Arden of Feversham, an Elizabethan Play

Mr Paul Gerrish has kindly pointed out that there are cuts in this version, which may still be useful as an introduction to the play, since it is in modern spelling; but a full copy in original spelling (which is always preferable) is available online at:
Literature Online http://lion.chadwyck.com/


Arden Of Feversham

To be or not to be (by Shakespeare), that is the question





For three centuries the question of the authorship of the domestic murder play "Arden of Feversham" has been the subject of intense discussion throughout Europe, to the extent that at this time it would require a sizable doctoral thesis to review all the arguments pro and con. There is a body of early Elizabethan plays which precede the work of Shakespeare, listed at the end of this article, and from each of these trails a wake of academic scholarship. But the play "Arden of Feversham" printed in l592 is clearly the best of this lot, and the one which might have the best claim to stemming from the master's indefatigable pen.

Reading up on the academic criticism would be a common preparation for a student or literary amateur to do before reading the play, but I propose the opposite avenue of approach. Without even considering the possibility of proving Shakespearean authorship, I suggest reading the play as it stands in the following pages, perusing it slowing and carefully as I did this last year in my elegantly printed little edition from the London publisher Dent in l907, and seeing what comes to the surface. I had this edition from my student days, never read it till now, and am impressed by the excellence of the writing, the clear and urgent progression of the storylilne, and of course the possibility that William Shakespeare may have had some hand in this curious little play.

Let me note the observations I drew from my recent reading of the play. The year l592 was an early point in Shakespeare's literary development, he was clearly living in London and already involved with the play houses, acting parts and furnishing his mind with ideas already current. It is curious that two of the characters in Arden are "Will" and "Shakebag", and this may have been the focus for the arguments for Shakespeare's authorship. But the two are low life criminals, not an enviable role for a new playwright. And Shakebag was already named some twenty six years earlier in Holinshed's account of the murder, so the name has a historical base. You can't help but note that the family name Arden occurs in Shakespeare's family background, and this with the name Shakebag would seem good grounds for giving Shakespeare an interest in the story. Shakespeare was always a punster, and perhaps he saw that the Latin "pera" meaning 'bag, purse' might be a variant etymology for Shakespeare (leading to Shakebag), a name which one man in the 1450 Jack Cage riots had changed as invidiously military. Names then as now could have a great deal of color and social nuance.

Since he was on the scene around l592, could he have acted the part of Shakebag the ruffian, at the same time outlining the weaker and less interesting part of Will, his companion? The part is most interesting, it has touches of daily talk from the man in the Elizabethan street, an interesting flow of ready talkativeness which predicts some of the dialogue of Jack Cage in Henry VI, soon to be written. But there are a few passage from Shakebag which are out of character with the ruffian spirit, where I think Shakespeare who may have been acting out the part, improvised some fine writing on the spot one evening, and having the perfect memory he is known to have had, he incorporated the dialogue into the part night after night, and so into the printed version. I won't mention where the fine passage lies, see if it doesn't strike your eye as your read the play through. But it has the same extravagant touches of ardent imagination which is found in his early plays, which raises the question of how deep his influence in the writing of the play went.

Holinshed's earlier historical version is a good example of the fine use of the English language which Elizabethan prose writers maintained, and much of the play follows the storyline of Holinshed exactly, and the actual wording closely in many passages. Writing plays out of history was something Shakespeare found very interesting and his early plays are largely based on English history. And so it is here, although history in bourgeois dress rather than the accounts of royal happening, wars and international plots. Englishmen were more interested in the grand scene than the newspaper accounts of the times, and that became the path into which young Shakespeare turned.

But Shakespeare always had an affection for touches of the common talk, from Jack Cage to Falstaff, from words taken from farm life in his country years to the puns which the English have always loved, to the despair of the more literal French. So it is natural for the dual role of Will and Shakebag to be written into this very English murder story, and if there is no academic proof that William Shakespeare had a hand in the play, it is quite likely that he easily could have. My own feeling is that several hands wrote the actual wording of Arden of Feversham, but that Shakespeare was in on the process, and acting the ruffians' parts himself, is responsible at least for that part of the dialogue of the play.

But enough said, read the play for yourself, and see what you think. I found the play clearly showing that sturdy English prose style, running easily in its course without adornments from the Renaissance world, from Holingshed right through to Defoe. This was the age in which the English learned to write, something which persisted into the cleanly written world of Hardy, a trait somewhat obscured in the selfconsciousness of late 20th century American writing. But here is a good example, in a plain play which has a story told as clearly directly as possible, the mark of good reporterage and the best of storytelling.

I should mention that this would make a great college or small theater performance, with the set designed and painted after the half circle of the front stage of the Elizabethan Globe theater, entrances and exits done in the brisk scene-changing original manner, and this combining an antique theatrical atmosphere with original recreation of the old stage, with a thoroughly modern "murder mystery" a la TV nightly fare. There is a good description of how this could be done in Frayne Williams' book "Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe", Dutton from l941, a surprisingly detailed set of suggestions toward the end. The author had a range of experience from the first half of the last century, many interesting thoughts from such an old study.






Arden Of Feversham



The lamentable and true tragedy of master Arden of Feversham in Kent. Who was Most wickedly murdered by the means of his disloyal and wanton wife who for the love she bore to one Mosbie, hired two desperate ruffians Black Will and Shakebag to kill him. Wherein is showed the great malice and dissimulation of a Wicked woman, the unsatiable desire of filthy lust and the shameful end of all Murderers.>


Adam Fowl
A Franklin
Arden
Alice Arden, his wife
Michael, their servant
Mosbie, Alice's lover
Black Will, hitman
Shakebag, hitman
Clarke, a clerk
Bradshaw
Dick Greene
Susan
Lord Clifford
Mayor of Feversham
Ferryman
A Prentice (apprentice)
Dick Reede
A Sailor


Enter Arden and Franklin.
Franklin. Arden, cheer up thy spirits, and droop no more
My gracious lord, the duke of somerset,
Hath freely given to thee and to thy heirs,
By letters patent from his majesty,
All the lands of the abbey of feversham.
Read them, and leave this melancholy mood.

Arden. Franklin, thy love prolongs my weary life;
And but for thee how odious were this life,
That shows me nothing but torments my soul,
And those foul objects that offend mine eyes,
Which makes me wish that for this vale of heaven
The earth hung over my head and covered me.
Love letters past twixt Mosbie and my wife,
And they have privy meetings in the town:
Nay, on his finger did I spy the ring
Which at our marriage-day the priest put on.
Can any grief be half so great as this?

Franklin. Comfort thyself, sweet friend; it is not strange
That women will be false and wavering.

Arden. Ay, but to dote on such a one as he
Is monstrous, Franklin, and intolerable.

Franklin. Why, what is he?

Arden. A botcher, and no better at the first;
Who, by base brokage getting some small stock,
Crept into service of a nobleman,
And by his servile flattery and fawning
Is now become the steward of his house,
And bravely jets it in his silken gown.

Arden. Yes, the lord Clifford, he that loves not me,
But through his favor let him not grow proud,
For were he by the lord protector backed,
He should not make me to be pointed at.
I am by birth a gentlfr. s rival that attempts
To violate my dear wife's chastity
(for dear I hold her love, as dear as heaven)
Shall on the bed which he thinks to defile
See his dissevered joints and sinews torn,
Whilst on the planchers pants his weary body,
Smeared in the channels of his lustful blood.

Franklin. Be patient, gentle friend, and learn of me
To ease thy grief and save her chastity:
Intreat her fair; sweet words are fittest engines
To race the flint walls of a woman's breast.
In any case be not too jealious.
Nor make no question of her love to thee;
But, as securely, presently take horse,
And lie with me at London all this term;
For women, when they may, will not,
But, being kept back, straight grow outrageous.

Arden. Though this abhors from reason, yet I'll try it
And call her forth and presently take leave.
How! Alice! (here enters Alice.
Summer nights are short, and yet you rise ere day.
Had I been wake, you had not risen so soon.

Arden. Sweet love, thou knowest that we two ovid-like,
Have often chid the morning when it 'gan to peep,
And often wished that dark night's purblind steeds,
Would pull her by the purple mantle back,
And cast her in the ocean to her love.
But this night, sweet Alice, thou hast killed my heart,
I heard thee call on Mosbie in thy sleep.

Alice. 'tis like I was asleep when I named him,
For being awake he comes not in my thoughts.

Alice. And thereof came it, and therefore blame not me.

Arden. I know it did, and therefore let it pass.
I must to London, sweet Alice, presently.

Alice. But tell me do you mean to stay there long?

Arden. No longer there till my affairs be done.

Franklin. He will not stay above a month at Most.

Alice. A month? Ay me! Sweet Arden, come again
Within a day or two, or else I die.

Arden. I cannot long be from thee gentle Alice.
Whilst Michael fetch our horses from the field,
Franklin and I will down unto the key;
For I have certain goods there to unload.
Meanwhile prepare our breakfast, gentle Alice;
For yet ere noon we'll take horse and away.
Exeunt Arden and Franklin.

Alice. Ere noon he means to take horse and away!
Sweet news is this. O that some airy spirit
Would in the shape and likeness of a horse
Gallop with Arden 'cross the ocean,
And throw him from his back into the waves!
Sweet Mosbie is the man that hath my heart:
And he usurps it, having nought but this,
That I am tied to him by marriage.
Love is a god, and marriage is but words;
And therefore Mosbie's title is the best.
Tush! Whether it be or no, he shall be mine,
In spite of him, of hymen, and of rites.
(here enters Adam of the Flower-de-Luce
And here comes Adam of the Flower-de-Luce;
I hope he brings me tidings of my love.
-how now, Adam, what is the news with you?
Be not afraid; my husband is now from home.

Adam. He whom you wot of, Mosbie, mistress Alice,
Is come to town, and sends you word by me
In any case you may not visit him.

Alice. Not visit him?

Adam. No, nor take no knowledge of his being here.

Alice. But tell me, is he angry or displeased?

Adam. Should seem so, for he is wondrous sad.

Alice. Were he as mad as raving hercules,
I'll see him, ay, and were thy house of force,
These hands of mine should raze it to the ground,
Unless that thou wouldst bring me to my love.

Adam. Nay, and you be so impatient, I'll be gone.
Ask Mosbie how I have incurred his wrath;
Bear him from me these pair of silver dice,
With which we played for kisses many a time,
And when I lost, I won, and so did he; -
Such winning and such losing jove send me,
And bid him, if his love do not decline,
Come this morning but along my door,
And as a stranger but salute me there:
This may he do without suspect or fear.

Adam. I'll tell him what you say, and so farewell. Exit Adam.

Alice. Do, and one day I'll make amends for all.
I know he loves me well, but dares not come,
Because my husband is so jealious,
And these my marrow prying neighbors blab,
Hinder our meetings when we would confer.
But, if I live, that block shall be removed,
And, Mosbie, thou that comes to me by stealth
Shalt neither fear the biting speech of men
Nor Arden's looks; as surely shall he die
As I abhor him and love only thee.
(here enters Michael.
How, now Michael, whither are you going?

Michael. To fetch my master's nag.
I hope you'll think on me.

Alice. Ay; but, Michael, see you keep your oath,
And be secret as you are resolute.

Michael. I'll see he shall not live above a week.

Alice. On that condition, Michael, here is my hand
None shall have Mosbie's sister but thyself.

Michael. I understand the painter here hard by
Hath made report that he and sue is sure.

Alice. There's no such matter, Michael; believe it not.

Michael. But he hath sent a dagger sticking in a heart,
With a verse or two stolen from a painted cloth:
The which I hear the wench keeps in her chest.

Michael. Why, say I should be took, I'll ne'er confess,
That you know anything; and Susan, being a maid,
May beg me from the gallows of the sheriff.

Alice. Trust not to that, Michael.

Michael. You cannot tell me, I have seen it, ay,
I'll make her more worth than twenty painters can;
For I will rid mine elder brother away,
And then the farm of bolton is mine own.
Who would not venture upon house and land,
When he may have it for a right down blow? (here enters Mosbie.

Alice. Yonder comes Mosbie. Michael, get thee gone,
And let not him nor any know thy drifts. (Exit Michael.
Mosbie, my love!

Mosbie. Away, I say, and talk not to me now.

Alice. A word or two, sweet heart, and then I will.
'tis yet but early days, thou needst not fear.

Mosbie. Where is your husband?

Alice. 'tis now high water, and he is at the key.

Mosbie. There let him be; hence forward know me not.

Alice. Is this the end of all thy solemn oaths?
Is this the fruit thy reconcilement buds?
Have I for this given thee so many favors,
Incurred my husband's hate, and, out alas,
Made shipwreck of mine honor for thy sake?
And dost thou say 'hence forward know me not'?
Remember, when I lock'd thee in my closet,
What were thy words and mine; did we not both
Decree to murder Arden in the night?
The heavens can witness, and the world can tell,
Before I saw that falsehood look of thine,
'fore I was tangled with thy 'ticing speech,
Arden to me was dearer than my soul,
And shall be still: base peasant, get thee gone,
And boast not of thy conquest over me,
Gotten by witch-craft and mere sorcery!
For what hast thou to countenance my love,
Being descended of a noble house,
And matched already with a gentleman
Whose servant thou may'st be! - and so farewell.

Mosbie. Ungentle and unkind Alice, now I see
That which I ever feared, and find too true:
A woman's love is as the lightning flame,
Which even in bursting forth consumes itself.
To try thy constancy have I been strange;
Would I had never tried, but lived in hope!

Mosbie. Yet pardon me, for love is jealous.

Alice. So lists the sailor to the mermaid's song,
So looks the traveller to the basilisk.
I am content for to be reconciled,
And that I know, will be mine overthrow.

Mosbie. Thine overthrow? First let the world dissolve.

Alice. Nay, Mosbie, let me still enjoy thy love,
And happen what will, I am resolute.
My saving husband hoards up bags of gold
To make our children rich, and now is he
Gone to unload the goods that shall be thine,
And he and Franklin will to London straight.

Mosbie. To London, Alice? It thou'lt be rul'd by me
We'll make him sure enough for coming there.

Alice. Ah, would we could!

Mosbie. I happened on a painter yesternight,
The only cunning man of Christendom;
For he can temper poison with his oil,
That whoso looks upon the work he draws
Shall, with the beams that issue from his sight,
Suck venom to his breast and slay himself.
Sweet Alice he shall draw thy counterfeit,
That Arden may by gazing on it perish.

Alice. Ay, but Mosbie that is dangerous,
For thou or i, or any other else,
Coming into the chamber where it hangs may die.

Mosbie. Ay, but we'll have it covered with a cloth,
And hung up in the study for himself.

Alice. It may not be, for when the picture's drawn,
Arden, I know, will come and show it me.

Mosbie. Fear not; we'll have that shall serve the turn.
This is the painter's house; I'll call him forth.

Alice. But Mosbie, I'll have no such picture, I.
Use humble promise to their sacred muse,
So we that are the poets' favorites
Must have a love: ay, love is the painter's muse,
That makes him frame a speaking countenance,
A weeping eye that witnesses heart's grief.
Then tell me, master Mosbie, shall I have her?

Alice. 'tis pity but he should; he'll use her well.

Clarke. Then, brother, to requite this courtesy,
You shall command my life, my skill, and all.

Alice. Ah, that thou couldst be secret.

Mosbie. Fear him not; leave; I have talked sufficient.

Clarke. You know not me that ask such questions.
Let it suffice I know you love him well,
And fain would have your husband made away;
Wherein, trust me, you show a noble mind,
That rather than you'll live with him you hate,
You'll venture life, and die with him you love.
The like will I do for my Susan's sake.

Alice. Yet nothing could inforce me to the deed
But Mosbie's love. Might I without control,
Enjoy thee still, then Arden should not die:
But seeing I cannot, therefore let him die.

Mosbie. Enough, sweet Alice; thy kind words make me melt.
Your trick of poisoned pictures we dislike;
Some other poison would do better far.

Alice. Ay, such as might be put into his broth,
And yet in taste not to be found at all.

Clarke. I know your mind, and here I have it for you.
Put but a dram of this into his drink,
Or any kind of broth that he shall eat,
And he shall die within an hour after.

Alice. As I am a gentlewoman, clarke, next day
Thou and Susan shall be married.

Mosbie. And I'll make her dowry more than I'll talk of, Clarke.

Clarke. Yonder's your husband. Mosbie, I'll be gone.
(here enters Arden and Franklin.

Alice. In good time; see where my huskand comes,
master Mosbie, ask him the question yourself. Exit clarke

Mosbie. Master Arden, being at London yesternight,
The abbey lands, whereof you are now possessed,
Were offered me on some occasion
By Greene, one of sir antony ager's men:
I pray you, sir, tell me, are not the lands yours?
Hath any other interest herein?

Arden. Mosbie, that question we'll decide anon.
As for the lands, Mosbie, they are mine
By letters patent from his majesty.
But I must have a mandate for my wife;
They say you seek to rob me of her love:
Villain, what makes thou in her company?
She's no companion for so base a groom.

Mosbie. Arden, I thought not on her, I came to thee,
But rather than I pocket up this wrong.

Franklin. What will you do, sir?

Mosbie. Revenge it on the proudest of you both.
(then Arden draws forth Mosbie's sword.

Arden. So, sirrah, you may not wear a sword,
The statute makes against artificers.
I warrant that I do. Now use your bodkin,
Your spanish needle, and your pressing iron,
For this shall go with me; and mark my words,
You goodman butcher, 'tis to you I speak:
The next time that I take thee near my house,
Instead of legs I'll make thee crawl on stumps.

Mosbie. Ah, master Arden, you have injured me:
I do appeal to God and to the world.

Franklin. Why, canst thou deny thou wert a butcher once?

Mosbie. Measure me what I am, not what I was.

Arden. Why, what art thou now but a velvet drudge,
A cheating steward, and base minded peasant.

Mosbie. Arden, now thou hast belched and vomited
The rancorous venom of thy mis-swoll'n heart,
Hear me but speak: as I intend to live
With god and his elected saints in heaven,
I never meant more to solicit her;
And that she knows, and all the worldshall see,
I loved her once; - sweet Arden, pardon me,
I could not choose, her beauty fired my heart!
Forget them, Mosbie: I had cause to speak,
When all the knights and gentlemen of kent
Make common table-talk of her and thee.

Mosbie. Who lives that is not touched with slanderous tongues.

Franklin. Then, Mosbie, to eschew the speech of men,
Upon whose general bruit all honor hangs,
Forbear his house.

Arden. Forbear it! Nay, rather frequent it more.
To warn him on the sudden from my house
Were to confirm the rumor that is grown.

Mosbie. By my faith, sir, you say true,
And therefore will I sojourn here a while,
Until our enemies have talked their fill.
And then, I hope, they'll cease, and at last confess
How causeless they have injured her and me.

Arden. And I will lie at London all this term
To let them see how light I weigh their words. (here enters Alice.

Alice. Husband sit down, your breakfast will be cold.

Arden. Come, master Mosbie, will you sit with us?

Mosbie. I can not eat, but I'll sit for company.

Arden. Sirrah Michael, see our horse be ready.

Alice. Husband, why pause ye? Why eat you not?

Arden. I am not well; there's something in the broth
That is not wholesome: didst thou make it, Alice?

Alice. I did, and that's the cause it likes not you.
(then she throws down the broth on the ground.
There's nothing that I do can please your taste;
You were best to say I would have poisoned you.
I cannot speak or cast aside my eye,
But he imagines I have stepped awry.
Here's he that you cast in my teeth so oft:
Now will I be convinced or purge myself.
I charge thee speak to this mistrustful man,
Thou that wouldst see me hang, thou, Mosbie, thou,
What favor hast thou had more than a kiss
At coming or departing from the town?
Mosb. You wrong yourself and me to cast these doubts,
Your loving husband is not jealous.

Arden. Why, gentle mistress Alice, can not I be ill,
But you'll accuse yourself?
Franklin, thou hast a box of mithridate.
I'll take a little to prevent the worst.

Franklin. Do so, and let us presently take horse;
My life for yours, ye shall do well enough.

Alice. Give me a spoon, I'll eat of it myself;
Would it were full of poison to the brim,
Then should my cares and troubles have an end.

Arden. Be patient, sweet love; I mistrust not thee.

Alice. God will revenge it, Arden, if thou dost;
For never woman loved her husband better than I do thee.

Arden. I know it, sweet Alice; cease to complain,
Lest that in tears I answer thee again.

Franklin. Come, leave this dallying, and let us away.

Alice. Forbear to wound me with that bitter word,
Arden shall go to London in my arms.

Arden. Loath am I to depart, yet I must go.

Alice. Wilt thou to London, then, and leave me here?
Ah, if you love me, gentle Arden, stay.
Yet, if thy business be of great import
Go, if thou silt, I'll bear it as I may;
But write from London to me every week,
Nay, every day, and stay no longer there
Than thou must needs, lest that I die for sorrow.

Arden. I'll write unto thee every other tide,
And so, farewell, sweet Alice, till we meet next.

Alice. Farewell, husband, seeing you'll have it so.
And, master Franklin, seeing you take him hence,
In hope you'll hasten him home, I'll give you this.
(and then she kisseth him.

Franklin. And if he stay, the fault shall not be mine.
Mosbie, farewell, and see you keep your oath.

Mosbie. I hope he is not jealous of me now.

Arden. No, Mosbie, no; hereafter think of me
As of your dearest friend, and so farewell.
Exeunt Arden, Franklin, and Michael.

Alice. I am glad he is gone; he was about to stay,
But did you mark me then how I brake off?

Mosbie. Ay, Alice, and it was cunningly performed.
Never hereafter to solicit thee,
Or, whilst he lives, once more importune thee.

Alice. Thou shalt not need, I will importune thee.
What? Shall an oath make thee forsake my love?
As if I have not sworn as much myself
And given my hand unto him in the church!
Tush, Mosbie; oaths are words, and words is wind,
'tis childishness to stand upon an oath.

Mosbie. Well proved, mistress Alice; yet by your leave,
I'll keep mine unbroken whilst he lives.

Alice. Ay, do, and spare not, his time is but short,
For if thou be'st as resolute as i,
We'll have him murdered as he walks the streets.
In London many alehouse ruffians keep,
Which, as I hear, will murder men for gold.
They shall be soundly fee'd to pay him home. (here enters Greene.

Mosbie. Alice, what's he that comes yonder?
Knowest thou him?

Alice. Mosbie, be gone: I hope 'tis one that comes
To put in practice our intended drifts. (Exit Mosbie.

Greene. Mistress Arden, you are well met.
I am sorry that your husband is from home,
When as my purposed journey was to him:
Yet all my labor is not spent in vain,
For I suppose that you can full discourse
And flat resolve me of the thing I seek.

Alice. What is it, master Greene? If that I may
Or can with safety, I will answer you.

Greene. I heard your husband had the grant of late,
Confirmed by letters patent from the king.
Of all the lands of the abbey of feversham,
Generally intitled, so that all former grants
Are cut off; whereof I myself had one;
But now my interest by that is void.
This is all, mistress Arden; is it true or no?

Alice. True, master Greene; the lands are his in state,
And whatsoever leases were before
Are void for term of master Arden's life;
He hath the grant under the chancery seal.

Greene. Pardon me, mistress Arden, I must speak
For I am touched. Your husband doth me wrong
To wring me from the little land I have.
My living is my life, only that
Resteth remainder of my portion.
Desire of wealth is endless in his mind,
And he is greedy gaping still for gain;
Nor cares he though young gentlemen do beg,
And so, as he shall wish the abbey lands
Had rested still, within their former state.
But seeing he hath taken my lands, I'll value life
As careless, as he is careful for to get,
And tell him this from me, I'll be revenged,
And so, as he shall wish the abbey lands
Had rested still, within their former state.

Alice. Alas, poor gentleman, I pity you,
And woe is me that any man should want,
God knows 'tis not my fault, but wonder not
Though he be hard to others, when to me,
Ah master Greene, god knows how I am used.

Greene. Why, mistress Arden, can the crabbed churl
Use you unkindly, respects he not your birth,
Your honorable friends, nor what you brought?
Why, all kent knows your parentage, and what you are.

Alice. Ah, master Greene, be it spoken in secret here,
I never live good day with him alone:
When he is at home, then have I forward looks,
Hard words and blows, to mend the match withal;
And though I might content as good a man,
Yet doth he keep in every corner trulls,
And weary with his trugs at home,
Then rides he straight to London, there forsooth
He revels it among such filthy ones,
As counsel him to make away his wife;
Thus live I daily in continual fear,
In sorrow, so dispairing of redress
As every day I wish with hearty prayer,
That he or I were taken forth the world.

Greene. Now trust me mistress Alice, it grieveth me,

Greene. Ay, god's my witness, I mean plain dealing,
For I had rather die then lose my land.

Alice. Then master Greene be counselled by me:
Endanger not your self for such a churl,
But hire some cutter for to cut him short,
And here's ten pound, to wager them with all,
When he is dead you shall have twenty more.
And the lands whereof my husband is possess'd,
Shall be intitled as they were before.

Greene. Will you keep promise with me?

Greene. Then here's my hand I'll have him so dispatch'd,
I'll up to London straight, I'll thither post,
And never rest, till I have compass'd it,
Till then farewell.
And whosoever doth attempt the deed,
A happy hand I wish, and so farewell. -
All this goes well: Mosbie, I long for thee
To let thee know all that I have contrived.
(here enters Mosbie and Clarke.

Mosbie. How now, Alice, what's the news?

Alice. Such as will content thee well, sweet heart.

Mosbie. Well, let them pass a while, and tell me Alice,
How have you dealt and tempered with my sister,
What, will she have my neighbor, clarke, or no?

Alice. What, master Mosbie! Let him woo him self.
Think you that maids look not for fair words?
Go to her, clarke; she's all alone within;
Michael my man is clean out of her books.

Clarke. I thank you, mistress Arden, I will in;
And if fair Susan and I can make agree,
You shall command me to the utterMost,
As far as either goods or life may stretch. (Exit Clarke.

Mosbie. Now, Alice, let's hear thy news.

Alice. They be so good that I must laugh for joy,
Before I can begin to tell my tale.

Mosbie. Let's hear them, that I may laugh for company.

Alice. This morning, master Greene, Dick Greene I mean,
From whom my husband had the abbey land,
Came hither, railing, for to know the truth
Whether my husband had the lands by grant.
I told him all, whereat he stormed amain
And swore he would cry quittance with the churl,
And, if he did deny his interest,
Stab him, whatsoever did befall himself.
When as I saw his choler thus to rise,
I whetted on the gentleman with words;
And, to conclude, Mosbie, at last we grew
To composition for my husband's death.
I gave him ten pound to hire knaves,
By some device to make away the churl;
When he is dead, he should have twenty more
On this we 'greed, and he is ridden straight
To London, for to bring his death about.

Mosbie. But call you this good news?

Alice. Ay, sweetheart, be they not?

Mosbie. 'twere cheerful news to hear the churl were dead;
But trust me, Alice, I take it passing ill
You would be so forgetful of our state
To make recount of it to every groom.
What, to acquaint each stranger with our drifts,
Chiefly in case of murder, why, 'tis the way
To make it open unto Arden's self
And bring thyself and me to ruin both.
Forewarned, forearmed; who threats his enemy,
Lends him a sword to guard himself with all.

Alice. I did it for the best.

Mosbie. Well, seeing 'tis done, cheerly let it pass.
You know this Greene; is he not religious?
A man, I guess, of great devotion?

Alice. He is.

Mosbie. Then, sweet Alice, let it pass: I have a drift
Will quiet all, whatever is amiss.
(here enters clarke and Susan.

Alice. How now, clarke? Have you found me false?
Did I not plead the matter hard for you?

Clarke. You did.

Mosbie. And what, wilt be a match?

Clarke. A match, i' faith, sir: ay, the day is mine.
But, so you'll grant me one thing I shall ask,
I am content my sister shall be yours.

Clarke. What is it, master Mosbie?

Mosbie. I do remember once in secret talk
You told me how you could compound by art
A crucifix impoisoned,
That whoso look upon it should wax blind,
And with the scent be stifled, that ere long
He should die poisoned that did view it well.
I would have you make me such a crucifix,
And then I'll grant my sister shall be yours.

Clarke. Though I am loth, because it toucheth life,
Yet, rather or I'll leave sweet Susan's love,
I'll do it, and with all the haste I may.
But for whom is it?

Alice. Leave that to us. Why, clarke, is it possible
The colors being baleful and impoisoned,
And no ways prejudice yourself with all?

Mosbie. Well questioned, Alice.
Clarke, how answer you that?

Clarke. Very easily: I'll tell you straight
How I do work of these impoisoned drugs.
I fasten on my spectacles so close
As nothing can any way offend my sight;
Then, as I put a leaf within my nose,
So put I rhubarb to avoid the smell,
As softly as another work I paint.

Mosbie. 'tis very well; but against when shall I have it?

Clarke. Within this ten days.

Mosbie. 'twill serve the turn.
Now, Alice, let's in and see what cheer you keep.
I hope, now master Arden is from home,
You'll give me leave to play your husband's part.

Alice. Mosbie, you know, who's master of my heart,
He well may be the master of the house. (Exeunt.

(here Enter Greene and Bradshaw.

Bradshaw. See you them that come yonder, master Greene?

Greene. Ay, very well: do you know them?
(here Enter Black Will and Shakebag.

Bradshaw. The one I know not, but he seems a knave
Chiefly for bearing the other company;
For such a slave, so vile a rogue as he,
Lives not again upon the earth.
Black Will is his name. I tell you, master Greene,
At boulogne he and I were fellow soldiers,
Where he played such pranks
As all the camp feared him for his villainy;
I warrant you he bears so bad a mind
That for a crown he'll murder any man.

Greene. The fitter is he for my purpose, marry!

Will. How now, fellow Bradshaw?
Whither away so early?

Bradshaw. O Will, times are changed: no fellows now,
Though we were once together in the field;
Yet thy friend to do thee any good I can.

Will. Why, Bradshaw, was not thou and i
Fellow-soldiers at boulogne,
Where I was a corporal, and thou but a base mercenary
And have a little plate in your shop;
You were glad to call me fellow Will,
And with a curtsey to the earth,
One snatch, good corporal,
When I stole the half ox from john the victualer.
And domineer'd with it amongst good fellows,
In one night.

Bradshaw. Ay, Will, those days are past with me.

Will. Ay, but they be not past with me.
For I keep that same honorable mind still.
Good neighbor Bradshaw, you are too proud to be my fellow,
But were it not that I see more company coming down
I would be fellows with you once more.
And share crowns with you too.
But let that pass, and tell me whither you go.

Bradshaw. To London, Will, about a piece of service,
Wherein happily thou mayst pleasure me.

Will. What is it?

Bradshaw. Of late lord cheney lost some plate,

Bradshaw. A lean faced writhen knave,
Hawk nosed and very hollow eyed,
With mighty furrows in his stormy brows,
Long hair down his shoulders curled;
His chin was bare, but on his upper lip
A mutchado, which he wound about his ear.

Will. What apparel had he?

Bradshaw. A watchet satin doublet all too torn,
The inner side did bear the greater show;
A pair of thread-bare velvet hose, seam rent,
A worsted stocking rent above the shoe,
A livery cloak, but all the lace was off;
'twas bad, but yet it served to hide the plate.

Will. Sirrah Shakebag, canst thou remember
Since we trolled the bowl at sittingburgh
Where I broke the tapster's head of the lion
With a cudgel-stick?

Shakebag. Ay, very well, Will.

Will. Why, it was with the money that the plate was sold for.
Sirrah Bradshow, what wilt thou give him
That can tell thee who sold thy plate?

Bradshaw. Who, I pray thee, good Will?

Will. Why, 'twas one jack fitten.
He's now in newgate for stealing a horse,
And shall be arraigned the next 'size.
For I'll back and tell him who robbed him of his plate.
This cheers my heart; master Greene, I'll leave you,
For I must to the isle of sheppy with speed.

Greene. Before you go, let me intreat you
To carry this letter to mistress Arden of feversham,
And humbly recommend me to her self.

Bradshaw. That will i, master Greene, and so farewell.
Here, Will, there's a crown for thy good news. (Exit Bradshaw.

Will. Farewell, Bradshaw,
I'll drink no water for thy sake whilst this lasts.
Now gentlemen, shall we have your company to London?

Greene. Nay, stay, sirs: a little more I needs must use your help,
And in a matter of great consequence,
Wherein if you'll be secret and profound,
I'll give you twenty angels for your pains.

Will. How? Twenty angels? Give my fellow
George Shakebag and me twenty angels?
And if thou'lt have thy own father slain,
That thou may'st inherit his land, we'll kill him.

Shakebag. Ay, thy mother, thy sister, thy
With mighty furrows in his stormy brows;

Greene. Well, this it is: Arden of feversham
Hath highly wronged me about the abbey land,
That no revenge but death will serve the turn.
Will you two kill him? Here's the angels down,
And I will lay the platform of his death.

Will. Plat me no platforms; give me the money
And I'll stab him as he stands pissing against a wall,
But I'll kill him.

Shakebag. Where is he?

Greene. He is now at London, in aldersgate street.

Shakebag. He's dead as if he had been condemned
By an act of parliament, if once Black Will and i
Swear his death.

Greene. Here is ten pound, and when he is dead,
Ye shall have twenty more.

Will. My fingers itch to be at the peasant.
Ah, that I might be set a work thus through the year
And that murder would grow to an occupation,
That a man might, without danger of law,
Come, let us be going, and we'll bate at rochester,
Where I'll give thee a gallon of sack,
To handsel the match with all. (Exeunt. Here enters Michael.

Michael. I have gotten such a letter,
As will touch the painter: and thus it is...
(here Enter Arden and Franklin and hear Michael read this letter.
'my duty remembered, mistress Susan, hoping in god you be in
Good health, as i, Michael was at the making hereof. This is to
Certify you that as the turtle true, when she hath lost her mate,
Sitteth alone so i, mourning for your absence, do walk up and down
Paul's till one day I fell asleep and lost my master's pantofles.
Ah, mistress Susan, abolish that paltry painter, cut him off by the
Shins with a frowning look of your crabbed countenance, and think
And do ye slack his business for your own?

Arden. Where is the letter, sirrah? Let me see it.
(then he gives him the letter.
See, master Franklin, here's proper stuff:
Susan my maid, the painter, and my man,
A crew of harlots, all in love, forsooth;
Sirrah, let me hear no more of this,
Nor for thy life once write to her a word.
(here Enter Greene, Will, and Shakebag.
Wilt thou be married to so base a trull?
'tis Mosbie's sister: come I once at home,
I'll rouse her from remaining in my house.
Now, master Franklin, let us go walk in paul's,
Come but a turn or two, and then away. (Exeunt.

Greene. The first is Arden, and that's his man.
The other is Franklin, Arden's dearest friend.

Will. Zounds, I'll kill them all three.

Greene. Hay, sirs, touch not his man in any case,
But stand close, and take you fittest standing,
And at his coming forth, speed him:
To the nag's head, there's this coward's haunt.

Shakebag. If he be not paid his own, ne'er trust Shakebag.

Will. Sirrah Shakebag, at his coming forth
I'll run him through, and then to the blackfriars,
And there take water and away.

Shakebag. Why, that's the best; but see thou miss him not.

Will. How can I miss him, when I think on the forty
Angels I must have more? (here enters a prentice.

Prentice. 'tis very late; I were best shut up my stall,
For here will be old filching, when the press comes forth
Of paul's. (then lets down his window, and it breaks Black Will's head.

Will. Zounds, draw, Shakebag, draw, I am almost kill'd.

Prentice. We'll tame you, I warrant.

Will. Zounds, I am tame enough already.
(here Enter Arden, Franklin, and Michael.

Arden. What troublesome fray or mutiny is this?

Franklin. 'tis nothing but some brabling paltry fray,
Devised to pick men's pockets in the throng.

Arden. Is't nothing else? Come Franklin let us away. (Exeunt.

Will. What mends shall I have for my broken head?

Prentice. Marry, this 'mends, that if you get you not away
All the sooner, you shall be well beaten and sent to the counter.
(Exit prentice.

Will. Well, I'll be gone, but look to your signs,
For I'll pull them down all.
Shakebag, my broken head grieves me not so much
As by this means Arden hath escaped. (here enters Greene.
I had a glimpse of him and his companion.

Greene. Why, sirs, Arden's as well as I;
I met him and Franklin going merrily to the ordinary.
What, dare you not do it?

Will. Yes, sir, we dare do it; but, were my consent to give again,
We would not do it under ten pound more.
I value every drop of my blood at a french crown.
I have had ten pounds to steal a dog,
And we have no more here to kill a man;
You should do it your self.

Greene. I pray thee, how came thy head broke?

Will. Why, thou seest it is broke, dost thou not?

Shakebag. Standing against a stall, watching Arden's coming,
Whereupom arose a brawl, and in the tumult
Arden escaped us and passed by unthought on.
But forbearance is no acquittance;
Another time we'll do it, I warrant thee.

Greene. I pray thee, Will, make clean thy bloody brow,
And let us bethink us on some other place
Where Arden may be met with handsomely.
Remember how devoutly thou hast sworn
To kill the villain; think upon thine oath.

Will. Tush, I have broken five hundred oaths!
But wouldst thou charm me to effect this deed,
Tell me of gold, my resolution's fee;
Say thou seest Mosbie kneeling at my knees,
Offering me service for my high attempt,
And sweet Alice Arden, with a lap of crowns,
Comes with a lowly curtsey to the earth,
Saying 'take this but for the quarterage,
Such yearly tribute will I answer thee.'

Shakebag. I cannot paint my valor out with words:
But, give me place and opportunity,
Such mercy as the starven lioness,
When she is dry sucked of her eager young,
Shows to the prey that next encounters her,
On Arden so much pity would I take.

Greene. So should it fare with men of firm resolve.
And now, sirs, seeing that this accident
Of meeting him in paul's hath no success,
Let us bethink us of some other place
Whose earth may swallow up this Arden's blood.
(here enters Michael.
see, yonder comes his man: and wot you what
The foolish knave's in love with Mosbie's sister,
And for her sake, whose love he cannot get
Unless Mosbie solicit his suit,
The villain hath sworn the slaughter of his master.
We'll question him, for he may stead us much.
How now, Michael, whither are you going?
And I am going to prepare his chamber.

Greene. Where supped master Arden?

Michael. At the nag's head, at the eighteen pence ordinary.
How now, master Shakebag, what Black Will!
God's dear lady, how chance your face is so bloddy?

Will. Go to, sirrah, there is a chance in it;
This sauciness in you will make you be knocked.

Michael. Nay, and you be offended, I'll be gone.

Greene. Stay, Michael, you may not 'scape us so.
Michael, I know you love your master well.

Michael. Why, so I do; but wherefore urge you that?

Greene. Because I think you love your mistress better.

Michael. So think not I; but say, i' faith, what if I should?

Shakebag. Come to the purpose, Michael; we hear
You have a pretty love in feversham.

Michael. Why, have I two or three, what's that to thee?

Will. You deal too mildly with the peasant, thus it is:
'tis known to us that you love Mosbie's sister;
We know besides that you have ta'en your oath
To further Mosbie to your mistress' bed,
And kill your master for his sister's sake.
Now, sir, a poorer coward than yourself
Was never fostered in the coast of kent:
How comes it then that such a knave as you
Dare swear a matter of such consequence?

Greene. Ah, Will.

Will. Tush, give me leave, there's no more but this:
Sith thou hast sworn, we dare discover all.
And hadst thou or should'st thou utter it,
We have devised a complat under hand,
What ever shall betide to any of us,
To send thee roundly to the devil of hell.
And therefore thus: I am the very man,
Marked in my birth hour by the destinies,
To give an end to Arden's life on earth;
Thou but a member but to whet the knife
Whose edge must search the closet of his breast.
Thy office is but to appoint the place,
And train thy master to his tragedy;
Mine to perform it when occasion serves.
How and what way we may conclude his death.

Shakebag. So shalt thou purchase Mosbie for thy friend,
And by his friendship gain his sister's love.

Greene. So shall thy mistress be thy favorer,
And thou disburdened of the oath thou made.

Michael. Well, gentlemen, I cannot but confess,
Sith you have urged me so apparently,
That I have vowed my master Arden's death,
And he whose kindly love and liberal hand
Doth challenge nought but food deserts of me,
I will deliver over to your hands.
This night come to his house at aldersgate:
The doors I'll leave unlock'd against you come.
No sooner shall ye Enter through the latch,
Over the threshold to the inner court,
But on your left hand shall you see the stairs
That leads directly to my master's chamber.
There take him and dispose him as ye please.
Now it were good we parted company;
That thus thy gentle life is levelled at?
The many good turns that thou hast done to me.
Now must I quittance with betraying thee.
I that should take the weapon in my hand
And buckler thee from ill intending foes,
Do lead thee with a wicked fraudful smile,
As unsuspected, to the slaughterhouse.
So have I sworn to Mosbie and my mistress,
So have I promised to the slaughtermen;
And should I not deal currently with them,
Their lawless rage would take revenge on me.
Tush, I will spurn at mercy for this once.
Let pity lodge where feeble women lie,
I am resolved, and Arden needs must die. (Exit Michael.
(here enters Arden and Franklin.

Arden. No, Franklin, no: if fear or stormy threats,
If love of me or care of womanhood,
If fear of god or common speech of men,
Who mangle credit with their wounding words,
And couch dishonor as dishonor buds,
Might join repentance in her wanton thoughts,
No question then but she would turn the leaf,
But she is rooted in her wickedness,
Perverse and stubborn, not to be reclaimed;
Good counsel is to her as rain to weeds,
And reprehension makes her vice to grow
As hydra's head that plenish'd by decay.
Her faults, methink, are painted in my face,
For every searching eye to overread;
And Mosbie's name, a scandal unto mine,
Is deeply trenched in my blushing brow.
Ah, Franklin, Franklin, when I think on this,
My heart's grief rends my other powers
Worse than the conflict at the hour of death.

Franklin. Gentle Arden, leave this sad lament:
She will amend, and so your griefs will cease;
Or else she'll die, and so your sorrows end.
If neither of these two do happily fall,
Yet let your comgort be, that others bear
Your woes, twice doubled all, with patience.

Arden. My house is irksome; there I cannot rest.

Franklin. Then stay with me in London; go not home.

Arden. Then that base Mosbie doth usurp my room,
And makes his triumph of my being thence.
At home or not at home, where'er I be.
Here, here it lies, ah Franklin, here it lies
That will not out till wretched Arden dies.
(here enters Michael.

Franklin. Forget your griefs a while; here comes your man.

Arden. What o'clock is't, sirrah?

Michael. Almost ten.

Arden. See, see, how runs away the weary time!
Come, master Franklin, shall we go to bed?
(Exeunt Arden and Michael. Manet Franklin.
Franklin. I pray you, go before: I'll follow you.
-ah, what a hell is fretful jealousy!
What pity-moving words, what deep fetch'd sighs!
What grievous groans and overlading woes
Accompanies this gentle gentleman!
Now will he shake his care oppressed head
Then fix his sad eyes on the sullen earth,
Ashamed to gaze upon the open world;
Now will he cast his eyes up towards the heavens,
Sometimes he seeketh to beguile his grief
And tells a story with his careful tongue;
Then comes his wife's dishonor in his thoughts
And in the middle cutteth off his tale,
Pouring fresh sorrow on his weary limbs.
So woe-begone, so inly charged with woe,
Was never any lived and bare it so.
(here enters Michael.

Michael. My master would desire you come to bed.

Franklin. Is he himself already in his bed?
(Exit Franklin. Manet Michael.

Michael. He is, and fain would have the light away.
Conflicting thoughts, encamped in my breast,
Awake me with the echo of their strokes,
And i, a judge to censure either side,
Can give to neither wished victory.
Staring and grinning in thy gentle face,
And in their ruthless hands their daggers drawn,
Insulting o'er there with a peck of oaths,
Whilst thou submissive, pleading for relief,
Art mangled by their ireful instruments.
Me thinks I hear them ask where Michael is,
And pitiless Black Will cries: 'stab the slave!
The peasant will detect the tragedy!'
The wrinkles in his foul death threat'ning face
Gape open wide, like graves to swallow men.
My death to him is but a merriment,
And he will murder me to make him sport.
He comes, he comes! Ah, master Franklin, help!
Call up the neighbors, or we are but dead!
(here Enter Franklin and Arden.
Fran. What dismal outcry calls me from my rest?

Arden. What hath occasioned such a fearful cry?
speak, Michael: hath any injured thee?

Michael. Nothing, sir; but as I fell asleep,
Upon the threshold leaning to the stairs,
I had a fearful dream that troubled me,
And in my slumber thought I was beset
With murderer thieves that came to rifle me.
My trembling joints witness my inward fear:
I crave your pardons for disturbing you.
What? Are the doors fast locked and all things safe?

Michael. I cannot tell; I think I locked the doors.

Arden. I like not this, but I'll go see myself. -
Ne'er trust me but the doors were all unlocked.
This negligence not half contenteth me.
Get you to bed, and if you love my favor,
Let me have no more such pranks as these.
Come, master Franklin, let us go to bed.

Franklin. Ay, by my faith; the air is very cold. (Exeunt.
Michael, farewell; I pray thee dream no more.
(here Enter Will, Greene, and Shakebag.

Shakebag. Black night hath hid the pleasures of the day,
And sheeting darkness overhangs the earth,
And with the black fold of her cloudy robe
Obscures us from the eyesight of the world,
In which sweet silence such as we triumph.
The lazy minutes linger on their time,
Loth to give due audit to the hour,
Till in the watch our purpose be complete
And Arden sent to everlasting night.
Greene, get you gone, and linger here about,
And at some hour hence come to us again,
Where we will give you instance of his death.

Greene. Speed to my wish, whose will so e'er says no;
And so I'll leave you for an hour or two. (Exit Greene.

Will. I tell thee, Shakebag, would this thery were done,
I am so heavy that I can scarce go;
This drowsiness in me bodes little good.

Shakebag. How now, Will? Become a precisian?
Nay, then let's go sleep, when bugs and fears
Shall kill our courages with their fancy's work.

Will. Why, Shakebag, thou mistakes me much,
And wrongs me too in telling me of fear.
Were't not a serious thing we go about,
It should be slipt till I had fought with thee,
To let thee know I am no coward, I.
I tell thee, Shakebag, thou abusest me.

Shakebag. Why, thy speech bewrayed an inly kind of fear,
And savored of a weak relenting spirit.
And afterwards attempt me when thou darest.

Will. And if I do not, heaven cut me off!
But let that pass, and show me to this have,
Where thou shalt see I'll do as much as Shakebag.

Shakebag. This is the door; but soft, me thinks 'tis shut.
The villain Michael hath deceived us.

Will. Soft, let me see, Shakebag; 'tis shut indeed.
Knock with thy sword, perhaps the slave will hear.

Shakebag. It will not be; the white livered peasant is gone to bed
And laughs us both to scorn.

Will. And he shall 'by his merriment as dear
As ever coistril bought so little sport:
Ne'er let this sword assist me when I need,
But rust and canker after I have sworn,
And trample on it for this villainy.

Shakebag. And let me never draw a sword again,
Nor prosper in the twilight, cockshut light,
When I would fleece the wealthy passenger,
But lie and languish in a loathsome den,
Hated and spit at by the goers-by.
And in that death may die, nnpitied.
If I the next time that I meet the slave,
Cut not the nose from of the coward's face,
And trample on it, for this villainy.

Will. Come, let's go seek out Greene; I know he'll swear.

Shakebag. He were a villain, and he would not swear.
'twould make a peasant swear among his boys,
That ne'er durst say before but 'yea' or 'no',
To be thus flouted by a coistril.

Will. Shakebag, let's seek out Greene, and in the morning
At the alehouse butting Arden's house
Watch the out coming of that prickear'd cur,
And then let me alone to handle him. (Exeunt.
(here Enter Arden, Franklin, and Michael.

Arden. Sirrah, get you back to billingsgate
And learn what time the tide will serve our turn,
Come to us in paul's. First go make the bed,
And afterwards go hearken for the flood. (Exit Michael.
Come, master Franklin, you shall go with me.
This night I dream'd that, being in a park,
A toil was pitched to overthrow the deer,
And I upon a little rising hill
Stood whistly watching for the herd's approach.
Even there, methoughts, a gentle slumber took me,
And summoned all my parts to sweet repose;
But in the pleasure of this golden rest
An ill thewed foster had removed the toil
Which late, methought, was pitched to cast the deer.
With that he blew an evil sounding horn,
And at the noise another herdman came,
With falchion drawn, and bent it at my breast,
Crying aloud, 'thou art the game we seek!'
With this I wak'd and trembled every joint,
Like one obscured in a little bush,
That sees a lion foraging about,
And, when the dreadful forest king is gone,
He pries about with timorous suspect
Throughout the thorny casements of the brake,
And will not think his person dangerless,
But quakes and shivers, though the cause be gone.
So, trust me, Franklin, when I did awake,
I stood in doubt whether I waked or no:
Such great impression took this fond surprise.
God grant this vision bedeem me any good.

Franklin. This fantasy doth rise from Michael's fear,
Who being awaked with the noise he made,
His troubled senses yet could take no rest;
And this, I warrant you, procured your dream.

Arden. It may be so, god frame it to the best:
But often times my dreams presage too true.

Franklin. To such as note their nightly fantasies,
Some one in twenty may incur belief;
But use it not, 'tis but a mockery.

Arden. Come, master Franklin, we'll now walk in paul's
And dine together at the ordinary,
And by my man's direction draw to the key,
And with the tide go down to feversham.
Say, master Franklin, shall it not be so?

Franklin. At your good pleasure sir,
I'll bear you company.
Shakebag at another door.
(here enters Michael at one door. Here Enter Greene, Will, and

Will. Draw, Shakebag, for here's that villain Michael.

Greene. First, Will, let's hear what he can say.

Will. Speak, milksop slave, and never after speak.

Michael. For god's sake, sirs, let me excuse myself.
For here I swear, by heaven and earth and all,
I did perform the utMost of my task,
But see the chance: Franklin and my master
Were very late conferring in the porch,
And Franklin left his napkin where he sat
With certain gold knit in it, as he said.
Being in bed, he did bethink himself,
And coming down he found the doors unshut:
He locked the gates, and brought away the keys,
For which offence my master rated me.
But now I am going to see what flood it is,
For with the tide my master will away;
Where you may front him well on rainham down,
A place well fitting such a stratagem.

Will. Your excuse hath somewhat mollified my choler,

Mosbie. Disturbed thoughts drives me from company,
And dries my marrow with their watchfulness;
Continual trouble of my moody brain
Feebles my body by excess of drink,
And nips me as the bitter northeast wind
Doth check the tender blossoms in the spring.
Well fares the man, howe'er his cates do taste,
That tables not with foul suspicion;
And he but pines amongst his delicates,
Whose troubled mind is stuffed with discontent.
Thought then I wanted, yet I slept secure;
My daily toil begat me night's repose,
But since I climbed the top bough of the tree
And sought to build my nest among the clouds,
Each gentle stirry gale doth shake my bed,
And makes me dread my downfall to the earth.
But whither doth contemplation carry me?
The way I seek to find, where pleasure dwells,
Is hedged behind me that I cannot back,
But needs must on, although to danger's gate.
Then, Arden, perish thou by that decree;
For Greene doth ear the land and weed thee up
To make my harvest nothing but pure corn.
And for his pains I'll hive him up a while,
And after smother him to have his wax:
Such bees as Greene must never live to sting.
Then is there Michael and the painter too,
Chief actors to Arden's overthrow;
They will insult upon me for my meed,
Or fright me by detecting of his end.
I'll none of that, for I can cast a bone
To make these curs pluck out each other's throat,
And then am I sole ruler of mine own.
Yet mistress Arden lives; but she's my self,
And holy church rites makes us two but one.
But what for that? I may not trust you, Alice,
You have supplanted Arden for my sake,
And will extirpen me to plant another.
'tis fearful sleeping in a serpent's bed,
And I will cleanly rid my hands of her.
(here enters Alice.
But here she comes, and I must flatter her.
- how now, Alice? What, sad and passionate?
Make me partaker of thy pensiveness:
Fire divided burns with lesser force.

Alice. But I will dam that fire in my breast
Till by the force thereof my part consume, ah, Mosbie!

Mosbie. Such deep pathaires, like to a cannon's burst
Discharged against a ruinated wall,
Breaks my relenting heart in thousand pieces.
Ungentle Alice, thy sorrow is my sore;
Thou know'st it well, and 'tis thy policy
To forge distressful looks to wound a breast
Where lies a heart that dies when thou art sad.
It is not love that loves to anger love.

Alice. It is not love that loves to murder love.

Mosbie. How mean you that?

Alice. Thou knowest how dearly Arden loved me.

Mosbie. And then?

Alice. And then - conceal the rest, for 'tis too bad,
Lest that my words be carried with the wind,
And published in the world to both our shames.
I pray thee, Mosbie, let our springtime wither;
Our harvest else will yield but loathsome weeds.
Forget, I pray thee, what hath passes betwixt us,
For now I blush and tremble at the thoughts!

Mosbie. What? Are you changed?

Alice. Ay, to my former happy life again,
From title of an odious strumpet's name
To honest Arden's wife, not Arden's honest wife.
And made me slanderous to all my kin;
Even in my forehead is thy name ingraven,
A mean artificer, that low born name.
I was bewitched: woe worth the hapless hour
And all the causes that enchanted me!

Mosbie. Nay, if thou ban, let me breathe curses forth,
And if you stand so nicely at your fame,
Let me repent the credit I have lost.
And thou unhallowed hast enchanted me.
But I will break thy spells and exorcisms,
And put another sight upon these eyes
That showed my heart a raven for a dove.
Thou art not fair, I viewed thee not till now;
Thou art not kind, till now I knew thee not;
And now the rain hath beaten off thy gilt,
Thy worthless copper shows thee counterfeit.
It grieves me not to see how foul thou art,
But mads me that ever I thought thee fair.
Go, get thee gone, a copesmate for thy hinds;
I am too good to be thy favorite.

Alice. Ay, now I see, and too soon find it true,
Which often hath been told me by my friends,
That Mosbie loves me not but for my wealth,
Which, too incredulous, I ne'er believed.
Nay, hear me speak, Mosbie, a word or two;
I'll bite my tongue if it speak bitterly.
Look on me, Mosbie, or I'll kill myself:
Nothing shall hide me from thy stormy look,
If thou cry war, there is no peace for me;
I will do penance for offending thee,
And burn this prayer book, where I here use
The holy word that had converted me.
See, Mosbie, I will tear away the leaves,
And all the leaves, and in this golden cover
Shall thy sweet phrases and thy letters dwell;
And thereon will I chiefly meditate,
And hold no other sect but such devotion.
Wilt thou not look? Is all thy love o'erwhelmed?
Wilt thou not hear? What malice stops thine ears?
Why speaks thou not? What silence ties thy tongue?
Thou hast been sighted as the eagle is,
And heard as quickly as the fearful hare,
When I have bid thee hear or see or speak,
And art thou sensible in none of these?
Weigh all thy good turns with this little fault,
And I deserve not Mosbie's muddy looks.
A font once troubled is not thickened still:
Be clear again, I'll ne'er more trouble thee.

Mosbie. O no, I am a base artificer:
My wings are feathered for a lowly flight.
Mosbie? Fie! No, not for a thousand pound.
Make love to you? Why, 'tis unpardonable;
We beggars must not breathe where gentles are.

Alice. Sweet Mosbie is as gentle as a king,
And I too blind to judge him otherwise.
Flowers do sometimes spring in fallow lands,
Weeds in gArdens, roses grow on thorns;
So, whatsoe'er my Mosbie's father was,
Himself is valued gentle by his worth.

Mosbie. Ah, how you women can insinuate,
And clear a trespass with your sweet set tongue!
I will forget this quarrel, gentle Alice,
Provided I'll be tempted so no more.
(here enters Bradshaw.

Alice. Then with thy lips seal up this new made match.

Mosbie. Soft, Alice, here comes some body.

Alice. How now, Bradshaw, what's the news with you?

Bradshaw. I have little news, but here's a letter
That master Greene importuned me to give you.

Alice. Go in, Bradshaw; call for a cup of beer; (Exit.
'tis almost supper time, thou shalt stay with us.
(then she reads the letter.
"We have missed of our purpose at London but shall perform
It by the way. We thank our neighbor Bradshaw.
Yours, Richard Greene.
How likes my love the tenor of this letter?

Mosbie. Well, were his date completed and expired.

Alice. Ah, would it were!
Then comes my happy hour:
Till then my bliss is mixed with bitter gall.
Come, let us in to shun suspicion.
(here Enter Greene, Will, and Shakebag.

Shakebag. Come, Will, see thy tools be in a readiness!
Is not thy powder dank,
Or will thy flint strike fire?

Will. Then ask me if my nose be on my face,
Than e'er thou handledst pistols in thy life.

Shakebag. Ay, haply thou has picked more in a throng:
But should I brag what booties I have took,
I think the overplus that's more than thine
Would mount to a greater sum of money
Than either thou or all thy kin are worth.
Zounds, I hate them as I hate a toad
That carry a muscado in their tongue,
And scarce a hurting weapon in their hand.

Will. O Greene intolerable!
It is not for mine honor to bear this.
Why, Shakebag, I did serve the king at boulogne
And thou canst brag of nothing that thou hast done.

Shakebag. Why, so can jack of feversham,
That sounded for a fillip on the nose,
When he that gave it him hollowed in his ear,
And he supposed a cannon bullet hit him.
(then they fight.

Greene. I pray you, sirs, list to aesop's talk:
Whilst two stout dogs were striving for a bone,
There comes a cur and stole it from them both;
So, while you stand striving on these terms of manhood,
Arden escapes us, and deceives us all.

Shakebag. Why, he begun.

Will. And thou shalt find I'll end.
I do but slip it until better time.

Greene. Well, take your fittest standings, and once more
Lime well your twigs to catch this wary bird.
I'll leave you, and at your dag's discharge
Make towards like the longing water dog,
That coucheth till the fowling piece be off,
Then seizeth on the prey with eager mood.
Ah, might I see him stretching forth his limbs,
As I have seen them beat their wings ere now!
Shakebag. Why that thou shalt see if he come this way.

Greene. Yes, that he doth, Shakebag, I warrant thee:
But, sirs, be sure to speed him when he comes,
And in that hope I'll leave you for an hour. (Exit Greene.
(here Enter Arden, Franklin, and Michael.

Michael. 'twere best that I went back to rochester:
The horse halts down right; it were not good
He travelled in such pain to feversham;
Removing of a shoe may haply help it.

Arden. Well, get you back to rochester; but sirrah see ye
O'ertake us ere we come to rainham down,
For it will be very late ere we get home.

Michael. Ay, god he knows, and so doth Will end Shakebag
That thou shalt never go further than that down;
And therefore have I pricked the horse on purpose
Because I would not view the massacre. (Exit Michael.

Arden. Come, master Franklin, onwards with your tale.

Franklin. I do assure you, sir, you task me much:
A heavy blood is gathered at my heart,
And on the sudden is my wind so short
As hindereth the passage of my speech;
So fierce a qualm yet ne'er assailed me.

Arden. Come, master Franklin, let us go on softly:
The annoyance of the dust or else some meat
You ate at dinner cannot brook with you.
I have been often so, and soon amended.

Franklin. Do you remember where my tale did leave?

Arden. Ay, where the gentleman did check his wife.

Franklin. She being reprehended for the fact,
Witness produced that took her with the deed,
Her glove brought in which there she left behind,
And many other assured arguments,
Her husband asked her whether it were not so.

Arden. Her answer then? I wonder how she looked,
Having forsworn it with such vehement oaths,
And at the instant so approved upon her.

Franklin. First did she cast her eyes down to the earth,
Watching the drops that fell amain from thence;
Then softly draws she forth her hand kercher,
And modestly she wipes her tear stained face;
And with a majesty addressed her self
To encounter all their accusations. -
Pardon, me, master Arden, I can no more;
This fighting at my heart makes short my wind.
You are a stranger, man, in the isle of sheppy.

Arden. Your honor's always bound, to do you service.

Lord. Come you from London and ne'er a man with you?

Arden. My man's coming after,
But here's my honest friend that came along with me.

Lord. My lord protector's man I take you to be.

Franklin. Ay, my good lord, and highly bound to you.

Lord. You and your friend come home and sup with me.

Arden. I beseech your honor pardon me;
I have made a promise to a gentleman,
My honest friend, to meet him at my house;
The occasion is great, or else would I wait on you.

Lord. Will you come to morrow and dine with me, and bring your honest friend along with you? I have divers matters to talk with you about.

Arden. To morrow we'll wait upon your honor.

Lord. One of you stay my horse at the top of the hill.
- what! Black Will? For whose purse wait you?
Thou wilt be hanged in kent, when all is done.

Will. Not hanged, god save your honor;
I am your bedesman, bound to pray for you.

Lord. I think thou ne'er said'st prayer in all thy life. -
One of you give him a crown: -
And, sirrah, leave this kind of life.
If thou beest tainted for a penny matter,
And come in question, surely thou wilt truss.
- come, master Arden, let us be going;
Your way and mine lies four miles together. (Exeunt.
(manet Black Will and Shakebag.

Will. The devil break all your necks at four miles' end!
Zounds, I could kill myself for very anger!
His lordship chops me in, even when
My dag was levelled at his heart.
I would his crown were molten down his throat.

Shakebag. Arden, thou hast wondrous holy luck.
Well, I'll discharge my pistol at the sky,
For by this bullet Arden might not die.
(here enters Greene.

Greene. What is he down? Is he dispatched?

Shakebag. Ay, in health towards feversham, to shame us all.

Greene. The devil he is! Why, sirs, how escap'd he?

Shakebag. When we were ready to shoot,
Comes my lord cheney to prevent his death.

Greene. The lord of heaven hath preserved him.

Will. Preserved a fig! The lord cheney hath preserved him,
And bids him to a feast to his house at shorlow.
But by the way once more I'll meet with him,
And, if all the cheneys in the world say no,
I'll have a bullet in his breast tomorrow.
Therefore come, Greene, and let us to feversham.

Greene. Ay, and excuse ourselves to mistress Arden:
O, how she'll chafe when she hears of this!

Shakebag. Why, I'll warrant you she'll think we dare not do it.

Will. Why, then let us go, and tell her all the matter.
And plat the news to cut him off to morrow. (Exeunt.
(here Enter Arden and his wife, Franklin, and Michael.

Arden. See how the hours, the gardeant of heaven's gate
Have by their toil removed the darksome clouds,
That sol may well discern the trampled pace
Wherein he wont to guide his golden car;
The season fits; come, Franklin, let's away.

Alice. I thought you did pretend some special hunt,
That made you thus cut short the time of rest.

Arden. It was no chase that made me rise so early,
But, as I told thee yesternight, to go to the isle of sheppey,
To the isle of sheppy, there to dine with my lord cheney,
For so his honor late commanded me.

Alice. Ay, such kind husbands seldom want excuses
Home is a wild cat to a wandering wit.
The time hath been, - would god it were not past, -
That honor's title nor a lord's command
But my deserts or your desires decay,
Or both; yet if true love may seem desert,
I merit still to have thy company.

Franklin. Why, I pray you sir, let her go along with us;
I am sure his honor will welcome her
And us the more for bringing her along.

Arden. Content; sirrah, saddle your mistress' nag.

Alice. No, begged favor merits little thanks.
If I should go, our house would run away,
Or else be stolen. Therefore I'll stay behind.

Arden. Nay, see how mistaking you are,
I pray thee go.

Alice. No no, not now.

Arden. Then let me leave thee satisfied in this,
That time nor place, nor persons alter me,
But that I hold thee dearer than my life.

Alice. That will be seen by your quick return.

Arden. And that shall be ere night, and if I live.
Farewell, sweet Alice, we mind to sup with thee. (Exit Alice.

Franklin. Come, Michael, are our horses ready?

Michael. Ay, your horse are ready, but I am not ready,
For I have lost my purse,
With six and thiry shillings in it,
With taking up of my master's nag.

Franklin. Why, I pray you, let us go before,
Whilst he stays behind to seek his purse.

Arden. Go to, sirrah, see you follow us to the isle of sheppey,
To my lord cheney's, where we mean to dine.
(Exeunt Arden and Franklin. Manet Michael.

Michael. So, fair weather after you,
For before you lies Black Will and Shakebag
In the broom close, too close for you:
They'll be your ferrymen to long home. (here enters the painter.
But who is this, the painter, my corrival,
That would needs win mistress Susan.

Clarke. How now, Michael, how doth my mistress,
And all at home?

Michael. Who, Susan Mosbie? She's your mistress too?

Clarke. Ay, how doth she and all the rest?

Michael. All's well but Susan; she is sick.

Clarke. Sick? Of what disease?

Michael. Of a great fear.

Clarke. A fear of what?

Michael. A great fever.

Clarke. A fever, god forbid!

Michael. Yes, faith, and of a lordaine, too,
As big as your self.

Clarke. O, Michael, the spleen prickles you.
Go to, you carry an eye over mistress Susan.

Michael. I'faith, to keep her from the painter.

Clarke. Why more from a painter than from a serving
Creature like your self?
Of a pretty wench, and spoil her beauty with blotting.

Clarke. What mean you by that?

Michael. Why that you painters, paint lambs in the
Lining of wenches' petticoats,
And we serving men put horns to them to make them become sheep.

Clarke. Such another word will cost you a cuff or a knock.

Michael. What, with a dagger made of a pencil?
Faith, 'tis too weak,
And therefore thou too weak to win Susan.

Clarke. Would Susan's love lay upon this stroke.
(then he breaks Michael's head. Here Enter Mosbie, Greene and Alice.

Alice. I'll lay my life, this is for Susan's love.
Stayed you behind your master to this end?
Have you no other time to brabble in
But now when serious matters are in hand? -
Say, Clarke, hast thou done the thing thou promised?

Clarke. Ay, here it is; the very touch is death.

Alice. Then this, I hope, if all the rest do fail
Will catch master Arden,
And make him wise in death that lived a fool.
Why should he thrust his sickle in our corn,
Or what hath he to do with thee, my love,
Or govern me that am to rule myself?
Forsooth, for credit sake, I must leave thee!
Nay, he must leave to live that we may love,
May live, may love; for what is life but love?
And love shall last as long as life remains,
And life shall end before my love depart.

Mosbie. Why, what's love without true constancy?
Like to a pillar built of many stones,
Yet neither with good mortar well compact
Nor with cement to fasten it in the joints,
But that it shakes with every blast of wind,
And, being touched, straight falls unto the earth,
And buries all his haughty pride in dust.
No, let our love be rocks of adamant,
Which time nor place nor tempest can asunder.

Greene. Mosbie, leave protestations now,
And let us bethink us what we have to do,
Black Will and Shakebag I have placed
Let's to them and see what they have done.
(here enters Arden and Franklin.

Arden. Oh, ferryman, where art thou?

Franklin. Friend, what's thy opinion of this mist?

Ferryman. I think 'tis like to a curst wife in a little house,
That never leaves her husband till she have driven him
Out at doors with a wet pair of eyes,
Then looks he as if his house were a fire,
Or some of his friends dead.

Arden. Speaks thou this of thine own experience?

Ferryman. Perhaps, ay; perhaps, no: for my wife is as other
Women are, that is to say, governed by the moon.

Franklin. By the moon? How, I pray thee?

Ferryman. Nay, thereby lies a bargain,
And you shall not have it fresh and fasting.

Arden. Yes, I pray thee, good ferryman.

Ferryman. Then for this once; let it be midsummer moon,
But yet my wife has another moon.

Franklin. Another moon?

Ferryman. Ay, and it hath influences and eclipses.

Arden. Why, then, by this reckoning you sometimes
Play the man in the moon.

Ferryman. Ay, but you had not best to meddle with that moon
Lest I scratch you by the face, with my bramble bush.

Arden. I am almost stifled with this fog, come let's away.

Franklin. And, sirrah, as we go, let us have some more of your
Bold yeomanry.

Ferryman. Nay, by my troth, sir, but flat knavery. (Exeunt.
(here enters Will at one door, and Shakebag at another.

Shakebag. O, Will, where art thou?

Will. Here, Shakebag, almost in hell's mouth,
Where I cannot see my way for smoke.

Shakebag. I pray thee speak still that we may meet
By the sound, for I shall fall into some ditch or
Other, unless my feet see better than my eyes.

Will. Didst thou ever see better weather to run away
With another man's wife, or play with a wench
At potfinger?

Shakebag. No; this were a fine world for chandlers,
Should never dine nor sup without candle light.
But, sirrah Will, what horses are those that pass'd?

Will. Why, didst thou hear any?

Shakebag. Ay, that I did.

Will. My life for thine, 'twas Arden, and his companions
And then all our labor's lost.

Shakebag. Nay, say not so, for if it be they, they may haply
Lose their way as we have done,
And then we may chance meet with them.

Will. Come, let us go on like a couple of blind pilgrims.
(then Shakebag falls into a ditch.

Shakebag. Help, Will, help, I am almost drowned.
(here enters the ferryman.

Ferryman. Who's that that calls for help?

Will. 'twas none here, 'twas thou thyself.

Ferryman. I came to help him that called for help,
Help. Why, how now? Who is this that's in the ditch?
You are well enough served, to go without a guide,
Such weather as this.

Will. Sirrah, what companies hath passed your ferry this morning?

Ferryman. None but a couple of gentlemen, that went to
Dine at my lord cheney's.

Will. Shakebag, did not I tell thee as much?

Ferryman. Why, sir, will you have any letters carried to them?

Will. No, sir; get you gone.

Ferryman. Did you ever see such a mist as this?

Will. No, nor such a fool as will rather be hought,
Than get his way.

Ferryman. Why, sir, this is no hough monday; you are deceived.
What's his name, I pray you sir?

Shakebag. His name is Black Will.

Ferryman. I hope to see him one day hanged upon a hill. (Exit ferryman.

Shakebag. See how the sun hath cleared the foggy mist,
Now we have missed the mark of our intent.
(here enters Greene, Mosbie, and Alice.

Mosbie. Black Will and Shakebag, what make you here?
What, is the deed done? Is Arden dead?

Will. What could a blinded man perform in arms?
That neither horse nor man could be discerned?
Yet did we hear their horses as they passed.

Greene. Have they escaped you, then, and passed the ferry?

Shakebag. Ay, for a while; but here we two will stay,

Will. Ay, mistress Arden, this will serve the turn,
In case we fall into a second fog.
(Exeunt Greene, Will and Shakebag.

Mosbie. These knaves will never do it, let us give it over.

Alice. First tell me how you like my new device?
Soon, when my husband is returning back,
You and I both marching arm in arm,
Like loving friends, we'll meet him on the way,
And boldly beard and brave him to his teeth.
When words grow hot and blows begin to rise,
I'll call those cutters forth your tenement,
Who, in a manner to take up the fray,
Shall wound my husband hornsby to the death.

Mosbie. A fine device! Why, this deserves a kiss. (Exeunt.
(here enters Dick Reede and a sailor.

Sailor. Faith, Dick Reede, it is to little end.
His conscience is too liberal, and he too niggardly
To part from any thing may do thee good.

Reede. He is coming from shorlow as I understand;
Here I'll intercept him, for at his house
He never will vouchsafe to speak with me.
If prayers and fair entreaties will not serve,
Or make no battery in his flinty breast.
(here enters Franklin, Arden, and Michael.
I'll curse the carle, and see what that will do.
See where he comes to further my intent! -
Master Arden, I am now bound to the sea;
My coming to you was about the plat of ground,
Which wrongfully you detain from me.
Although the rent of it be very small,
Yet it will help my wife and children,
Which here I leave in feversham, god knows,
Needy and bare: for Christ's sake, let them have it!

Arden. Franklin, hearest thou this fellow speak?
Although the rent of it was ever mine.
Sirrah, you that ask these questions,
If with thy clamorous impeaching tongue
Thou rail on me, as I have heard thou dost,
I'll lay thee up so close a twelve month's day,
As thou shalt neither see the sun nor moon.
Look to it, for, as surely as I live,
I'll banish pity if thou use me thus.

Reede. What, wilt thou do me wrong and threat me too?
Nay, then, I'll tempt thee, Arden, do thy worst.
God, I beseech thee, show some miracle
On thee or thine, in plaguing thee for this.
That plot of ground which thou detains from me.
I speak in an agony of spirit,
Be ruinous and fatal unto thee!
Either there be butchered by thy dearest friends,
Or else be brought for men to wonder at,
Or thou or thine miscarry in that place,
Or there run mad and end thy cursed days!

Franklin. Fie, bitter knave, bridle thine envious tongue,
For curses are like arrows shot upright,
Which, falling down, light on the shooter's head.

Reede. Light where they will, were I upon the sea,
As oft I have in many a bitter storm,
And saw a dreadful southern flaw at hand,
The pilot quaking at the doubtful storm,
And all the sailors praying on their knees,
Even in that fearful time would I fall down,
And ask of god, whate'er betide of me,
Vengeance on Arden or some misevent
To show the world what wrong the carle hath done.
This charge I'll leave with my distressful wife.
My children shall be taught such prayers as these;
And thus I go, but leave my curse with thee. (Exeunt Reede and sailor.

Arden. It is the railingest knave in Christendom,
And oftentimes the villain will be mad;
It greatly matters not what he says,
But I assure you I ne'er did him wrong.

Franklin. I think so, master Arden.

Arden. Now that our horses are gone home before,
My wife may haply meet me on the way.
And greatly changed from the old humor
Of her wonted forwardness,
And seeks by fair means to redeem old faults.
(here enters Alice and Mosbie.

Franklin. Why, there's no better creatures in the world
Than women are when they are in good humors.

Arden. Who is that? Mosbie? What, so familiar?
Injurious strumpet, and thou ribald knave,
Untwine those arms.

Alice. Ay, with a sugared kiss let them untwine.

Arden. Ah, Mosbie! Perjured beast! Bear this and all.

Mosbie. And yet no horned beast;
The horns are thine.

Franklin. O monstrous! Nay, then 'tis time to draw.

Alice. Help, help! They murder my husband.
(here enters Will and Shakebag.

Shakebag. Zounds, who injures master Mosbie?
Help, Will, I am hurt.

Mosbie. I may thank you, mistress Arden, for this wound.
(Exeunt Mosbie, Will and Shakebag.

Alice. Ah, Arden, what folly blinded thee?
Ah, jealous harebrain man, what hast thou done;
When we, to welcome thee intending sport,
Came lovingly to meet thee on thy way,
Thou drew'st thy sword, enraged with jealousy,
And hurt thy friend
Whose thoughts were free from harm:
All for a worthless kiss and joining arms,
Both done but merrily to try thy patience.
And me unhappy that devised the jest,
Which, though begun in sport, yet ends in blood!

Franklin. Marry, god, defend me from such a jest.

Alice. Could'st thou not see us friendly smile on thee
When we joined arms, and when I kissed his cheek?
Hast thou not lately found me overkind?
Did'st thou not hear me cry 'they murder thee'?
Called I not help to set my husband free?
No, ears and all were witched; ah me accursed
To link in liking with a frantic man!
Hence forth I'll be thy slave, no more thy wife,
For with that name I never shall content thee.
If sad, thou sayest the sullens trouble me;
If well attired, thou tninks I will be gadding;
If homely, I seem sluttish in thine eye.
Thus am I still, and shall be while I die.
Poor wench abused by thy misgovernment!

Arden. But is it for truth that neither thou nor he,
Intendedst malice in your misdemeanor?

Alice. The heavens can witness of our harmless thoughts.

Arden. Then pardon me, sweet Alice,
And forgive this fault!
Forget but this and never see the like.
Impose me penance, and I will perform it,
For in thy discontent I find a death,
A death tormenting more than death itself.

Alice. Nay, had'st thou loved me as thou dost pretend,
Thou wouldst have marked the speeches of thy friend,
Who going wounded from the place, he said
His skin was pierced only through my device;
And if sad sorrow taint thee for this fault,
Thou would'st have followed him, and seen him dress'd
And cried him mercy whom thou hast misdone:
Ne'er shall my heart be eased till this be done.

Arden. Content thee, sweet Alice, thou shalt have thy will
Whate'er it be, for that I injured thee,
And wronged my friend, shame scourgeth my offence;
Come thou thy self, and go along with with me,
And be a mediator 'twixt us two.

Franklin. Why, master Arden! Know you what you do?
Will you follow him that hath dishonored you?

Alice. Why, canst thou prove I have been disloyal?

Franklin. Why, Mosbie taunted your husband with the horn.

Alice. Ay, after he had reviled him,
By the injurious name of perjured beast:
He knew no wrong could spite a jealous man
More than the hateful naming of the horn.

Franklin. Suppose 'tis true, yet is it dangerous,
To follow him whom he hath lately hurt.

Alice. A fault confessed is more than half amends;
But men of such ill spirit as yourself

Arden. I pray thee, gentle Franklin, hold thy peace:
in killing a man?

Greene. I think we shall never do it;
Let us give it over.

Shakebag. Hay, zounds! We'll kill him,
Though we be hanged at his door for our labor.

Will. Thou knowest, Greene, that I have lived in
London this twelve years,
Where I have made some go upon wooden legs,
For taking the wall on me;
Divers with silver noses for saying
'there goes Black Will.'
2 have cracked as many blades,
As thou hast done nuts.

Greene. O monstrous lie!

Will. Faith, in a manner I have.
The bawdy houses have paid me tribute;
There durst not a whore set up, unless she have agreed
With me first for opening her shop windows.
For a cross word of a tapster,
I have pierced one barrel after another, with my dagger,
And held him by the ears till all his beer hath run out.
In thames street a brewer's cart was like to have run
Over me: I made no more ado, but went to the clerk
And cut all the notches off his tallies
And beat them about his head.
I and my company have taken the constable from his watch,
And carried him about the fields on a coltstaff.
I have broken a sergeant's head with his own mace,
And bailed whom I list with my sword and buckler.
All the temporary alehouses' men would stand every morning,
With a quart pot in his hand,
Saying, 'Will it please your worship drink?
He that had not done so, had been sure to have had his
Sign pulled down and his lattice borne away the next night.
To conclude, what have I not done? Yet cannot do this;
Doubtless he is preserved by miracle.
(here enters Alice and Michael.

Greene. Hence, Will, here comes mistress Arden.

Alice. Ah, gentle Michael, art thou sure they're friends?

Michael. Why, I saw them both when they both shook hands.
And railed on Frankiin that was cause of all.
No sooner came the surgeon in at doors,
But my master took to his purse and gave him money.
And, to conclude, sent me to bring you word
That Mosbie, Franklin, Bradshaw, Adam Fowl,
With divers of his neighbors and his friends,
Will come and sup with you at our house this night.

Alice. Ah, gentle Michael, run thou back again,
And, when my husband walks into the fair,
Bid Mosbie steal from him and come to me;
And this night shall thou and Susan be made sure.

Michael. I'll go tell him.

Alice. And as thou goest, tell john cook of our guests,
And bid him lay it on, spare for no cost. (Exit Michael.

Will. Nay, and there be such cheer, we will bid ourselves.
Mistress Arden, Dick Greene and I do mean to sup with you.

Alice. And welcome shall you be. Ah, gentlemen,
How missed you of your purpose yesternight?

Greene. 'twas 'long of Shakebag, that unlucky villain.

Shakebag. Thou dost me wrong; I did as much as any.

Will. Nay then, mistress Alice, I'll tell you how it was:
When he should have locked with both his hilts,
He in a bravery flourished o'er his head;
With that comes Franklin at him lustily,
And hurts the slave; with that he slinks away.
Now his way had been to have come hand and feet,
One and two round, at his costard.
He like a fool bears his sword point half a yard out
Of danger. I lie here for my life
If the devil come, and he have no more strength than fence
He shall never beat me from this ward,
I'll stand to it; a buckler in a skilful hand
Is as good as a castle;
Nay, 'tis better than a sconce, for I have tried it.
Mosbie perceiving this, began to faint.
With that comes Arden with his arming sword,
And thrust him through the shoulder in a trice.

Alice. Ay, but I wonder why you both stood still.
Sweet Mosbie, hide thy arm, it kills my heart.

Mosbie. Ay, mistress Arden, this is your favor.

Alice. Ah say not so for when I saw thee hurt,
I could have took the weapon thou let'st fall,
And run at Arden; for I have sworn
That these mine eyes, offended with his sight,
Shall never close till Arden's be shut up.
This night I rose and walked about the chamber,
And twice or thrice I thought to have murdered him.

Mosbie. What, in the night? Then had we been undone.

Alice. Why, how long shall he live?

Mosbie. Faith, Alice, no longer than this night. -
Black Will and Shakebag, Will you two
Perform the complot that I have laid?

Will. Ay, or else think me a villain.

Greene. And rather than you shall want,
I'll help my self.

Mosbie. You, master Greene, shall single Franklin forth,
And hold him with a long tale of strange news,
That he may not come home till suppertime.
I'll fetch master Arden home, and we like friends
Will play a game or two at tables here.

Alice. But what of all this?
How shall he be slain?

Mosbie. Why, Black Will and Shakebag lock'd within the countinghouse
Shall at a certain watchword given rush forth.

Will. What shall the watchword be?

Mosbie. 'now I take you'; that shall be the word.
But come not forth before in any case.

Will. I warrant you. But who shall lock me in?

Alice. That will I do; thou'lt keep the key thy self.

Mosbie. Come, master Greene, go you along with me.
See all things ready, Alice, against we come.

Alice. Take no care for that; send you him home.
(Exeunt Mosbie and Greene.
And if he e'er go forth again, blame me.
Come, Black Will, that in mine eyes art fair;
Next unto Mosbie do I honor thee;
Instead of fair words and large promises
My hands shall play you golden harmony:

Will. Ay, and that bravely, too, mark my device.
Place Mosbie, being a stranger, in a chair,
And let your husband sit upon a stool,
That I may come behind him cunningly,
And with a towel pull him to the ground,
Then stab him till his flesh be as a sieve;
That done, bear him behind the abbey,
That those that find him murdered may suppose
Some slave or other killed him for his gold.

Alice. A fine device! You shall have twenty pouhd,
And, when he is dead, you shall have forty more,
And, lest you might be suspected staying here,
Michael shall saddle you two lusty geldings;
Ride whither you will, to scotland, or to wales,
I'll see you shall not lack, where'er you be.

Will. Such words would make one kill a thousand men.
Give me the key; which is the countinghouse?

Alice. Here would I stay and still encourage you;
But that I know how resolute you are.

Shakebag. Tush, you are too faint hearted; we must do it.

Alice. But Mosbie will be there, whose very looks
Will add unwonted courage to my thought,
And make me the first that shall adventure on him.

Will. Tush, get you gone; 'tis we must do the deed.
When this door opens next, look for his death.

Alice. Ah, would he now were here that it might open.
I shall no more be closed in Arden's arms,
That like the snakes of black tisiphone
Sting me with their embracings. Mosbie's arms
Shall compass me, and, were I made a star,
I would have none other spheres but those.
There is no nectar but in Mosbie's lips.
Had chaste diana kissed him, she like me
Would grow love sick, and from her watery bower
Fling down endymion and snatch him up:
Then blame not me that slay a silly man
Not half so lovely as endymion.
(here enters Michael.

Michael. Mistress, my master is coming hard by.

Michael. That's brave. I'll go fetch the tables.

Alice. But, Michael, hark to me a word or two:
When my husband is come in, lock the street door;
He shall be murdered, ere the guests come in. (Exit Michael.
(here enters Arden and Mosbie.
Husband, what mean you to bring Mosbie home?
Although I wished you to be reconciled,
'twas more for fear of you than love of him.
Black Will and Greene are his companions,
And they are cutters, and may cut you short:
Therefore I thought it good to make you friends.
But wherefore do you bring him hither now?
You have given me my supper with his sight.

Mosbie. Master Arden, me thinks your wife would have me gone.

Arden. No, good master Mosbie; women will be prating.
Alice, bid him welcome; he and I are friends.

Alice. You may enforce me to it, if you will;
But I had rather die than bid him welcome.
His company hath purchased me ill friends,
And therefore will I ne'er frequent it more.

Mosbie. - oh, how cunningly she can dissemble.

Arden. Now he is here, you will not serve me so.

Alice. I pray you be not angry or displeased;
I'll bid him welcome, seeing you'll have it so.
You are welcome, master Mosbie; will you sit down?

Mosbie. I know I am welcome to your loving husband;
But for your self you speak not from your heart.

Alice. And if I do not, sir, think I have cause.

Mosbie. Pardon me, master Arden; I'll away.

Arden. No, good master Mosbie.

Alice. We shall have guests enough, though you go home.

Mosbie. I pray you, master Arden, let me go.

Arden. I pray thee, Mosbie, let her prate her fill.

Alice. The doors are open, sir, you may be gone.

Michael. - nay, that's a lie, for I have locked the doors.

Arden. Sirrah, fetch me a cup of wine,
I'll make them friends.
And, gentle mistress Alice, seeing you are so stout,

Alice. I pray you meddle with that you have to do.

Arden. Why, Alice! How can I do too much for him
Whose life I have endangered without cause?

Alice. 'tis true; and, seeing 'twas partly through my meands,
I am content to drink to him for this once.
Here master Mosbie, and I pray you henceforth,
Be you as strange to me, as I to you
Your company hath pruchased me ill friends.
And I for you god knows, have undeserved
Been ill spoken of in every place.
Therefore henceforth frequent my house no more.

Mosbie. I'll see your husband in despite of you,
Yet, Arden, I protest to thee by heaven,
Thou ne'er shalt see me more after this night.
I'll go to rome rather than be forsworn.

Arden. Tush, I'll have no such vows made in my house.

Alice. Yes, I pray you, husband, let him swear;
And, on that condition, Mosbie, pledge me here.

Mosbie. Ay, as willingly as I mean to live.

Arden. Come, Alice, is our supper ready yet?

Alice. It will by then you have played a game at tables.

Arden. Come, master Mosbie, what shall we play for?

Mosbie. Three games for a french crown, sir,
And please you.

Arden. Content.
(then they play at the tables.

Will. Can he not take him yet? What a spite is that?

Alice. Not yet, Will; take heed he see thee not.

Will. I fear he will spy me as I am coming.

Mosbie. One ace, or else I lose the game.

Arden. Marry, sir, there's two for failing.

Mosbie. Ah, master Arden, 'now I can take you.'
(then Will pulls him down with a towel.

Arden. Mosbie, Michael, Alice, what will you do?

Will. Nothing but take you up, sir, nothing else.

Mosbie. There's for the pressing iron you told me of.

Shakebag. And there's for the ten pound in my sleeve.
Take this for hindering Mosbie's love and mine. (she stabs him)

Michael. O, mistress!
Mosbie, farewell, and Michael, farewell too. (Exeunt. Enter Susan.

Susan. Mistress, the guests are at the doors.
Hearken, they knock: what, shall I let them in?

Alice. Mosbie, go thou, and bear them company. (Exit Mosbie.
And, susan, fetch water and wash away this blood.

Susan. The blood cleaveth to the ground and will not out.

Alice. But with my nails I'll scrape away the blood.
The more I strive, the more the blood appears!

Susan. What's the reason, mistress, can you tell?

Alice. Because I blush not at my husband's death. (here enters Mosbie.

Mosbie. How now? What's the matter? Is all well?

Alice. Ay, well, if Arden were alive again.
In vain we strive, for here his blood remains.

Mosbie. Why, strew rushes on it, can you not?
This wench does nothing: fall unto the work.

Alice. 'twas thou that made me murder him.

Mosbie. What of that?

Alice. Nay, nothing, Mosbie, so it be not known.

Mosbie. Keep thou it close, and 'tis impossible.

Alice. Ah, but I can not, was he not slain by me? my husband's death torments me at the heart.

Mosbie. It shall not long torment thee, gentle Alice;
I am thy husband, think no more of him.
(here enters Adam Fowl and Bradshaw.

Bradshaw. How now, mistress Arden? What ails you, you weep?

Mosbie. Because her husband is abroad so late.
A couple of ruffians threatened him yesternight,
And she, poor soul, is afraid he should be hurt.

Adam. Is't nothing else? Tush, he'll be here anon.
(here enters Greene.

Greene. Now, mistress Arden, lack you any guests?

Alice. Ah, master Greene, did you see my husband lately?

Greene. I saw him walking behind the abbey even now.

Alice. I do not like this being out so late. -
Master Franklin, where did you leave my husband?

Franklin. Believe me I saw him not since morning.
Fear you not, he'll come anon; meantime
You may do well to bid his guests sit down.

Alice. Ay, so they shall; master Bradshaw, sit you there;
I pray you be content, I'll have my will.
Master Mosbie, sit you in my husband's seat.

Michael. - susan, shall thou and I wait on them?
Or, and thou sayest the word, let us sit down too.

Susan. - peace, we have other matters now in hand.
I fear me, Michael, all will be bewrayed.

Michael. Tush, so it be known that I shall marry thee in the
I can not though I be hanged ere night.
But to prevent the worst, I'll buy some rats bane.

Susan. - why, Michael, wilt thou poison thyself?

Michael. No, but my mistress, for I fear she'll tell.

Susan. Tush, Michael; fear not her, she's wise enough.

Mosbie. Sirrah Michael, give's a cup of beer. -
Mistress Arden, here's to your husband.

Alice. My husband?

Franklin. What ails you woman, to cry so suddenly?

Alice. Ah, neighbors, a sudden qualm came over my heart
My husband being forth torments my mind.
I know something's amiss, he is not well;
Or else I should have heard of him ere now.

Mosbie. - she will undo us through her foolishness.

Greene. Fear not, mistress Arden, he's well enough.

Alice. Tell not me; I know he is not well:
He was not wont for to stay thus late.
Good master Franklin, go and seek him forth,
And if you find him send him home to me,
And tell him what a fear he hath put me in.

Franklin. - I like not this; I pray god all be well.
I'll seek him out, and find him if I can.
(Exeunt Franklin, Mosbie, and Greene.

Alice. Michael, how shall I do to rid the rest away?

Michael. - leave that to my charge, let me alone.
'tis very late, master Bradshaw,
And you have many narrow lanes to pass.

Bradshaw. Faith, friend Michael, and thou sayest true,
Therefore I pray thee light's forth and lend's a link.
(Exeunt Bradshaw, Adam, and Michael.

Alice. Michael, bring them to the doors, but do not stay,
You know I do not love to be alone.
(here enters Mosbie and Greene.

Mosbie. How now, Alice, whither will you bear him?

Alice. Sweet Mosbie, art thou come?
Then weep that will:
I have my wish in that I joy thy sight.

Greene. Well it 'hooves us to be circumspect.

Mosbie. Ay, for Franklin thinks that we have murdered him.

Alice. Ay, but he cannot prove it for his life.
We'll spend this night in dalliance and in sport.
(here enters Michael.

Michael. O mistress, the Mayor and all the watch
Are coming towards our house with glaives and bills.

Alice. Make the door fast; let them not come in.

Mosbie. Tell me, sweet Alice, how shall I escape?

Alice. Out at the back door, over the pile of wood,
And for one night lie at the flower-de-luce.

Mosbie. That is the next way to betray my self.

Greene. Alas, mistress Arden, the watch will take me here,
And cause suspicion, where else would be none.

Alice. Why, take that way that master Mosbie doth,
But first convey the body to the fields.
(then they bear the body into the fields.

Mosbie. Until to morrow, sweet Alice, now farewell:
And see you confess nothing in any case.

Greene. Be resolute, mistress Arden, betray us not,
But cleave to us as we will stick to you.
(Exeunt Mosbie and Greene.

Alice. Now, let the judge and juries do their worst:
My house is clear, and now I fear them not.

Susan. As we went, it snowed all the way,
Which makes me fear our footsteps will be spied.

Alice. Peace, fool, the snow will cover them again.

Susan. But it had done before we came back again.

Alice. Hark, hark, they knock!
Go Michael, let them in.
(here enters the Mayor and the watch.
How now, Master Mayor, have you brought my husband home?

Mayor. I saw him come into your house an hour ago.

Alice. You are deceived; it was a londoner.

Mayor. Mistress Arden know you not one
That is called Black Will?

Alice. I know none such: what mean these questions?

Mayor. I have the council's warrant to apprehend him.

Alice. I am glad it is no worse.
Why, master Mayor, think you I harbor any such?

Mayor. We are informed that here he is;
And therefore pardon us, for we must search.

Alice. Ay, search, and spare you not, through every room,
Were my husband at home, you would not offer this.
(here enters Franklin.
Master Franklin, what mean you come so sad?

Franklin. Arden, thy husband and my friend, is slain.

Alice. Ah, by whom? Master Franklin, can you tell?

Franklin. I know not; but behind the abbey
There he lies murdered in Most piteous case.

Mayor. But, master Franklin, are you sure 'tis he?

Franklin. I am too sure; would god I were deceived.

Alice. Find out the murderers, let them be known.

Franklin. Ay, so they shall: come you along with us.

Alice. Wherefore?

Franklin. Know you this hand-towel and this knife?

Susan. - ah, Michael, through this thy negligence
Thou hast betrayed and undone us all.

Michael. - I was so afraid I knew not what I did:
I thought I had thrown them both into the well.

Alice. It is the pig's blood we had to supper.
But wherefore stay you? Find out the murderers.

Mayor. I fear me you'll prove one of them yourself.

Alice. I one of them? What mean such questions?

Franklin. I fear me he was murdered in this house
And carried to the fields; for from that place
The print of many feet within the snow.
And look about this chamber where we are,
And you shall find part of his guiltless blood;
For in his slipshoe did I find some rushes,
Which argueth he was murdered in this room.

Mayor. Look in the place where he was wont to sit.
See, see! His blood! It is too manifest.

Alice. It is a cup of wine that Michael shed.
And seek for Mosbie, and apprehend him too.
(Exeunt. Here enters Shakebag solus.

Shakebag. The widow chambly in her husband's days I kept
And now he's dead, she is grown so stout
She will not know her old companions.
I came thither, thinking to have had
Harbor as I was wont,
And she was ready to thrust me out at doors,
But whether she would or no, I got me up,
And as she followed me, I spurned her down the stairs,
And broke her neck, and cut her tapster's throat,
And now I am going to fling them in the thames.
I have the gold; what care I though it be known!
I'll cross the water and take sanctuary.
(Exit Shakebag. Here Enter the Mayor, Mosbie, Alice, Franklin, Michael and susan.

Mayor. See, mistress Arden, where your husband lies;
Confess this foul fault and be penitent.

Alice. Arden, sweet husband, what shall I say?
The more I sound his name, the more he bleeds;
This blood condemns me, and in gushing forth
Speaks as it falls and asks me why I did it.
Forgive me, Arden: I repent me now,
And, would my death save thine, thou shouldst not die.
Rise up, sweet Arden, and enjoy thy love,
And frown not on me when we meet in heaven:
In heaven I'll love thee, though on earth I did not.

Mayor. Say, Mosbie, what made thee murder him?

Franklin. Study not for an answer; look not down:
His purse and girdle found at thy bed's head
Witness sufficiently thou didst the deed;

Mosbie. I hired Black Will and Shakebag, ruffians both,
And they and I have done this murderous deed.
But wherefore stay we?
Come and bear me hence.
Rank. Those ruffians shall not escape;
I will up to London. And get the councilhs warrant
To apprehend them. (Exeunt. Here enters Will.

Will. Shakebag, I hear, hath taken sanctuary,
But I am so pursued with hues and cries
For petty robberies that I have done,
That I can come unto no sanctuary.
Therefore must I in some oyster boat
At last be fain to go a board some hoy,
And so to flushing. There is no staying here.
At sittingburgh the watch was like to take me,
And had not I with my buckler covered my head,
And run full blank at all adventures,
I am sure I had ne'er gone further than that place,
For the constable had twenty warrants to apprehend me,
Besides that, I robbed him and his man once at gadshill.
Farewell, england, I'll to flushing now. (Exit Will.
(here Enter the Mayor, Mosbie, Alice, Michael, Susan, and Bradshaw.

Mayor. Come, make haste and bring away the prisoners.

Bradshaw. Mistress Arden, you are now going to god,
And I am by the law condemned to die
About a letter I brought from master Greene.
I pray you, mistress Arden, speak the truth:
Was I ever privy to your intent or no.

Alice. What should I say?
You brought me such a letter,
But I dare swear thou knewest not the contents.
Leave now to trouble me with worldly things,
And let me meditate upon my saviour Christ,
Whose blood must save me for the blood I shed.

Mosbie. How long shall I live in this hell of grief?
Convey me from the presence of that strumpet.

Alice. Ah but for thee I had never been strumpet.
What cannot oaths and protestations do,
When men have opportunity to woo?
But now I find it and repent too late.

Susan. Ah, gentle brother, wherefore should I die?
I knew not of it till the deed was done.

Mosbie. For thee I mourn more than for myself;
But let it suffice, I cannot save thee now.

Michael. And if your brother and my mistress

Mosbie. Fie upon women! This shall be my song;
But bear me hence, for I have lived too long.

Susan. Seeing no hope on earth, in heaven is my hope.

Michael. Faith, I care not, seeing I die with susan.

Bradshaw. My blood be on his head that gave the sentence.

Mayor. To speedy execution with them all! (Exeunt.
(here enters Franklin.

Franklin. Thus have you seen the truth of Arden's death.
As for the ruffians, Shakebag and Black Will,
The one took sanctuary, and, being sent for out,
Was murdered in southwark as he passed
To greenwich, where the lord protector lay.
Black Will was burned in flushing on a stage;
Greene was hanged at osbridge in kent;
The painter fled and how he died we know not.
But this above the rest is to be noted:
Arden lay murdered in that plot of ground
Which he by force and violence held from Reede;
And in the grass his body's print was seen
Two years and more after the deed was done.
Gentlemen, we hope you'll pardon this naked tragedy,
Wherein no filed points are foisted in
To make it gracious to the ear or eye;
For simple truth is gracious enough,
And needs no other points of glosing stuff.
finis.
======================================================

A Yorkshire Tragedy
by Thomas Middleton
6,500 words
(ca. 1606, pub. 1608)
[Dramatis Personae (in order of appearance)
OLIVER }
RALPH } servingmen of a house in Yorkshire
SAM }
A Boy
The WIFE
The HUSBAND
Four GENTLEMEN
A SERVANT
The MASTER of a College
The SON
A MAID
A LUSTY SERVANT
KNIGHT, a magistrate
Officers]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acts and Scenes
i. A house in Yorkshire
ii. Outside the Husband's house, near Yorkshire
iii. The Husband's house, a room above
iv. The Husband's house
v. The Husband's house, the room above
vi. The Husband's house, the room below
vii. The Husband's house, the room above
viii. A road just outside Yorkshire
ix. The Knight's house
x. Outside the Husband's house
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[i. A house in Yorkshire]
Enter Oliver and Ralph, two servingmen.
OLIVER
Sirrah Ralph, my young mistress is in such a pitiful, passionate humour for the long absence of her love.
RALPH
Why, can you blame her? Why, apples hanging longer on the tree then when they are ripe [make] so many fallings. Viz, mad wenches, because they are not gathered in time, are fain to drop of themselves, and then 'tis common, you know, for every man to take 'em up.
OLIVER
Mass, thou sayest true, 'tis common indeed. But, sirrah, is neither our young master returned, nor our fellow Sam come from London?
RALPH
Neither of either, as the puritan bawd says. [Noise within] 'Slid, I hear
Sam; Sam's come, [here's] tarry. Come, i'faith, now my nose itches for news.
OLIVER
And so does mine elbow.
SAM
[Calls within] Where are you there?
[Enter Sam and a Boy.]
Boy, look you walk my horse with discretion; I have rid him simply. I warrant his skin sticks to his back with very heat; if 'a should catch cold and get the cough of the lungs, I were well served, were I not?
[ Exit Boy.]
What, Ralph and Oliver!
AMBO
Honest fellow Sam, welcome, i'faith! What tricks hast thou brought from
London?
[Sam is] furnished with things from London [which he now presents].
SAM
You see I am hang'd after the truest fashion: three hats, and two glasses bobbling upon 'em, two rebato wires upon my breast, a cap-case by my side, a brush at my back, an almanac in my pocket, and three ballads in my codpiece.
Nay, I am the true picture of a common servingman.
OLIVER
I'll swear thou art. Thou mayest set up when thou wilt. There's many a one begins with less, I can tell thee, that proves a rich man ere he dies. But what's the news from London, Sam?
RALPH
Ay, that's well fed. What's the news from London, sirrah? My young mistress keeps such a puling for her love.
SAM
Why? The more fool she, ay, the more ninnyhammer she.
OLIVER
Why, Sam, why?
SAM
Why, he's married to another long ago.
AMBO
I'faith, ye jest.
SAM
Why, did you not know that till now? Why, he's married, beats his wife, and has two or three children by her: for you must note that any woman bears the more when she is beaten.
RALPH
Ay, that's true, for she bears the blows.
OLIVER
Sirrah Sam, I would not for two years' wages my young mistress knew so much.
She'd run upon the left hand of her wit, and ne'er be her own woman again.
SAM
And I think she was blest in her cradle, that he never came in her bed. Why, he has consumed all, pawned his lands, and made his university brother stand in wax for him. There's a fine phrase for a scrivener. Puh, he owes more than his skin's worth.
OLIVER
Is't possible?
SAM
Nay, I'll tell you moreover he calls his wife whore as familiarly as one would call [Moll and Doll], and his children bastards as naturally as can be. But what have we here? [Pulls out two poking-sticks] I thought 'twas somewhat pulled down my breeches: I quite forget my two poting-sticks. These came from London; now anything is good here that came from London.
OLIVER
Ay, farfetched, you know.
SAM
But speak in your conscience, i'faith: have not we as good poting-sticks i' th' country as need to be put i' th' fire? The mind of a thing is all, the mind of a thing is all. And as thou saidst e'en now, farfetched is the best thing for ladies.
OLIVER
Ay, and for waiting gentlewomen, too.
SAM
But Ralph, what, is our beer [sour] this thunder?
OLIVER
No, no, it holds countenance yet.
SAM
Why then, follow me. I'll teach you the finest humour to be drunk it; I learn'd it at London last week.
AMBO
Ay, faith, let's hear it, let's hear it.
SAM
The bravest humour, 'twould do a man good to be drunk in't. They call it knighting in London, when they drink upon their knees.
AMBO
Faith, that's excellent!
[SAM]
Come, follow me. I'll give you all the degrees on't in order.
Exeunt.
[ii. Outside the Husband's house, near Yorkshire]
Enter Wife.
WIFE
What will become of us? All will away.
My husband never ceases in expense,
Both to consume his credit and his house.
And 'tis set down by Heaven's just decree,
That riot's child must needs be beggary.
Are these the virtues that his youth did promise:
Dice, and voluptuous meetings, midnight revels,
Taking his bed with surfeits, ill-beseeming
The ancient honour of his house and name?
And this not all: but that which kills me most,
When he recounts his losses and false fortunes,
The weakness of his state so much dejected,
Not as a man repentant, but half mad.
His fortunes cannot answer his expense.
He sits and sullenly locks up his arms,
Forgetting Heaven looks downward, which makes him
Appear so dreadful, that he frights my heart;
Walks heavily, as if his soul were on earth,
Not penitent for those his sins are past,
But vex'd his money cannot make them last:
A fearful melancholy, ungodly sorrow.
Oh, yonder he comes; now in despite of ills,
I'll speak to him, and I will hear him speak,
And do my best to drive it from his heart.
Enter Husband.
HUSBAND
Pox o' th' last throw, it made
Five hundred angels vanish from my sight!
I'm damn'd, I'm damn'd: the angels have forsook me!
Nay, 'tis certainly true, for he that has no coin
Is damn'd in this world: he's gone, he's gone.
WIFE
Dear husband.
HUSBAND
Oh, most punishment of all, I have a wife!
WIFE
I do entreat you as you love your soul,
Tell me the cause of this your discontent.
HUSBAND
A vengeance strip thee naked, thou art cause,
Effect, quality, property, thou, thou, thou!
Exit Husband.
WIFE
Bad turn'd to worse? Both beggary of the soul,
As of the body; and so much unlike
Himself at first, as if some vexed spirit
Had got his form upon him.
Enter Husband.
[Aside] He comes again.
He says I am the cause: I never yet
Spoke less than words of duty and of love.
HUSBAND
[Aside] If marriage be honourable, then cuckolds are honourable, for they cannot be made without marriage. Fool! What meant I to marry to get beggars?
Now must my eldest son be a knave or nothing. He cannot live [upon the soil], for he will have no land to maintain him: that mortgage sits like a snaffle upon mine inheritance, and makes me chew upon iron. My second son must be a promoter, and my third a thief, or an underputter, a slave pander.
Oh beggary, beggary, to what base uses does thou put a man!
I think the devil scorns to be a bawd:
He bears himself more proudly, has more care on's credit.
Base, slavish, abject, filthy poverty!
WIFE
Good sir, by all our vows I do beseech you,
Show me the true cause of your discontent.
HUSBAND
Money, money, money, and thou must supply me!
WIFE
Alas, I am the [least] cause of your discontent;
Yet what is mine, either in rings or jewels,
Use to your own desire. But I beseech you,
As y'are a gentleman by many bloods,
Though I myself be out of your respect,
Think on the state of these three lovely boys
You have been father to.
HUSBAND
Puh! Bastards, bastards,
Bastards, begot in tricks, begot in tricks!
WIFE
Heaven knows how those words wrong me! But I may
Endure these griefs among a thousand more.
Oh, call to mind your lands already [mortgaged],
Yourself wound into debts, your hopeful brother
At the university in bonds for you,
Like to be [seiz'd] upon. And--
HUSBAND
Ha' done, thou harlot,
Whom though for fashion sake I married,
I never could abide? Thinkst thou thy words
Shall kill my pleasures? Fall off to thy friends,
Thou and thy bastards beg: I will not bate
A whit in humour.--Midnight, still I love you
And revel in your company. Curb'd in,
Shall it be said in all societies
That I broke custom, that I flagg'd in money?
No, those thy jewels I will play as freely
As when my state was fullest.
WIFE
Be it so.
HUSBAND
Nay, I protest, and take that for an earnest!
Spurns her.
I will forever hold thee in contempt,
And never touch the sheets that cover thee;
But be divorc'd in bed till thou consent
Thy dowry shall be sold to give new life
Unto those pleasures which I most affect.
WIFE
Sir, do but turn a gentle eye on me,
And what the law shall give me leave to do
You shall command.
HUSBAND
Look it be done.
Holding his hands in his pockets.
Shall I want dust and like a slave
Wear nothing in my pockets but my hands
To fill them up with nails?
Oh, much against my blood! Let it be done;
I was never made to be a looker on.
A bawd to dice? I'll shake the drabs myself
And make 'em yield. I say, look it be done!
WIFE
I take my leave; it shall.
HUSBAND
Speedily, speedily!
Exit Wife.
I hate the very hour I chose a wife, a trouble, trouble, three children like three evils hang upon me! Fie, fie, fie, strumpet and bastards, strumpet and bastards!
Enter three Gentlemen hearing him.
FIRST GENTLEMAN
Still do those loathsome thoughts jar on your tongue,
Yourself to stain the honour of your wife,
Nobly descended. Those whom men call mad
Endanger others, but he's more than mad
That wounds himself, whose own words do proclaim
Scandals unjust, to foil his better name:
It is not fit. I pray, forsake it.
SECOND GENTLEMAN
Good sir, let modesty reprove you.
THIRD GENTLEMAN
Let honest kindness sway so much with you.
HUSBAND
God-den, I thank you, sir. How do you? Adieu. I'm glad to see you. Farewell.
Exit Gentlemen.
Instructions! Admonitions!
Enter Servant.
How now, sirrah, what would you?
SERVANT
Only to certify to you, sir, that my mistress was met by the way, by these who were sent for her to London by her honourable uncle, your worship's late guardian.
HUSBAND
So, sir, then she is gone and so may you be.
But let her look that the thing be done she wots of,
Or Hell will stand more pleasant than her house at home.
[ Exit Servant.] Enter a [Fourth] Gentleman.
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Well or ill met, I care not.
HUSBAND
No, nor I.
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
I am come with confidence to chide you.
HUSBAND
Who, me? Chide me? Do't finely, then: let it not move me, for if thou chid'st me, angry I shall strike.
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Strike thine own [follies], for it is they
Deserve to be well beaten. We are now in private;
There's none but thou and I. Thou'rt fond and peevish,
An unclean rioter, thy lands and credit
Lie now both sick of a consumption.
I am sorry for thee: that man spends with shame
That with his riches does consume his name,
And such art thou.
HUSBAND
Peace!
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
No, thou shalt hear me further.
Thy father's and forefathers' worthy honours,
Which were our [country's] monuments, our grace,
Follies in thee begin now to deface.
The springtime of thy youth did fairly promise
Such a most fruitful summer to thy friends,
It scarce can Enter into men's beliefs
Such dearth should hang on thee. We that see it
Are sorry to believe it. In thy change
This voice into all places will be hurl'd:
Thou and the devil [have] deceived the world.
HUSBAND
I'll not endure thee!
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
But of all the worst:
Thy virtuous wife, right honourably allied,
Thou hast proclaimed a strumpet.
HUSBAND
Nay, then, I know thee:
Thou art her champion, thou, her private friend,
The party you wot on.
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Oh, ignoble thought!
I am past my patient blood. Shall I stand idle
And see my reputation touch'd to death?
HUSBAND
'T'as gall'd you this, has it?
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
No, monster, I will prove
My thoughts did only tend to virtuous love.
[HUSBAND]
Love of her virtues? There it goes!
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Base spirit,
To lay thy hate upon the fruitful honour
Of thine own bed!
They [draw their swords and] fight, and the Husband's hurt.
HUSBAND
Oh!
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Woult thou yield it yet?
HUSBAND
Sir, sir, I have not done with you.
GENTLEMAN
I hope, nor ne'er shall do.
Fight again.
HUSBAND
Have you got tricks?
Are you in cunning with me?
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
No, plain and right.
He needs no cunning that for truth doth fight.
Husband [is wounded and] falls down.
HUSBAND
Hard fortune, am I leveled with the ground?
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Now, sir, you lie at mercy.
HUSBAND
Ay, you slave!
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Alas, that hate should bring us to our grave!
You see my sword's not thirsty for your life.
I am sorrier for your wound than yourself.
Y'are of a virtuous house: show virtuous deeds;
'Tis not your honour, 'tis your folly bleeds.
Much good has been expected in your life:
Cancel not all men's hopes. You have a wife
Kind and obedient: heap not wrongful shame
On her, your posterity. Let only sin be sore,
And by this fall, rise never to fall more.
And so I leave you.
Exit Gentleman.
HUSBAND
Has the dog left me then
After his tooth hath left me? Oh, my heart
Would fain leap after him; revenge, I say!
I'm mad to be reveng'd! My strumpet wife,
It is thy quarrel that rips thus my flesh,
And makes my breast spit blood! But thou shalt bleed.
Vanquish'd? Got down? Unable e'en to speak?
Surely 'tis want of money makes men weak.
Ay, 'twas that o'erthrew me; I'd ne'er been down else.
Exit.
[iii. The Husband's house, a room above]
Enter Wife in a riding suit with a Servingman.
SERVANT
Faith, mistress, if it might not be presumption
In me to tell you so, for his excuse,
You had small reason, knowing his abuse.
WIFE
I grant I had, but alas,
Why should our faults at home be spread abroad?
'Tis grief enough within doors. At first sight
Mine uncle could run o'er his prodigal life
As perfectly as if his serious eye
Had numbered all his follies,
Knew of his mortgag'd lands, his friends in bonds,
Himself withered with debts; and in that minute
Had I added his usage and unkindness,
'Twould have confounded every thought of good:
Where now, fathering his riots [on] his youth,
Which time and tame experience will shake off,
Guessing his kindness to me--as I smoothed him
With all the skill I had, though his deserts
Are in form uglier than an unshap'd bear--
He's ready to prefer him to some office
And place at court, a good and sure relief
To all his stooping fortunes; 'twill be a means, I hope,
To make new league between us, and redeem
His virtues with his lands.
SERVANT
I should think so, mistress. If he should not now be kind to you and love you, and cherish you up, I should think the devil himself kept open house in him.
WIFE
I doubt not but he will now. Prithee, leave me; I think I hear him coming.
SERVANT
I am gone.
Exit.
WIFE
By this good means I shall preserve my lands,
And free my husband out of usurers' hands:
Now there is no need of sale. My uncle's kind;
I hope, if aught, this will content his mind.
Here comes my husband.
Enter Husband.
HUSBAND
Now, are you come? Where's the money, let's see the money. Is the rubbish sold, those wiseacres, your lands? Why, when! The money, where is't? Pour't down, down with it, down with it! I say, pour't o' th' ground; let's see't, let's see't!
WIFE
Good sir, keep but in patience, and I hope
My words shall like you well. I bring you better
Comfort than the sale of my dowry.
HUSBAND
Hah? What's that?
WIFE
Pray, do not fright me, sir, but vouchsafe me hearing. My uncle, glad of your kindness to me and mild usage--
For so I made it to him--has in pity
Of your declining fortunes, provided
A place for you at court of worth and credit,
Which so much overjoyed me.
HUSBAND
Out on thee, filth!
Over and overjoyed, when I'm in torments?
Spurns her.
Thou politic whore, subtler than nine devils, was this thy journey to
[nuncle], to set down the history of me, of my state and fortunes? Shall I that dedicated myself to pleasure be now confin'd in service to crouch and stand like an old man i' th' hams, my hat off, I that never could abide to uncover my head i' th' church, base slut? This fruit bears thy complaints!
WIFE
Oh, Heaven knows
That my complaints were praises, and best words
Of you, and your estate: only my friends
Knew of your mortgag'd lands, and were possess'd
Of every accident before I came.
If thou suspect it but a plot in me
To keep my dowry, or for mine own good
Or my poor children's--though it suits a mother
To show a natural care in their reliefs,
Yet I'll forget myself to calm your blood--
Consume it, as your pleasure counsels you;
And all I wish, e'en clemency affords,
Give me but comely looks and modest words.
HUSBAND
Money, whore, money, or I'll--
[The Husband draws his dagger.] Enter a servant very hastily. [The Husband speaks] to his man.
What the devil? How now? Thy hasty news?
Servant in a fear.
SERVANT
May it please you, sir.
HUSBAND
What? May I not look upon my dagger? Speak, villain, or I will execute the point on thee: quick, short!
SERVANT
Why, sir, a gentleman from the university stays below to speak with you.
HUSBAND
From the university? So, university:
That long word runs through me.
Exeunt [Husband and Servant]. Wife alone.
WIFE
Was ever wife so wretchedly beset?
Had not this news stepp'd in between, the point
Had offered violence to my breast.
That which some women call great misery
Would show but little here, would scarce be seen
Amongst my miseries. I may compare
For wretched fortunes with all wives that are;
Nothing will please him, until all be nothing.
He calls it slavery to be prefer'd;
A place of credit, a base servitude.
What shall become of me, and my poor children,
Two here, and one at nurse, my pretty beggars?
I see how ruin with a palsy hand
Begins to shake the ancient [feet] to dust;
The heavy weight of sorrow draws my lids
Over my dankish eyes, I can scarce see.
Thus grief will last; it wakes and sleeps with me.
[iv. The Husband's house]
Enter the Husband with the Master of the College.
HUSBAND
Pray you draw near, sir, y'are exceeding welcome.
MASTER
That's my doubt, I fear; I come not to be welcome.
HUSBAND
Yes, howsoever.
MASTER
'Tis not my fashion, sir, to dwell in long circumstance, but to be plain and effectual, therefore to the purpose. The cause of my setting forth was piteous and lamentable. That hopeful young gentleman, your brother, whose virtues we all love dearly through your default and unnatural negligence, lies in bond executed for your debt, a prisoner, all his studies amazed, his hope strook dead, and the pride of his youth muffled in these dark clouds of oppression.
HUSBAND
Hum, um, um.
MASTER
Oh, you have killed the towardest hope of all our university! Wherefore without repentance and amends, expect [ponderous] and sudden judgments to fall grievously upon you. Your brother, a man who profited in his divine employments, might have made ten thousand souls fit for Heaven, now by your careless courses cast in prison which you must answer for; and assure your spirit it will come home at length.
HUSBAND
Oh, God, oh.
MASTER
Wifmen think ill of you, others speak ill of you, no man loves you; nay, even those whom honesty condemns, condemn you. And take this from the virtuous affection I bear your brother, never look for prosperous hour, good thought, quiet sleeps, contented walks, nor anything that makes man perfect till you redeem him. What is your answer? How will you bestow him? Upon desperate misery, or better hopes? I suffer till I hear your answer.
HUSBAND
Sir, you have much wrought with me. I feel you in my soul; you are your arts' master. I never had sense till now; your syllables have cleft me. Both for your words and pains I thank you: I cannot but acknowledge grievous wrongs done to my brother, mighty, mighty, mighty wrongs. Within there?
Enter a Servingman.
[SERVANT]
Sir.
HUSBAND
Fill me a bowl of wine.
Exit Servant for wine.
Alas, poor brother,
Bruis'd with an execution for my sake!
MASTER
A bruise indeed makes many a mortal
Sore till the grave cure 'em.
Enter [Servant] with wine.
HUSBAND
Sir, I begin to you; y'have chid your welcome.
MASTER
I could have wish'd it better for your sake.
I pledge you, sir, to the kind man in prison.
HUSBAND
Let it be so.
Drink both.
Now, sir, if you please to spend but a few minutes in a walk about my grounds below, my man shall attend you. I doubt not but by that time to be furnish'd of a sufficient answer, and therein my brother fully satisfied.
MASTER
Good sir, in that the angels would be pleas'd, and the world's murmurs calm'd, and I should say I set forth then upon a lucky day.
Exit Master [with Servant].
HUSBAND
Oh thou confused man, thy pleasant sins have undone thee, thy damnation has beggar'd thee! That Heaven should say we must not sin, and yet made women, gives our senses way to find pleasure, which being found, confounds us. Why should we know those things so much misuse us? Oh, would virtue had been forbidden, we should then have proved all virtuous, for 'tis our blood to love what we are forbidden! Had not drunkenness been forbidden, what man would have been fool to a beast, and zany to a swine to show tricks in the mire? What is there in three dice to make a man draw thrice three thousand acres into the compass of a round little table, and with the gentleman's palsy in the hand, shake out his posterity? Thieves or beggars; 'tis done, I ha' done't, i'faith! Terrible, horrible misery! How well was I left, very well, very well! My lands showed like a full moon about me, but now the moon's i' th' last quarter, waning, waning. And I am mad to think that moon was mine: mine and my father's, and my forefathers', generations, generations. Down goes the house of us, down, down, it sinks. Now is the name a beggar, begs in me that name which hundreds of years has made this shire famous: in me, and my posterity runs out. In my seed five are made miserable besides myself. My riot is now my brother's jailer, my wife's sighing, my three boys' penury, and mine own confusion.
Tears his hair.
Why sit my hairs upon my cursed head?
Will not this poison scatter them? Oh, my brother's
In execution among devils
That stretch him and make him give. And I in want,
Not able for to live, nor to redeem him.
Divines and dying men may talk of Hell,
But in my heart her several torments dwell.
Slavery and misery! Who in this case
Would not take up money upon his soul,
Pawn his salvation, live at interest?
I that did ever in abundance dwell,
For me to want, exceeds the throes of Hell!
Enters his little Son with a top and a scourge.
SON
What ails you, father? Are you not well? I cannot scourge my top as long as you stand so: you take up all the room with your wide legs. Puh, you cannot make me afear'd with this; I fear no vizards, nor bugbears.
Husband takes up the child by the skirts of his long coat in one hand and draws his dagger with th' other.
HUSBAND
Up, sir, for here thou hast no inheritance left!
SON
Oh, what will you do, father? I am your white boy.
HUSBAND
Thou shalt be my red boy; take that!
Strikes him.
SON
Oh, you hurt me, father!
HUSBAND
My eldest beggar, thou shalt not live to ask an usurer bread, to cry at a great man's gate, or follow "Good your honour!" by a coach; no, nor your brother. 'Tis charity to brain you.
SON
How shall I learn now my head's broke?
[The Husband] stabs him.
HUSBAND
Bleed, bleed, rather than beg, beg;
Be not thy name's disgrace.
Spurn thou thy fortunes first if they be base.
Come view thy second brother. Fates,
My children's blood shall spin into your faces!
You shall see
How confidently we scorn beggary!
Exit with his Son.
[v. The Husband's house, the room above]
Enter a Maid with a child in her arms, the mother [Wife] by her asleep.
MAID
Sleep, sweet babe: sorrow makes thy mother sleep.
It bodes small good when [Heaven] falls so deep.
Hush, pretty boy, thy hopes might have been better;
'Tis lost at dice what ancient honours won,
Hard when the father plays away the son;
Nothing but misery serves in this house.
Ruin and desolation, oh!
Enter Husband with the boy bleeding.
HUSBAND
Whore, give me that boy!
Strives with her for the child.
MAID
Oh, help, help! Out, alas! Murder, murder!
HUSBAND
Are you gossiping, prating, sturdy quean?
I'll break your clamour with your neck downstairs:
Tumble, tumble, headlong!
Throws her down.
So, the surest way to charm a woman's tongue
Is break her neck: a politician did it.
SON
Mother, mother, I am kill'd, mother!
[The Wife] wakes.
WIFE
Ha, who's that cried? Oh me, my children!
Both, both, both bloody, bloody!
Catches up the youngest.
HUSBAND
Strumpet, let go the boy, let go the beggar!
WIFE
Oh, my sweet husband!
HUSBAND
Filth, harlot!
WIFE
Oh, what will you do, dear husband?
HUSBAND
Give me the bastard!
WIFE
Your own sweet boy!
HUSBAND
There are too many beggars!
WIFE
Good my husband--
HUSBAND
Dost thou prevent me still?
Stabs at the child in her arms.
WIFE
Oh God!
HUSBAND
Have at his heart!
WIFE
Oh, my dear boy!
[The Husband] gets it from her.
HUSBAND
Brat, thou shalt not live to shame thy house!
WIFE
Oh Heaven!
She's hurt and sinks down.
HUSBAND
And perish now, be gone!
There's whores enow, and want would make thee one!
Enter a Lusty Servant.
LUSTY SERVANT
Oh, sir, what deeds are these?
HUSBAND
Base slave, my vassal,
Comest thou between my fury to question me?
LUSTY SERVANT
Were you the devil, I would hold you, sir.
HUSBAND
Hold me? Presumption, I'll undo thee for't!
LUSTY SERVANT
'Sblood, you have undone us all, sir.
HUSBAND
Tug at thy master?
LUSTY SERVANT
Tug at a monster!
HUSBAND
Have I no power? Shall my slave fetter me?
[The Husband wrestles with the Servant.]
LUSTY SERVANT
Nay then, the devil wrastles! I am thrown!
HUSBAND
Oh, villain, now I'll tug thee, now I'll tear thee!
Overcomes him [and kicks him with his spurs].
Set quick spurs to my vassal, bruise him, trample him!
So, I think thou wilt not follow me in haste.
My horse stands ready saddled; away, away!
Now to my brat at nurse, my sucking beggar:
Fates, I'll not leave you one to trample on!
[vi. The Husband's house, the room below]
[The Husband enters and] the Master meets him.
MASTER
How is't with you, sir?
Methinks you look of a distracted colour.
HUSBAND
Who, I, sir? 'Tis but your fancy.
Please you walk in, sir, and I'll soon resolve you.
I want one small part to make up the sum,
And then my brother shall rest satisfied.
MASTER
I shall be glad to see it, sir. I'll attend you.
Exeunt.
[vii. The Husband's house, the room above]
LUSTY SERVANT
Oh, I am scarce able to heave up myself:
H'as so bruis'd me with his devilish weight,
And torn my flesh with his blood-hasty spur.
A man before of easy constitution
Till now, Hell's power supplied to his soul's wrong.
Oh, how damnation can make weak men strong!
Enter Master and two Servants.
Oh, the most piteous deed, sir, since you came!
MASTER
A deadly greeting! Has he summ'd up this
To satisfy his brother? Here's another:
And by the bleeding infants, the dead mother!
WIFE
Oh, oh!
MASTER
Surgeons, surgeons! She recovers life!
One of his men all faint and bloodied!
LUSTY SERVANT
Follow; our murderous master has took horse
To kill his child at nurse! Oh, follow quickly!
MASTER
I am the readiest; it shall be my charge
To raise the town upon him!
LUSTY SERVANT
Good sir, do follow him.
Exeunt Master and Servants.
WIFE
Oh, my children!
LUSTY SERVANT
How is it with my most afflicted mistress?
WIFE
Why do I now recover? Why half live?
To see my children bleed before mine eyes,
A sight able to kill a mother's breast
Without an executioner! What, art thou mangled, too?
LUSTY SERVANT
I, thinking to prevent what his quick mischiefs had so soon acted, came and rush'd upon him.
We struggled, but a fouler strength than his
O'erthrew me with his arms; then did he bruise me
And rent my flesh, and robb'd me of my hair
Like a man mad in execution,
Made me unfit to rise and follow him.
WIFE
What is it has beguil'd him of all grace
And stole away humanity from his breast,
To slay his children, purpos'd to kill his wife,
And spoil his servants?
Enter two Servants.
AMBO
Please you, leave this most accursed place;
A surgeon waits within.
WIFE
Willing to leave it.
'Tis guilty of sweet blood, innocent blood.
Murder has took this chamber with full hands,
And will ne'er out as long as the house stands.
Exeunt.
[viii. A road just outside Yorkshire]
Enter Husband as being thrown off his horse, and falls.
HUSBAND
Oh, stumbling jade, the spavin overtake thee, the fifty diseases stop thee!
Oh, I am sorely bruis'd! Plague founder thee!
Thou runn'st at ease and pleasure, heart, of chance
To throw me now with a flight o' th' town,
In such plain even ground! 'Sfoot, a man may dice upon't, and throw away the meadows, filthy beast!
CRY WITHIN
Follow, follow, follow!
HUSBAND
Ha? I hear sounds of men, like hew and cry.
Up, up, and struggle to thy horse! Make on!
Dispatch that little beggar and all's done!
[CRY WITHIN]
Here, this way, this way!
HUSBAND
At my back? Oh,
What fate have I! My limbs deny me go.
My will is bated; beggary claims a part.
Oh, could I here reach to the infant's heart!
Enter Master of the College, three Gentlemen, and others with halberds.
[They] find him.
ALL
Here, here, yonder, yonder!
MASTER
Unnatural, flinty, more than barbarous:
The Scythians in their marble-hearted fates
Could not have acted more remorseless deeds
In their relentless natures than these of thine!
Was this the answer I long waited on,
The satisfaction of thy prisoned brother?
HUSBAND
Why, he can have no more on's than our skins,
And some of 'em want but fleaing.
FIRST GENTLEMAN
Great sins have made him impudent.
MASTER
H'as shed so much blood that he cannot blush.
SECOND GENTLEMAN
Away with him; bear him along to the justice!
A gentleman of worship dwells at hand;
There shall his deeds be blaz'd.
HUSBAND
Why, all the better.
My glory 'tis to have my action known.
I grieve for nothing, but I miss'd of one.
MASTER
There's little of a father in that grief.
Bear him away.
Exeunt.
[ix. The Knight's house]
Enters a Knight with two or three Gentlemen.
KNIGHT
Endangered so his wife? Murdered his children?
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
So the cry comes.
KNIGHT
I am sorry I e'er knew him,
That ever he took life and natural being
From such an honoured stock and fair descent
Till this black minute without stain or blemish.
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Here come the men.
Enter the Master of the College and the rest, with the [Husband] prisoner.
KNIGHT
The serpent of his house?
I'm sorry for this time that I am in place of justice.
MASTER
Please you, sir.
KNIGHT
Do not repeat it twice: I know too much.
Would it had ne'er been thought on.
Sir, I bleed for you.
FOURTH GENTLEMAN
Your father's sorrows are alive in men:
What made you show such monstrous cruelty?
HUSBAND
In a word, sir,
I have consum'd all, play'd away Longacre,
And I thought it the charitablest deed I could do
To cozen beggary, and knock my house o' th' head.
KNIGHT
Oh, in a cooler blood you will repent it!
HUSBAND
I repent now, that one's left unkill'd,
My brat at nurse. Oh, I would full fain have wean'd him!
KNIGHT
Well, I do not think but in tomorrow's judgment
The terror will sit closer to your soul
When the dread thought of death remembers you;
To further which, take this sad voice from me:
Never was act play'd more unnaturally.
HUSBAND
I thank you, sir.
KNIGHT
Go, lead him to the jail,
Where justice claims all; there must pity fail.
HUSBAND
Come, come, away with me.
Exit [the Husband as] prisoner.
MASTER
Sir, you deserve the worship of your place;
Would all did so: in you the law is grace.
KNIGHT
It is my wish it should be so. Ruinous man,
The desolation of his house, the blot
Upon his predecessors' honour'd name:
That man is nearest shame that is past shame.
[ Exeunt.]
[x. Outside the Husband's house]
Enter Husband with the officers, the Master and Gentlemen as going by his house.
HUSBAND
I am right against my house, seat of my ancestors.
I hear my wife's alive, but much endangered:
Let me entreat to speak with her before
The prison gripe me.
Enter his Wife brought in a chair.
[FIRST] GENTLEMAN
See, here she comes of herself.
WIFE
Oh, my sweet husband, my dear distressed husband,
Now in the hands of unrelenting laws,
My greatest sorrow, my extremest bleeding,
Now my soul bleeds!
HUSBAND
How now? Kind to me? Did I not wound thee, left thee for dead?
WIFE
Tut, far greater wounds did my breast feel:
Unkindness strikes a deeper wound than steel.
You have been still unkind to me.
HUSBAND
Faith, and so I think I have.
I did my murthers roughly out of hand,
Desperate and sudden, but thou hast devis'd
A fine way now to kill me; thou hast given mine eyes
Seven wounds a piece. Now glides the devil from
Me, departs at every joint, heaves up my nails!
Oh, catch him! New torments that were [ne'er] invented!
Bind him one thousand more, you blessed angels,
In that pit bottomless! Let him not rise
To make men act unnatural tragedies,
To spread into a father, and in fury,
Make him his children's executioners,
Murder his wife, his servants, and who not!
For that man's dark where Heaven is quite forgot.
WIFE
Oh, my repentant husband!
HUSBAND
My dear soul, whom I too much have wrong'd,
For death I die, and for this have I long'd.
WIFE
Thou shouldst not--be assured--for these faults die,
If the law could forgive as soon as I.
Children laid out.
HUSBAND
What sight is yonder?
WIFE
Oh, our two bleeding boys laid forth upon the threshold!
HUSBAND
Here's weight enough to make a heartstring crack!
Oh, were it lawful that your pretty souls
Might look from Heaven into your father's eyes,
Then should you see the penitent glasses melt,
And both your murthers shoot upon my cheeks!
But you are playing in the angels' laps,
And will not look on me,
Who, void of grace, kill'd you in beggary.
Oh, that I might my wishes now attain,
I should then wish you living were again,
Though I did beg with you, which thing I fear'd!
Oh, 'twas the enemy my eyes so blear'd!
Oh, would you could pray Heaven me to forgive
That will unto my end repentant live!
WIFE
It makes me e'en forget all other sorrows
And leaven part with this. Come, will you go?
HUSBAND
I'll kiss the blood I spilt and then I go:
My soul is bloodied, well may my lips be so.
[He kisses the children.]
Farewell, dear wife, now thou and I must part;
I of thy wrongs repent me with my heart.
WIFE
Oh, stay, thou shalt not go!
HUSBAND
That's but in vain; you must see it so.
Farewell, ye bloody ashes of my boys;
My punishments are their eternal joys.
Let every father look into my deeds,
And then their heirs may prosper while mine bleeds.
WIFE
More wretched am I now in this distress
Than former sorrows made me.
Exeunt Husband [and Officers guarding him] with halberds.
MASTER
Oh kind wife, be comforted!
One joy is yet unmurdered:
You have a boy at nurse: your joy's in him.
WIFE
Dearer than all is my poor husband's life.
Heaven give my body strength, which yet is faint
With much expense of blood, and I will kneel,
Sue for his life, number up all my friends
To plead for pardon my dear husband's life.
MASTER
Was it in man to wound so kind a creature?
I'll ever praise a woman for thy sake.
I must return with grief, my answer's set.
I shall bring news weighs heavier than the debt:
Two brothers, one in bond lies overthrown,
This on a deadlier execution.
Finis.



Reported cases, in chronological order:


D. S. A true report... of an horrible murther doen by J. Kynnestar. (1573). STC 21485.

Anon., A briefe discourse of two most cruell and bloudie murthers, committed bothe in Worcestershire, and bothe happening vnhappily in the yeare 1583 (1583), STC 25980.

Anon., The araignment, examination, and judgement of A. Cosbye, who murdered the Lord Burke (1591). STC 5813.

Anon., The manner of the death and exectuion of A. Cosbie (1591). STC 5814.

Anon., Sundrye strange and inhumaine murthers (1591), STC 18286.5.

Anon., Two notorious murders (1595). STC 19289.

T.I., A world of wonders. A masse of murthers. A couie of cosonages. (1595), STC 14068.5.

Anon., A most horrible & detestable murther committed by a bloudie minded man vpon his owne wife by [by Ralph Meaphon] (1595), STC 17748.

Anon., The examination, confession, and condemnation of Henry Robson (1598), STC 21131.

Anon., A true discourse of a cruell fact committed by a gentlewoman (A. De Boyse) towardes her husband (1599). STC 3469.

Anon., The manner of the murther of W. Storre, M.A. (Oxford, 1603). STC 2329.

Anon., Two most unnaturall murthers (1605). STC 18288.

Anon., The horrible murther of a young boy (1606). STC 6366-7.

Anon., The most cruell and bloody murther committed by Annis Dell (1606). STC 6366-7.

George Closse, The parricide papist, or Cut-throate Catholicke (1606), STC 5441.

Anon., A true report of the horrible murther, which was committed in the house of Sir Ierome Bowes, Knight, on the 20. day of February, anno Dom. 1606 [by Joan Wilson]. (1607), STC 3434.

Anon., A true report of the most execrable murder committed vpon the late French King Henrie the 4. of famous memory (1610), STC 13147.7.

Anon., Three bloodie murders (1613). STC 12630.

Anon., Lamentable News, deliverance of Maister E. Pet (1613). STC 19792.

Anon., Deeds against nature, and monsters by kinde (1614), STC 809.

Anon., The bloody downfall of adultery. murder, ambition (1615), STC 18919.3.

Anon., The lieutenant of the Tower his speech and repentance, at the time of his death, who was executed vpon Tower-hill, on the 20 day of Nouember 1615. (1615), STC 7626.

Anon., A horrible murder, committed... upon Edward Hall (1614). STC 12630.T. Platte, Anne Wallens lamentation for the murthering of her husband (1616). STC 19997.

Anon., A pittilesse mother named Margaret Vincent (1616). STC 24757.

Anon., True recitall of the confession of the two murderers, John de Paris, and Iohn de la Vigne (1616), STC 19208.5.

Anon., A True relation of the ground, occasion, and circumstances of that horrible murther committed by Iohn Bartram, gent. vpon the body of Sir Iohn Tyndham of Lincolns Inne, knight, one of the masters of the honorable Court of Chancery, the twelfth day of this instant Nouemb. (1616), STC 14054.5.Anon., The arraignment of John Selman...executed neere Charing-Crosse (1612). STC 22183.

Anon., Newes from Perin in Cornwall: of a most bloody and vn-exampled murther (1618), STC 19614.

David Williams of Ruthin, A warning for all murderers (1620), STC 25088.

Thomas Cooper, The cry and reuenge of blood (1620), STC 5698.

John Taylor, The vnnaturall father, or, The cruell murther committed by [one] Iohn Rowse of the towne of Ewell, ten m[iles] from London, in the county of Surry, vpon two of his owne children (1621), STC 23808a

C.W., The Crying Murther: containing the cruell butchery of Mr. Trat (1624). STC 24900.

Nathaniel Tyndale, The Penitent sonnes teares for his murdered mother (1624), STC 24435.5.

Anon., The unnatural wife: or the... Murther of one goodman Davis (1628). STC 6366-7.

Anon., Murder upon murder, committed by Thomas Sherwood (1635). STC 22432.

Henry Goodcole, The adultresses funerall day in flaming, scorching, and consuming fire, or, The burning downe to ashes of Alice Clarke, late of Vxbridge in the county of Middlesex, in West-smith-field on Wensday the 20 of May, 1635 for the unnaturall poisoning of Fortune Clarke her husband (1635), STC 12009.

[plus dozens more, see EEBO online]


Compendium:

John Reynolds, merchant, The triumphs of Gods revenege [sic] against the... sinne of murther, 3 vols. (1622). STC 20942-46 (cf. reprints).


Another true-crime play (like Arden of Feversham and A Yorkshire Tragedy):

Anon., A warning for fair women,... tragicall murther (1599). STC 2508

William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris