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

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I woll go do off this mine apparel,
And now let Careaway be Careaway again;
I have done with that name now, certain,
Except peraventure I shall take the self-same weed
Some other time again for a like cause and need.

[_Enter Bongrace and Careaway_.

Why, then, darest thou to presume to tell me,
That I know is no wise possible for to be?

Now, by my truth, master, I have told you no lie;
And all these folks knoweth as well as I,
I had no sooner knocked at the gate,
But straightway he had me by the pate;
Therefore, if you beat me, till I fart and shit again,
You shall not cause me for any pain;
But I woll affirm, as I said before,
That when I came near, another stood at the door.

Why, thou naughty villain, darest thou affirm to me
That which was never seen nor hereafter shall be?
That one man may have two bodies and two faces,
And that one man at one time may be in two places?
Tell me, drankest thou anywhere by the way?

I shrew me, if I drank any more than twice to-day,
Till I met even now with that other I,
And with him I supped and drank truly;
But as for you, if you gave me drink and meat,
As oftentimes as you do me beat,
I were the best-fed page in all this city.
But, as touching that, you have on me no pity,
And not only I, but all that do you serve,
For meat and drink may rather starve.

What, you saucy malapert knave,
Begin you with your master to prate and rave?
Your tongue is liberal and all out of frame:
I must needs conjure it, and make it tame.
Where is that other Careaway that thou said was here?

Now, by my Christendom, sir, I wot ne'er?

Why, canst thou find no man to mock but me?

I mock you not, master, so mot I the,
Every word was true that I you told.

Nay I know toys and pranks of old,
And now thou art not satisfied nor content,
Without regard of my biddings and commandment,
To have played by the way as a lewd knave and negligent,
When I thee on my message home sent,
But also wouldest willingly me delude and mock,
And make me to all wise men a laughing-stock:
Showing me such things as in no wise be may,
To the intent thy lewdness may turn to jest and play;
Therefore if thou speak any such thing to me again,
I promise it shall be unto thy pain.

Lo, is not he in miserable case,
That serveth such a master in any place?
That with force woll compel him that thing to deny,
That he knoweth true, and hath seen with his eye?

Was it not, trowest thou, thine own shadow?

My shadow could never have beaten me so!

Why, by what reason possible may such a thing be?

Nay, I marvel and wonder at it more than ye;
And at the first it did me curstly meve[202]
Nor I would mine own eyes in no wise believe,
Until that other I beat me so,
That he made me believe it, whether I would or no.
And if he had yourself now within his reach,
He would make you say so too, or else beshit your breech.

I durst a good meed and a wager lay,
That thou layest down and slepst by the way,
And dreamed all this, that thou hast me told.

Nay, there you lie, master, if I might be so bold;
But we rise so early that, if I had,
I had done well, and a wise lad.
Yet, master, I would you understood,
That I have always been trusty and good,
And fly as fast as a bear in a cage,
Whensoever you send me in your message;
In faith, as for this that I have told you,
I saw and felt it as waking as I am now:
For I had no sooner knocked at the gate,
But the other I knave had me by the pate;
And I durst to you on a book swear,
That he had been watching for me there,
Long ere I came, hidden in some privy place,
Even for the nonce to have me by the face.

Why, then, thou spakest not with my wife?

No, that I did not, master, by my life,
Until that other I was gone,
And then my mistress sent me after anon,
To wait on you home in the devil's name:
I ween the devil never so beat his dame!

And where became that other Careaway?

By mine honesty, sir, I cannot say;
But I warrant he is now not far hence;
He is here among this company, for forty pence.

Hence, at once seek and smell him out;
I shall rap thee on the lying knave's snout:
I woll not be deluded with such a glossing lie,
Nor give credence, till I see it with my own eye.

Truly, good sir, by your mastership's favour,
I cannot well find a knave by the savour;
Many here smell strong, but none so rank as he:
A stronger-scented knave than he was cannot be.
But, sir, if he be haply found anon,
What amends shall I have for that you have me done?

If he may be found, I shall walk his coat.

Yea, for our lady's sake, sir, I beseech you spare him not,
For it is some false knave withouten doubt.
I had rather than forty pence we could find him out;
For, if a man may believe a glass,
Even my very own self it was.
And here he was but even right now,
And stepped away suddenly, I wot not how.
Of such another thing I have neither heard ne seen,
By our blessed lady, heaven queen!

Plainly it was thy shadow, that thou didst see;
For, in faith, the other thing is not possible to be.

Yes, in good faith, sir, by your leave,
I know it was I by my apples in my sleeve,
And speaketh as like me as ever you heard:[203]
Such hair, such a cap, such hose and coat,
And in everything as just as fourpence to a groat.
That if he were here, you should well see,
That you could not discern nor know him from me;
For think you, that I do not myself know?
I am not so foolish a knave, I trow.
Let who woll look him by and by,
And he woll depose upon a book that he is I;
And I dare well say you woll say the same;
For he called himself by my own name.
And he told me all that I have done,
Sith five of the clock this afternoon,
He could tell when you were to supper set
[When] you send me home my mistress to fet,
And showed me all things that I did by the way--

What was that?

CAREAWAY. How I did at the bucklers play;
And when I scattered a basket of apples from a stall,
And gathered them into my sleeve all,
And how I played after that also--

Thou shalt have, boy, therefore,[204] so mote I go;
Is that the guise of a trusty page,
To play, when he is sent on his master's message?

Lay on and spare not, for the love of Christ,
Joll his head to a post,[205] and favour your fist!
Now for my sake, sweetheart, spare and favour your hand,
And lay him about the ribs with this wand.

Now mercy that I ask of you both twain:
Save my life, and let me not be slain.
I have had beating enough for one day:
That a mischief take the other-me Careaway!
That if ever he come to my hands again,
I-wis it shall be to his pain.
But I marvel greatly, by our Lord Jesus,
How he-I escaped, I-me beat me thus.
And is not he-I an unkind knave,
That woll no more pity on myself have?
Here may you see evidently, i-wis,
That in him-me no drop of honesty is.
Now a vengeance light on such a churlish knave
That no more love toward myself have!

I knew very,[206] sweet-heart, and said right now,
That no fault thereof should be in you.

No, truly, good bedfellow, I were then much unkind,
If you at any time should be out of my mind.

Surely, I have of you a great treasure,
For you do all things which may be to my pleasure.

I am sorry that your chance hath now been so ill:
I would gladly been unsupped, so you had your fill;
But go we in, pigsnie, that you may sup;
You have cause now to thank this same hang-up;
For had not he been, you had fared very well.

I bequeath him with a hot vengeance to the devil of hell,
And heartily I beseech him that hanged on the rood,
That he never eat nor drink that may do him good,
And that he die a shameful death, saving my charity!

I pray God send him such prosperity,
That hath caused me to have all this business.
But yet, sirs, you see the charity of my mistress:
She liveth after a wonderful charitable fashion;
For I assure you she is always in this passion,
And scarcely one day throughout the whole year
She woll wish any man better cheer,
And some time, if she well-angered be,
I pray God (woll she say) the house may sink under me!
But, masters, if you happen to see that other I,
As that you shall, it is not very likely,
Nor I woll not desire you for him purposely to look,
For it is an uncomparable unhappy hook;
And if it be I, you might happen to seek,
And not find me out in an whole week.
For when I was wont to run away,
I used not to come again in less than a month or tway:
Howbeit, for all this I think it be not I;
For, to show the matter indeed truly,
I never use to run away in winter nor in vere,[207]
But always in such time and season of the year,
When honey lieth in the hives of bees,
And all manner fruit falleth from the trees:
As apples, nuts, pears, and plums also,
Whereby a boy may live abroad a month or two.
This cast do I use, I woll not with you feign;
Therefore I wonder if he be I, certain.
But, and if he be, and you meet me abroad by chance,
Send me home to my master with a vengeance!
And show him, if he come not here to-morrow night,
I woll never receive him again, if I might;
And in the meantime I woll give him a groat,
That woll well and thriftily walk his coat;
For a more ungracious knave is not even now
Between this place and Calicow.[208]
Nor a more frantic-mad knave in Bedlam,
Nor a more fool hence to Jerusalem.
That if to come again percase he shall refuse,
I woll continue as I am, and let him choose;
And but he come the sooner, by our lady bright,
He shall lie without the doors all night.
For I woll shit[209] up the gate, and get me to-bed,
For I promise you I have a very giddy head.
I need no supper for this night,
Nor would eat no meat, though I might;
And for you also, master, I think it[210] best
You go to-bed, and take your rest.
For who of you had been handled as I have been,
Would not be long out of his bed, I ween;
No more woll I, but steal out of sight:
I pray God give you all good night!
And send you better hap and fortune,
Than to lese yourself homeward as I have done.

[_Exit Careaway_.

Somewhat it was, saith the proverb old,
That the cat winked when her eye was out,
That is to say, no tale can be told,
But that some English may be picked thereof out
If so to search the Latin and ground of it men will go about,
As this trifling enterlude that before you hath been rehearsed,
May signify some further meaning, if it be well searched.

Such is the fashion of the world now-a-days,
That the simple innocents are deluded,
And an hundred thousand divers ways
By subtle and crafty means shamefully abused,
And by strength, force, and violence ofttimes compelled
To believe and say the moon is made of a green cheese
Or else have great harm, and percase their life lese.

And an old saying it is, that most times might,
Force, strength, power, and colourable subtlety
Doth oppress, debar, overcome, and defeat right,
Though the cause stand never so greatly against equity,
And the truth thereof be knowen for never so perfit certainty:
Yea, and the poor simple innocent that hath had wrong and injury,
Must call the other his good master for showing him such mercy.

And as it is daily seen, for fear of further disprofit,
He must that man his best friend and master call,
Of whom he never received any manner benefit,
And at whose hand he never han any good at all;
And must grant, affirm, or deny, whatsoever he shall
He must say the crow is white, if he be so commanded,
Yea, and that he himself is into another body changed.

He must say he did amiss, though he never did offend;
He must ask forgiveness, where he did no trespass,
Or else be in trouble, care, and misery without end,
And be cast in some arrearage without any grace;
And that thing he saw done before his own face
He must by compulsion stiffly deny,
And for fear, whether he woll or not, say _tongue, you lie_!

And in every faculty this thing is put in ure,
And is so universal that I need no one to name,
And, as I fear, is like evermore to endure;
For it is in all faculties a common sport and game,
The weaker to say as the stronger biddeth, or to have blame,
As a cunning sophist woll by argument bring to pass,
That the rude shall confess, and grant himself an ass.

And this is the daily exercise and practise of their schools,
And not among them only, but also among all others:
The stronger to compel, and make poor simple fools
To say as they command them in all manner matters.
I woll name none particular, but set them all together
Without any exception; for I pray you show me one
Amongst all in the world that seeth not such fashion.

He that is stronger and more of power and might,
If he be disposed to revenge his cause,
Woll soon pick a quarrel, be it wrong or right,
To the inferior and weaker for a couple of straws,
And woll against him so extremely lay the laws,
That he woll put him to the worse, either by false injury,
Or by some craft and subtlety, or else by plain tyranny.

As you saw right now by example plain
Another fellow, being a counterfeit page,
Brought the gentleman's servant out of his brain,
And made him grant that himself was fallen in dotage
Bearing himself in hand that he did rage,
And when he could not bring that to pass by reason,
He made him grant it, and say by compulsion.

Therefore happy are they, that can beware
Into whose hands they fall by any such chance;
Which if they do, they hardly escape care,
Trouble, misery, and woeful grievance,
And thus I make an end, committing you to his guidance,
That made and redeemed us all, and to you that be now here
I pray God grant and send many a good new year!



[Of this interlude only two copies have hitherto been discovered, one
in the Devonshire collection, the second in the King's Library, British
Museum, from the Roxburghe sale. An account of the piece, which has
never been reprinted before, is given by Collier ("History of Dramatic
Poetry," ii. 381-3). Considering its rarity, early date, and curiosity,
it is remarkable that "Nice Wanton" should have escaped Dodsley and his


Wherein ye may see
Three branches of an ill tree:
The mother and her children three,
Two naught, and one godly.

Early sharp, that will be thorn,
Soon ill, that will be naught:
To be naught, better unborn,
Better unfed than naughtily taught.

_Ut magnum magnos, pueros puerilia doctus_.

* * * * *


_The Messenger.
Barnabas. Iniquity.
Ismael. Baily errand.
Dalilah. Xantippe.
Eulalia. Worldly Shame.
Daniel the Judge_.

Anno Domini, M.D.LX.


THE MESSENGER. The prudent Prince Solomon doth say,
He that spareth the rod, the child doth hate,
He would youth should be kept in awe alway
By correction in time at reasonable rate:

To be taught to fear God, and their parents obey,
To get learning and qualities, thereby to maintain
An honest quiet life, correspondent alway
To God's law and the king's, for it is certain,

If children be noseled[212] in idleness and ill,
And brought up therein, it is hard to restrain,
And draw them from natural wont evil,
As here in this interlude ye shall see plain:

By two children brought up wantonly in play,
Whom the mother doth excuse, when she should chastise;
They delight in dalliance and mischief alway,
At last they end their lives in miserable wise.

The mother persuaded by worldly shame,
That she was the cause of their wretched life,
So pensive, so sorrowful, for their death she became,
That in despair she would sle herself with a knife.

Then her son Barnabas (by interpretation
The son of comfort), her ill-purpose do[th] stay,
By the scriptures he giveth her godly consolation,
And so concludeth; all these parts will we play.

BARNABAS _cometh_.

BARNABAS. My master, in my lesson yesterday,
Did recite this text of Ecclesiasticus:
Man is prone to evil from his youth, did he say,
Which sentence may well be verified in us.
Myself, my brother, and sister Dalilah,
Whom our parents to their cost to school do find.
I tarry for them here, time passeth away,
I lose my learning, they ever loiter behind.

If I go before, they do me threat
To complain to my mother: she for their sake,
Being her tender tidlings,[213] will me beat:
Lord, in this perplexity, what way shall I take?
What will become of them? grace God them send
To apply their learning, and their manners amend!

ISMAEL _and_ DALILAH _come in singing_.

_Here we comen, and here we lonen_,[214]
_And here we will abide abide-a_.

BARNABAS. Fye, brother, fye, and specially you, sister Dalilah,
Soberness becometh maids alway.

DALILAH. What, ye dolt, ye be ever in one song!

ISMAEL. Yea, sir, it shall cost you blows, ere it be long.

BARNABAS. Be ye not ashamed the truands to play,
Losing your time and learning, and that every day?
Learning bringeth knowledge of God and honest living to get.

DALILAH. Yea, marry, I warrant you, master hoddypeak.

BARNABAS. Learn apace, sister, and after to spin and sew,
And other honest housewifely points to know.

ISMAEL. Spin, quod-a? yea, by the mass, and with your heels up-wind,
For a good mouse-hunt is cat after Saint Kind.[215]

BARNABAS. Lewd speaking corrupteth good manners, Saint Paul doth say;
Come, let us go, if ye will, to school this day;
I shall be shent for tarrying so long,
[_Barnabas goeth out_.

ISMAEL. Go, get thee hence, thy mouth full of horse-dung!
Now, pretty sister, what sport shall we devise?
Thus palting[216] to school, I think us unwise:
In summer die for thrist,[217] in winter for cold,
And still to live in fear of a churl who would?

DALILAH. Not I, by the mass, I had rather he hanged were,
Than I would sit quaking like a mome for fear.
I am sun-burned in summer, in winter the cold
Maketh my limbs gross, and my beauty decay;
If I should use it, as they would I should,
I should never be fair woman, I dare say.

ISMAEL. No, sister, no, but I can tell,
Where we shall have good cheer,
Lusty companions two or three,
At good wine, ale, and beer.

DALILAH. O good brother, let us go,
I will never go more to-to[218] school.
Shall I never know,
What pastime meaneth?
Yes, I will not be such a fool.

ISMAEL. Have with thee, Dalilah:
Farewell our school!
Away with books and all,
[_They cast away their books_.
I will set my heart
On a merry pin,
Whatever shall befall.

EULALIA. Lord, what folly is in youth!
How unhappy be children now-a-days?
And the more pity, to say the truth,
Their parents maintain them in evil ways:
Which is a great cause that the world decays,
For children, brought up in idleness and play,
Unthrifty and disobedient continue alway.

A neighbour of mine hath children hereby,
Idle, disobedient, proud, wanton, and nice.
As they come by, they do shrewd turns daily;
Their parents so to suffer them surely be not wise.
They laugh me to scorn, when I tell them mine advice;
I will speak with their elders and warn them neighbourly:
Never in better time, their mother is hereby.

[_Enter Xantippe_.

God save you, gossip, I am very fain,
That you chance now to come this way;
I long to talk with you a word or twain,
I pray you take it friendly that I shall say:
Ismael your son and your daughter Dalilah
Do me shrewd turns daily more and more,
Chide and beat my children, it grieveth me sore.
They swear, curse, and scold, as they go by the way,
Giving other ill ensample to do the same,
To God's displeasure and their hurt another day,
Chastise them for it, or else ye be to blame.

XANTIPPE. Tush, tush, if ye have no more than that to say,
Ye may hold your tongue and get ye away,
Alas, poor souls, they sit a-school all day
In fear of a churl; and if a little they play,
He beateth them like a devil; when they come home,
Your mistress-ship would have me lay on.
If I should beat them, so oft as men complain,
By the mass, within this month I should make them lame.

EULALIA. Be not offended, I pray you, I must say more,
Your son is suspect light-fingered to be:
Your daughter hath nice tricks three or four;
See to it in time, lest worse ye do see;
He that spareth the rod, hateth the child truly.
Yet Salomon sober correction doth mean,
Not to beat and bounce them, to make them lame.

XANTIPPE. God thank you, mistress, I am well at ease:
Such a fool to teach me, preaching as she please!
Dame, ye belie them deadly, I know plain;
Because they go handsomely, ye disdain.[219]

EULALIA. Then on the other[220] as well would I complain,
But your other son is good, and no thanks to you!
These will ye make nought, by sweet Jesu.

XANTIPPE. Gup, liar,[221] my children nought ye lie:
By your malice they shall not set a fly;
I have but one mome in comparison of his brother:
Him the fool praiseth, and despiseth the other.

EULALIA. Well, Xantippe, better in time than too late,
Seeing ye take it so, here my leave I take.

XANTIPPE. Marry, good leave have ye, the great God be with you!
My children or I be cursed, I think;
They be complained on, wherever they go,
That for their pleasure they might drink.
Nay, by this the poor souls be come from school weary;
I will go get them meat to make them merry.

INIQUITY, ISMAEL, _and_ DALILAH _come in together_.

INIQUITY. _Lo, lo, here I bring-a_.

ISMAEL. _What is she, now ye have her?_

DALILAH. _A lusty minion loner_.[222]

INIQUITY. _For no gold will I give her_--

ALL TOGETHER. _Welcome, my honey-a!_

INIQUITY. O my heart! [_Here he speaketh_.
This wench can sing,
And play her part.

DALILAH. I am yours, and you mine, with all my heart.

INIQUITY. By the mass, it is well sung;
Were ye not sorry ye were a maid so long?

DALILAH. Fie, master Iniquity, fie, I am a maid yet.

ISMAEL. No, sister, no, your maidenhead is sick.

INIQUITY. That knave your brother will be a blab still,
I-wis, Dalilah, ye can say as much by him, if ye will.

DALILAH. By him, quod-a? he hath whores two or three,
But ich tell your minion doll,[223] by Gog's body:
It skilleth not she doth hold you as much.

ISMAEL. Ye lie falsely, she will play me no such touch.

DALILAH. Not she? Yes, to do your heart good,
I could tell you who putteth a bone in your hood!

ISMAEL. Peace, whore, or ye bear me a box on[224] there--

DALILAH. Here is mine ear, knave; strike, and thou dare!
To suffer him thus ye be no man,
If ye will not revenge me, I will find one;
To set so little by me ye were not wont--
Well, it is no matter;
Though ye do, _ceteri nolunt_.

INIQUITY. Peace, Dalilah; speak ye Latin, poor fool?

DALILAH. No, no, but a proverb I learned at school--

ISMAEL. Yea, sister, you went to school, till ye were past grace;--

DALILAH. Yea, so didst thou, by thy knave's face!

INIQUITY. Well, no more a-do, let all this go,
We kinsfolk must be friends, it must be so.
Come on, come on, come on,
[_He casteth dice on the board_.
Here they be that will do us all good.

ISMAEL. If ye use it long, your hair will grow through your hood.

INIQUITY. Come on, knave, with Christ's curse,
I must have some of the money
Thou hast picked out of thy father's purse!

DALILAH. He, by the mass, if he can get his purse,
Now and then he maketh it by half the worse.

ISMAEL. I defy you both, whore and knave--

INIQUITY. What, ye princocks, begin ye to rave? Come on--

DALILAH. Master Iniquity, by your leave,
I will play a crown or two here by your sleeve.

ISMAEL. Then be ye servant to a worshipful man,
Master Iniquity--a right name, by Saint John!

DALILAH. What can ye say by Master Iniquity?
I love him and his name most heartily.

INIQUITY. God-a-mercy, Dalilah, good luck, I warrant thee,
I will shrive you both by and by.
[_He kisseth her_.

ISMAEL. Come on, but first let us have a song.

DALILAH. I am content, so that it be not long.

[_Iniquity and Dalilah sing_:

INIQUITY. _Gold locks,
She must have knocks,
Or else I do her wrong_.

DALILAH. _When ye have your will
Ye were best lie still,
The winter nights be long_.

INIQUITY. _When I ne may,
Another assay;
I will take it for no wrong_:

DALILAH. _Then, by the rood,
A bone in your hood
I shall put, ere it be long_.

ISMAEL. She matcheth you, sirrah!

INIQUITY. By Gog's blood, she is the best whore in England.

DALILAH. It is knavishly praised; give me your hand.

INIQUITY. I would thou hadst such another.

ISMAEL. By the mass, rather than forty pound, brother.

INIQUITY. Here, sirs, come on; seven--[_They set him_.
Eleven[225] at all[226]--

ISMAEL. Do ye nick us?[227] beknave your noly!--

INIQUITY. Ten mine--

ISMAEL (_casteth dice_). Six mine,
Have at it, and it were for all my father's kine.
It is lost by his wounds,[228] and ten to one!

INIQUITY. Take the dice, Dalilah, cast on--
[_She casteth, and they set_.

DALILAH. Come on; five!
Thrive at fairest--

ISMAEL. Gup, whore, and I at rest [_he loseth_].
By Gog's blood, I ween God and the devil be against me--

INIQUITY. If th' one forsake thee, th' other will take thee!

ISMAEL. Then is he a good fellow; I would not pass,[229]
So that I might bear a rule in hell, by the mass:
To toss firebrands at these pennyfathers'[230] pates;
I would be porter, and receive them at the gates.
In boiling lead and brimstone I would seeth them each one:
The knaves have all the money, good fellows have none.

DALILAH. Play, brother, have ye lost all your money now?

ISMAEL. Yea, I thank that knave and such a whore as thou.
'Tis no matter, I will have money, or I will sweat;
By Gog's blood, I will rob the next I meet--
Yea, and it be my father.
[_He goeth out_.

INIQUITY. Thou boy, by the mass, ye will climb the ladder,
Ah, sirrah, I love a wench that can be wily,
She perceived my mind with a twink of mine eye,
If we two play boody on any man,
We will make him as bare as Job anon,
Well, Dalilah, let see what ye have won.
[_They tell_.

DALILAH. Sir, I had ten shillings when I begon,
And here is all--every farthing.

INIQUITY. Ye lie like a whore, ye have won a pound!

DALILAH. Then the devil strike me to the ground!

INIQUITY. I will feel your pocket, by your leave, mistress--

DALILAH. Away, knave, not mine, by the mass--

INIQUITY. Yes, by God, and give you this to boot--
[_He giveth her a box_.

DALILAH. Out, whoreson knave, I beshrew thy heart-root!
Wilt thou rob me and beat me too?

INIQUITY. In the way of correction, but a blow or two!

DALILAH. Correct thy dogs, thou shalt not beat me,
I will make your knave's flesh cut, I warrant thee.
Ye think I have no friends; yes, I have in store
A good fellow or two, perchance more.
Yea, by the mass, they shall box you for this gear,
A knave I found thee, a knave I leave thee here.
[_She goeth out_.

INIQUITY. Gup, whore; do ye hear this jade?
Loving, when she is pleased:
When she is angry, thus shrewd:
Thief, brother: sister, whore;
Two graffs of an ill tree,
I will tarry no longer here,
Farewell, God be with ye!
[_He goeth out_.

DALILAH _cometh in ragged, her face hid, or disfigured, halting
on a staff_.

Alas, wretched wretch that I am,
Most miserable caitiff that ever was born,
Full of pain and sorrow, crooked and lorn:
Stuff'd with diseases, in this world forlorn.
My sinews be shrunken, my flesh eaten with pox:
My bones full of ache and great pain:
My head is bald, that bare yellow locks;
Crooked I creep to the earth again.
Mine eyesight is dim, my hands tremble and shake:
My stomach abhorreth all kind of meat:
For lack of clothes great cold I take,
When appetite serveth, I can get no meat
Where I was fair and amiable of face,
Now am I foul and horrible to see;
All this I have deserved for lack of grace;
Justly for my sins God doth plague me.

My parents did tiddle[231] me: they were to blame;
Instead of correction, in ill did me maintain:
I fell to[232] naught, and shall die with shame;
Yet all this is not half of my grief and pain.

The worm of my conscience, that shall never die,
Accuseth me daily more and more:
So oft have I sinned wilfully,
That I fear to be damned evermore.


BARNABAS. What woful wight art thou, tell me,
That here most grievously dost lament?
Confess the truth, and I will comfort thee,
By the word of God omnipotent:
Although your time ye have misspent,
Repent and amend, while ye have space,
And God will restore you to health and grace.

DALILAH. To tell you who I am, I dare not for shame;
But my filthy living hath brought me in this case,
Full oft for my wantonness you did me blame;
Yet to take your counsel I had not the grace.
To be restored to health, alas, it is past;
Disease hath brought me into such decay,
Help me with your alms, while my life doth last,
That, like a wretch as I am, I may go my way.

BARNABAS, Show me your name, sister, I you pray,
And I will help you now at your need;
Both body and soul will I feed.

DALILAH. You[233] have named me already, if I durst be so bold:
Your[234] sister Dalilah, that wretch I am;
My wanton nice toys ye knew of old.
Alas, brother, they have brought me to this shame.

When you went to school, my brother and I would play,
Swear, chide, and scold with man and woman;
To do shrewd turns our delight was alway,
Yet were we tiddled, and you beaten now and then.

Thus our parents let us do what we would,
And you by correction they kept thee under awe:
When we grew big, we were sturdy and bold;
By father and mother we set not a straw,

Small matter for me; I am past;
But your brother and mine is in great jeopardy:
In danger to come to shame at the last,
He frameth his living so wickedly.

BARNABAS. Well, sister,[235] I ever feared ye would be nought,
Your lewd behaviours sore grieve[d] my heart:
To train you to goodness all means have I sought,
But in vain; yet will I play a brotherly part.

For the soul is more precious, most dearly bought
With the blood of Christ, dying therefore:
To save it first a mean must be sought
At God's hand by Christ, man's only Saviour.

Consider, Dalilah, God's fatherly goodness,
Which for your good hath brought you in this case.
Scourged you with his rod of pure love doubtless,
That, once knowing yourself, ye might call for grace.

Ye seem to repent, but I doubt whether[236]
For your sins or for the misery ye be in:
Earnestly repent for your sin rather,
For these plagues be but the reward of sin.

But so repent that ye sin no more,
And then believe with steadfast faith,
That God will forgive you for evermore,
For Christ's sake, as the scripture saith.

As for your body, if it be curable,
I will cause to be healed, and[237] during your life
I will clothe you and feed you, as I am able.
Come, sister, go with me, ye have need of relief.
[_They go out_.

DANIEL (_the judge_). As a judge of the country, here am I come,
Sent by the king's majesty, justice to do:
Chiefly to proceed in judgment of a felon:
I tarry for the verdict of the quest,[238] ere I go.

[_Iniquity, Baily errand, comes in; the judge sitteth down_.

Go, Baily, know whether they be all agreed, or no;
If they be so, bid them come away,
And bring their prisoner; I would hear what they say.

[BAILY]. I go, my Lord, I go, too soon for one:
He is like to play a cast will break his neck-bone.
I beseech your lor'ship be good to him:
The man is come of good kin.
If your lordship would be so good to me,
[_He telleth him in his ear the rest may not hear_.
As for my sake to set him free,
I could have twenty pound in a purse,
Yea, and your lordship a right fair horse,
Well worth ten pound--

DANIEL (_the judge_). Get thee away, thou hell-hound!
If ye were well examined and tried,
Perchance a false knave ye would be spied.
[_Iniquity goeth out; the judge speaketh still_.
Bribes (saith Salomon) blind the wise man's sight,
That he cannot see to give judgment right.
Should I be a briber?[239] nay, he shall have the law,
As I owe to God and the king obedience and awe.

[_They bring Ismael in, bound like a prisoner_.

INIQUITY (_aside_). Ye be tied fair enough for running away!
If ye do not after me, ye will be hanged, I dare say;
If thou tell no tales, but hold thy tongue,
I will set thee at liberty, ere it be long,
Though thou be judged to die anon.

JUDGE (_to the jury_). Come on, sirs, I pray you, come on,
Be you all agreed in one?

QU. Yea, my lord, everychone.
[_One of them speaketh for the quest_.

JUDGE. Where Ismael was indicted[240] by twelve men
Of felony, burglary, and murder,
As the indictment declareth how, where, and when,
Ye heard it read to you lately in order:
You, with the rest, I trust all true men,
Be charged upon your oaths to give verdit directly,
Whether Ismael thereof be guilty or not guilty.

QU. Guilty, my lord, and most guilty.
[_One for the rest_.

INIQUITY. Wilt thou hang, my lord, [this] whoreson noddy?

JUDGE (_to Iniquity_). Tush, hold thy tongue, and I warrant thee[241]--

JUDGE (_to Ismael_). The Lord have mercy upon thee!
Thou shalt go to the place thou cam'st fro
Till to-morrow, nine of the clock, there to remain:
To the place of execution then shalt thou go,
There be hanged to death, and after again,
Being dead, for ensample to be hanged in a chain.
Take him away, and see it be done,
At your peril that may fall thereupon.

ISMAEL. Though I be judged to die, I require respite,
For the king's advantage some[242] things I can recite.

INIQUITY. Away with him, he will speak but of spite--

JUDGE. Well, we will hear you say what you can,
But see that ye wrongfully accuse no man.

ISMAEL. I will belie no man, but this I may say,
Here standeth he that brought me to this way:

INIQUITY. My lord, he lieth like a damned knave,
The fear of death doth make him rave--

ISMAEL. His naughty company and play at dice
Did me first to stealing entice:
He was with me at robberies, I say it to his face;
Yet can I say more in time and space.

INIQUITY. Thou hast said too much, I beshrew thy whoreson's face.
Hang him, my lord, out of the way,
The thief careth not what he doth say.
Let me be hangman, I will teach him a sleight;
For fear of talking, I will strangle him straight;
Tarry here that list, for I will go--
[_He would go_.

JUDGE. No, no, my friend, not so;
I thought always ye should not be good,
And now it will prove, I see, by the rood.
[_They take him in a halter; he fighteth with them_.
Take him, and lay him in irons strong,
We will talk with you more, ere it be long.

INIQUITY. He that layeth hands on me in this place,
Ich lay my brawling iron on his face!
By Gog's blood, I defy thy worst;
If thou shouldest hang me, I were accurst.
I have been at as low an ebb as this,
And quickly aloft again, by Gis!
I have mo friends than ye think I have;
I am entertained of all men like no slave:
Yea, within this moneth, I may say to you,
I will be your servant and your master too.
Yea, creep into your breast, will ye have it so?

JUDGE. Away with them both, lead them away
At his death tell me what he doth say,
For then belike he will not lie.

INIQUITY, I care not for you both, no, not a fly!
[_They lead them out_.

JUDGE. If no man have here more matter to say,
I must go hence some other way.
[_He goeth out_.


WORLDLY SHAME. Ha, ha! though I come in rudely, be not aghast,
I must work a feat in all the haste;
I have caught two birds, I will set for the dame,
If I catch her in my clutch, I will her tame.

Of all this while know ye not my name?
I am right worshipful master Worldly Shame;
The matter that I come now about
Is even this, I put you out of doubt--

There is one[243] Xantippe, a curst shrew,
I think all the world doth her know,
Such a jade she is, and so curst a quean,
She would out-scold the devil's dame, I ween.

Sirs, this fine woman had babes three,
Twain the dearest darlings that might be,
Ismael and fair Dalilah these two:
With the lout Barnabas I have nothing to do.

All was good, that these tiddlings do might:
Swear, lie, steal, scold, or fight:
Cards, dice, kiss, clip, and so forth:
All this our mammy would take in good worth.

Now, sir, Dalilah my daughter is dead of the pox,
And my son hang'th[244] in chains, and waveth his locks.
These news will I tell her, and the matter so frame,
That she shall be thine own, master Worldly Shame!
Ha, ha, ha!--

XANTIPPE. Peace, peace, she cometh hereby,
I spoke no word of her, no, not I.

WORLDLY SHAME. O Mistress Xantippe, I can tell you news:[245]
The fair wench, your dear daughter Dalilah,
Is dead of the pox taken at the stews;
And thy son Ismael, that pretty boy,
Whom I dare say you loved very well,
Is hanged in chains, every[246] man can tell.
Every man saith thy daughter was a strong whore,
And thy son a strong thief and a murderer.
It must needs grieve you wonderous,
That they died so shamefully both two:
Men will taunt you and mock you, for they say now
The cause of their death was even very you.

XANTIPPE. I the cause of their death?
[_She would sowne_.[247]

WORLDLY SHAME. Will ye sowne, the devil stop thy breath?
Thou shalt die (I trow) with more shame;
I will get me hence out of the way,
If the whore should die, men would me blame;
That I killed her, knaves should say.

XANTIPPE. Alas, alas, and well-away!
I may curse the time that I was born,
Never woman had such fortune, I dare say;
Alas, two of my children be forlorn.

My fair daughter Dalilah is dead of the pox:
My dear son Ismael hanged up in chains.
Alas, the wind waveth his yellow locks,[248]
It slayeth my heart, and breaketh my brains.

Why should God punish and plague me so sore?
To see my children die so shamefully!
I will never eat bread in this world more,
With this knife will I slay myself by and by.
[_She would stick herself with a knife_.


BARNABAS. Beware what ye do; fye, mother, fye!
Will ye spill yourself for your own offence,
And seem for ever to exclude God's mercy?
God doth punish you for your negligence:
Wherefore take his correction with patience,
And thank him heartily, that of his goodness
He bringeth you in knowledge of your trespass.

For when my brother and sister were of young age,
You saw they were given to idleness and play,
Would apply no learning, but live in outrage.

And men complained on them every day.
Ye winked at their faults, and tiddled them alway;
By maintenance they grew to mischief and ill,
So at last God's justice did[249] them both spill.

In that God preserved me, small thank to you:
If God had not given me special grace,
To avoid evil and do good, this is true,
I had lived and died in as wretched case,
As they did, for I had both suffrance and space;
But it is an old proverb, you have heard it, I think:
That God will have see, shall not wink.

Yet in this we may all take comfort:
They took great repentance, I heard say,
And as for my sister, I am able to report,
She lamented for her sins to her dying day:
To repent and believe I exhorted her alway;
Before her death she believed, that God of his mercy,
For Christ's sake would save her eternally.
If you do even so, ye need not despair,
For God will freely remit your sins all,
Christ hath paid the ransom, why should ye fear?
To believe this and do well, to God for grace call.
All worldly cares let pass and fall,
And thus comfort my father I pray you heartily,
[_Xantippe goeth out_.
I have a little to say, I will come by and by.

Right gentle audience, by this interlude ye may see,
How dangerous it is for the frailty of youth,
Without good governance, to live at liberty,
Such chances as these oft happen of truth:
Many miscarry, it is the more ruth,
By negligence of their elders and not taking pain,
In time good learning and qualities to attain.

Therefore exhort[250] I all parents to be diligent
In bringing up their children aye[251] to be circumspect;
Lest they fall to evil, be not negligent;
But chastise them, before they be sore infect:
Accept their well-doing, in ill them reject.
A young plant ye may plant and bow as ye will;
Where it groweth strong, there will it abide still.

Even so by children: in their tender age
Ye may work them, like wax, to your own intent;
But if ye suffer them long to live in outrage,
They will be sturdy and stiff, and will not relent.
O ye children, let your time be well-spent,
Apply your learning, and your elders obey;
It will be your profit another day.

Now, for the Queen's royal majesty let us pray,
[_He kneeleth down_.
That God (in whose hands is the heart of all queens),
May endue her highness with godly puissance alway:
That her grace may long reign and prosper in all things,
In God's word and justice may give light to all queens.
Let us pray for the honourable council and nobility,
That they may always counsel us[252] wisdom with tranquillity,
God save the Queen, the realm, and commonalty!

[_He maketh courtesy and goeth out_.


* * * * *


_It is good to be merry
But who can be merry?[253]
He that hath a pure conscience,
He may well be merry.[254]

Who hath a pure conscience, tell me?
No man of himself, I ensure thee,
Then must it follow of necessity,
That no man can be merry.

Purity itself may pureness give;
You must ask it of God in true belief;
Then will he give it, and none repreve:[255]
And so we may be merry.

What is the practice of a conscience pure?
To love and fear God, and other allure,
And for his sake to help his neighbour:
Then may he well be merry.

What shall we have, that can and will do this?
After this life everlasting bliss,
Yet not by desert, but by gift, i-wis:
There God make us all merry!_




_A newe mery and wittie Comedie or Enterlude, newely imprinted,
treating upon the Historie of Iacob and Esau, taken out of the xxvij.
Chap. of the first booke of Moses entituled Genesis. Imprinted at
London by Henrie Bynneman, dwelling in Knight-rider Streate, at the
signe of the Mermayde. Anno Domini. 1568. 4to_.

This piece is placed earlier in the series than the mere date of
publication given above would warrant, because the interlude was
licensed in 1557-8, and probably published in pursuance of its
registration at Stationers' Hall. The 4to of 1568 is, however, the only
impression hitherto recovered, and it is of the greatest rarity. An
account of this dramatic curiosity will be found in Collier's "History
of English Dramatic Poetry," 1831. It is now for the first time


1. THE PROLOGUE, _a Poet_.
2. ISAAC, _an old man, father to Jacob and Esau_.
3. REBECCA, _an old woman, wife to Isaac_.
4. ESAU, _a young man and a hunter_.
5. JACOB, _a young man of godly conversation_.
6. ZETHAR, _a neighbour_.
7. HANAN, _a neighbour to Isaac also_.
8. RAGAN, _servant unto Esau_.
9. MIDO, _a little boy, leading Isaac_.
10. DEBORAH, _the nurse of Isaac's tent_.
11. ABRA, _a little wench, servant to Rebecca_.


In the book of Genesis it is expressed,
That when God to Abraham made sure promise,
That in his seed all nations should be blessed:
To send him a son by Sarah he did not miss.
Then to Isaac (as there recorded it is)
By Rebecca his wife, who had long time been barren,
When pleased him, at one birth he sent sons twain.

But before Jacob and Esau yet born were,
Or had either done good, or ill perpetrate:
As the prophet Malachi and Paul witness bear,
Jacob was chosen, and Esau reprobate:
Jacob I love (saith God) and Esau I hate.
For it is not (saith Paul) in man's renewing or will,
But in God's mercy, who chooseth whom he will.

But now for our coming we shall exhibit here,
Of Jacob and Esau how the story was;
Whereby God's adoption may plainly appear:
And also that, whatever God's ordinance was,
Nothing might defeat, but that it must come to pass.
That, if this story may your eyes or ears delight,
We pray you of patience, while we it recite.



RAGAN, _the servant_.
ESAU, _a young man, his master_.

[_Ragan entereth with his horn at his back and his
hunting staff in his hand, and leadeth three
greyhounds, or one, as may be gotten_.

Now let me see what time it is by the starlight?
God's for his grace, man, why it is not yet midnight!
We might have slept these four hours yet, I dare well say;
But this is our good Esau his common play:

[_Here he counterfeiteth how his master calleth
him up in the mornings, and of his answers_.

What the devil aileth him? now truly, I think plain,
He hath either some worms or botts in his brain.
He scarcely sleepeth twelve good hours in two weeks.
I wot well his watching maketh me have lean cheeks,
For there is none other life with him day by day,
But, up, Ragan! up, drowsy hogshead! I say!
Why, when? up, will it not be? up. I come anon.
Up, or I shall raise you in faith, ye drowsy whoreson.
Why, when? shall I fet you? I come, sir, by and by.
Up, with a wild wanion! how long wilt thou lie?
Up, I say, up, at once! up, up, let us go hence:
It is time we were in the forest an hour since.
Now the devil stop that same yalling throat (think I)
Somewhiles: for from the call[257] farewell all wink of eye!
Begin he once to call, I sleep no more that stound,
Though half an hour's sleep were worth ten thousand pound.
Anon, when I come in, and bid him good morrow:
Ah sir, up at last? the devil give thee sorrow!
Now the devil break thy neck (think I by and by),
That hast no wit to sleep, nor in thy bed to lie.
Then come on at once; take my quiver and my bow,
Fet Lovel my hound, and my horn to blow.
Then forth go we fasting an hour or two ere day,
Before we may well see either our hands or way,
And there range we the wild forest, no crumb of bread
From morning to stark night coming within our head;
Sometimes Esau's self will faint for drink and meat,
So that he would be glad of a dead horse to eat.
Yet of fresh the next morrow forth he will again,
And sometime not come home in a whole night or twain:
Nor no delight he hath, no appetite nor mind.
But to the wild forest, to hunt the hart or hind,
The roebuck, the wild boar, the fallow-deer, or hare:
But how poor Ragan shall dine, he hath no care.
Poor I must eat acorns or berries from the tree.
But if I be found slack in the suit following,
Or if I do fail in blowing or hallooing;
Or if I lack my staff or my horn by my side:
He will be quick enough to fume, chafe, and chide.
Am I not well at ease such a master to serve,
As must have such service, and yet will let me starve?
But, in faith, his fashions displease mo than me,
And will have but a mad end one day, we shall see.
He passeth nothing on Rebecca his mother,
And much less passeth he on Jacob his brother.
But peace, mum, no more: I see master Esau.

[_Here Esau appeareth in sight, and bloweth his horn, ere he enter_.

ESAU. How now, are we all ready, servant Ragan?
Art thou up for all day, man? art thou ready now?

RAGAN. I have been here this half-hour, sir, waiting for you,

ESAU. And is all thing ready, as I bad, to my mind?

RAGAN. Ye have no cause, that I know, any fault to find:
Except that we disease our tent and neighbours all
With rising over early each day, when ye call.

ESAU. Ah, thou drowsy draffsack, wouldest thou rise at noon?
Nay, I trow the sixth hour with thee were over-soon.

RAGAN. Nay, I speak of your neighbours, being men honest,
That labour all the day, and would fain be at rest:
Whom with blowing your horn ye disease all-abouts.

ESAU. What care I for waking a sort of clubbish louts?

RAGAN. And I speak of Rebecca your mother, our dame.

ESAU. Tut, I pass not, whether she do me praise or blame.

RAGAN. And I speak of your good father, old Isaac.

ESAU. Peace, foolish knave: as for my father Isaac,
In case he be asleep, I do him not disease,
And if he be waking, I know I do him please,
For he loveth me well from mine nativity,
[_Here Esau bloweth his horn again_.
And never so as now for mine activity.
Therefore have at it: once more will I blow my horn
To give my neighbour louts an hail-peal in a morn.
[_Here he speaketh to his dogs_.
Now, my master Lightfoot, how say you to this gear,
Will you do your duty to red or fallow deer?
And, Swan, mine own good cur, I do think in my mind
The game shall run apace, if thou come far behind:
And ha, Takepart, come, Takepart, here: how say you, child,
Wilt not thou do thy part? yes, else I am beguil'd.
But I shrew your cheeks, they have had too much meat.

RAGAN. I blame not dogs to take it, if they may it get:
But as for my part, they could have, parde,
A small remnant of that that ye give me.
They may run light enough for ought of me they got,
I had not a good meal's-meat this week, that I wot.

ESAU. If we have luck this day to kill hare, teg,[258] or doe,
Thou shalt eat thy bellyful, till thou criest ho.

RAGAN. I thank you, when I have it, Master Esau.

ESAU. Well, come on, let us go now, servant Ragan.
Is there anything more, that I should say or do?
For perhaps we come not again this day or two.

RAGAN. I know nothing, master, to God I make a vow,
Except you would take your brother Jacob with you:
I never yet saw him with you an hunting go,
Shall we prove him once, whether he will go or no?

ESAU. No, no, that were in vain, alas, good simple mome:
Nay, he must tarry and suck mother's dug at home:
Jacob must keep home, I trow, under mother's wing;
To be from the tents he loveth not of all thing.
Jacob loveth no hunting in the wild forest:
And would fear, if he should there see any wild beast.
Yea, to see the game run, Jacob would be in fear.

RAGAN. In good sooth, I ween he would think each hare a bear.

ESAU. What, brother mine, what a word call ye that?

RAGAN. Sir, I am scarce waked: I spake, ere I wist what.

ESAU. Come on your ways, my child, take the law of the game.
I will wake you, I trow, and set your tongue in frame.

RAGAN. O, what have you done, Master Esau, God's apes?

ESAU. Why can ye not yet refrain from letting such scapes?
Come on, ye must have three jerts[259] for the nonce.
[_Beats him_.

RAGAN. O, for God's love, sir, have done, dispatch at once.

ESAU. Nay there is no remedy but bide it--there is twain.
[_Gives him another jerk_.

RAGAN. O, ye rent my cheverel; let me be past my pain.

ESAU. Take heed of hunting terms fro henceforth!--there is three.
[_Jerks him again_.

RAGAN. Whoop! now a mischief on all moping fools for me!
Jacob shall keep the tents ten year for Ragan,
Ere I move again that he hunt with Esau.

ESAU. Come on, now let us go. God send us game and luck,
And if my hand serve me well--

RAGAN (_aside_). Ye will kill a duck.

[_Exeant ambo_.


HANAN, ZETHAR, _two of Isaac's neighbours_.

HANAN. Ah, sir, I see I am an early man this morn,
I am once more beguil'd with Esau his horn.
But there is no such stirrer as Esau is:
He is up day by day, before the crow piss:
Then maketh he with his horn such toohing and blowing,
And with his wide throat such shouting and hallooing,
That no neighbour shall in his tent take any rest,
From Esau addresseth him to the forest.
So that he maketh us, whether we will or no,
Better husbands than we would be, abroad to go
Each of us about our business and our wark.
But whom do I see yonder coming in the dark?
It is my neighbour Zethar, I perceive him now.

ZETHAR. What, neighbour Hanan, well met, good morrow to you.
I see well now I am not beguiled alone:
But what boot to lie still? for rest we can take none;
That I marvel much of old father Isaac,
Being so godly a man, why he is so slack
To bring his son Esau to a better stay.

HANAN. What should he do in the matter, I you pray?

ZETHAR. O, it is no small charge to fathers, afore God,
So to train their children in youth under the rod
That, when they come to age, they may virtue ensue,
Wicked pranks abhor, and all lewdness eschew,
And me-thinketh Isaac, being a man as he is--
A chosen man of God, should not be slack in this.

HANAN. Alack, good man, what should he do more than he hath done?
I dare say no father hath better taught his son,
Nor no two have given better example of life
Unto their children than both he and his wife:
As by their younger son Jacob it doth appear.
He liveth no loose life: he doth God love and fear.
He keepeth here in the tents, like a quiet man:
He giveth not himself to wildness any when.
But Esau evermore from his young childhood
Hath been like to prove ill, and never to be good.
Young it pricketh (folks do say), that will be a thorn,
Esau hath been naught, ever since he was born.
And whereof cometh this? of education?
Nay, it is of his own ill inclination.
They were brought up both under one tuition;
But they be not both of one disposition.
Esau is given to loose and lewd living.

ZETHAR. In faith, I warrant him [to] have but shrewd thriving.

HANAN. Neither see I any hope, that he will amend.

ZETHAR. Then let him even look to come to an ill end.
For youth that will follow none but their own bridle,
That leadeth a dissolute life and an idle:
Youth, that refuseth wholesome documents,
Or to take example of their godly parents:
Youth, that is retchless, and taketh no regard,
What become of themself, nor which end go forward:
It is great marvel and a special grace,
If ever they come to goodness all their life space.
But why do we consume this whole morning in talk
Of one that hath no reck ne care, what way he walk,
We had been as good to have kept our bed still.

HANAN. O, it is our part to lament them that do ill.
Like as very nature a godly heart doth move
Others' good proceedings to tender and to love:
So such as in no wise to goodness will be brought,
What good man but will mourn, since God us all hath wrought,
But ye have some business, and so have I.

ZETHAR. And we have been long; farewell, neighbour, heartily.


REBECCA, _the mother_. JACOB, _the son_.

REBECCA. Come forth, son Jacob, why tarriest thou behind?

JACOB. Forsooth, mother, I thought ye had said all your mind.

REBECCA. Nay, come, I have yet a word or two more to say.

JACOB. Whatsoever pleaseth you, speak to me ye may.

REBECCA. Seeing thy brother Esau is such an one,
Why rebukest thou him not, when ye are alone?
Why dost thou not give him some good sad wise counsel?

JACOB. He lacketh not that, mother, if it would avail.
But when I do him any thing of his fault[s] tell,
He calleth me foolish proud boy, with him to mell.
He will sometime demand, by what authority
I presume to teach them which mine elders be?
He will sometime ask, if I learn of my mother
To take on me teaching of mine elder brother?
Sometime, when I tell him of his lewd behaviour,
He will lend me a mock or twain for my labour:
And sometime for anger he will out with his purse,
And call me, as please him, and swear he will do worse.

REBECCA. O Lord, that to bear such a son it was my chance.

JACOB. Mother, we must be content with God's ordinance.

REBECCA. Or, if I should need have Esau to my son,
Would God thou, Jacob, haddest the eldership won.

JACOB. Mother, it is too late to wish; for that is pass'd;
It will not be done now, wish ye never so fast.
And I would not have you to wish against God's will:
For both it is in vain, and also it is ill.

REBECCA. Why did it not please God, that thou shouldest as well
Tread upon his crown, as hold him fast by the heel?

JACOB. Whatsoever mystery the Lord therein meant,
Must be referred to his unsearched judgment.
And whatsoever he hath 'ppointed me unto,
I am his own vessel, his will with me to do.

REBECCA. Well, some strange thing therein of God intended was.

JACOB. And what he hath decreed, must sure come to pass.

REBECCA. I remember, when I had you both conceived,
A voice thus saying from the Lord I received:
Rebecca, in thy womb are now two nations
Of unlike natures and contrary fashions.
The one shall be a mightier people elect:
And the elder to the younger shall be subject.
I know this voice came not to me of nothing:
Therefore thou shalt follow my counsel in one thing.

JACOB. So it be not displeasing to the Lord, I must.

REBECCA. I fear the Lorde eke, who is merciful and just:
And loth would I be his majesty to offend;
But by me (I doubt not) to work he doth intend.
Assay, if thou canst at some one time or other,
To buy the right of eldership from thy brother:
Do thou buy the birthright, that to him doth belong,
So may'st thou have the blessing, and do him no wrong.
What thou hast once bought, is thine own of due right.

JACOB. Mother Rebecca, if withouten fraud I might,
I would your advice put in ure with all my heart,
But I may not attempt any such guileful part.
To buy my brother's eldership and his birthright,
I fear, would be a great offence in God's sight.
Which thing, if I wist to redeem, I ne would,
Though I might get thereby ten millions of gold.

REBECCA. God who, by his word and almightiful decree,
Hath appointed thee Esau his lord to be,
Hath appointed some way to have it brought about;
And that is this way, my sprite doth not doubt.

JACOB. Upon your word, mother, I will assay ere long;
Yet it grudgeth my heart to do my brother wrong.

REBECCA. Thou shalt do no wrong, son Jacob, on my peril.

JACOB. Then, by God's leave, once assay I will.

REBECCA. Then farewell, dear son, God's blessing and mine with thee.

JACOB. I will again to the tent. Well you be!

[_Exeat Jacob_.

REBECCA. Ah, my sweet son Jacob, good fortune God thee send!
The most gentle young man alive, as God me mend!
And the most natural to father and mother:
O, that such a meek spirit were in thy brother;
Or thy sire loved thee, as thou hast merited,
And then should Esau soon be disinherited.


ISAAC, _the husband_. REBECCA, _the wife_. MIDO, _the lad
that leadeth blind Isaac_.

ISAAC. Where art thou, my boy Mido, when I do thee lack?

MIDO. Who calleth Mido? here, good master Isaac.

ISAAC. Come, lead me forth of doors a little, I thee pray.

MIDO. Lay your hand on my shoulder, and come on this way.

REBECCA. Now, O Lord of heaven, the fountain of all grace,
If it be thy good will, that my will shall take place:
Send success to Jacob, according to thy word,
That his elder brother may serve him as his lord.

MIDO. Sir, whither would ye go, now that abroad ye be?

ISAAC. To wife Rebecca.

MIDO. Yonder I do her see.

REBECCA. Lord, thou knowest Jacob to be thy servant true,
And Esau all froward thy ways to ensue.

MIDO. Yonder she is speaking, whatever she doth say:
By holding up her hands, it seemeth she doth pray.

ISAAC. Where be ye, wife Rebecca? where be ye, woman?

REBECCA. Who is that calleth? Isaac, my good man?

ISAAC. Where be ye, wife Rebecca, let me understand?

MIDO. She cometh to you apace.

REBECCA. Here, my lord, at hand.

ISAAC. Saving that whatsoever God doth is all right,
No small grief it were for a man to lack his sight.
But what the Lord doth send or work by his high will--

REBECCA. Cannot but be the best, no such thing can be ill.

ISAAC. All bodily punishment or infirmity,
With all maims of nature, whatever they be,
Yea, and all other afflictions temporal:
As loss, persecution, or troubles mortal,
Are nothing but a trial or probation.
And what is he that firmly trusteth in the Lord,
Or steadfastly believeth his promise and word,
And knoweth him to be the God omnipotent,
That feedeth and governeth all that he hath sent:
Protecting his faithful in every degree,
And them to relieve in all their necessity?
What creature (I say) that doth this understand,
Will not take all thing in good heart at God's hand?
Shall we at God's hand receive prosperity,
And not be content likewise with adversity?
We ought to be thankful whatever God doth send,
And ourselves wholly to his will to commend.

REBECCA. So should it be, and I thank my lord Isaac,
Such daily lessons at your hand I do not lack.

ISAAC. Why, then, should not I thank the Lord, if it please him,
That I shall now be blind, and my sight wax all dim.
For whoso to old age will here live and endure,
Must of force abide all such defaults of nature.

MIDO. Why, must I be blind too, if I be an old man?
How shall I grope the way, or who shall lead me then?

ISAAC. If the Lord have appointed thee such old days to see,
He will also provide that shall be meet for thee.

MIDO. I trow, if I were blind, I could go well enou',
I could grope the way thus, and go as I do now.
I have done so ere now both by day and by night,
As I see you grope the way, and have hit it right.

REBECCA. Yea, sir boy, will ye play any such childish knack
As to counterfeit your blind master Isaac?
That is but to mock him for his impediment.

MIDO. Nay, I never did it in any such intent.

REBECCA. Nay, it is to tempt God, before thou have need,
Whereby thou may'st provoke him, in very deed,
With some great misfortune or plague to punish thee.

MIDO. Then will I never more do so, while I may see:
But against I be blind, I will be so perfit
That, though no man lead me, I will go at midnight.

ISAAC. Now, wife, touching the purpose that I sought for you.

REBECCA, What say'th my lord Isaac to his handmaid now?

ISAAC. Ye have oft in covert words been right earnest
To have me grant unto you a boon and request:
But ye never told me yet plainly what it was;
Therefore I have ever yet let the matter pass.
And now of late, by oft being from me absent,
I have half suspected you to be scarce content.
But, wife Rebecca, I would not have you to mourn,
As though I did your honest petition scorn.[260]
For I never meant to deny in all my life
Any lawful or honest request to my wife.
But in case it be a thing unreasonable,
Then must I needs be to you untractable.
Now therefore say on, and tell me what is your case.

REBECCA. I would, if I were sure in your heart to find grace;
Else, sir, I would be loth.

ISAAC. To speak do not refrain,
And if it be reasonable, ye shall obtain:
Otherwise, ye must pardon me, gentle sweet wife.

REBECCA. Sir, ye know your son Esau, and see his life,
How loose it is, and how stiff he is and stubborn,
How retchlessly he doth himself misgovern:
He giveth himself to hunting out of reason,
And serveth the Lord and us at no time or season.
These conditions cannot be acceptable
In the sight of God, nor to men allowable.
Now his brother Jacob, your younger son and mine,
Doth more apply his heart to seek the ways divine.
He liveth here quietly at home in the tent,
There is no man nor child but is with him content.

ISAAC. O wife, I perceive ye speak of affection;
To Jacob ye bear love, and to his brother none.

REBECCA. Indeed, sir, I cannot love Esau so well
As I do Jacob, the plain truth to you to tell.
For I have no comfort of Esau, God wot:
I scarce know whe'r I have a son of him or not.
He goeth abroad so early before daylight,
And retumeth home again so late in the night;
And unneth I set eye on him in the whole week:
No, sometime not in twain, though I do for him seek.
And all the neighbours see him as seldom as I;
But when they would take rest, they hear him blow and cry.
Some see him so seldom, they ask if he be sick:
Sometimes some demand, whether he be dead or quick.
But, to make short tale, such his conditions be,
That I wish of God he had ne'er been born of me.

ISAAC. Well, wife, I love Esau, and must for causes twain.

REBECCA. Surely your love is bestowed on him in vain?

ISAAC. First, active he is, as any young man can be,
And many a good morsel he bringeth home to me.
Then he is mine eldest and first-begotten son.

REBECCA. If God were so pleased, I would that were foredone. [_Aside_.

ISAAC. And the eldest son is called the father's might.

REBECCA. If yours rest in Esau, God give us good night!

ISAAC. A prerogative he hath in every thing.

REBECCA. More pity he should have it without deserving.

ISAAC. Of all the goods his portion is greater.

REBECCA. That the worthy should have it, I think much better.

ISAAC. Among his brethren he hath the pre-eminence.

REBECCA. Where Esau is chief, there is a gay presence!

ISAAC. Over his brethren he is sovereign and lord.

REBECCA. Such dignity in Esau doth ill accord.

ISAAC. He is the head of the father's succession.

REBECCA, I would Esau had lost that possession.

ISAAC. And he hath the chief title of inheritance.

REBECCA. Wisdom would in Esau change that ordinance.

ISAAC. To the eldest son is due the father's blessing.

REBECCA. That should be Jacob's, if I might have my wishing. [_Aside_.

ISAAC. And the chief endowment of the father's substance.

REBECCA. Which will thrive well in Esau his governance.

ISAAC. By title of eldership he hath his birthright.

REBECCA. And that would I remove to Jacob, if I might. [_Aside_.

ISAAC. He must have double portion to another.

REBECCA. That were more fit for Jacob his younger brother.

ISAAC. In all manner of things divided by a rate.

REBECCA. Well given goods to him, that the Lord doth hate!

ISAAC. Why say ye so of Esau, mine eldest son?

REBECCA. I say true, if he proceed, as he hath begun.

ISAAC. Is he not your son too, as well as he is mine?
Wherefore do ye then against him thus sore repine?

REBECCA. Because that in my spirit verily I know,
God will set up Jacob, and Esau down throw.
I have showed you many a time ere this day,
What the Lord of them being in my womb did say.
I use not for to lie, and I believe certain,
That the Lord spake not these words to me in vain.
And Jacob it is (I know), in whom the Lord will
His promises to you made and to your seed fulfil.

ISAAC. I doubt not his promise made to me and my seed,
Leaving to his conveyance how it shall proceed.
The Lord after his way may change th'inheritance;
But I may not wittingly break our ordinance.

REBECCA. Now would God I could persuade my lord Isaac
Jacob to prefer, and Esau to put back.

ISAAC. I may not do it, wife, I pray you be content:
The title of birthright, that cometh by descent,
Or the place of eldership coming by due course,
I may not change nor shift for better nor for worse.
Nature's law it is, the eldest son to knowledge,
And in no wise to bar him of his heritage:
And ye shall of Esau one day have comfort.

REBECCA. Set a good long day then, or else we shall come short.

ISAAC. I warrant you, he will do well enough at length.

REBECCA. You must needs commend him, being your might and strength.

ISAAC. Well, now go we hence; little Mido, where art thou?

MIDO. I have stood here all this while, list'ning, how you
And my dame Rebecca have been laying the law;
But she hath as quick answers as ever I saw.
Ye could not speak anything unto her so thick,
But she had her answer as ready and as quick.

ISAAC. Yea, women's answers are but few times to seek.

MIDO. But I did not see Esau neither all this same week.
Nor do I love your son Esau so well,
As I do love your son Jacob by a great deal.

ISAAC. No, doest thou, Mido? and tell me the cause why.

MIDO. Why? for I do not: And none other cause know I.
But everybody, as well one as other,
Do wish that Jacob had been the elder brother.

ISAAC. Well, come on, let us go.

MIDO. And who shall lead you? I?

REBECCA. No, it is my office as long as I am by.
And I would all wives, as the world this day is,
Would unto their husbands likewise do their office.

MIDO. Why, dame Rebecca, then all wedded men should be blind.

REBECCA. What, thou foolish lad, no such thing was in my mind.


RAGAN, _the servant of Esau_.

RAGAN. I have heard it oft, but now I feel a wonder,
In what grievous pain they die, that die for hunger.
O my greedy stomach, how it doth bite and gnaw?
If I were at a rack, I could eat hay or straw.
Mine empty guts do fret, my maw doth even tear,
Would God I had a piece of some horsebread here.
Yet is master Esau in worse case than I.
If he have not some meat, the sooner he will die:
He hath sunk for faintness twice or thrice by the way,
And not one seely bit we got since yesterday.
All that ever he hath, he would have given to-day
To have had but three morsels his hunger to allay.
Or in the field to have met with some hogs;
I could scarcely keep him from eating of these dogs.
He hath sent me afore some meat for to provide,
And cometh creeping after, scarce able to stride.
But if I know where to get of any man,
For to ease mine own self, as hungry as I am,
I pray God I stink; but if any come to me,
Die who die will; for sure I will first served be.
I will see, if any be ready here at home,
Or whether Jacob have any, that peakish mome.
But first I must put all my dogs up,
And lay up this gear, and then God send us the cup.


ESAU, _the master_. RAGAN, _the servant_.

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