that’s my grief.
Could you not all be lost? That had been handsome;
But to be known at all, ‘tis more than shameful!
Why, was not your name wont to be Lisander?

LISANDER
’Tis so still, coz.

CLEANTHES
Judgment, defer thy coming! Else this man’s miserable.

EUGENIA
I told you there would be a shower anon.

SECOND COURTIER
We’ll in and hide our noddles.

Exeunt Courtiers and EUGENIA.

CLEANTHES
What devil brought this colour to your mind,
Which since my childhood I ne’er saw you wear?
You were ever of an innocent gloss
Since I was ripe for knowledge; and would you lose it
And change the livery of saints and angels
For this mixed monstrousness! To force a ground
That has been so long hallowed like a temple,
To bring forth fruits of earth now, and turn black
To the wild cries of lust and the complexion
Of sin in act, lost and long since repented?
Would you begin a work ne’er yet attempted,
To pull time backward?
See what your wife will do! Are your wits perfect?

LISANDER
My wits?

CLEANTHES
I like it ten times worse, for it had been safer
Now to be mad, and more excusable!
I hear you dance again, and do strange follies.

LISANDER
I must confess I have been put to some, coz.

CLEANTHES
And yet you are not mad? Pray, say not so,
Give me that comfort of you that you are mad,
That I may think you are at worst. For, if
You are not mad, I then must guess you have
The first of some disease was never heard of,
Which may be worse than madness, and more fearful.
You’d weep to see yourself else, and your care
To pray would quickly turn you white again.
I had a father, had he liv’d his month out,
But to ha’ seen this most prodigious folly,
There needed not the law to have cut him off;
The sight of this had prov’d his executioner and broke his heart.
He would have held it equal
Done to a sanctuary! For what is age
But the holy place of life, chapel of ease
For all men’s wearied miseries; and, to rob
That of her ornament, it is accursed,
As from a priest to steal a holy vestment;
Ay, and convert it to a sinful covering.

Exit LISANDER.

I see it has done him good; blessing go with it,
Such as may make him pure again.

Enter EUGENIA

EUGENIA
’Twas bravely touched, i’faith, sir.

CLEANTHES
Oh, you’re welcome.

EUGENIA
Exceedingly well handled.

CLEANTHES
’Tis to you I come; he fell but in my way.

EUGENIA
You marked his beard, cousin?

CLEANTHES
Mark me.

EUGENIA
Did you ever see a hair so changed?

CLEANTHES [Aside]
I must be forced to wake her loudly too;
The devil has rocked her so fast asleep. –
[
To EUGENIA] Strumpet!

EUGENIA
Do you call, sir?

CLEANTHES
Whore!

EUGENIA
How do you, sir?

CLEANTHES
Be I ne’er so well
I must be sick of thee! Thou art a disease
That stickest to the heart, as all such women are.

EUGENIA
What ails our kindred?

CLEANTHES
Bless me, she sleeps still! What a dead modesty is in this woman!
Will never blush again? Look on thy work
But with a Christian eye, ‘twould turn thy heart
Into a shower of blood to be the cause
Of that old man’s destruction. Think upon’t!
Ruin eternally! For through thy loose follies
Heaven has found him a faint servant lately.
His goodness has gone backward and engendered
With his old sins again; h’as lost his prayers,
And all the tears that were companions with ‘em;
And, like a blindfold man, giddy and blinded,
Thinking he goes right on still, swerves but one foot
And turns to the same place where he set out.
So he, that took his farewell of the world
And cast the joys behind him out of sight,
Summed up his hours, made even with time and men,
Is now in heart arrived at youth again,
All by thy wildness. Thy too hasty lust
Has driven him to this strong apostacy.
Immodesty like thine was never equalled!
I’ve heard of women, shall I call ’em so,
Have welcomed suitors ere the corpse were cold,
But thou, thy husband living! Thou art too bold!

EUGENIA
Well, have you done now, sir?

CLEANTHES
Look, look, she smiles yet!

EUGENIA
All this is nothing to a mind resolved;
Ask any woman that, she’ll tell you so much.
You have only shown a pretty saucy wit
Which I shall not forget, nor to requite it
You shall hear from me shortly.

CLEANTHES
Shameless woman!
I take my counsel from thee, ’tis too honest,
And leave thee wholly to thy stronger master.
Bless the sex of thee from thee! that’s my prayer.
Were all like thee, so impudently common,
No man would be found to wed a woman.

Exit.

EUGENIA
I’ll fit you gloriously! He that attempts to take away my pleasure,
I’ll take away his joy, and I can, sure.
His concealed father pays for it! I’ll even tell
Him that I mean to make my husband next
And he shall tell the Duke.
Enter SIMONIDES Mass! Here he comes.

SIMONIDES
Has had a bout with me too.

EUGENIA
What? No! Since, sir?

SIMONIDES
A flirt, a little flirt; he called me strange names,
But I ne’er minded him.

EUGENIA
You shall quit him, sir, when he as little minds you.

SIMONIDES
I like that well.
I love to be revenged when no one thinks of me,
There’s little danger that way.

EUGENIA
This is it then:
He you shall strike; your stroke shall be profound,
And yet your foe not guess who gave the wound.

  • 9 By my troth] Shaw ; A my troth Q.

SIMONIDES
By my troth9, I love to give such wounds.

Exeunt.
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Notes

1 Scirophorion] Shaw; Scirophon Q.

2 Hecatombaion] Shaw ; Hecatomcaon Q.

3 begging] Shaw ; a begging Q.

4 broker] Shaw ; brother Q.

5 EUGENIA] attribués à FIRST COURTIER dans Q.

6 mangy] Q (mangle).

7 o’ mine own] Shaw ; a’ mine own Q.

8 pentweezle] Shaw ; peptwizle Q.

9 By my troth] Shaw ; A my troth Q.

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Référence électronique

Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton et William Rowley, « Act III », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 11 | 2007, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2007, consulté le 29 juin 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/938 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.938

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Auteurs

Philip Massinger

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Thomas Middleton

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William Rowley

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