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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. II by Robert Dodsley

Part 5 out of 7

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May against her enemies always have victory.

JACOB. God save the Queen's councillors most noble and true,
And with all godliness their noble hearts endue.

ESAU. Lord save the nobility and preserve them all:
And prosper the Queen's subjects universal.


_Thus endeth this Comedy or Enterlude of Jacob and Esau_.





So little is known respecting the history of the following tract, that
it is rather from an unwillingness to depart from the usual custom of
affixing introductions to our reprints, than from any expectation of
satisfying the slightest curiosity, that a few lines are here prefixed.
The interlude of "The Disobedient Child" was written about the middle
of the sixteenth century, by Thomas Ingelend, who is described in the
early printed copy as "late student in Cambridge," and his fame seems
to rest entirely on that production, for he is not to be traced in any
other early literary record.[292] It has been supposed by some writers,
from a few indistinct allusions in the play to Catholic customs, that
it was composed in the reign of Henry VIII.; but if this be the case,
the notice of Queen Elizabeth, introduced towards the close of the
drama, must be an interpolation, a supposition not unlikely to be
correct, for the audience are elsewhere reminded to "serve the king."
The printed edition by Colwell is without date, but it was published
about the year 1560. Two copies of this work which I have collated
differ in some slight particulars from each other, but there is not
sufficient reason for thinking that there were two editions, for it was
formerly a very common practice to correct and alter the press whilst
the impression was being taken.[293]

[It is observable that the present interlude marks a considerable
advance, in point of literary merit, on those which precede it in this
collection. The author was evidently a man of taste and judgment, and
many passages might be pointed out which possess no mean share of
picturesqueness, elegance, and dramatic propriety. Contrary to the
usual practice, in old as well as modern pieces, "The Disobedient
Child" concludes unhappily, though without any attempt at a highly
wrought tragical catastrophe; the Rich man persists in his unrelenting
conduct, and we are left to imagine that his son returns to live and
die in misery with his termagant wife.]




Now, forasmuch as in these latter days,
Throughout the whole world in every land,
Vice doth encrease, and virtue decays,
Iniquity having the upper hand;
We therefore intend, good gentle audience,
A pretty short interlude to play at this present:
Desiring your leave and quiet silence
To show the same, as is meet and expedient.[295]
The sum whereof, matter and argument,
In two or three verses briefly to declare,
Since that it is for an honest intent,
I will somewhat bestow my care.
In the city of London there was a rich man
Who, loving his son most tenderly,
Moved him earnestly now and then,
That he would give his mind to study,
Saying that by knowledge, science and learning,
Is at the last gotten a pleasant life,
But through the want and lack of this thing
Is purchased poverty, sorrow and strife.
His son, notwithstanding this gentle monition,
As one that was clean devoid of grace,
Did turn to a mock and open derision
Most wickedly with an unshamefast[296] face;
Insomuch that, contrary to his father's will,
Unto a young woman he did consent,
Whereby of lust he might have his fill,
And married the same incontinent.[297]
Not long after that, the child began
To feel his wife's great frowardness,
And called himself unhappy man,
Oppressed with pains and heaviness:
Who, before that time, did live blessedly,
Whilst he was under his father's wing;
But now, being wedded, mourning and misery
Did him torment without ending.
But now it is time for me to be going,
And hence to depart for a certain space,
For I do hear the Rich Man coming
With the wanton boy into this place.

[_Here the Prologue Speaker goeth out, and in
cometh the Rich Man and his son_.

SON. Father, I beseech you, father, show me the way,
What thing I were best to take in hand,
Whereby this short life so spend I may,
That all grief and trouble I might withstand.

FATHER. What is the meaning, my child, I thee pray,
This question to demand of me?
For that thing to do I am glad alway,
Which should not be grievous to thee.

SON. Marry, but therefore of you counsel I take,
Seeing now my childhood I am clean past,
That unto me ye plainly do make
What to a young man is best for to taste.

FATHER. I see nothing truly, my son, so meet,
And to prove so profitable for thee,
As unto the school to move thy feet,
With studious lads there for to be.

SON. What, the school! nay, father, nay!
Go to the school is not the best way.

FATHER. Say what thou list, for I cannot invent
A way more commodious to my judgment.[298]

SON. It is well known how that ye have loved
Me heretofore at all times most tenderly;
But now (me-think) ye have plainly showed
Certain tokens of hatred;
For if I should go to my book after your advice,
Which have spent my childhood so pleasantly,
I may then seem driven out of paradise,
To take pain and woe, grief and misery.
All things I had rather sustain and abide,
The business of the school once cast aside;
Therefore, though ye cry, till ye reve[299] asunder,
I will not meddle with such a matter.

FATHER. Why, cannot I thee thus much persuade?
For that in my mind is the best trade.

SON. When all is said and all is done,
Concerning all things, both more and less,
Yet like to the school none under the sun
Bringeth to children so much heaviness.

FATHER. What, though it be painful, what, though it be grievous,
For so be all things at the first learning,
Yet marvellous pleasure it bringeth unto us,
As a reward for such painstaking.
Wherefore come off, and be of good cheer,
And go to thy book without any fear,
For a man without knowledge (as I have read)
May well be compared to one that is dead.

SON. No more of the school; no more of the book;
That woful work is not for my purpose,
For upon those books I may not look:
If so I did, my labour I should lose.

FATHER. Why then to me thy fancy [doth] express,
That the school matters to thee are counted weariness.

SON. Even as to a great man, wealthy and rich,
Service and bondage is a hard thing,
So to a boy, both dainty and nice,[300]
Learning and study is greatly displeasing.

FATHER. What, my child, displeasing, I pray thee,
That maketh a man live so happily?

SON. Yea, by my troth, such kind of wisdom
Is to my heart, I tell you, very loathsome.

FATHER. What trial thereof hast thou taken,
That the school of thee is so ill bespoken?

SON. What trial thereof would ye fain know?
Nothing more easy than this to show:
At other boys' hands I have it learned,
And that of those truly, most of all other,
Which for a certain time have remained
In the house and prison of a schoolmaster.

FATHER. I dare well say that there is no misery,
But rather joy, pastime and pleasure
Always with scholars keeping company:
No life to this, I thee well assure.

SON. It is not true, father, which you do say;
The contrary thereof is proved alway,
For as the bruit goeth by many a one,
Their tender bodies both night and day
Are whipped and scourged, and beat[301] like a stone,
That from top to toe the skin is away.

FATHER. Is there not (say they) for them in this case
Given other while for pardon some place?

SON. None, truly, none; but that alas, alas,
Diseases among them do grow apace;
For out of their back and side doth flow
Of very gore-blood marvellous abundance;
And yet for all that is not suffered to go,
Till death be almost seen in their countenance.
Should I be content thither then to run,
Where the blood from my breech thus should spun,[302]
So long as my wits shall be mine own,
The schoolhouse for me shall stand alone.[303]

FATHER. But I am sure that this kind of fashion
Is not showed to children of honest condition.

SON. Of truth, with these masters is no difference,
For alike towards all is their wrath and violence.

FATHER. Son, in this point thou art quite deceived,
And without doubt falsely persuaded,
For it is not to be judged that any schoolmaster
Is of so great fierceness and cruelty,
And of young infants so sore a tormentor,
That the breath should be about to leave the body.

SON. Father, this thing I could not have believed,
But of late days I did behold
An honest man's son hereby buried,
Which through many stripes was dead and cold.

FATHER. Peraventure, the child of some disease did labour,
Which was the cause of his sepulture.[304]

SON. With no disease, surely, was he disquieted,
As unto me it was then reported.

FATHER. If that with no such thing he were infected,
What was the cause that he departed?

SON. Men say that of[305] this man, his bloody master,
Who like a lion most commonly frowned,
Being hanged up by the heels together,
Was belly and buttocks grievously whipped;
And last of all (which to speak I tremble),[306]
That his head to the wall he had often crushed.[307]

FATHER. Thus to think, son, thou art beguiled verily,
And I would wish thee to suppose the contrary,
And not for such tales my counsel to forsake,
Which only do covet thee learned to make.

SON. If Demosthenes and Tully were present truly,
They could not print[308] it within my head [more] deeply.

FATHER. Yet, by thy father's will and intercession,
Thou shalt be content that thing to pardon.

SON. Command what ye list, that only excepted,
And I will be ready your mind to fulfil,
But whereas I should to the school have resorted,
My hand to the palmer[309] submitting still,
I will not obey ye therein, to be plain,
Though with a thousand strokes I be slain.

FATHER. Woe is me, my son, woe is me!
This heavy and doleful day to see.

SON. I grant indeed I am your son;
But you my father shall not be,
If that you will cast me into that prison,
Where torn in pieces ye might me see.

FATHER. Where I might see thee torn and rent?
O Lord, I could not such a deed invent!

SON. Nay, by the mass, I hold[310] ye a groat,
Those cruel tyrants cut not my throat:
Better it were myself did slay,
Than they with the rod my flesh should flay.
Well, I would we did this talk omit,
For it is loathsome to me every whit.

FATHER. What trade then, I pray thee, shall I devise,
Whereof thy living at length may arise?
Wilt thou follow warfare, and a soldier be 'ppointed,
And so among Troyans and Romans be numbered?

SON. See ye not, masters, my father's advice?
Have ye the like at any time heard?
To will me thereto he is not wise,
If my years and strength he did regard;
Ye speak worse and worse, whatsoever ye say;
This manner of life is not a good way,
For no kind of office can me please,
Which is subject to wounds and strokes always.

FATHER. Somewhat to do it is meet and convenient;
Wilt thou then give thy diligent endeavour
To let thy youth unhonestly be spent,
And do as poor knaves, which jaxes[311] do scour?
For I do not see that any good art,
Or else any honest science or occupation,
Thou wilt be content to have a part,
After thy father's mind and exhortation.

SON. Ha, ha, ha, ha, labour in very deed!
God send him that life which stands in need:
There be many fathers that children have,
And yet not make the worst of them a slave,
Might not you of yourself be well ashamed.
Which would have your son thither constrained?

FATHER. I would not have thee driven to that succour,
Yet for because the scriptures declare,
That he should not eat, which will not labour,
Some work to do it must be thy care.

SON. Father, it is but a folly with you to strive,
But yet notwithstanding I hope to thrive.

FATHER. That this thine intent may take good success,
I pray God heartily of his goodness.

SON. Well, well, shall I in few words rehearse
What thing doth most my conscience pierce.

FATHER. Therewith I am, son, very well contented.

SON. Yea, but I think that ye will not be pleased.

FATHER. Indeed, peradventure it may so chance.

SON. Nay, but I pray ye, without any perchance,
Shall not my request turn to your grievance?

FATHER. If it be just and lawful, which thou dost require.

SON. Both just and lawful, have ye no fear.

FATHER. Now therefore ask; what is thy petition?

SON. Lo, this it is, without further dilation;[312]
For so much as all young men for this my beauty,
As the moon the stars, I do far excel,
Therefore out of hand[313] with all speed possibly
To have a wife, methink, would do well,
For now I am young, lively, and lusty,
And welcome besides to all men's company.

FATHER. Good Lord, good Lord, what do I hear?

SON. Is this your beginning to perform my desire?

FATHER. Alas! my child, what meaneth thy doting?
Why dost thou covet thy own undoing?

SON (_Aside_). I know not in the world how to do the thing,
That to his stomach may be delighting.

FATHER. Why, foolish idiot, thou goest about a wife,
Which is a burthen and yoke all thy life.

SON. Admit she shall as a burthen with me remain,
Yet will I take one, if your good-will I attain.

FATHER. Son, it shall not be thus, by my counsel.

SON. I trust ye will not me otherwise compel.

FATHER. If thou were as wise as I have judged thee,
Thou wouldest in this case be ruled by me.

SON. To follow the contrary I cannot be turned;
My heart thereon is stifly fixed.

FATHER. What, I say, about thine own destruction?

SON. No, no, but about mine own salvation:
For if I be helped, I swear by the mass,
It is only marriage that brings it to pass.
It is not the school, it is not the book:
It is not science or occupation,
It is not to be a barber or cook,
Wherein is now set my consolation;
And since it is thus, be, father, content;
For to marry a wife I am full bent.

FATHER. Well, if thou wilt not, my son, be ruled,
But needs will follow thine own foolishness,
Take heed hereafter, if thou be troubled,
At me thou never seek redress;
For I am certain thou canst not abide
Any pain at all, grief or vexation.
Thy childhood with me so easily did slide,
Full of all pastime and delectation;
And if thou wouldest follow the book and learning,
And with thyself also take a wise way,
Then thou mayst get a gentleman's living,
And with many other bear a great sway:[314]
Besides this, I would in time to come,
After my power and small hability,
Help thee and further thee, as my wisdom
Should me most counsel for thy commodity.
And such a wife I would prepare for thee
As should be virtuous, wise, and honest,
And give thee with her after my degree,
Whereby thou mightest always live in rest.

SON. I cannot, I tell ye again, so much of my life
Consume at my book without a wife.

FATHER. I perceive therefore I have done too well,
And showed overmuch favour to thee,
That now against me thou dost rebel,
And for thine own furtherance wilt not agree;
Wherefore of my goods thou gettest not a penny,
Nor any succour else at my hands,
For such a child is most unworthy
To have any part of his father's lands.

SON. I do not esteem, father, your goods or lands,
Or any part of all your treasure;
For I judge it enough to be out of bands,
And from this day forward to take my pleasure.

FATHER. Well, if it shall chance thee thy folly to repent,
As thou art like within short space,
Think none but thyself worthy to be shent,[315]
Letting my counsel to take no place.

SON. As touching that matter, I will no man blame:
Now, farewell, father, most heartily for the same.

FATHER. Farewell, my son, depart in God's name!

SON. Room,[316] I say; room, let me be gone:
My father, if he list, shall tarry alone.

[_Here the Son goeth out, and the Rich Man tarrieth behind alone_.

Now at the last I do myself consider,
How great grief it is and heaviness
To every man that is a father,
To suffer his child to follow wantonness:
If I might live a hundred years longer,
And should have sons and daughters many,
Yet for this boy's sake I will not suffer
One of them all at home with me to tarry;
They should not be kept thus under my wing,
And have all that which they desire;
For why it is but their only undoing,
And, after the proverb, we put oil to the fire.[317]
Wherefore we parents must have a regard
Our children in time for to subdue,
Or else we shall have them ever untoward,
Yea, spiteful, disdainful, naught and untrue.
And let us them thrust alway to the school,
Whereby at their books they may be kept under:
And so we shall shortly their courage cool,
And bring them to honesty, virtue and nurture.
But, alas, now-a-days (the more is the pity),
Science and learning is so little regarded,
That none of us doth muse or study
To see our children well taught and instructed.
We deck them, we trim them with gorgeous array,
We pamper and feed them, and keep them so gay,
That in the end of all this they be our foes.
We bass them, [we] kiss them, we look round about;
We marvel and wonder to see them so lean;
We ever anon do invent and seek out
To make them go tricksy,[318] gallant, and clean:
Which is nothing else but the very provoking
To all unthriftiness, vice, and iniquity;
It puffeth them up, it is an alluring
Their fathers and mothers at length to defy.
Which thing mine own son doth plainly declare,
Whom I always entirely have loved;
He was so my joy, he was so my care,
That now of the same I am despised.
And how he is hence from me departed,
He hath no delight with me to dwell;
He is not merry, until he be married,
He hath of knavery took such a smell.[319]
But yet seeing that he is my son,
He doth me constrain bitterly to weep,
I am not (methink) well till I be gone;
For this place I can no longer keep.

[_Here the Rich Man goeth out, and the two Cooks
cometh in; first the one, and then the other_.

Make haste, Blanche, blab it out, and come away,
For we have enough to do all this whole day;
Why, Blanche, blab it out, wilt thou not come,
And knowest what business there is to be done?
If thou may be set with the pot at thy nose,
Thou carest not how other matters goes;
Come away, I bid thee, and tarry no longer,
To trust to thy help I am much the better!

What a murrain, I say, what a noise dost thou make!
I think that thou be not well in thy wits!
I never heard man on this sort to take,
With such angry words and hasty fits.

MAN. Why, dost thou remember what is to be bought
For the great bridal against to-morrow?
The market must be in every place sought
For all kinds of meats, God give thee sorrow!

MAID. What banging, what cursing, Long-tongue, is with thee!
I made as much speed as I could possibly;
I-wis thou mightest have tarried for me,
Until in all points I had been ready;
I have for thee looked full oft heretofore,
And yet for all that said never the more.

MAN. Well, for this once I am with thee content,
So that hereafter thou make more haste;
Or else, I tell thee, thou wilt it repent,
To loiter so long, till the market be past.
For there must be bought beef, veal and mutton,
And that even such as is good and fat,
With pig, geese, conies, and capon;
How sayest thou, Blanche? blab it out unto that?

MAID. I cannot tell, Long-tongue, what I should say;
Of such good cheer I am so glad,
That if I would not eat at all that day,
My belly to fill I were very mad!

MAN. There must be also pheasant and swan;
There must be heronsew, partridge, and quail;
And therefore I must do what I can,
That none of all these the gentleman fail.
I dare say he looks for many things mo,
To be prepared against to-morn;
Wherefore, I say, hence let us go:
My feet do stand upon a thorn.

MAID. Nay, good Long-tongue, I pray once again
To hear yet of my mind a word or twain.

MAN. Come off, then: dispatch, and speak it quickly,
For what thing it is thou causest me tarry.

MAID. Of whence is this gentleman that to-morrow is married?
Where doth his father and his mother dwell?
Above forty miles he hath travelled,
As yesternight his servant did tell.

MAN. In very deed he comes a great way,
With my master he may not long abide;
It hath cost him so much on costly array,
That money out of his purse apace doth slide.
They say that his friends be rich and wealthy,
And in the city of London have their dwelling,
But yet of them all he hath no penny
To spend and bestow here at his wedding.
And if it be true that his servant did say,
He hath utterly lost his friends' good-will,
Because he would not their counsel obey,
And in his own country[320] tarry still;
As for this woman, which he shall marry,
At Saint Albans always hath spent her life;
I think she be a shrew, I tell thee plainly,
And full of debate, malice and strife.

MAID. Though I never saw this woman before,
Which hither with him this gentleman brought,
Yet nevertheless I have tokens in store,
To judge of a woman that is forward and naught.
The tip of her nose is as sharp as mine,
Her tongue and her tune[321] is very shrill;
I warrant her she comes of an ungracious kin,
And loveth too much her pleasure and will:
What though she be now so neat and so nice,
And speaketh as gentle as ever I heard:
Yet young men, which be both witty and wise,
Such looks and such words should not regard.

MAN. Blanche, blab it out; thou sayest very true;
I think thou beginnest at length to preach:
This thing to me is strange and new,
To hear such a fool young men to teach.

MAID. A fool! mine own Long-tongue! why, call'st thou me fool!
Though now in the kitchen I waste the day,
Yet in times past I went to school,
And of my Latin primer I took assay.

MAN. Masters, this woman did take such assay,
And then in those days so applied her book,
That one word thereof she carried not away,
But then of a scholar was made a cook.
I dare say she knoweth not how her primer began,
Which of her master she learned then.

MAID. I trow it began with _Domine labia, aperies_.

MAN. What, did it begin with _butter de peas_?

MAID. I tell thee again, with _Domine, labia aperies_,
If now to hear it be thine ease.

MAN. How, how, with, _my madam lay in the pease_?

MAID. I think thou art mad! with _Domine, labia aperies_.

MAN. Yea, marry, I judged it went such ways;
It began with, _Dorothy, lay up the keys!_

MAID. Nay then, good night; I perceive by this gear,
That none is so deaf as who will not hear;
I spake as plainly as I could devise,
Yet me understand thou canst in no wise!

MAN. Why, yet once again, and I will better listen,
And look upon thee how thy lips do open.

MAID. Well, mark then, and hearken once for all,
Or else hear it again thou never shall;
My book, I say, began with _Domine, labia aperies_.

MAN. Fie, fie, how slow am I of understanding!
Was it all this while, _Domine, labia aperies?_
Belike I have lost my sense of hearing,
With broiling and burning in the kitchen o' days.[322]

MAID. I promise thee thou seemest to have done little better,
For that I wot in my life I never saw
One like to thyself in so easy a matter,
Unless he were deaf, thus play the daw.[323]

MAN. Come on, come on, we have almost forgotten
Such plenty of victuals as we should buy;
It were alms,[324] by my troth, thou were well beaten,
Because so long thou hast made me tarry.

MAID. Tush, tush, we shall come in very good season,
If so be thou goest as fast as I;
Take up thy basket, and quickly have done,
We will be both there by and by.

MAN. I for my part will never leave running,
Until that I come to the sign of the Whiting.

[_Here the two Cooks run out, and in cometh the
Young Man and the Young Woman his lover_.

Where is my sweeting,[325] whom I do seek?
He promised me to have met me here:
Till I speak with him I think it a week,
For he is my joy, he is my cheer!
There is no night, there is no day,
But that my thoughts be all of him;
I have no delight, if he be away:
Such toys in my head do ever swim.
But behold at the last, where he doth come.
For whom my heart desired long;
Now shall I know, all and some,[326]
Or else I would say I had great wrong.

My darling, my coney,[327] my bird so bright of ble:[328]
Sweetheart, I say, all hail to thee!
How do our loves? be they fast asleep?
Or the old liveliness do they still keep?

YOUNG WOMAN. Do ye ask, and[329] my love be fast asleep?
O, if a woman may utter her mind,
My love had almost made me to weep,
Because that even now I did not you find;
I thought it surely a whole hundred year,[330]
Till in this place I saw you here.

YOUNG MAN. Alack, alack, I am sorry for this!
I had such business, I might not come;
But ye may perceive what my wit is,
How small regard I have and wisdom.

YOUNG WOMAN. Whereas ye ask me concerning my love,
I well assure you it doth daily augment;
Nothing can make me start or move;
You only to love is mine intent.

YOUNG MAN. And as for my love it doth never relent,
For of you I do dream, of you I do think;
To dinner and supper I never went,
But of beer and wine to you I did drink.
Now of such thinks[331] therefore to make an end,
Which pitiful lovers do cruelly torment,
To marriage, in God's name, let us descend,
As unto this hour we have been bent.

YOUNG WOMAN. Your will to accomplish I am as ready
As any woman, believe me truly.

YOUNG MAN. This ring then I give you as a token sure,
Whereby our love shall always endure.

YOUNG WOMAN. With a pure pretence your pledge I take gladly,
For a sign of our love, faith, and fidelity.

YOUNG MAN. Now I am safe, now I am glad,
Now I do live, now I do reign;
Methought till now I was too sad,
Wherefore, sadness, fly hence again!
Away with those words which my father brought out!
Away with his sageness and exhortation!
He could not make me his fool or his lout,
And put me besides this delectation.
Did he judge that I would go to the school,
And might my time spend after this sort?
I am not his calf,[332] nor yet his fool;
This virgin I kiss is my comfort!

YOUNG WOMAN. Well then, I pray you, let us be married,
For methink from it we have long tarried.

YOUNG MAN. Agreed, my sweeting, it shall be then done,
Since that thy good-will I have gotten and won.

YOUNG WOMAN. There would this day be very good cheer,
That every one his belly may fill,
And three or four minstrels would be here,
That none in the house sit idle or still.

YOUNG MAN. Take ye no thought for abundance of meat,
That should be spent at our bridal,
For there shall be enough for all men to eat,
And minstrels besides thereto shall not fail.
The cooks, I dare say, a good while agone,
With such kind of flesh as I did them tell,
Are from the market both come home,
Or else, my own coney, they do not well.
I knew, before that I come to this place,
We should be married together this day,
Which caused me then forthwith in this case
To send for victuals, ere I came away.

YOUNG WOMAN. Wherefore then (I pray ye) shall we go to our inn,
And look that everything be made ready?
Or else all is not worth a brass pin,[333]
Such haste is required in matrimony.

YOUNG MAN. I think six o'clock it is not much past,
But yet to the priest we will make haste,
That according to custom we may be both coupled,
And with a strong knot for ever bound fast:
Yet, ere I depart, some song I will sing,
To the intent to declare my joy without fear,
And in the meantime you may, my sweeting,
Rest yourself in this little chair.


_Spite of his spite, which that in vain
Doth seek to force my fantasy,
I am professed for loss or gain,
To be thine own assuredly;
Wherefore let my father spite[334] and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

Although my father of busy wit
Doth babble still, I care not tho;
I have no fear, nor yet will flit,
As doth the water to and fro;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

For I am set and will not swerve,
Whom spiteful speech removeth nought;
And since that I thy grace deserve,
I count it is not dearly bought;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

Who is afraid, let you him fly,
For I shall well abide the brunt;
Maugre to his lips that listeth to lie,
Of busy brains as is the wont;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

Who listeth thereat to laugh or lour,[335]
I am not he that ought doth rech;[336]
There is no pain that hath the power
Out of my breast your love to fetch;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

For whereas he moved me to the school,
And only to follow my book and learning:
He could never make me such a fool,
With all his soft words and fair speaking;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

This minion here, this mincing[337] trull,[338]
Doth please me more a thousandfold,
Than all the earth that is so full
Of precious stones, silver and gold;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

Whatsoever I did it was for her sake,
It was for her love and only pleasure;
I count it no labour such labour to take,
In getting to me so high a treasure;
Wherefore, let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!

This day I intended for to be merry,
Although my hard father be far hence,
I know no cause for to be heavy,
For all this cost and great expense;
Wherefore let my father spite and spurn,
My fantasy will never turn!_

YOUNG MAN. How like ye this song, my own sweet rose?
Is it well made for our purpose?

YOUNG WOMAN. I never heard in all my life a better,
More pleasant, more meet for the matter;
Now let us go then, the morning is nigh gone,
We cannot any longer here remain:
Farewell, good masters every one,
Till from the church we come again.

[_Here they go out, and in cometh the Priest alone_.

PRIEST. Sirs, by my troth it is a world to see[339]
The exceeding negligence of every one,
Even from the highest to the lowest degree
Both goodness and conscience is clean gone.
There is a young gentleman in this town,
Who this same day now must be married:
Yet though I would bestow a crown,
That knave the clerk cannot be spied;
For he is safe, if that in the alehouse
He may sit tippling of nut-brown ale,
That oft he comes forth as drunk as a mouse,
With a nose of his own not greatly pale;
And this is not once, but every day
Almost, of my faith, throughout the whole year,
That he these tricks doth use to play,
Without all shame, dread and fear.
He knoweth himself, that yesternight
The said young gentleman came to me,
And then desired that he might
This morning betimes married be;
But now I doubt it will be high noon,
Ere that his business be quite ended,
Unless the knavish fool come very soon,
That this same thing may be despatched;
And therefore, since that this naughty pack
Hath at this present me thus served,
He is like henceforward my good-will to lack,
Or else unwise I might be judged.
I am taught hereafter how such a one to trust
In any matter concerning the church;
For, if I should, I perceive that I must
Of mine own honesty lose very much.
And yet for all this, from week to week,
For his stipend and wages he ever[340] crieth,
And for the same continually doth seek,
As from time to time plainly appeareth;
But whether his wages he hath deserved,
Unto you all I do me report,
Since that his duty he hath not fulfilled,
Nor to the church will scant resort;
That many a time and oft[341] I am fain
To play the priest, clerk, and all,
Though thus to do it is great pain,
And my reward but very small.
Wherefore (God willing) I will such order take,
Before that I be many days elder,
That he shall be glad this town to forsake,
And learn evermore to please his better,
And in such wise all they shall be used,
Which in this parish intend to be clerks;
Great pity it were the church should be disordered,
Because that such swillbowls[342] do not their works.
And to say truth, in many a place,
And other great towns beside this same,
The priests and parishioners be in the like case,
Which to the churchwardens may be a shame.
How should the priest his office fulfil,
Accordingly as indeed he ought,
When that the clerk will have a self-will,
And always in service-time must be sought?
Notwithstanding at this present there is no remedy,
But to take time, as it doth fall,
Wherefore I will go hence and make me ready,
For it helpeth not to chafe or brawl.

[_Here the Priest goeth out, and in cometh the Rich Man_.

Coming this day forth of my chamber,
Even as for water to wash I did call,
By chance I espied a certain stranger,
Standing beneath within my hall;
Who in very deed came from the innholder,
Whereas for a time my son did lie,
And said that his master had sent me a letter,
And bad him to bring it with all speed possible;
Wherein he did write that as this day
That unthrift,[343] my son, to a certain maid
Should then be wedded without further delay,
And hath borrowed more than will be paid;
And since that he heard he was my son
By a gentleman or two this other day,
He thought that it should be very well done
To let me have knowledge thereof by the way;
And willed me, if that I would any thing
Of him to be done of me in this matter,
That then he his servant such word should bring,
As at his coming he might do hereafter:
I bad him thank his master most heartily,
And sent him by him a piece of venison,
For that he vouchsafed to write so gently,
Touching the marrying and state of my son;
But notwithstanding I sent him no money
To pay such debts as my son did owe,
Because he had me forsaken utterly,
And me for his good father would not know;
And said that with him I would not make
From that day forward during my life,
But as he had brewed, that so he should bake,
Since of his own choosing he gat him a wife.
Thus, when his servant from me departed,
Into my chamber I went again,
And there a great while I bitterly weeped:
This news to me was so great pain.
And thus with these words I began to moan,
Lamenting and mourning myself all alone:
O madness, O doting of those young folk!
O minds without wit, advice and discretion,
With whom their parents can bear no stroke
In their first matrimonial conjunction:
They know not what misery, grief and unquietness
Will hereafter ensue of their extreme foolishness;
Of all such labours they be clean ignorant,
Which, in the nourishing and keeping of children,
To their great charges it is convenient
Either of them henceforth to sustain:
Concerning expenses bestowed in a house,
They perceive as little as doth the mouse.
On the one side the wife will brawl and scold,
On the other side the infant will cry in the cradle:
Anon, when the child waxeth somewhat old,
For meat and drink he begins to babble:
Hereupon cometh it that at markets and fairs
A husband is forced to buy many wares.
Yet for all this hath my foolish son,
As wise [as] a woodcock,[344] without any wit,
Despising his father's mind and opinion,
Married a wife for him most unfit,
Supposing that mirth to be everlasting,
Which then at the first was greatly pleasing.
How they two will live, I cannot tell;
Whereto they may trust, they have nothing.
My mind giveth me, that they will come dwell
At length by their father for want of living;
But my son doubtless, for anything that I know,
Shall reap in such wise as he did sow;
True he shall find, that Hipponax did write,
Who said with a wife are two days of pleasure;
The first is the joy of the marriage-day and night,
The second to be at the wife's sepulture:
And this by experience he shall prove true,
That of his bridal great evils do ensue.
And (as I suppose) it will prove in his life,
When he shall wish that to him it may chance,
Which unto Eupolis and also his wife,
The night they were wedded, fell for a vengeance;
Who with the heavy ruin of the bed were slain,
As the Poet Ovid in these two verses make plain:

_Sit tibi conjugii nox prima novissimi vitae,
Eupolis hoc periit et nova nupta modo_.

Ovidius, writing against one Ibis his enemy,
That the first night of his marriage did wish
The last of his life might be certainly,
For so (quoth he) did Eupolis and his wife perish.
Yet to my son I pray God to send,
Because thereunto me nature doth bind,
Though he hath offended, a better end
Than Eupolis and his wife did find.
And now I shall long ever anon,
Till some of those quarters come riding hither,
Unto the which my son is gone,
To know how they do live together.
But I am fasting, and it is almost noon,
And more than time that I had dined:
Wherefore from hence I will go soon;
I think by this time my meat is burned.

[_Here the Rich Man goeth out, and in cometh the Young
Man his son with the Young Woman, being both married_.

O my sweet wife, my pretty coney!

O my husband, as pleasant as honey.

HUSBAND. O Lord, what pleasures and great commodity
Are heaped together in matrimony!

WIFE. How vehement, how strong a thing love is!
How many smirks and dulsome[345] kisses!

HUSBAND. What smiling, what laughing!
What sport, pastime, and playing!

WIFE. What tickling, what toying!
What dallying, what joying!

HUSBAND. The man with the wife is wholly delighted,
And with many causes to laughter enforced.

WIFE. When they two drink, they drink together;
They never eat but one with another.

HUSBAND. Sometimes to their garden forth they walk,
And into the fields sometimes they go,
With merry tricks and gestures they talk,
As they do move their feet to and fro.

WIFE. Sometimes they ride into the country,
Passing the time with mirth and sport;
And when with their friends they have been merry,
Home to their own house they do resort.

HUSBAND. Sometimes abroad they go to see plays,
And other trim sights for to behold:
When often they meet in the highways
Much of their acquaintance they knew of old.

WIFE. Sometimes to the church they do repair,
To hear the sermon that shall be made,
Though it to remember they shall have small care;
For why they be now but few of that trade.

HUSBAND. Sometimes at home at cards they play,
Sometimes at this game, sometimes at that;
They need not with sadness to pass the day,
Nor yet to sit still, or stand in one plat.

WIFE. And as for us wives, occasions do move
Sometimes with our gossips to make good cheer,
Or else we did not, as did us behove,
For certain days and weeks in the year.

HUSBAND. I think that a man might spend a whole day,
Declaring the joys and endless bliss,
Which married persons receive alway,
If they love faithfully, as meet it is.

WIFE. Wives cannot choose but love earnestly,
If that their husbands do all things well;
Or else, my sweetheart, we shall espy,
That in quietness they cannot dwell.

HUSBAND. If they do not, it may be a shame,
For I love you heartily, I you assure:
Or else I were truly greatly to blame,
Ye are so loving, so kind and demure.

WIFE. I trust that with neither hand or foot
Ye shall see any occasion by me:
But that I love you even from the heart-root,
And during my life so intend to be.

HUSBAND. Who then merry marriage can discommend,
And will not with Aristotle in his Ethics[346] agree?
But will say, that misery is the end,
When otherwise I find it to be:
A politic man will marry a wife,
As the philosopher makes declaration,
Not only to have children by his life,
But also for living, help, and sustentation.

WIFE. Who will not with H'erocles plainly confess,
That mankind to society is wholly adjoining,
And in this society nevertheless
Of worthy wedlock took the beginning:
Without the which no city can stand,
Nor household be perfect in any land?

HUSBAND. Pythagoras, Socrates, and Crates also,
Which truly were men of very small substance,
As I heard my father tell long ago,
Did take them wives with a safe conscience;
And dwelled together, supposing that they
Were unto philosophy nother stop nor stay.

WIFE. Yea, what can be more according to kind,
Than a man to a woman himself to bind?

HUSBAND. Away with those therefore, that marriage despise,
And of dangers thereof invent many lies!

WIFE. But what is he that cometh yonder?
Do ye not think it is our man?
Somewhat there is that he hasteth hither,
For he makes as much speed as he can.

[_Here the servant of the Rich Man's Son
cometh in, with an errand to his master_.

Master, there is a stranger at home,
He would very fain with you talk:
For until that to him ye do come,
Forth of the doors he will not walk.

HUSBAND. Come on then, my wife, if it be so,
Let us depart hence for a season:
For I am not well, till I do know
Of that man's coming the very reason.

[_Here they both go out, and their Servant doth
tarry behind alone_.

Let them go both, and do what they will,
And with communication fill their belly:
For I, by Saint George, will tarry here still,
In all my life I was never so weary!
I have this day filled so many pots
With all manner wine, ale, and beer,
That I wished their bellies full of bots,[347]
Long of whom[348] was made such cheer.
What kinds of meat, both flesh and fish,
Have I, poor knave, to the table carried
From time to time, dish after dish;
My legs from going never ceased!
What running had I for apples and nuts!
What calling for biscuits, comfits, and caraways![349]
A vengeance, said I, light on their guts,
That makes me to turn so many ways!
What crying was there for cards and dice!
What roisting,[350] what ruffling made they within!
I counted them all not greatly wise,
For my head did almost ache with din.
What babbling, what jangling[351] was in the house!
What quaffing, what bibbing with many a cup!
That some lay along as drunk as a mouse,
Not able so much as their heads to hold up!
What dancing, what leaping, what jumping about,
From bench to bench, and stool to stool,
That I wondered their brains did not fall out,
When they so outrageously played the fool!
What juggling was there upon the boards!
What thrusting of knives through many a nose!
What bearing of forms, what holding of swords,
And putting of botkins[352] through leg and hose!
Yet for all that they called for drink,
And said they could not play for dry,
That many at me did nod and wink,
Because I should bring it by and by.
Howsoever they sported, the pot did still walk:
If that were away, then all was lost,
For ever anon the jug was their talk,
They passed[353] not who bare such charge and cost.
Therefore let him look his purse be right good,
That it may discharge all that is spent,
Or else it will make his hair grow through his hood,[354]
There was such havoc made at this present;
But I am afeard my master be angry,
That I did abide thus long behind:
Yet for his anger I pass[355] not greatly,
His words they be but only wind!
Now that I have rested so long in this place,
Homeward again I will hie me apace.

[_Here the Servant goeth out, and in cometh
first the Wife, and shortly after the Husband_.

Where is my husband? was he not here?
I marvel much whither he is gone!
Then I perceive I am [not] much the near:[356]
But lo, where he cometh hither alone!
Wot ye what, husband, from day to day
With dainty dishes our bodies have been filled?
What meat to-morrow next shall we assay,
Whereby we may then be both refreshed?

HUSBAND. Do ye now provide and give a regard
For victuals hereafter to be prepared?

WIFE. But that I know, husband, it lieth us in hand
Of things to come to have a consideration,
I would not once will you to understand
About such business my careful provision:
It is needful therefore to work we make haste,
That to get both our livings we may know the cast.

HUSBAND. To trouble me now, and make me vexed,
This mischievous means hast thou invented.

WIFE. What trouble for thee, what kind of vexation,
Have I to disquiet thee caused at this present?
My only mind is thou make expedition
To seek for our profit, as is convenient.[357]
Wherefore to thee I say once again,
Because to take pains thou art so loth,
By Christ, it were best with might and main
To fall to some work, I swear a great oath!

HUSBAND. Yet, for a time, if it may thee please,
Let me be quiet, and take mine ease.

WIFE. Wilt thou have us then through hunger be starved?

HUSBAND. I would not we should for hunger be killed.

WIFE. Then, I say then, this gear[358] go about,
And look that thou labour diligently,
Or else thou shalt shortly prove without doubt,
Thy sluggishness will not please me greatly.

HUSBAND. Beginnest thou even now to be painful and grievous,
And to thy husband a woman so troublous?

WIFE. What words have we here, thou misbegotten:
Is there not already enough to be spoken?

HUSBAND. O mirth, O joy, O pastime and pleasure,
How little a space do you endure!

WIFE. I see my commandment can take no place;
Thou shalt aby therefore, I swear by the mass!

[_Here the Wife must strike her Husband handsomely
about the shoulders with something_.

HUSBAND. Alas, good wife! good wife, alas, alas!
Strike not so hard, I pray thee heartily!
Whatsoever thou wilt have brought to pass,
It shall be done with all speed possible.

WIFE. Lay these faggots, man, upon thy shoulder,
And carry this wood from street to street,
To sell the same, that we both together
Our living may get, as is most meet.
Hence, nidiot, hence without more delay!
What meanest thou thus to stagger and stay?

HUSBAND. O Lord! what, how miserable men be those,
Which to their wives as wretches be wedded,
And have them continually their mortal foes,
Serving them thus, as slaves that be hired!
Now by experience true I do find,
Which oftentimes unto me heretofore
My father did say, declaring his mind,
That in matrimony was pain evermore;
What shall I do, most pitiful creature?
Just cause I have, alas, to lament:
That frantic woman my death will procure,
If so be this day without gain be spent:
For unless for my wood some money be taken,
Like a dog with a cudgel I shall be beaten!
Ho, thou good fellow, which standest so nigh,
Of these heavy bundles ease my sore back,
And somewhat therefore give me by and by,
Or else I die, for silver I do lack.
Now that I have some money received
For this my burthen, home I will go,
And lest that my wife be discontented,
What I have take, I will her show.
Wife, I am come: I went a long way,
And here is the profit and gains of this day!

WIFE. Why, thou lout, thou fool, thou whoreson folt,[359]
Is this thy wood money, thou peevish[360] dolt?
Thou shalt smart for this gear, I make God a vow!
Thou knowest no more to sell wood than doth the sow!

HUSBAND. By God's precious, I will not unwisely suffer
To do as I have done any longer.

WIFE. Why, dost thou rise against me, villain?
Take heed I scratch not out thy eyes twain!

HUSBAND. Scratch, and thou dare, for I have a knife:
Perchance I will rid thee of thy life!

WIFE. Slay me with thy knife, thou shitten dastard!
Dost thou think to find me such a dissard?
By Cock's bones, I will make thy skin to rattle,
And the brains in thy skull more deeply to settle.

[_Here the Wife must lay on load upon her Husband_.

HUSBAND. Good wife, be content! forgive me this fault!
I will never again do that which is naught.

WIFE. Go to, foolish calf, go to, and uprise,
And put up thy knife, I thee advise.

HUSBAND. I will do your commandments whatsoever.

WIFE. Hence away, then, and fill this with water.

HUSBAND. O merciful God, in what lamentable state
Is he, of whom the wife is the master?
Would God I had been predestinate
On my marriage day to have died with a fever!
O wretched creature, what may I do?
My grievous wife shall I return unto?
Lo, wife, behold! without further delay
The water ye sent for here I do bring.

WIFE. What, I say? what meaneth this weeping?
What aileth thee to make all this crying?

HUSBAND. I weep not, forsooth, nor cry not as yet.

WIFE. No, nor thou wilt not, if thou hast any wit;
It is not thy weeping that can ought avail,
And therefore this matter no longer bewail.
Come off, I say, and run by the river,
And wash these clothes in the water.

HUSBAND. Wife, I will thither hie me fast.

WIFE. Yet I advise thee, thou cullon,[361] make haste.

HUSBAND. O, how unhappy and eke unfortunate
Is the most part of married men's condition!
I would to death I had been agate,[362]
When my mother in bearing me made lamentation.
What shall I do? whither shall I turn?
Most careful man now under the sky!
In the flaming fire I had rather burn,
Than with extreme pain live so heavily.
There is no shift; to my wife I must go,
Whom that I did wed; I am full wo!
Where are ye, wife? your clothes are washed clean,
As white as a lily,[363] without spot or stain.

WIFE. Thou thief, thou caitiff, why is not this lace
Washed as fair as all the rest?
Thou shalt for this gear now smoke apace!
By Jis,[364] I swear, thou brutish beast!

[_Here she must knock her Husband_.

HUSBAND. Alas, alas! I am almost quite dead!
My wife so pitifully hath broken my head!

[_Here her Husband must lie along on the ground,
as though he were sore beaten and wounded_.

WIFE. Well, I perceive the time will away,
And into the country to go I have promised;
Look therefore thou go not from hence to-day,
Till home again I am returned.
Take heed, I say, this house thee retain,
And stir not for any thing out of my door,
Until that I come hither again,
As thou wilt be rewarded therefore.

[_Here his Wife goeth out, and the Husband
tarrieth behind alone_.

HUSBAND. The flying fiend[365] go with my wife,
And in her journey ill may she speed!
I pray God Almighty to shorten her life!
The earth at no time doth bear such a weed!
Although that I be a gentleman born,
And come by my ancetors of a good blood,
Yet am I like to wear a coat torn,
And hither and thither go carry wood!
But rather than I this life will abide,
To-morrow morning I do intend
Home to my father again to ride,
If some man to me his horse will lend.
She is to her gossips gone to make merry,
And there she will be for three or four days:
She cares not, though I do now miscarry,
And suffer such pain and sorrow always.
She leaveth to me neither bread nor drink,
But such, as I judge, no body would eat:
I might by the walls lie dead and stink,
For any great wholesomeness in my meat.
She walketh abroad, and taketh her pleasure:
Herself to cherish is all her care:
She passeth not what grief I endure,
Or how I can live with noughty[366] fare:
And since it is so, without further delay
To my father to-morrow I will away.

[_Here he goeth out, and in cometh the Devil_.[367]

Ho, ho, ho, what a fellow am I!
Give room, I say, both more and less:
My strength and power, hence to the sky,
No earthly tongue can well express!
O, what inventions, crafts and wiles
Is there contained within this head!
I know that he is within few miles,
Which of the same is throughly sped.
O, it was all my study day and night
Cunningly to bring this matter to pass:
In all the earth there is no wight,
But I can make to cry alas.
This man and wife, that not long ago
Fell in this place together by the ears:
It was only I that this strife did sow,
And have been about it certain years.
For after that I had taken a smell
Of their good will and fervent love,
Me-thought I should not tarry in hell,
But unto debate them shortly move:
O, it was I that made him to despise
All wisdom, goodness, virtue, and learning,
That he afterward could in no wise
Once in his heart fancy teaching:
O, it was I that made him refuse
The wholesome monition of his father dear,
And caused him still of a wife to muse,
As though she should be his joy and cheer!
O, it was I that made him go hence,
And suppose that his father was very unkind;
It was I that did drive him to such expense,
And made him as bare as an ape is behind.
And now that I have this business ended,
And joined him and his wife together,
I think that I have my part well played:
None of you all would do it better.
Ho, ho, ho! this well-favoured head of mine,
What thing soever it hath in hand,
Is never troubled with ale or wine,
Neither by sea, nor yet by land.
I tell you I am a marvellous body,
As any is at this day living:
My head doth devise each thing so trimly,
That all men may wonder of the ending.
O, I have such fetches,[368] such toys in this head,
Such crafty devices and subtle train,
That whomsoever of you I do wed,
Ye are like at my hands to take small gain.
There is no gentleman, knight, or lord:
There is no duke, earl, or king,
But, if I list, I can with one word
Shortly send unto their lodging.
Some I disquiet with covetousness:
Some with wrath, pride and lechery;
And some I do thrust into such distress,
That he feeleth only pain and misery.
Some I allure to have their delight
Always in gluttony, envy and murder,
And those things to practise with all their might,
Either by land or else by water.
Ho, ho, ho! there is none to be compared
To me, I tell you, in any point:
With a great sort[369] myself I have tried,
That boldly ventured many a joint,
And when for a long time we had wrestled,
And showed our strength on either side,
Yet oftentimes a fall they received,
When through my policy their feet did slide.
Wherefore (my dear children) I warn ye all:
Take heed, take heed of my temptation,
For commonly at the last ye have the fall,
And also [be] brought to desperation.
O! it is a folly for many to strive,
And think of me to get the upper hand,
For unless that God make them to thrive,
They cannot against me stick or stand:
And though that God on high have his dominion,
And ruleth the world everywhere,
Yet by your leave I have a portion
Of this same earth that standeth here.
The kingdom of God is above in heaven,
And mine is, I tell you, beneath in hell;
But yet a greater place, if he had dealt even,
He should have given me and mine to dwell:
For to my palace of every nation,
Of what degree or birth soever they be,
Come running in with such festination,[370]
That otherwhiles they amazed me.
O, all the Jews and all the Turks,
Yea, and a great part of Christendom,
When they have done my will and my works,
In the end they fly hither all and some:[371]
There is no minute of the day,
There is no minute of the night,
But that in my palace there is alway
Crowding together a marvellous sight;
They come on thicker than swarms of bees,
And make such a noise and crying out,
That many a one lieth on his knees,
With thousands kept under and closed about:
Not so much as my parlours, halls, and every chamber:
My porches, my galleries, and my court:
My entries, my kitchen, and my larder,
But with all manner people be filled throughout!
What shall I say more, I cannot tell,
But of this (my children) I am certain,
There comes more in one hour unto hell,
Than unto heaven in a month or twain.
And yet for all this my nature is such,
That I am not pleased with this company,
But out of my kingdom I must walk much,
That one or other I may take tardy.
Ho, ho, ho! I am never once afraid
With these my claws you for to touch,
For I will not leave, till you be paid
Such treasure as is within my pouch.
The world is my son, and I am his father,
And also the flesh is a daughter of mine;
It is I alone that taught them to gather
Both gold and silver that is so fine;
Wherefore I suppose that they love me well,
And my commandments gladly obey,
That at the last then unto hell
They may come all the ready way.
But now (I know), since I came hither,
There is such a multitude at my gate,
That I must again repair down thither
After mine old manner and rate.

[_Here the Devil goeth out, and in cometh the Rich Man's Son alone_.

How glad am I that my journey is ended,
Which I was about this whole day!
My horse to stand still I never suffered,
Because I would come to the end of my way:
But yet I am sorry that I cannot find
My loving father at home at his place,
That unto him I may break my mind,
And let him know my miserable case.

[_Here he confesseth his naughtiness, uttering the
same with a pitiful voice_.

I have been wild, I have been wanton,
I have ever followed my fancy and will:
I have been to my father a froward son,
And from day to day continued still.
I have always proudly disdained those
That in my madness gave me good counsel:
I counted them most my mortal foes,
And stoutly against them did rebel.
The thing that was good I greatly hated,
As one which lacked both wit and reason;
The thing that was evil I ever loved,
Which now I see is my confusion.
I could not abide of the school to hear;
Masters and teachers my heart abhorred;
Methought the book was not fit gear
For my tender fingers to have handled;
I counted it a pleasure to be daintily fed,
And to be clothed in costly array:
I would most commonly slug in my bed,
Until it were very far-forth day.
And (to be short) anon after this,
There came such fancies in my brain,
That to have a wife, whom I might kiss,
I reckoned to be the greatest gain.
But yet, alas, I was quite deceived;
The thing itself doth easily appear;
I would, alas, I had been buried,
When to my father I gave not ear!
That which I had I have clean spent,
And kept so much riot with the same,
That now I am fain a coat that is rent,
Alas, to wear for very shame.
I have not a cross left in my purse
To help myself now in my need,
That well I am worthy of God's curse,
And of my father to have small meed.

[_Here the Rich Man must be as it were coming in_.

But except mine eyes do me beguile,
That man is my father, whom I do see:
And now that he comes, without craft or wile,
To him I will bend on either knee.
Ah, father, father, my father most dear!

FATHER. Ah! mine own child, with thee what cheer?

SON. All such sayings as in my mind
At the first time ye studied to settle,
Most true, alas, I do them find,
As though they were written in the Gospel.

FATHER. Those words, my son, I have almost forgotten;
Stand up, therefore, and kneel no longer,
And what it was I spake so often,
At two or three words recite to thy father.

SON. If that ye be, father, well remembered,
As the same I believe ye cannot forget,
You said that, so soon as I were married,
Much pain and trouble thereby I should get.

FATHER. Hast thou by proof, son, this thing tried?

SON. Yea, alas, too much I have experienced:
My wife I did wed all full of frenzy.
My seely poor shoulders hath now so bruised,
That like to a cripple I move me weakly,
Being full often with the staff thwacked:
She spareth no more my flesh and bone,
Than if my body were made of stone!
Her will, her mind, and her commandment
From that day hither I have fulfilled,
Which if I did not, I was bitterly shent,
And with many strokes grievously punished:
That would God, the hour when I was married,
In the midst of the church I might have sinked.
I think there is no man under the sun,
That here on the earth beareth life,
Which would do such drudgery as I have done,
At the unkind words of such a wife;
For how I was used, and in what wise,
A day to declare will not suffice.
If this be not true, as I have spoken,
To my good neighbours I me report,
Who other whiles, when I was smitten,
My wife to be gentle did then exhort:
For glad I was to abide all labour,
Whereby the less might be my dolour.[372]
Wherefore, good father, I you humbly desire
To have pity of me and some compassion,
Or else I am like to lie fast in the mire,
Without any succour or consolation:
For at this hour I have not a penny,
Myself to help in this great misery.

FATHER. For so much as by my advice and counsel
In no manner wise thou wouldest be ruled.
Therefore to thee I cannot do well,
But let thee still suffer as thou hast deserved,
For that thou hast suffered is yet nothing
To that tribulation which is behind coming.

SON. Alas, father, what shall I do?
My wits of themselves cannot devise
What thing I were best go unto,
Whereof an honest living may arise:
Wherefore, gentle father, in this distress,
Somewhat assuage mine heaviness.

FATHER. What should I do, I cannot tell,
For now that thou hast taken a wife,
With me thy father thou mayest not dwell,
But always with her spend thy life.
Thou mayest not again thy wife forsake,
Which during life to thee thou didst take.

SON. Alas, I am not able thus to endure,
Though thereunto I were never so willing;
For my wife is of such a crooked nature,
As no woman else in this day living,
And if the very truth I shall confess,
She is to me an evil that is endless.

FATHER. If that thou thinkest thyself alone
Only to lead this irksome life,
Thou may'st learn what grief, sorrow and moan,
Socrates had with Xantippe his wife[373];
Her husband full oft she taunted and checked,
And, as the book saith, unhonestly mocked.

SON. I cannot tell what was Socrates wife,
But mine I do know, alas, too well;
She is one that is evermore full of strife,
And of all scolders beareth the bell.
When she speaketh best, then brawleth her tongue;
When she is still, she fighteth apace;
She is an old witch, though she be young:
No mirth with her, no joy or solace!

FATHER. I cannot, my son, thy state redress;
Me thy father thou didst refuse;
Wherefore now help thy own foolishness,
And of thy wife no longer muse.

SON. My wife went forth into the country
With certain gossips to make good cheer,
And bad me at home still to be,
That at her return she might find me there:
And if that she do take me from home,[374]
My bones, alas, she will make to crackle,
And me her husband, as a stark mome,[375]
With knocking and mocking she will handle;
And, therefore, if I may not here remain,
Yet, loving father, give me your reward,
That I may with speed ride home again,
That to my wife's words have some regard.

FATHER. If that at the first thou wouldest have been ordered,
And done as thy father counselled thee,
So wretched a life had never chanced,
Whereof at this present thou complainest to me;
But yet come on, to my house we will be going,
And there thou shalt see what I will give:--
A little to help thy need living,
Since that in such penury thou dost live;
And that once done, thou must hence again,
For I am not he that will thee retain.

[_Here the Rich Man and his Son go out, and in
cometh the Perorator_.[376]


This Interlude here, good gentle audience,
Which presently before you we have played,
Was set forth with such care and diligence,
As by us truly might well be shewed.
Short it is, I deny not, and full of brevity,
But if ye mark thereof the matter,
Then choose ye cannot but see plainly,
How pain and pleasure be knit together.
By this little play the father is taught
After what manner his child to use,
Lest that through cockering[377] at length he be brought
His father's commandment to refuse;
Here he may learn a witty[378] lesson
Betimes to correct his son being tender,
And not let him be lost and undone
With wantonness, of mischief the mother;
For as long as the twig is gentle and pliant
(Every man knoweth this by experience),
With small force and strength it may be bent,
Putting thereto but little diligence;
But after that it waxeth somewhat bigger,
And to cast his branches largely beginneth,
It is scant the might of all thy power,
That one bough thereof easily bendeth:
This twig to a child may well be applied,
Which, in his childhood and age of infancy,
With small correction may be amended,
Embracing the school with heart and body,
Who afterward, with overmuch liberty,
And ranging abroad with the bridle of will,
Despiseth all virtue, learning, and honesty,
And also his father's mind to fulfil:
Whereby at the length it so falleth out
That this the young stripling, after that day
Runs into confusion without any doubt,
And like for evermore quite to decay.
Wherefore take heed, all ye that be parents,
And follow a part after my counsel;
Instruct your children and make them students,
That unto all goodness they do not rebel;
Remember what writeth Solomon the wise:
_Qui parcit virgae, odit filium_.
Therefore for as much as ye can devise,
Spare not the rod, but follow wisdom:
Further, ye young men and children also,
Listen to me and hearken a while,
What in few words for you I will show
Without any flattery, fraud, or guile.
This rich man's son whom we did set forth
Here evidently before our eyes,
Was (as it chanced) nothing worth:
Given to all noughtiness, vice, and lies.
The cause whereof was this for a truth:
His time full idly he did spend,
And would not study in his youth,
Which might have brought him to a good end;
His father's commandment he would not obey,
But wantonly followed his fantasy,
For nothing that he could do or say
Would bring this child to honesty.
And at the last (as here ye might see)
Upon a wife he fixed his mind,
Thinking the same to be felicity,
When indeed misery came behind;
For by this wife he carefully[379] lived,
Who under his father did want nothing,
And in such sort was hereby tormented,
That ever anon he went lamenting.
His father did will him lightness[380] to leave,
And only to give himself unto study,
But yet unto virtue he would not cleave,
Which is commodious for soul and body.
You heard that by sentences ancient and old,
He stirred his son as he best thought;
But he, as an unthrift stout and bold,
His wholesome counsel did set at nought;
And since that he despised his father,
God unto him did suddenly then send
Such poverty with a wife and grief together,
That shame and sorrow was his end.
Wherefore to conclude, I warn you all
By your loving parents always be ruled,
Or else be well assured of such a fall,
As unto this young man worthily chanced.
Worship God daily, which is the chief thing,
And his holy laws do not offend:
Look that ye truly serve the king,
And all your faults be glad to amend:
Moreover, be true of hand and tongue,
And learn to do all things that be honest,
For no time so fit, as when ye be young,
Because that age only is the aptest.
I have no more to speak at this season,
For very good will these things I did say,
Because I do see that virtue is geason[381]
With most men and children at this day.

[_Here the rest of the Players come in, and kneel down
all together, each of them saying one of these verses_:

And last of all to make an end,
O God, to thee we most humbly pray,
That to Queen Elizabeth thou do send
Thy lively path and perfect way!
Grant her in health to reign
With us many years most prosperously,
And after this life for to attain
The eternal bliss, joy, and felicity!
Our bishops, pastors, and ministers also,
The true understanding of thy word,
Both night and day, now mercifully show,
That their life and preaching may godly accord.
The lords of the council and the nobility,
Most heavenly father, we thee desire
With grace, wisdom, and godly policy
Their hearts and minds always inspire.
And that we thy people, duly considering
The power of our queen and great auctority,
May please thee and serve her without feigning,
Living in peace, rest, and tranquillity.



_Why doth the world study vain glory to attain,
The prosperity whereof is short and transitory,
Whose mighty power doth fall down again,
Like earthen pots, that breaketh suddenly?
Believe rather words that be written in ice,
Than the wretched world with his subtlety,
Deceitful in gifts, men only to entice,
Destitute of all sure credence and fidelity.
Give credit more to men of true judgments
Than to the worldly renown and joys,
Replenished with dreams and vain intents,
Abounding in wicked and naughty toys.
Where is now Salomon, in wisdom so excellent?
Where is now Samson, in battle so strong?
Where is now Absalom, in beauty resplendent?
Where is now good Jonathas, hid so long?
Where is now Caesar, in victory triumphing?
Where is now Dives, in dishes so dainty?
Where is now Tully, in eloquence exceeding?
Where is now Aristotle, learned so deeply?
What emperors, kings, and dukes in times past,
What earls and lords, and captains of war,
What popes and bishops, all at the last
In the twinkling of an eye are fled so far?
How short a feast is this worldly joying?
Even as a shadow it passeth away,
Depriving a man of gifts everlasting,
Leading to darkness and not to day!
O meat of worms, O heap of dust,
O like to dew, climb not too high!
To live to-morrow thou canst not trust,
Therefore now betime help the needy.
The fleshly beauty, whereat thou dost wonder,
In holy Scripture is likened to hay,
And as a leaf in a stormy weather,
So is man's life blowen clean away.
Call nothing thine that may be lost:
The world doth give and take again,
But set thy mind on the Holy Ghost;
Despite the world that is so vain!_



[The title of the old copy is: _A new and Pleasaunt_ enterlude
intituled the mariage of Witte and Science. Imprinted at London in
Flete Streete, neare vnto sainct Dunstones churche by Thomas Marshe.
4 deg., black letter.

There is no date, but the size is a small 4to, and it probably appeared
in 1570, having been licensed in 1569-70 to Marsh. Some further
particulars of the play, now first reprinted from the only known copy
in the Malone collection at Oxford, may be found in Hazlitt's
"Handbook," 1867, p. 465; Collier's "Extr. from the Stat. Reg.,"
i. 204; and Collier's "Hist. Engl. Dram. Poetry," ii. 341-7, where
there is a somewhat long review of the piece, with extracts. Mr
Collier, who bestows considerable praise on this interlude, observes:
--"The moral play of 'The Marriage of Wit and Science' contains a
remarkable external feature not belonging to any other piece of this
class that I remember to have met with: it is regularly divided into
five acts, and each of the scenes is also marked." The anonymous author
appears to have borrowed to some extent from the older performance by
John Redford, printed from a MS. by the Shakespeare Society in 1848;
but the two productions must, nevertheless, be regarded as distinct and


DILIGENCE, _with three other women singers_.


[ACT I.]


Grand lady, mother of every mortal thing:
Nurse of the world, conservative of kind:
Cause of increase, of life and soul the spring;
At whose instinct the noble heaven doth wind,
To whose award all creatures are assigned,
I come in place to treat with this my son,
For his avail how he the path may find,
Whereby his race in honour he may run:
Come, tender child, unripe and green for age,
In whom the parent sets her chief delight,
Wit is thy name, but far from wisdom sage,
Till tract of time shall work and frame aright,
This peerless brain, not yet in perfect plight:
But when it shall be wrought, methinks I see,
As in a glass beforehand with my sight,
A certain perfect piece of work in thee,
And now so far as I [can] guess by signs,
Some great attempt is fixed in thy breast:
Speak on, my son, whereto thy heart inclines,
And let me deal to set thy heart at rest.

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