home l personae l act 1 l act 2 l act 3 l act 4 l act 5
scene 1 l scene 2 l chorus 5
Enter Simon, clerk
[Aminadab], Glover, Fellmonger, Grazier, etc. [as
Is not that rebel Oliver, the fustian weaver,
That traitor to my year, 'prehended yet?
Not yet, so please your worship.
Not yet, sayst thou?
How dar'st thou say not yet, and see me present?
Thou malapart clerk that's good for nothing but
To write and read! Is his loom seiz'd on?
And it like your worship, and sixteen yards of fustian.
Good; let a yard be sav'd to mend me between the legs,
the rest cut in pieces and given to the poor: 'tis
heretic fustian, and should be burnt indeed, but being
worn threadbare the shame will be as great. How think
Greater, methinks, the longer it is worn,
Where being once burnt it can be burn'd no more.
True, wise and most senseless.
Enter a Footman.
How now, sirrah?
What's he approaching here in dusty pumps
And greasy hair?
A footman, sir, to the great King of Kent.
The King of Kent? Shake him by the hand for me.
Footman, thou art welcome; lo, my deputy shakes thee:
Come when my year's out and I'll do't myself.
An't were a dog come from the King of Kent,
I keep those officers would shake him, I trow.
And what's the news with thee, [thou] well-stew'd
The king my master--
With a few Saxons
Intends this night to make merry with you.
Merry with me? I should be sorry else, fellow,
And take it in evil part, so tell Kent's king.
Why was I chosen mayor but that great men
Should make merry with me? There's a jest indeed;
Tell him I look'd for't, and me much he wrongs
If he forget Simon that cut out his thongs.
I'll run with your worship's answer.
[Do, I prithee.]
That fellow will be roasted against supper;
He's half enough already, his [brows] baste him.
The King of Kent! The king of Kirsendom
Shall not be better welcome to me,
For you must imagine now, neighbours, this is
The time that Kent stands out of Kirsendom,
For he that's king there now was never kirsen'd.
This for your more instruction I thought fit,
That when y'are dead you may teach your children wit.
At your worship's elbow.
I must turn you
From the hall to the kitchen tonight.
Give order that pigs be roasted yellow,
Nine geese, and some three larks for piddling meat,
But twenty woodcocks; I'll bid all my neighbours.
Give charge the mutton come in all blood-raw;
That's infidel meat! The King of Kent's a pagan,
And must be serv'd so. And let those officers
That seldom or never go to church bring 't in,
'Twill be well taken; run.
[To an officer]
Come hither you now.
Take all the cushions down and thwack 'em soundly
After my feast of millers, for their buttocks
Has left a peck of flour in 'em; beat 'em carefully
O'er a bolting-hutch: there'll be enough
For a pan-pudding, as your dame will handle it.
Then put fresh water into both the bough-pots,
And burn a little juniper i' th' hall chimney;
Like a beast as I was, I piss'd out the fire last night
And never thought of the king's coming.
Return'd so quickly?
Please your worship, there's a certain company of
Country comedians, interluders, sir, [desire] your
worship's leave and favour to enact in the town hall.
I' th' town hall? 'Tis ten to one I never grant it. Call
'em before my worship. If my house will not serve their
turn, I would fain see the proudest he lend a barn to
Now, sirs, are you
We are anything, sir: comedians, tragedians,
tragi-comedians, comi-tragedians, pastorists, humourists,
clownists, and satirists; we have 'em, sir, from the
smile to the laugh, from the laugh to the handkerchief.
You are very [strong i' th'] wrists; and shall these good parts y'are
indued withal be cast away upon peddlers and maltmen?
For want of better company, and't please your worship.
What think you of me, my masters? Have you audacity
enough to play before so high a person ? Will not my countenance daunt you? For
if you play before me I shall often look at you; I give
you that warning beforehand. Take it not ill, my masters;
I shall laugh at you, and truly when I'm least offended
with you: my humour 'tis, but be not you abash'd.
Sir, we have play'd before a lord ere now,
Though we be country actors.
A lord? Ha, ha!
You'll find it a harder thing to please a mayor.
We have a play wherein we use a horse.
Fellows, you use no horseplay in my house.
My rooms are rubb'd; keep it for hackney-men.
We will not offer 't to your worship, sir.
Give me a play without a beast, I charge you.
That's hard. Without a cuckold or a drunkard?
Oh, those beasts are often the best men i' th' parish,
and must not be kept out! But which is your merriest play
now? That I would hearken after.
Why, your worship shall hear the names all o'er and take
And that's plain dealing, trust me. Come, begin, sir.
The Whirligig, The Whibble, Carwidgen--
Heyday, what names are these?
New names of late.
The Wild Goose Chase.
I understand thee now.
Gull upon Gull.
Why, this is somewhat yet.
Woodcock of Our Side.
Get you further off then.
The Cheater and the Clown.
Is that come up again?
That was a play when I was prentice first.
Ay, but the cheater has learn'd more tricks since, sir,
And gulls the clown with new additions.
Then is [your] clown a coxcomb? Which is he?
I am the clown, sir.
[Fie, fie, your company must fall upon him and beat him];
he's too fair to make the people laugh.
Not as he may be dress'd, sir.
Faith, dress him how you will, I'll give him that gift
he'll never look half scurvily enough. Oh, the clowns
that I have seen in my time! The very peeping out of 'em would have made a young heir laugh if his
father had lain a-dying; a man undone in law the day before, the
saddest case that can be, might for his twopence have
burst himself with laughing and ended all his miseries.
Here was a merry world, my masters!
Some talk of things of state, of puling stuff;
There's nothing in a play to a clown's part,
If he have the grace to hit on't, that's the thing
The king shows well, but he sets off the king,
But not the King of Kent, I mean not so;
The king I mean is one I do not know.
Your worship speaks with safety, like a rich man,
And for your finding fault, our hope is greater,
Neither with him the clown nor me the cheater.
Away then; shift, clown, to thy motley crupper:
We'll see 'em first, the king shall after supper.
I commend your worship's wisdom in that, Master Mayor.
Nay, 'tis a point of justice, an't be well examined, not
to offer the king worse than I'll see myself, for a play
may be dangerous; I have known a great man poison'd in a
What, have you, Master Mayor?
But to what purpose many times I know not.
Methinks they should destroy one another so.
No, no, he that's poison'd is always made privy to it;
That's one good order they have amongst 'em.
What joyful throat is
What is the meaning of this cry?
The rebel is ta'en.
Oliver the puritan?
Oliver, puritan and fustian weaver altogether.
Fates, I thank you for this victorious day!
Bonfires of pease-straw burn; let the bells ring.
There's two a-mending, sir, you know they cannot.
'Las, the tenor's broken; ring forth the treble.
I'm overcloy'd with joy!
Welcome, thou rebel.
I scorn thy welcome.
Art thou yet so stout?
Wilt thou not stoop for grace? Then get thee out.
I was not born to stoop but to my loom;
That seiz'd upon, my stooping days are done.
In plain terms, if thou hast anything to say to me, send
me away quickly; this is no biding place. I understand there's
players in the house. Dispatch me, I charge thee, in the
name of all the brethren.
Nay now, proud rebel, I will make thee stay,
And to thy greater torment see the play.
Oh, devil, I conjure thee by Amsterdam!
Our word is past;
Justice may wink a while but see at last.
[A trumpet sounds, and Oliver struggles.]
The play begins. Hold,
stop him, stop him!
Oh, oh, that profane trumpet!
Set him down there, I charge you, officers.
I'll hide mine ears and stop mine eyes.
Down with his golls, I charge you!
Oh, tyranny! Revenge it, tribulation!
For rebels there are many deaths, but sure the only way
To execute a puritan is seeing of a play.
Oh, I shall swoon!
But if thou dost, to fright thee,
A player's boy shall bring thee [aqua-vitae].
Enter First Cheater
Oh, I'll not [swoon] at all for't, though I die.
Peace, here's a rascal; list and edify.
I say still he's an ass that cannot live by his wits.
What a bold rascal's this! He calls us all asses at first
dash; sure none of us lives by our wits, neighbours,
unless it be Oliver the puritan.
I scorn as much to live by my wits as the proudest on you
Why, you are an ass for company, Oliver, and so hold your
Fellows in arms, welcome. The news, the news?
Fellows in arms, quoth 'a? He may well call 'em fellows
in arms, for they are all out o' th' elbows.
Be lively, my heart, be lively; the booty's at hand. He's
but a fool of a yeoman's eldest son; he comes balanc'd on
both sides, bully: he's going to pay rent with th' one
pocket, and buy household stuff with th' other.
And if this be his last day, my chuck, he shall forfeit
his lease, quoth th' one pocket, and eat his meat i' th'
old wooden platters, quoth th' other.
Faith, then he's not so wise as he ought to be if he let
such tatterdemalions get th' upper hand on him.
He comes, he comes.
Ay, but do you mark how he comes? Small to our comfort,
with both his hands in's pockets. How is't possible to
pick a lock when the key's o' th' inside o' th' door?
Ay, here's the part now, neighbours, that carries away
the play. If the clown miscarry, farewell my hopes
forever, the play's spoil'd.
They say there's a foolish thing call'd cheaters abroad
that will gull any yeoman's son of his purse and laugh
in's [face] like an Irishman. I would fain meet with one
of those cheaters; I'm in as good state to be gull'd now
as ever I was in my life, for I have two purses at this
time about me, and I'd fain be acquainted with that
rascal that would but take one of 'em now.
Faith, thou mayst be acquainted with two or three that
will do their good wills I warrant you.
That way's too plain, too easy I'm afraid.
Come, come, sir, your familiar cheats takes best;
They show like natural things and least suspected:
Give me a round shilling quickly.
'Twill but fetch one of his hands neither if it take.
Thou art [too] covetous. Let's have one at first,
There's time enough to fetch out th'other after.
[Loudly] Thou liest, 'tis lawful money, current money.
[Loudly] Ay, so is copper in some countries, sir.
Here's a fray towards, but I'll hold my hands,
Let whose will part 'em.
Copper! I defy thee,
And now I shall disprove thee. Look you, sir,
Here comes an honest yeoman's son o' th' country,
A man of judgment.
Pray be cover'd, sir;
I have eggs in my cap, and cannot put it off.
Will you be tried by him?
I am content, sir.
They look rather as if they would be tried next sessions.
Pray give your judgment of this piece of coin, sir.
Nay, an't be coin you strive about, let's see't;
I love to handle money.
Look on't well, sir.
[They pick his
Let him do his worst, sir.
Y'ad need to wear cut clothes, gentlemen,
Y'are so choleric.
Nay, rub it and spare't not, sir.
Now by this silver, gentlemen, 'tis good money;
Would y'had a hundred of 'em.
We hope well, sir.
[Aside to First Cheater] Th'other pocket now and
we are made men.
Oh, neighbours, I begin to be sick to see
This fool so cozen'd; I would make the case mine own.
Still would I fain meet with this thing call'd cheaters.
A whoreson coxcomb! They have met with thee!
I can endure him no longer with patience.
Oh, my rent, my whole year's rent!
A murrain on you!
This makes us landlords stay so long
Without our money.
The cheater[s] have been here!
A scurvy hobby-horse, that could not leave his money with me,
having such a charge about him! A pox on thee for an ass!
Thou play a clown? I will commit thee for offering on't.
Officer, away with him.
What means your worship? Why, you'll spoil the play, sir.
Before the King of Kent shall be thus serv'd,
I'll play the clown myself. Away with him!
With me? An't please your worship, 'twas my part.
But 'twas as foolish a part as ever thou play'd'st in thy
life, and I'll make thee smoke for't. I'll teach thee to understand to play a
clown, thou shalt know; every man is not born to't. Look
thee, away with him quickly,
Exit [officer] with
He'll have the other
pocket; I [heard] him say 't with mine own ears.
See, he comes in another
disguise to cheat thee again.
[Aside] Pish, whither goes he now? He spoils all
Come on, sir, let's see what your knaveship can do at me
now. You must not think now, rascal, you have no fool in
hand; I have committed for playing the part so like an
[He throws off his
gown, discovering his doublet with a satin forepart and a
What's here to do?
Fie, good sir, come away.
Will your worship base yourself to play a clown?
Away, brother, 'tis not good to scorn anything: a man
does not know what he may come to; everyone knows his
ending but not his beginning. Proceed, varlet, do thy
worst, I defy thee!
I beseech your worship let's have our own clown; I know
not how to go forward else.
Knave, play out thy part with me or I'll lay thee by the
heels all the days of thy life else. Why, how
now, my masters, who's that laugh'd now? Cannot a man of
worship play the clown a little for his pleasure but he
must be laugh'd at? Do you know who I am? Is the king's
deputy of no better accompt amongst you? Was I chosen to be laugh'd
at? Where's my clerk?
Here, an't please your worship.
Take a note of all those that laugh at me, that when I
have done I may commit 'em. Let me see who dares do't
now. And now to you once again, sir cheater; look you,
here's my purse-strings, I defy thee.
Good sir, tempt me not; my part is so written that I
should cheat your worship and you were my father.
I should have much joy to have such a rascal to my son.
Therefore I beseech your worship pardon me; the part has
more knavery than when your worship saw it first. I
assure you you'll be deceiv'd in't, sir; the new
additions will take any man's purse in Kent or Kirsendom.
And thou canst take mine now, I'll give't thee freely,
And do thy worst, I charge thee, as thou'lt answer't.
I shall offend your worship.
Knave, do't quickly!
Say you so? Then there's for you, and here's for me then.
[Throws meal in his
face, takes his purse, and exit.]
Oh, bless me, neighbours, I am in a fog,
A cheater's fog! I can see nobody!
Run, follow him, officers!
[Exeunt Aminadab and
Away, let him go! He'll have all your purses, and he come
back. A pox on your new additions! They spoil all the
plays that ever they come in; the old way had no such
roguery in't, I remember. Call you this a merry comedy,
when as a man's eyes are put out? Brother Honeysuckle.
What says your sweet worship?
I make you my deputy to rule the town till I can see
again, which I hope will be within nine days at furthest.
Nothing grieves me but that I hear Oliver the rebel laugh
at me. Pox on your puritan face! This will make you in
love with plays ever hereafter; we shall not keep you
from 'em now.
In sincerity, I was never better edify'd at an exercise.
Neighbours, what colour is the rascal's dust he threw in
'Tis meal, an't please your worship.
Meal? I'm glad on't; I'll hang the miller for selling
Nay, ten to one the cheater never bought it;
He stole it certainly.
Why, then I'll hang the cheater for stealing on't, and
the miller for being out of the way when he did it.
Ay, but your worship was in the fault yourself;
You bade him do his worst.
His worst? That's true,
But he has done his best, the rascal, for I know not how
a villain could put out a man's eyes better, and leave
'em in's head, than he has done.
Where's my master's worship?
How now, Aminadab? I hear thee though I see thee not.
Y'are sure cozen'd, sir; they are all cheaters professed!
They have stol'n three silver spoons too, and the clown
took his heels with all celerity; they only take the name
of country comedians to abuse simple people with a
printed play or two they bought at Canterbury last week
for sixpence, and which is worst, they speak but what
they list on't and fribble out the rest.
Here's no abuse to th' commonwealth,
If a man could see to look into't!
But mark the cunning of these cheating slaves:
First they make justice blind, then play the knaves.
'Od's precious brother, the King of Kent's new lighted!
The King of Kent? Where is he, where is he?
Oh, that I should live to this day, and yet
Not live to see to bid him welcome!
Now where's Simonides, our friendly host?
As blind as one that had been fox'd a [se'nnight].
Why, how now, man?
Faith, practising a clown's part for your grace
I have practis'd both mine eyes out.
What need you practise that?
A man's never too old to learn; your grace will say so
when you hear all the villainy. The truth 'tis, my lord,
I meant to have been merry, and now 'tis my luck to weep
water and oatmeal; but I shall see again at supper-time,
I make no doubt on't.
This is strange to me, sirs.
Arm, arm, my lord--
With swiftest speed,
If ever you'll behold the queen your daughter
Aurelius Ambrose and his brother Uther,
With numbers infinite in Britain forces,
Beset their castle, and they cannot 'scape
Without your speedy succour.
For her safety
I'll forget food and rest. Away!
Your grace will hear the jest afore you go.
The jest! Torment me not. Set forward!
I'll follow you
To Wales with a dog and a bell, but I'll tell't you.
Exit [with Gentleman
'Tis sign of war when great ones disagree;
Look to the rebel well till I can see,
And when my sight's recover'd,
I'll have his eyes put out for a fortnight.
Hang thee! Mine eyes! A deadly sin or two
Shall pluck 'em out first, that's my resolution.
 malapart: malapert, i.e., presumptuous, impudent,
 senseless: a malaprop.
 pumps: a single-soled, low shoe which was the
footwear of servants.
 against: in preparation for.
 Kirsendom: Christendom.
 Kent stands out of Kirsendom: "In
Kent or Kirsendom" was proverbial.
 kirsen'd: christened.
 piddling: "Meat to trifle with. A 'piddler'
was the name for one who ate squeamishly or with little
 bolting-hutch: the wooden trough into
which meal is sifted.
 bough-pots: a pot for holding boughs, a
 juniper: burnt to sweeten room.
 [strong i' th']: strongists
(L,P); the "ist" of "wrists" is a
pun, picking up on the "ist" suffixes of the
genres the Second Cheater has just listed.
 maltmen: brewers
 Have you audacity enough...person: for
players preferring to play before a lord rather than a
mayor, cf. Marston's Histriomastix II.i.
 rubb'd: i.e., cleaned, polished.
 The Whirligig, The Whibble, Carwidgen:
Whibble is a variant of quibble, i.e., a pun or
equivocation. Carwidgen is a variant of carwitchet, i.e.,
a hoaxing question or conundrum. "There has been
some discussion over this list of plays, especially as to
whether or no Fletcher's Wildgoose Chase is
referred to.... Since nothing is known of the original
date of Fletcher's play beyond the fact that it was acted
at Court in 1621, it is impossible to decide. Dyce also
mentions that 'Taylor, the water-poet, in the preface to Sir
Gregory Nonsense' (1622) alludes to a book called Woodcock
of our side, but, he adds, 'perhaps he merely
invented the title, for the expression was proverbial.'
Certainly no one has ever found evidence pointing to the
existence of plays bearing any of the other titles
mentioned, although a play called Cupid's Whirligig
has survived. The list seems, on the whole, to be a
purely fanciful one, particularly for giving plays catch
titles which afforded no clue as to their plots." A
similarly fictional list is mentioned in Histriomastix
II.i, but one in Sir Thomas More IV.i
"consists largely of real plays, and seems to
represent a genuine attempt...to achieve historical
 Woodcock: a bird easily trapped and hence a dupe.
 additions: New material was written for plays when
they were revived.
 peeping out of 'em: i.e., from behind the
 young heir laugh if his father had lain
a-dying: a favorite joke of Middleton's.
 puling: whining.
 crupper: buttocks, from the strap that passes
under the horse's tail to keep the saddle from slipping .
 stout: strong.
 Amsterdam: a meeting place and refuge for
 trumpet sounds: Three
trumpet blasts signaled the beginning of the play in
 golls: hands.
 out o' th' elbows: have a coat worn out
at the elbows, to be ragged, poor, in bad condition.
 bully: a familiar form of address.
 current: in circulation.
 Pray be cover'd: I.e., put your hat
back on, which he has removed as a sign of respect.
 cozen'd: cheated.
 murrain: plague, pestilence.
 hobby-horse: jester, buffoon, from the
wicker pantomime horse that was part of a morris dance.
 make thee smoke for't: smart, suffer
 lay thee by the heels: have thee arrested
 accompt: account
 edify'd: pleasd edifyde (L,P); pleas'd
(Q), but "edify'd" is preferable, and echoes
Simon's line at the beginning of the performance
 exercise: the week-day sermons of Puritans.
 fribble: falter, totter in walking (obs.)
 fox'd: cant term for drunk.
42] dog and a bell: a blind beggar's
home l personae l act 1 l act 2 l act 3 l act 4 l act 5
scene 1 l scene 2 l chorus 5