If This Be Not a Good Play – Act 1, Scene 3

Return to previous scene

Scene Three

 Enter SCUMBROTH ringing a bell; ALPHEGE, a Friar, and
SHACKLE-SOUL, as FRIAR RUSH, with cloth to lay.

 SCUMBROTH
A mangier, a mangier, a mangier, I must needs have a mangy voice, when I do nothing but bawl for a company of hungry scabs.  A mangier!

ALPHEGE
You must be nimble, Rush.

SHACKLE-SOUL
As drawer in a new tavern, first day the bush is hung up.

SCUMBROTH
A mangier, a manger, a mangier!                                            [Exit.

ALPHAGE
So, the lord priors napkin here, there the subprior’s, his knife and case of pick-tooths thus.  As for the covent, let them lick their fingers instead of wiping, and suck their teeth instead of picking.

SHACKLE-SOUL
What other duty, sir, must I call mine?

ALPHAGE
As you are novice, you are to say grace demurely, wait on the prior’s trencher soberly, steal away a mouthful cunningly, and munch it up in a corner hungerly.  Ply your office, Rush.                                                                                        [Exit.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Thanks, good Friar Alphege.  Yes, Shackle-Soul will play
The task he’s set to.  Devils never idle lie.
Friar Rush!  Ha, ha!  Y’have now an excellent quire,
To sing in hell, the devil and the friar.

 Enter PRIOR, SUBPRIOR, ALPHEGE, HILLARY, and other
Friars.  All sit.  Dishes brought in before.

 PRIOR
Where’s Rush, our junior novice?

SHACKLE-SOUL
Here, lord prior.

PRIOR
Stand forth, and render thanks.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Hum, hum.
For our bread, wine, ail, and beer,
For the piping hot meals here,
For broths of sundry taste and sort,
For beef, veal, mutton, lamb, and pork.
Green-sauce with calf’s head and bacon,
Pig and goose, and cram’d-up capon.
For past rais’d stiff with curious art,
Pie, custard, florentine and tart.
Bak’d rumps, fried kidneys, and lam-stones,
Fat sweet breads, luscious maribones,
Artichoke, and oyster-pies,
Butter’d crab, prawns, lobster’s thighs,
Thanks be given for flesh and fishes,
With this choice of tempting dishes;
To which, preface, with blythe looks sit ye,
Rush bids this covent, much good do’t ye.

PRIOR
How dar’st thou mock us, thou ill-natur’d slave?

SUBPRIOR
Contemn’st thou our order and religious fare?

SCUMBROTH
He has spoken treason to all our stomachs.

OMNES
Down with the villain!

SUBPRIOR
Mischief on us waits
If we feed so vile a wretch.

PRIOR
Thrust him out at gates.

SHACKLE-SOUL
I do conjure you all by my hallowed beads
To hear me speak.

PRIOR
Canst thou excuse thyself?

SHACKLE-SOUL
Alas, my lord, I thought it had been here
As in the neighbourhood churches, where the poor’st vicar
Is filled up to the chin with choice of meats,
Yet seeks new ways to whet dull appetite,
As there with hold spells mens’ souls they cherish;
So with delicious fare, they themselves nourish.
Nor want they argument for sweet belly-cheer
To prove it lawful.

SUBPRIOR
Most profane and fearful.

SHACKLE-SOUL
But since your order, pious and reverend
Tied to religious fasts, spends the sad day
Wholly in meagre contemplation,
I absolution beg on both my knees
For what my tongue offended in.  ‘Las, poor Rush!
See’t by his cheeks, eats little.  I can feed
On roots, and drink the water of the spring
Out of mine own cup.  Make an anatomy
Of my most sinful carcass.  Then pardon me.

PRIOR
Thy ignorance is thy pardon; we believe thee.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Gratias reverende domine, Prior.

PRIOR
But do our brethren in parts more remote
Feed so delicious, sayest thou?

SHACKLE-SOUL
Rush cannot lie.

SUBPRIOR
Thou falsely doth accuse these holy men.
To prove it lawful gluttonously to feed.

OMNES
Rush, answer the Subprior.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Audite fratres, they do not only prove it lawful, but make it palpable, that he who eats not good meat is damn’d.

SUBPRIOR
Benedicite.

SCUMBROTH
What shall become of all us then?

PRIOR
Thou art distracted.  Whence canst thou force argument?

SHACKLE-SOUL
From silly reason.  Would you hear me speak?

PRIOR
Speak freely and be bold.  Listen.

OMNES
Hum, hum, hum.

SHACKLE-SOUL
He that eats not good meat is damn’d.  Sic Disputo.
If he that feeds well hath a good soul, then è contra.
No, he that feeds ill hath a bad and a poor soul.

SCUMBROTH
That’s we.

SHACKLE-SOUL
And so, consequently, is damn’d, for who regards poor souls?  And if they be not regarded they are cast forth, and if cast forth, then they are damn’d.

SUBPRIOR
I deny your minor, he that feeds well hath a good soul.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Sic probo.  The soul follows the temperature of the body; he that feeds well hath a good temperature of body, ergo, he that feeds well hath a good soul.

PRIOR
A full and edifying argument.

OMNES
Hum, hum, hum.

SUBPRIOR
I deny that the soul follows the temperature of the body.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Anima sequitur temperaturam corporis.  It is a principle, et contra principia non est disputandum.

SCUMBROTH
All we.

PRIOR
It’s most apparent.

SCUMBROTH
O, most learned Rush!

SUBPRIOR
A shallow sophister, hear me farder.

PRIOR
Subprior,
We’ll hear the rest disputed at our leisure.
You take too much upon you.

SCUMBROTH
Shall I take this upon me, my lord?

PRIOR
Hence with this trash, we have too long forborne
To taste heavens blessings fully, which to our duty
Had more enabled us.  Rush, th’art some angel.

SUBPRIOR
Rather some devil send to bewitch our souls.

PRIOR
Subprior, no more.

SUBPRIOR
I must speak, hear me, brethren.
Shall we, bound by solemn oaths, t’abjure the world
And all her sorceries? to whom night and day
Are as one hour of prayer? whose temperance makes us
Endure what fulfill’d belly gods admire?
Shall we, by zealous patrons, tied to observe
Dirges and requiems for their peaceful souls
In gluttonous riot bury sacred alms?
Turn sanctimonious zeal and charity
To loathsome surfeit? and those well-got goods
Our benefactors sav’d, by their own fasts
And moderate living, shall we feed upon
Full-gorging us till we vomit?  Forfend it, Heaven!
By all the saints by him first taught our order
What temperance was, here shall poor clement feed
Till his o’er-wearied life takes her last leave
Of this all tempting world where all sins breed.

PRIOR
Hows this?  Are you become our confessor?
Best thrust us out at gates, lock up the cloister
And call in whom you like.  Be you the prior.
Speak, are you agreed Rush be our master-cook?

SCUMBROTH
You have my voice.

ALPHEGE
And mine.

PRIOR
Do you all consent?

OMNES
Yes, all.

SUBPRIOR
First, send this fiend to banishment.

PRIOR
We have most voices on our side.

SUBPRIOR
You may.
‘Las!  Most men covet still the broadest way.

PRIOR
Give Rush his charge then, Scumbroth, you must resign.

SCUMBROTH
With a good maw, I shall have a fatter office to be his scullion.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Worthy Lord Prior, hear me yet.
I must not my profession let
To Scumbroth, what I know I’ll teach,
To make caudles, jellies, leach,
Syrup of violets, and of roses,
Cowslip salads, and kick-choses,
Preserve the apricot, and cherry,
Damson-pear-plum, respis berry,
Potates eke, if you should lack,
To corroborate the back;
A hundred more shall Rush devise,
And yet to early mattins rise,
Our ladies’ office, sing at prime,
At even-song, and at compline time.
Chant anthems, anniversaries, dirges,
And the doleful de profundis.

PRIOR
Thou shalt not change thy order.  Sirrah, cook,
From Rush take lessons against night, for fare
Abundant and delicious.

SCUMBROTH
[Aside.] I shall be greedy to learn of him, sir, since your lordship is turn’d, our very Jack and his spits shall turn too.                            [Exit.

 Enter two Pilgrims.

 PRIOR
What men are these?

SUBPRIOR
Welcome, good holy fathers.

BOTH
Thanks, reverend master.

FIRST PILGRIM
Bless’d sir, according to the church’s rite,
We, pilgrims, to Jerusalem bound, this night
Desire repose, and pious charity
In your most holy covent.

PRIOR
You are most welcome.
Aphage, go lead ‘em in.

SHACKLE-SOUL
By no means.

PRIOR
Why?

SHACKLE-SOUL
‘Tis mortal sin.

SUBPRIOR
Oh, black impiety!

PRIOR
How?  Sin to feed religious votaries?

SHACKLE-SOUL
Rather to nourish idle vagabonds.
The clergy of other lands have with much piety
And thrift destroy’d those drones that lazily
Live eating up the labours of the bee.
A churchman there cares but to feed the soul;
He makes that change his office.  Almsdeeds! alas!
They through the lawyers hands are fit’st to pass.

SUBPRIOR
Can you hear this devil?

SHACKLE-SOUL
Besides, my reverend lord,
These manderers here are spies, and soon bear word
To princes ears of what they hear and see.

PRIOR
Ha!  Rush, thou speakst right.

SUBPRIOR
Damn’d iniquity!

PRIOR
Hence with these runagates!

OMNES
Come, hence.

PRIOR
Spurn ‘em away.

SUBPRIOR
Oh, had mine eyes dropp’d out ere seen this day.
Stay, comfortless poor souls, my pitying tears
Shall speak what my tongue dares not.  Here, holy men
You ne’er shall say when next we meet again.
Friar Clement to the hungry grutch’d his meat,
Or to the weary pilgrim lodging, this make you eat.
And when you have reliev’d your fainting limbs,
Commend me in your prayers, and midst your hymns
This wish, that he who did your journey furder
May never live to break his holy order.

PRIOR
Old superstitious dotard, beat hence these beggars.

FIRST PILGRIM
Many old men’s curses will on his soul be spent
Who thus defaces charity’s monument.                                 [Exeunt Pilgrims.

SHACKLE-SOUL
I told you they were curs that cease to bark
No longer than you feed them.

PRIOR
Friar, thou speak’st right.
Make haste with fare delicious.  We’ll crown the night.

[ExeuntManet  SHACKLE-SOUL.

 SHACKLE-SOUL
Ha, ha, laugh Lucifer, dance grim fiends of hell
Of souls thou judge just, but most terrible.
I must exact a double pay from thee.
Ne’er hadst thou journeyman deserv’d such fee.
Let me cast up my reckonings, what I ha’ won
In this first voyage.  Charity!  She’s undone.
Fat gluttony broke her back.  Next her step’d in
Contention, who shakes churches, now the sweet sin,
Sallow lechery, should march after.  Avarice,
Murder, and all sins else, hell can device,
I’ll broach.  The head’s in, draw the body after;
Begin thy feast in full cups, end in slaughter.
Th’at damnedst fury.  Oh, but Friar Clement’s free!
True, hast no snare t’entrap him?  Let me see.
He’s old, choke him with gold.  Hold on thy revels,
Pluto makes Shackle-Soul president of devils.                                         [Exit.

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: