Ben Jonson

"The Magnetick Lady. Act 3. Scene 5."

                Compass, Diaphanous, Bias, Ironside.

    Com. O Sir Diaphanous, ha' you done?

    Dia. I ha' brought it.

    Pra. That's well.

    Com. But who shall carry it now?

    Dia. A Friend:
I'll find a Friend to carry it; Mr. Bias here
Winn not deny that.

    Bia. What is't?

    Dia. To carry
A Challenge I have writ unto the Captain.

    Bias. Faith, but I will, Sir, you shall pardon me
For a twi-reason of State: I'll bear no Challenges;
I will not hazard my Lord's favour so;
Or forfeit mine own judgement with his Honour,
To turn a Ruffian: I have to commend me
Nought but his Lordships good opinion;
And to't my Kallygraphy, a fair Hand,
Fit for a Secretary: Now you know, a Man's Hand
being his executing part in fight,
Is more obnoxious to the common peril --

    Dia. You shall not fight, Sir, you shall only search
My Antagonist; commit us fairly there
Upo' the Ground on equal terms.

    Bia. O, Sir!
But if my Lord should hear I stood at end
Of any quarrel, 'twere an end of me

In a state course! I ha'read the Politicks;
And heard th' opinions of our best Divines.

    Com. The Gentleman has reason! Where was first
The birth of you acquaintance? or the Cradle
Of your strict friendship made?

    Dia. We met in France, Sir.

    Com. In France! that Garden of humanity,
The very Seed-plot of all courtesies:
I wonder that your firendship suck'd that Ailment,
The Milk of France; and see this sowre effect
It doth produce, 'gainst all the sweets of travel:
There, every Gentleman professing Arms,
Thinks he is bound in Honour to imbrace
The bearing of a Challenge for another,
Without or questioning the cause, or asking
Least colour of a reason. There's no Cowardice,
No Poultrounery, like urging why? wherefore?
But carry a Challenge, die, and do the thing.

    Bia. Why, hear you, Mr. Compass, I but crave
Your Ear in private? I would carry his Challenge,
If I but hop'd your Captain angry enough
To kill him: For (to tell you truth) this Knight,
Is an impertinent in Court, (we think him:)
And troubles my Lord's Lodgings, and his Table
With frequent, and unnecessary visits,
Which we (the better sort of Servants) like not:
Being his Followers in all other places,
But at our Master's board; and we disdain
To do those serville offices, oft-times,
His foolish Pride, and Empire will exact,
Against the heart, or humour of a Gentleman.

    Com. Truth, Mr. bias, I'd not ha' you think
I speak to flatter you: but you are one
O' the deepest Politicks I ever met,
And the most subtilly rational. I admire you.
But do not you conceive in such a case,
That you are accesory to his death,
From whom you carry a Challenge with such purpose.

    Bia. Sir, the corruption of one thing in nature,
Is held the Generation of another;
And therefore, I had as lieve be accesory
Unto his death, as to his life.

    Com. A new
Moral Philosophy too! you'll carry 't then.

    Bia. If I were sure 't would not incense his choler
To beat the Messenger.

    Com. O' I'll secure you,
You shall deliver it in my Lodging, safely,
And do your Friend a service worthy thanks.

    Bia. I'll venture it, upon so good Induction,
To rid the Court of an Impediment,
This baggae Knight.

                [Enter Ironside.

    Iro. Peace to you all, Gentlemen,
Save to this Mushroom; who I hear is menacing
Me with a Challenge: which I come to anicipate,
And save the Law a labour. Will you fight, Sir?

    Dia. Yes, in my Shirt.

    Iro. O, that's to save your Doublet;
I know it a Court-trick! you had rather have
An Ulcer in your Body, than a Pink
More i' your Clothes.

    Dia. Captain, you are a Coward,
If you'll not fight i' your Shirt.

    Iro. Sir, I do not mean
To put it off for that, nor yet my Doublet:
Yo' have cause to call me Coward, that more fear
The stroke of the common, and life-giving Air,
Than all your Fury, and the Panoply.

    Pra. (Which is at best, but a thin Linnen Armour.)
I think a Cup of generous Wine were better,
Than fighting i' your Shirts.

    Dia. Sir, Sir, my Valour,
It is a Valour of another nature,
Than to be mended by a Cup of Wine.

    Com. I should be glad to hear of any Valours,
Differing in kind; who have known hitherto,
Only one Vertue, they call Fortitude,
Worthy the name of Valour.

    Iro. Which, who hath not,
Is justly thought a Coward: and he is such.

    Dia. O, you ha'read the Play there, the New Inn,
Of Jonson's, that describes all other Valour
But did not learn it there; I think no valour
Lies for a private cause.

    Dia. Sir, I'll redargue you,
By disputation.

    Com. O let's hear this!
I long to hear a Man dispute in his Shirt
Of Valour, and his Sword drawn in his Hand.

    Pra. His Valour will take cold; put on your Doublet.

    Com. His Valour will keep cold, you are deceiv'd;
And relish much the sweeter in our Ears:
It may be too, i' the ordinance of nature.
Their Valours are not yet so combatant,
Or truly antagonistick, as to fight;
But may admit to hear of some divisions,
Of Fortitude, may put 'em off their quarrel.

    Dia. I would have no Man think me so ungovern'd,
Or subject to my passion, but I can
Read him a Lecture 'twixt my undertakings,
And executions: I do know all kinds
Of doing the business, which the Town calls Valour.

    Com. Yes, he has read the Town, Town-top's his Author!
Your first?

    Dia. Is a rash head-long unexperience.

    Com. Which is in Children, Fools, or your Street-Gallants
O' the first head.

    Pra. A pretty kind of Valour!

    Com. Commend him, he will spin it out in's Shirt,
Fine, as that Thread.

    Dia. The next, an indiscreet
Presumption, grounded upon often scapes.

    Com. Or th' insufficiency of Adversaries:
And this is in your common fighting Brothers.
Your old Perdu's, who (after a time) do think,
The one, that they are Shot-free; the other Sword-free,
Your third?

    Dia. Is nought but an excess of choller,
That reigns in testy old Men --

    Com. Noble Mens porters,
And self-conceited Poets.

    Dia. And is rather
A peevishness, than any part of Valour.

    Pra. He but rehearses, he concludes no Valour.

    Com. A history of Distempers, as they are practis'd,
His Harangue undertaketh, and no more.
Your next?

    Dia. Is a dull desperate resolving.

    Com. In case of some necessitous misery, or
Inc*mbent mischief.

    Pra. Narrowness of Mind,
Or Ignorance being the root of it.

    Dia. Which thou shalt find in Gamesters, quite blown up.

    Com. Bankrupt Merchants, undiscovered Traytors.

    Pra. Or your exemplified Malefactors,
That have surviv'd their infamy, and punishment.

    Com. One that hath lost his Ears, by a just sentence
O' the Star-Chamber, a right valiant Knave --
And is a Histrionical contempt,
Of what a Man fears most; it being a mischief
In his own apprehension unavoidable.

    Pra. Which is in Cowards wounded mortally,
Or Thieves adjudg' to die.

    Com. This is a Valour,
I should desire much to see incourag'd:
As being a special entertainment
For our rogue People; and make oft good sport
Unto 'em, from the Gallows to the Ground.

    Dia. But mine is a judicial resolving,
Or liberal undertaking of a danger --

    Com. That might be avoided.

    Dia. I, and with assurance,
That it is found in Noble-men, and Gentleman,
Of the best sheaf.

    Com. Who having Lives to lose,
Like private Men, have yet a world of Honour,
And publick Reputation to defend --

    Dia. Which in the brave historified Greeks,
And Romans you shall read of.

    Com. And (no doubt)
May in our Alder-men meet it, and their Deputies,
The Soldiers of the City, valiant Blades,
Who (rather than their Houses should be ransack'd)
Would fight it out, like so many wild Beasts;
Not for the fury they are commonly arm'd with:
But the close manner of their fight, and custom,
Of joyning Head to Head, and Foot to Foot.

    Iro. And which of these so well-prest resolutions
Am I to encounter now? For commonly,

Men that have so much choise before 'em, have
Some trouble to resolve of any one.

    Bia. There are three valours yet, Which Sir Diaphanous,
Hath (with his leave) not touch'd.

    Dia. Yea; which are those?

    Pra. He perks at that!

    Com. Nay, he does more, he chatters.

    Bia. A Philosophical contempt of Death,
Is one: Then an infused kind of Valour,
Wrought in us by our Genii, or good Spirits;
Of which the gallant Ethnicks had deep sense:
Who generally held, that no great States-man,
Scholar, or Soldier, ere did any thing
Sine divino aliquo afflatu.

    Pra. But there's a Christian Valour, 'bove these too.

    Bia. Which is a quiet patient toleration,
Of whatsoever the malicious World
With Injury doth unto you; and consists
In passion, more than action, Sir Diaphanous.

    Dia. Sure, I do take mine to be Christian Valour. --

    Com. You may mistake though. Can you justifie
On any cause, this seeking to deface,
The divine Image in a Man?

    Bia. O, Sir!
Let'em alone: Is not Diaphanous
As much a divne Image, as is Ironside?
Let Images fight, if they will fight, A God's Name.

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