The Virgin Martyr – Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter SPUNGIUS and HIRCIUS.

  SPUNGIUS
Turn Christian!  Would he that first tempted me to have my shoes walk upon Christian soles had turned my into a capon, for I am sure now the stones of all my pleasure in this fleshly life are cut off.

HIRCIUS
So then, if any coxcomb has a galloping desire to ride, here’s a gelding, if he can but sit him.

SPUNGIUS
I kick for all that like a horse; look else.

HIRCIUS
But that’s a kickish jade, fellow Spungius; have not I as much cause to complain as thou hast?  When I was a pagan, there was an infidel punk of mine would have let me come upon trust for my corvetting.  A pox of your Christian cockatrices!  They cry like my poulterers’ wives; no money, no cony.

SPUNGIUS
Bacchus, the god of brewed wine and sugar, grand patron of rub-pots, upsy-freesy tipplers, and super-naculam takers; this Bacchus, who is head warden of Vintners’-Hall, ale-conner, mayor of a victualling-houses, the sole liquid benefactor to bawdy-houses; lanze prezado to red noses, and invincible adelantado over the armado of pimpled, deep-scarletted, rubified, and carbuncled faces—

HIRCIUS
What of all this?

SPUNGIUS
This boon Bacchanalian skinker did I make legs to.

HIRCIUS
Scurvy ones, when thou wert drunk.

SPUNGIUS
There is no danger of loosing a man’s ears by making these indentures; he that will not now and then be Calabingo is worse than a Calamoothe.  When I was a pagan and kneeled to this Bacchus, I durst out drink a lord, but your Christian lords out bowl me.  I was in hope to lead a sober life, when I was converted, but now amongst the Christians I can no sooner stagger out of one alehouse but I real into another; they have whole streets of nothing but drinking rooms, and drabbing chambers, jumbled together.

HIRCIUS
Bawdy Priapus, the first schoolmaster that taught butchers how to stick pricks in flesh and made it swell, thou knowest, was the only ningle that I cared for under the moon; but since I left him to follow a scurvy lady, what with her praying and our fasting, if now I come to a wench, and offer to use her any thing hardly, telling her being a Christian, she must endure, she presently handles me as if I were a clove, and cleaves me with disdain, as if I were a calf’s head.

SPUNGIUS
I see no remedy, fellow Hircius, but that thou and I must be half pagans and half Christians, for we know very fools that are Christians.

HIRCIUS
Right.  The quarters of Christians are good for nothing but to feed crows.

SPUNGIUS
True.  Christian brokers, thou knowest, are made up of the quarters of Christians; parboil one of these rogues and he is not meat for a dog.  No, no, I am resolved to have an infidel’s heart, though in show I carry a Christian’s face.

HIRCIUS
Thy last shall serve my foot; so will I.

SPUNGIUS
Our whimpering lady and mistress sent me with two great baskets full of beef, mutton, veal, and goose, fellow Hircius.

HIRCIUS
And woodcock, fellow Spungius.

SPUNGIUS
Upon the poor lean ass-fellow on which, on which I ride, to all the almswomen, what thinkst thou I have done with all this good cheer?

HIRCIUS
Eat it, and be choked else.

SPUNGIUS
Would my ass, basket and all, were in thy maw if I did!  No, as I am a demi-pagan, I sold the victuals and coined the money into pottle pots of wine.

HIRCIUS
Therein thou showdst thyself a perfect demi-Christian to let the poor beg, starve, and hang, or die a’ the pip.  Our puling snotty-nose lady sent me out likewise with a purse of money, to relieve and release prisoners.  Did I so think you?

SPUNGIUS
Would thy ribs were turned into grates of iron then!

HIRCIUS
As I am a total pagan, I swore they should be hanged first, for sirrah Spungius, I lay at my odd ward of lechery and cried “a pox on your twopenny wards!”  And so I took scurvy common flesh for the money.

SPUNGIUS
And wisely done, for our lady sending it to prisoners had bestowed it out upon lousy knaves, and thou to save that labour casts it away upon rotten whores.

HIRCIUS
All my fear is of that pink-an-eye, jack-an-apes boy, her page.

SPUNGIUS
As I am a pagan, from my codpiece downward, that white-faced monkey frights me too.  I stole but a dirty pudding last day our of an almsbasket to give my dog when he was hungry, and the peaking chitface hit me i’th’ teeth with it.

HIRCIUS
With the dirty pudding!  So he did me once with a cow turd, which in knavery I would have crumbled into one’s porridge who was half a pagan too.  The smug dandiprat smells us out whatsoever we are doing.

SPUNGIUS
Does he?  Let him take heed I prove not his back friend.  I’ll make him curse his smelling, what I do.

HIRCIUS
’Tis my lady spoils the boy, for he is ever at her tail, and she’s never well but in his company.

Enter ANGELO, with a book and taper lighted; they seeing him, counterfeit devotion.

 ANGELO
Oh, now your hearts make ladders of your eyes,
In show to climb to heaven, when your devotion
Walks upon crutches.  Where did you waste you time
When the religious man was on his knees,
Speaking the heavenly language?

SPUNGIUS
Why, fellow Angelo, we were speaking in peddler’s French, I hope.

HIRCIUS
We ha’ not been idle, take it upon my word.

ANGELO
Have you the baskets emptied which your lady
Sent from the charitable hands, to women
That dwell upon her pity?

SPUNGIUS
Emptied ‘em!  Yes; I’d be loth to have my belly so empty; yet I’m sure I munched one bit of them neither.

ANGELO
And went your money to the prisoners?

HIRCIUS
Went!  No, I carried it, and with these fingers paid it away.

ANGELO
What way?  The devil’s way, the way of sin,
The way of hot damnation, way of lust!
And you, to wash away the poor man’s bread,
In bowls of drunkenness!

SPUNGIUS
Drunkenness!  Yes, yes, I use to be drunk; our next neighbour’s man called Christopher hath often seen my drunk, has he not?

HIRCIUS
Or me given so to the flesh, my cheeks speak my doings.

ANGELO
Avaunt, you thieves and hollow hypocrites!
Your hearts to me lie open like black books,
And there I read your doings.

SPUNGIUS
And what do you read in my heart?

HIRCIUS
Or in mine?  Come, amiable Angelo, beat the flint of your brains.

SPUNGIUS
And let’s see what sparks of wit fly out to kindle your cerebrum.

ANGELO
Your names even brand you; you are Spungius called,
And like a sponge, you suck up liquorice wines
Till your soul reels to hell.

SPUNGIUS
To hell!  Can any drunkard’s legs carry him so far?

ANGELO
For blood of grapes you sold the widow’s food,
And starving them, ‘tis murder; what’s this but hell?
Hircius your name, and goatish is your nature.
You snatch the meat out of the prisoner’s mouth
To fatten harlots; is not this hell too?
No angel, but the devil waits on you.

SPUNGIUS
[Aside to HIRCIUS] Shall I cut his throat?

HIRCIUS
[Aside to SPUNGIUS] No.  Better burn him, for I think he is a witch; but sooth, sooth him.

SPUNGIUS
Fellow Angelo, true it is that falling into the company of wicked he-Christians, for my part—

HIRCIUS
And she ones for mine.  We have them swim in shoals hard by—

SPUNGIUS
We must confess, I took too much out of the pot, and he of t’other hollow commodity.

HIRCIUS
Yes, indeed.  We laid lill on both of us; we cozened the poor; but ‘tis a common thing.  Many a one that counts himself a better Christian than we two has done it, by this light!

SPUNGIUS
But pray, sweet Angelo, play not the tell-tale to my lady, and if you take us creeping into any of these mouse-holes of sin anymore, let cats flee off our skin.

HIRCIUS
And put nothing but the poisoned tails of rats into those skins.

ANGELO
Will you dishonour her sweet charity,
Who saved you from the tree of death and shame?

HIRCIUS
Would I were hanged rather than this be told of my faults!

SPUNGIUS
She took us, ‘tis true, from the gallows, yet I hope she will not bar yeomen sprats to have their swing.

ANGELO
She comes.  Beware and mend.

HIRCIUS
[Aside to SPUNGIUS] Let’s break his neck, and bit him mend.

Enter DOROTHEA.

 DOROTHEA
Have you my messages sent to the poor
Delivered with good hands, not robbing them
Of any jot was theirs?

SPUNGIUS
Rob ‘em, lady!  I hope neither my fellow nor I am thieves.

HIRCIUS
Delivered with good hands, madam, else let me never lick my fingers more when I eat buttered fish.

DOROTHEA
Who cheat the poor and from them pluck their alms,
Pilfer from heaven; and there are thunderbolts
From thence to beat them ever.  Do not lie;
Were you both faithful true distributors?

SPUNGIUS
Lie, madam!  What grief is it to see you turn swaggerer and give your poor minded rascally servants the lie?

DOROTHEA
I’m glad you do not.  If those wretched people
Tell you they pine for want of anything,
Whisper but to mine ear, and you shall furnish them.

HIRCIUS
Whisper!  Nay, lady, for my part I’ll cry “whoop!”

ANGELO
Play no more, villains, with so good a lady;
For, if you do—

SPUNGIUS
Are we Christians?

HIRCIUS
The foul fiend snap all pagans for me!

ANGELO
Away, and once more mend.

SPUNGIUS
Takes us for botchers!

 HIRCIUS
A patch, a patch!                                      [Exeunt SPUNGIUS and HIRCIUS.

 DOROTHEA
My book and taper.

ANGELO
Here, most holy mistress.

DOROTHEA
Thy voice sends forth such music that I never
Was ravished with a more celestial sound.
Were every servant in the world like thee,
So full of goodness, angels would come down
To dwell with us.  Thy name is Angelo,
And like that name thou art.  Get thee to rest;
Thy youth with too much watching is oppressed.

ANGELO
No, my dear lady, I could weary stars
And force the wakeful moon to lose her eyes
By my late watching but to wait on you.
When at your prayers you kneel before the altar
Methinks I’m singing with some choir in heaven,
So blest I hold me in your company.
Therefore, my most loved mistress, do not bid
You boy so serviceable to get hence,
For then you break his heart.

DOROTHEA
Be nigh me still then,
In golden letters down I’ll set that day
Which gave thee to me.  Little did I hope
To meet such worlds of comfort in thyself,
This little pretty body, when I coming
Forth of the temple, heard my beggar boy,
My sweet faced godly beggar boy, crave in alms
Which with glad hand I gave, with lucky hand;
And when I took thee home, my most chaste bosom,
Methought, was filled with no hot wanton fire,
But with a holy flame, mounting since higher
On wings of cherubins, than it did before.

ANGELO
Proud am I that my lady’s modest eye
So likes so poor a servant.

DOROTHEA
I have offered
Handfuls of gold but to behold thy parents.
I would leave kingdoms, were I queen of some,
To dwell with thy good father, for the son
Bewitching me so deeply with his presence,
He that begot him must do’t ten times more.
I pray thee, my sweet boy, show me thy parents.
Be not ashamed.

ANGELO
I am not.  I did never
Know who my mother was, but by yon palace
Filled with bright heavenly courtiers, I dare assure you,
And pawn these eyes upon it, and this hand,
My father is in heaven, and pretty mistress,
If your illustrious hour-glass spend his sand
No worse then yet it does, upon my life
You and I both shall meet my father there,
And he shall bid you welcome.

DOROTHEA
A blessed day!
We all long to be there, but lose the way.                                      [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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