Westward Ho – Act Four, Scene Two

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Enter the EARL and Three Servingmen.

Have you perfum’d this chamber?

Yes, my lord.

The banquet?

It stands ready.

Go, let music
Charm with her excellent voice an awful silence
Through all this building, that on her sphæry soul
May—on the wings of air—in thousand forms
Invisibly fly, yet be enjoy’d. Away.

Does my lord mean to conjure, that he draws this strange characters?

He does; but we shall see neither the spirit that rises, nor the circle it rises in.

‘Twould make our hair stand up an end if we should. Come, fools, come. Meddle not with his matters. Lords may do anything.                             [Exeunt Servingmen.

This night shall my desires be amply crown’d,
And all those powers that taste of man in us
Shall now aspire that point of happiness
Beyond which, sensual eyes never look, sweet pleasure.
Delicious pleasure, earth’s supremest good,
The spring of blood, though it dry up our blood.
Rob me of that—though to be drunk with pleasure,
As rank excess even in best things is bad,
Turns man into a beast—yet that being gone,
A horse and this—the goodliest shape—all one.
We feed, wear rich attires, and strive to cleave
The stars with marble towers, fight battles, spend
Our blood to buy us names, and in iron hold
Will we eat roots, to imprison fugitive gold;
But to do thus, what spell can us excite?
This the strong magic of our appetite;
To feast with richly, life itself undoes.
Who’d not die thus? To see, and then to choose?
Why even those that starve in voluntary wants,
And to advance the mind, keep the flesh poor,
The world enjoying them, they not the world,
Would they do this, but that they are proud to suck
A sweetness from such sourness? Let ‘em so.
The torrent of my appetite shall flow
With happier stream. A woman! Oh, the spirit
And extract of creation! This, this night,
The sun shall envy. What cold checks our blood?
His body is the chariot of my soul,
Her eyes my body’s light, which if I want,
Life wants, or if possess, I undo her,
Turn her into a devil, whom I adore,
By scorching her with the hot steam of lust.
‘Tis but a minute’s pleasure, and the sin
Scarce acted is repented. Shun it then.
Oh, he that can abstain, if more than man!
Tush! Resolv’st thou to do ill. Be not precise;
Who writes of virtue best, are slaves to vice.                                                        [Music.
The music sounds alarum to my blood,
What’s bad I follow, yet I see what’s good.

Whilst the song is heard, the EARL draws a curtain, and sets forth a banquet. He then exits, and enters presently with JUSTINIANO attired like his wife, mask’d, leads him to the table, places him in a chair, and in dumb signs, courts him, till the song be done.

Fair! Be not doubly mask’d. With that and night,
Beauty, like gold, being us’d become more bright.

Will it please your lordship to sit? I shall receive small pleasure if I see your lordship stand.

Witch, hag, what art thou proud damnation?

A merchant’s wife.

Fury who rais’d thee up, what com’st thou for?

For a banquet.

I am abus’d, deluded. Speak, what art thou?
Ud’s death, speak, or I’ll kill thee. In that habit
I look to find an angel, but thy face
Shows th’art a devil!

My face is as God made it, my lord. I am no devil unless women be devils; but men find ‘em not so, for they daily hunt for tem.

What art thou that doest cozen me thus?

A merchant’s wife, I say, Justiniano’s wife. She, whom that long birding-piece of yours, I mean that wicked mother Birdlime, caught for your honour. Why, my lord, has your lordship forgot how ye courted me last morning?

The devil I did!

Kiss’d me last morning.

Succubus, not thee.

Gave me this jewel last morning.

Not to me, harpy.

To me, upon mine honesty, swore you would build me a lodging by the Thames side with a water-gate to it, or else take me a lodging in Cole-harbour.

I swore so!

Or keep me in a labyrinth as Harry kept Rosamond where the Minataur my husband should not enter.

I sware so, but, gypsy, not to thee.

To me, upon my honour. Hard was the siege which you laid to the crystal walls of my chastity, but I held out, you know; but because I cannot be to stony-headed, I yielded, my lord, by this token, my lord—which token lies at my heart like lead—but by this token, my lord, that this night you should commit that sin which we all know with me.


Do I look ugly that you put thee upon me? Did I give you my hand to horn my head—that’s to say, my husband—and is it come to thee? Is my face a filthier face, now it is yours, than when it was his? Nor have I two faces under one hood. I confess I have laid mine eyes in brine, and that may change the copy. But, my lord, I know what I am.

A sorceress. Thou shalt witch mine ears no more.
If thou canst pray, do’t quickly, for thou diest.

I can pray, but I will not die, thou liest.
My lord, there drops your lady, and now know
Thou unseasonable lecher, I am her husband,
Whom thou wouldst make whore. Read, she speaks there thus,   [Shows letter.
Unless I came to her, her hand should free
Her chastity from blemish. Proud I was
Of her brave mind. I came, and seeing what slavery,
Poverty, and the frailty of her sex
Had, and was like to make her subject too,
I beg’d that she would die, My suit was granted,
I poison’d her, thy lust there strikes her dead,
Horns fear’d, plague worse than sticking on the head.

[Draws a curtain and discovers MISTRESS JUSTINIANO as though dead.

Oh God, thou hast undone thyself and me.
None live to match this piece; thou art too bloody.
Yet for her sake, whom I’ll embalm with tears,
This act with her I bury, and to quit
Thy loss of such a jewel, thou shalt share
My living with me. Come, embrace.

My lord.

Villain, damn’d merciless slave, I’ll torture the
To every inch of flesh. Who ho! Help! Who’s there?
Come hither. Here’s a murderer; bind him. How now!
What noise is this?

Enter Servingmen.

My lord, there are three citizens face me down that hears one Master Parenthesis, a schoolmaster with your lordship and desire he may be forthcoming to ‘em.

That borrowed name is mine. Shift for yourselves.
Away, shift for yourselves. Fly! I am taken.

Why should they fly, thou screech owl?

I will tell thee,
Those three are partners with me in the murder.
We four commixt the poison. Shift for yourselves.

Stop’s mouth and drag him back. Entreat ‘em enter.


Oh, what a conflict feel I in my blood.
I would I were less great to be more good.
Y’are welcome. Wherefore came you? Guard the doors.
When I behold that object, all my senses
Revolt from reason. He that offers flight,
Drops down a corse.

A corse?

Ay, a corse. Do you scorn to be worms’ meat more than she?

See, gentlemen, the Italian that does scorn
Beneath the moon, no baseness like the horn
Has pour’d through all the veins of yon chaste bosom
Strong poison to preserve it from that plague,
This fleshly lord. He doted on my wife,
He would have wrought on her and play’d on me.
But to pare off these brims, I cut off her
And gull’d him with this lie, that you had hands
Dipp’d in her blood with mine, but this I did,
That his stain’d age and name might not be hid.
My act, though vild, the world shall crown as just.
I shall die clear, when he lives soil’d with lust.
But come, rise, Moll. Awake, sweet Moll. Th’ast played
The woman rarely, counterfeited well.

Sure, sh’as nine lives.

See, Lucrece is not slain.
Her eyes, which lust call’d suns, have their first beams,
And all these frightments are but idle dreams.
Yet, afore Jove, she had her knife prepar’d
To let her blood forth ere it should run black,
Do not these open cuts now cool your back?
Methinks they should; when vice sees with broad eyes
Her ugly form, she does herself despise.

Mirror of dames, I look upon thee now
As men long blind, having recovered sight,
Amaz’d; scarce able are to endure the light.
Mine own shame strikes me dumb. Henceforth the book
I’ll read shall by thy mind, and not thy look.

I would either we were at Brainford to see our wives, or our wives here to see this pageant.

So would I. I stand upon thorns.

The jewels which I gave you, wear; your fortunes
I’ll raise on golden pillars. Fare you well.
Lust in old age like burnt straw, does even choke
The kindlers and consumes in sticking smoke.                                                      [Exit.

You may follow your lord by the smoke, badgers.

If fortune had favor’d him, we might have followed you by the horns.

Fortune favours fools. Your lord’s a wise lord.                         [Exeunt Servingmen.
So how now? Ha? This that makes me fat now, is’t not ratsbane to you gentlemen, as pap was to nestor? But I know the invisible sins of your wives hang at your eye-lids, and that makes you so heavy-headed.

If I do take ‘em napping, I know what I’ll do.

I’ll nap some of them.

That villain Monopoly and that Sir Goslin treads ‘em all.

Would I might come to that treading.

Ha, ha! So would I. Come, Moll. The book of the siege of Ostend, writ by one that dropp’d in the action, will never sell so well, as a report of the siege between this grave, this wicked elder and thyself, an impression of you two, would away in a May-morning. Was it ever heard that such tirings, were brought away from a lord by any wench but thee, Moll, without paying, unless the wench conycatch’d him? Go thy ways. If all the great Turks’ concubines were but like thee, the ten-penny-infidel should never need keep so many geldings to neigh over ‘em. Come, shall this western voyage hold, my hearts?

Yes, yes!

Yes, yes! S’foot, you speak as if you had no hearts, and look as if you were going westward indeed, to see how plain dealing women can pull down men. Moll, you’ll help us to catch smelts too?

If you be pleas’d.

Never better, since I wore a smock.

I fear our oars have given us the bag.

Good. I’ll laugh at that.

If they have, would whores might give them the bottle. Come, march whilst the women double their files. Married men, see, there’s comfort. The moon’s up. ‘Fore Don Phbus, I doubt we shall have a frost this night; her horns are so sharp. Do you not feel it bite?

I do, I’m sure.

But we’ll sit upon one another’s skirts i’th’boat, and lie close in straw, like the hoary courtier. Set on!
To Brainford now, where if you meet frail wives,
Ne’er swear ‘gainst horns, in vain Dame Nature strives.                                  [Exeunt.

Proceed to the Next Scene


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