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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 V

Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton et William Rowley
Traduction(s) :
Acte 5

Texte intégral

Act V, scene i

Sword and Mace carried before them, enter SIMONIDES and the Courtiers.

SIMONIDES
Be ready with your prisoner, we’ll sit instantly and rise before eleven, or when we please. Shall we not follow, judges?

FIRST COURTIER
’Tis committed
All to our power, censure, and pleasure, now
The Duke hath made us chief lords of this session;
And we may speak by fits, or sleep by turns.

SIMONIDES
Leave that to us, but, whatsoe’er we do,
The prisoner shall be sure to be condemned.
Sleeping or waking, we are resolved on that
Before we set upon him?

  • 1 our enemy] Shaw ; one Q.

SECOND COURTIER
Make you question
If not? Cleanthes? And our enemy1!
Nay, a concealer of his father too,
A vile example in these days of youth.

  • 2 Their fathers] Q (Her father).

SIMONIDES
If
they were given to follow such examples,
But sure I think they are not; howsoe’er,
’Twas wickedly
attempted, that’s my judgment,
And it shall pass while I am in power to sit.
Never
by Prince were such young judges made;
But now the cause requires it, if you mark it.
He
must make young or none, for all the old ones,
Their fathers
2, he hath sent a-fishing, and my father’s one.
I humbly thank his Highness.

Enter EUGENIA.

FIRST COURTIER
Widow!

EUGENIA
You almost hit my name no[w], gentlemen;
You come so wondrous near it, I admire you
For your judgment.

SIMONIDES
My
wife that must be! she!

EUGENIA
My husband goes upon his last hour now.

FIRST COURTIER
On his last legs, I’m sure.

EUGENIA
September
the seventeenth,
I will not bate an hour on’t; and tomorrow
His latest hour’s expired.

SECOND COURTIER
Bring him to judgment;
The
jury’s panelled and the verdict given
Ere he appears, we have ta’en course for that.

SIMONIDES
And officers to attach the gray young man,
The youth of fourscore. Be of comfort, lady;
We shall no longer bosom January,
For
that I will take order and provide
For you a lusty April.

EUGENIA
The
month that ought, indeed,
To go before May.

FIRST COURTIER
Do as we have said;
Take
a strong guard and bring him into court.
Lady Eugenia, see this charge performed
That, having his life forfeited by the law,
He may relieve his soul.

EUGENIA
Willingly!
From
shaven chins never came better justice
Than these new-touched by reason.

SIMONIDES
What you do, do suddenly, we charge you,
For we purpose to make but a short session.
Ah, new business!

Enter HIPPOLITA.

FIRST COURTIER
The fair Hippolita! Now, what’s your suit?

HIPPOLITA
Alas,
I know not how to style you yet.
To call you judges doth not suit your years,
Nor heads and brains show more antiquity.
Yet sway yourselves with equity and truth
And I’ll proclaim you reverend and repeat,
"Once in my lifetime I have seen grave heads
Placed upon young men’s shoulders."

SECOND COURTIER
Hark, she flouts us,
And thinks to make us monstrous.

  • 3 mercy beautifies] Bullen ; meerly beautifeaus Q.

HIPPOLITA
Prove not so,
For yet, methinks, you bear the shapes of men,
Though nothing more than mercy beautifies3
To make you appear angels. But, if [you] crimson
Your name and power with blood and cruelty,
Suppress fair virtue and enlarge of old vice,
Both against heaven and nature draw your sword,
Make either will or humour turn the soul
Of your created greatness, and in that
Oppose all goodness, I must tell you there
You’re more than monstrous. In the very act,
You change yourself to devils.

FIRST COURTIER
She’s a witch!
Hark,
she begins to conjure!

SIMONIDES
Time, you see, is short,
Much business now on foot.Shall I
Give her her answer?

SECOND COURTIER
None
upon the bench
More learnedly can do it.

SIMONIDES
Hem,
hem, hem! Then list.
I wonder at thine impudence, young huswife,
That thou dar’st plead for such a base offender.
Conceal a father past his time to die!
What
son and heir would have done this but he?

FIRST COURTIER
I vow, not I.

HIPPOLITA
Because you are parricides!
And how can comfort be derived from such
That pity not their fathers?

SECOND COURTIER
You
are fresh and fair, practise young women’s ends; when husbands are distressed, provide them friends.

SIMONIDES
I’ll set him forward for thee without fee,
Some wives would pay for such a courtesy.

HIPPOLITA
Times of amazement, where doth goodness dwell!
I sought for charity, but knock at hell!

Exit. Enter EUGENIA, with LISANDER prisoner, [and] a guard.

SIMONIDES
Eugenia, come!
Command a second guard
To bring Cleanthes in. We’ll not sit long,
My stomach strives to dinner.

EUGENIA
Now, servants, may a lady be so bold
To call your power so low?

SIMONIDES
A
mistress may;
She can make all things low, then in that language
There can be no offense.

EUGENIA
The
time’s now come
Of manumissions, take him into bonds,
And I am then at freedom.

SECOND COURTIER
This the man!
He hath left of late to feed on snakes,
His beard’s turned white again.

FIRST COURTIER
Is
it possible these gouty legs danced lately,
And shattered in a galliard?

EUGENIA
Jealousy
And fear of death can work strange prodigies.

SECOND COURTIER
The nimble fencer this, that made me tear
And traverse ’bout the chamber?

  • 4 pepper’d] Bullen ; prepar’d Q.

SIMONIDES
Ay,
and gave me
Those elbow healths, the hangman take him for it!
They
had almost fetched my heart out. The Dutch vennie
I swallowed pretty well, but the half pike
Had almost pepper’d4 me. But had I took,
Being swollen, I had cast my lungs out.

Flourish, Enter the Duke.

SECOND COURTIER
Peace! The Duke!

DUKE
Nay,
take your seats. Who’s that?

SIMONIDES
May it please your Highness,
’Tis old Lisander.

DUKE
And brought in by his wife! A worthy precedent
Of one that no way would offend the law,
And
should not pass away without remark.
You had been look’d for long.

LISANDER
But never fit
To die till now, my lord, my sins and I
Have been but newly parted. Much ado
I had to get them leave me, or be taught
That difficult lesson, how to learn to die.
I never thought there had been such an act,
And ’tis the only discipline we are born for.
All studies as are, are but as circular lines
And
death the centre where they must all meet.
I now can look upon thee, erring woman,
And not be vexed with jealousy; on young men,
And no way envy their delicious health,
Pleasure
and strength, all which were once mine own,
And mine must be their’s one day.

DUKE
You have tamed him.

SIMONIDES
And know how to dispose him. That, my liege,
Hath been before determined. You confess
Yourself of full age?

LISANDER
Yes, and prepared to inherit

EUGENIA
Your
place above!

SIMONIDES
Of which the hangman’s strength
Shall put him in possession.

LISANDER
’Tis still
To take me willing and in mind to die,
And
such are, when the earth grows weary of them,
Most fit for heaven.

SIMONIDES
The court shall make his mittimus
And send him thither presently.

DUKE
Guard! Away to death with him!

SIMONIDES
In
the meantime

Enter a guard with CLEANTHES, HIPPOLITA weeping after him.

So! See, another person brought to the bar!

FIRST COURTIER
The arch malefactor!

SECOND COURTIER
The grand offender! The most refractory
To all good order! ’Tis Cleanthes,
He

SIMONIDES
That would have sons grave fathers ere their fathers
Be sent unto their graves.

DUKE
There
will be expectation
In your severe proceedings against him,
His act being so capital.

SIMONIDES
Fearful and bloody!
Therefore
we charge these women leave the court
Lest they should swoon to hear it.

EUGENIA
Aye,
in expectation
Of a most happy freedom!

Exit.

HIPPOLITA
Ay, with the apprehension
Of a most sad and desolate widowhood!

Exit.

FIRST COURTIER
We bring him to the bar.

SECOND COURTIER
Hold
up your hand, sir.

CLEANTHES
More reverence to the place than to the persons!
To the one I offer up a palm
Of
duty and obedience showed [th]us to heaven,
Imploring justice which was never wanting
Upon that bench whilst their own fathers sat.
But unto you, my hand’s contracted thus,
As
threatening vengeance against murderers;
For they that kill in thought, shed innocent blood!
With pardon to your Highness, too much passion
Made me forget your presence and the place
I now am called to.

  • 5 our Majesty] Shaw ; one majesty Q.

DUKE
All our
Majesty5
And power we have to pardon or condemn,
Is now conferr’d on them.

SIMONIDES
And these we’ll use
Little to thine advantage.

CLEANTHES
I expect it.
And as to these, I look no mercy from [them]
And much less shown to entreat it. I thus now
Submit me [to] the emblems of your power, I mean
The sword and bench. But, my most reverend judges,
Ere you proceed to sentence, for I know
You have given me lost, will you resolve me one thing?

FIRST COURTIER
So it be briefly questioned.

SECOND COURTIER
Show
your honour,
Day spends itself apace.

  • 6 you] Shaw ; them Q.

CLEANTHES
My lords, it shall
Resolve
me then. Where are your filial tears,
Your mourning habits, and sad hearts become,
That should attend your fathers’ funeral?
Though
the strict law, which I will not accuse
Because a subject, snatched away their lives,
It doth not bar you6 to lament their deaths;
Or, if you cannot spare one sad suspire,
It doth not bid you laugh them to their graves,
Lay subtle trains to antedate their years,
To be the sooner seized of their estates.
Oh time of age! Where’s that Aeneas now,
Who, letting all his jewels to the flames,
Forgetting
country, kindred, treasure, friends,
Fortunes, and all things save the name of son,
Which
you so much forget? Go like Aeneas,
Who took his bedrid father on his back,
And with
the sacred load, to him no burden,
Hewed out his way through blood, through fire, through
Even all the armed streets of bright-burning Troy,
Only to save a father.

SIMONIDES
We have no leisure now
To
hear lessons read from Virgil, we are past school
And all this time thy judges.

SECOND COURTIER
’Tis
fit that we proceed to sentence.

FIRST COURTIER
You are the mouth,
And now ’tis fit to open.

SIMONIDES
Justice, indeed,
Should ever be close-eared and open-mouthed,
That is, to hear him little and speak much.
Lo, then, Cleanthes, there’s none can be
A
good son and a bad subject, for if Princes,
Be called the people’s fathers, then the subjects
Are all his sons, and he that flouts the Prince
Doth disobey his father. There ye are gone.

FIRST COURTIER
And not to be recovered.

SIMONIDES
And again

SECOND COURTIER
If he be gone once, call him not again.

SIMONIDES
I say again, this act of thine expresses
A double disobedience. As our Princes
Are fathers, so they are our sovereigns too,
And he that doth rebel against sovereignty
Doth commit treason in the height of degree.
And now thou art quite gone.

FIRST COURTIER
Our brother in commission
Hath spoke his mind both learnedly and neatly,
And I can add but little, howsoever
It shall send him packing.
He that begins a fault that wants example,
Ought to be made example for the fault.

CLEANTHES
A
fault! No longer can I hold myself
To hear vice upheld and virtue thrown down.
A fault! Judge, then, I desire, where it lieth,
In those that are my judges or in me.
Heaven stand on my side! Pity love and duty!

SIMONIDES
Where are they, sir? Who sees them but yourself?

CLEANTHES
Not
you, and I am sure;
You never had the gracious eyes to see them.
You think you arraign me, but I hope
To
sentence you at the bar.

SECOND COURTIER
That
would show brave!

  • 7 the like] Shaw ; the lyar Q.
  • 8 your graves] Shaw ; their graves Q.

CLEANTHES
This were the judgment seat. We know
The heaviest crimes that ever made up
Unnaturalness in humanity,
You
are found foul and guilty by a jury
Made
of your fathers’ curses which have brought
Vengeance impending on you, and I now
Am forced to pronounce judgment of my judges.
The common laws of reason and of nature
Condemn you ipso facto! You are parricides,
And if you marry will beget the like7,
Who, when grown to full maturity,
Will
hurry you, their fathers, to your graves8.
Like traitors, you take counsel from the living;
Of upright judgment, you would rob the bench;
Experience and discretion snatch away
From the earth’s face; turn all into disorder,
Imprison virtue, and enfranchise vice;
And put the sword of justice into the hands of
Boys and madmen.

SIMONIDES
Well, well, have you done, sir?

CLEANTHES
I have spoke my thoughts.

SIMONIDES
Then I’ll begin and end.

DUKE
’Tis time I now begin,
Where
your commission ends.
Cleanthes, you come from the bar.
Because
I know you’re severally disposed,
I here invite you to an object will, no doubt,
Work in you contrary effects.
Music!

  • 9 The old men] Q (Sons and the old men).

Music sounds and the old men9 appear.

  • 10 ill-treated] Shaw ; ill intreated Q.

CLEANTHES
Pray heaven I dream not! Sure he moves, talks comfortably
As joy can wish a man. If he be changed
Far above from me, he is not ill-treated10.
His face
doth promise fullness of content
And glory hath a part in’t.

LEONIDES
Oh, my son!

DUKE
You that can claim acquaintance with these lads,
Talk freely!

SIMONIDES
I can see none there that’s worth one hand to you from me.

DUKE
These
are thy judges, and by their grave law
I find thee clear, but these delinquents guilty.
You must change places, for ’tis so decreed
Such just pre-eminence hath thy goodness gain’d;
Thou art the judge now, they the men arraign’d.

FIRST COURTIER
Here’s fine dancing, gentlemen!

SECOND COURTIER
Is thy father amongst them?

SIMONIDES
Oh, a pox! I saw him the first thing I looked on.
Alive again! ’Slight, I believe now a father
Hath as many lives as a mother.

CLEANTHES
’Tis
full as blessed as ’tis wonderful!
Oh, bring me back to the same law again,
I’m fouler than all these! Seize on me, officers,
And bring me to new sentence.

  • 11 DUKE] attribué à CLEANTHES dans Q.

[DUKE]11
What’s all this?

CLEANTHES
A
fault not to be pardoned!
Unnaturalness is but sun’s shadow to it.

SIMONIDES
I am glad of that; I hope the case may alter
And I turn judge again.

DUKE
Name
your offense.

CLEANTHES
That
I should be so vile
As once to think you cruel.

DUKE
Is that all?
’Twas pardoned
ere confessed. You that have sons,
If they be worthy, here may challenge them.

CREON
I should have one amongst them, had he had grace To have retained that name.

SIMONIDES
I pray you, father.

Kneels.

CREON
That
name I know
Hath been long since forgot.

SIMONIDES [Aside]
I find but small comfort in remembering it now.

DUKE
Cleanthes,
take your place with these grave fathers
And read what in that table is inscribed.
Now set these at the bar,
And read, Cleanthes, to the dread and terror
Of disobedience and unnatural blood.

CLEANTHES
It is decreed by the grave and learned council of Epire, that no son and heir shall be held capable of his inheritance at the age of one-and-twenty, unless he be at that time as mature in obedience, manners, and goodness.

SIMONIDES
Sure, I shall never be at full age then, though I live to an hundred years, and that’s nearer by twenty than the last statute allowed.

FIRST COURTIER
A
terrible act!

CLEANTHES
Moreover is enacted that all sons aforesaid, whom either this law, or their own grace, whom it shall reduce into the true method of duty, virtue, and affection, relate their trial and approbation from Cleanthes, the son of Leonides,
From me, my lord?

DUKE
From
none but you as fullest. Proceed, sir.

CLEANTHES
Whom for his manifest virtues, we make such judge and censure of youth, and the absolute reference of life and manners.

SIMONIDES
This is a brave world! When a man should be Selling land, he must be learning manners.
Is it not, my masters?

Enter EUGENIA.

EUGENIA
What’s
here to do? My suitors at the bar?
The
old band shines again, oh miserable!

  • 12 She swoons] Q (She sounds).

She swoons12.

DUKE
Read
the law over to her, ’twill awake her.
’Tis one deserves small pity.

CLEANTHES
Lastly, it is ordained that all such wives now whatsoever that shall design the[ir] husbands’ death to be soon rid of them and entertain suitors in their husbands’ lifetime

SIMONIDES
You had best read that a little louder,
For if anything, that will bring her to herself again, and find her tongue.

CLEANTHES
Shall not presume, on the penalty of our heavy displeasure, to marry within ten years after.

EUGENIA
That law’s too long by nine years and a half;
I’ll take my death upon’t, so shall most women.

CLEANTHES
And those incontinent women so offending, to be judge[d] and censured by Hippolita, wife to Cleanthes.

EUGENIA
Of all the rest, I’ll not be judge[d] by her.

Enter HIP[POLITA].

CLEANTHES
Ah,
here she comes. Let me prevent thy joys,
Prevent them but in part and hide the rest,
Thou
hast not strength enough to bear them else.

HIPPOLITA
Leonides!

She faints.

CLEANTHES
I feared it all this while.
I knew ’twas past thy power, Hippolita.
What contrariety is in women’s blood?
One
faints for spleen and anger, she for grace.

  • 13 May] Q (My).

DUKE
Of sons and wives, we see the worst and best;
May13 future ages yield Hippolitas
Many,
but few like thee, Eugenia.
Let no Simonides henceforth have a fame,
But all blest sons live in Cleanthes’ name.

Music.

Ha, what strange kind of melody was that?
Yet
give it entrance, whatsoe’er it be.
This day is all devout to liberty.

Enter Clown and Wench, the rest with the old women, the Clown’s wife. Music, and a bride’s cake to the wedding.

CLOWN
Fiddlers, crowd
on, crowd on; let no man lay a block in your way. Crowd on, I say!

DUKE
Stay
the crowd awhile, let’s know the reason
Of this jollity.

CLEANTHES
Sirrah, do you know where you are?

CLOWN
Yes, sir, I am here, now here, and now here again, sir.

LISANDER
Your
hat’s too high-crowned: the Duke in presence.

CLOWN
The
Duke? As he is my sovereign, I do give him two crowns for it, and that’s equal change all the world over. As I am lord of the day, being my marriage day the second, I do advance bonnet. Crowd on afore!

LEONIDES
Good
sir, a few words if you’ll vouchsafe ’em,
Or will you be forced?

CLOWN
Forced?
I would the duke himself would say so!

DUKE
I think he dares, sir, and does. If you stay not,
You shall be forced.

CLOWN
I think so, my lord, and good reason too. Shall not I stay when your Grace says I shall? I were unworthy to be a bridegroom in any part of your Highness’ dominions then. Will it please you to taste of the wedlock courtesy?

DUKE
Oh, by no means, sir. You shall not deface
So fair an ornament for me.

CLOWN
If your Grace be pleased to be cakated, say so.

  • 14 DUKE] attribué à CLOWN dans Q.

[DUKE]14
And which might be your fair bride, sir?

CLOWN
This
is my two-for-one that must be uxor uxoris,
The remedy doloris, and the very syceum amoris.

DUKE
And hast thou any else?

CLOWN
I have an older, my lord, for other uses.

CLEANTHES
My lord, I do observe a strange decorum here.
These that do lead this day of jollity,
Do march with music and most mirthful cheeks;
Those that do follow, sad and woefully,
Nearer
the ’haviour of a funeral
Than a wedding.

DUKE
’Tis true, pray expound that, sir.

CLOWN
As the destiny of the day falls out, my lord, one goes out to wedding, another goes to hanging. And your Grace, in the due consideration, shalt find ’em much alike; the one hath the ring upon her finger, the other a halter about her neck. “I take thee Beatrice,” says the bridegroom. “I take thee Agatha,” says the hangman. And both say together, “to have and to hold till death do part us.”

DUKE
This
is not yet plain enough to my understanding.

CLOWN
If further your Grace examine it, you shall find I show myself a dutiful subject and obedient to the law. Myself, with these my good friends and your good subjects, our old wives whose days are ripe and their lives forfeit to the law: only myself, more forward than the rest, am already provided of my second choice.

DUKE
Oh, take heed, sir; you’ll run yourself into danger
If the law finds you with two wives at once.
There’s
a shrewd premunire.

CLOWN
I have taken leave of the old, my lord; I have nothing to say to her: she’s going to sea. Your Grace knows whither better than I do. She has a strong wind with her; it stands full in her poop. When you please, let her disembogue.

COOK
And
the rest of her neighbours with her whom we present to the satisfaction of your Highness’ law.

CLOWN
And so we take our leaves and leave them to your Highness. Crowd on!

DUKE
Stay,
stay, you are too forward. Will you marry
And your wife yet living?

CLOWN
Alas, she’ll be dead before we can get to church, if your Grace would set her in the way. I would dispatch her, I have a venture on it which would return me, if your Highness would make a little more haste, two for one.

DUKE
Come,
my lords, we must sit again. Here’s a case
Craves a most serious censure.

COOK
Now
they shall be dispatched out of the way.

CLOWN
I would they were gone [at] once. The time goes away.

DUKE
Which
is the wife unto the forward bridegroom?

AGATHA
I am, and it please your Grace.

DUKE
Trust
me, a lusty woman, able-bodied,
And well-blooded cheeks.

CLOWN
Oh, she paints, my lord. She was a chamber-maid once and learned it of her lady.

DUKE
Sure, I think she cannot be so old.

AGATHA
Truly, I think so too, and please your Grace.

CLOWN
Two
to one with your Grace of that: she’s threescore by the book.

LEONIDES
Peace,
sirrah, you’re too loud!

COOK
Take heed, Gnothos, if you move the Duke’s patience; ’tis an edge tool: but a word and a blow, he cuts off your head.

CLOWN
Cut off my head? Away, ignorant! He knows it costs more in the hair; he does not use to cut off many such heads as mine. I will talk to him too. If he cut off my head, I’ll give him my ears. I say my wife is at full age for the law. The clerk shall take his oath and the church-book shall be sworn too.

DUKE
My lords, I leave this censure to you.

LEONIDES
Then, first, this fellow does deserve punishment
For offering up a lusty, able woman
Which
may do service to the commonwealth,
Where the law craves one impotent and useless.

CREON
Therefore, to be severely punished
For thus attempting a second marriage
His wife yet living.

LISANDER
Nay, to have it trebled,
That even the day and instant when he should mourn
As a kind husband to her funeral,
He leads a triumph to the scorn of it,
Which unseasonable joy ought to be punished
With all severity.

BUTLER
The fiddles will be in a foul case too, by and by.

LEONIDES
Nay, further, it seems he has a venture
Of two for one at his second marriage,
Which cannot be but a conspiracy
Against the former.

CLOWN
A mess of wise old men!

LISANDER
Sirrah, what can you answer to all these?

CLOWN
Ye are good old men and talk as age will give you leave. I would speak with the youthful Duke himself; he and I may speak of things that shall be thirty of forty years after you are dead and rotten. Alas, you are here today and gone to sea tomorrow.

DUKE
In truth, sir, then I must be plain with you.
The
law that should take away your old wife from you,
The which I do perceive was your desire,
Is void and frustrate, so for the rest.
There has been since another parliament
Has cut it off.

CLOWN
I see your Grace is disposed to be pleasant.

DUKE
Yes, you might perceive that, I had not else
Thus
dallied with your follies.

CLOWN
I’ll
talk further with your Grace when I come back from church. In the meantime, you know what to do with the old women.

DUKE
Stay,
sir, unless in the meantime you mean
I cause a gibbet to be set up in your way,
And hang you at your return.

AGATHA
Oh, gracious Prince!

DUKE
Your old wives cannot die today by any
Law of mine. For aught I can say to ’em
They may, by a new edict, bury you.
And then, perhaps, you pay a new fine too.

CLOWN
This
is fine, indeed!

AGATHA
Oh,
gracious Prince, may he live a hundred years more!

COOK
Your
venture is not like to come in today, Gnothos.

CLOWN
Give
me the principal back.

COOK
Nay, by my troth, we’ll venture still, and I’m sure we have as ill a venture of it as you, for we have taken old wives of purpose, where that we had thought to have put away at this market and now we cannot utter a pennyworth.

DUKE
Well,
sirrah, you were best to discharge
Your new charge, and take your old one to you.

CLOWN
Oh music! No music, but prove most doleful trumpets;
Oh bride! No bride, but thou mayest prove a strumpet;
Oh venture! No venture, I have for one now none;
Oh wife! Thy life is sav’d when I hoped it had been gone.
Case up your fruitless strings; no penny, no wedding;
Case up thy maidenhead; no priest, no bedding.
Avaunt my venture; it can ne’er be restored,
Till Ag, my old wife, be thrown overboard.
Then, come again, old Ag, since it must be so,
Let bride and venture with woeful music go.

COOK
What for the bride’s cake, Gnothos?

CLOWN
Let it be mouldy, now ’tis out of season;
Let it grow out of date, current and reason;
Let it be chipped and chopped, and given to chickens,
No more is got by that than William Dickens
Got by his wooden dishes!
Put up your plums as fiddlers put up pipes,
The wedding dashed, the bridegroom
Weeps and wipes!
Fiddlers, farewell,
and now, without perhaps,
Put up your fiddles as you put up scraps!

LISANDER
This passion has given some satisfaction yet,
My lord, I think you’ll pardon him now
With all the rest, so they live honestly
With
the wives they have.

DUKE
Oh, most freely! Free pardon to all!

COOK
Ay, we have deserved our pardons if we can live honestly with such reverend wives that have no motion in ’em but their tongues.

AGATHA
Heaven bless your Grace, you’re a just Prince.

CLOWN
All hopes dashed, the clerk’s duties lost;
Venture gone, my second wife divorced;
And which is worse, the old one come back again!
Such voyages are made now-a-days. I will weep two salt
Of our nose, besides these two fountains of fresh water.
Your Grace had been more kind to your young subjects.
Heaven bless and mend your laws that they do
Not
gull your poor countrymen [in this] fashion. But I am not
The first by forty that has been undone by the law;
’Tis but a folly to stand upon terms.
I take my leave of your Grace, as well as mine eyes will give me leave. I would they had been asleep in their beds when they opened ’em to see this day! Come, Ag, come, Ag.

[Exeunt].

CREON
Were not you all my servants?

COOK
During your life, as we thought, sir, but our young master turned us away.

CREON
How
headlong [a] villain wert thou in thy ruin!

  • 15 were] Shaw ; have Q.

SIMONIDES
I followed the fashion, sir, as other young men did.
If you were15 as we thought you had been,
We should ne’er have come for this, I warrant you.
We did not feed, after the old fashion, on beef
And mutton and such like.

CREON
Well, what damage or charge you have run
Yourselves into by marriage, I cannot help,
Nor deliver you from your wives: them you must keep.
Yourselves shall again retain to me.

ALL
We
thank your lordship for your love, and must thank ourselves for our bad bargains.

[Exeunt].

DUKE
Cleanthes, you delay the power of law
To
be inflicted on these misgovern’d men
That filial duty have so far transgressed.

CLEANTHES
My lord, I see a satisfaction
Meeting
the sentence, even preventing it,
Beating my words back in their utterance.
See,
sir, there’s salt sorrow bringing forth fresh
And new duties, as the sea propagates.
The
elephants have found their joints too. Why,
Here’s humility able to bind up
The punishing hands of the severest masters,
Much more the gentle fathers’.

SIMONIDES
I had ne’er thought to have been brought so low as my knees again, but, since there’s no remedy,Fathers, reverend fathers, as you ever hope to have good sons and heirs, a handful of pity! We confess we have deserved more than we are willing to receive at your hands, though sons can never deserve too much of their fathers, as shall appear afterwards.

CREON
And
what way can you decline your feeding now?
You cannot retire to beefs and muttons, sure.

SIMONIDES
Alas, sir, you see a good pattern for that! Now we have laid by our high and lusty meats and are down to our mary bones already.

  • 16 bind] Shaw ; bound Q.

CREON
Well, sir, rise to virtues! We’ll bind16 you now;
You that were too weak yourselves to govern,
By others shall be governed.

LISANDER
Cleanthes, I meet your justice with reconcilement.
If there be tears of faith in woman’s breast,
I have received a myriad which confirms me
To find a happy renovation.

CLEANTHES
Here’s virtue’s throne,
Which
I’ll embellish with my dearest jewels
Of love and faith, peace and affection!
This
is the altar of my sacrifice,
Where
daily my devoted knees shall bend.
Age-honoured shrine! Time still so love you
That I so long may have you in mine eye,
Until my memory lose your beginning.
For you, great Prince, long may your fame survive,
Your justice and your wisdom never die!
Crown of
your crown, the blessing of your land,
Which you reach to her from your regent’s hand!

LEONIDES
Oh,
Cleanthes, had you with us tasted
The entertainment of our retirement,
Feared
and exclaimed on in your ignorance,
You might have sooner died upon the wonder
Than any rage or passion for our loss.
A place at hand we were all strangers in;
So
sphered about with music, such delights,
Viands, and attendance, and, once a day
So cheered with a royal visitant,
That ofttimes waking, our unsteady fantasies
Would question whether we yet lived or no,
Or had possession of that paradise
Where
angels be the guard.

DUKE
Enough,
Leonides,
You go beyond the praise. We have our end,
And all is ended well. We have now seen
The flowers and weeds that grew about our court.

SIMONIDES
If
these be weeds, I’m afraid I shall wear none so good again as long as my father lives.

DUKE
Only this gentleman we did abuse
With
our own bosom; we seemed a tyrant
And he, our instrument. Look, ’tis Cratilus,
The
man that you suppos’d had now been travell’d,
Which we gave leave to learn to speak
And bring us foreign languages to Greece.
All’s joyed, I see. Let music be the crown
And set
it high: “the good needs fear no law;
It is his safety, and the bad man’s awe.”

Finis.

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Notes

1 our enemy] Shaw ; one Q.

2 Their fathers] Q (Her father).

3 mercy beautifies] Bullen ; meerly beautifeaus Q.

4 pepper’d] Bullen ; prepar’d Q.

5 our Majesty] Shaw ; one majesty Q.

6 you] Shaw ; them Q.

7 the like] Shaw ; the lyar Q.

8 your graves] Shaw ; their graves Q.

9 The old men] Q (Sons and the old men).

10 ill-treated] Shaw ; ill intreated Q.

11 DUKE] attribué à CLEANTHES dans Q.

12 She swoons] Q (She sounds).

13 May] Q (My).

14 DUKE] attribué à CLOWN dans Q.

15 were] Shaw ; have Q.

16 bind] Shaw ; bound Q.

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Référence électronique

Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton et William Rowley, « Act V », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 11 | 2007, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2007, consulté le 22 mai 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/940 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.940

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Auteurs

Philip Massinger

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Thomas Middleton

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William Rowley

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