He rather prays you will be pleased to see
One such, today, as other plays should be.
Where neither chorus wafts you o'er the seas;
Nor creaking throne comes down, the boys to please;
Nor nimble squib is seen to make afeard
The gentlewomen; nor rolled bullet heard
To say it thunders; nor tempestuous drum
Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth come;
But deeds, and language, such as men do use,
And persons, such as Comedy would choose,
When she would show an image of the times,
And sport with human follies, not with crimes.
Except, we make ‘em such by loving still
Our popular errors, when we know they're ill.
I mean such errors, as you'll all confess,
By laughing at them, they deserve no less:
Which when you heartily do, there's hope left, then,
You, that have so graced monsters, may like men.
How happy yet should I esteem myself,
Could I, by any practice, wean the boy
From one vain course of study he affects.
He is a scholar, if a man may trust
The liberal voice of fame in her report,
Of good account in both our Universities,
Either of which hath favoured him with graces:
But their indulgence must not spring in me
A fond opinion that he cannot err.
Myself was once a student, and indeed,
Fed with the self-same humour he is now,
Dreaming on nought but idle poetry,
That fruitless and unprofitable art,
Good unto none, but least to the professors;
Which then I thought the mistress of all knowledge:
But since, time and the truth have waked my judgment.
And reason taught me better to distinguish
The vain from the useful learnings.
I am resolved, I will not stop his journey;
Nor practise any violent means, to stay
The unbridled course of youth in him; for that,
Restrained, grows more impatient; and, in kind,
Like to the eager but the generous greyhound,
Who ne'er so little from his game withheld,
Turns head, and leaps up at his holder's throat.
There is a way of winning, more by love,
And urging of the modesty, than fear:
Force works on servile natures, not the free.
He that's compelled to goodness may be good;
But 'tis but for that fit; where others, drawn
By softness and example, get a habit.
Then, if they stray, but warn ‘em, and the same
They should for virtue have done, they'll do for shame.
He useth every day to a merchant's house (where I serve water), one master Kitely's, i’ the Old Jewry; and here's the jest, he is in love with my master's sister, Mrs. Bridget, and calls her mistress; and there he will sit you a whole afternoon sometimes, reading o’ these same abominable, vile (a pox on 'em, I cannot abide them), rascally verses, poyetry, poyetry, and speaking of interludes; 'twill make a man burst to hear him. And the wenches, they do so jeer, and tee-hee at him.
A new disease? I know not, new, or old,
But it may well be called poor mortals' plague;
For, like a pestilence, it doth infect
The houses of the brain. First it begins
Solely to work upon the fantasy,
Filling her seat with such pestiferous air,
As soon corrupts the judgment; and from thence,
Sends like contagion to the memory:
Still each to other giving the infection.
Which, as a subtle vapour, spreads itself
Confusedly through every sensive part,
Till not a thought, or motion, in the mind,
Be free from the black poison of suspect.
Ah, but what misery is it, to know this?
Or, knowing it, to want the mind's erection
In such extremes? Well, I will once more strive,
(In spite of this black cloud) myself to be,
And shake the fever off, that thus shakes me.
Nay, would ourselves were not the first, even parents,
That did destroy the hopes in our own children:
Or they not learned our vices in their cradles,
And sucked in our ill customs with their milk.
Ere all their teeth be born, or they can speak,
We make their palates cunning! the first words
We form their tongues with, are licentious jests!
Can it call, whore? cry bastard? O, then, kiss it!
STEPHEN: Ay, truly, sir, I am mightily given to melancholy.
MATTHEW: Oh, it's your only fine humour, sir: your true melancholy breeds your perfect fine wit, sir. I am melancholy myself, divers times, sir, and then do I no more but take pen and paper presently, and overflow you half a score, or a dozen of sonnets at a sitting.
EDWARD: Ay, by his leave, he is, and under favour: a pretty piece of civility! Sirrah, how dost thou like him?
WELLBRED: Oh, it's a most precious fool, make much on him: I can compare him to nothing more happily than a drum; for every one may play upon him.
COB: Humour! Mack, I think it be so indeed; what is that humour? some rare thing, I warrant.
CASH: Marry I'll tell thee, Cob: it is a gentlemanlike monster, bred in the special gallantry of our time, by affectation; and fed by folly.
Bane to my fortunes! what meant I to marry?
I, that before was ranked in such content,
My mind at rest too, in so soft a peace,
Being free master of mine own free thoughts,
And now become a slave? What? never sigh;
Be of good cheer, man; for thou art a cuckold:
'Tis done, 'tis done! Nay, when such flowing-store,
Plenty itself, falls into my wife's lap,
The cornucopiae will be mine, I know. But, Cob,
What entertainment had they? I am sure
My sister and my wife would bid them welcome! Ha?
Your cares are nothing: they are like my cap, soon put on, and as soon put off. What! your son is old enough to govern himself: let him run his course, it's the only way to make him staid man.
No harm done, brother, I warrant you: since there is no harm done, Anger costs a man nothing: and a tall man is never his own man, till he be angry. To keep his valour in obscurity, is to keep himself, as it were, in a cloak bag. What's a musician, unless he play? What's a tall man, unless he fight? For, indeed, all this, my wise brother stands upon, absolutely: and that made me fall in with him so resolutely.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: I see, rank fruits of a jealous brain, mistress Kitely: but did you find your husband there, in that case, as you suspected?
KITELY: I found her there, sir.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Did you, so? that alters the case. Who gave you knowledge of your wife's being there?
KITELY: Marry, that did my brother Wellbred.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: How? Wellbred first tell her? then tell you, after? Where is Wellbred?
KITELY: Gone with my sister, sir, I know not whither.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Why, this is a mere trick, a device; you are gulled in this most grossly, all!
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Nay, keep out, sir; I know not your pretence. You send me word, sir, you are a soldier: why, sir, you shall be answered, here, here be them that have been amongst soldiers. Sir, your pleasure.
BOBADIL: Faith, sir, so it is, this gentleman, and myself, have been most uncivilly wronged, and beaten, by one Downright, a coarse fellow, about the town, here, and for mine own part, I protest, being a man in no sort given to this filthy humour of quarrelling, he hath assaulted me in the way of my peace; despoiled me of mine honour; disarmed me of my weapons; and rudely, laid me along, in the open streets: when I not so much as once offered to resist him.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Oh God's precious! Is this the soldier? Here, take my armour off quickly, ‘twill make him swoon, I fear; he is not fit to look on't, that will put up a blow.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Why, Master Downright, are you such a novice, to be served, and never see the warrant?
DOWNRIGHT: Sir. He did not serve it on me.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: No? how then?
DOWNRIGHT: Marry, sir, he came to me, and said, he must serve it, and he would use me kindly, and so—
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Oh, God's pity, was it so, sir? He must serve it? Give me my longsword there, and help me off; so. Come on, sir varlet, I must cut off your legs, sirrah; nay, stand up, I'll use you kindly, I must cut off your legs, I say.
And I will consider thee in another cup of sack. Here's to thee, which having drunk off this my sentence: Pledge me. Thou hast done, or assisted to nothing, in my judgment, but deserves to be pardon'd for the wit of the offence.
EDWARD: We are the more bound to your humanity, sir.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Only these two have so little of man in ‘em, they are no part of my care.
They are not born every year, as an alderman. There goes more to the making of a good poet, than a sheriff.
JUSTICE CLEMENT: Good complement! It will be their bridal night too. They are married anew. Come, I conjure the rest, to put off all discontent. You, master Downright, your anger; you, master Knowell, your cares; Master Kitely and his wife, their jealousy.
'Tis well, 'tis well! This night we'll dedicate to friendship, love, and laughter. Master bridegroom, take your bride and lead; everyone, a fellow. Here is my mistress, Brainworm! To whom all my addresses of courtship shall have their reference. Whose adventures, this day, when our grandchildren shall hear to be made a fable, I doubt not, but it shall find both spectators, and applause.