If This Be Not a Good Play – Act 2, Scene 3

Return to previous scene

Enter PRIOR, ALPHEGE, HILLARY, and Friars with pruning knives, spades, &c. met by SUBPRIOR and SHACKLE-SOUL.

 SUBPRIOR
Whither, mad men, run you?

OMNES
To our vines.

SUBPRIOR
Your vines!
The tree of sin and shame!  This serpent here
Has with that liquorish poison so set on fire
The brains of Nicodeme and Sylvester
That they in drunken rage have stab’d each other.

PRIOR
Stab’d!

SHACKLE-SOUL
Yes, they bleed a little, but have no harm.
Their young blood with the grapes being made warm
They brawl’d and struck, but I help off the blows,
Yet the subprior says from me their quarrel rose.

SUBPRIOR
It did.

SHACKLE-SOUL
In very deed, for I’ll not swear,
It did not, sir; to me your malice bear
As if that all such mischief done were mine;
But ‘cause yourself shall see how I repine
To see vice prosper, pardon me, good Lord Prior,
If I a tell-tale be of what mine eyes
Beheld with water in them.  Sin will rise
In holy circles I see sometimes.

PRIOR
What sin?

SUBPRIOR
What hast thou seen?

SHACKLE-SOUL
Would present I had not been,
But till I utter it, my clogg’d conscience bears
A man upon a woman.

OMNES
Ha!

SHACKLE-SOUL
I speak’t in tears;
Scumbroth, our cook, and a female I beheld
Kissing in our orchard; on her lips he dwell’d,
I think, some half hour.

SUBPRIOR
Shame to our reverend order!
A woman in our covent!  Sin black as murder.

PRIOR
Our cook shall be severely punished; a woman,
A tempter here!

OMNES
Abominable!

PRIOR
Rush, thou’lt rebuke sin.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Though, my lord, I’m bad,
I’m not given that way.

PRIOR
Let up some plagues invent
To lay on this lecherous knave.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Some light punishment,
Good my Lord Prior; suppose ‘twere your own fault,
Whip as you would be whipp’d, the best’s naught.

SUBPRIOR
He shall be punish’d and then lose his place.

PRIOR
That, sir, shall be as we will.  To our vines, away!

SUBPRIOR
For shame, give o’er! Dare you profane the day
That is to holy uses consecrate?

PRIOR
Why?  What day is this?

SUBPRIOR
Lambert the martyr.

PRIOR
No matter,
To vex thee deeper, this whole day we’ll spend
Only about our vines.

SUBPRIOR
You vex not me,
But heaven; what warrants you to do this?

PRIOR
Our will.

SUBPRIOR
Thou hast thy will, thy wish thou ne’er shalt have,
In sight of heaven who sees and punishes
Men’s black impieties; and in sight of these,
Sharers in thy full sin, and in his sight
T’express whose vileness there’s no epithet.

PRIOR
No matter what he says, Rush.

SHACKLE-SOUL
I’m known what I am.

SUBPRIOR
To thee I prophecy, vicious old man to thee,
Who erst with lift-up-hands and down-bowed knee
Seemest to have has work in heaven; now, full of spite,
Only to sate a liquorish appetite;
Digs our religious wails up, planting there
Luxurious fruits to pamper belly-cheer;
For all thy pains to dress it, of this vine
Thy lustful lips shall never taste the wine.

PRIOR
Distracted fool, instead of my just anger
Thou only hast my pity.  Thou prophecy?

OMNES
Ha, ha!

SUBPRIOR
Laugh on, but since nor prayers prevail nor tears,
I’ll power my grief into my prince’s ears.                         [Exit.

SHACKLE-SOUL
He’ll go and complain to the king.

PRIOR
Let him complain,
Kings cannot subjects of their food restrain.
Away!                                            [Exeunt.  Manet SHACKLE-SOUL.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Engender sin with sin; that wins rich heat
May bring forth lust; lust murder may beget;
But here strike sail, this bark awhile hale in
And launch into the deep a brighter sin.
Ho, Glitterback, ascend to Shackle-Soul,
To Shackle-Soul ascend, ho Glitterback!
Thou richest spirit, thrust up thy golden head
From Hell thus high.  When?  Art imprisoned
In miser’s chests so fast thou canst not come?
Or feast thou thieves or cutpurses?  Here be some
Can save thee from their fingers.  When?  Arise,
And dazzle th’approaching night with thy glist’ning eyes.

GLITTERBACK
Here.

A Golden Head ascends.

 SHACKLE-SOUL
How thou sweatst with coming!  Save me those drops,
Gold’s pure elixir, stilling from thy locks
Shake from thy brows and hair that golden shower.
So, get home, quick, to Hell lest Hell grow poor,
If rich men’s paws once fasten thee, and beware
I’th’ way thou meetst no lawyers; they’ll pull thee bare.
Hence, down!

GLITTERBACK
I’m gone.                                                           [Descendit.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Cool night, will call Friar Clement forth anon.
Angels, be you his strong temptation.
Wine’s lustful fires him warm not.  At this spring,
Scorn’d by the rest, for him, spread thy gilt wing
Full in his eye.  As he drinks water down
In streams of avarice, let his weak soul drown.                            [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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