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

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Enter KING, RUFFMAN, NARCISSO, SPENDOLA, BRISCO, JOVINELLI,
BARTERVILE, LURCHALL, the two Gentlemen, and FARNEZE.

 KING
You that complain ‘gainst Bartervile, receiver
Of all our tribute-moneys, speak your wrongs.
Nay, you have deaf’d our ears too much already.
He does confess your crowns, pay’d and receiv’d;
But to give back your writings there’s no clause;
If them you’ll win, fight it out by our laws.

BARTERVILE
I humbly thank your highness.  A gracious doom.

FIRST GENTLEMAN
One day to try this plea, to Hell thoult come.                    [Exeunt Gentlemen.

KING
To’th’next!  We ha’ business of our own; to’th’next!
O, Bartervile, for these two hundred crowns.

BARTERVILE
I paid ‘em to that man.

FARNEZE
Now, afore the king,
And his lords here, thou liest; th’ast paid me none!

KING
You cholar’s, sirrah, too high.

FARNEZE
Though my collar stand
So high, it scarce bears up this falling band.
Thou sayst thoult swear th’ast paid it; Ud’s nails!  Swear so,
And the foul fiend go with’t.  Two hundred crowns!
I ha’ lost as much at loggets.  Swear but to revel
And spend’t in Hell; gallop thee and that to’th’ devil!

LURCHALL
Man, wherefore dost not swear?

KING
Reach me a book.

BARTERVILE
Let me before I swear, on my notes look.
I’ll tell you the very day; pray, hold my staff
Till I draw out my false eyes.

FARNEZE
Draw thy heart out an’t would.  Thou mayst well say thy false eyes.

BARTERVILE
The day:  August 14.

FARNEZE
That’s now. Be damn’d and so away!

BARTERVILE
On this day, August 14, I swear I pay’d
Into these hands, two hundred crowns in gold.

FARNEZE
Zounds, nor in silver!  By this book, I had none!

KING
One of you two is perjuriously forsworn.

FARNEZE
He, he, as I am a true Christian man!

JOVINELLI
He swears
To your own hands he paid them.

BARTERVILE
Else let that eye
Which sees me play false scourge my perjury
With fearful stripes.

FARNEZE
O, justice!  Fal’n down dead!            [LURCHALL and RUFFMAN about him.
Would I had lost all, though I had been cozen’d
Rather than thou my soul.

OMNES
He bleeds at mouth.

FARNEZE
See his staff, beating the earth, for heaven loves truth,
Is burst into shivers, and that gold he swore
Was pay’d to me lies scatter’d on the floor.

RUFFMAN
He comes again; the devil will not receive him.

KING
Take him away; we’ll punish him for this crime.

RUFFMAN
Beg his office.  You a courtier?

SPENDOLA
I have a suit to your Highness.

KING
What is’t, Count Spendola?

LURCHALL
Master, look up, man!
[Aside.]In this black trance had thy soul flown away
I had wrought hard and made a holiday.

RUFFMAN
Lose not a minute, pew-fellow, leave him not yet.
I have whales here too lie playing in the net.  [Exit LURCHALL with BARTERVILE.

FARNEZE
I’ll take this gold at venture, sweet young king,
For all this hell-hound owes me.

KING
Do, and be gone.

FARNEZE
I am pay’d; the devil’s turn’d puritan, I fear;
He hates, methinks, to hear his own child swear!                                     [Exit.

KING
The office of this perjur’d Bartervile
I frankly give away, dividing it
To the Count Spendola and our worthy friend,
Brave Bohor here.  Farm it to whom you please.

BOTH
We thank your Highness.

SPENDOLA
Who bids most, he buys it.

KING
If to his life, the devil gives longer lease
To build more work for Hell, go see; and from him
Exact a strict account of what he owes us.

RUFFMAN
That strict account I’ll take.                                                                       [Exit.

KING
Show him no favour.

Enter OCTAVIO with petitions, and SUBPRIOR.

 OCTAVIO
If now thou art a just king, keep thy word
With thy poor subjects.

KING
How, noble uncle, why?

OCTAVIO
This is the day to hear the poor man’s cry;
And yonder’s crying  enough, at thy court gates;
Five hundred white heads and scarce ten good hats
Crying out they are undone.

OMNES
Undone!  By whom?

OCTAVIO
Marry, look:  by such as you are, who go gay,
Wear’t out, book down more, set to their hands but never pay,
Of poor starv’d servants, or, when plagues are reigning,
Mourn orphans so and widows, as those do
That owe these sorrowful papers.

KING
Pray, how can I
To their complainings add a remedy?

OCTAVIO
I’ll tell thee how:  are any here in debt
To merchants, mercers, tailors?  Let ‘em jet
In their own satins, pay for what they ha’ ta’en,
And these will go less brave, t’other less complain.

OMNES
Ha, ha!

OCTAVIO
The mighty wrongs the weak, the rich the poor;
This man should have his own could he grease more
His too fat lawyer; that wretch foe’s coat does sue,
But his coat’s gone and his skin flayed off too,
If his purse be o’re-matched; these gross impure
And rank diseases long  unto thy cure,
The world’s in pawn for’t, these are the poor’s cries.
How wilt thou stop their throats?

KING
With halters.

OMNES
Hang ‘em!

OCTAVIO
Hang ‘em!  Any halters here!  Is’t so set down?
This law-book speaks not so, yet ‘tis thine own.

KING
Still braving me with this?  Burn it.

OCTAVIO
Yes, do.
If you burn all the week, burn Saturday too;
Do one good day’s deed first:  read poor men’s plaints.

KING
Hell’s plague confound ‘em!  In their heads and thine.
Vex me no more!

OCTAVIO
I warrant thee I’ll save mine.              [Sees the SUBPRIOR.
Holy saint, pardon me!  ‘Las, good father, my brain
So wild is I forgot thee, but I’ll to him again;
‘Tis but an old man’s head off.  King, take it.  I’ll speak
Whilst this stands on my shoulders.

KING
But that you are—

OCTAVIO
An honest man, thou’dst have this.  O, I beseek
Thy attention to this reverend subprior
Who plains against disorders of this house;                                 [Gives paper.
Where once devotion dwelt and charity,
There’s drunkenness now, gluttony, and lechery.
Tell thou the tale.

SUBPRIOR
Bad story soon is told
Because ‘tis foul, that leaf does all enfold.
Their sins grow high and fearful and strike at Heaven.
Punish them, thou, whose power from thence is given.

KING
Your friar’s so lusty!

JOVINELLI
All the barbers in Naples tell news of that priory.

BRISCO
I would your Grace would let me purge this house of her infection; bestow the livings of it on me; I’ll sweeten it in one month.

JOVINELLI
He’ll lay it in lavender.

KING
The covent, the demesnes, immunities,
Rents, customs, charters; what to the house of Baal
Soever is belonging, Brisco, ‘tis thine.

OCTAVIO
Wut rob the church too!  Now, th’ast nothing left
Scarce for thy self?

SUBPRIOR
O, Heaven, forfend such theft!

KING
Bestow it at thy pleasure.

OCTAVIO
Woe to these days
When to raise upstarts the poor church decays!

SUBPRIOR
Call back thy gift, oh King, and ere these eyes
Behold unhallowed hands to tyrannize
Where many a good man his orisons said,
And many a requiem been sung out for the dead,
Till I am thrust out by death, oh let me have
My dwelling there; there let me dig my grave
With mine own nails, shut up from worldly light
Between two walls, and die an anchorite!

KING
I refer you to your parson there.

BRISCO
That’s I;
Show me first where your abbey gold sleeps, then go die.

SUBPRIOR
I fear religion’s fall; alack, I see
This world’s a city built by the most high,
But kept by man, God’s greatest enemy.                                                   [Exit.

OCTAVIO
Let ill news fly together, thou art full of tears,
But I more full of woes, of cares, of fears.                                             [Exit.

Enter ASTOLFO.

KING
‘Sdeath, shall we have yet fair weather?

JOVINELLI
Here’s one storm more.

ASTOLFO
Calabria’s Duke demands of you a daughter.

KING
Let me but lie with’s wife, I’ll give him a son.

ASTOLFO
He sends for Erminghild.

KING
Deliver her.

ASTOLFO
She’s not to be found.

KING
Y’are and old fool
To ask for that which is not.

ASTOLFO
Thus he says,
Deny her and look for wars.

KING
So; go your ways.

ASTOLFO
I’m quickly gone.                                                                                        [Exit.

Enter RUFFMAN and BARTERVILE.

 KING
With sack, I’ll swear you are.
This was short and sweet.  Seems then we shall ha’ wars,
Bohor; the drum must scold, the cannon thunder;
Fighting about a wench.

OMNES
Tush, that’s no wonder.

KING
Who bail’d him out of Hell?  Damn’d perjur’d caitiff!
Out of mine eye!

RUFFMAN
I never begg’d before.
Pardon his crime, I entreat, and back restore
Both your high favour to him and his place.

BARTERVILE
Let me want life rather then want your Grace.

SPENDOLA
Do you think I’ll lose the king’s gold?

BARTERVILE
I’ll send you gold.

SPENDOLA
That stops my mouth; pray, let him still, sir, hold
This office of receiver; I resign
That part which I have in it.

RUFFMAN
And I all mine.

KING
Bartervile, we have wars; I’ll have thee lend me
Some thirty thousand chequeens at least.

BARTERVILE
Take all my gold.

KING
Well, get you home; with your bags, sir, we’ll make bold.

BARTERVILE
[Aside.] Your Majesty shall have what bags you will,
Bags only, but I’ll keep my money still.                                                     [Exit.

Enter OCTAVIO and ASTOLFO.

 KING
Now, Shalcam, some new spirit.

RUFFMAN
A thousand wenches,
Stark nak’d, to play at leap-frog.

OMNES
Oh, rare sight!

JOVINELLI
Your uncle—

KING
‘Sdeath, still haunted with this grey sprite!

OCTAVIO
You need no tailors now, but armourers.
There’s a dear reckoning for you all to pay
About a lady.  The Calabrian duke
Is on a march; the lightning flashes now;
You’ll hear the crack anon.  Before the star
To call whom up, the wakeful cock doth sing
Be twice more seen abroad; at your city gates
The devil’s perservant will beat the cannon.
Will these brisk leaders, stuck with estridge feathers,
Go brave your enemy now and beat him back,
Save thee thy kingdom and themselves from wrack?

KING
Dotard, I scorn to take prescription
From any breath to which ours is supreme.
Stood devils with fire-works on your battlements,
A thousand armed Joves at your prov’d walls
Hurling forked thunder, and the gates ramm’d up
With piles of citizens’ heads, our spring-tide pleasures
No adverse winds, no torrent shall resist;
Midst flames we’ll dance, and die a Neronist!                                            [Exit.

OMNES
Fight you; y’are good for nothing else. [Exeunt all but OCTAVIO and ASTOLFO.

ASTOLFO
They mock us.

OCTAVIO
All stark mad.  Let us be wise,
And fly from buildings falling to’th’ surer side,
If we can his safety; if not, our own provide.                                        [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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