Northward Ho – Act 1, Scene 1

Return to Dramatis Personæ

Enter GREENSHIELD with FEATHERSTONE, booted.

 FEATHERSTONE
Art sure old Mayberry inns here to-night?

GREENSHIELD
‘Tis certain; the honest knave chamberlain that hath been my informer, my bawd, ever since I knew Ware assures me of it, and more, being a Londoner though altogether unacquainted, I have requested his company at supper.

FEATHERSTONE
Excellent occasion.  How we shall carry ourselves in this business is only to be thought upon.

GREENSHIELD
Be that my undertaking; if I do not take a full revenge of his wife’s puritanical coyness.

FEATHERSTONE
Suppose it she should be chaste?

GREENSHIELD
Oh, hang her!  This art of seeming honest makes many of our young sons and heirs in the city look so like our prentices.  Chamberlain!

Enter Chamberlain.

 CHAMBERLAIN
Here, sir.

GREENSHIELD
This honest knave is call’d Innocence; is’t not a good name for a chamberlain?  He dwelt at Dunstable not long since and hath brought me and the two butcher’s daughters there to interview twenty times and not so little I protest.  How chance you left Dunstable, sirrah?

CHAMBERLAIN
Faith, sir, the town droop’d ever since the peace in Ireland.  Your captains were wont to take their leaves of their London polecats, their wenches I mean, sir, at Dunstable.  The next morning when they had broke their fast together the wenches brought them to Hockley ‘i’th’hole, and so the one for London, the other for Westchester, your only road now, sir, is York; York, sir.

GREENSHIELD
True, but yet it comes scant of the prophesy:  Lincoln was, London is, and York shall be.

CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, sir, ‘tis fulfill’d.  York shall be; that is, it shall be York still.  Surely it was the meaning of the prophet.  Will you have some crayfish and a spitchcock?

Enter MAYBERRY with BELLAMONT.

 FEATHERSTONE
And a fat trout.

CHAMBERLAIN
You shall, sir.  The Londoners you wot of—

GREENSHIELD
Most kindly welcome!  I beseech you hold our boldness excused, sir.

[Exit Chamberlain.

  BELLAMONT
Sir, it is the health of travellers to enjoy good company.  Will you walk?

FEATHERSTONE
Whither travel you, I beseech you?

MAYBERRY
To London, sir.  We came from Sturbridge.

BELLAMONT
I tell you, gentlemen, I have observ’d very much with being at Sturbridge.  It hath afforded me mirth beyond the length of five Latin comedies.  Here should you meet a Norfolk yeoman full-butt, with his head able to overturn you, and his pretty wife that followed him, ready to excuse the ignorant hardness of her husband’s forehead.  In the goose market number of freshmen, stuck here and there, with a graduate, like cloves with great heads in a gammon of bacon; here two gentlemen making a marriage between their heirs over a wool-pack; there a minister’s wife that could speak false Latin very lispingly; here two in one corner of a shop; Londoners selling their wares, and other gentlemen courting their wives.  Where they take up petticoats you should find scholars and townsmen’s wives crowding together while their husbands wear in another market busy amongst the oxen.  ‘Twas like a camp, for in other countries so many punks do not follow an army.  I could make an excellent description of it in a comedy.  But whither are you travelling, gentlemen?

FEATHERSTONE
Faith, sir, we purposed a dangerous voyage, but upon better consideration we altered our course.

MAYBERRY
May we, without offence, pertake the ground of it?

GREENSHIELD
‘Tis altogether trivial in sooth, but to pass away the time till supper, I’ll deliver it to you, with protestation before hand.  I seek not to publish every gentlewoman’s dishonour, only by the passage of my discourse to have to censure the state of our quarrel.

BELLAMONT
Forth, sir.

GREENSHIELD
Frequenting the company of many merchants’ wives in the city, my heart by chance leapt into mine eye to affect the fairest but withal the falsest creature that ever affection stoop’d to.

MAYBERRY
Of what rank was she, I beseech you?

FEATHERSTONE
Upon your promise of secrecy.

BELLAMONT
You shall close it up like treasure of your own, and yourself shall keep the key of it.

GREENSHIELD
She was, and by report still is, wife to a most grave and well-reputed citizen.

MAYBERRY
And entertained your love?

GREENSHIELD
As meadows do April.  The violence as it seemed of her affection—but alas, it proved her dissembling; would at my coming and departed bedew her eyes with love drops.  Oh she could the art of woman most feelingly!

BELLAMONT
Most feelingly.

MAYBERRY
I should not have liked that feelingly had she been my wife.  Give us some sack here and in faith; we are all friends, and in private—what was her husband’s name? I’ll give you a carouse by and by.

GREENSHIELD
Oh, you shall pardon me his name.  It seems you are a citizen.  It would be discourse enough for you upon the exchange this fortnight should I tell his name.

BELLAMONT
Your modesty in this wife’s commendation.  On, sir.

GREENSHIELDS
In the passage of our loves, amongst other favours of greater value, she bestowed upon me this ring, which she protested was her husband’s gift.

MAYBERRY
The poesy, the poesy!  Oh, my heart, that ring, good, in faith?

GREENSHIELD
Not many night’s coming to her and being familiar with her—

MAYBERRY
Kissing, and so forth.

GREENSHIELD
Ay, sir.

MAYBERRY
And talking to her feelingly.

GREENSHIELD
Pox on’t!  I lay with her.

MAYBERRY
Good, in faith; you are of a good complexion.

GREENSHIELD
Lying with her, as I say, and rising somewhat early from her in the morning, I lost that ring in her bed.

MAYBERRY
In my wife’s bed!

FEATHERSTONE
How do you, sir?

MAYBERRY
Nothing.  Let’s have a fire chamberlain.  I think my boots have taken water.  I have such a shuddering.  I’th bed, you say?

FEATHERSTONE
Right, sir, in Mistress Mayberry’s sheets.

MAYBERRY
Was her name Mayberry?

GREENSHIELD
Beshrew my tongue for blabbing.  I presume upon your secrecy?

MAYBERRY
Oh, God, sir, but where did you find your loosing?

GREENSHIELD
Where I found her falseness, with this, gentlemen, who by his own confession partaking the like enjoyment, found this ring the same morning on her pillow, and sham’d not in my sight to wear it.

MAYBERRY
What, did she talk feeling to him too?  I warrant her husband was forth a town all this while, and he, poor, man travelled with hard eggs in’s pocket, to save the charge of a bait, whilst she was at home with her plovers, turkeys, chickens!  Do you know that Mayberry?

FEATHERSTONE
No more than by name.

MAYBERRY
He’s a wondrous honest man.  Let’s be merry.  Will not your mistress?  Gentlemen, you are tenants in common, I take it?

FEATHERSTONE & GREENSHIELD
Yes.

MAYBERRY
Will not your mistress make much of her husband when he comes home, as if no such legerdemain had been acted?

GREENSHIELD
Yes, she hath reason for’t, for in some countries, where men and women have good travelling stomachs, they begin with porridge; then they fall to capon or so forth.  But if capon come short of filling their bellies, to their porridge again.  ‘Tis their only course, so for our women in England.

MAYBERRY
[Aside.] This wit taking of long journeys!  Kindred that comes in o’er the hatch, and sailing to Westminster makes a number of cuckolds.

BELLAMONT
Fie, what an idle quarrel is this!  Was this her ring?

GREENSHIELD
Her ring, sir.

MAYBERRY
A pretty idle toy.  Would you take money for’t?

FEATHERSTONE & GREENSHIELD
Money, sir!

MAYBERRY
The more I look on’t, the more I like it.

BELLAMONT
Troth, ‘tis of no great value, and considering the loss, and finding of this ring made breach into your friendship, gentlemen, with this trifle purchase his love; I can tell you he keeps a good table.

GREENSHIELD
What, my mistress gift?

FEATHERSTONE
Faith, you are a merry old gentleman.  I’ll give you my part in’t.

GREENSHIELD
Troth, and mine, with your promise to conceal it from her husband.

MAYBERRY
Doth he know of it yet?

GREENSHIELD
No, sir.

MAYBERRY
He shall never then, I protest.  Look you, this ring doth fit me passing well.

FEATHERSTONE
I am glad we have fitted you.

MAYBERRY
This walking is wholesome, I was a-cold even now, now I swear for’t.

FEATHERSTONE
Shall’s walk into the garden, Luke?  Gentlemen, we’ll down and hasten supper.

MAYBERRY
Look you, we must be better acquainted, that’s all.

GREENSHIELD
Most willingly.  [Aside to FEATHERSTONE.] Excellent!  He’s heat to the proof.  Let’s withdraw, and give him leave to rave a little.

[Exeunt GREENSHIELD and FEATHERSTONE.

 MAYBERRY
Chamberlain, give us a clean towel.

Enter Chamberlain.

 BELLAMONT
How now, man?

MAYBERRY
I am foolish old Mayberry, and yet I can be wise Mayberry too;  I’ll to London presently.  Begone, sir!                                               [Exit Chamberlain.

BELLAMONT
How now?

MAYBERRY
Nay, nay, God’s precious!  You do mistake me, Master Bellamont.  I am not distempered, for to know a man’s wife is a whore, is to be resolv’d of it, and to be resolved of it, is to make no question of it, and when a case is out of question– What was I saying?

BELLAMONT
Why, look you.  What a distraction are you fall’n into?

MAYBERRY
If a man be devorc’d, do you see, divorc’d forma juris, whether may he have an action or no gainst those that make horns at him?

BELLAMONT
O madness!  That the frailty of a woman should make a wise man thus idle!  Yet, I protest, to my understanding this report seems as far from truth as you from patience.

MAYBERRY
Then am I a fool, yet I can be wise and I list too.  What says my wedding ring?

BELLAMONT
Indeed, that breeds some suspicion, for the rest most gross and open; for two men, both to love your wife, both to enjoy her bed, and to meet you as if by miracle, and not knowing you, upon no occasion in the world, to thrust upon you a discourse of a quarrel, with circumstance so dishonest, that not any gentleman but of this country, blushing would have publish’d.  Ay, and to name you!  Do you know them?

MAYBERRY
Faith, now I remember, I have seen them walk muffled by my shop.

BELLAMONT
Like enough.  Pray God they do not borrow money of us twixt Ware and London!  Come, strive to blow over these clouds.

MAYBERRY
Not a cloud.  You shall have clean moonshine, they have good smooth looks, the fellows.

BELLAMONT
As jet.  They will take up, I warrant you, where they may be trusted.  Will you be merry?

MAYBERRY
Wondrous merry!  Let’s have some sack to drown this cuckold.  Down with him!  Wondrous merry!  One word and no more; I am but a foolish tradesman, and yet, I’ll be a wise tradesman.                                                           [Exeunt.

Preceed to the next scene

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