The Weakest Goeth to the Wall – Scene 8

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Enter LOD’WICK fainting.

Imperius fortune, when thou dost begin
To show thine anger, how implacable
And how remorseless are thy bitter checks!
To loss of honour, danger of my life;
To the endangering of my life thou addest
A separation twixt my wife and me;
To that, base poverty; to that, contempt;
And now thou tak’st from me my strength of limbs,
Enfeebling me for lack of sustenance.
All this thou giv’st me of thine own accord.
One thing let me entreat thee to restore,
Which with my tears I beg, though thou wouldst send
Death to fill up the measure of thy spite;
That it may be sufficient thou hast forc’d
My heart to sigh, my  hands to beat my breast,
My feet to travel and my eyes to weep;
Enjoin not now my tongue to ask an alms.
But thou art deaf;, and I must either beg
Or starve food to comfort me withal.
And lo, in happy time, here cometh one

Enter SIR NICHOLAS reading very earnestly on a letter.

Where I may make a trial of my skill;
A man, it seems, belonging to the church.
I have some knowledge of the Latin tongue;
Perhaps for that he’ll sooner pity me.
Siste gressus, quæso, reverende pater,
Et occulos flecte tuos in miserum;
Respice spretum, respice, precor, egenum. [Check your steps, I beg, venerable father, and turn your eyes towards a wretched man; provide, I entreat, provide for a wretched man.]

What’s this?

Oh, miserere paupertatis meæ
Respice spretum, respice precor egenum. [Oh, have compassion on my poverty; provide, I entreat, provide for a poor man.]

It seems that thou art needy and wouldst beg
An alms of me.  Is that thy meaning?  Speak.

Ita domine, ita, nam vehementer. [It is so, master, it is so.]

Tut, a fig’s end!  “Vehementer,” quoth a’?
There’s a word indeed to beg withal;
It is enough to bring thee to the stocks.
This is no university nor school,
But a poor village, and I promise thee,
I never could abide this Romish tongue;
‘Tis harsh, ’tis harsh, and we, I ttell thee true,
Do eat and drink in our plain mother phrase.
if thou dost want and wouldst have part with us,
Then do as we do; like an honest man
Show thy true meaning in famliar terms.

I am, good sir, if please you, mush distress’d,
Having nor money, friends, nor meat to eat.
If it may stand with your humanity
To give me some relief, I’ll pray for you,
And whilst I live, be thankful for the same.

Why so, now I understand thy meaning.
Is not this better far than “respice”
And “precor” and such inkhorn terms as are
Intolerable in a commonwealth?
Conjurers do use them, and thou knowst
That they are held flat felons by the law.
Be sure, thou mightst have begg’d till thou were hoarse,
And talk’d until t hy tongue had had the cramp,
Before thou wouldst have been regarded once.
It is not good to be fantastical
Or scrupulous in such a case as this.
But to the purpose; thou art poor, thou sayst?

Exceeding poor, poorer than Irus;
He did enjoy the quiet of the mind,
Although his body were expos’d to want;
But I in body and in mind am vex’d.

I fear by keeping riotous company,
Or some such misdemeanor?

Then I wish
That God may turn your heart from pitying me.

Well, thou sayest well.  Thou hast an honest face,
And art beside a pretty, handsome fellow.
Methinks thou couldst not want a service long,
If thou wouldst be contented to take pains.

Oh, sir, the world is grown so full of doubts,
Or rather, so confounded with self-love,
As, if a poor man beg, they straight condemn him
And say he is an idle vagabond;
Or if he ask a service or to work,
They straightway are suspicious of his truth;
So that, however, they will find excuse
that he shall still continue miserable.
And ’tis as common as ’tis true withal,
The weakest ever go unto the wall.

By my faith, thou sayst true, the more is the pity.

But if you will vouchsafe, because my state
Is very bare and I am here unknown,
To be a means to help me to some place
Where I may serve, my pains, I do  not doubt,
Shall prove my poverty no conterfeit.

Faith, I must tell thee, I have little coin.
My benefice doth bring me in no more
But what will hold bare buckle and thong together,
And now and then to play a game at bowls
Or drink a pot of ale amongst good fellows.
And for my parishioners, they are husbandmen,
Nor do I know of any lacks a servant.
But this, the sexton of our church is dead,
And we do lack an honest, painful man
Can make a grave and keep our clock in frame,
And now and then to toll a passing bell.
If thou art willing so to be employ’d,
I can befriend thee.

Oh, with all my heart,
And think me treble happy by the office.

The wages is not great, nor much above
Two crowns a quarter, but thy vails will help:
As first, the making of a grave’s a groat;
then, ringing of the bell at every burial,
Two pence a knell, which likewise is a groat;
And now and then the masters of our parish,
As goodmen Flail and Bartholomew Pitchfork,
Will bid thee home to dine and sup with them.
Beside, thou hast a house to swell in rent-free,
And for the liking that I have in thee,
Thou shalt be somewhat better too for me:
The grazing of a pig within the churchyard,
Or when I gather up my tithes, an egg,
A good hog’s pudding or a piece of souse.
What, man, ’tis good fare ina country house!
Come, follow me.  I’ll see thee plac’d forthwith.

I thank you, sir.  [Aside.] When all things run awry,
True labour must not be thought slavery.                                     [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene


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