Sir Thomas More – Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter a Messenger to MORE.

 MESSENGER
My honourable lord, the Mayor of London,
Accompanied with his lady and her train,
Are coming hither, and are hard at hand,
To feast with you:  a servant’s come before,
To tell your lordship of their near approach.

 MORE
Why, this is cheerful news:  friends go and come:
Reverend Erasmus, who delicious words
Express the very soul and life of wit,
Newly took sad leave of me, and with tears
Troubled the silver channel of the Thames,
Which, glad of such a burden, proudly swelled
And on her bosom bore him toward the sea:
He’s gone to Rotterdam; peace go with him!
He left me heavy when he went from hence;
But this recomforts me; the kind Lord Mayor,
His brethren aldermen, with their fair wives,
Will feast this night with us:  why, so it should be;
More’s merry heart lives by good company.
Good gentlemen, be careful; give great charge
Our diet be made dainty for the taste;
For, of all people that the earth affords,
The Londoners fare richest at their boards.                      [Exit Messenger.

Enter MASTER ROPER, and Servingmen setting stools.

 MORE
Come, my good fellows, stir, be diligent;
Sloth is an idle fellow, leave him now;
The time requires your expeditious service.
Place me here stools, to set the ladies on.
Son Roper, you have given order for the banquet?

ROPER
I have, my lord, and every thing is ready.

Enter LADY MORE.

 MORE
Oh, welcome, wife! give you direction
How women should be placed; you know it best.
For my Lord Mayor, his brethren, and the rest,
Let me alone; men best can order men.

LADY
I warrant ye, my lord, all shall be well.
There’s one without that stays to speak with ye,
And bade me tell ye that he is a player.

MORE.
A player, wife! One of ye bid him come in.                                  [Exit one.
Nay, stir there, fellows; fie, ye are too slow!
See that your lights be in a readiness:
The banquet shall be here.  Gods me, madam,
Leave my Lady Mayoress? both of us from the board?
And my son Roper too? what may our guests think?

LADY
My lord, they are risen, and sitting by the fire.

MORE
Why, yet go you and keep them company;
It is not meet we should be absent both.                       [Exit LADY MORE.

Enter Player.

Welcome, good friend; what is you will with me?

PLAYER
My lord, my fellows and myself
Are come to tender ye our willing service,
So please you to command us.

MORE
What, for a play, you mean?
Whom do ye serve?

PLAYER
My Lord Cardinal’s grace.

MORE
My Lord Cardinal’s players! now, trust me, welcome;
You happen hither in a lucky time,
To pleasure me, and benefit yourselves.
The Mayor of London and some aldermen,
His lady and their wives, are my kind guests
This night at supper:  now, to have a play
Before the banquet, will be excellent.
How think you, son Roper?

ROPER
‘Twill do well, my lord,
And be right pleasing pastime to your guests.

MORE
I prithee, tell me, what plays have ye?

PLAYER
Diverse, my lord: The Cradle of Security,
His nail o’ the head, Impatient Poverty,
The play of Four P’s, Dives and Lazarus,
Lusty Juventus, and The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom.

MORE
The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom!  That, my lads;
I’ll none but that; the theme is very good,
And may maintain a liberal argument:
To marry wit to wisdom, asks some cunning;
Many have wit that may come short of wisdom.
We’ll see how Master poet plays his part,
And whether wit or wisdom grace his art.
Go, make him drink, and all his fellows too.
How many are ye?

PLAYER
Four men and a boy, sir.

MORE
But one boy? then I see,
There’s but few women in the play.

PLAYER
Three, my lord; Dame Science, Lady Vanity,
And Wisdom she herself.

MORE
And one boy play them all? by our Lady, he’s laden.
Well, my good fellow, get ye straight together,
And make ye ready with what haste ye may.
Proud their supper ‘gainst the play be done,
Else shall we stay our guests here over long.
Make haste, I pray ye.

PLAYER
We will, my lord.                                                 [Exit Servant and Player.

MORE
Where are the waits?  Go, bid them play,
To spend the time a while.

Enter LADY MORE.

                                           How now, madam?

LADY
My lord, th’are coming hither.

MORE
Th’are welcome.  Wife, I’ll tell ye one thing;
One sport is somewhat mended; we shall have
A play tonight, The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom,
And acted by my good Lord Cardinal’s players;
How like ye that, wife?

LADY
My lord, I like it well.
See, they are coming.

< WAITS PLAY HERE [inserted into the margin by C – BF]

The waits plays; enter LORD MAYOR, so many Aldermen as may,
the LADY MAYORESS in scarlet, with other Ladies and SIR THOMAS
MORE’s Daughters; Servants carrying lighted torches by them.

 MORE
Once again, welcome, welcome, my good Lord Mayor,
And brethren all, for once I was your brother,
And so I am still in heart:  it is not state
That can our love from London separate.
{True, upstart fools, by sudden fortune tried,
Regard their former mates with} naught but pride.
But they that cast an eye still whence they came,
Know how they rose, and how to use the same.

LORD MAYOR
My lord, you set a gloss on London’s fame,
And make it happy ever by your name.
Needs must we say, when we remember More,
‘Twas he that drove rebellion from our door
With grave discretions mild and gentle breath,
Oh, how our city is by you renowned,
And with your virtues our endeavors crowned!

MORE
No more, my good Lord Mayor:  but thanks to all,
That on so short a summons you would come
To visit him that holds your kindness dear.
Madam, you are not merry with my Lady Mayoress
And these fair ladies; pray ye, seat them all:
And here, my lord, let me appoint your place;
The rest to seat themselves:  nay, I’ll weary ye;
You will not long in haste to visit me.

LADY
Good madam, sit; in sooth, you shall sit here.

LADY MAYORESS
Good madam, pardon me; it may not be.

LADY
In troth, I’ll have it so:  I’ll sit here by ye.
Good ladies, sit.  More stools here, ho!

LADY MAYORESS
It is your favour, madam, makes me thus
Presume above my merit.

LADY
When we come to you,
Then shall you rule us as we rule you here.
Now must I tell ye, madam, we have a play,
To welcome ye withal; how good so ere,
That know not I; my lord will have it so.

MORE
Wife, hope the best; I am sure they’ll do their best:
They that would better, comes not at their feast.
My good Lord Cardinal’s players, I thank them for it,
Play us a play, to lengthen out your welcome:
They say it is The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom,
A theme of some import, how ere it prove;
But, if art fail, we’ll inch it out with love.

Enter a Servant.

What, are they ready?

SERVANT
My lord, one of the players craves to speak with you.

MORE
With me! Where is he?

Enter INCLINATION, the Vice, ready.

 INCLINATION
Here, my lord.

MORE
How now! what’s the matter?

 INCLINATION
We would desire your honour but to stay a little; one of my fellows is but run to Ogles for a long beard for young Wit, and he’ll be here presently.

 MORE
A long beard for young Wit! why, man, he may be without a beard till he come to marriage, for wit goes not all by the hair.  When comes Wit in?

 INCLINATION
In the second scene, next to the Prologue, my lord.

 MORE
Why, play on till that scene come, and by that time Wit’s beard will be grown, or else the fellow returned with it.  And what part playest thou?

 INCLINATION
Inclination the Vice, my lord.

 MORE
Gramercies, now I may take the vice if I list:  and wherefore hast thou that bridle in thy hand?

 INCLINATION
I must be bridled anon, my lord.

 MORE
And thou beest not saddled too, it makes no matter, for then Wit’s inclination may gallop so fast, that he will outstrip Wisdom, and fall to folly.

 INCLINATION
Indeed, so he does to Lady Vanity; but we have no folly in our play.

 MORE
Then there’s no wit in ‘t, I’ll be sworn:  folly waits on wit, as the shadow on the body, and where wit is ripest there folly still is readiest.  But begin, I prithee:  we’ll rather allow a beardless Wit than it all beard to have no brain.

 INCLINATION
Nay, he has his apparel on too, my lord, and therefore he is the readier to enter.

 MORE
Then, good Inclination, begin at a venture.                  [Exit INCLINATION.

My Lord Mayor,  Wit lacks a beard, or else they would begin:
I’d lend him mine, but that it is too thin.
Silence, they come.

The trumpet sounds; enter the PROLOGUE.

 PROLOGUE
Now, for as much as in these latter days,
Throughout the whole world in every land,
Vice doth increase, and virtue decays,
Iniquity having the upper hand;
We therefore intend, good gentle audience,
A pretty short interlude to play at this present,
Desiring your leave and quiet silence,
To show the same, as is meet and expedient,
It is called The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom,
A matter right pithy and pleasing to hear,
Whereof in brief we will show the whole sum;
But I must be gone, for Wit doth appear.                                        [Exit.

Enter WIT ruffling, and INCLINATION the Vice.

WIT
In an arbour green, asleep whereas I lay,
The birds sang sweetly in the midst of the day,
I dreamed fast of mirth and play,
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure,
Methought I walked still to and fro,
And from her company I could not go;
But when I waked, it was not so,
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.
Therefore my heart is surely plight,
Of her alone to have a sight,
Which is my joy and heart’s delight,
In youth is pleasure, in youth is pleasure.

MORE
Mark ye, my lord, this is Wit without a beard:  what will he be by that time he comes to the commodity of a beard?

INCLINATION
O, sir, the ground is the better on which she doth go;
For she will make better cheer with a little she can get,
Than many a one can with a great banquet of meat.

WIT
And is her name Wisdom?

INCLINATION
Ay, sir, a wife most fit
For you, my good master, my dainty sweet Wit.

WIT
To be in her company my heart it is set:
Therefore I prithee to let us begone;
For unto Wisdom Wit hath inclination.

INCLINATION
O, sir, she will come her self even anon;
For I told her before where we would stand.
And then she said she would beck us with her hand.
Back with these boys and saucy great knaves!         [Flourishing a dagger.
What, stand ye here so big in your braves?
My dagger about your coxcombs shall walk,
If I may but so much as hear ye chat or talk.

WIT
But will she take pains to come for us hither?

INCLINATION
I warrant ye; therefore you must be familiar with her;
When she cometh in place,
You must her embrace
Somewhat handsomely,
Least she think it danger,
Because you are a stranger,
To come in your company.

WIT
I warrant thee, Inclination, I will be busy:
Oh, how Wit longs to be in Wisdom’s company!

Enter LADY VANITY singing, and beckoning with her hand.

VANITY
Come hither, come hither, come hither, come:
Such cheer as I have, thou shalt have some.

MORE
This is Lady Vanity, I’ll hold my life:
Beware, good Wit, you take not her to wife.

INCLINATION
What, unknown honesty? a word in your ear.       [She offers to depart.
You shall not be gone as yet, I swear:
Here’s none but friends, you need not to fray;
This young gentleman loves ye, therefore you must stay.

WIT
I trust in me she will think no danger,
For I love well the company of fair women;
And though to you I am a stranger,
Yet Wit may pleasure you now and then.

VANITY
Who, you? nay, you are such a holy man,
That to touch on you dare not be bold;
I think you would not kiss a young woman,
If one would give ye twenty pound in gold.

WIT
Yes, in good sadness, lady, that I would:
I could find in my heart to kiss you in your smock.

VANITY
My back is broad enough to bear that mock;
For it hath been told me many a time
That you would be seen in no such company as mine.

WIT
Not Wit in the company of Lady Wisdom?
Oh Jove, for what do I hither come?

INCLINATION
Sir, she did this nothing else but to prove
Whether a little thing would you move
To be angry and fret:
What, and if one said so?
Let such trifling matters go
And with a kind kiss come out of her debt.

Enter another Player.

Is Luggins come yet with the beard?

PLAYER
No, faith, he is not come:  alas, what shall we do?

INCLINATION
Forsooth, we can go no further till our fellow Luggins come; for he plays Good Council, and now he should enter, to admonish Wit that this is Lady Vanity, and not Lady Wisdom.

MORE
Nay, and it be no more but so, ye shall not tarry at a stand for that; we’ll not have our play marred for lack of a little good council:  till your fellow come, I’ll give him the best council that I can.  Pardon me, my Lord Mayor; I love to be merry.
Oh Wit, thou art now on the bow hand,
And blindly in thine own opinion dost stand.
I tell thee, this naughty lewd Inclination
Does lead thee amiss in a very strange fashion:
This is not Wisdom, but Lady Vanity;
Therefore list to Good Council, and be ruled by me.

INCLINATION
In troth, my lord, it is as right to Luggins’s part as can be.  Speak, Wit.

MORE
Nay, we will not have our audience disappointed, if I can help it.

WIT
Art thou Good Council, and will tell me so?
Wouldst thou have Wit from Lady Wisdom to go?
Thou art some deceiver, I tell thee verily,
In saying that this is Lady Vanity.

MORE
Wit, judge not things by the outward show;
The eye oft mistakes, right well you do know:
Good Council assures thee upon his honesty,
That this is not Wisdom, but Lady Vanity.

Enter LUGGINS with the beard.

INCLINATION
Oh, my lord, he is come; now we shall go forward.

MORE
Art thou come? well, fellow, I have hoped to save thine honesty a little.  Now, if thou canst give Wit any better council than I have done, spare not:  there I leave him to they mercy.
But by this time, I am sure, our banquet’s ready:
My lord and ladies, we will taste that first,
And then they shall begin the play again,
Which through the fellow’s absence, and by me,
Instead of helping, hath been hindered.
Prepare against we come.  Lights there, I say!
Thus fools oft times do help to mar the play.          [Exeunt all but Players.

WIT
Fie, fellow Luggins, you serve us handsomely; do ye not, think ye?

LUGGINS
Why, Ogle was not within, and his wife would not let me have the beard; and, by my troth, I ran so fast that I sweat again.

INCLINATION
Do ye hear, fellows? would not my lord make a rare player? oh, he would uphold a company beyond all hope, better than Mason among the king’s players!  Did ye mark how extemprically he fell to the matter, and spake Luggins’s part almost as it is in the very book set down?

WIT
Peace; do ye know what ye say? my lord a player! let us not meddle with any suchmatters:  yet I may be a little proud that my lord hath answered me in my part.  But come, let us go, and be ready to begin the play again.

LUGGINS
Ay, that’s the best, for now we lack nothing.

Enter a Servingman.

SERVINGMAN
Where be these players?

ALL
Here, sir.

SERVINGMAN
My lord is sent for to the court,
And all the guests do after supper part;
And, for he will not trouble you again,
By me for your reward ‘a sends eight angels,
With many thanks.  But sup before you go:
It is his will you should be fairly entreated:
Follow, I pray ye.

WIT
This, Luggins, is your negligence;
Wanting Wit’s beard brought things into dislike;
For otherwise the play had been all seen,
Where now some curious citizen disgraced it,
And discommending it, all is dismissed.

INCLINATION
Fore God, a says true.  But hear ye, sirs:  eight angels, ha! my lord would never give eight angels more or less for twelvepence.  Either it should be three pounds, five pounds, or ten pounds. There’s twenty shillings wanting, sure.

WIT
Twenty to one, ‘tis so.  I have a trick:  My lord comes; stand aside.

Enter MORE with Attendants with purse and mace.

MORE
In haste to counsel! what’s the business now,
That all so late his highness sends for me?
What seekst thou, fellow?

WIT
Nay, nothing:  your lordship sent eight angels by your man, and I have lost two of them in the rushes.

MORE
Wit, look to that.  Eight angels!  I did send
Them ten.  Who gave it them?

SERVINGMAN
I, my lord; I had no more about me;
But by and by they shall rescue the rest.

MORE
Well, Wit, ‘twas wisely done; thou playest Wit well indeed,
Not to be thus deceived of thy right.
Am I a man, by office truly ordained
Equally to decide true right his own,
And shall I have deceivers in my house?
Then what avails my bounty, when such servants
Deceive the poor of what the Master gives?
Go on, and pull his coat over his ears:
There are too many such.  Give them their right.
Wit, let thy fellows thank thee:  ‘twas well done;
Thou now deservest to match with Lady Wisdom.   [Exit MORE with Attendants.

INCLINATION
God a mercy, Wit!  Sir, you had a master Sir Thomas More more; but now we shall have more.

LUGGINS
God bless him!  I would there were more of his mind!  a loves our quality; and yet he’s a learned man, and knows what the world is.

INCLINATION
Well, a kind man, and more loving than many other:  but I think
we ha’ met with the first—

LUGGINS
First served his man that had our angels; and he may chance dine with Duke Humphrey tomorrow, being turned away today.  Come, let’s go.

CLOWN
And many such rewards would make us all ride, and horse us with the best nags in Smithfield.                                                               [Exeunt.

 

Proceed to the next scene

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