Westward Ho – Act Two, Scene One

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Enter BONIFACE, an Apprentice, bearing his master’s cloak and cap, singing. Enter HONEYSUCKLE in his nightcap, trussing himself.

HONEYSUCKLE
Boniface, make an end of my cloak and cap.

BONIFACE
I have dispatch’d ‘em, sir. Both of them lie flat as your mercy.

HONEYSUCKLE
‘Fore God, methinks my joints are nimbler every morning since I came over than they were before. In France, when I rise, I was so stiff, and so stark, I would ha’ srown my legs had been wooden pegs. A constable new-chosen kept not such a peripatetical gait, but now I’m as limber as an ancient that has flourished in the rain, and as active as a Norfolk tumbler.

BONIFACE
You may see what change of pastureis able to do.

HONEYSUCKLE
It makes fat calves in Rumney Marsh, and lean knaves in London; therefore, Bonifice, keep your ground. God’s my pity, my forehead has more crumples than the back part of a counsellor’s gown, when another rides upon his neck at the bar. Boniface, take my helmet. Give your mistress my nightcap. Are my antlers swol’n so big that my biggen pinches my brows? So, request her to make my headpiece a little wider.

BONIFACE
How much wider, sir?

HONEYSUCKLE
I can allow her almost an inch. Go, tell her so, very near an inch.

BONIFACE
If she be a right citizen’s wife, now her husband shall be given her an inch, sh’ess take an ell. Or a yard at least.

Enter JUSTINIANO, the Merchant, like a writing mechanical pedant.

HONEYSUCKLE
Master Parenthesis! Salve, salve, domine.

JUSTINIANO
Salve tu quoque; jubeo te salvere plurimum.

HONEYSUCKLE
No more plurimums, if you love me. Latin whole-meats are now minced, and served in for English gallimawfries. Let us therefore, cut our own uplandish neats’ tongues, and talk like regenerate Britons.

JUSTINIANO
Your worship is welcome to England  . I poured out orisons for your arrival.

HONEYSUCKLE
Thanks, good Master Parenthesis; and que nouvelles? What news flutters abroad? Do jackdaws dung the top of Paul’s steeple still?

JUSTINIANO
The more is the pity, if any daws do come into the temple, as I fear they do.

HONEYSUCKLE
They say Charing Cross is fallen down since I went to Rochelle; but that’s no such wonder. ‘Twas old, and stood awry, as most part of the world can tell. And though it lack under-propping, yet, like great fellows at a wrestling, when their heels are once flying up, no man will save ‘em; down they fall, and there let them lie, though they were bigger than the guard. Charing Cross was old, and old things must shrink as well as new northern cloth.

JUSTINIANO
Your worship is in the right way, verily; they must so. But a number of better things between Westminster Bridge and Temple Bar, both of a worshipful and honourable erection, are fallen to decay, and have suffered putrefaction since Charing fell, they were not of half so long standing as the poor wry-necked monument.

HONEYSUCKLE
Who’s within there? One of you call up your mistress! Tell here here’s her writing schoolmaster. I had not thought, Master Parenthesis, you had been such an early stirrer.

JUSTINIANO
Sir, your vulgar and forepenny-penman, that, like your London sempsters, keep open shop, and sell learning by retail, may keep their beds and lie at their pleasure. But we that edify in private and traffic by wholesale must be up with the lark, because, like country attorneys, we are to shuffle up many matters in a forenoon.   Certes, Master Honeysuckle, I would sing Laus Deo, so I may but please all those that come under my fingers; for it is my duty and function, perdy, to be fervent in my vocation.

HONEYSUCKLE
Your hand. I am glad our city has so good, so necessary, and so laborious a member in it; we lack painful and expert penmen among us. Master Parenthesis, you teach of our merchants, sir, do you not?

JUSTINIANO
Both wives, maids, and daughters; and I thank God the very worst of them lie by very good men’s sides. I pick out a poor living amongst ‘em, and I am thankful for it.

HONEYSUCKLE
Trust me, I am not sorry. How long have you exercised this quality?

JUSTINIANO
Come Michael-tide next, this thirteen year.

HONEYSUCKLE
And how does my wife profit under you, sir? Hope you to do any good upon her?

JUSTINIANO
Master Honeysuckle, I am in great hope she will fructify. I will do my best, for my part; I can do no more than another man can.

HONEYSUCKLE
Pray, sir, ply her. She is capable of anything.

JUSTINIANO
So far as my poor talent can stretch, it shall not be hidden from her.

HONEYSUCKLE
Does she hold her pen well yet?

JUSTINIANO
She leans somewhat too hard upon her pen yet, sir, but practice and animadversion will break will break her from that.

HONEYSUCKLE
Then she grubs her pen?

JUSTINIANO
It’s but my pains to mend the neb again.

HONEYSUCKLE
And whereabouts is she now, Master Parenthesis? She was talking of you this morning, and commending you in her bed, and told me she was past her letters.

JUSTINIANO
Truly, sir, she took her letters very suddenly, and is now in her minims.

HONEYSUCKLE
I would she were in her crotchets too, Master Parenthesis. Ha, ha! I must talk merrily, sir.

JUSTINIANO
Sir, so long as your mirth be void of all squirrility, ‘tis not unfit for your calling. I trust, ere few days be at an end, to have her fall to her joining, for she has her letters ad unguem; her A, her great B, and her great C, very right; D, and E, delicate; her double F of a good length, but that it straddles a little too wide; at the G very cunning.

HONEYSUCKLE
Her H is full, like mine. A goodly big H.

JUSTINIANO
But her double L as well; her O of a reasonable size; at her P and Q, neither merchant’s daughter, alderman’s wife, young country gentlewoman, nor courtier’s mistress, can match her.

HONEYSUCKLE
And how her U?

JUSTINIANO
U, sir! She fetches up U best of all. Her single U she can fashion two or three ways, but her double U is as I would wish it.

HONEYSUCKLE
And, faith, who takes it faster, my wife or Mistress Tenterhook?

JUSTINIANO
Oh, your wife, by odds. She’ll take more in one hour than I can fasten either upon Mistress Tenterhook or Mistress Wafer, or Mistress Flapdragon, the brewer’s wife, in three.

Enter MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE.

HONEYSUCKLE
Do not thy cheeks burn, sweet chuckaby, for we are talking of thee.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
No, goodness, I warrant. You have few citizens speak well of their wives behind their backs; but to their faces they’ll cog worse and be more suppliant than clients that sue in forma paper. How does my master? Troth, I am a very tyrant. Have you your ruler about you, master? For, look you, I go clean awry.

JUSTINIANO
A small fault. Most of my scholars do so. Look you, sir, do not you think your wife will mend, mark her dashes, and her strokes, and her breakings, and her bindings?

HONEYSUCKLE
She knows what I have promised her if she do mend. Nay, by my fay, Jude, this is well. If you would not fly out thus, but keep your line.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
I shall in time, when my hand is in. Have you a new pen for me, master? For, by my truly, my old one is stark naught, and will cast no ink. Whither are you going, lamb?

HONEYSUCKLE
To the Custom-house, to the ‘Change, to my warehouse, to divers places.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
Good Cole, tarry not past eleven, for you turn my stomach from my dinner.

HONEYSUCKLE
I will make more haste home than a stipendiary Switzer does after he’s paid. Fare you well, Master Parenthesis.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
I am so troubled with the rheum too! Mouse, what’s good for’t?

HONEYSUCKLE
How often I have told you you must get a patch! I must hence.                         [Exit.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
I think, when all’s done, I must follow his counsel, and take a patch. I’d have had one long ere this, bur for disfiguring my face; yet I have noted that a mastic patch upon some woman’s temples hath been the very rheum of beauty.

JUSTINIANO
Is he departed? Is old Nestor marched into Troy?

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
Yes, you mad Greek, the gentleman’s gone.

JUSTINIANO
Why then, clap up copy-books, down with pens, hang up ink-horns. And now, my sweet Honeysuckle, see what golden-wing’d bee from Hybla flies humming with crura thymo plena, which he will empty in the hive of your bosom.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
From whom?

JUSTINIANO
At the skirt of that sheet, in black work, is wrought his name. Break not up the wildfowl till anon, and then feed upon him in private. There’s other irons i’th’fire, more sacks are coming to the mill. Oh, you sweet temptations of the sons of Adam, I commend you, extol you, magnify you! Were I a poet, by Hippocrene I swear—which was a certain well where all the Muses watered—and by Parnassus eke I swear, I would rhyme you to death with praises, for that you can be content to lie with old men all night or their money, and walk to your gardens with young men i’th’daytime for your pleasure. Oh, you delicate damnations, you do but as I would do! Were I the properest, sweetest, plumpest cherry-cheek’d, coral-lipp’d woman in a kingdom, I would not dance after one man’s pipe.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
And why?

JUSTINIANO
Especially after an old man’s.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
And why, pray?

JUSTINIANO
Especially after an old citizen’s.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
Still, and why?

JUSTINIANO
Marry, because the suburbs, and those without the bars, have more privilege than they within the freedom. What need one woman dote upon one man, or one man be mad, like Orlando, for one woman?

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
Troth, ‘tis true, considering how much flesh is in every shambles.

JUSTINIANO
Why should I long to eat of baker’s bread only, when there’s so much sifting, and bolting, and grinding in every corner of the city? Men and women are born, and come running into the world faster than coaches do into Cheapside upon Simon and Jude’s day; and are eaten up by death faster than mutton and porridge in a term time. Who would pin their hearts to any sleeve? This world is like a mint: we are no sooner cast into the fire, taken out again, hammered, stamped, and made current, but presently we are changed. The new money, like a new drab, is catched at by Dutch, Spanish, Welsh, French, Scotch, and English; but the old cracked King Harry groats are shovelled up, feel bruising and battering, clipping and melting, they smoke for’t.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
The world’s an arrant naughty pack, I see, and is a very scurvy world.

JUSTINIANO
Scurvy! Worse than the conscience of a broom-man that carries out new ware and brings home old shoes. A naughty pack! Why, there’s no minute, no thought of time passes, but some villainy or other is brewing. Why, even now—now, at holding up of this finger, and before the turning down of this, some are murdering, some lying with their maids, some picking of pockets, some cutting purses, some cheating, some weighing out bribes. In this city some wives are cuckolding some husbands; in yonder village, some farmers are now, now grinding the jawbones of the poor. Therefore, sweet scholar, sugar’d Mistress Honeysuckle, take summer before you, and lay hold of it. Why, even now, must you and I hatch an egg of iniquity.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
Troth, master, I think thou wilt prove a very knave.

JUSTINIANO
It’s the fault of many that fight under this band.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
I shall love a puritan’s face the worse whilst I live for that copy of thy countenance.

JUSTINIANO
We are all weathercocks and must follow the wind of the present from the bias.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
Change a bowl, then.

JUSTINIANO
I will so. And now for a good cast. There’s the knight, Sir Goslin Glowworm.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
He’s a knight made out of wax.

JUSTINIANO
He took up silks upon his bond, I confess; nay more, he’s a knight in print. But let his knighthood be of what stamp it will, from him come I, to entreat you, and Mistress Wafer, and Mistress Tenterhook, being both my scholars, and your honest pew-fellows, to meet him this afternoon at the Rhenish wine-house i’th’Stillyard. Captain Whirlpool will be there, young Linstock, the alderman’s son and heir, there too. Will you steal forth, and taste of a Dutch bun, and a keg of sturgeon?

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
What excuse shall I coin now?

JUSTINIANO
Phew! Excuses! You must to the Pawn to buy lawn; to St. Martin’s for lace; to the Garden; to the Glass-house; to your gossip’s; to the poulter’s; else take out an old ruff and go to your sempster’s. Excuses! Why they are more ripe then medlars at Christmas.

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
I’ll come. The hour?

JUSTINIANO
Two. The way through Paul’s. Every wench take a pillar, there clap on your masks; your men will be behind you, and before your prayers be half done, be before you, and man you out at several doors. You’ll be there?

MISTRESS HONEYSUCKLE
If I breathe.                                                                                                                      [Exit.

JUSTINIANO
So; now must I go set the t’other wenches the selfsame copy. A rare schoolmaster for all kinds of hands, I. Oh, what strange curses are poured down with one blessing!
Do all tread on the heel? Have all the art
To hoodwink wise men thus, and, like those builders,
Of Babel’s tower, to speak unknown tongues,
Of all, save by their husbands, understood?
Well, if, as ivy ‘bout the elm does twine,
All wives love clipping, there’s no fault in mine.
But if the world lay speechless, even the dead
Would rise, and thus cry out from yawning graves,
Women make men, or fools, or beasts, or slaves.                                                    [Exit.

Proceed to the Next Scene

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