A yard in the Counter.
Enter Friend and the two Prisoners.
Why, but is his offence such as he cannot hope of life?
Troth, it should seem so; and 't is a great pity, for he is exceeding penitent.
They say he is charg'd but on suspicion of felony yet.
Ay, but his master is a shrewd fellow; he'll prove great matter against him.
I'd as lief as anything I could see his "Farewell."
Oh, 't is rarely written; why, Toby may get him to sing it to you; he's not curious to anybody.
Oh, no! He would that all the world should take knowledge of his repentance, and thinks he merits in 't, the more shame he suffers.
Pray thee, try what thou canst do.
I warrant you he will not deny it, if he be not hoarse with the
often repeating of it.
You never saw a more courteous creature than he is; and the knight too: the poorest prisoner of the house may command 'em. You shall hear a thing admirably penn'd.
Is the knight any scholar too?
No, but he will speak very well, and discourse admirably of running horses and Whitefriars, and against bawds, and of c*cks; and talk as loud as a hunter, but is none.
Enter WOLF and TOUCHSTONE.
Please you stay here, sir; I'll call his Worship down to you.
Exit WOLF; TOUCHSTONE stands aside.
See, he has brought him, and the knight too. Salute him.
Re-enter Second Prisoner with QUICKSILVER and PETRONEL; re-enter WOLF with GOLDING, and they stand aside.
I pray, sir, this gentleman, upon our report, is very desirous to hear some piece of your "Repentance."
Sir, with all my heart; and, as I told Master Toby, I shall be glad to have any man a witness of it; and, the more openly I profess it, I hope it will appear the heartier, and the more unfeigned.
[ aside ] Who is this? my man Francis and my son-in-law?
Sir, it is all the testimony I shall leave behind me to the world and my master that I have so offended.
I writ it when my spirits were oppress'd.
Ay, I'll be sworn for you, Francis.
It is in imitation of Mannington's, he that was hang'd at Cambridge, that cut off the horse's head at a blow.
To the tune of "I wail in woe, I plunge in pain."
An excellent ditty it is, and worthy of a new tune.
In Cheapside, famous for gold and plate,
Quicksilver, I did dwell of late;
I had a master good and kind,
That would have wrought me to his mind.
He bade me still, "Work upon that";
But, alas! I wrought I knew not what.
He was a Touchstone, black, but true,
And told me still what would ensue;
Yet woe is me! I would not learn;
I saw, alas! but could not discern!
Excellent, excellent well!
[ aside ] O, let him alone. He is taken already.
I cast my coat and cap away;
I went in silks and satins gay;
False metal of good manners I
Did daily coin unlawfully;
I scorn'd my master, being drunk;
I kept my gelding and my punk;
And with a knight, Sir Flash by name,
Who now is sorry for the same —
I thank you, Francis.
I thought by sea to run away,
But Thames and tempest did me stay.
[ aside ] This cannot be feigned sure. Heaven pardon my severity! "The ragged colt may prove a good horse."
[ aside ] How he listens! and is transported! He has forgot me.
Still "Eastward Ho" was all my word;
But westward I had no regard,
Nor never thought what would come after,
As did, alas! his youngest daughter.
At last the black ox trod o' my foot,
And I saw then what 'long'd unto 't;
Now cry I, "Touchstone, touch me still,
And make me current by thy skill."
[ aside ] And I will do it, Francis.
[ aside to GOLDING] Stay him, Master Deputy; now is the time: we shall lose the song else.
I protest it is the best that ever I heard.
How like you it, gentlemen?
Oh, admirable, sir!
This stanza now following alludes to the story of Mannington, from whence I took my project for my invention.
Pray you go on, sir.
O Mannington, thy stories show,
Thou cutt'st a horse-head off at a blow.
But I confess I have not the force
For to cut off the head of a horse;
Yet I desire this grace to win,
That I may cut off the horse-head of Sin,
And leave his body in the dust
Of sin's highway and bogs of lust,
Whereby I may take Virtue's purse,
And live with her for better, for worse.
Admirable, sir, and excellently conceited!
[aside] Son Golding and Master Wolf, I thank you: the deceit is welcome, especially from thee, whose charitable soul in this hath shown a high point of wisdom and honesty. Listen, I am ravished with his repentance, and could stand here a whole prenticeship to hear him.
Forth, good sir.
This is the last, and the "Farewell."
Farewell, Cheapside; farewell, sweet trade
Of goldsmiths all, that never shall fade;
Farewell, dear fellow prentices all,
And be you warned by my fall:
Shun usurers, bawds, and dice, and drabs;
Avoid them as you would French scabs.
Seek not to go beyond your tether,
But cut your thongs unto your leather;
So shall you thrive by little and little,
Scape Tyburn, Counters, and the Spital.
[coming forward] And scape them shalt thou, my penitent and dear Francis!
I can no longer forbear to do your humility right. Arise, and let me honor your repentance with the hearty and joyful embraces of a father and friend's love. Quicksilver, thou hast ate into my breast, Quicksilver, with the drops of thy sorrow, and kill'd the desperate opinion I had of thy reclaim.
Oh, sir, I am not worthy to see your worshipful face!
Forgive me, Father.
Speak no more; all former passages are forgotten; and here my word shall release you. — Thank this worthy brother, and kind friend, Francis. — Master Wolf, I am their bail.
A shout in the prison, and SECURITY appears at the grating.
Master Touchstone! Master Touchstone!
Pray you, sir, if you'll be won with a song, hear my lamentable tune too:
O Master Touchstone,
My heart is full of woe;
Alas, I am a cuckold!
And why should it be so?
Because I was a usurer
And bawd, as all you know;
For which, again I tell you,
My heart is full of woe.
Bring him forth, Master Wolf, and release his bands. This day shall be sacred to mercy, and the mirth of this encounter in the Counter. — See, we are encount'red with more suitors.
Enter MISTRESS TOUCHSTONE, GERTRUDE, MILDRED, SINDEFY, and WINIFRED; and WOLF with SECURITY.
Save your breath, save your breath! All things have succeeded to your wishes; and we are heartily satisifed in their events.
Ah, runaway, runaway! have I caught you? And how has my poor knight done all this while?
Dear Lady-wife, forgive me!
As heartily as I would be forgiven, knight. Dear Father, give me your blessing, and forgive me too; I ha' been proud and lascivious, Father; and a fool, Father; and, being rais'd to the state of a wanton coy thing, call'd a lady, Father, have scorn'd you, Father, and my sister, and my sister's velvet cap, too, and would make a mouth at the city as I rid through it, and stop mine ears at Bow-bell. I have said your beard was a base one, Father; and that you looked like Twierpipe, the taborer; and that my mother was but my midwife.
Now, God forgi' you, child madam!
No more repetitions. What is else wanting to make our harmony full?
Only this, sir, that my fellow Francis make amends to Mistress Sindefy with marriage.
With all my heart.
And Security give her a dower, which shall be all the restitution he shall make of that huge mass he hath so unlawfully gotten.
Excellently devis'd! a good motion! What says Master Security?
I say anything, sir, what you'll ha' me say. Would I were no cuckold!
Cuckold, husband? Why, I think this wearing of yellow has infected you.
Why, Master Security, that should rather be a comfort to you than a corrosive. If you be a cuckold, it's an argument you have a beautiful woman to your wife; then you shall be much made of; you shall have store of friends, never want money; you shall be eas'd of much o' your wedlock pain; others will take it for you. Besides, you being a usurer, and likely to go to hell, the devils will never torment you: they'll take you for one o' their own race. Again, if you be a cuckold, and know it not, you are an innocent; if you know it and endure it, a true martyr.
I am resolv'd, sir. Come hither, Winny.
Well, then, all are pleas'd; or shall be anon. Master Wolf, you look hungry, methinks. Have you no apparel to lend Francis, to shift him?
No, sir, nor I desire none; but here make it my suit that I may go home, through the streets in these, as a spectacle, or rather an example, to the children of Cheapside.
Thou hast thy wish. Now, London, look about,
And in this moral see thy glass run out:
Behold the careful father, thrifty son,
The solemn deeds, which each of us have done;
The usurer punish'd, and from fall so steep
The prodigal child reclaim'd, and the lost sheep.
Stay, sir, I perceive the multitude are gather'd together to view our coming out at the Counter. See, if the streets and the fronts of the houses be not stuck with people, and the windows fill'd with ladies, as on the solemn day of the pageant! —
Oh, may you find in this our pageant here,
The same contentment which you came to seek;
And, as that show but draws you once a year,
May this attract you hither once a week.