Ben Jonson

"Eastward Ho ~ Act 4. Scene 1"

Cuckold's Haven.

Enter SLITGUT with a pair of ox-horns, discovering Cuckold's Haven above.

Slit.
All hail, fair haven of married men only! for there are none but married men cuckolds. For my part, I presume not to arrive here but in my master's behalf, a poor butcher of Eastcheap, who sends me to set up, in honor of Saint Luke, these necessary ensigns of his homage. And up I got this morning, thus early, to get up to the top of this famous tree, that is all fruit and no leaves, to advance this crest of my master's occupation. Up then! — Heaven and Saint Luke bless me, that I be not blown into the Thames as I climb, with this furious tempest. 'Slight! I think the Devil be abroad, in likeness of a storm, to rob me of my horns! Hark how he roars! Lord! what a coil the Thames keeps! She bears some unjust burthen, I believe, that she kicks and curvets thus to cast it. Heaven bless all honest passengers that are upon her back now; for the bit is out of her mouth, I see, and she will run away with 'em! — So, so! I think I have made it look the right way. — It runs against London Bridge, as it were, even full butt. And now let me discover from this lofty prospect, what pranks the rude Thames plays in her desperate lunacy. O me! here's a boat has been cast away hard by. Alas, alas, see one of her passengers laboring for his life to land at this haven here! Pray Heaven he may recover it! His next land is even just under me. — Hold out yet a little; whatsoever thou art, pray, and take a good heart to thee. — 'T is a man; — take a man's heart to thee; yet a little further, get up a' thy legs, man; now 't is shallow enough. So, so, so! Alas! he's down again. Hold thy wind, father. — 'T is a man in a nightcap. So! now he's got up again; now he's past the worst: yet, thanks be to Heaven, he comes toward me pretty and strongly.


Enter SECURITY, without his hat, in a nightcap, wet band, etc.

Sec.
Heaven, I beseech thee, how have I offended thee! where am I cast ashore now, that I may go a righter way home by land? Let me see; Oh, I am scarce able to look about me. Where is there any sea-mark that I am acquainted withal?

Slit.
Look up, father; are you acquainted with this mark?

Sec.
What! landed at Cuckold's Haven? Hell and damnation! I will run
back and drown myself.
He falls down.

Slit.
Poor man, how weak he is! the weak water has wash'd away his strength.

Sec.
Landed at Cuckold's Haven! If it had not been to die twenty times alive, I should never have 'scap'd death! I will never arise more; I will grovel here and eat dirt till I be chok'd; I will make the gentle earth do that which the cruel water has denied me.

Slit.
Alas, good father, be not so desperate! Rise man; if you will, I'll come presently and lead you home.

Sec.
Home! shall I make any know my home that has known me thus abroad? How low shall I crouch away, that no eye may see me? I will creep on the earth while I live, and never look heaven in the face more.

Exit, creeping.

Slit.
What young planet reigns now, trow, that old men are so foolish? What desperate young swaggerer would have been abroad such a weather as this, upon the water? — Ay me, see another remnant of this unfortunate shipwrack! — or some other. A woman, i' faith, a woman; though it be almost at Saint Kath'rine's, I discern it to be a woman, for all her body is above the water, and her clothes swim about her most handsomely. Oh, they bear her up most bravely! Has not a woman reason to love the taking up of her clothes the better while she lives, for this? Alas, how busy the rude Thames is about her! A pox a' that wave! It will drown her, i' faith, 't will drown her! Cry God mercy, she has scap'd it! I thank Heaven she has scap'd it! Oh, how she swims, like a mermaid! Some vigilant body look out and save her. That's well said; just where the priest fell in, there's one sets down a ladder, and goes to take her up. God's blessing a' thy heart, boy! Now take her up in thy arms and to bed with her. She's up, she's up! She's a beautiful woman, I warrant her; the billows durst not devour her.

Enter the Drawer in the tavern before, with WINIFRED.

Draw.
How fare you now, lady?

Win.
Much better, my good friend, than I wish: as one desperate of her fame, now my life is preserv'd.

Draw.
Comfort yourself. That Power that preserved you from death can likewise defend you from infamy, howsoever you deserve it. Were not you one that took boat late this night, with a knight and other gentlemen at Billingsgate?

Win.
Unhappy that I am, I was.

Draw.
I am glad it was my good hap to come down thus far after you, to a house of my friends here in Saint Kath'rine's, since I am now happily made a mean to your rescue from the ruthless tempest, which, when you took boat, was so extreme, and the gentleman that brought you forth so desperate and unsober, that I fear'd long ere this I should hear of your shipwrack, and therefore, with little other reason, made thus far this way. And this I must tell you, since perhaps you may make use of it, there was left behind you at our tavern, brought by a porter hir'd by the young gentleman that brought you, a gentlewoman's gown, hat, stockings, and shoes; which, if they be yours, and you please to shift you, taking a hard bed here in this house of my friend, I will presently go fetch you.

Win.
Thanks, my good friend, for your more than good news. The gown with all things bound with it are mine; which if you please to fetch as you have promis'd, I will boldly receive the kind favor you have offered till your return; entreating you, by all the good you have done in preserving me hitherto, to let none take knowledge of what favor you do me, or where such a one as I am bestowed, lest you incur me much more damage in my fame than you have done me pleasure in preserving my life.

Draw.
Come in, lady, and shift yourself; resolve that nothing but your own pleasure shall be us'd in your discovery.

Win.
Thank you, good friend; the time may come, I shall requite you.


Exeunt Drawer and WINIFRED.

Slit.
See, see, see! I hold my life, there's some other a-taking up at Wapping now! Look, what a sort of people cluster about the gallows there! in good troth, it is so. O me! a fine young gentleman! What, and taken up at the gallows? Heaven grant he be not one day taken down there! A' my life, it is ominous. Well, he is delivered for the time. I see the people have all left him; yet will I keep my prospect awhile, to see if any more have been shipwrack'd.

Enter QUICKSILVER, bareheaded.

Quick.
Accurs'd that ever I was sav'd or born!
How fatal is my sad arrival here!
As if the stars and Providence spake to me,
And said, "The drift of all unlawful courses,
Whatever end they dare propose themselves,
In frame of their licentious policies,
In the firm order of just destiny,
They are the ready highways to our ruins."
I know not what to do; my wicked hopes
Are, with this tempest, torn up by the roots.
Oh, which way shall I bend my desperate steps,
In which unsufferable shame and misery
Will not attend them? I will walk this bank,
And see if I can meet the other relics
Of our poor shipwrack'd crew, or hear of them.
The knight, alas, was so far gone with wine,
And th' other three, that I refus'd their boat,
And took the hapless woman in another,
Who cannot but be sunk, whatever Fortune
Hath wrought upon the others' desperate lives.

Exit.

Enter PETRONEL and SEAGULL, bareheaded.


Pet.
Zounds, Captain, I tell thee we are cast up o' the coast of France. 'Sfoot! I am not drunk still, I hope! Dost remember where we were last night?

Sea.
No, by my troth, knight, not I; but methinks we have been a horrible while upon the water and in the water.

Pet.
Ay me, we are undone forever. Hast any money about thee?

Sea.
Not a penny, by Heaven!

Pet.
Not a penny betwixt us, and cast ashore in France!
Sea. Faith, I cannot tell that; my brains nor mine eyes are not mine own yet.


Enter two Gentlemen.

Pet.
'Sfoot! wilt not believe me? I know 't by th' elevation of the pole, and by the altitude and latitude of the climate. See! Here comes a couple of French gentlemen; I knew we were in France; dost thou think our Englishmen are so Frenchified that a man knows not whether he be in France or in England, when he sees 'em? What shall we do? We must e'en to 'em, and entreat some relief of 'em. Life is sweet, and we have no other means to relieve our lives now but their charities.

Sea.
Pray you, do you beg on 'em then; you can speak French.

Pet.
Monsieur, plaist il d'avoir pitie de nostre grande infortunes? Je suis un povre chevalier d'Angleterre qui a souffri l'infortune de naufrage.

1 Gent.
Un povre chevalier d'Angleterre?

Pet.
Oui, monsieur, il est trop vraye; mais vous scaves bien nous sommes toutes subject a fortune.

2 Gent.
A poor knight of England? — a poor knight of Windsor, are you not? Why speak you this broken French, when y' are a whole Englishman? On what coast are you, think you?

Pet.
On the coast of France, sir.

1 Gent.
On the coast of Dogs, sir; y' are i' th' Isle a' Dogs, I tell you. I see y' ave been wash'd in the Thames here, and I believe ye were drown'd in a tavern before, or else you would never have took boat in such a dawning as this was. Farewell, farewell; we will not know you, for shaming of you. — I ken the man weel; he's one of my thirty pound knights.

2 Gent.
No, no, this is he that stole his knighthood o' the grand day for four pound, giving to a page all the money in's purse, I wot well.


Exeunt Gentlemen.

Sea.
Death! Colonel, I knew you were overshot.

Pet.
Sure I think now, indeed, Captain Seagull, we were something overshot.


Enter QUICKSILVER.

What! my sweet Frank Quicksilver! dost thou survive, to rejoice me? But what! nobody at thy heels, Frank? Ay me! what is become of poor Mistress Security?

Quick.
Faith, gone quite from her name, as she is from her fame, I think; I left her to the mercy of the water.

Sea.
Let her go, let her go! Let us go to our ship at Blackwall, and shift us.

Pet.
Nay, by my troth, let our clothes rot upon us, and let us rot in them; twenty to one our ship is attach'd by this time! If we set her not under sail this last tide, I never look'd for any other. Woe, woe is me! what shall become of us? The last money we could make the greedy Thames has devour'd; and, if our ship be attach'd, there is no hope can relieve us.

Quick.
'Sfoot, knight! what an unknightly faintness transports thee! Let our ship sink, and all the world that's without us be taken from us, I hope I have some tricks in this brain of mine shall not let us perish.

Sea.
Well said, Frank, i' faith. O my nimble-spirited Quicksilver! 'Fore God, would thou hadst been our colonel!

Pet.
I like his spirit rarely; but I see no means he has to support that spirit.

Quick.
Go to, knight! I have more means than thou art aware of. I have not liv'd amongst goldsmiths and goldmakers all this while but I have learned something worthy of my time with 'em. And, not to let thee stink where thou stand'st, knight, I'll let thee know some of my skill presently.

Sea.
Do, good Frank, I beseech thee.

Quick.
I will blanch copper so cunningly that it shall endure all proofs but the test: it shall endure malleation, it shall have the ponderosity of Luna, and the tenacity of Luna, by no means friable.

Pet.
'Slight! where learn'st thou these terms, trow?

Quick.
Tush, knight! the terms of this art every ignorant quacksalver is perfect in; but I'll tell you how yourself shall blanch copper thus cunningly. Take ars'nic, otherwise call realga (which indeed is plain ratsbane); sublime him three or four times; then take the sublimate of this realga and put him into a glass, into chymia, and let him have a convenient decoction natural, four-and-twenty hours, and he will become perfectly fix'd; then take this fixed powder, and project him upon well-purg'd copper, et habebis magisterium.

Ambo.
Excellent Frank, let us hug thee!

Quick.
Nay, this I will do besides: I'll take you off twelvepence from every angel, with a kind of aqua fortis, and never deface any part of the image.

Pet.
But then it will want weight!

Quick.
You shall restore that thus: take your sal achyme prepar'd, and your distill'd urine, and let your angels lie in it but four-and-twenty hours, and they shall have their perfect weight again. Come on, now; I hope this is enough to put some spirit into the livers of you; I'll infuse more another time. We have saluted the proud air long enough with our bare sconces. Now will I have you to a wench's house of mine at London, there make shift to shift us, and, after, take such fortunes as the stars shall assign us.

Ambo.
Notable Frank, we will ever adore thee!

Exeunt all but SLITGUT.


Enter Drawer with WINIFRED new attir'd.

Win.
Now, sweet friend, you have brought me near enough your tavern, which I desired that I might with some color be seen near, inquiring for my husband, who, I must tell you, stale thither last night with my wet gown we have left at your friend's, which, to continue your former honest kindness, let me pray you to keep close from the knowledge of any; and so, with all vow of your requital, let me now entreat you to leave me to my woman's wit, and fortune.

Draw.
All shall be done you desire; and so all the fortune you can wish for attend you.

Exit Drawer.

Enter SECURITY.

Sec.
I will once more to this unhappy tavern before I shift one rag of me more; that I may there know what is left behind, and what news of their passengers. I have bought me a hat and band with the little money I had about me, and made the streets a little leave staring at my nightcap.

Win.
Oh, my dear husband! where have you been to-night? All night abroad at taverns? Rob me of my garments, and fare as one run away from me? Alas! is this seemly for a man of your credit, of your age, and affection to your wife?

Sec.

What should I say? how miraculously sorts this! Was not I at home, and call'd thee last night?

Win.
Yes, sir, the harmless sleep you broke; and my answer to you would have witness'd it, if you had had the patience to have stay'd and answered me; but your so sudden retreat made me imagine you were gone to Master Bramble's, and so rested patient and hopeful of your coming again, till this your unbelieved absence brought me abroad with no less than wonder, to seek you where the false knight had carried you.

Sec.
Villain and monster that I was! How have I abus'd thee! I was suddenly gone indeed, for my sudden jealousy transferred me! I will say no more but this, dear wife: I suspected thee.

Win.
Did you suspect me?

Sec.
Talk not of it, I beseech thee; I am ashamed to imagine it. I will home, I will home; and every morning on my knees ask thee heartily forgiveness.


Exeunt SECURITY and WINIFRED.

Slit.
Now will I descend my honorable prospect, the farthest-seeing sea-mark of the world: no marvel, then, if I could see two miles about me. I hope the red tempest's anger be now overblown, which sure I think Heaven sent as a punishment for profaning holy Saint Luke's memory with so ridiculous a custom. Thou dishonest satire! Farewell to honest married men! farewell to all sorts and degrees of thee! Farewell, thou horn of hunger, that call'st th' inns a' court to their manger! Farewell, thou horn of abundance, that adornest the headsmen of the commonwealth! Farewell, thou horn of direction, that is the city lanthorn! Farewell, thou horn of pleasure, the ensign of the huntsman! Farewell, thou horn of destiny, th' ensign of the married man! Farewell, thou horn tree, that bearest nothing but stone fruit!

Exit.

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