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

Part 6 out of 9

Look, Will, and guess.

'Tis a toad in a shell.

I had as lief ye had said a frog in a well.

Is't not a great butterfly? Will, can'st thou tell?

What is it in sadness?

A tortoise, my boy; whose shell is so hard that a loaden cart may go
over and not break it, and so she is safe within, and wheresoever she
goes she bears it on her back, needing neither other succour or shelter,
but her shell. The word underneath her is _Providens securus_, the
provident is safe, like the tortoise armed with his own defence, and
defended with his own armour; in shape somewhat round, signifying
compass, wherein always the provident foresee to keep themselves within
their own compass, my boy.

Wittily spoken. Now, Wealth's master hath got a daffadowndilly.

If Will had not been wilful, now, he might have said a lily, whose
glory is without comparison and beauty matchless; for Solomon, the most
sumptuous king that ever was, was never comparable in glory with the
lily; neither is there any city matchable with the pomp of London.
Mistake me not, good boys, that this pomp tends to pride; yet London
hath enough, but my Lord Pomp doth rightly represent the stately
magnificence and sumptuous estate, without pride or vainglory, to
London accommodate; and therefore the word is well applied to the
impress (_Glory sans peere_), for that the lily is neither proud of the
beauty, nor vainglorious of the pomp; no more is London; but if it be
joyful of anything, it is of the grace and plenty, both flowing from
two such fountains as becomes not us to name. Now, therefore, my good
boys, know that my master is rather Magnificence than Pomp in bad sense,
and rather Pomp than Pride in the best sense.

And my lord is not Pleasure sprung of Voluptuousness, but of such
honourable and kind conceit as heaven and humanity well brooks and
allows: Pleasure pleasing, not pernicious.

Who would have thought that Will had been so philosophous? But what
means the word _Pour temps_ in the shield for time?

Wit, shall I call the[e] fool? the best pleasure of all lasts but a time:
For of all pleasures most pleasing to sight,
Methinks there is none to the falcon's high flight;
Yet diseases end it: the breach of a wing,
Nay, the breach of a feather, spoils that sweet thing.

And so my master hath the 'vantage, will ye or no.
Pomp and Pleasure may be ill.

May not Policy be bad?

Wit, well-overtaken by Will, that crafty lad.

A crafty goose: the gander gives him health.
Bad Policy's seldom found in so Christian a commonwealth
As London is, I trust, where my master is a lord.

And ours so too.

Well, let us accord;
For Wit's a good thing, yet may be ill-applied.

And so may Wealth, be it employed in pride,
And Will worst of all, when it disdains a guide.

A Jackanapes hath wit.

And so he hath Will.

But he never hath Wealth: now ye are both still.

Yes, he wears a chain.[234]

Well-spoke, and like a bearward.

If ye be _non plus_, let the matter fall.

Wit, dost thou see? thus goes Wealth away with all.

Let's reason no further, for we shall have glee.
Here is a challenger to our shields: step we aside.

_Enter_ SIMPLICITY _in bare black, like a poor citizen_.

He will eat them, I think, for he gapes very wide.

Say nothing to him, and ye shall see the fool go by.

Sirrah, gape not so wide for fear of a fly.

Fly, flam-flurt! Why, can a fly do hurt?

Yea, have ye not heard that the fly hath her spleen,
And the ant her gall?

My uncle hath so, I ween; for it's an angry old fellow,
When his gall runs over: children, good day;
Whose pretty lads are you three?

Three! are you sure?

I'll not swear, till I have told you: one, two, three.

I beshrew thee.

Me, boy? Why, I am beshrewed already, for I am married.

Then, thou hast a wife.

Yea, I would thou hadd'st her, if thou could'st stay her tongue.

I thy wife, man! Why, I am too young.

And I am too old. But in good earnest, good boys--be not angry that I
call you boys, for ye are no men yet: ye have no beards, and yet I have
seen boys angry for being called boys. Forsooth they would be called
youths: well, yet a boy is a boy, and a youth is a youth.--Well, if ye
be not ashamed of the boy, good boys, whose boys are ye?

No whit ashamed, sir, of that that we are, nor ashamed at all of those
whom we serve? for boys we be, and as we be, we serve the three Lords
of London: to wit, Policy, Pomp, and Pleasure.

A pretty-spoken child, and a pretty wit.

Wit's his name, indeed: are ye one of his godfathers, ye hit it so right?

It is more than I know: then, is thy name Wit, boy? Now, of mine honesty,
welcome, for I have wanted thee a great while.

Welcome, sir! how so? why do ye entertain me so kindly? I cannot dwell
with you, for I have a master already.

So have I, too, but she learns me little wit--my wife, I mean. Well, all
this while I stand here, my wares are not abroad, and so I may lose both
my customers and market.

Wares, sir! have ye wares? what wares do ye sell?

Truly, child, I sell ballads. Soft; whose wares are these that are up
already?[235] I paid rent for my standing, and other folks' wares shall
be placed afore mine? this is wise, indeed.

O, the fineness of the wares, man, deserves to have good place.

They are fine indeed. Who sells them, can ye tell? Is he free?

Our masters be: we wait on this ware, and yet we are no chapmen.

Chapmen: no, that's true, for you are no men: neither chapmen nor
chopmen, nor chipmen nor shipmen; but if ye be chappers, choppers, or
chippers, ye are but chapboys; and, chapboys, ye are double.

Double! how is it? Teach me that, and you will make me laugh a little.

And me a little.

And me a little.

Then your three little laughs will make one great laugh.

True; for if three fools were one fool, that were a great fool.
[_Points to_ SIMPLICITY.
But how are we double chapboys?

Because ye have two chaps, an upper chap and a nether chap.

Ha, ha, ha!

Ha, ha, ha!

Ha, ha, ha!

You said you would laugh but a little, but you laugh a great deal:
why do ye laugh so much?

Because your wit was so great in expounding your meaning.

Ye may see it is a good thing to have wit.

I thank you, sir.

And what say you to Wealth?

Wealth? Marry, Wealth is better.

I thank you, sir.

And how say you to Will?

Indeed, good Will is a great matter.

Yea, between a maid and a bachelor.

Why, you are not in love, boy?

Yes, but I am, and in charity too.

Charity! alas, poor child! thou in charity? ha, ha! now must I laugh.

But you laugh a great while, and you laugh very loud.

Then, I owe you nothing for laughing, and you hear me the better.

But now laugh not we.

No, you may be maddle-coddle.[236] Well, here's three passing fine lads,
if a man were able to keep them all. Let me see: Wealth! O, that's a
sweet lad: then Wit! O, that's a fine lad: Will: O, that's a pretty lad.
Will, Wit, and Wealth, God lend ye health. I would I could guile their
masters of two of them. If I had Fraud here, that served Lady Lucre, he
would teach me: he would teach me to 'tice one of them from his master.
Which of them, now, if a man should steal one? Will? nay, I care not for
Will, outsep[237] he be good-will. Wit? a pretty child, but a man cannot
live by wit. Wealth? Yea, marry, sir, I would I could win that Wealth,
for then I need neither Will nor Wit; nor I need sell no ballads, but
live like a mouse in a mill, and have another to grind my meal for me.
I'll have a fling at one of them anon.

Do you not forget yourself, gaffer?

Have ye not wares to sell, gaffer?

When do you show, gaffer?

Well-rememb'red, pretty lad: ye may see children can teach old folks.
I am an unthrift, indeed. Well, my wares shall out now. But, sirs,
how sell you your wares? How many of these for a groat?

Our wares are not to be sold.

Not for silver nor gold? Why hang they, then, in the open market?

To be seen, not bought.

Then they are like ripe plums upon a rich man's tree, that set men's
teeth a-watering, when they are not to be bought. But what call you
these things?


Cushions? Alas! it were pity to sit on such fine cushions. But come,
my boys, if you'll buy any of my wares, here's my stall, and I'll
open and show straight.

What dainty fine ballad have you now to be sold?

Marry, child, I have _Chipping-Norton, a mile from Chapel o' th' Heath
--a lamentable ballad of burning the Pope's dog; the sweet ballad of
the Lincolnshire bagpipes_[238]; and _Peggy and Willy:--But now he is
dead and gone: Mine own sweet Willy is laid in his grave. La, la, la,
lan ti dan derry, dan da dan, lan ti dan, dan tan derry, dan do_.

It is a doleful discourse, and sung as dolefully.

Why, you cannot mend it, can ye?

What will you lay on that? for I myself dare lay six groats to six of
your bald ballads, that you yourself shall say I sing better than you.

What a brag-boy is this, to comparison with a man! But, boy, boy,
I will not lay six ballads to six groats, but I will lay six ballads
to six jerks at your buttocks, that you shall not sing so well as I.

That I shall not? No! possible, you will not let me sing?

I not let you! Is that spoken like Wit? It is spoken like a woodcock:
how can I stay thee, if thou wilt sing out thy throat?

Well, then, to our bargain: six ballads to six stripes, and who shall
keep stakes?

Neither of your companions; for that's, ask my fellow, if I be a thief.

Will you keep the stakes yourself?

Best of all, for I mean plainly, and will pay, if I lose. Here's my six
ballads: they be ready. Now, how shall I come by your six stripes, boy?

Down with your breeches, I'll fetch a rod and deliver them straight.

Nay, then, I care not, if thou keep stakes.

You speak too late, gaffer, having challenged preheminence.

Then, let's lay no wager, but sing for good fellowship.

Agreed. Who shall begin?

O boy! who is the elder? Hast thou not heard, give flounders to thy elder?

You mistake the fish: trust me, I am sure 'tis give plaice; but
begin with a good grace.

[_Here_ SlMP. _sings first and_ WIT _after, dialoguewise:
both to music, if ye will_.

Now, sirs, which sings best?

Tush, your copesmates shall not judge.
Friend, what say you? which of us sings best?
[_To one of the auditory_.

To say truth, there's but a bad choice. How will you sell the ballad
you sang, for I'll not buy the voice?

Why wilt thou not buy my voice?

Because it will cost me more money to buy sallet-oil to keep it from
rusting, than it is worth. But, I pray ye, honest man, what's this?

Read, and thou shalt see.

I cannot read.

Not read, and brought up in London! Went'st thou never to school?

Yes, but I would not learn.

Thou wast the more fool. If thou cannot read, I'll tell thee. This is
Tarlton's picture. Didst thou never know Tarlton?[239]

No: what was that Tarlton? I never knew him.

What was he? A prentice in his youth of this honourable city, God be
with him. When he was young, he was leaning to the trade that my wife
useth now, and I have used, _vide lice shirt_,[240] water-bearing.
I-wis, he hath toss'd a tankard in Corn-hill ere now: If thou knew'st
him not, I will not call thee ingram;[241] but if thou knewest not him,
thou knewest nobody. I warrant, here's two crack-ropes knew him.

I dwelt with him.

Didst thou? now, give me thy hand: I love thee the better.

And I, too, sometime.

You, child! did you dwell with him sometime?
Wit dwelt with him, indeed, as appeared by his rhyme,
And served him well; and Will was with him now and then. But, soft, thy
name is Wealth: I think in earnest he was little acquainted with thee.
O, it was a fine fellow, as e'er was born:
There will never come his like, while the earth can corn.
O passing fine Tarlton! I would thou hadst lived yet.

He might have some, but thou showest small wit.
There is no such fineness in the picture that I see.[242]

Thou art no Cinque-Port man; thou art not wit-free.
The fineness was within, for without he was plain;
But it was the merriest fellow, and had such jests in store
That, if thou hadst seen him, thou would'st have laughed thy heart sore.

Because of thy praise, what's the price of the picture?

I'll tell thee, my lad. Come hither: if thou wilt be ruled by me, thou
shalt pay nothing; I'll give it thee, if thou wilt dwell with me; and,
I promise thee, this counsel is for thy prefarmin'.[243] Hadst not thou
better serve a freeman of the City, and learn a trade to live another
day, than to be a serving-boy in thy youth, and to have no occupation
in thine age. I can make thee free, if thou wilt be my prentice.

Why, Wealth is free everywhere: what need I serve you? My lord is a
freeman, if that may do me good.

I cry you mercy, master boy: then, your master is free of the Lord's
Company, and you serve him, that you may be a lord, when you come out
of your years.

Wealth is a proud boy, gaffer: what say you to me?

Thy name is Wit: wilt thou dwell with me?

If I like your name and science, perchance we'll agree.

Nay, my name and mine honesty is all one: it is well known. He's a very
fool that cannot beguile me, for my name is Simplicity.

Goads,[244] gaffer! were you not a mealman once, and dwelt with Lady

Yes, for want of a better.

What, a better man?

No; for want of a better mistress: she was as very a fool as I.
We dwelt so long together, that we went both on begging.

Indeed, they that use a good conscience cannot suddenly be rich.
But I'll not dwell with ye: you are too simple a master for me.

Nor I'll not dwell with you for all this world's treasure.

No? Why, whom serve you, Will?

I serve my Lord Pleasure.

And whom serve you, Wit?

I serve my Lord Policy.

And whom serve you, Wealth?

I serve my Lord Pomp.

You should be served all with my Lord Birchley, if you were well served.
These lads are so lordly that louts care not for them; for Wealth serves
Pomp, Wit serves Policy, and Will serves Pleasure. Wealth, will you buy
this picture for your lord?
[_Shew Tarlton's picture_.

No: it is too base a present for Pomp.

And Policy seldom regards such a trifle.

Come on, gaffer, come on; I must be your best chapman: I'll buy it for
Pleasure. Hold, there is a groat.

Gramercy, good Will, my wife shall love thee still;
And since I can neither get Wit nor Wealth,
Let my wife have her Will, and let me have my health.
God forgive me, I think I never name her, but it conjures her:
look where she comes!
Be mannerly, boys, that she knock ye not with her staff:
Keep your own counsel, and I'll make ye laugh.
What do ye lack? What lack ye?
Stand away, these boys, from my wares:
Get ye from my stall, or I'll wring you by the ears:
Let my customers see the wares. What lack ye?
What would ye have bought?

_Enter_ PAINFUL-PENURY, _attired like a water-bearing woman,
with her tankard_.

You have customers enou', and if they were ought.
What do you with these boys here, to filch away your ware?
You show all your wit: you'll ne'er have more care.

Content ye, good wife: we do not filch, but buy.

I meant not you, young master, God's blessing on your heart:
You have bought indeed, sir, I see, for your part.
Be these two young gentlemen of your company?
Buy, gentlemen, buy ballads to make your friends merry.

To stand long with your burden, methinks, you should be weary.

True, gentlemen; but you may see, poor Painful-Penury
Is fain to carry three tankards for a penny.
But, husband, I say, come not home to dinner; it's Ember-day:
You must eat nothing till night, but fast and pray.
I shall lose my draught at Conduit, and therefore I'll away.
Young gentlemen, God be with ye.

Wife, must I not dine to-day?

No, sir, by my fay.
[_Exit_ PENURY.

If I must not eat, I mean to drink the more:
What I spare in bread, in ale I'll set on the score.
How say ye, my lads, and do I not speak wisely?

Methinks ye do; and it's pretty that Simplicity
Hath gotten to his wife plain Painful-Penury.

Yea, I thank God, though she he poor and scarce cleanly,
Yet she is homely, careful, and comely.

_One call within_.

Wit, Wealth, and Will, come to your lords quickly.

Must the scutcheons hang still?

_One within_.

Yea, let them alone.

Farewell, Master Simplicity.


Farewell, good master boys, e'en heartily, e'en heartily, heartily.
And, hear ye, Will, I thank you for your hansel[245] truly.
Pretty lads! hark ye, sirs, how? Will, Wit, Wealth!

[_Re-]enter_ WIT.

What's the matter, you call us back so suddenly?

I forgot to ask you whether your three lords of London be courtiers
or citizens?

Citizens born, and courtiers brought up. Is this all? Farewell.

Citizens born and courtiers brought up! I think so; for they that be
born in London are half courtiers, before they see the court: for
fineness and mannerliness, O, passing! My manners and misbehaviour is
mended half in half, since I gave over my mealman, and came to dwell in
London: ye may see time doth much. Time wears out iron horseshoes: time
tears out milstones: time seasons a pudding well; and time hath made me
a free man, as free to bear water and sell ballads as the best of our
copulation. I would have thought once my horse should have been free as
soon as myself, and sooner too, for he would have stumbled with a sack
of meal, and lien along in the channel with it, when he had done; and
that some calls freedom. But it's but a dirty freedom, but, ye may see,
bad horses were but jades in those days. But soft: here comes customers.
What lack ye? What is't ye lack? What lack ye? Come along, and buy
nothing. Fine ballads! new ballads! What lack ye?

_Enter_ NEMO _and the three Lords_.

My lords, come on. What suits have you to me?

Renowned Nemo, the most only one
That draws no breath but of th'eternal air,
That knowest our suit before we bound to speak,
For thou art the very Oracle of thoughts;
Whose virtues do encompass thee about,
As th'air surrounds this massy globe of earth;
Who hast in power whatever pleaseth thee,
And canst bestow much more than we may crave,
To thee we seek; to thee on knees we sue,
That thou wilt deign from thraldom to release
Those lovely dames, that London ladies are.

What, those three caitiffs, long ago condemn'd?
Love, Lucre, Conscience? well-deserving death,
Being corrupt with all contagion:
The spotted ladies of that stately town?

Love, Lucre, Conscience, we of thee desire,
Which in thyself hast all perfection,
Accomplished with all integrity,
And needest no help to do what pleaseth thee;
Which holdest fame and fortune both thy slaves,
And dost compel the Destinies draw the coach,
To thee we sue, sith power thou hast thereto,
To set those ladies at their liberty.

At liberty, thou spotless magistrate,
That of the cause dost carry all regard,
Careless of bribes, of birth and parentage,
Because thyself art only born to bliss.
Bless us so much, that lords of London are,
That those three ladies, born and bred with us,
May by our suits release of thraldom find.

Release, my lords! why seek ye their release,
That have perpetual prison for their doom?

But Nemo can from thence redeem them all.

Their deeds were cause, not Nemo, of their thrall.

Yet Nemo was the judge that sentence gave.

But Nemo never spill'd, whom he could save.

Thou from perpetual prison may'st revoke.

Death hath no power 'gainst him to give a stroke.

Thou only mild and courteous sir, vouchsafe
To grant our suit, and set those ladies free.

What is your purpose in this earnest suit?

To marry them, and make them honest wives.

But may it be, that men of your regard,
Lords of such fortune and so famous place,
Will link yourselves with ladies so forlorn,
And so distained with more than common crimes?

Marriage doth make amends for many a miss.

And love doth cover heaps of cumbrous evils.

And doth forget the faults that were before.

Mean as you say: you need to say no more.

In token that we mean what we have said,
Lo, here our shields, the prizes of our love,
To challenge all, except thyself, that dare
Deny those ladies to be ours by right.

Woo them and win them, win them and wear them too:
I shall both comfort and discourage you, my lords.
The comfort's this: of all those former crimes,
Wherewith the world was wont these dames to charge,
I have them clear'd, and made them all as free
As they were born, no blemish left to see.
But the discourage, gentle lords, is this:
The time of their endurance hath been long,
Whereby their clothes of cost and curious stuff
Are worn to rags, and give them much disgrace.

Alas. good ladies! was there none that sued
For their release, before we took't in hand?

Yes, divers for fair Lucre sought release.
And some for Love would fain have paid the fees;
But silly Conscience sat without regard
In sorrow's dungeon, sighing by herself.
Which when I saw that some did sue for Love,
And most for Lucre, none for Conscience,
A vow I made, which now I shall perform:
Till some should sue to have release for all,
Judg'd as they were, they should remain in thrall.
But you, that crave their freedoms all at once.
Shall have your suit, and see them here ere long.
A little while you must have patience,
And leave this place. Go in, my lords, before.

Becometh us to wait on Nemo still.

Not so; but, lordings, one condition more.
You promise me, sith they are in my power,
I shall dispose them, when they are releas'd,
Upon you three, as I shall think it best.

Do but command, and we shall all subscribe.

Then go your ways, for I have here to do.

[_Exeunt Three Lords_.

_Enter_ SORROW.

Sorrow, draw near; to-morrow bring thou forth
Love, Lucre, Conscience, whom thou hast in thrall,
Upon these stones to sit and take the air,
But set no watch or spial[246] what they do.

[_Exeunt Ambo_.


How happy may we call this merry day, my mates, wherein we meet, that
once were desperate, I think, ever to have seen one another, when Nemo,
that upright judge, had, by imprisoning our mistresses, banished us
(by setting such diligent watch for us) out of London, and almost out
of the world. But live we yet and are we met, and near our old seat?
Usury, is it thou? Let me see, or hath some other stolen thy face?
Speakest thou, man?

No, Fraud: though many have counterfeited both thee and me,
We are ourselves yet, and no changelings, I see
And why shouldst thou ask me, man, if I live?
The silly ass cannot feed on harder forage than
Usury: she upon thistles, and I upon a brown crust of a month old.

So that Usury and an ass are two of the profitablest beasts that a man
can keep; yet th'one hath sharper teeth than th'other.

But what means Dissimulation? He droops, methinks. What cheer, man?
Why, cousin, frolic a fit. Art thou not glad of this meeting? What's
the cause of thy melancholy?

Not melancholic, but musing how it comes to pass that we are thus
fortunate to meet, as we do?

I'll tell thee why we met: because we are no mountains.[247]

But ye are as ill, for ye are monsters.

And men may meet, though mountains cannot.

In token that this meeting is joyous to us all, let us embrace
altogether with heart's joy and affection.

I see many of these old proverbs prove true; 'tis merry when
knaves meet. [_Aside_.

How, sir! what's that?

If a man had a casting-net, he might catch all you.

Art thou not Simplicity?

Goodman Simplicity, for I am married, and it like your mastership.
And you are Master Fraud, too; a pox on your worship. I see a fox
and a false knave have all one luck, the better for banning; and
many of you crafty knaves live merrilier than we honest men.

Sirrah, bridle your tongue, if you'll be welcome to our company.
No girds nor old grudges, but congratulate this meeting. And, sirs,
if you say it, let's tell how we have lived since our parting.

O, it is great pity.

What, to tell how we have lived?

No; that ye do live.

Yet again, sirrah? Usury, as for thee, it were folly to ask, for thou
livest but too well; but Dissimulation and Simony, how have you two
lived? Discourse, I pray you heartily.

Faith, even like two mice in an ambery,[248] that eat up all the meat,
and when they have done gnaw holes in the cupboard.

Fraud, after my 'scaping away at the Sessions, where I shifted, as thou
knowest, in three sundry shapes: one of a friar, and they can dissemble;
another like a woman, and they do little else; the third as a saint and
a devil--and so is a woman--I was banished out of London by Nemo. To the
country went I amongst my old friends, and never better loved than among
the russet-coats. Once in a month I stole in o' th' market-day to
Leadenhall and about, and sometime to Westminster Hall. Now, hearing
some speech that the ladies should be sued for, I am come in hope of my
old entertainment, supposing myself not known of many, and hoping the
three lords will prevail in their suit, and I to serve one of them.

He shall do well that gives thee a coat, but he should do better that
could take off thy skin. [Aside.

And I have been a traveller abroad in other realms, for here I am so
cried out against by preachers (and yet some ministers, that be none,
could be content to use me) that I was glad to be gone: now, in some
other lands, and not very far off, I am secretly fostered--saving in
Scotland and the Low-Countries, [where] they are reformed, they cannot
abide me. Well, now and then hither I came stealing over sea, and
hearing as you hear, intend as you do.

And for mine own part, among artificers,
And amongst a few bad-conscienced lawyers,
I have found such entertainment as doth pass,
Yet would I with Lucre fain be as I was.

Fraud is as ill as a cut-purse, by the mass. [Aside.

And for Usury, the longer I live the greater love I find;
Yet would I be with Lucre again, to please my mind.

Here's a good fellow, too, one of our acquaintance.
How hast thou lived, Simplicity?

More honestly than all the rest of thy company; for when I might beg
no longer, as begging was but bad, for you cosen'd me once of an alms,
I fell to tankard-bearing, and so got a wife of the same science,
Painful-Penury: then got I my freedom, and feeling my shoulder grow
weary of the tankard, set up an easier trade--to sell ballads.

Hadst thou a stock to set up withal?

Wise enough to tell you, I!--and yonder's my stall: but beware I lose
nothing, for if I do, I'll lay it straight to some of you; for I saw
none so like thieves, I promise you, since I set up.

You are a wise man, when your nose is in the cup. But soft, who comes
here? step we close aside, for these be the three ladies, for my life,
brought out of prison by their keeper. Let us be whist, and we shall
hear and see all. Sirrah, you must say nothing.

_Enter SORROW and the three Ladies: he sets them
on three stones on the stage._

Not till ye speak, for I am afraid of him that's with the women.

O Sorrow, when, when, Sorrow, wilt thou cease
To blow the spark that burns my troubled soul,
To feed the worm that stings my fainting breast,
And sharp the steel that gores my bleeding heart?
My thoughts are thorns, my tears hot drops of lead:
I plain, I pine, I die, yet never dead.
If world would end, my woe should but begin:
Lo, this the case of Conscience for her sin;
And sin the food, wherewith my worm was fed,
That stings me now to death, yet never dead.

Yet never dead, and yet Love doth not live,
Love, that to loss in life her folly led[249],
Folly the food whereon her frailty fed,
Frailty the milk that Nature's breast did give:
Life, loss, and folly: frailty, food, and kind,
Worm, sting, thorns, fire, and torment to the mind;
Life but a breath, and folly but a flower,
Frailty, clay, dust, the food that fancy scorns;
Love a sweet bait to cover losses sour,
Flesh breeds the fire that kindles lustful thorns;
Lust, fire, bait, scorn, dust, flower and feeble breath,
Die, quench, deceive, flie, fade, and yield to death.
To death? O good! if death might finish all:
We die each day, and yet for death we call.

For death we call, yet death is still in sight.
Lucre doth scald in drops of melting gold
Accusing rust calls on eternal night[250],
Where flames consume, and yet we freeze with cold.
Sorrow adds sulphur unto fury's heat,
And chops them ice whose chattering teeth do beat;
But sulphur, snow, flame, frost, nor hideous crying
Can cause them die that ever are in dying,
Nor make the pain diminish or increase:
Sorrow is slack, and yet will never cease.

When Sorrow ceaseth, Shame shall then begin
With those that wallow senseless in their sin.
But, ladies, I have drawn you from my den
To open air, to mitigate some moan.
Conscience, sit down upon that sweating stone,
And let that flint, Love, serve thee for a seat;
And, Lady Lucre, on that stone rest you.
And, ladies, thus I leave you here alone.
Mourn ye, but moan not I shall absent be;
But good it were sometime to think on me.

Comfort it is to think on sorrow past.

Sorrow remains, where joy is but a blast.

A blast of wind is world's felicity.

A blasting wind, and full of misery.

O Conscience, thou hast more tormented me.

Me hath thy worm, O Conscience, stung too deep.

But more myself my thoughts tormented have,
Than both of you, in Sorrow's sullen cave;
From whence drawn forth, I find but little rest:
A seat uneasy, wet, and scalding hot,
On this hard stone hath Sorrow me assign'd.

And on my seat myself I frozen find:
No flint more hard, no ice more cold than this.

I think my seat some mineral stone to be;
I cold from it, it draw[eth] heat from me.
Ladies, consent, and we our seats will view.

Dare we for shame our stained faces shew?

My double face is single grown again.

My spots are gone: my skin is smooth and plain.

Doff we our veils, and greet this gladsome light;
The chaser of gloom, Sorrow's heavy night[251].

Hail, cheerful air, and clearest crystal sky.

Hail, shining sun and fairest firmament,
Comfort to those that time in woe have spent.

Upon my weeping stone is set REMORSE in brazen letters.

And on this flint in lead is CHARITY.

In golden letters on my stone is CARE.

Then Lucre sits upon the stone of Care.

And Conscience on the marble of Remorse.

Love on the flint of frozen Charity.
Ladies, alas, what tattered souls are we.

Sorrow our hearts, and time our clothes hath torn.

Then sit we down like silly souls forlorn,
And hide our faces that we be not known;
For Sorrow's plagues tormenteth[252] me no more,
Than will their sight, that knew me heretofore.

Then will their sight, that knew us heretofore,
Draw ruth and help from them for our relief.

For our relief? for Conscience and for Love
No help, small ruth that our distress may move.

O Conscience, thou wouldst lead me to despair,
But that I see the way to hope is fair,
And hope to heaven directs a ready way,
And heaven to help is prest to them that pray.

That pray with faith, and with unfeign'd remorse,
For true belief and tears make prayer of force.

Then veil ourselves, and silent let us stay,
Till heaven shall please to send some friends this way.

[_Sit all down_.


Ladies, unmask[253]! blush not for base attire:
Here are none but friends and servants all. Dear Lady Lucre,
Dearer unto us than daily breath we draw from sweetest air,
Dearer than life, dearer than heaven itself,
Deign to discover those alluring lamps,
Those lovely eyes more clear than Venus' star,
Whose bright aspects world's wonder do produce.
Unveil, I say, that beauty more divine
Than Nature (save in thee) did ever paint,
That we, sworn slaves unto our mistress, may
Once more behold those stately lovely looks,
And do those duties which us well beseems,
Such duties as we all desire to do.

I know that tongue. Lucre, beware of Fraud.

Of Fraud! Indeed by speech it should be he.
Fraud, what seekest thou?

Lucre, to honour thee with wit, with worth, with all I have;
To be thy servant, as I was before,
To get thee clothes, and what thou wantest else.

No, Fraud, farewell: I must be won no more
To keep such servants as I kept before.

Sweet Lady Lucre, me thou mayest accept.

How art thou called?


Aye? No, sir; Conscience saith.

No; Lucre now beware, false not thy faith,
For Simony's subject to perpetual curse.

As you two have sped, I would desire to speed no worse.

Make you a suit: you may chance to speed better.

Not I, for of all my tongue is best known;
But if I speak, it shall be to her that was once mine own.
Good Lady Love, thou little knowest the grief
That I, thy friend, sustain for thy distress,
And less believest what care I have of thee.
Look up, good Love, and to supply thy wants
Ask what thou wilt, and thou shalt have of me,
Of me, that joy more in thy liberty
Than in this life or[254] light that comforts me.

O gall in honey, serpent in the grass!
O bifold fountain of two bitter streams,
Dissimulation fed with viper's flesh,
Whose words are oil, whose deeds, the darts of death!
Thy tongue I know, that tongue that me beguil'd,
Thyself a devil mad'st me a monster vild.
From the[e] well known well may I bless myself:
Dear-bought repentance bids me shun thy snare.

O happy Love, if now thou can beware.

Marry, but hear ye, motley-beard. I think this blindfold buzzardly
hedge-wench spoke to ye; she knows ye, though she see thee not.
Hark ye, you women, if you'll go to the alehouse, I'll bestow two
pots on ye, and we'll get a pair of cards[255] and some company,
and win twenty pots more; for you play the best at a game, call'd
smelling of the four knaves, that ever I saw.

Four! soft, yet they have not smell'd thee.

No? I am one more than is in the deck, but you'll be smell'd as soon
as ye begin to speak. I'll see what they'll say to me. Hear ye, you
women, wives, widows, maids, men's daughters, what shall I call ye?
These four fellows (hark ye, shall I call ye crafty knaves?) make
me believe that you are the three that were the three fair ladies
of London.

Gentle Simplicity, we are unhappy they.

Now, ye bad fellows, which of ye had such a word as gentle Sim?

Bad fellows, ye rascal! If e'er you bring me pawn, I'll pinch ye
for that word.

I cry you mercy, Master Inquiry--Master Usury: I meant not you.

If you mean us, we may be even with ye too.

Tut! I knew ye an ostler, and a thief beside: You have rubb'd my
horse-heels ere now for all your pride. But, ladies, if ye be the
three ladies, which of ye dwelt in Kent Street? One of you did, but
I know not which is she, ye look all so like broom-wenches. I was
once her servant: I'll ne'er be ashamed of her, though I be rich and
she be poor; yet if she that hath been my dame, or he that hath been
my master, come in place, I'll speak to them, sure: I'll do my duty.
Which is Lady Conscience?

Even I am she, Simplicity.

I am glad ye are out of prison. I thought ye had forgot me: I went
a-begging for[256] you, till the beadles snapp'd me up: now I am free,
and keep a stall of ballads. I may buy and sell. I would you had as
good a gown now, as I carried once of yours to pawn to Usury here.

Gramercy, good Simplicity. Wilt thou be with me now?

No, I thank you heartily; I'll beg no more. I cannot with ye, though
I would, for I am married to Painful-Penury. Look now, my proud
stately masters, I may if I will; and you would, if ye might.

No, not dwell with such a beggar as Conscience.

No, Fraud ne'er lov'd Conscience, since he was an ostler.

Who cares for Conscience but dies a beggar?

That will not Usury do: he will first take threescore pound
in the hundred.

Love, look on me, and I will give thee clothes.

I will no more by thee be so disguised.

Ye do the wiser, for his face looks like a cloak-back.

In thy affections I had once a place.

Those fond affections wrought me foul disgrace.

I'll make amends, if ought amiss were done.

Who once are burn'd, the fire will ever shun.

And yet once burn'd to warm again may prove.

Not at thy fire; I will be perfect Love.

I promise you, the wenches have learn'd to answer wittily.
Here's many fair proffers to Lucre and Love,
But who clothes poor Conscience? she may sit long enough.

I will clothe her straight.

[USURY _takes_ FRAUD'S _cloak, and casts it on_ CONSCIENCE.

Will you, Master Usury? that's honestly spoke.
Ha! that's no gramercy to clothe her with another man's cloak;
But I see you have a craft in the doing, Master Usury:
Usury covers Conscience with Fraud's cloak very cunningly.

Alas! who loads my shoulders with this heavy weed?
Fie! how it stinks: this is perfum'd indeed.

Marry, gup, Goody Conscience! indeed I do you wrong,
But I'll quickly right it; my cloak shall not cumber you long.

All this while Lucre knows not I am here,
But now will I to her; mark how I speed!
Lady, the fairest that Nature ever form'd,
Loadstone of love, that draws affection's darts,
The only object of all humane eyes,
And sole desired dainty of the world,
Thy vassal here, a virtue in thy need,
Whom thou by licence of the law may'st use,
Tenders himself and all his services
To do thy will in duty as 'tofore,
Glad of thy freedom as his proper life.

Lady Lucre, you love an apple: take heed the caterpillar consume
not your fruit.

Who is it that maketh this latest suit?

'Tis Usury. [_Aloud in her ear_.

Great is the service he hath done for me;
But, Usury, now I may not deal with thee.

The law allows me, madam, in some sort.

But God and I would have thy bounds cut short.

For you I reck not; but if God me hate,
Why doth the law allow me in some rate?

Usury slanders both law and state.
The law allows not, though it tolerate,
And thou art sure be shut out at heaven-gate.

You were ever nice: no matter what you prate.

Then it will be with him, as it is with a great man's house in
dinner-time! he that knocks, when the door is shut, comes too late.

Well, Usury, Fraud, and Simony,
Dissimulation, hearken unto me.
My tongue (although in memory it be green)
Cannot declare what horrors I have seen;
Ne can it enter into mortal ears
Unmortified: the furies' fires and fears,
The shrieks, the groans, the tortures, and the pains,
That any soul for each of you sustains--
No pen can write, how Conscience hath me scourg'd,
When with your faults my soul she ever urg'd:
Arithmetic doth fail to number all
The plagues of Sorrow in the den of thrall.
Then tempt me not, nor trouble me no more;
I must not use you as I did before.
If you be found within fair London's gate,
You must to prison, whence we came of late.
Conscience will accuse ye, if ye be in sight.

That scurvy Conscience works us all the spite.

_Enter_ NEMO.

Well, Lucre, yet in thee we have delight.

Yonder come some: we must take our flight.

[_Exeunt_ OMNES.

Birds of a feather will fly together; but when they be taken,
then are they baken.
Yonder comes a customer: I'll to my stall.
Love, Lucre, and Conscience, blindman-buff to you all.

Conscience, Love, Lucre, ladies all, what cheer?
How do ye like the seats you sit upon?

O pure unspotted Nemo, sole paragon
Of Love, of Conscience and perfection;
The marble of remorse I sit upon
Sweats scalding drops, like bitter brinish tears.

So should remorse, when Conscience feels her guilt.
But, gentle Love, how feelest thou thy flint?

O, sharp and cold: I freeze unto my seat:
The flint holds fire, and yet I feel no heat.
But am benumb'd and frozen every joint.

O Love, so cold is charity in these times.
Lucre, how sit you?

Upon a heavy stone, not half so cold, not half so hot as theirs,
But of some secret power, for I do find and sensibly feel,
That I from it exhale an earthly cold,
And it from me doth draw a kindly heat.

Such force hath care of Lucre in itself
To cool the heart and draw the vital spirits;
And such the true condition of you three;
Remorse of Conscience, Charity of Love,
And Care of Lucre; such your uses be.
But, ladies, now your sorrow lay aside:
Frolic, fair dames; an unexpected good
Is imminent through me unto you all.
Three lords there be, your native countrymen,
In London bred, as you yourselves have been,
Which covet you for honourable wives,
And presently will come to visit you.
Be not abashed at your base attire,
I shall provide you friends to deck you all.
If I command, stand up, else sit you still.
Lo, where they come.

_Enter the three Lords_.

My lords, the dames be here.

Why are they wimpled?[257] Shall they not unmask them?

It is for your sake; for Policy they do it.

Much may their fortune and their feature be,
But what it is we cannot thus discern.

You shall in time. Lord Pomp; be yet content.

Their fame is more than cause or reason would.
May one of these be Pleasure's paragon?

Pleasure, be pleas'd and use no prejudice.
Mesdames, stand up. Mislike not their attire;
That shall be mended as yourselves desire.

Their port and their proportion well contents.

Right stately dames, if they were well attir'd.

May we not see their beauty, what it is?

Yes, lordings, yes. Lucre, lift up thy veil.

Of beauty excellent!

Of rare perfection!

A dainty face!

Unmask, Love.

Sweet Love indeed!

A lovely face!

A gallant grace!

Conscience, uncover.

Beauty divine!

A face angelical!

Sweet creature of the world!

Enough for once; ladies, sit down again.
As cunning chapmen do by curious wares,
[_To the audience_.
Which seldom shown do most inflame the mind,
So must I deal, being dainty of these dames,
Who seldom seen shall best allure these lords.
Awhile, my lords, I leave you with these three:
Converse, confer on good conditions.
I will right soon return with such good friends
As it concerns to clothe these dainty ones.
If any in my absence visit them,
Know their intent, and use your skill therein.

Ladies, to call to mind your former lives,
Were to recount your sorrows on a row.
Omitting, then, what you have been or be,
What you may be I'll speak, so it please you;
Wives to us three, ladies to London lords,
Pomp, Pleasure, Policy, men of such regard,
As shall you guard from evil, once matched with us:
And Policy presents this good to you.

With London's Pomp may one of you be join'd,
Possessing more than Fortune can afford:
Fortune's a fool, but heavenly providence
Guards London's Pomp and her that shall be his.

And London's Pleasure, peerless in delights,
Will deign to make one of these dames his own,
Who may with him in more contentment live,
Than ever did the Queen of Oethiop.

Though silence, lords, our modesty enforce,
Nemo can tell the secrets of our thoughts:
Nemo, that womens' minds can constant keep,
He shall for us you answer, good my lords.
I speak for all, though ill-beseeming me.


You speak but well. My lords, step we aside
To note these fellows, what they do intend.

_Enter_ NEMO.

Nemo can tell, for he doth follow them.

Ladies, to you--to some of you--we come,
Sent from such friends as much affect your good,
With garments and with compliments of cost,
Accordant well to dames of such degree--
I come to Lucre.

I to Love am sent,
With no less cost than could be got for coin,
Which with my message I deliver would,
Could I discern which of these dames were she.

Friend, I am Love: what bringest thou there to me?

Beware, good Love, from whom, and what, thou takest.

No whispering, friend, but show it openly:
The matter good, you need not be ashamed.
From whom comest thou?

That I conceal from any but from Love.

From whom come you, sir?

That shall Lucre know, and none but she.

Then speak aloud, for whispering here is barr'd.

Then neither will I do, nor speak at all.

Then I will speak, and tell what you are both.
Thyself art Falsehood, and are sent from Fraud,
To compass Lucre with a cloak of craft,
With lawn of lies, and cauls of golden guile.

Pack you, my friend; for if you stay a while,
You shall return no more to him that sent you.

Thou from Dissimulation art sent,
And bring'st a gown of glosing, lin'd with lust,
A vardingale[258] of vain boast and fan of flattery,
A ruff of riot and a cap of pride;
And Double-dealing is thy name and office both.

Falsehood, let's go: we are deciphered.

Lucre, thou losest here a princely gift.

[_Exeunt ambo_.

Lucre consumes, being won by Fraud or shift.
Thus, lords, you see how these are qualified,
And how these ladies shun that sharp rebuke,
Which some deserve by taking of such toys,
As women weak are tempted soon with gifts.
But here they come, that must these ladies deck.
Lucre, arise; come from the stone of Care.


Fair Lucre, lo, what Honest Industry
To thee hath brought, to deck thy dainty self.
Lucre, by Honest Industry achiev'd,
Shall prosper, nourish, and continue long.
Come to thy chamber, to attire thee there.

Thou mayest depart with Honest Industry.


And, Love, arise from Charity's cold flint:
Pure Zeal hath purchas'd robes to cover Love.
Whiles Love is single, Zeal shall her attire,
With kind affection mortifying lust.
Come, Love, with me these garments to put on.

Love, follow Zeal, and take his ornaments.

[_Exit_ LOVE _with_ PURE ZEAL.

Rise, Conscience, from that marble of Remorse,
That weeping stone that scalds thy parched skin:
Sincerity such robes for thee hath brought,
As best beseems good Conscience to adorn.
Come, follow, that thou may'st go put them on;
For Conscience, clothed by Sincerity,
Is armed well against the enemy.

Follow him, Conscience: fear not; thou art right.


Most reverend Nemo, thanks for this good sight.
Lucre is clothed by Honest Industry.

Love by Pure Zeal.

And Conscience by Sincerity.

Lordings, thus have you seen them at the first,
And thus you see them, trust me, at the worst.
Depart we now: come hence a day or two,
And see them deck'd as dainty ladies should,
And make such choice as may content you all.

Thanks, righteous Nemo. We, the London lords,
Only to thee ourselves acknowledge bound.

[_Exeunt omnes_.


Come on, gentle husband; let us lay our heads together, our purses
together, and our reckonings together, to see whether we win or lose,
thrive or not, go forward or backward. Do you keep a book or a score?

A score, wife? you mean for the alehouse, do you not?
I would have her examine me thereof no further, for I am in too far
there, more than I would she should know. [_Aside_.

I mean no alehouse-score, but a note of your wares. Let me see: first
you began to set up with a royal. How much money have ye? What ware,
and what gain?

I have five shillings in money, two shillings in wares, or thereabout,
and I owe two shillings and eightpence upon the score; how much is
that? Five shillings, two shillings, and two shillings and eightpence?

That is nine shillings and eightpence: so we are worse by a groat than
when we began. Well, once again I'll set ye up: here is four groats I
have got by bearing water this week: make up your stock, and run no more
behind. Who comes here?

_Enter_ FRAUD, _like [a foreign] artificer_.

What lack ye? What do ye lack?

Me lack-a de monish pour de feene--very feene--French knack, de feene
gold button, de brave bugla lace, a de feene gold ring-a. You be free
man, me un' foreigner: you buy a me ware, you gain teene pownd by lay
out teene shellengs.

Wife, what hard luck have we, that cannot make ten shillings now to
gain ten pound. Why, ten pound would set us up for ever.

Husband, see the ware; and if ten shilling will buy it, it shall go
hard but we will make that money. Friend, show my husband your wares.

Look you dere, mastra, de feene buttoon de la gold, de ring-a de gold,
de bugla shean: two shelleng un doozen de buttoon, un shelleng-a un
ring. 'Tis worth ten shelleng, but, mastra and mastressa, me muss a make
money to go over in my own countrey, but me lose teen pound pour hast to
go next tide, or to-morrow.

Here is five shillings; buy them of this stranger.

Friend, you have not stolen them, but you make them? Well, I'll buy
them in the open market, and then I care not; here is ten shillings;
deliver me the wares.

Dere, mastra! O, pover necessity mak a me sell pour grand, grand loss:
you shall gain ten pound at least. Go'boy[259].

What's your name?

Merchant, I think I am even with ye now for calling me ostler.
You'll thrive well with such bargains, if ye buy, ye know not what.
Fraud hath fitted you with worse than your ballads. [_Aside_.

You'll warrant them gold, sirrah?

Oui; so good gol' as you pay for. [_Aside_.]
Adieu, mounsier.

Adieu, mounsier. Adieu, fool: sell such gold buttons and rings for so
little money. Good Lord! what pennyworths these strangers can afford.
Now, wife, let me see: ten pound! when we have ten pound, we'll have
a large shop, and sell all manner of wares, and buy more of these,
and get ten pound more, and then ten pound, and ten pound, and twenty
pound. Then thou shalt have a taffata hat and a guarded gown, and I a
gown and a new cap, and a silk doublet, and a fair hose[260].

I thank ye, husband. Well, till then look well to your wares, and I'll
ply my waterbearing, and save and get, and get and save, till we be
rich. But bring these wares home every night with ye.

Tush! I shall sell them afore night for ten pounds. Gow, wife, gow;
I may tell you[261], I am glad this French fellow came with these
wares: we had fall'n to examining the ale-score else, and then we had
fall'n out, and the ale-wife and my wife had scolded. [_Aside_.] Well,
a man may see, he that's ordained to be rich shall be rich: gow, woman.


_Enter_ NEMO _and the three_ LORDS _as though they had been chiding_.

From whence, good lords, grew this hot argument?

Thou knowest already; yet, if thou wilt hear,
For this we strive: fond Pleasure makes account,
Summing his bills without an auditor[262],
That Lady Lucre ought of right be his.

So I affirm, and so I will maintain,
That Pleasure ought by right Dame Lucre have,
To bear the charge of sports and of delights.

Nay, to support the haughty magnificence
And lordly Pomp of London's excellence
Befits it rather Lucre join with me,
By whom her honour shall be more advanced.

More fit for Pomp than Pleasure; but most fit
That Policy with Lucre should be matched,
As guerdon of my studies and my cares,
And high employments in the commonwealth.

What pleasure can be fostered without cost?

What pomp or port without respect of gain?

What policy without preferment lives?

Pleasure must have Lucre.

Pomp hath need of Lucre.

Policy merits Lucre.

Pleasure dies without Lucre.

Pomp decays without Lucre.

Policy droops without Lucre.

Thus, lords, you show your imperfections,
Subject to passions, straining honour's bounds.
Be well-advis'd: you promised to be rul'd,
And have those dames by me disposed to you,
But since I see that human humours oft
Makes men forgetful of their greater good,
Be here a while: Dame Lucre shall be brought
By me to choose which lord she liketh best,
So you allow her choice with patience.

Go: we abide thy doom till thy return. [_Exit_.

If Lucre be not mad, she will be mine.

If she regard her good, she will be mine.

If she love happy life, she will be mine:
Women love Pleasure.

Women love Pomp.

Women use Policy: and here she comes that must decide the doubt.

_Enter_ NEMO, _with_ CONSCIENCE _all in white_.

Conscience, content thee with a quaint conceit:
Conceal thy name to work a special good.
Thou art not known to any of these lords
By face or feature: till they hear thy name,
Which must be Lucre for a fine device,
And Conscience clear indeed's the greatest gain. [_Aside_.
Lo, lordings, here fair Lucre whom ye love.
Lucre, the choice is left unto thyself,
Which of these three thou wilt for husband choose.

The modesty that doth our sex beseem
Forbids my tongue therein to tell my thought;
But may it please my lords to pardon me,
Which of you three shall deign to make such choice,
Him shall I answer to his own content.

If Lucre please to match with Policy,
She shall be mistress over many men.

If Lucre like to match with London's Pomp,
In stately port all others she shall pass.

If Pleasure may for wife fair Lucre gain,
Her life shall be an earthly paradise.

Lo, Lucre! men, and port, and pleasant life,
Are here propounded. Which wilt thou accept?

Lord Policy, Love were the only choice,
Methinks, for you, that all your cares employ,
And studies for the love of commonwealth.
For you, Lord Pleasure, Conscience were a wife
To measure your delights by reason's rule:
In recreation Conscience' help to use.

Were Conscience half so sweet as is thyself,
Her would I seek with suits and services.

No less accomplished in perfection
Is Conscience than this lady, I protest.

But on this dame hath Pleasure fix'd his heart,
And this or death the period of his love.

Lucre with Pomp most aptly might combine.


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