If This Be Not a Good Play – Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter KING, OCTAVIO, NARCISSO, JOVINELLI, and
SPENDOLA.

 KING
What picture’s that, Uncle Octavio?

OCTAVIO
The picture of thy state, drawn by thy self.
This is the book of statutes were enacted
In the high parliament of thy royal thoughts
Where wisdom was the speaker; and because
Thy suspects shall not be abus’d by laws
Wrap’d up in characters, crabbed and unknown,
These thine own language speak.

KING
Hang ‘em up, uncle.

OCTAVIO
What says the king?

JOVINELLI
You must hang up the laws.

OCTAVIO
Like cobweb in foul rooms, through which great flies
Break through, the less being caught bith wing, there dies.
No, no, thy laws I’ll fix full in thy sight,                                             [Hangs a table up.
Like sea marks, that if this great ship of sway
And kingly ventures, loose her constant way
I’th’ bottomless gulf of state, beaten by the storms
Of youthful folly, raging in monstrous forms,
She may be sav’d from sinking and from wrack,
Steer’d by this compass, for the points of it
Shall guide her so, on rocks she cannot split.

KING
You are our careful pilot.  In this voyage
Of government, be you our admiral.
Wisdom and age being props, realms seldom fall.

 Enter BRISCO.

 OCTAVIO
Oraculous is thy voice.

KING
How now, Count Brisco?
Methinks I read a comedy in thy looks.

NARCISSO
H’as met some merry painter, he’s drawn so lively.

OMNES
Come, count, your news.

BRISCO
I shall bestow them freely,
The physic of your proclamation works,
Your gilded pills, roll’d up in promises
Of princely favours to his wit, who highest
Can raise your pleasures, slip so smoothly down
Your subject’s throats, that all, upon a sudden,
Are loosely given.

KING
How?  Loosely given?  Why, count?

BRISCO
Name but what sport, your highness would have acted,
I’m prologue to’t.  Your court must have more gates
To let in ruffling Saturday; without, now, waits
Music in some ten languages; each one swears,
By Orpheus fiddle-case, they will tickle your ears
If they can do’t with scraping.

NARCISSO
There’s seven score noise at least of English fiddlers.

JOVINELLI
Seven score!  They are able to eat up a city in very scraps.

BRISCO
Very base-viol men most of ‘em.  Besides whole swarms of Welsh harps, Irish bag-pipes, Jew’s trompes, and French kits.
All these made I together play,
But their damn’d caterwauling
Frighted me away.

OCTAVIO
These sports to please
A prince’s eye?

BRISCO
How like you then of these?
The city water bearers, trimly dight,
With yellow oaken tankards, pin’d upright
Like brooches in their hats.  In their fresh loves
A may-game bring, all, wearing dog-skin gloves
Made not to shrink i’th’ wetting.

KING
Bid these poor men
Drink well, and so be gone.

BRISCO
What will you have then?
Will you see the turners show, bravely prepar’d
With colours, drums, and guns, with rust half marr’d,
Bearing that, of which they long have been depriv’d?

KING
What is’t?

BRISCO
Their daring giant, newly reviv’d.

OMNES
For Jove’s sake, let’s see that.

OCTAVIO
Oh, fie, prince, fie!
In thy court painted monsters, they come not here.
Ride forth, thou shalt meet giants every where.
Methinks, young lords, your souls being new refin’d
With beams of honour, should not be declin’d
To sports low and vulgar; but since the king
Of birds, the eagle, lets you spread a wing
So near his own, you should put up such game
As fits and eagle, and pursue the same.
And not like ravens, kites, or painted jays,
Soar high, yet light on dunghills, for stinking preys.

JOVINELLI
Old lord, you rave.

NARCISSO
What sports would you devise?

OCTAVIO
Most fit for kings.  Were I, before his eyes,
To present objects, they should all be rare
Of Roman triumphs, laden with the spoils of war;
Or lions, and wild-boars, kill’d by active force;
Or sea fights; or land battles on foot, or horse;
Such sights as these, kindle in king’s brave fire,
And meeting spirits that dare mount, mount ‘em higher
Where apish pastimes lay our souls down flat
Grovelling on earth, base and effeminate.

BRISCO
I have bowls of this bias too, for your lordship’s alley.

KING
Trondle ‘em out before him.

BRISCO
The wooden-leg soldier
Waits to present you with his show of war.

OCTAVIO
Ay, marry my liege.

BRISCO
The scholar has his device, the mariner his.

OCTAVIO
These are king’s sports indeed.

BRISCO
Will you see these?

KING
Faith, be it so, because we’ll now rather please
Our uncle than ourself.  Pray fetch in these,
The rest cashier.

SPENDOLA
Send the fiddlers merrily home.

BRISCO
And yet pay ’em scurvily!  ‘Tis impossible.

JOVINELLI
And bid the water-bearers cleanse the circle.
There’s many a foul thing in it.

KING
Marshall ‘em in.

OCTAVIO
I’ll fetch these worthy spirits in myself.

BRISCO
No, no, we’ll aid you, sir.

JOVINELLI
March, and give us room.

[Exeunt OCTAVIO, BRISCO, RUFFMAN, and  JOVINELLI.

 KING
‘Sdeath!  If these doting grey-beards might have their wills,
We never shall have ours.  Let us cross them
As they cross us.

OMNES

How, how?

KING
Every device
Their ningles bring in, abuse with scurvy jest,
Be’t ne’er so good.

OMNES
Agreed.

NARCISSO
If ninnies, bring away the nest.

KING
Teach Jovinelli and Brisco when to give fire.

 Drums and trumpets sounding.  Enter OCTAVIO, JOVINELLI,
BRISCO, RUFFMAN, the Soldier, Scholar, and Mariner.

 SOLDIER
I am a soldier.

JOVINELLI
We know that by your legs.

SOLDIER
Does my stump grieve you?

BRISCO
Not if you bestir your stumps nimbly, sir.

NARCISSO
What hot shot’s this?

SOLDIER
A soldier, sir, that’s all;
That’s more than, sir, I think you dare be.  Zounds!  Baffl’d
For my limbs lost in service!  Your noble father
Has clap’d this buff-jerkin, when this stump of wood
Has up to th’ knee stuck three hours in French blood;
When such as you, with your spangled roses, that day
Bravely bestir’d their heels, and ran away.
I’ll stand to’t, I.

SPENDOLA
With one leg.

SOLDIER
Yes, with one.

OCTAVIO
Young lords, thus to scorn soldiers, ‘tis ill done.

KING
Uncle, here’s no man scorns ‘em.  Must we be brav’d
By a staring fellow, for a little fighting?  Go.

SOLDIER
Fighting!  I cannot halt, I, but speak plain.
No king on earth baffles me.  I’d baffle again
Th’ whole race of great Turks, had I ‘em i’th’ field.
I ha’ brought with me a hundred soldiers, old servitors,
Poor as my self in clothes; pick out five hundred
Of such silk-stocken men, if they beat us, hang us!
S’blood! if we toss not them, hang’s again.  A fort
We ha’ built without, and mand it, this was the sport
A soldier would ha’ given thee.  My one hundred
Had taught thee all the rules i’th’ school of war.

KING
All this I’ll read without maim, would, or scar.

SOLDIER
What say you to an engine that at once
Shall spoil some thirty men?

JOVINELLI
Thirty men!  Nothing.

SOLDIER
If nothing!  Hast thou been beat for this?  Farewell.

JOVINELLI
I can fetch twenty scriveners have done more
With a bare goose-quill.

SOLDIER
Mayst thou but live to need
A soldier’s arm that hath laugh’d to see him bleed!                                  [Exit.

BRISCO
You have lost the day, sir, for your soldiers fly.

KING
Fly to the devil, let ‘em!

JOVINELLI
Your leaders before.

SPENDOLA
You fight all under one colours?  Do you not?

SCHOLAR
Sir, these pleasures to the King which I prefer,
Flow from Jove’s brain.

NARCISSO
Heyda!  Here’s one has beaten our Jove’s brains.

MARINER
[Aside.] Would I had thee hung up at our main kite!

SCHOLAR
No, sir, Jove’s brain, Minerva, queen of wit,
If all the Muses and the arts can fit
With their high tunes such choice and princely ears,
Apollo, Father to them all, appears.

JOVINELLI
Apollo was an ass!  He let a wench whom he lov’d to be turn’d into a bay-tree, and now she’s glad for a penny to stick ale house windows and wind dead corses.

BRISCO
Let Apollo go and lie with his own daughters.

KING
Are you a scholar, sir?

JOVINELLI
A school-master, sir, as I take it, and comes to present a very pretty show of this scholars in broken Latin.

OCTAVIO
Can we be dumb and see this?

SCHOLAR
O, hapless learning,
File and complain to Heaven, where thou wert born,
That thou, whom kings once nurs’d, art now their scorn!                        [Exit.

NARCISSO
How blows the wind, sir?

MARINER
Wind!  ‘tis nor-nor-west.

NARCISSO
To hoise your sails up too, I think, ‘tis best.

MARINER
A black gust is coming; up a-low, there, hey!  A young man up to’th’ topmast head and look out; stand to your sails; stand to your topsails; let go your harriers, let go; amain, lower amain; quick, quick, good fellows!

OMNES
He’s mad.

MARINER
Who’s at helm?  Bear up hard, and hard up, and thou beest a man, bear up. Starboard; port again!  Off with your drabblers and your banners; out with your courses, ho!  I spy two ships yonder; that yaw too and again, they have both sprung a leak.  I think the devil is sucking tobacco; here’s such a mist. Out with your boat and your boatsmen; cut down mast-bith-board; bear up!
I’m a blunt fellow, you see.  All I say is this:
You that scorn seamen shall a seaman miss.                                                     [Exit.

OCTAVIO
Now, by my life, I have patient stood too long
To see rich merit and love, paid with base wrong!
Learning! and arms! and traffic! the triple wall
That fortifies a kingdom, race ‘em down all!
This seaman, he that dearest earns his bread,
Had rigg’d and mann’d four galleys bravely furnish’d
With soldiers, rowers, and fire works for a sea fight.

KING
You are full of squibs too; pray, go fire ‘em all.

OCTAVIO
Must I be then cashier’d too?  Marry, and shall.
To save thy sinking honour I’ll send hence
These men with thanks with praise and recompense.

OMNES
Pray, do.

KING
Brave Shalcan Bohor, all this while
Our eye has followed yours and seen it smile,
As ‘twere in scorn, of what these men could do,
Which made us slight them off; to engross you,
Our best and richest prize i’th’ courts of kings
Through which you ha’ passed, you ha’ seen wonders: shoe ‘em.

RUFFMAN
I shall at opportune hours.  If your grace
Arride the toys they bragg’d of, fireworks,
And such light-stuffs, sit fearless without danger
Of murdering shot, which villains might discharge,
In idle counterfeit sea fights, you shall see
At opening of this hand, a thousand balls
Of wild-fire flying around the air:  there!                         [Fire-works on lines.

OMNES
Rare, rare!

KING
‘Tis excellent!  ‘Sdeath, from whence flew they?

BRISCO
Hell, I think.

JOVINELLI
Hell!  Nay, if any that are in Hell skip up ever so nigh Heaven as these devils that spit fire did, I’ll drink nothing but gun powder!

RUFFMAN
Ha, ha, a trifle this.  Your scholar there
Come with his arts and muses shallow, leaden brain,
Your swaggering soldier, lead a totter’d train
Of ruffianly boot-haulers; I noted all
These feasts for kings; i’th’ garden of variety
The vast world!  You are starv’d midst your satiety;
Pluck no one apple from the golden tree
But shake the fruit of every pleasure down.

KING
Thanks, Bohor; why else wears a king his crown?
Shalcan, all Naples shall not buy thee from me.

RUFFMAN
Nor you and these from me.

KING
Ask what thou wilt have
But to stay here.

RUFFMAN
Lo, this is all I crave.                      [Hugs him.

KING
Thou hast our fast embraces.

RUFFMAN
Swift as man’s thought,
Various delights shall be each minute born
And die as fast that fresh may rise.  We scorn
To serve up one dish twice, be’t ne’er so rare;
Will you that gainst to-morrow I prepare
A feast of strange mirth for you?

KING
Dear Bohor, do.

RUFFMAN
I shall.  Nor do I thus your love pursue
With servile hopes of gold; I need it not.
If out the jaws of Hell gold may be got
Black arts are mine to do’t, and what delights
Those work be yours.

KING
Thou art gracious in our sight.                        [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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