A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. VI
Robert Dodsley

Part 4 out of 9

Penelope supposing him for dead:
But he, providing still for afterclaps,
When he had 'scap'd a thousand hard mishaps,
It did him good to reckon up at last
Unto his wife his travails he had pass'd,
And sweetly then recording his distress
To make the more account of happiness.
So I----

Then, as the turtle that hath found her mate
Forgets her former woes and wretched state,
Renewing now her drooping heart again,
Because her pleasure overcomes her pain;
The same of thy desired sight I make,
Whereon thy faith, thy heart and hand I take.

And so I swear to thee unfeignedly
To live thine own, and eke thine own to die.

_Enter_ BOMELIO.

Gog's blood! villains! the devil is in the bed of straw! Wounds! I have
been robb'd, robb'd, robb'd! where be the thieves? My books, books! did
I not leave thee with my books? Where are my books? my books! where be
my books, villain? arrant villain!

O father! my dear father, hark.

Father, my dear father? Soul! give me my books. Let's have no more
tarrying: the day begins to be dark; it rains: it begins with tempests.
Thunder and lightning! fire and brimstone! And all my books are gone,
and I cannot help myself, nor my friends. What a pestilence! who came

I'll tell you, father, if you please to hear.

What can'st thou tell me? tell me of a turd. What, and a' come? I
conjure thee, foul spirit, down to hell! Ho, ho, ho! the devil, the
devil! A-comes, a-comes, a-comes upon me, and I lack my books. Help!
help! help! Lend me a sword, a sword! O, I am gone!
[_He raves_.

Alas! how fell he to this madding mood?

The heavens and earth deny to do us good!

O father! my good father, look on me.

What meant I not to shut up the door, and take the keys with me, and
put the books under the bed-straw? Out, you whore! a whore, a whore!
Gog's blood! I'll dress you for a whore. I have a cause to curse whores
as long as I live. Come away, come away! Give me my books, my books:
give me, give me, give!

Help, help me, good Hermione!

I come. O[122] worlds of misery!
Confounded on the top of my delight;
The Fates and Fortune thus against me fight.

[_Enter_ VENUS _and_ FORTUNE.]

FORTUNE'S _triumph: sound trumpets, drums, cornets, and guns_.

See, madam, who can dash your bravery,
Even at the pitch of your felicity?
When you assure that they shall steadfast stand,
Even then my power I suddenly can show,
Transposing it, as it had never been so.
Herein I triumph, herein I delight.
Thus have I manifested now my might.
Here, ladies, learn to like of Venus' lure,
And me love--long your pleasures shall endure.

Now thou hast done even what thou canst, I see,
They shall be once again relieved by me.

[_Music, Music_.


_Enter_ MERCURY.

Ye goddesses of this eternity,
To whom of right belongs each earthly thing,
The king of gods salutes ye both by me;
And (I beseech you) mark the news I bring.
My father Jupiter, perceiving well
What hath herein been[123] done by each of you,
And[124] how ye still endeavour to excel,
Maintaining that whereon the quarrel grew--
That is, the government of this estate,
And unto whom the sovereignty shall fall--
Here, therefore, to conclude your long debate,
Lest your contention may be counted general,
Desires ye both, and so commands by me,
Ye stand to his conclusion of the cause.
How say you, therefore? will you now agree,
That malice may no longer right delude?

Brother Mercury, as I have never been
So obstinate, or bent so frowardly,
But that I could some time relent the ill--
A woman must a little have her will;
So am I now resolved for to do
Whatso my father shall entreat me to.

And all the world by me perceiveth well
Of course my fancy, favour,[125] and my skill:
And when my cause a little course hath had,
I am well pleased, and no longer sad.

Then thus our father Jupiter concludes,
To lay the stroke of your unceasing strife.
As heretofore betwixt these lovers twain
Ye have express'd your powers upon their life,
So now he wills you to withhold your hands.
Enough sufficeth to confirm your might;
And to conjoin ye both in friendly bands
Of faithful love, wherein the gods delight,
His pleasure is that, Lady Venus, you
Shall be content never to hinder them,
To whom Dame Fortune shall her[126] friendship show,
Of wretched to procure them happy men.
Ne shall you, Fortune, once presume to take
The credit of the honour in your hand:
If Lady Venus do them quite forsake,
You shall not seem in their[127] defence to stand;
But whomsoever one of you prefer,
The other shall be subject unto her;
For thus hath Jupiter determined now.

I must and will subscribe my will to you.

And I most gladly thereof do allow.

Whom Fortune favours I will not despise.

Whom Love rejects by me shall never rise.

To this conclusion do you both agree?

For my part.

And I, most willingly.

Then let your union be confirmed again
By proper course, each one in his descent
Over mortal men and worldly things to reign
By interchange, as Jupiter hath meant.
And[128] friendly Fortune, let me entreat, alone--
Sith by your means these lovers hind'red were,
And now ye two are reconcil'd in one,
You grant the[m] grace their honour up to rear.

Sweet Mercury, I give thee my consent.
I will forthwith advance them to renown:
And their destruction better to prevent,
They shall relieve them, that did throw them down.

And I my gracious favour will bestow
Upon them all, according to desert;
And I will help his frenzy ere I go.
That bedlam up and down he[re] plays[131] his part.

_Enter_ BOMELIO _with_ HERMIONE _and_ FIDELIA,
_with a cope and dagger_.

Cot's[132] wounds! ye whore, I am not for your diet. Hang, rascal, make
a leg to me, [or,] by Gog's blood, I'll stab thee through. What the
devil, the devil, and all my books be gone! O most accursed man Bomelio!
Go hide thyself, go hide thyself! go hang thyself, go hang! I'll hang
the whore out of hand; and as for you, villain,--stand, rascal! stand!

Good father, hear me. Come, take a little rest:
Yea, my sweet father, come, sleep upon my breast.

Hark the whore! See what an impudent whore it is. Sleep, you whore?
I'll sleep with you anon, Gog's blood, you whore, I'll hang you up!
[_He threatens her_.

Help, help, Hermione!

Good father, let her alone. Come, let us go.

[_Enter_ MERCURY _invisible_.]

Now with my music I'll recure his woe.

Hark, hark, my hearts! Pipes, fiddles! O brave! I shall have my books
again. Dance about. Robin Hood is a good knave. Come, Bess, let's go
sleep. Come, Bess; together, together.

Now will I charm him, that he shall not wake,
Until he be relieved in this place.
Then take her blood, and cast it on this brake,
And therewithal besprinkle all his face,
And he shall be restored to his sense,
His health and memory, as heretofore.
Do this, for I must now depart from hence,
And so your sorrows shall increase no more.

Fidelia, what hast thou heard, my dear?
O comfortable words, were they but true!
If any god or goddess be so near,
Vouchsafe of pity on our pains to rue.
Delude not with a feigned fantasy
The wretched mind[s] of men in misery.

Alas! Hermione, let us not feed
And flatter ourselves with any[133] good surmise:
We are too much accursed so to speed,
Or any hope thereof for to devise.
Resolve yourself, dear friend, another way,
And let us never look for happy day.


When thirst of hot revenge inflameth high desire:
When malice kindleth so the minds of them that would aspire,
That to enlarge their names they reck not his despite,
That overseeth all their work, their doings to requite:
Mark, then, what followeth, when princes ye provoke:
The deeper and the larger wound, when longest is the stroke!
And this hath moved me to leave my court awhile,
To be content in sweat of brows, in trouble, pain and toil,
To seek out wretches, them that have abus'd me so,
And to reward their villainy according, ere we go.

May it please your honour, it is excellent done.
Gog's blood! and I were a prince, and had such a noble son,
That should be so highly abused as he hath been,
Would I put it up? no; by his wounds, I would never lin,
Till I had made such a mingle-mangle upon their nose,
That their skin should serve to make me a doublet and a pair of hose.

What, you would not? i'faith, you look not with the face:
When you have the skin, sir, what will you do with the case?
But, master prince, since you are come to this travailation,
I'll bring you to my old master's convoculation,
Where he hides himself, when I ran away:
It's not far within these woods. How think you, sir, I pray?

Lead on the way, and I will follow thee.

Why, then, come on, my valiant hearts, march on and follow me.
But I'll make this bargain first: hear you me what I say?
When I come home, you shall not let my master beat me for running away.

He shall not, I warrant thee.

Why, then, my noble youths of oak, pluck up your hearts with me.
Will you come, sir I come on, i'faith: keep in order you thereby.
We shall find her i'faith, master prince, anon, I know,
And then I'll trounce him for running away with another man's wife,
I trow.

Stand, sir. Who lives a-sunning yonder? can you tell?

It's a beggar with a rogue.

It is my daughter, I see full well.

Fidelia, be content: shrink not at all.

Strike not a stroke, my son.

For help I shall go run and call.

And art thou found, false traitor and untrue,
Traitor to him that dealt so well with thee?
Did I devise to stop that would ensue,
And found my cares such issue as I see?
I see I am abused too-too much,
And too much sufferance is cause of this abuse:
This high abuse of yours, as being such,
Affords no cloak nor colour of excuse.
O, where is thankfulness and love become?
Where is the fear of princes' wrath exil'd?
Even this is the unhappiness of some,
To be of them they trusted most beguil'd;
But sometime pardon breeds a second ill.
Thou shameless wench, and thou false-hearted knight,
By your unhappy deeds I learn this skill;
But yet I list not kill thee, as I might.
Her will I have, and keep her as I may.
On pain of death I charge thee, hence away!

O prince, this sentence hath his force and strength,
And dead I am that here appear to live;
For how, alas! can this my life have length
When she is hence, that life and sense doth give?
But since, alas! I must be only he,
Whom Fortune vows to make a common game,
Armenio, my foe, do this for me--
With my revenge to end my open shame.
To help thee to digest thine injury,
Appease thee with Hermione's tragedy.

Far be the thought of that accursed deed,
O sweet Hermione, my sweet Hermione!
Foul be his fall that makes thy body bleed,
O sweet Hermione, my sweet Hermione!
And, father, this I vow: forgive it me,
1 will be sacrifice for this offence,
And or I will have my Hermione,
My chosen love, or never part from hence.
Him hath the destinies ordained mine,
Most worthy me, your daughter, every way;
Nor he to any will his choice resign--
No more my troubled thoughts will let me say.

What wilt thou, foolish girl and obstinate?
Say'st thou this treason is devis'd by fate?
That shall we try. Despatch her hence away.
Let's see who dares our princely will gainsay.

Sir, and you'll have us carry her, here be them come of the carriers.

And you'll have us marry her, here be them come of the marriers.

Lord! I marvel to whose share this lady will fall:
I am sure my part in her will be least of all.

VENUS _and_ FORTUNE _show themselves, and speak to_
PHIZANTIES, _while_ HERMIONE _standeth in amaze_.

High time it is that now we did appear,
If we desire to end their misery.

Phizanties, stay, and unto us give ear.
What thou determin'st performed cannot be.

Dread goddess whatsoever of this place,
If I herein have disobeyed thy grace,
Of favour grant for to remit the same:
Let me not suffer undeserved blame.

Phizanties, stand up; be of good cheer.
None but thy friends are met together here--
Thy friends, though goddesses in other things--
Yet interchange an alteration brings.
And now, whereas you seek in what you can
To let your child to marry with this man,
Know that it is the pleasure of our will,
That they together be conjoined still.
For 'tis not so--he is not born so base
As you esteem, but of a noble race.
His father is the good Bomelio,
That sleepeth here oppress'd with woe,
Whom Phalaris thy father, on a false report,
In wrath and anger banished his court:
But this is he, to whom thou wishest oft good,
And this his son, born of a noble blood.
Think it no scorn to thee or thine hereafter
To have his son espoused to thy daughter.

Right gracious goddess, if this be true indeed,
As I believe, because from you it doth proceed,
Then pardon me, for had I known it so,
His son had never tasted of this woe.
Unwitting of his lineage till this time,
Not,[134] presumed, sprung of a noble line.
Put[135] hence, and please your deities, my grief,
Because my son is dumb without relief.

I'faith, sirrah, thou and I may hold our peace, with their leave,
For none but wise men speak here, I perceive.

In some respects so, in some respects not;
For a fool's bolt is soon enough shot.

Phizanties, fear no longer his distress;
The gracious gods provide for his redress.
The shedding of thy daughter's dearest blood
Shall both to him and to this man do good;
For let this fern be dipp'd in many a place,
And, as he sleepeth, cast it in his face,
And let his tongue be washed therewithal,
And both of them relieved see you shall.

How say you, daughter, will you grant thereto?

Most willing, sir, if you vouchsafe to do
But this request, which I most humbly pray--
Then I may be Hermione's for aye.

With all my heart: hereon I give my hand.

I take it, sir; and to your word I stand.
And for thy sake, Hermione, my dear,
See what I do, although it touch me near.
Now take thy fill, and for his madness prove.
[_Bares her breast_.]

O sweet and fearful sight, the sign of love!

If it be any sweeter, masters, that runs from you so,
I pray you give me some of your blessings, ere you go.

I strive to speak, and glad to find my speech.
Forgive, Hermione, forgive me, I beseech.
And you, good sister; pardon, my friends, too;
Too rash in all I ventured to do.
See what proceedeth from unstable youth!
Shame to himself, and to his friends a cause of ruth.

Armenio, long hath my mind[136] desired
To hear the proffer of this pleasant peace,
Which sith the gods do grant as we require,
Henceforth let rancour and contention cease,
And in our breast be knit for ever sure
The links of love, perpetual to endure.

BOMELIO [_waking_].
What have I heard? what is it that they say?
Amazed quite! confounded every way!
My son Hermione, I know that is the same!
And that's my prince: now comes grief and shame!

My Lord Bomelio, shun not; I know you now.
Forgive the fact my father did to you;
And what he did, impute it not to me.
Thy former place I will restore to thee.
In token of our faithful amity,
We will be joined in near affinity.

Long live Phizanties, long live in happy ease;
The gods be bless'd I live this day to see!
What please the one, shall never me displease:
Thrice happy now for all my misery.

Why then, sir, sith everything is come to so good an end,
I hope, my good master, you'll stand-by my good friend,
And give me but two or three thousand pound a year to live on.

Much in my nock, Nichols:[137] you and I shall slave it anon.

Assure thee, Penulo, thou shalt not want as long as I live.

Why then, master, mine old master, I pray you forgive
Your old runaway. 'Twas for fashion-sake: I'll do so no more.

Look you do not, sirrah, and then I pardon you therefore.

[_Enter_ VENUS _and_ FORTUNE.]

Thus everything united is by Love.
Now gods and men are reconcil'd again;
On whom, because I did my pleasure prove,
I will reward you for your former pain.
Receive the favours of our deity,
And sing the praise of Venus' sovereignty.

And for I play'd my part with Lady Love,
While each did strive for chief authority,
Your good deserts Dame Fortune so doth move
To give these signs of liberality.
Thus for amends of this your late unrest,
By Love and Fortune you shall all be blest.
And thus hereof this inward care I have,
That Wisdom ruleth Love, and Fortune both:
Though riches fail, and beauty seem to save,
Yet wisdom forward still unconquered go'th.
This, we beseech you, take friendly in worth;
And sith by Love and Fortune our troubles all do cease,
God save her majesty, that keeps us all in peace.
Now they and we do all triumph in joy,
And Love and Fortune are linked sure friends:
All grief is fled; for your annoy
Fortune and Love makes all amends.
Let us rejoice, then, in the same,
And sing high praises of their name.




[_A right excellent and famous Comoedy called the Three Ladies of London.
Wherein is Notablie declared and set foorth, how by the meanes of Lucar,
Loue and Conscience is so corrupted, that the one is married to
Dissimulation, the other fraught with all abhomination. A Perfect
Patterne for All Estates to looke into, and a worke right worthie to be
marked. Written by R.W. as it hath been publiquely played. At London,
Printed by Roger Warde, dwelling neere Holburne Conduit, at the signs
of the Talbot. 1584.[138] 4. Black letter_.]


To sit on honour's seat it is a lofty reach:
To seek for praise by making brags ofttimes doth get a breach.
We list not ride the rolling racks that dims the crystal skies,
We mean to set no glimmering glance before your courteous eyes:
We search not Pluto's pensive pit, nor taste of Limbo lake;
We do not show of warlike fight, as sword and shield to shake:
We speak not of the powers divine, ne yet of furious sprites;
We do not seek high hills to climb, nor talk of love's delights.
We do not here present to you the thresher with his flail,
Ne do we here present to you the milkmaid with her pail:
We show not you of country toil, as hedger with his bill;
We do not bring the husbandman to lop and top with skill:
We play not here the gardener's part, to plant, to set and sow:
You marvel, then, what stuff[139] we have to furnish out our show.
Your patience yet we crave a while, till we have trimm'd our stall;
Then, young and old, come and behold our wares, and buy them all.
Then, if our wares shall seem to you well-woven, good and fine,
We hope we shall your custom have again another time.



_Enter_ FAME, _sounding before_ LOVE _and_ CONSCIENCE.

Lady Conscience, what shall we say to our estates? to whom shall
we complain?
Or how shall we abridge such fates as heapeth up our pain?
'Tis Lucre now that rules the rout: 'tis she is all in all:
'Tis she that holds her head so stout; in fine, 'tis she that works
our fall.
O Conscience! I fear, I fear a day,
That we by her and Usury shall quite be cast away.

Indeed, I fear the worst, for every man doth sue,
And comes from countries strange and far of her to have a view.
Although they ought to seek true Love and Conscience clear;
But Love and Conscience few do like that lean on Lucre's chair.
Men ought be rul'd by us; we ought in them bear sway,
So should each neighbour live by other in good estate alway.

For Lucre men come from Italy, Barbary, Turkey,
From Jewry; nay, the Pagan himself
Endangers his body to gape for her pelf.
They forsake mother, prince, country, religion, kiff and kin;
Nay, men care not what they forsake, so Lady Lucre they win;
That we poor ladies may sigh to see our states thus turned and tost,
And worse and worse is like to be, where Lucre rules the roost.

You say the truth, yet God, I trust, will not admit it so,
That Love and Conscience by Lucre's lust shall catch an overthrow.

Good ladies, rest content, and you, no doubt, shall see
Them plagued with painful punishment for such their cruelty:
And if true Love and Conscience live from Lucre's lust lascivious,
Then Fame a triple crown will give, which lasteth aye victorious.

God grant that Conscience keep within the bounds of right,
And that vile Lucre do not haunt her heart with deadly spite.

And grant, O God, that Love be found in city, town, and country,
Which causeth wealth and peace abound, and pleaseth God Almighty.

But, ladies, is't your pleasure to walk abroad a while,
And recreate yourselves with measure, your sorrows to beguile?

Pass on, good Fame; your steps do frame; on you we will attend,
And pray to God, that holds the rod, our states for to defend.



_Enter_ DISSIMULATION, _having on a farmer's long coat
and a cap, and his poll and beard painted motley_.

Nay, no less than a farmer, a right honest man,
But my tongue cannot stay me to tell what I am:
Nay, who is it that knows me not by my party-colour'd head?
They may well think, that see me, my honesty is fled.
Tush! a fig for honesty: tut, let that go,
Sith men, women and children my name and doings do know.
My name is Dissimulation, and no base mind I bear,
For my outward effects my inward zeal do declare;
For men do dissemble with their wives, and their wives with them again,
So that in the hearts of them I always remain.
The child dissembles with his father, the sister with her[141] brother,
The maiden with her mistress, and the young man with his lover.[142]
There is dissimulation between neighbour and neighbour, friend and
friend, one with another,
Between the servant and his master, between brother and brother.
Then, why make you it strange that ever you knew me,
Seeing so how[143] I range thoroughout every degree?
But I forget my business: I'll towards London as fast[144] I can,
To get entertainment of one of the three ladies, like an honest man.

_Enter_ SIMPLICITY _like a miller, all mealy,
with a wand in his hand_.

They say there is preferment in London to have:
Mass, and there be, I'll be passing and brave.
Why, I'll be no more a miller, because the maidens call me Dusty-poll;
One thumps me on the neck, and another strikes me on the nol:
And you see I am a handsome fellow: mark the comporknance[145] of
my stature.
Faith, I'll go seek peradventures,[146] and be a serving-creature.

Whither away, good fellow? I pray thee, declare.

Marry, I'll 'clare thee: to London; would thou didst go there.

What if I did? would it be better for thee?

Ay, marry should it, for I love honest company.

Agreed; there is a bargain; but what shall I call thee?

'Cause thou art an honest man, I'll tell thee: my name is Simplicity,

A name agreeing to thy nature [_Aside_]: but stay; here comes more

_Enter_ FRAUD _with a sword and buckler, like a ruffian_.

Huff! once aloft, and I may hit in the right vein,
Where I may beguile easily without any great pain.
I will flaunt it and brave it after the lusty swash:[147]
I'll deceive thousands. What care I who lie in the lash?[148]

What, Fraud? well met. Whither travellest thou this way?

To London, to get entertainment there, if I may,
Of the three ladies Lucre, Love, and Conscience.
I care not whom I serve--the devil, so I may get pence.[149]

O Fraud! I know thee for a deceitful knave:
And art thou gotten so bonfacion[150] and brave?
I knew thee, when thou dwelledst at a place called Gravesend,
And the guests knew thee too, because thou wast not their friend;
For when thou shouldst bring reckoning to the guests,
Thou would put[151] twice so much, and swear it cost thy dame no less.
So thou didst deceive them and thy dame too;
And because they spied thy knavery, away thou didst go.
Then thou didst go into Hertfordshire, to a place called Ware,
And because horses stood at hay for a penny a night there,
So that thou couldst get nothing that kind of way,
Thou didst grease the horses' teeth, that they should not eat hay:
Then thou wouldst tell the rider his horse no hay would eat.
Then the man would say: Give him some other kind of meat.
Sir, shall I give him oats, vetches, pease, barley, or bread?
But whate'er thou gavest him, thou stolest three quarters,
when he was in bed.
And now thou art so proud with thy filching and cosening art!
But I think one day thou wilt not be proud of the rope and the cart.
Take a wise fellow's counsel, Fraud: leave thy cosening and filching.

Thou whoreson rascal swad,[152] avaunt! I'll bang thee for thy brawling.
How darest thou defame a gentleman, that hath so large a living?

A goodly gentleman ostler! I think none of all you will believe him.

What a clenchpoop[153] drudge is this! I can forbear him no more.

[_Let_ FRAUD _make as though he would strike him,
but let_ DISSIMULATION _step between them_.

My good friend Fraud, refrain, and care not therefore.
'Tis Simplicity, that patch; he knoweth not good from bad,
And to stand in contention with him I would think you were mad.
But tell me, Fraud, tell me, hast thou been an ostler in thy days?

Tut, I have proved an hundred such ways;
For when I could not thrive by all other trades,
I became a squire to wait upon jades.[154]
But then was then, and now is now; but let that pass:
I am, as thou seest me; what care I the devil what I was?

You say, you go to London: in faith, have with you then.

Nay, come and go with me, good, honest man;
For if thou go with him, he will teach thee all his knavery.
There is none will go with him that hath any honesty.
A bots[155] on thy motley beard! I know thee; thou art Dissimulation:
And hast thou got an honest man's coat to 'semble this fashion?
I'll tell thee what, thou wilt even 'semble and cog with thine
own father:
A couple of false knaves together, a thief and a broker.
Thou makes townsfolks believe thou art an honest man: in the country
Thou dost nothing but cog, lie, and foist with Hypocrisy.
You shall be hanged together, and go along[156] together for me,
For if I should go, the folks would say, we were knaves all three.

_Enter_ SIMONY _and_ USURY, _hand in hand_.

Friend Usury, I think we are well near at our journey's end.
But knowest thou whom I have espied?


Fraud, our great friend.

And I see another, that is now come into my remembrance.

Who is that?

Marry, Master Davy Dissimulation, a good helper, and our old acquaintance.

Now all the cards in the stock are dealt about,
The four knaves in a cluster comes ruffling out.

What, Fraud and Dissimulation! happily found out.
I marvel what piece of work you two go about.

Faith, sir, we met by chance, and towards London are bent.

And to London we hie: it is our chiefest intent,
To see if we can get entertainment of the Ladies or no.

And for the selfsame matter even thither we go.

Then, we are luckily well-met; and, seeing we wish all for one thing,
I would we our wills and wishing might win.

Yes, they will be sure to win the devil and all,
Or else they'll make a man to spew out his gall.
O that vild[157] Usury! he lent my father a little money, and for
breaking one day
He took the fee-simple of his house and mill quite away:
And yet he borrowed not half a quarter as much as it cost;
But I think, if it had been a shilling, it had been lost.
So he kill'd my father with sorrow, and undoed me quite.
And you deal with him, sirs, you shall find him a knave full of spite.
And Simony--A-per-se-A-Simony--too, he is a knave for the nonce:
He loves to have twenty livings at once;
And if he let an honest man, as I am, to have one,
He'll let it so dear that he shall be undone.
And he seeks to get parsons' livings into his hand,
And puts in some odd dunce that to his payment will stand:
So, if the parsonage be worth forty or fifty pound a year,
He will give one twenty nobles to mumble service once a month there.

SIMONY _and_ USURY _both_.
What rascal is he, that speaketh by us such villainy?

Sirs, he was at us erewhile too; it is no matter: it is a simple soul,
called Simplicity.
But here come two of the ladies; therefore make ready.


But which of us all shall first break the matter?

Marry, let Simony do it, for he finely can flatter.

Nay, sirs, because none of us shall have preheminence above other,
We will sing in fellowship together, like brother and brother.

Of truth, agreed, my masters: let it be so.

Nay, and they sing, I'll sing too. [_Aside_.

_The Song_.

Good ladies, take pity and grant our desire.

Speak boldly, and tell me what is't you require.

Your service, good ladies, is what we do crave.

We like not, nor list not such servants to have.

If you entertain us, we trusty will be;
But if you refrain us, then most unhappy.
We will come, we will run, we will bend at your beck,
We will ply, we will hie, for fear of your check.

You do feign, you do flatter: you do lie, you do prate:
You will steal, you will rob: you will kill in your hate.
I deny you, I defy you; then cease of your talking:
I refrain you, I disdain you; therefore, get you walking.

What, Fraud, Dissimulation, Usury, and Simony,
How dare you for shame presume so boldly,
As once to show yourselves before Love and Conscience,
Not yielding your lewd lives first to repentance?
Think you not, that God will plague you for your wicked practices,
If you intend not to amend your vild lives so amiss?[158]
Think you not, God knows your thoughts, words, and works,
And what secret mischiefs in the hearts of you lurks?
Then how dare you offend his heavenly majesty
With your dissembling deceit, your flattery, and your usury?

Tut, sirs, seeing Lady Conscience is so scripolous,[159]
Let us not speak to her, for I see it is frivolous.
But what say you, Lady Love? Will you grant us favour.

I'll no such servants, so ill of behaviour,
Servants more fitter for Lucre than Love,
And happy are they which refrain for to prove,
Shameless, pitiless, graceless, and quite past honesty;
Then who of good conscience but will hate your company?

Here is scripolous Conscience and nice Love indeed.
Tush! if they will not, others will: I know we shall speed.

But, lady, I stand still behind, for I am none of their company.

Why, what art thou? O, I know: thou art Simplicity.

I'faith, I am Simplicity, and would fain serve ye.

No: I may have no fools to dwell with me.

Why then, Lady Love, will you have me then?

Ay, Simplicity, thou shalt be my man.

But shall I be your good-man?

Ay, my good-man, indeed.

Ay, but I would be your good-man, and swap up a wedding with good speed.

No: Love may not marry in any case with Simplicity;
But if thou wilt serve me, I'll receive it willingly:
And if thou wilt not, what remedy?

Yes, I will serve ye: but will ye go into dinner, for I am hungry?

Come, Lady Conscience: pleaseth you to walk home from this company?

With right goodwill, for their sights pleaseth not me.


Fraud is the clubbish knave, and Usury the hard-hearted knave,
And Simony the diamon' dainty knave,
And Dissimulation the spiteful knave of spade.
Come there any mo knaves? come there any mo?
I see four knaves stand in a row.

[_Let_ FRAUD _run at him,[161] and let_ SIMPLICITY
_run in, and come out again straight_.

Away, drudge! begone quickly.

I wous:[162] do thrust out my eyes with a lady.

Did you ever see gentlemen so rated at before?
But it skills not: I hope one day to turn them both out of door.

We were arrantly flouted, railed at, and scoff'd in our kind.
That same Conscience is a vild terror to man's mind.
Yet, faith, I care not, for I have borne many more than these,
When I was conversant with the clergy beyond the seas;
And he that will live in this world must not care what such say,
For they are blossoms blown down, not to be found after May.

Faith, care that care will, for I care not a point.
I have shifted[163] hitherto, and whilst I live I will jeopard a joint;
And at my death I will leave my inheritor behind,
That shall be of the right stamp to follow my mind.
Therefore let them prate, till their hearts ache, and spit out
their evil:
She cannot quail me, if she came in likeness of the great devil.

Mass, Fraud, thou hast a doughty heart to make a hangman of,
For thou hast good skill to help men from the coff.
But we were arrantly flouted, yet I thought she had not known me;
But I perceive, though Dissimulation do disguise him, Conscience can see.
What though Conscience perceive it, all the world cannot beside,
Tush! there be a thousand places, where we ourselves may provide.
But look, sirs; here cometh a lusty lady towards us in haste;
But speak to her, if you will, that we may be all plac'd.


I pray thee do, for thou art the likeliest to speed.

Why then I'll tout with a stomach in hope of good speed.
Fair lady, all the gods of good fellowship kiss ye--would say bless ye--

Thou art very pleasant, and full of thy rope-ripe--I would say rethoric.

Lady, you took me at the worst: I beseech you therefore
To pardon my boldness, offending no more.

We do; the matter is not great, but what wouldest thou have?
How shall I call thee, and what is't thou dost crave?

I am called Dissimulation, and my earnest request
Is to crave entertainment for me and the rest,
Whose names are Fraud, Usury, and Simony,
Great carers for your health, wealth, and prosperity.

Fraud, Dissimulation, Usury, and Simony,
Now truly I thank you for proffering your service to me;
You are all heartily welcome, and I will appoint straightway,
Where each one in his office in great honour shall stay.
But, Usury, didst thou never know my grandmother, the old Lady
Lucre of Venice?

Yes, madam; I was servant unto her, and lived there in bliss.

But why camest thou into England, seeing Venice is a city,
Where Usury by Lucre may live in great glory?

I have often heard your good grandmother tell,
That she had in England a daughter, which her far did excel;
And that England was such a place for Lucre to bide,
As was not in Europe and the whole world beside.
Then, lusting greatly to see you and the country, she being dead,
I made haste to come over to serve you in her stead.

Gramercy, Usury; and I doubt not but that you shall live here as
Ay, and pleasanter, too, if it may be. But, Simony, from whence
came ye, tell me?[164]

My birth, nursery and bringing-up hitherto hath been in Rome,
that ancient religious city.
On a time the monks and friars made a banquet, whereunto they invited me,
With certain other some English merchants, which belike were of their
So, talking of many matters, amongst others one began to debate
Of the abundant substance still brought to that state.
Some said the increase of their substance and wealth
Came from other princes, and was brought thither by stealth:
But the friars and monks, with all the ancient company,
Said that it first came, and is now upholden by me, Simony;
Which the English merchants gave ear to: then they flattered a little
too much,
As Englishmen can do for advantage, when increase it doth touch;
And being a-shipboard merry, and overcome with drink on a day,
The wind served, they hoist sail, and so brought me away:
And landing here, I heard in what great estimation you were,
[And] made bold to your honour to make my repair.

Well, Simony, I thank thee; but as for Fraud and Dissimulation,
I know their long continuance, and after what fashion.
Therefore, Dissimulation, you shall be my Steward,
An office that every man's case by you must be preferred.
And you, Fraud, shall be my rent-gatherer, my letter of leases,
and my purchaser of land,
So that many old bribes will come to thy hand.
And, Usury, because I know you be trusty, you shall be my secretary,
To deal amongst merchants, to bargain and exchange money.
And Simony, because you are a sly fellow, and have your tongue liberal,
I will place you over such matters as are ecclesiastical.
And though we appoint sundry offices, where now ye are in,
Yet jointly we mean to use you together ofttimes in one thing.

Lady, we rest at your command in ought we can or may.

Then, Master Davy, to my palace haste thee away,
And will Crafty Conveyance, my butler, to make ready
The best fare in the house to welcome thee and thy company.
But stay, Dissimulation, I myself will go with thee.
Gentlemen, I'll go before; but pray, in any case,
So soon as ye please, resort to my place.


I warrant you, lady,[165] we will not long absent be.

Fellow Simony, this fell out pat, so well as heart could wish.
We are cunning anglers: we have caught the fattest fish.
I perceive it is true that her grandmother told:
Here is good to be done by use of silver and gold.
And sith I am so well settled in this country,
I will pinch all, rich and poor, that come to me.

And sirrah, when I was at Rome, and dwelt in the Friary,
They would talk how England yearly sent over a great mass of money,
And that this little island was more worth to the Pope,
Than three bigger realms which had a great deal more scope;
For here were smoke-pence, Peter-pence, and Paul-pence to be paid,
Besides much other money that to the Pope's use was made.
Why, it is but lately since the Pope received this fine,
Not much more than twenty-six years--it was in Queen Mary's time.[166]
But I think England had never known what this gear had meant,
If Friar Austin from the Pope had not hither been sent;
For the Pope, hearing it to be a little island, sent him with a great
army over,
And winning the victory, he landed about Rye, Sandwich, or Dover:
Then he erected laws, having the people in subjection;
So for the most part England hath paid tribute so long--
I, hearing of the great store and wealth in the country,
Could not choose but persuade myself the people loved Simony.

But stay your talk till some other time: we forget my lady.

Of troth you say true, for she bad us make haste: [_Aside_.]
But my talk, me-thought, savoured well, and had a good taste.

[_Exeunt ambo_.

_Enter_ MERCATORE _like an Italian Merchant_.

I judge in my mind a, dat me be not vare far
From da place where dwells my Lady Lucar.
But here come an shentlymane, a, soe he do.


Shentleman, I pray you heartily, let me speak you.
Pray you, do you not know a shentleman dat Master Davy do call?

Yes, marry, do I: I am he, and what would you withal?

Gooda my friend, Master Davy, help me, pray you heartily,
For a some-a acquaintance a with Madonna Lucar, your lady.

Sir, upon condition I will: therefore I would you should know,
That on me and my fellows you must largely bestow;
Whose names are Fraud, Usury, and Simony, men of great credit and calling,
And to get my lady's goodwill and theirs it is no small thing.
But tell me, can you be content to win Lucre by Dissimulation?

A, gooda my friend, do axe-a me no shush a question,
For he dat will live in the world must be of the world sure;
And de world will love his own, so long as the world endure.

I commend your wit, sir; but here comes my lady.

_Enter_ LUCRE.

Come hither: here's to tree crowns for de speak me.

Well, sir, I thank you: I will go speak for you.

Master Davy Dissimulation, what new acquaintance have ye gotten there?

Such a one, madam, that unto your state hath great care;
And surely in my mind the gentleman is worthy
To be well-thought on for his liberality, bounty, and great care
to seek ye.

Gentleman, you are heartily welcome: how are you called, I pray
you tell us?

Madonna, me be a mershant, and be call'd Signer Mercatore.

But, I pray you, tell me what countryman?

Me be, Madonna, an Italian.

Yet let me trouble ye: I beseech ye whence came ye?

For salva vostra buona grazia,[167] me come from Turkey.

Gramercy: but Signor Mercatore, dare you not to undertake
Secretly to convey good commodities out of this country for my sake?

Madonna, me do for love of you tink no pain too mush,
And to do anyting for you me will not grush:
Me will a forsake a my fader, moder, king, country, and more dan dat;
Me will lie and forswear meself for a quarter so much as my hat.
What is dat for love of Lucre me dare, or will not do?
Me care not for all the world, the great devil, nay, make my God
angry for you.

You say well, Mercatore; yet Lucre by this is not thoroughly won:
But give ear, and I will show what by thee must be done.
Thou must carry over wheat, pease, barley, oats, and vetches,
and all kind of grain,
Which is well sold beyond sea, and bring such merchants great gain.
Then thou must carry beside leather, tallow, beef, bacon, bell-metal
and everything,
And for these good commodities trifles into England thou must bring;
As bugles to make bables, coloured bones, glass beads to make bracelets
For every day gentlewomen of England do ask for such trifles from stall
to stall:
And you must bring more, as amber, jet, coral, crystal, and every
such babble,
That is slight, pretty and pleasant: they care not to have it profitable.
And if they demand wherefore your wares and merchandise agree,
You must say jet will take up a straw: amber will make one fat:
Coral will look pale, when you be sick, and crystal staunch blood.
So with lying, flattering and glosing you must utter your ware,
And you shall win me to your will, if you can deceitfully swear.

Tink ye not dat me have carried over corn, leader, beef and bacon too,
all tis while?
And brought heder many babbles dese countrymen to beguile?
Yes; shall me tell you, Madonna I me and my countrymans have sent over
Bell-metal for make ordnance, yea, and ordnance itself beside,
Dat my country and oder countries be so well furnish as dis country,
and has never been spi'd.

Now I perceive you love me; and if you continue in this still,
You shall not only be with me, but command me when and where you will.

Lady, for to do all dis and more for you me be content;
But I tink some skall[168] knave will put a bill in da Parliament,
For dat such a tings shall not be brought here.

Tush, Mercatore! I warrant thee, thou needest not to fear.
What, and one do? there is some other will flatter, and say
They do no hurt to the country, and with a sleight fetch that bill away.
And if they do not, so that by Act of Parliament it be pass'd,
I know you merchants have many a sleight and subtle cast,
So that you will by stealth bring over great store,
And say it was in the realm a long time before.
For being so many of these trifles here, as there are at this day,
You may increase them at pleasure, when you send over sea;
And do but give the searcher an odd bribe in his hand,
I warrant you, he will let you 'scape roundly with such things in
and out the land.
But, Signor Mercatore, I pray you walk in with me,
And as I find you kind to me, so will I favour ye.

Me tank you, my good lady. But, Master Dissimulation, here is for
your fellows, Fraud, Usury, and Simony, and say me give it dem.

[_Exeunt LUCRE and MERCATORE_.

Ay marry, sir, these bribes have welcome[169] been.
Good faith, I perceive, Dissimulation, Fraud, Usury, and Simony
shall live
In spite of Love and Conscience, though their hearts it doth grieve.
Mass, masters, he that cannot lie, cog, dissemble and flatter now-a-days,
Is not worthy to live in the world, nor in the court to have praise.

_Enter_ ARTIFEX, _an Artificer_.

I beseech you, good Master Dissimulation, befriend a poor man
To serve Lady Lucre; and sure, sir, I'll consider it hereafter, if I can.

What, consider me? dost thou think that I am a bribetaker?
Faith, it lies not in me to further thy matter.

Good Master Dissimulation, help me: I am almost quite undone;
But yet my living hitherto with Conscience I have won,
But my true working, my early rising, and my late going to bed
Is scant able to find myself, wife and children dry bread:
For there be such a sort of strangers in this country,
That work fine to please the eye, though it be deceitfully;
And that which is slight, and seems to the eye well,
Shall sooner than a piece of good work be proffered to sell;
And our Englishmen be grown so foolish and nice,
That they will not give a penny above the ordinary price.

Faith, I cannot help thee: 'tis my fellow Fraud must pleasure thee.
Here comes my fellow Fraud: speak to him, and I'll do what I can.

_Enter_ FRAUD.

I beseech you be good unto me, right honest gentleman.

Why and whereto? what wouldest thou have me do?

That my poor estate you will so much prefer,
As to get me to be a workman to Lady Lucre;
And, sir. I doubt not but to please you so well for your pain,
That you shall think very well of me, if I in her service remain.

Good fellow Fraud, do so much; for I see he is very willing to live,
And some piece of work to thee for thy pains he will give.

Well, upon that condition I will; but I care not so much for his gifts,
As that he will by my name declare how he came by his great thrifts,
And that he will set out in every kind of thing,
That Fraud is a good husband, and great profit doth bring.
Therefore the next piece of work that thou dost make,
Let me see how deceitful thou wilt do it for my sake.

Yes, I will, sir; of that be you sure:
I'll honour your name, while life doth endure.

Fellow Fraud, here comes a citizen, as I deem.

Nay, rather a lawyer, or some pettifogger he doth seem.

_Enter a_ LAWYER.

Gentlemen, my earnest suit is to desire ye,
That unto your lady's service you would help me;
For I am an attorney of the law, and pleader at the bar,
And have a great desire to plead for Lady Lucre.
I have been earnest, sir, as is needful in such a case,
For fear another come before me, and obtain my place.
I have pleaded for Love and Conscience, till I was weary:
I had many clients, and many matters that made my purse light,
and my heart heavy:
Therefore let them plead for Conscience that list for me;
I'll plead no more for such as brings nothing but beggary.

Sir, upon this condition that you will keep men in the law
Ten or twelve years for matters that are not worth a straw,
And that you will make an ill matter seem good and firmable indeed,
Faith, I am content for my part you shall speed.

Nay, fellow, thou knowest that Simony and Usury hath an ill-matter
in law at this time;
Now, if thou canst handle the matter so subtle and fine,
As to plead that ill-matter good and firmable at the bar,
Then thou shalt show thyself worthy to win Lady Lucre.
Therefore tell me if you can or will do it, or no:
If you do it, be sure to get my lady's goodwill, ere you go.

By my honesty, well-rememb'red: I had quite forgot;
'Tis about that a fortnight ago fell out, the matter I wot.

Tush, sir, I can make black white, and white black again.
Tut, he that will be a lawyer must have a thousand ways to feign:
And many times we lawyers do one befriend another,
And let good matters slip! tut, we agree like brother and brother.
Why, sir, what shall let us to wrest and turn the law as we list,
Seeing we have them printed in the palms of our fist?
Therefore doubt you not, but make bold report,
That I came and will plead their ill-cause in good kind of sort.

Of troth, how likest thou this fellow, Dissimulation?

Marry, I like him well: he is a cunning clerk, and one of our profession.
But come, sir, go with us, and we will prefer you.

Good Master Fraud, remember me.

Leave thy prating: I will, I tell thee.

Good Master Dissimulation, think on me.

Thou art too importunate and greedy.

Come after dinner, or some other time, when we are at leisure.


Come after dinner, or some other time! I think so[170] indeed,
For full little do they think of a poor man's need.
These fellows will do nothing for pity and love,
And thrice happy are they that hath no need them to prove.
God he knows the world is grown to such a stay,
That men must use Fraud and Dissimulation too, or beg by the way.
Therefore I'll do as the most doth; the fewest shall laugh me to scorn,
And be a fellow amongst good fellows to hold by St Luke's horn.


Good Cousin Simplicity, do somewhat for me.

Yes, faith, Cousin Sincerity, I'll do anything for thee.
What wouldst for me to do for thee? canst tell that?

Mass, I cannot tell what shouldst do for me, except thou wouldst
give me a new hat.

Alas! I am not able to give thee a new.
Why, I marvel then how thou dost do:
Dost thou get thy living amongst beggars, from door to door?
Indeed, Cousin Sincerity, I had thought thou wast not so poor.

Nay, Cousin Simplicity, I got my living hardly, but yet I hope just,
And with good conscience too, although I am restrained from my lust.
But this is it, Cousin Simplicity, I would request you to do for me,
Which is to get Lady Love and Lady Conscience' hand to a letter,
That by their means I may get some benefice, to make me live the better.

Yes; I'll do so much for thee, cousin; but hast thou any here?

Ay, behold they are ready-drawn, if assigned[171] they were.

[_Let_ SIMPLICITY _make as though he read it, and
look quite over; meanwhile let_ CONSCIENCE _enter_.

Let me see, cousin, for I can read.
Mass, 'tis bravely done: didst thou it indeed?
Mistress Conscience, I have a matter to bequest you to.

What is't? I doubt not but 'tis some wise thing, if it be for you.

Marry, my cousin Sincerity wad desire to scribe these papers here,
That he may get some preferment, but I know not where.

Be these your letters? what would you have me do, and how
shall I call ye?

Lady, my name is Sincerity.

And from whence come ye?

I came from Oxford, but in Cambridge I studied late;[172]
Having nothing, thought good, if I could, to make better my state:
But if I had, instead of divinity, the law, astronomy, astrology,
Physiognomy, palmestry, arithmetic, logic, music, physic,
or any such thing,
I had not doubted, then, but to have had some better living.
But divines, that preach the word of God sincerely and truly,
Are in these days little or nothing at all[173] set by.
God grant the good preachers be not taken away for our unthankfulness!
There never was more preaching and less following,
the people live so amiss.
But what is he that may not on the Sabbath-day attend to
hear God's word,
But he will rather run to bowls, sit at the alehouse,
than one hour afford,
Telling a tale of Robin Hood, sitting at cards, playing at
skittles[174], or some other vain thing,
That I fear God's vengeance on our heads it will bring.
God grant amendment! But, Lady Conscience, I pray,
In my behalf unto Lucre do what ye may.

Mass, my cousin can say his book well: I had not thought it.
He's worthy to have a benefice, and it will hit.

God be blessed, Sincerity, for the good comfort I have of thee:
I would it lay in us to pleasure such, believe me.
We will do what we can; but _ultra posse non est esse_, you know:
It is Lucre that hath brought us poor souls so low;
For we have sold our house, we are brought so poor,
And fear by her shortly to be shut out of door.
Yet to subscribe our name we will with all our heart:
Perchance for our sakes something she will impart.
Come hither, Simplicity; let me write on thy back.

Here is the right picture of that fellow that sits in the corner.[175]

_Enter_ HOSPITALITY, _while she is writing_.

Lady, methinks you are busy.

I have done, sir. I was setting my hand to a letter to Lucre
for our friend Sincerity.
But I would Lady Love were here too.

She is at home with me; but, if it please, so much in her behalf
I will do.

I pray you[176] heartily, and it shall suffice the turn well enou'.
Good Simplicity, once more thy body do bow.

I think I shall serve[177] to be a washing-block for you. [_Aside_.
I would do it for you, but I am afraid yonder boy will mock me.

No; I warrant thee.

Here, take thy letters, Sincerity; and I wish them prosperous
to thee.[178]

I yield you most hearty thanks, my good lady.

Lady Conscience, pleaseth it you to walk home to dinner with me?[179]

I give you thanks,[180] my good friend Hospitality;
But I pray, sir, have you invited to dinner any stranger?

No, sure; none but Lady Love, and three or four honest neighbours.

Mass, my lady is gotten to dinner already:
I believe she rose at ten o'clock, she is so hungry.
What, and I should come to dinner, hast thou any good cheer.

I have bread and beer, one joint of meat, and welcome, thy best fare.

Why, art thou call'd Hospitality, and hast no better cheer than that?
I'll tell thee, if thou hast no more meat for so many, they'll
ne'er be fat.
What, if my cousin--nay, I myself alone--to dinner should come,
Where should my lady and the rest dine, for I could eat up every crumb?
Thou art an old miser: dost thou keep no better fare in thy house?
Hast thou no great bag-pudding, nor hog's-face that is called souse?

My friend, hospitality doth not consist in great fare and banqueting,
But in doing good unto the poor, and to yield them some refreshing;
Therefore, thou and Sincerity will come and take part:
Such as I have I'll give you with a free and willing heart.


He speaks well, cousin; let's go to dinner with him.
The old man shall not think but we will pleasure him.
Faith, he might have richer fellows than we to take his part,
But he shall never have better eating fellows, if he would
swelt his heart.
Here be them that will eat with the proudest of them;
I am sure my mother said I could eat so much as five men.
Nay, I have a gift for eating, I tell ye,
For our maids would never believe I put all the meat in my belly.
But I have spied a knave, my Lady Lucre's cogging man.
Give me your letters, cousin; I'll prefer ye, if I can.


Dissimulation! out upon him! he shall be no spokeman for me.

Why then you are a fool, Cousin Sincerity.
Give me 'em;[181] I tell ye, I know he'll do it for me.

Seeing thou wilt have it, here receive it; but yet it grieves my heart
That this dissembling wretch should speak on my part.

Hear ye, sir, I would request [you] to 'liver this letter
To your good wholesome mistress, Lady Lucre.

Where hadst thou it, tell me?

Marry, of my Cousin Sincerity.

Why, I have nothing to do in it; 'tis not to me thou shouldst come:
I have not to do with Sincerity's matters: 'tis my fellow Simony's room.

Thou art akin to the lawyer; thou wilt do nothing without a fee:
But thou, Fraud, Usury, nor yet Simony, shall do nothing for me.
And thou wilt do it, do it; and thou wilt not, choose,
But thee and their dealing I hate and refuse.

Why, and I am not bound to thee so far as knave go,
And therefore, in despite of thee and thy cousin, there thy letters be.
What, thinkest thou by captious words to make me do it?
Let them deliver your letters that hath a stomach to it.

Faith, cousin, he's such a testern[182] and proud, 'sembling knave,
That he'll do nothing, 'less some bribery he have.
There's a great many such promoting knaves, that gets their living
With nothing else but facing, lying, swearing, and flattering.
Why, he has a face like a black dog,[183] and blusheth like the
back-side of a chimney.
'Twas not for nothing thy godfathers a cogging name gave thee.

[_Enter_ LADY LUCRE.

But here comes his mistress Lady Lucre:
Now, cousin, I'll 'liver your letter.
Mistress Lady Lucre, here's a letter for ye.

Hast thou a letter for me?

Yes, by Saint Mary.
How say you, cousin? she reads your letter:
And you can flatter, perhaps you shall speed better.

Thou speakest the truth, Simplicity; for flatterers now-a-days
Live gentlemen-like, and with prating get praise.

Sir, I have read the tenure of your letter, wherein I find
That at the request of Love and Conscience I should show myself kind
In bestowing some spiritual living on ye, parsonage, or benefice:
It seems it stands greatly in need, as appears by this.
And, trust me, I would do for you; but it lies not in me,
For I have referred all such matters to my servant Simony.
You must speak to him, and if you can get his goodwill,
Then be sure of mine their minds to fulfil.

Lady, I shall never get his goodwill, because I want ability,
For he will do nothing, except I bring money.
And if you grant it not, then, 'tis past all doubt,
I shall be never the better, but go quite without.

Madam, I can tell you what you may give,
Not hurting yourself, whereby he may live,
And without my fellow Simony's consent,
If to follow my mind you are any whit bent.

Pray thee, what is it? thou knowest, while for their house I am
in bargaining,
And it be never so little, I must seem to do something.

Why, have you not the parsonage of St Nihil to bestow?
If you give him that, Simony shall never know.

Indeed, thou sayest true. Draw near, Sincerity:
Lo, for their sakes I will bestow frankly on thee.
I'll give thee the parsonage of Saint Nihil to pleasure them withal,
And such another to it, if thou watch, till it fall.

My lady axes you, when you will take possession of your house,
and lend the rest of the money.

What, are they so hasty? belike they spent it merrily.

Faith, no; for they would eat it, if they could get it, when they
are a-hungry.
But you may be happy, for you have sped well to-day:
[_Speaking to_ SINCERITY.
You may thank God and good company that you came this way.
The parsonage of St Michael's; by'r Lady, if you have nothing else,
You shall be sure of a living, beside a good ring of bells.
Cousin, I'll tell thee what thou shalt do: sell the bells, and make money.

Thou mayest well be Simplicity, for thou showest thy folly.
I have a parsonage, but what? of St Nihil; and Nihil is nothing:
Then, where is the church, or any bells for to ring?
Thou understandest her not: she was set for to flout.
I thought, coining in their names, I should go without.
'Tis easy to see that Lucre loves not Love and Conscience;
But God, I trust, will one day yield her just recompense.

Cousin, you said that something to me you would give,
When you had gotten preferment of Lucre to live,
And I trust you will remember your poor cousin Simplicity:
You know to Lady Conscience and e'rybody I did speak for you.

Good Simplicity, hold thy peace: my state is yet nought.
I will help thee, sure, if ever I get ought.
But here comes Sir Nicholas Nemo: to him I will go,
And see if for their sakes he will anything bestow.


You come from Love and Conscience, as seemeth me here,
My special good friends, whom I account of most dear:
And you are called Sincerity; your state shows the same.
You are welcome to me for their sakes, and for your own name;
And for their sakes you shall see what I will do for you
Without Dissimulation, Fraud, Usury, or Simony;
For they will do nothing without some kind of gain,
Such cankered corruption in their hearts doth remain.
But come in to dinner with me, and when you have din'd,
You shall have--
[_Presently go out_.

You shall have--but what? a living that is blown down with the wind.

Now, cousin, dismember your friends, seeing two livings you have,
One that this man promis'd, and another that Lady Lucre gave.
Mass, you'll be a jolly man, and you had three or four more:
Let's beg apace, cousin, and we shall get great store.
Do thou get some more letters, and I'll get them scribed of
Mistress Love and Conscience,
And we'll go beg livings together; we'll beg no small pence.
How sayest thou, Cousin Sincerity? wut do so mich?
If we can speak fair and 'semble, we shall be plaguy rich.

Good Simplicity, content thee: I am never the better for this,
But must of force leave off, for I see how vain it is.
It boots not Sincerity to sue for relief:
So few regard [me,] that to me is a grief.
This was Nicholas Nemo, and No-Man hath no place:
Then how can I speed well in this heavy case?
And no man bid me to dinner, when shall I dine?
Or how shall I find him--where, when, and at what time?
Wherefore the relief I have had, and shall have, is small;
But to speak truth, the relief is nothing at all.
But come, Simplicity, let us go see what may be had.
Sincerity in these days was, sure, born to be sad.

Come, let's go to dinner, cousin, for the gentleman, I think,
hath almost din'd,
But, and I do get victuals enough, I'll warrant you, I will
not be behind.

What, if thou canst not get it then, how wilt thou eat?

Marry, on this fashion; with both hands at once; ye shall see,
when I get meat.

Why, his name was Nemo, and Nemo hath no being.

I believe, cousin, you be not hungry, that you stand prating.
Faith, I'll go do him a pleasure, because he hath need.
Why, and he will needs have meat eat, a' shall see how I'll feed.
I believe he will not bid me come again to him:
Mass, and he do, a' shall find a fellow that has his eating.

[_Exeunt ambo_.


Lady Conscience, is there anybody within your house, can you tell?

There is nobody at all, be ye sure: I know certainly well.

You know, when one comes to take possession of any piece of land,
There must not be one within, for against the order of law it doth stand.
Therefore I thought good to ask you; but I pray you think not amiss,
For both you and almost all others knows, that an old custom it is.

You say truth: take possession, when you please; good leave I render ye.
Doubt you not; there is neither man, woman, nor child, that will or
shall hinder ye.[184]

Why, then, I will be bold to enter.

Who is more bold than Usury to venter?
He maketh the matter dangerous, where is no need at all,
But he thinks it not perilous to seek every man's fall.
Both he and Lucre hath so pinch'd us, we know not what to do:
Were it not for Hospitality, we knew not whither to go.
Great is the misery that we poor ladies abide,
And much more is the cruelty of Lucre and Usury beside,
O Conscience, thou art not accounted of; O Love, thou art little set by,
For almost every one true love and pure conscience doth deny:
So hath Lucre crept into the bosom of man, woman and child,
That every one doth practise his dear friend to beguile.
But God grant Hospitality be not by them overprest,
In whom all our stay and chiefest comfort doth rest:
But Usury hates Hospitality, and cannot him abide,
Because he for the poor and comfortless doth provide.
Here he comes that hath undone many an honest man,
And daily seeks to destroy, deface, and bring to ruin, if he can--
Now, sir, have you taken possession, as your dear lady will'd you?

_Enter_ USURY.

I have done it, and I think you have received your money.
But this to you: my lady will'd me to bid you provide some other
house out of hand,
For she would not by her will have Love and Conscience to dwell in
her land.
Therefore I would wish you to provide ye;
So ye should save charges, for a less house may serve ye.

I pray you heartily, let us stay there, and we will be content
To give you ten pound a year, which is the old rent.

Ten pound a year! that were a stale jest,
If I should take the old rent to follow your request.
Nay, after forty pound a year you shall have it for a quarter,
And you may think, too, I greatly befriend ye in this matter:
But no longer than for a quarter to you I'll set it,
For perhaps my lady shall sell it, or else to some other will let it.

Well, sith we are driven to this hard and bitter drift,
We accept it, and are contented to make bare and hard shift.

Then, get you gone, and see at a day your rent be ready.

We must have patience perforce, seeing there is no remedy.

What a fool was I! it repents me I have let it so reasonable.
I might so well have had after threescore as such a trifle;
For, seeing they were distressed, they would have given largely.
I was a right sot; but I'll be overseen no more, believe me.


Ah, my good a friend Master Usury! by my trot', you be very well-met.
Me be much beholden unto you for your goodwill; me be in your debt.
But a me take a your part so much against a scald old churl, call'd
Did speak against you, and says you bring good honest men to beggary.

I thank you, sir. Did he speak such evil of me, as you now say?
I doubt not but to reward him for his treachery one day.

But, I pray, tell a me how fare a my lady all dis while?

Marry, very well,[185] sir; and here she comes, if myself I do
not beguile.

_Enter_ LUCRE.

What, Signer Mercatore! I have not seen you many a day:
I marvel what is the cause you kept so long away.

Shall me say you, Madonna, dat me have had much business for you in hand,
For send away good commodities out of dis little country England:
Me have now sent over brass, copper, pewter, and many oder ting,
And for dat me shall ha for gentlewomans fine trifles, that great
profit will bring.

I perceive you have been mindful of me, for which I thank ye.
But, Usury, tell me, how have you sped in that you went about?

Indifferently, lady, you need not to doubt.
I have taken possession, and because they were destitute,
I have let it for a quarter; my tale to conclude,
Marry, I have a little raised the rent, but it is but forty pound


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