If This Be Not a Good Play – Act 1, Scene 1

Return to Prologue

Enter, at the sound of hellish music, PLUTO and CHARNO.

PLUTO
Ha!

CHARON
So.

PLUTO
What so?

CHARON
I’ll be thy slave no longer.

PLUTO

What, slave?

CHARON
Hell’s drudge, her galley-slave.  I ha’ wore
My flesh to th’ bones, bones marrowless, at the oar
Tugging to waft to thy Stygian empire, souls
Which, but for Charon, never had come in shoals,
Yet, swarm’d they near so, them on shore I set;
Hell gets by Charon, what does Charon get?

PLUTO
His fare.

CHARON
Scurvy fare!  I’ll first cry garlic.

PLUTO
Do:
And make hell stink, as that does hither.

CHARON
If I do!
Some like that smell.  My boat to shore I’ll pull,
Not work a stroke more.

PLUTO
How?

CHARON
Not touch a scull.

PLUTO
Why?

CHARON
I ha’ no doings.  Grave’s-end-barge has more,
And carries as good as any are in hell.
I fear th’infernal rivers are frozen o’er,
So few by water come; else the whores that dwell
Next door to hell to about; besides, ‘tis thought
That men to find hell now new ways have sought,
As Spaniards did to the Indies.  Pluto, mend
My wages, or row thyself.

PLUTO
Ugly, grumbling slave!
Have I not rais’d thy price?  Yet still dost crave?
Such bold brave beggars, heard of ne’er before,
Are thy fares now; they teach thee to beg more.
Thy fare was, first, a half-penny, then the souls gave thee
A penny, then three half-pence.  We shall have thee,
As market folks in dearth, so damned deer,
Men will not come to hell, crying out th’are here
Worse rack’d then th’are in taverns.  Why dost thou howl for money?

CHARON
For money.  I’ll have two pence for each soul
I ferry over.  I’m old, craz’d, stiff, and lam’d.
That soul that’s not worth two pence would ‘twere damn’d!

PLUTO
Thou shalt not.

CHARON
I will have it, or lie still.
If Charon fill hell, hell shall Charon fill.
For ghosts not come not thronging to my boat,
But drop by one and one in; none of note
Are fares now.  I had wont brave fellows to ply,
Who, hack’d and mangled, did in battle’s die.
But not these gallants which do walk hell’s rounds
Are fuller of diseases then of wounds.
If wounded any take my boat, they roar,
Being stab’d, either drunk, or slain about some whore.
That’s all the fight now.

PRODIGAL
[Within.]                       Charon!

PLUTO
Get thee gone,
Th’at call’d for.

PRODIGAL
[Within.]             Charon!

CHARON
Bawl not.  I’ll come anon.
Hags of hell gnaw thee with their foul furd-gums.
Pluto, no wonder if so few hither come.

PLUTO
Why?

CHARON
Gingerly; see, see.
One of thine own promoters, with hawk’s eyes
That should for prey be watching, here snoring lies.

PLUTO
With a mischief!  Cabin’d!  A fury.

CHARON
I’ll ferret out more.

RUFFMAN comes up; Fury enters.
Another; look; dancing, a bawd on’s knees.

Enter SHACKLE-SOUL comes up.

SHACKLE-SOUL
I do enquire if rich bawds carted be
On earth, as well as poor ones.  I sleep not, Pluto.

PLUTO
Twist stronger knotted whips.  I’ll wake you, slaves.

LURCHALL and another spirit comes up.

CHARON
Two of thy sumners dead drunk here too.

LURCHALL
Thou liest.

PRODIGAL
[Within.] Charon.

CHARON
I come.  If I must work, let these
Thy prentices ply their occupation
T’uphold hell’s kingdom.  More must work than one.                                [Exit.

PLUTO
Ha!  Are there whipping-posts for such as dwell
In idleness on earth, and yet shall hell,
As if we took bribes here too, let such pass?
I’ll have you tawd, if not the world as ‘twas?
Once mother of rapes, incests, and sodomies
Atheism, and blasphemies, plump boys indeed,
That suck’d our dam’s breast; is she now barren?  Ha!
Is there a dearth of villains?

OMNES
More now than ever.

PLUTO
Is there such penury of man-kind, hell-hounds?
You can lie snoring.

RUFFMAN
Each land is full of rake-hells.

SHACKLE-SOUL
But shoals of sharks eat up the fish at sea.

LURCHALL
Brave pitchy villains there.

PLUTO                              Yet you playing here.

OMNES
No, no, most awful Pluto.

PLUTO
Were you good hell-hounds, every day should be
A Simon-and-Jude, to crown our board with feasts
Of black-ey’d souls each minute.  Were you honest devils
Each officer in hell should have at least
A brace of whores to his breakfast; above us dwell
Devils braver and more subtle then in hell.

OMNES
We’ll fill thy palace with them.

PLUTO
I’ll try that.  Go.
Ruffman, take instantly a courtier’s shape
Of any country.  Choose thine own disguise
And return swiftly.

RUFFMAN
Yes.                                                                                 [Exit.

PLUTO
Shackle-Soul, wear thou
A friar’s grave habit.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Well.                                                                            [Exit.

PLUTO
Grumble, walk thou
In treble-ruffs like a merchant.

LURCHALL
So, ‘tis done.                                                            [Exit.

PLUTO
The burrs of our litigious courts had wont
To crack with thronging pleaders, whose loud din
Shook the infernal hell, as if’t had been
An earthquake bursting from the deep abyss,
Or else Jove’s thunder, thrown at the head of Dis,
The god of gold, for hiding it below,
Thereby to tempt churls hither.  Nor did we know
What a vacation meant; continual term
Fatten’d hell’s lawyers, and shall so again.

Enter RUFFMAN, SHACKLE-SOUL and LURCHALL, in different shapes.

RUFFMAN

Here.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Here.

LURCHELL
Command us.

PLUTO
Fly into the world,
As y’are in shapes transform’d, be so in name,
For men are out-sides only; be you the same.
Hie thee to Naples, Ruffman, thou shalt find
A prince there, newly crown’d, aptly inclin’d
To any bendings.  Lest his youthful brows
Reach at stars only, weigh down his loftiest boughs
With leaden plomets, poison his best thought with taste
Of things most sensual; if the heart once wast
The body feels consumption; good or bad kings
Breed subjects like them.  Clear streams flow from clear springs.
Turn therefore Naples to a puddle, with a civil
Much promising face, and well oil’d, play the court devil.

RUFFMAN
I’ll do’t in bravery; if as deep as hell
Thy large ears hear a land curse me, my part’s play’d well.

PLUTO
Fly, Shackle-Soul.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Whither?

PLUTO
To the friary,
Best fam’d in Naples for strict orders.  Throw
What nets thou seest can catch them.  Amongst them sow
Seeds of contention, or what-ever sin
They most abhor, sweat thou to bring that in.

SHACKLE-SOUL
A wolf in lamb-skin leaps into the rout.
Bell, book, and candle cannot curse me out.
I’ll curse faster than they.

PLUTO
Do.  Grumble.

LURCHELL
Here.

PLUTO
Be thou a city-devil, make thy hands
Of harpies claws, which bring on courtier’s lands
Once fasten’d, ne’er let loose the merchant’s play,
And on the burse, see thou thy flag display
Of politic bankruptism.  Train up as many
To fight under it, as thou canst, for now’s not any
That break, they’ll break their necks first.  If, beside
Thou canst not through the whole city meet with pride,
Riot, lechery, envy, avarice, and such stuff,
Bring ‘em all in couch’d; the gates are wide enough.
The spirit of gold instruct thee.  Hence all.

OMNES
Fly.

PLUTO
Stay, lest you should want helper, at your calling
Any devils shall come: Starch-Hound, Tobacco-spawling,
Upshotten, Suckland, Glitterback, or any
Whom you shall need to employ; but call not many.
There’s but few good in hell.  And stay, remember
We all meet to hear how you prosper.

OMNES
Where?

PLUTO
The tree
Blasted with goblins, that about whose root
Five mandrakes grow, i’th’ grove by Naples there.
Meet there.

OMNES
We shall.

PLUTO
Our blessings with you bear.

RUFFMAN
Dread king of ghosts, we’ll ply our thrift so well,
Thou shalt be forc’d to enlarge thy jail of hell.

PLUTO
Be quick, th’art best.  Let saucy mortals know
How ere they sleep, there’s one wakes here below.                              [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: