Ben Jonson

"Epicœne ~ Act 3. Scene 2"

A ROOM IN MOROSE'S HOUSE.

ENTER MOROSE, EPICOENE, PARSON, AND CUTBEARD.

Mor:
Sir, there is an angel for yourself, and a brace of angels
for your cold. Muse not at this manage of my bounty. It is fit we
should thank fortune, double to nature, for any benefit she
confers upon us; besides, it is your imperfection, but my solace.

Par [SPEAKS AS HAVING A COLD.]
I thank your worship; so is it
mine, now.

Mor:
What says he, Cutbeard?

Cut:
He says, praesto, sir, whensoever your worship needs him, he
can be ready with the like. He got this cold with sitting up late,
and singing catches with cloth-workers.

Mor:
No more. I thank him.

Par:
God keep your worship, and give you much joy with your fair
spouse.—[COUGHS.] uh! uh! uh!

Mor:
O, O! stay Cutbeard! let him give me five shillings of my
money back. As it is bounty to reward benefits, so is it equity
to mulct injuries. I will have it. What says he?

Cut:
He cannot change it, sir.

Mor:
It must be changed.

Cut [ASIDE TO PARSON.]:
Cough again.

Mor:
What says he?

Cut:
He will cough out the rest, sir.

Par:
Uh, uh, uh!

Mor:
Away, away with him! stop his mouth! away! I forgive it.—

[EXIT CUT. THRUSTING OUT THE PAR.]

Epi:
Fie, master Morose, that you will use this violence to a man
of the church.

Mor:
How!

EPI:
It does not become your gravity, or breeding, as you pretend,
in court, to have offer'd this outrage on a waterman, or any more
boisterous creature, much less on a man of his civil coat.

Mor:
You can speak then!

Epi:
Yes, sir.

Mor:
Speak out, I mean.

Epi:
Ay, sir. Why, did you think you had married a statue, or a
motion, only? one of the French puppets, with the eyes turn'd with
a wire? or some innocent out of the hospital, that would stand
with her hands thus, and a plaise mouth, and look upon you?

Mor:
O immodesty! a manifest woman! What, Cutbeard!

Epi:
Nay, never quarrel with Cutbeard, sir; it is too late now. I
confess it doth bate somewhat of the modesty I had, when I writ
simply maid: but I hope, I shall make it a stock still competent
to the estate and dignity of your wife.

Mor:
She can talk!

Epi:
Yes, indeed, sir.

[ENTER MUTE.]

Mor:
What sirrah! None of my knaves there? where is this impostor,
Cutbeard?

[MUTE MAKES SIGNS.]

Epi:
Speak to him, fellow, speak to him! I'll have none of this
coacted, unnatural dumbness in my house, in a family where I
govern.

[EXIT MUTE.]

Mor:
She is my regent already! I have married a Penthesilea, a
Semiramis, sold my liberty to a distaff.

[ENTER TRUEWIT.]

True:
Where's master Morose?

Mor:
Is he come again! Lord have mercy upon me!

True:
I wish you all joy, mistress Epicoene, with your grave and
honourable match.

Epi:
I return you the thanks, master Truewit, so friendly a wish
deserves.

Mor:
She has acquaintance, too!

True:
God save you, sir, and give you all contentment in your fair
choice, here! Before, I was the bird of night to you, the owl; but
now I am the messenger of peace, a dove, and bring you the glad
wishes of many friends to the celebration of this good hour.

Mor:
What hour, sir?

True:
Your marriage hour, sir. I commend your resolution, that,
notwithstanding all the dangers I laid afore you, in the voice of
a night-crow, would yet go on, and be yourself. It shews you are
a man constant to your own ends, and upright to your purposes,
that would not be put off with left-handed cries.

Mor:
How should you arrive at the knowledge of so much!

True:
Why, did you ever hope, sir, committing the secrecy of it to
a barber, that less then the whole town should know it? you might
as well have told it the conduit, or the bake-house, or the
infantry that follow the court, and with more security. Could
your gravity forget so old and noted a remnant, as lippis et
tonsoribus notum? Well, sir, forgive it yourself now, the fault,
and be communicable with your friends. Here will be three or four
fashionable ladies from the college to visit you presently, and
their train of minions and followers.

Mor:
Bar my doors! bar my doors! Where are all my eaters? my
mouths now?—

[ENTER SERVANTS.]
Bar up my doors, you varlets!

Epi:
He is a varlet that stirs to such an office. Let them stand
open. I would see him that dares move his eyes toward it. Shall I
have a barricado made against my friends, to be barr'd of any
pleasure they can bring in to me with their honourable
visitation?

[EXEUNT SER.]

Mor:
O Amazonian impudence!

True:
Nay, faith, in this, sir, she speaks but reason: and,
methinks, is more continent than you. Would you go to bed so
presently, sir, afore noon? a man of your head and hair should
owe more to that reverend ceremony, and not mount the marriage-bed like a town-bull, or a mountain-goat; but stay the due season; and ascend it then with religion and fear. Those delights are to be steeped in the humour and silence of the night; and give the day to other open pleasures, and jollities of feasting, of music, of revels, of discourse: we'll have all, sir, that may make your Hymen high and happy.

Mor:
O, my torment, my torment!

True:
Nay, if you endure the first half hour, sir, so tediously,
and with this irksomness; what comfort or hope can this fair
gentlewoman make to herself hereafter, in the consideration of so
many years as are to come—

Mor:
Of my affliction. Good sir, depart, and let her do it alone.

True:
I have done, sir.

Mor:
That cursed barber.

True:
Yes, faith, a cursed wretch indeed, sir.

Mor:
I have married his cittern, that's common to all men. Some
plague above the plague—

True:
All Egypt's ten plagues.

Mor:
Revenge me on him!

True:
'Tis very well, sir. If you laid on a curse or two more,
I'll assure you he'll bear them. As, that he may get the pox
with seeking to cure it, sir; or, that while he is curling another
man's hair, his own may drop off; or, for burning some male-bawd's lock, he may have his brain beat out with the curling-iron.

Mor:
No, let the wretch live wretched. May he get the itch, and his
shop so lousy, as no man dare come at him, nor he come at no man!

True:
Ay, and if he would swallow all his balls for pills, let not
them purge him.

Mor:
Let his warming pan be ever cold.

True:
A perpetual frost underneath it, sir.

Mor:
Let him never hope to see fire again.

True:
But in hell, sir.

Mor:
His chairs be always empty, his scissors rust, and his combs
mould in their cases.

True:
Very dreadful that! And may he lose the invention, sir, of
carving lanterns in paper.

Mor:
Let there be no bawd carted that year, to employ a bason of
his: but let him be glad to eat his sponge for bread.

True:
And drink lotium to it, and much good do him.

Mor:
Or, for want of bread—

True:
Eat ear-wax, sir. I'll help you. Or, draw his own teeth,
and add them to the lute-string.

Mor:
No, beat the old ones to powder, and make bread of them.

True:
Yes, make meal of the mill-stones.

Mor:
May all the botches and burns that he has cured on others
break out upon him.

True:
And he now forget the cure of them in himself, sir: or, if
he do remember it, let him have scraped all his linen into lint
for't, and have not a rag left him to set up with.

Mor:
Let him never set up again, but have the gout in his hands
for ever! Now, no more, sir.

True:
O, that last was too high set; you might go less with him,
i'faith, and be revenged enough: as, that he be never able to
new-paint his pole—

Mor:
Good sir, no more, I forgot myself.

True:
Or, want credit to take up with a comb-maker—

Mor:
No more, sir.

True:
Or, having broken his glass in a former despair, fall now
into a much greater, of ever getting another—

Mor:
I beseech you, no more.

True:
Or, that he never be trusted with trimming of any but
chimney-sweepers—

Mor:
Sir—

True:
Or, may he cut a collier's throat with his razor, by
chance-medley, and yet be hanged for't.

Mor:
I will forgive him, rather than hear any more. I beseech you,
sir.

[ENTER DAW, INTRODUCING LADY HAUGHTY, CENTAURE, MAVIS, AND TRUSTY.]

Daw:
This way, madam.

Mor:
O, the sea breaks in upon me! another flood! an inundation!
I shall be overwhelmed with noise. It beats already at my shores.
I feel an earthquake in my self for't.

Daw:
'Give you joy, mistress.

Mor:
Has she servants too!

Daw:
I have brought some ladies here to see and know you.
My lady Haughty—

[AS HE PRESENTS THEM SEVERALLY, EPI. KISSES THEM.]

this my lady Centaure—mistress Dol Mavis—mistress Trusty,
my lady Haughty's woman. Where's your husband? let's see him:
can he endure no noise? let me come to him.

Mor:
What nomenclator is this!

True:
Sir John Daw, sir, your wife's servant, this.

Mor:
A Daw, and her servant! O, 'tis decreed, 'tis decreed of me,
an she have such servants.

True:
Nay sir, you must kiss the ladies; you must not go away, now:
they come toward you to seek you out.

Hau:
I'faith, master Morose, would you steal a marriage thus, in
the midst of so many friends, and not acquaint us? Well, I'll kiss
you, notwithstanding the justice of my quarrel: you shall give me
leave, mistress, to use a becoming familiarity with your husband.

Epi:
Your ladyship does me an honour in it, to let me know he is
so worthy your favour: as you have done both him and me grace to
visit so unprepared a pair to entertain you.

Mor:
Compliment! compliment!

Epi:
But I must lay the burden of that upon my servant here.

Hau:
It shall not need, mistress Morose, we will all bear, rather
than one shall be opprest.

Mor:
I know it: and you will teach her the faculty, if she be to
learn it.

[WALKS ASIDE WHILE THE REST TALK APART.]

Hau:
Is this the silent woman?

Cen:
Nay, she has found her tongue since she was married, master
Truewit says.

Hau:
O, master Truewit! 'save you. What kind of creature is your
bride here? she speaks, methinks!

True:
Yes, madam, believe it, she is a gentlewoman of very absolute
behaviour, and of a good race.

Hau:
And Jack Daw told us she could not speak!

True:
So it was carried in plot, madam, to put her upon this old
fellow, by sir Dauphine, his nephew, and one or two more of us:
but she is a woman of an excellent assurance, and an extraordinary
happy wit and tongue. You shall see her make rare sport with Daw
ere night.

Hau:
And he brought us to laugh at her!

True:
That falls out often, madam, that he that thinks himself
the master-wit, is the master-fool. I assure your ladyship, ye
cannot laugh at her.

Hau:
No, we'll have her to the college: An she have wit, she
shall be one of us, shall she not Centaure? we'll make her a
collegiate.

Cen:
Yes faith, madam, and mistress Mavis and she will set up a
side.

True:
Believe it, madam, and mistress Mavis she will sustain her
part.

Mav:
I'll tell you that, when I have talk'd with her, and tried
her.

Hau:
Use her very civilly, Mavis.

Mav:
So I will, madam.

[WHISPERS HER.]

Mor:
Blessed minute! that they would whisper thus ever!

[ASIDE.]

True:
In the mean time, madam, would but your ladyship help to vex
him a little: you know his disease, talk to him about the wedding
ceremonies, or call for your gloves, or—

Hau:
Let me alone. Centaure, help me. Master bridegroom, where are
you?

Mor:
O, it was too miraculously good to last!

[ASIDE.]

Hau:
We see no ensigns of a wedding here; no character of a
bride-ale: where be our scarves and our gloves? I pray you, give
them us. Let us know your bride's colours, and yours at least.

Cen:
Alas, madam, he has provided none.

Mor:
Had I known your ladyship's painter, I would.

Hau:
He has given it you, Centaure, i'faith. But do you hear,
master Morose? a jest will not absolve you in this manner. You
that have suck'd the milk of the court, and from thence have
been brought up to the very strong meats and wine, of it; been
a courtier from the biggen to the night-cap, as we may say, and
you to offend in such a high point of ceremony as this, and let
your nuptials want all marks of solemnity! How much plate have
you lost to-day, (if you had but regarded your profit,) what
gifts, what friends, through your mere rusticity!

Mor:
Madam—

Hau:
Pardon me, sir, I must insinuate your errors to you; no
gloves? no garters? no scarves? no epithalamium? no masque?

Daw:
Yes, madam, I'll make an epithalamium, I promise my mistress;
I have begun it already: will you ladyship hear it?

Hau:
Ay, good Jack Daw.

Mor:
Will it please your ladyship command a chamber, and be private
with your friend? you shall have your choice of rooms to retire
to after: my whole house is yours. I know it hath been your
ladyship's errand into the city at other times, however now you
have been unhappily diverted upon me: but I shall be loth to
break any honourable custom of your ladyship's. And therefore, good
madam—

Epi:
Come, you are a rude bridegroom, to entertain ladies of
honour in this fashion.

Cen:
He is a rude groom indeed.

True:
By that light you deserve to be grafted, and have your horns
reach from one side of the island, to the other. Do not mistake me,
sir; I but speak this to give the ladies some heart again, not
for any malice to you.

Mor:
Is this your bravo, ladies?

True:
As God [shall] help me, if you utter such another word,
I'll take mistress bride in, and begin to you in a very sad cup;
do you see? Go to, know your friends, and such as love you.

[ENTER CLERIMONT, FOLLOWED BY A NUMBER OF MUSICIANS.]

Cler:
By your leave, ladies. Do you want any music? I have brought
you variety of noises. Play, sirs, all of you.

[ASIDE TO THE MUSICIANS, WHO STRIKE UP ALL TOGETHER.]

Mor:
O, a plot, a plot, a plot, a plot, upon me! this day I shall
be their anvil to work on, they will grate me asunder. 'Tis worse
then the noise of a saw.

Cler:
No, they are hair, rosin, and guts. I can give you the receipt.

True:
Peace, boys!

Cler:
Play! I say.

True:
Peace, rascals! You see who's your friend now, sir: take
courage, put on a martyr's resolution. Mock down all their
attemptings with patience: 'tis but a day, and I would suffer
heroically. Should an ass exceed me in fortitude? no. You betray
your infirmity with your hanging dull ears, and make them insult:
bear up bravely, and constantly.

[LA-FOOLE PASSES OVER THE STAGE AS A SEWER, FOLLOWED BY SERVANTS
CARRYING DISHES, AND MISTRESS OTTER.
]

—Look you here, sir, what honour is done you unexpected, by your
nephew; a wedding-dinner come, and a knight-sewer before it, for
the more reputation: and fine mistress Otter, your neighbour, in
the rump, or tail of it.

Mor:
Is that Gorgon, that Medusa come! hide me, hide me.

True:
I warrant you, sir, she will not transform you. Look upon
her with a good courage. Pray you entertain her, and conduct your
guests in. No!—Mistress bride, will you entreat in the ladies?
your bride-groom is so shame-faced, here.

Epi:
Will it please your ladyship, madam?

Hau:
With the benefit of your company, mistress.

Epi:
Servant, pray you perform your duties.

Daw:
And glad to be commanded, mistress.

Cen:
How like you her wit, Mavis?

Mav:
Very prettily, absolutely well.

Mrs. Ott:
'Tis my place.

Mav:
You shall pardon me, mistress Otter.

Mrs. Ott:
Why, I am a collegiate.

Mav:
But not in ordinary.

Mrs. Ott:
But I am.

Mav:
We'll dispute that within.

[EXEUNT LADIES.]

Cler:
Would this had lasted a little longer.

True:
And that they had sent for the heralds.

[ENTER CAPTAIN OTTER.]

—Captain Otter! what news?

Ott:
I have brought my bull, bear, and horse, in private, and
yonder are the trumpeters without, and the drum, gentlemen.

[THE DRUM AND TRUMPETS SOUND WITHIN.]

Mor:
O, O, O!

Ott:
And we will have a rouse in each of them, anon, for bold
Britons, i'faith.

[THEY SOUND AGAIN.]

Mor:
O, O, O!

[EXIT HASTILY.]

Omnes:
Follow, follow, follow!

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