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

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A table is set out by young Fellows like Merchant’s Men, books
of accounts upon it, small desks to write upon; they
sit down to write tickets; LURCHALL with them.

 FIRST SERVANT
Come, fellow Lurchall, write.

LURCHALL
Fuh, stay not for me;
I shall out-go you all.

SECOND SERVANT
I hold five crowns,
We all leave you behind us.

LURCHALL
Done, but I
Must not leave you behind me.  [Aside.] What pains a poor devil
Takes to get into a merchant!  He’s so civil,
One of Hell must not know him with more ease;
A devil may win ten gallants then one of these;
Yet a merchant’s wife, before these ten, is one
To entertain her devil if Pride be one.
But Luchall, not tha’rt in, and for years bound
To play the merchant, play him right; th’ast found
A master who more villainy has by heart
Then thou by rote.  See him but play his own part;
And thou doest Hell good service.   Bartervile,
There’s in thy name a harvest makes me smile.

BARTERVILE
[Within.] Luchall!

OMNES
My master calls.

LURCHALL
Ay.

Enter BARTERVILE.

  BARTERVILE
Oh, art there?
This day twixt one and two a gallant’s bound
To pay four hundred crowns to free his lands
Fast mortgag’d to me.  Lurchall, get thee up high
Into my turret where thou mayst espy
All comers every way; if by thy guess
Thou seest the gull make hither—

LURCHALL
So, sir.

BARTERVILE
That his hour
Lie gasping; at the last minutes let him beat at door;
Within, I’ll beat his heart out.

LURCHALL
I’ll let him stand.

BARTERVILE
Do.  Take my watch; go faster.  All his land
Is summed up with these two figures, two and one.
At past one, his; strike but two, ‘tis mine own.

LURCHALL
I’ll turn the wheels and spin the hours up faster.

BARTERVILE
The city clocks then strike and kill thy master.
Would all the city sextons at my cost
Were drunk this day four hours.

LURCHALL
Troth, so would I,
And we their jacks at the clock-house.

BARTERVILE
We’d strike merrily.
Fly up to th’ top i’th’ house.

LURCHALL
[Aside.] There, sir, I’ll sit,
And croak like a raven to damn thee in Hell’s pit.                                    [Exit.

BARTERVILE sets amongst his men reading a long scroll.

 BARTERVILE
How goes this month?

OMNES
Much shorter than the last.

BARTERVILE
Weddings this month twelve thousand:  not worth the scoring,
But think there’s little marrying, we ha’ so much whoring.
Grinding mills so much used; about the city
Such grinding, yet no more money; suits in law
Full brought to an end this month, no more but then.
The law will beggar us.  Had I the bags again
I bought this cumbrous office with the king
Should make his best of’t.  He that did farm’t before
Had it for lease than I, yet received more.
How much remains of the salt tribute due?

FIRST SERVANT
Seven thousand crowns.

BARTERVILE
That’s well; a savoury sum.
These our Italian tributes were well devis’d.
Methinks ‘tis fit a subject should not eat
But that his prince from ever dish of meat
Should receive nourishment; for, being the head,
Why should he pine when all the body is fed?
Besides, it makes us more to awe a king
When at each bite we are forc’d to think on him.

Enter a Bravo with money.

 FIRST SERVANT
What payment’s this?

BRAVO
The pension of the Stews; you need not untie it.  I brought it but now from the sealer’s office.  There’s not a piece there but has a hole in’t, because men may know where ‘twas had and where is will be taken again.  Bless your worship!  Stew-money, sir; stew-prune cash, sir.

BARTERVILE
They are sure, though not the soundest paymasters.
Read; what’s the sum?

FIRST SERVANT
But bare two hundred crowns.

BRAVO
They are bare crowns indeed, sir, and they came from animals and vermin that are more bare.  We that are clerks of these flesh-markets have a great deal of rotten mutton lying upon our hands and find this to be a sore payment.

BARTERVILE
Well, well, the world will mend.

BRAVO
So our surgeons tell ‘em every day, but the pox of mendment, I see.

BARTERVILE
Do not your gallants come off roundly then?

BRAVO
Yes, sir, their hair comes off fast enough; we turn away crack’d French crowns every day.  I have a suit to your worship in behalf of all our dealers in small wares; our free-whores, sir, you know my meaning.

BARTERVILE
If your whores are known, what’s thy suit?

BRAVO
I should have brought a petition from ‘em, but that ‘tis put off, sir, till cleansing week, that they may all be able to set to their hands or else a whore’s mark.

BARTERVILE
Well, what’s their request?

BRAVO
Marry, sir, that all the she-tobacco-shops that creep up daily in every hole about the city may be put to silence.

BARTERVILE
Why, pray thee, honest fellow?

BRAVO
I thank your good worship.  I had not such a sweet bit given me this seven years, “honest fellow!”  Marry, sir, I’ll open to you your suppliant’s cases; they that had wont to spend a crown about a smock have now their delight dog-cheap; but for spending one quarter of that money on smoke; besides, sir, they are not contented to rob us of our customs only, but when their pipes are foul with spitting and drivelling in those foresaid shops, they have no place to burn ‘em in but our houses.

BARTERVILE
Draw their petition and we’ll see all cur’d.

BRAVO
Let a frost come first, sir; I thank your venerable worship; the pox gnaw out so many small guts as have paid thee crowns!                                         [Exit.

Enter LURCHALL running.

 LURCHALL
The tide’s against you, sir; the crowns are come!

BARTERVILE
How goes my watch?

LURCHALL
As most watches use to go, sir, sleepily, heavily.

BARTERVILE
Not reach’d to one yet; wert thou to be hang’d
The hour had gallop’d.

LURCHALL
I spurr’d it all I could.

BARTERVILE
S’death keep his hour!  Heaven help poor citizens
If gentlemen grow this wary.  Let him in.                              [Exit LURCHALL.
Barren now that hast in craft so fruitful been

Enter LURCHALL with two Gentlemen.

Your business, sir, to me?

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Do you not know me, sir?

BARTERVILE
No, in good truth, sir.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
To know you I am bold, sir.
You have lands of mine in mortgage; this is my day
And here’s your crowns.

BARTERVILE
Signior Innocentio,
My memory had quite lost you; pray, sit both.
A bowl of wine here!

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Sir, it shall not need.
Please you to fetch my evidence whilst we tell.

BARTERVILE
What needs this forward spring?  Faith, two months hence
Had been to me as welcome.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Sir, I thank you.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Your hour draws on, Signior Innocentio.

BARTERVILE
Go beat a drum i’th’ garret, that no tongues
Of clocks be heard but mine.

LURCHALL
Little past one.

BARTERVILE
Wind, wind.

LURCHALL
[Aside.] Thus windst thou to damnation.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
I’ll part with none, sir, pardon me, till I see
Your writings.  Will you fetch the evidence, sir?

BARTERVILE
What evidence, sir, have I of yours?

FIRST GENTLEMAN
My friend, sir,
Whose money he lends me to redeem my mortgage—

BARTERVILE
Which you would have for your security.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
‘Tis so, sir.

BARTERVILE
No, sir Innocentio,
To-morrow on your bare word will I lend you
Thirty crowns more; I love you, sir, and wish you
Beware whose hands you fall into; the world’s a serpent.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
This does but spend the hour, sir; will you take your money?

BARTERVILE
With all my heart.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Let him see my writings then.

BARTERVILE
Have you such covenant from me?  I remember none.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Your conscience is sufficient covenant, sir.

BARTERVILE
Ha!  What that conscience?  I know no law terms, I.
Talk to me as a citizen.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
We’ll dally no longer.
We knew what snake would sting us, and therefore brought
Our medicine gainst his venom.  You’ll keep the writings
And we’ll i’th’ court of conscience tender your crowns,
Whither this writ does summon you.

LURCHALL
A fox and are taken?

BARTERVILE
Serve writs upon me, yet keep my money too?
[Aside to LURCHALL.] Dull slave, hast thou no brain?

LURCHALL
[Aside to BARTERVILE.] Brain! Try this.              [Whispers.

BARTERVLE
Peace.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
Will you as fits a Christian give us in
What is our right and take your crowns, sir, yet?

BARTERVILE
‘Tis good to try men’s patience; fetch me down
Those writings on my pillow; there they ha’ slept                [Exit LURCHALL.
These two hours for you.  Must not friends jest? Ha!

BOTH
Yes, sir; let you men tell, just four hundred crowns.

BARTERVILE
Besides the use.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
The use is there too.

BARTERVILE
Hold.
I’ll take it without telling.  Put it up.

BOTH
Not till we see the writings.

Enter LURCHALL.

 BARTERVILE
Dare you touch it?

BOTH
Dare!  Yes, sir, and date stab him to the heart
Offers to take it from us.

BARTERVILE
Who stabs first?                [Flings money amongst it.
Now, touch it if you dare; there’s gold of mine
And if they lay one finger on’t, cry thieves,
They come to rob me!  Touch it if you dare.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Damn’d wretch, thou wild go quick to hell I fear.

BARTERVILE
No, sir, the devil shall fetch me when I go.

LURCHALL
[Aside.] Th’art all my errand.

SECOND GENTLEMAN
We are cheated both.

BARTERVILE
Proceed in your Chancery suit; I have begun your bill.
Humbly complaining.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
Of thee, villain, I’ll complain
That sells thy soul for money; devils on earth dwell,
And men are nowhere; all this world is hell!                      [Exeunt Gentlemen.

BARTERVILE
I kiss thy forehead, my witty Oedipus,
That canst unfold such riddles.                           [One rings.  Exit one Servant.

LURCHALL
Sir, I am bound
To do you all service, [Aside.] till I you all confound.

Enter First Servant.

 FIRST SERVANT
Master Silverpen the proctor, sir, sends word if you come not in to-morrow and personally depose your payment of the two hundred crowns, you’ll be non-suited.

BARTERVILE
That is a law-draught goes down coldly.

LURCHALL
Why sir?  ‘Tis but your swearing the money is paid.

BARTERVILE
If oaths had back doors to come in at without danger of damnation to catch a man’s soul bith back swearing were brave.

FIRST SERVANT
What answer shall I give the proctor’s man?

LURCHALL
Tell him my master shall come in and swear.         [Exit Servant and enter.

BARTERVILE
Do, tell him; on thee I’ll build.  Now all my fear
Is for appearance at the Chancellor’s court.
No trick to save that?

LURCHALL
I have a brave one for’t.
Bring in a pottle of wine.  [Exit Servant.] Will Carlo here,
My fellow, depose a truth if he see it, to help
His master?

BARTERVILE
Wut thou not, honest Carlo?

SECOND SERVANT
Yes, sir.

Enter Servant with wine.

 FIRST SERVANT
Here’s the wine.

LURCHALL
Set this to your head anon, sir; when ‘tis there
Away you, and to-morrow thou mayst swear
Before the chancellor, and swear true, if he
Were in that case thou leftst him, ‘twere in vain
To hope he could live till thou camst back again.

BARTERVILE
All knights i’th’ post learn this trick; the fits upon me now.

LURCHALL
Take a good draught; ‘twill help you, sir.  It gulps;
He’s almost breathless.  Carolo, away!

FIRST SERVANT
I am gone.                                       [Exit.

LURCHALL
He’s gone, he’s gone, sir.

BARTERVILE
One gulp more had choked me;
This wine has washed my fears off. Tha’st given me power
To make me dote upon thee.  Carolo’s gone?

LURCHALL
Yes, and will swear his heart out to your good.
Swear let him; be thyself and he damn’d too.

BARTERVILE
So I may get by it.  In my bosom’s sleep,
My dove, my love, prosper but thou and I.

LURCHALL
And let all else sink.

BARTERVILE
Let ‘em, so I kiss gold;
The young man’s whore, the saint of him that’s old.                            [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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