Ben Jonson

"The Staple of News Act 2 Scene 4"

Fitton, Penni-boy sen. Almanach, Shunfield, Madrigal,
Lick-finger, Broker.


How now, old Money-Bawd? W' are come —

P. jun.
To jeer me,
As you were wont, I know you.

Alm.
No, to give thee
Some good Security, and see Pecunia.

P. sen.
What is't?

Fit.
Our selves.

Alm.
We'll be one bound for another.

Fit.
This noble Doctor here.

Alm.
This worthy Courtier.

Fit.
This Man o' War, he was our Muster-master.

Alm.
But a Sea-Captain now, brave Captain Shunfield.

[He holds up his Nose.

Shun.
You snuff the Air now, as the scent displeas'd you.

Fit.
Thou needst not fear him Man, his Credit is sound.

Alm.
And season'd too, since he took Salt at Sea.

P. sen.
I do not love pickl'd Security;
VVould I had one good Fresh-man in for all:
For truth is, you three stink. Shun. You are a Rogue.

P. sen.
I think I am; but I will lend no Money
On that Security, Captain. Alm. Here's a Gentleman,
A Fresh-man i' the VVorld, one Master Madrigal.

Fit.
Of an untainted Credit; what say you to him?

[Madrigal steps aside with Broker.

Shun.
He's gone, me thinks; where is he? Madrigal?

P. sen.
H' has an odd singing Name: is he an Heir?

Fit.
An Heir to a fair Fortune.

Alm.
And full Hopes:
A dainty Scholar, and a pretty Poet!

P. sen.
Y'ave said enough. I ha' no Money, Gentlemen,

[He snuffs again.

An' he go to't in Ryme once, not a Penny.

Shun.
VVhy, he's of Years, though he have little Beard.

P. sen.
His Beard has time to grow. I have no Money.
Let him still dabble in Poetry. No Pecunia

Is to be seen.

Alm.
Come, thou lov'st to be costive
Still i' thy Curt'sie; but I have a Pill,
A golden Pill, to purge away this Melancholy.

Shun.
'Tis nothing but his keeping o' the House here,
With his two drowsie Dogs.

Fit.
A Drench of Sack
At a good Tavern, and a fine fresh Pullet,
Would cure him.

Lic.
Nothing but a young Heir in White-broth;
I know his Diet better than the Doctor.

Shun.
What, Lick-finger? mine old Host of Ram-ally?
You ha' some Market here.

Alm.
Some Dosser of Fish
Or Fowl to fetch off.

Fit.
An odd Bargain of Venison
To drive.

P. sen.
Will you go in, Knave?

Lic.
I must needs,
You see who drives me, Gentlemen.

Alm.
Not the Devil.

Fit.
He may be in time, he is his Agent now.

[Peni-boy thrusts him in.

P. sen.
You are all cogging Jacks, a Covey o' Wits,
The Jeerers, that still call together at Meals:
Or rather an Airy; for you are Birds of Prey,
And fly at all; nothing's too big or high for you.
And are so truly fear'd, but not belov'd
One of another, as no one dares break
Company from the rest, lest they should fall
Upon him absent.

Alm.
O! the only Oracle
That ever peept or spake out of a Doublet.

Shun.
How the Rogue stinks, worse than a Fishmon-
gers Sleeves!

Fit.
Or Curriers Hands!

Shun.
And such a par-boil'd Visage!

Fit.
His Face looks like a Diers Apron, just!

Alm.
A sodden Head, and his whole Brain a Posset-curd!

P. sen.
I, now you jeer, jeer on; I have no Money.

Alm.
I wonder what Religion he's of!

Fit.
No certain species sure! A kind of Mule!
That's half an Ethnick, half a Christian!

P. sen.
I have no Money, Gentlemen.

Shun.
This Stock.
He has no sense of any Vertue, Honour,
Gentry,
or Merit.

P. sen.
You say very right,
My meritorious Captain, (as I take it!)
Merit will keep no House, nor pay no House-rent.
Will Mistris Merit go to Market, think you,
Set on the Pot, or feed the Family?
Will Gentry clear with the Butcher, or the Baker?
Fetch in a Pheasant, or a Brace of Partridges,
From Goodwife Poulter, for my Ladies Supper.

Fit.
See! this pure Rogue!

P. sen.
This Rogue has Money though;
My worshipful brave Courtier has no Money;
No, nor my valiant Captain.

Shun.
Hang you, Rascal.

P. sen.
Nor you, my learned

Doctor.
I lov'd you
While you did hold your Practice, and kill Tripe-wives,
And kept you to your Urinal; but since your Thumbs
Have greas'd the Ephemerides, casting Figures,
And turning over for your Candle-rents,
And your Twelve Houses in the Zodiack,
With your Almutens, Alma cantaras
Troth you shall cant alone for Peni-boy.

Shun.
I told you what we should find him, a meer Bawd.

Fit.
A Rogue, a Cheater.

P. sen.
What you please, Gentlemen:
I am of that humble nature and condition,
Never to mind your Worships, or take notice
Of what you throw away thus. I keep House here
Like a lame Cobler, never out of doors,
With my two Dogs, my Friends; and (as you say)
Drive a quick pretty Trade, still. I get Money:
And as for Titles, be they Rogue, or Rascal,
Or what your Worships fansie, let 'em pass
As transitory things; they're mine to day,
And yours to morrow.

Alm.
Hang thee, Dog.

Shun.
Thou Cur,

P. sen.
You see how I do blush, and am asham'd
Of these large Attributes? Yet you have no Money.

Alm.
Well Wolf, Hyena, you old pocky Rascal,
You will ha' the Hernia fall down again
Into your Scrotum, and I shall be sent for.
I will remember then, that, and your Fistula
In ano
I cur'd you of.

P. sen.
Thank your Dog-leech Craft:
They were 'holesom Piles, afore you meddl'd with 'em.

Alm.
What an ungrateful Wretch is this?

Shun.
He minds
A Courtesie no more, than London-bridge,
What Arch was mended last.

Fit.
He never thinks,
More than a Log, of any Grace at Court
A Man may do him; or that such a Lord
Reach't him his Hand.

P. sen.
O yes! If Grace would strike
The Brewer's Tally, or my good Lords Hand
Would quit the Scores. But, Sir, they will not do it.

[He shews a Piece.

Here's a Piece, my good Lord Piece, doth all;
Goes to the Butchers, fetches in a Mutton;
Then to the Bakers, brings in Bread, makes Fires,
Gets Wine, and does more real Courtesies
Than all my Lords, I know: My sweet Lord Piece!
You are my Lord, the rest are cogging Jacks,
Under the Rose.

Shun.
Rogue, I could beat you now.

P. sen.
True, Captain, if you durst beat any other,
I should believe you; but indeed you are hungry;
You are not angry, Captain, if I know you
Aright, good Captain. No Pecunia
Is to be seen, though Mistris Band would speak,
Or little Blushet-Wax be ne'er so easie;
I'll stop mine Ears with her, against the Syrens,
Court,
and Philosophy. God be wi' you, Gentlemen;
Provide you better Names, Pecunia is for you.

Fit.
What a damn'd Harpy it is! Where's Madrigal?
Is he sneak'd hence?

[Madrigal returns.

Shun.
Here he comes with Broker,
Pecunia's Secretary.


Alm.
He may do some good
With him perhaps. Where ha' you been, Madrigal?

Mad.
Above, with my Ladies Women, reading Verses.

Fit.
That was a Favour. Good morrow, Mr. Secretary.

Shun.
Good morrow, Mr. Usher.

Alm.
Sir, by both
Your worshipful Titles, and your Name, Mas Broker,
Good morrow.

Mad.
I did ask him if he were
Amphibion Broker.

Shun.
Why?

Alm.
A Creature of two Natures,
Because he has two Offices.

Bro.
You may jeer,
You ha' the Wits, young Gentlemen: But your hope
Of Helicon will never carry it here,
With our fat Family; we ha' the dullest,
Most unbor'd Ears for Verse amongst our Females.
I griev'd you read so long, Sir; old Nurse Mortgage
She snoar'd i' the Chair, and Statute (if you mark'd her)
Fell fast asleep, and Mistris Band she nodded,
But not with any consent to what you read.
They must have somewhat else to chink, than Rymes.
If you could make an Epitaph on your Land,
(Imagine it on departure) such a Poem
Would wake 'em, and bring Wax to her true temper.

Mad.
I' faith, Sir, and I will try.

Bro.
'Tis but Earth,
Fit to make Bricks and Tyles of.

Shun.
Pox upon't,
'Tis but for Pots, or Pipkins at the best.
If it would keep us in good Tabacco-pipes,

Bro.
'Twere worth keeping.

Fit.
Or in Porc'lane Dishes,
There were some hope.

Alm.
But this is a hungry Soil,
And must be helpt.

Fit.
Who would hold any Land,
To have the trouble to Marl it?

Shun.
Not a Gentleman.

Bro.
Let Clowns and Hinds affect it, that love Plows,
And Carts, and Harrows, and are busie still
In vexing the dull Element.

Alm.
Our sweet Songster
Shall rarifi't into Air.

Fit.
And you, Mas Broker,
Shall have a feeling.

Bro.
So it supple, Sir,
The Nerves.

Mad.
O! it shall be palpable,
Make thee run through a Hoop, or a Thumb-Ring,
The Nose of a Tabacco-pipe, and draw
Thy ductile Bones out, like a Knitting-needle,

To serve my subtil turns.

Bro.
I shall obey, Sir,
And run a Thred, like an Hour-glass.

P. sen.
Where is Broker?
Are not these Flies gone yet? Pray' quit my House,
I'll smoak you out else.

Fit.
O! the Prodigal!
Will you be at so much Charge with us, and Loss?

Mad.
I have heard you ha' offer'd, Sir, to lock up smoak,
And cauk your Windows, spar up all your Doors,
Thinking to keep it a close Prisoner wi' you,
And wept when it went out, Sir, at your Chimney.

Fit.
And yet his Eyes were drier than a Pumice.

Shun.
A wretched Rascal, that will bind about
The Nose of his Bellows, lest the Wind get out
When he's abroad.

Alm. Sweeps down no Cobwebs here,
But sells 'em for cut Fingers; and the Spiders,
As Creatures rear'd of Dust, and cost him nothing,
To fat old Ladies Monkeys.

Fit.
He has offer'd
To gather up spilt Water, and preserve
Each Hair falls from him, to stop Balls withal.

Shun.
A Slave, and an Idolater to Pecunia!

P. sen.
You all have happy Memories, Gentlemen,
In rocking my poor Cradle. I remember too,
VVhen you had Lands and Credit, VVorship, Friends,
I, and could give Security: Now you have none,
Or will have none right shortly. This can Time,
And the vicissitude of Things. I have
All these, and Money too, and do possess 'em,
And am right heartily glad of all our Memories,
And both the Changes.

Fit.
Let us leave the Viper.

P. sen.
He's glad he is rid of his Torture, and so soon.
Broker, come hither, up, and tell your Lady,
She must be ready presently, and Statute,
Band, Mortgage, Wax:
My prodigal young Kinsman
VVill streight be here to see her; 'top of our House,
The flourishing and flanting Peni-boy.
VVe were but three of us in all the world,
My Brother Francis, whom they call'd Frank Peni-boy,
Father to this; he's dead. This Peni-boy
Is now the Heir! I, Richer Peni-boy,
Not Richard, but old Harry Peni-boy,
And (to make Ryme) close, wary Peni-boy,
I shall have all at last, my hopes do tell me.
Go, see all ready; and where my Dogs have faulted,
Remove it with a Broom, and sweeten all
VVith a Slice of Juniper, not too much, but sparing,
VVe may be faulty our selves else, and turn prodigal,
In entertaining of the Prodigal.
Here he is; and with him — what! a Clapper-Dudgeon!
That's a good Sign, to have the Beggar follow him
So near, at his first entry into Fortune.

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