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

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Enter SUBPRIOR with an earthen pot and a lanthorn;
SCUMBROTH with him, with a piece.

 SUBPRIOR
Get thee to bed, thou foolish man, and sleep.

SCUMBROTH
How?  Sleep?  No, sir, no.  I am turn’d a tyrant and cannot sleep.
I stand sentinel perdu, and somebody dies if I sleep.
I am posses’d with the devil and cannot sleep.

SUBPRIOR
What devil possesses thee?

SCUMBROTH
The fencer’s devil, a fighting devil.  Rush has committed a murder upon my body, and his carcass shall answer it.  The cock of my revenge is up.

SUBPRIOR
Murder!  What murder?

SCUMBROTH
He has taken away my good name, which is flat manslaughter, and half hang’d me, which is as much as a murder.  He told the Lord Prior and you that I was kissing a wench.  It’s a lie; I give him the lie, and he shall fight with me at single pistol against my caliver.  Do I look like a whore-monger?  When have you seen a wencher thus hairy as I am?  Rush, thou diest for this treason against my member’s concupiscentiality?

SUBPRIOR
Thou would not kill him, would thou?

SCUMBROTH
No, but I’ll make him know what ‘tis to boil a cook in’s own grease!  I am scalding hot; I am charg’d with fury; I carry a heart-burning within me.  I kiss a whore?  I shall have boys cry out to me now, “Who kiss’d Mary?”  No, Rush, Scumbroth shall give thee sugar pellets to eat.  I will not be danc’d upon!

SUBPRIOR
Let me persuade thy piece of mind to-night:
Get thee to rest; if Rush have thee belied,
Rejoice by wrongs to have thy patience tried.
He shall forgiveness ask thee.

SCUMBROTH
Let me have but one blow at’s head with my cleaver i’th’ kitchen and I freely forgive him, or let me bounce at him.

SUBPRIOR
These bloody thoughts will damn thee into hell.

SCUMBROTH
Do you think so? What becomes of our roaring boys then that stab healths one to another; do you think they will be damn’d up too?

SUBPRIOR
I think so, for I know it.  Dear son, to prayer;
Two sins beset thee:  murder and despair.
I charge thee, meet me at my cell anon
To save thee will I spend my orison.
In name of Heaven, I charge thee to be gone!

SCUMBROTH
Well, sir, the cold water of your council has laid the heat of my fury. He has met with his match but I will shoot off my anger.  I will be gone, and why?  Look you, because the moon is up and make horns at one of us.  As the nobleman’s coach is drawn by four horses, the knights by two, and the cuckold by three, even so am I drawn away with none at all.  Vale, bonos noches; I am possess’d still.  It buzzes here.  Vale.                                   [Exit.

SUBPRIOR
Bless’d stay of light, struck there to illuminate
This world darkened o’er with sin.  Thou watchest late
To guide men’s coming home, showing thereby
Heaven’s care of us, seeing how we tread awry.
We have two great lights for midnight and for noon,
Because black deeds at no time should be done.
All hail to thee, now my best guide, be given!
What needs I earth’s candle, having the lamp of heaven?
Now Benedicite? Where am I?

Enter SHACKLE-SOUL as RUSH, aloof.

O, whether am I going?  Which way came I?
Ah, well-a-da,’ I come to fill my pot
With water not with thee.  Thou art misbegot,
Else wouldst not lie there.  What orphan’s blood
Hast thou suck’d out to make this golden flood?
None drink this well but I; how is it then
Thou thus waylay’st me, thief to the soul of man?
Would some poor wretch, by loss of law undone,
Had thee!  Go do him good; me canst thou none.
My wholesome cup is poison’d; it flows o’er
With man’s damnation, gold; drink there no more.

SHACKLE-SOUL
[Aside.] Not taste what all men thirst for!  Old and so brave,
When money assaults, one combat more I’ll have.

Enter SCUMBROTH.

 SCUMBROTH
So, ho, ho, Father Subprior!

SUBPRIOR
Who’s there?  What art thou callst me?

SCUMBROTH
One that feeds the hungry, the cook, sir, Scumbroth.

SUBPRIOR
Come hither; I have for thee a golden prize.

SHACKLE-SOUL
[Aside.] Ha, ha, he’ll take it!
Villainies and fools will ha’ gold, though got from Hell,
But they will do so, as thou shalt, pay for’t well.                                      [Exit.

SCUMBROTH
But stay, Father Subprior, before we go one step farder, what do you think I have done since I went from you?

SUBPRIOR
No hurt I hope, say hast thou?

SCUMBROTH
Hurt!  If I did hurt in that, how much harm do almanac makers who lie coldly quivering at it all the year long?  I did do nothing but stand staring at the man in the moon.

SUBPRIOR
And what good thoughts bred that within thee?

SCUMBROTH
This:  I thought to myself, what a happy fellow that man in the moon was, to see so many fools and knaves here below, and yet never to be troubled with ‘em nor meddle with ‘em.

SUBPRIOR
He’s happy that meddles not with this world indeed.

SCUMBROTH
If that man in the moon should write a prognostication, oh, he shall not need to tell astronomical lies to fill his book, nor talk gibb’rish no man understands, of quartiles, aspects, stations, retrogradations, peragrations, centrical, eccentrical, cosmical, acronical, and such palquodical, solar, lunar, lunatical vaulting over the rails of Heaven, that no Christian dare look upon their tricks for fear his wit break his neck.

SUBPRIOR
Thou putst into a sea, thou canst not sound,
Ignorance still is foe to arts profound.
Come hither, man, come hither.

SCUMBROTH
Arts profound!  Arts make men as very asses as women do.  I have no art, and yet I know this moon that shines at night sees more than you or I do, for all your spectacles.

SUBPRIOR
True, ‘tis the eye of Heaven.

SCUMBROTH
Which of the eyes?  ‘Tis but the left eye, and the sun is the right, and yet the left sometimes sees more than the right, and the right as much as the left; there’s paxionism for you, father, globical paxionism!

SUBPRIOR
I understand thee not.

SCUMBROTH
No?  Why, here’s the oyster opened; I say the sun sees much knavery in a year, and the moon more in a quarter; the moon sees men carried by a quarrelling watch to prison, and the sun sees the constable and the book-keeper share fees the next morning.

SUBPRIOR
That’s not well.

SCUMBROTH
Yes, but they swear ‘tis well; the moon sees bastards come bawling into the world, and the sun sees ‘em shifted and shuftled in dossers away to nurse, and that the cause we have so many dosser-heads; the moon sees old curmudgeons come reeling from taverns with sipping of half pints of sack, and the sun sees the same churls the next day soberly cutting any man’s throat for a penny.

SUBPRIOR
Enough of this.  Come hither, look what here lies.

SCUMBROTH
What here lies.  Marry, Father Subprior, the devil and some usurer’s money have been here at their lechery, and see what goodly children they have begot, if you will keep the bastards at burse.

SUBPRIOR
I am content that half this gold be thine,
If it be ask’d for never, for ‘tis not mine,
So thou wild promise t’other half to give
To such as I appoint.

SCUMBROTH
By this gold I will lay it our bravely as you appoint me.

SUBPRIOR
Look not to prosper, if thou dealst amiss;
Good works are keys opening the gates of bliss.
That golden key thou in the heap mayst find;
If with it thou relieve the lame, sick, blind,
And hungry.

SCUMBROTH
I will do it, I protest.

SUBPRIOR
One half bestow’d so, take thyself the rest.
So fare thee well.                                                                                        [Exit.

SCUMBROTH
Farewell, good father.  Fool!  I’ll give the blind a dog to lead ‘em, the lame shall to the whipping-post, the sick shall die in a cage, and the hungry leap at a crust.  I feed rogues, the pox shall; the world is chang’d; a beggar yesterday, and full of gold to-day; an ass to-day, and a prow’d scab to-morrow!

Golden Head ascends.

 GLITTERBACK
Stay, stand.

SCUMBROTH
Stand!  Cannot a gentleman grow rich but he must keep knaves about him?

GLITTERBACK
That gold is none of thine.

SCUMBROTH
But all the craft in that great head of yours cannot get it out of my fingers.  Zounds, who the devil art thou?

GLITTERBACK
A spirit sent up from Hell to make thee rich.

SCUMBROTH
Thank Hell for it; Hell makes worse fools rich in a year.

GLITTERBACK
That gold I laid there for thee.

SCUMBROTH
When do you lay again, that I may have more of these eggs?

GLITTERBACK
Spend those I charge thee first.

SCUMBROTH
Yes, Head.

GLITTERBACK
And bravely, I charge thee.

SCUMBROTH
What need you be at such charges?  I’ll do’t; but shall the poor be a penny the better for me as the old fellow charg’d me, yea or no?

GLITTERBACK
No.

SHACKLE-SOUL
No.

SCUMBROTH
Who’s that?

GLITTERBACK
‘Tis thine own genius cries unto thee “no.”

SCUMBROTH
My genius!  I am a cook; my genius then, belike, is a scullion; but when this is spent, can my genius tell me whither I shall have more?

SHACKLE-SOUL
More.

GLITTERBACK
More.                                                                                   [Within, in a big voice.
FIRST DEVIL
More.

SECOND DEVIL
More.

SCUMBROTH
Because my genius keeps company with a great man, I’ll take all their words, and his bond.

GLITTERBACK
When thou hast spent all that, I charge thee come
To the back tree that stands in Naples’ grove;
Climb boldly to the top and keep fast hold,
For there I’ll rain on thee a shower of gold;
If what thou seest there thou to any tell,
Devils shall tear thee.

SHACKLE-SOUL
[Within.] Away.

GLITTERBACK
Away.

SCUMBROTH
Farewell.                                                           [Exit.

Enter SHACKLE-SOUL laughing.

 SHACKLE-SOUL
Ha, ha!  Down, down, bright spirit; thou would be miss’d anon;
Hell mint stands idle.

GLITTERBACK
Loose not that fool.

SHACKLE-SOUL
Be gone!

GLITTERBACK
Have care to meet at next infernal court.
The day draws nigh.                                                                       [Goes down.

SHACKLE-SOUL
I thank thee for this, spirit.                                                                       [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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