Ben Jonson

"The Staple of News. Act 1. Scene 5."

        Peni-boy, Cymbal, Fitton, Tho. Barber, Canter.

In troth they are dainty Rooms; what place is this?
    Cym. This is the outer Room, where my Clerks sit,
And keep their sides, the Register i' the midst,
The Examiner, he sits orivate there, within,
And here I have my several rowls and Fyles
Of News by the Alphabet, and all put up
Under their Heads.     P.Jun. but those too subdivided?
    Cym. Into Authenticall, and Apocryphall.
    Fit. Or News of doubtful credits, as Barber News.
    Cym. And Taylors News, Porters, and Watermen news,
    Fit. Whereto, beside the Coronti, and Gazetti.
    Cym. I have the News of the season.
    Fit. As Vacation-news,
Term-news,
and Christmas-news.
    Cym. And News o' the Faction.
    Fit. As the Reformed-news. Protestant-news,
    Cym. And Pontificial-news, of all which several,
The Day-books, Characters, Precedents are kept.
Together with the Names of special Friends --
    Fit. And Men of Correspondence i' the Countrey --
    Cym. Yes, of all Ranks, and all Religions. --
    Fit. Factors and Agents --     Cym. Liegers, that lye out
Through all the Shires o' the Kingdom.     P.jun. This is fine!
And bears a brave relation! but what says
Mercurius Britannicus to this?
    Cym. O, Sir, he gains by't half in half.     Fit. Nay more
I'll stand to't. For, where he was wont to get
In, hungry Captains, obscure Statesman.     Cym. Fellows
To drink with him in a dark Room in a Tavern,
And eat a Sawsage.     Fit. We ha' seen't,     Cym. As fain,
To keep so many Politick Pens.
Going to feed the Press.     Fit. And dish out News,
Were't true, or false.     Cym. Now all that charge is sav'd
The publick Chronicler.     Fit. How do you call him there?
    Cym. And gentle Reader.     Fit. He that has the Maidenhead
Of all the Books.     Cym. Yes, dedicated to him,
    Fit. Or rather prostituted.     P.Jun. You are right, Sir.
    Cym. No more shall be abus'd, nor Countrey-Parsons
o' the Inquisition, nor busie Justices,
Trouble the peace, and both torment themselves,
And their poor ign'rant Neighbours with inquiries
After the many and most innocent Monsters,
That never came i' th' Counties they were charg'd with.
    P.Jun. Why, methinks, Sir, if the honest common People
Will be abus'd, why should not they ha' their pleasure,
In the believing Lyes, are made for them;
As you i' th' Office, making them your selves?
    Fit. O Sir! it is the printing we oppose.
    Cym. We not forbid that any News be made,
But that't be printed; for when News is printed,
It leaves, Sir, to be News, while 'tis but written --
    Fit. Though it be ne're so false, it runs News still.
    P.Jun. See divers Mens Opinions! unto some,
The very printing of them makes them News;
That ha' not the Heart to believe any thing
But waht they see in print.     Fit. I, that's an Error
Has abus'd many; but we shall reform it,
As many things beside (we have a rope)
Are crept among the popular abuses.
    Cym. Nor shall the Stationer cheat upon the Time,
By buttering over again --
    Fit. Once in Seven Years,
As the Age doats --
    Cym. And grows forgetful o' them.
His antiquated Pamphlets, with new Dates.
But all shall come from the Mint.
    Fit. Fresh and new stamp'd,
    Cym. With the office-Seal, Staple-Commodity.
    Fit. And if a Man will assure his News he may:
Two pence a Sheet he shall be warranted,
And have a Policy for't.     P.Jun. Sir, I admire
The Method o' your Place; all things within't
Are so digested, fitted, and compos'd,
As it shews Wit had married Order.     Fit. Sir.
    Cym. The best we could to invite the Times.     Fit. It has
Cost Sweat and Freezing.     Cym. And some broken Sleeps,
Before it came to this.     P.Jun. I easily think it.
    Fit. But now it has the shape --     Cym. And is come forth.
    P.Jun. A most polite neat thing, with all the Limbs,
As Sense can taste!     Cym. It is, Sir, though I say it.
As well-begotten a Business, and as fairly
Helpt to the World.     P.Jun. You must be a Midwife, Sir,
Or else the Son of a Midwife, (pray you pardon me)
Have helpt it forth so happily! What News ha' you?
News o' this morning? I would fain hear some
Fresh from the Forge, (as new as Day, as they say.)
    Cym. And such we have, Sir.
    Reg. Shew him the last Roll,
Of Emissary Westminster,'s the Heir.
    P.jun. Come nearer, Thom.
    Cla. There is a brave young heir
Is come of age this morning, Mr. Peni-boy.
    P.Jun. That's I!             [Peny rejoiceth that he is in.
    Cla. His Father died on this day seven-night.
    P.jun. True!
    Cla. At six o' the Clock i' the morning, just a Week
Ere he was One and Twenty.
    P.jun. I am here, thom!         [Tells Thom of it.
Proceed, I pray thee.     Cla. And old Canting Beggar
Brought him first News, whom he has entertain'd
To follow him since.
    P.jun. Why, you shall see him! Founder,     [Calls in the
Come in; no Follower, but Companion:         Canter.
I pray thee put him in, Friend; there's an Angel --
            [He gives the Clerk.
Thou dost not know, he's a wise old Fellow,
Though he seem patch'd thus, and made up o' Pieces.
Founder, we are in there, in, i' the News-Office!
In this days Roll, already! I do muse
How you came by us, Sirs!     Cym. One Master Pick-lock,
A Lawyer, that hath purchas'd here a Place
This morning, of an Emissary under me.
    Fit. Emissary Westminster.     Cym. Gave it into th' Office
    Fit. For his Essay, his Piece.     P.jun. My Man o' Law
He's my Attorney, and Solicitor too!
A fine Pragmatick! what's his Place worth?
    Cym. A Nemo-scit, Sir.     Fit. 'Tis as News come in.
    Cym. And as they are issued. I have the just moiety
For my part? then the other moiety
Is parted into seven: The four Emissaries,
Whereof my Cousin Fitton here's for Court,
Ambler for Pauls, and Buz for the Exchange,
Picklock for Westminster, with the >Examiner,
And register, they have full Parts: and then one Part
Is under-parted to a couple of Clerks;
And there's the just Division of the Profits.
    P.jun. Ha' you those Clerks, Sir?
    Cym. There is one Desk empty,
But it has many Suitors.     P.jun. Sir, may I
Present one more, and carry it, if his Parts
Or Gifts, (which you will call 'em.)
    Cym. Be sufficient, Sir.
    P.jun. What are your present Clerk's Habilities?
How is he qualified?     Cym. A decay'd Stationer
He was, but knows news well, can sort and rank 'em.
    Fit. And for a need can make 'em.
    Cym. true Pauls bred,
I' the Church yard.     P.jun. And this at the West-door,
O' th' other side; he's my Barber, Thom,
A pretty Scholar, and a Master of Arts,
Was made, or went out Master of Arts in a throng,
At the University; as before, one Christmas,
He got into a Mask at Court, by his Wit,

And the good means of his Cythern, holding up thus
For one o' the Musick: He's a nimble Fellow,
And alike skill'd in every Liberal Science,
As having certain Snaps of all; a neat
Quick Vein in forging News too: I do love him,
And promis'd him a good turn, and I would do it.
What's your Price? the Value?     Cym. Fifty Pounds, Sir.
    P.jun. Get in, Thom, take possesion, I install thee.
Here, tell your Money: Give thee joy, good thom;
            [He buys Thom a Clerks Place.
And let me hear from thee ever minute of News,
While the New Staple stands, or the Office lasts,
Which I do wish may ne'er be less, for thy sake.
    Cla. The Emissaries, Sir, would speak with you,
And Master Fitton; they have brought in News,
Three Bale together.     Cym. Sir, you are welcome here.
            [They take leave of Peni-boy and Canter.
    Fit. So is your Creature.     Cym. Business calls us off, Sir,
That may concern the Office.     P.jun. Keep me fair, Sir,
Still i' your Staple; I am here your Friend,
On the same Floor.     Fit. We shall be your Servants.
    P.jun. How dost thou like it, Founder?     P.Ca. All is well,
But that your Man o' Law, me thinks, appears not
In his due time. O! Here comes Masters Worship.

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