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home l personae l act 1 l act 2 l act 3 l act 4 l act 5
scene 1 l
scene 2 l chorus 5

Scene 5.1 A room in Simon's house

Enter Simon, clerk [Aminadab], Glover, Fellmonger, Grazier, etc. [as officers]. Music.

SIMON
Is not that rebel Oliver, the fustian weaver,
That traitor to my year, 'prehended yet?

[AMINADAB]
Not yet, so please your worship.

SIMON
Not yet, sayst thou?
How dar'st thou say not yet, and see me present?
Thou malapart
[1] clerk that's good for nothing but
To write and read! Is his loom seiz'd on?

[AMINADAB]
Yes,
And it like your worship, and sixteen yards of fustian.

SIMON
Good; let a yard be sav'd to mend me between the legs, the rest cut in pieces and given to the poor: 'tis heretic fustian, and should be burnt indeed, but being worn threadbare the shame will be as great. How think you, neighbours?

GLOVER
Greater, methinks, the longer it is worn,
Where being once burnt it can be burn'd no more.

SIMON
True, wise and most senseless.
[2]

Enter a Footman.

How now, sirrah?
What's he approaching here in dusty pumps
[3]
And greasy hair?

[AMINADAB]
A footman, sir, to the great King of Kent.

SIMON
The King of Kent? Shake him by the hand for me.
Footman, thou art welcome; lo, my deputy shakes thee:
Come when my year's out and I'll do't myself.
An't were a dog come from the King of Kent,
I keep those officers would shake him, I trow.
And what's the news with thee, [thou] well-stew'd footman?

FOOTMAN
The king my master--

SIMON
Ha?

FOOTMAN
With a few Saxons
Intends this night to make merry with you.

SIMON
Merry with me? I should be sorry else, fellow,
And take it in evil part, so tell Kent's king.
Why was I chosen mayor but that great men
Should make merry with me? There's a jest indeed;
Tell him I look'd for't, and me much he wrongs
If he forget Simon that cut out his thongs.

FOOTMAN
I'll run with your worship's answer.

Exit.

SIMON
[Do, I prithee.]
That fellow will be roasted against
[4] supper;
He's half enough already, his [brows] baste him.
The King of Kent! The king of Kirsendom
[5]
Shall not be better welcome to me,
For you must imagine now, neighbours, this is
The time that Kent stands out of Kirsendom
[6],
For he that's king there now was never kirsen'd.
[7]
This for your more instruction I thought fit,
That when y'are dead you may teach your children wit.
Clerk!

[AMINADAB]
At your worship's elbow.

SIMON
I must turn you
From the hall to the kitchen tonight.
Give order that pigs be roasted yellow,
Nine geese, and some three larks for piddling
[8] meat,
But twenty woodcocks; I'll bid all my neighbours.
Give charge the mutton come in all blood-raw;
That's infidel meat! The King of Kent's a pagan,
And must be serv'd so. And let those officers
That seldom or never go to church bring 't in,
'Twill be well taken; run.

[Exit Aminadab.]

[To an officer] Come hither you now.
Take all the cushions down and thwack 'em soundly
After my feast of millers, for their buttocks
Has left a peck of flour in 'em; beat 'em carefully
O'er a bolting-hutch
[9]: there'll be enough
For a pan-pudding, as your dame will handle it.
Then put fresh water into both the bough-pots
[10],
And burn a little juniper
[11] i' th' hall chimney;
Like a beast as I was, I piss'd out the fire last night
And never thought of the king's coming.

[Enter Aminadab.]

How now,
Return'd so quickly?

[AMINADAB]
Please your worship, there's a certain company of players.

SIMON
Ha, players!

[AMINADAB]
Country comedians, interluders, sir, [desire] your worship's leave and favour to enact in the town hall.

SIMON
I' th' town hall? 'Tis ten to one I never grant it. Call 'em before my worship. If my house will not serve their turn, I would fain see the proudest he lend a barn to 'em.

Enter Cheaters.

Now, sirs, are you comedians?

SECOND CHEATER
We are anything, sir: comedians, tragedians, tragi-comedians, comi-tragedians, pastorists, humourists, clownists, and satirists; we have 'em, sir, from the smile to the laugh, from the laugh to the handkerchief.

SIMON
You are very [strong i' th']
[12] wrists; and shall these good parts y'are indued withal be cast away upon peddlers and maltmen[13]?

FIRST CHEATER
For want of better company, and't please your worship.

SIMON
What think you of me, my masters? Have you audacity enough to play before so high a person
[14] ? Will not my countenance daunt you? For if you play before me I shall often look at you; I give you that warning beforehand. Take it not ill, my masters; I shall laugh at you, and truly when I'm least offended with you: my humour 'tis, but be not you abash'd.

FIRST CHEATER
Sir, we have play'd before a lord ere now,
Though we be country actors.

SIMON
A lord? Ha, ha!
You'll find it a harder thing to please a mayor.

FIRST CHEATER
We have a play wherein we use a horse.

SIMON
Fellows, you use no horseplay in my house.
My rooms are rubb'd
[15]; keep it for hackney-men.

FIRST CHEATER
We will not offer 't to your worship, sir.

SIMON
Give me a play without a beast, I charge you.

SECOND CHEATER
That's hard. Without a cuckold or a drunkard?

SIMON
Oh, those beasts are often the best men i' th' parish, and must not be kept out! But which is your merriest play now? That I would hearken after.

SECOND CHEATER
Why, your worship shall hear the names all o'er and take your choice.

SIMON
And that's plain dealing, trust me. Come, begin, sir.

SECOND CHEATER
The Whirligig, The Whibble, Carwidgen--
[16]

SIMON
Heyday, what names are these?

SECOND CHEATER
New names of late.
The Wild Goose Chase.

SIMON
I understand thee now.

SECOND CHEATER
Gull upon Gull.

SIMON
Why, this is somewhat yet.

SECOND CHEATER
Woodcock
[17] of Our Side.

SIMON
Get you further off then.

FIRST CHEATER
The Cheater and the Clown.

SIMON
Is that come up again?
That was a play when I was prentice first.

SECOND CHEATER
Ay, but the cheater has learn'd more tricks since, sir,
And gulls the clown with new additions
[18].

SIMON
Then is [your] clown a coxcomb? Which is he?

CLOWN
I am the clown, sir.

SIMON
[Fie, fie, your company must fall upon him and beat him]; he's too fair to make the people laugh.

FIRST CHEATER
Not as he may be dress'd, sir.

SIMON
Faith, dress him how you will, I'll give him that gift he'll never look half scurvily enough. Oh, the clowns that I have seen in my time! The very peeping out of 'em
[19] would have made a young heir laugh if his father had lain a-dying[20]; a man undone in law the day before, the saddest case that can be, might for his twopence have burst himself with laughing and ended all his miseries. Here was a merry world, my masters!
Some talk of things of state, of puling
[21] stuff;
There's nothing in a play to a clown's part,
If he have the grace to hit on't, that's the thing indeed:
The king shows well, but he sets off the king,
But not the King of Kent, I mean not so;
The king I mean is one I do not know.

SECOND CHEATER
Your worship speaks with safety, like a rich man,
And for your finding fault, our hope is greater,
Neither with him the clown nor me the cheater.

SIMON
Away then; shift, clown, to thy motley crupper
[22]:
We'll see 'em first, the king shall after supper.

[Exeunt] Cheater[s].

GLOVER
I commend your worship's wisdom in that, Master Mayor.

SIMON
Nay, 'tis a point of justice, an't be well examined, not to offer the king worse than I'll see myself, for a play may be dangerous; I have known a great man poison'd in a play.

GLOVER
What, have you, Master Mayor?

SIMON
But to what purpose many times I know not.

FELLMONGER
Methinks they should destroy one another so.

SIMON
No, no, he that's poison'd is always made privy to it;
That's one good order they have amongst 'em.

Shout.

What joyful throat is that, Aminadab?
What is the meaning of this cry?

[AMINADAB]
The rebel is ta'en.

SIMON
Oliver the puritan?

[AMINADAB]
Oliver, puritan and fustian weaver altogether.

SIMON
Fates, I thank you for this victorious day!
Bonfires of pease-straw burn; let the bells ring.

GLOVER
There's two a-mending, sir, you know they cannot.

SIMON
'Las, the tenor's broken; ring forth the treble.

Enter Oliver [guarded].

I'm overcloy'd with joy! Welcome, thou rebel.

OLIVER
I scorn thy welcome.

SIMON
Art thou yet so stout
[23]?
Wilt thou not stoop for grace? Then get thee out.

OLIVER
I was not born to stoop but to my loom;
That seiz'd upon, my stooping days are done.
In plain terms, if thou hast anything to say to me, send me away quickly; this is
no biding place. I understand there's players in the house. Dispatch me, I charge thee, in the name of all the brethren.

SIMON
Nay now, proud rebel, I will make thee stay,
And to thy greater torment see the play.

OLIVER
Oh, devil, I conjure thee by Amsterdam
[24]!

SIMON
Our word is past;
Justice may wink a while but see at last.

[A trumpet sounds[25], and Oliver struggles.]

The play begins. Hold, stop him, stop him!

OLIVER
Oh, oh, that profane trumpet!

SIMON
Set him down there, I charge you, officers.

OLIVER
I'll hide mine ears and stop mine eyes.

SIMON
Down with his golls
[26], I charge you!

OLIVER
Oh, tyranny! Revenge it, tribulation!

SIMON
For rebels there are many deaths, but sure the only way
To execute a puritan is seeing of a play.

OLIVER
Oh, I shall swoon!

SIMON
But if thou dost, to fright thee,
A player's boy shall bring thee [aqua-vitae]
[27].

Enter First Cheater [and another].

OLIVER
Oh, I'll not [swoon] at all for't, though I die.

SIMON
Peace, here's a rascal; list and edify.

FIRST CHEATER
I say still he's an ass that cannot live by his wits.

SIMON
What a bold rascal's this! He calls us all asses at first dash; sure none of us lives by our wits, neighbours, unless it be Oliver the puritan.

OLIVER
I scorn as much to live by my wits as the proudest on you all.

SIMON
Why, you are an ass for company, Oliver, and so hold your prating.

Enter [Second] Cheater.

SECOND CHEATER
Fellows in arms, welcome. The news, the news?

SIMON
Fellows in arms, quoth 'a? He may well call 'em fellows in arms, for they are all out o' th' elbows
[28].

FIRST CHEATER
Be lively, my heart, be lively; the booty's at hand. He's but a fool of a yeoman's eldest son; he comes balanc'd on both sides, bully
[29]: he's going to pay rent with th' one pocket, and buy household stuff with th' other.

SECOND CHEATER
And if this be his last day, my chuck, he shall forfeit his lease, quoth th' one pocket, and eat his meat i' th' old wooden platters, quoth th' other.

SIMON
Faith, then he's not so wise as he ought to be if he let such tatterdemalions get th' upper hand on him.

Enter Clown.

FIRST CHEATER
He comes, he comes.

SECOND CHEATER
Ay, but do you mark how he comes? Small to our comfort, with both his hands in's pockets. How is't possible to pick a lock when the key's o' th' inside o' th' door?

SIMON
Ay, here's the part now, neighbours, that carries away the play. If the clown miscarry, farewell my hopes forever, the play's spoil'd.

CLOWN
They say there's a foolish thing call'd cheaters abroad that will gull any yeoman's son of his purse and laugh in's [face] like an Irishman. I would fain meet with one of those cheaters; I'm in as good state to be gull'd now as ever I was in my life, for I have two purses at this time about me, and I'd fain be acquainted with that rascal that would but take one of 'em now.

SIMON
Faith, thou mayst be acquainted with two or three that will do their good wills I warrant you.

FIRST CHEATER
That way's too plain, too easy I'm afraid.

SECOND CHEATER
Come, come, sir, your familiar cheats takes best;
They show like natural things and least suspected:
Give me a round shilling quickly.

FIRST CHEATER
'Twill but fetch one of his hands neither if it take.

SECOND CHEATER
Thou art [too] covetous. Let's have one at first, prithee;
There's time enough to fetch out th'other after.
[Loudly] Thou liest, 'tis lawful money, current
[30] money.

[They draw.]

FIRST CHEATER
[Loudly] Ay, so is copper in some countries, sir.

CLOWN
Here's a fray towards, but I'll hold my hands,
Let whose will part 'em.

SECOND CHEATER
Copper! I defy thee,
And now I shall disprove thee. Look you, sir,
Here comes an honest yeoman's son o' th' country,
A man of judgment.

CLOWN
Pray be cover'd
[31], sir;
I have eggs in my cap, and cannot put it off.

FIRST CHEATER
Will you be tried by him?

SECOND CHEATER
I am content, sir.

SIMON
They look rather as if they would be tried next sessions.

FIRST CHEATER
Pray give your judgment of this piece of coin, sir.

CLOWN
Nay, an't be coin you strive about, let's see't;
I love to handle money.

FIRST CHEATER
Look on't well, sir.

[They pick his pocket.]

SECOND CHEATER
Let him do his worst, sir.

CLOWN
Y'ad need to wear cut clothes, gentlemen,
Y'are so choleric.

SECOND CHEATER
Nay,
rub it and spare't not, sir.

CLOWN
Now by this silver, gentlemen, 'tis good money;
Would y'had a hundred of 'em.

SECOND CHEATER
We hope well, sir.
[Aside to First Cheater] Th'other pocket now and we are made men.

[Exeunt Cheaters, manet Clown].

SIMON
Oh, neighbours, I begin to be sick to see
This fool so cozen'd
[32]; I would make the case mine own.

CLOWN
Still would I fain meet with this thing call'd cheaters.

SIMON
A whoreson coxcomb! They have met with thee!
I can endure him no longer with patience.

CLOWN
Oh, my rent, my whole year's rent!

SIMON
A murrain
[33] on you!
This makes us landlords stay so long
Without our money.

CLOWN
The cheater[s] have been here!

SIMON
A scurvy hobby-horse
[34], that could not leave his money with me, having such a charge about him! A pox on thee for an ass! Thou play a clown? I will commit thee for offering on't. Officer, away with him.

GLOVER
What means your worship? Why, you'll spoil the play, sir.

SIMON
Before the King of Kent shall be thus serv'd,
I'll play the clown myself. Away with him!

CLOWN
With me? An't please your worship, 'twas my part.

SIMON
But 'twas as foolish a part as ever thou play'd'st in thy life, and I'll make thee smoke for't
[35]. I'll teach thee to understand to play a clown, thou shalt know; every man is not born to't. Look thee, away with him quickly,

Exit [officer] with Clown.

He'll have the other pocket; I [heard] him say 't with mine own ears.

[Enter Second Cheater.]

See, he comes in another disguise to cheat thee again.

SECOND CHEATER
[Aside] Pish, whither goes he now? He spoils all my part.

SIMON
Come on, sir, let's see what your knaveship can do at me now. You must not think now, rascal, you have no fool in hand; I have committed for playing the part so like an ass.

[He throws off his gown, discovering his doublet with a satin forepart and a canvas back.]

SECOND CHEATER
What's here to do?

GLOVER
Fie, good sir, come away.
Will your worship base yourself to play a clown?

SIMON
Away, brother, 'tis not good to scorn anything: a man does not know what he may come to; everyone knows his ending but not his beginning. Proceed, varlet, do thy worst, I defy thee!

SECOND CHEATER
I beseech your worship let's have our own clown; I know not how to go forward else.

SIMON
Knave, play out thy part with me or I'll lay thee by the heels
[36] all the days of thy life else. Why, how now, my masters, who's that laugh'd now? Cannot a man of worship play the clown a little for his pleasure but he must be laugh'd at? Do you know who I am? Is the king's deputy of no better accompt[37] amongst you? Was I chosen to be laugh'd at? Where's my clerk?

[AMINADAB]
Here, an't please your worship.

SIMON
Take a note of all those that laugh at me, that when I have done I may commit 'em. Let me see who dares do't now. And now to you once again, sir cheater; look you, here's my purse-strings, I defy thee.

SECOND CHEATER
Good sir, tempt me not; my part is so written that I should cheat your worship and you were my father.

SIMON
I should have much joy to have such a rascal to my son.

SECOND CHEATER
Therefore I beseech your worship pardon me; the part has more knavery than when your worship saw it first. I assure you you'll be deceiv'd in't, sir; the new additions will take any man's purse in Kent or Kirsendom.

SIMON
And thou canst take mine now, I'll give't thee freely,
And do thy worst, I charge thee, as thou'lt answer't.

SECOND CHEATER
I shall offend your worship.

SIMON
Knave, do't quickly!

SECOND CHEATER
Say you so? Then there's for you, and here's for me then.

[Throws meal in his face, takes his purse, and exit.]

SIMON
Oh, bless me, neighbours, I am in a fog,
A cheater's fog! I can see nobody!

GLOVER
Run, follow him, officers!

[Exeunt Aminadab and officers.]

SIMON
Away, let him go! He'll have all your purses, and he come back. A pox on your new additions! They spoil all the plays that ever they come in; the old way had no such roguery in't, I remember. Call you this a merry comedy, when as a man's eyes are put out? Brother Honeysuckle.

BRAZIER
What says your sweet worship?

SIMON
I make you my deputy to rule the town till I can see again, which I hope will be within nine days at furthest. Nothing grieves me but that I hear Oliver the rebel laugh at me. Pox on your puritan face! This will make you in love with plays ever hereafter; we shall not keep you from 'em now.

OLIVER
In sincerity, I was never better edify'd
[38] at an exercise[39].

SIMON
Neighbours, what colour is the rascal's dust he threw in my face?

GLOVER
'Tis meal, an't please your worship.

SIMON
Meal? I'm glad on't; I'll hang the miller for selling on't.

GLOVER
Nay, ten to one the cheater never bought it;
He stole it certainly.

SIMON
Why, then I'll hang the cheater for stealing on't, and the miller for being out of the way when he did it.

FELLMONGER
Ay, but your worship was in the fault yourself;
You bade him do his worst.

SIMON
His worst? That's true,
But he has done his best, the rascal, for I know not how a villain could put out a man's eyes better, and leave 'em in's head, than he has done.

Enter clerk [Aminadab].

[AMINADAB]
Where's my master's worship?

SIMON
How now, Aminadab? I hear thee though I see thee not.

[AMINADAB]
Y'are sure cozen'd, sir; they are all cheaters professed! They have stol'n three silver spoons too, and the clown took his heels with all celerity; they only take the name of country comedians to abuse simple people with a printed play or two they bought at Canterbury last week for sixpence, and which is worst, they speak but what they list on't and fribble
[40] out the rest.

SIMON
Here's no abuse to th' commonwealth,
If a man could see to look into't!
But mark the cunning of these cheating slaves:
First they make justice blind, then play the knaves.

Enter Hengist.

GLOVER
'Od's precious brother, the King of Kent's new lighted!

SIMON
The King of Kent? Where is he, where is he?
Oh, that I should live to this day, and yet
Not live to see to bid him welcome!

HENGIST
Now where's Simonides, our friendly host?

SIMON
As blind as one that had been fox'd
[41] a [se'nnight].

HENGIST
Why, how now, man?

SIMON
Faith, practising a clown's part for your grace
I have practis'd both mine eyes out.

HENGIST
What need you practise that?

SIMON
A man's never too old to learn; your grace will say so when you hear all the villainy. The truth 'tis, my lord, I meant to have been merry, and now 'tis my luck to weep water and oatmeal; but I shall see again at supper-time, I make no doubt on't.

HENGIST
This is strange to me, sirs.

Enter Gentleman [Saxon].

GENTLEMAN [SAXON]
Arm, arm, my lord--

HENGIST
What's that?

GENTLEMAN [SAXON]
With swiftest speed,
If ever you'll behold the queen your daughter
Alive again!

HENGIST
Roxena!

GENTLEMAN [SAXON]
They're besieg'd,
Aurelius Ambrose and his brother Uther,
With numbers infinite in Britain forces,
Beset their castle, and they cannot 'scape
Without your speedy succour.

HENGIST
For her safety
I'll forget food and rest. Away!

SIMON
I hope
Your grace will hear the jest afore you go.

HENGIST
The jest! Torment me not. Set forward!

SIMON
I'll follow you
To Wales with a dog and a bell
[42], but I'll tell't you.

HENGIST
Unreasonable folly!

Exit [with Gentleman Saxon].

SIMON
'Tis sign of war when great ones disagree;
Look to the rebel well till I can see,
And when my sight's recover'd,
I'll have his eyes put out for a fortnight.

OLIVER
Hang thee! Mine eyes! A deadly sin or two
Shall pluck 'em out first, that's my resolution.

Exeunt omnes.

Notes

[1] malapart: malapert, i.e., presumptuous, impudent, saucy.
[2] senseless: a malaprop.
[3] pumps: a single-soled, low shoe which was the footwear of servants.
[4] against: in preparation for.
[5] Kirsendom: Christendom.
[6] Kent stands out of Kirsendom: "In Kent or Kirsendom" was proverbial.
[7] kirsen'd: christened.
[8] piddling: "Meat to trifle with. A 'piddler' was the name for one who ate squeamishly or with little appetite" (Bullen).
[9] bolting-hutch: the wooden trough into which meal is sifted.
[10] bough-pots: a pot for holding boughs, a flower-pot.
[11] juniper: burnt to sweeten room.
[12] [strong i' th']: strongists (L,P); the "ist" of "wrists" is a pun, picking up on the "ist" suffixes of the genres the Second Cheater has just listed.
[13] maltmen: brewers
[14] Have you audacity enough...person: for players preferring to play before a lord rather than a mayor, cf. Marston's Histriomastix II.i.
[15] rubb'd: i.e., cleaned, polished.
[16] The Whirligig, The Whibble, Carwidgen: Whibble is a variant of quibble, i.e., a pun or equivocation. Carwidgen is a variant of carwitchet, i.e., a hoaxing question or conundrum. "There has been some discussion over this list of plays, especially as to whether or no Fletcher's Wildgoose Chase is referred to.... Since nothing is known of the original date of Fletcher's play beyond the fact that it was acted at Court in 1621, it is impossible to decide. Dyce also mentions that 'Taylor, the water-poet, in the preface to Sir Gregory Nonsense' (1622) alludes to a book called Woodcock of our side, but, he adds, 'perhaps he merely invented the title, for the expression was proverbial.' Certainly no one has ever found evidence pointing to the existence of plays bearing any of the other titles mentioned, although a play called Cupid's Whirligig has survived. The list seems, on the whole, to be a purely fanciful one, particularly for giving plays catch titles which afforded no clue as to their plots." A similarly fictional list is mentioned in Histriomastix II.i, but one in Sir Thomas More IV.i "consists largely of real plays, and seems to represent a genuine attempt...to achieve historical accuracy" (Bald).
[17] Woodcock: a bird easily trapped and hence a dupe.
[18] additions: New material was written for plays when they were revived.
[19] peeping out of 'em: i.e., from behind the stage curtain.
[20] young heir laugh if his father had lain a-dying: a favorite joke of Middleton's.
[21] puling: whining.
[22] crupper: buttocks, from the strap that passes under the horse's tail to keep the saddle from slipping .
[23] stout: strong.
[24] Amsterdam: a meeting place and refuge for Puritanism.
[25] trumpet sounds: Three trumpet blasts signaled the beginning of the play in public theaters.
[26] golls: hands.
[27] [aqua-vitae]: Aquanite (L,P).
[28] out o' th' elbows: have a coat worn out at the elbows, to be ragged, poor, in bad condition.
[29] bully: a familiar form of address.
[30] current: in circulation.
[31] Pray be cover'd: I.e., put your hat back on, which he has removed as a sign of respect.
[32] cozen'd: cheated.
[33] murrain: plague, pestilence.
[34] hobby-horse: jester, buffoon, from the wicker pantomime horse that was part of a morris dance.
[35] make thee smoke for't: smart, suffer severely (obs.).
[36] lay thee by the heels: have thee arrested and chained.
[37] accompt: account
[38] edify'd: pleasd edifyde (L,P); pleas'd (Q), but "edify'd" is preferable, and echoes Simon's line at the beginning of the performance
[39] exercise: the week-day sermons of Puritans.
[40] fribble: falter, totter in walking (obs.)
[41] fox'd: cant term for drunk.
42] dog and a bell: a blind beggar's companions.

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