Westward Ho – Act Two, Scene Two

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Enter EARL and MISTRESS BIRDLIME.

EARL
Her answer! Talk in music. Will she come?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Oh, my sides ache in my loins, in my bones! I ha’ no more need of a posset of sack, and lie in my bed and sweat, than to talk in music. No honest woman would run hurrying up and down thus, and undo herself for a man of honour, without reason. I am so lame, every foot that I set to the ground went to my heart; I thought I had been at mum-chance, my bones rattled so with jaunting. Had it not been for a friend in a corner, [Takes aqua-vitæ.] I had kicked up my heels.

EARL
Minister comfort to me. Will she come?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
All the castles of comfort that I can put you into is this: that the jealousy wittol her husband, came, like a mad ox, bellowing in whilst I was there. Oh, I ha’ lost my sweet breath with trotting!

EARL
Death to my heart! Her husband! What saith he?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
The frieze-jerkin rascal out with his purse, and called me bawd plain to my face!

EARL
Affliction to me! Then thou spak’st not to her!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I spake to her, as clients do to lawyers without money, to no purpose; but I’ll speak with him, and hamper him too, if ever he fall into my clutches. I’ll make the yellow-hammer her husband know—for all, he’s an Italian—that there’s a difference between a cogging bawd and an honest motherly gentlewoman. Now, what cold whetstones lie over your stomacher? Will you have some of my aqua? Why, my lord!

EARL
Thou hast killed me with thy words.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I see bashful lovers, and young bullocks, are knocked down at a blow. Come, come, drink this draught of cinnamon-water, and pluck up your spirits. Up with ‘em, up with ‘em. Do you hear? The whiting mop has nibbled.

EARL
Ha!

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Oh, I thought I should fetch you; you can “ha” at that. I’ll make you “hem” anon. As I’m a sinner, I think you’ll find the sweetest, sweetest bedfellow of her. Oh, she looks as sugaredly, so simperingly, so gingerly, so amorously, so amiably! Such a red lip, such a white forehead, such a black eye, such a full cheek, and such a goodly little nose, now that she’s in that French gown, Scotch falls, Scotch bum, and Italian head-tire you sent her, and is such an enticing she-witch, carrying the charms of your jewels about her! Oh!

EARL
Did she receive them? [Gives money.] Speak—here’s golden keys
T’unlock thy lips—did she vouchsafe to take them?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Did she vouchsafe to take them?   There’s a question! You shall find she did vouchsafe. The troth is, my lord, I got her to my house, there she put off her own clothes, my lord, and put on yours, my lord; provided her a couch; searched the middle aisle in Paul’s, and with three Elizabeth twelvepences pressed three knaves, my lord; hired three liveries in Long-Lane, to man her; for all which, so God mend me, I’m to pay this night before sunset.

EARL
This shower shall fill them all. Rain in their laps,
What golden drops thou wilt.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Alas, my lord, I do receive it with one hand, to pay it away with another! I’m but your baily.

EARL
Where is she?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
In the green velvet chamber. The poor sinful creature pants like a pigeon under the hands of a hawk, therefore use her like a woman, my lord. Use her honestly, my lord, for, alas, she’s but a novice, and a very green thing.

EARL
Farewell. I’ll in unto her.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Fie upon’t! That were not for your honour. You know gentlewomen use to come to lords’ chambers, and not lords to the gentlewomen’s. I’d not have her think you are a rank rider. Walk you here; I’ll beckon. You shall see I’ll fetch her with a wet finger.

EARL
Do so.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Hist! Why, sweetheart, Mistress Justiniano! Why, pretty soul, and come into this room; here be rushes, you need not fear the creaking of your cork shoes.

Enter MISTRESS JUSTINIANO.

So, well said. There’s his honour. I have business, my lord. Very now the marks are set up, I’ll get me twelve score off, and give aim.                           v                      [Exit.

EARL
Y’are welcome, sweet, y’are welcome. Bless my hand
With the soft touch of yours. Can you be cruel
To one so prostrate to you? Even my heart,
My happiness, and state lie at your feet.
My hopes me flatter’d that the field was won,
That you had yielded—though you conquer me—
And that all marble scales that barr’d your eyes
From throwing light on mine, were ta’en quite off
By the cunning woman’s hand, that works for me.
Why, therefore, do you wound me now with frowns?
Why do you fly me? Do not exercise
The art of woman on me. I’m already
Your captive, sweet. Are these your hate, or fears?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
I wonder lust can hang at such white hairs.

EARL
You give my love ill names. It is not lust.
Lawless desires wall-temper’d may seem just.
A thousand mornings with the early sun,
Mine eyes have from your windows watch’d to steal
Brightness from those; as oft upon the days
That consecrated to devotion are,
Within the holy temple have I stood
Disguis’d, waiting your presence; and when your hands
Went up toward heaven to draw some blessing down,
Mine, as if all my nerves by yours did move,
Begg’d in dumb signs some pity for my love;
And thus being feasted only with you sight,
I went more pleas’d than sick men with fresh health,
Rich men with honour, beggars do with wealth.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Part now so pleas’d, for now you more enjoy me.

EARL
Oh, you do wish me physic to destroy me.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
I have already leapt beyond the bounds
Of modesty in piecing out my wings
With borrowed feathers; but you sent a sorceress
So perfect in her trade, that did so lively
Breathe forth your passionate accents, and could draw
A lover languishing so piercingly,
That her charms wrought upon me, and in pity
Of your sick heart which she did conterfeit—
Oh, she’s a subtle beldam—see I cloth’d
My limbs, thus player-like, in rich atires,
Not fitting mine estate, and am come forth;
But why, I know not.

EARL
Will you love me?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Yes,
If you can clear me of a debt that’s due
But to one man, I’ll pay my heart to thee.

EARL
Who’s that?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
My husband.

EARL
Umh!

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
The sum’s so great
I know a kingdom cannot answer it,
And therefore I beseech you, good my lord,
To take this gilding off, which is your own,
And henceforth cease to throw out golden hooks
To choke mine honour; though my husband’s poor,
I’ll rather beg for him, than be your whore.

EARL
‘Gainst beauty you plot treason; if you suffer
Tears to do violence to so fair a cheek.
That face was ne’er made to look pale with want.
Dwell here and be the sovereign of my fortunes.
Thus shall you go attir’d.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Till lust be tir’d.
I must take leave, my lord.

EARL
Sweet creature, stay.
My coffers shall be yours, my servants yours,
Myself will be your servant, and I swear
By that which I hold dear in you, your beauty—
And which I’ll not profane—you shall live here
As free from base wrong as you are from blackness,
So you will deign, but let me enjoy your sight.
Answer me, will you?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
I will think upon’t.

EARL
Unless you shall perceive, that all my thoughts
And all my actions be to you devoted,
And that I very justly earn your love,
Let me not taste it.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
I will think upon’t.

EARL
But when you find my merits of full weight,
Will you accept their worth?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
I’ll think upon’t.
I’d speak with the old woman.

EARL
She shall come.
Joys that are borne unlook’d for, are born dumb.                                          [Exit.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Poverty, thou bane of chastity,
Poison of beauty, broker of maidenheads,
I see when force, not wit can scale the hold,
Wealth must. She’ll ne’er be won, that defies gold.
But lives there such a creature. Oh, ‘tis rare
To find a woman chaste that’s poor and fair.

Enter MISTRESS BIRDLIME.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Now lamb, has not his honour dealt like an honest nobleman with you? I can tell you, you shall not find him a Templar, nor one of these cogging cattern pear-coloured-beards, taht by their good wills would have no pretty woman ‘scape them.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Thou art a very bawd; thou art a devil
Cast in a reverend shape; thou stale damnation!
Why hast thou me entic’d from mine own paradise
To steal fruit in a barren wilderness?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Bawd and devil, and stale damnation! Will women’s tongues, like bakers’ legs, never go straight?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Had the Circæan magic me transform’d
Into that sensual shape for which thou conjur’st,
And that I were turn’d common venture,
I could not love this old man.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
This old man, umh! This old man! Do his hoary hairs stick in your stomacher? Yet, methinks, his silver hairs should grieve you? Fool? Is not old wine wholesomest, old pippins toothsommest, old wood burn brightest, old linen wash whitest, old soldiers sweetheart are surest, and old lovers are soundest. I ha’ tried both.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
So will not I.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
You’d have some young perfum’d beardless gallant board you that spits all this brains out at’s tongue’s end, would you not?

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
No, none at all; not any.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
None at all? What, do you make there then? Why are you a burden to the world’s conscience, and an eyesore to well-given men? I dare pawn my gown and all the beds in my house, and all the gettings in Michaelmas term next to a tavern token, that thou shalt never be an innocent.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Who are so?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Fools? Why then are you so precise; your husband’s down the wind, and will you like a haggler’s arrow, be down the weather? Strike whilst the iron is hot. A woman when there be roses in her cheeks, cherries on her pips, civet in her breath, ivory in her teeth, lilies in her hand, and liquorish in her heart, why she’s like a play. If new, very good company, very good company; but if stale, like old Jeronimo, go by, go by. Therefore, as I said before, strike. Besides, you must think that the commodity of beauty was not made to lie dead upon any young woman’s hands. If your husband have given up his cloak, let another take measure of you in his jerkin; for as the cobbler in the night time walks with his lantern, the merchant and the lawyer with his link, and the courtier with his torch, so every lip has his lettuce to himself; the lob his lass, the collier his dowdy, the Western man his pug, the servingman his punk, the student his nun in Whitefriars, the puritan his sister, and the lord his lady; which worshipful vocation may fall upon you, if you’ll but strike whilst the iron is hot.

MISTRESS JUSTINIANO
Witch, thus I brake thy spells: were I kept brave,
On a king’s cost, I am but a king’s slave.                                                                [Exit.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I see that, as Frenchmen love to be bold, Flemings to be drunk, Welshmen to be call’d Britons, and Irishmen to be costermongers, so cockneys—especially she-cocknies—love not aqua-vitæ when ‘tis good for them.

Enter MONOPOLY.

MONOPOLY
Saw you my uncle?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
I saw him even now going the way of all flesh, that’s to say, towards the kitchen. Here a letter to your worship from the party.

MONOPOLY
What party?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
The Tenterhook, your wanton.

MONOPOLY
From her? Fewh! Pray thee, stretch me no more upon your Tenterhook. Pox on her! Are there to ‘pothecaries i’th’town to send her physic bills to, but me? She’s not troubled with the green sickness still, is she?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
The yellow jaundice, as the doctor tells me. Troth, she’s as good a peat. She is fall’n away so that she’s nothing but bare skin and bone, for the turtle so mourns for you.

MONOPOLY
In black?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
In black? You shall find both black and blue if you look under her eyes.

MONOPOLY
Well, sing over her ditty when I’m in tune.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Nay, but will you send her a box of mithridatum and dragon water—I mean some restorative words. Good Master Monopoly, you know who welcome y’are to the city, and will you, Master Monopoly, keep out of the city. I know you cannot, would you saw how the poor gentlewoman lies.

MONOPOLY
Why, how lies she?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Troth, as the way lies over Gads-hill, very dangerous. You would pity a woman’s case if you saw her. Write to her some treatise of pacification.

MONOPOLY
I’ll write to her tomorrow.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Tomorrow? She’ll not sleep then but tumble, and if she might have it tonight, it would better please her.

MONOPOLY
Perhaps I’ll do’t tonight. Farewell.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
If you do’t tonight, it would better please her than tomorrow.

MONOPOLY
God so, dost hear? I’m to sup tonight at the Lion in Shoreditch with certain gallants. Canst thou not draw forth some delicate face that I ha’ not seen, and bring it thither, wut thou?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
All the painters in London shall not fit for colour as I can. But we shall have some swaggering?

MONOPOLY
All as civil, by this light, as lawyers.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
But I tell you, she’s not so common as lawyers that mean to betray to your table; for as I’m a sinner, she’s a knight’s cousin, a Yorkshire gentlewoman, and only speaks a little broad, but of very good carriage.

MONOPOLY
Nay, that’s no matter. We can speak as broad as she. But wut bring her?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
You shall call her cousin, do you see? Two men shall wait upon her, and I’ll come in by chance. But shall not the party be there?

MONOPOLY
Which party?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
The writer of that simple hand.

MONOPOLY
Not for as many angels as there be letters in her paper. Speak not of me to her, nor our meeting, if you love me. Wut come?

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Mum. I’ll come.

MONOPOLY
Farewell.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Good Master Monopoly, I hope to see you one day a man of great credit.

MONOPOLY
If I be, I’ll build chimneys with tobacco, but I’ll smoke some, and be sure, Birdlime, I’ll stick wool upon thy back.

MISTRESS BIRDLIME
Thanks, sir. I know you will, for all the kindred of the Monopolies are held to be great fleecers.                                                                                                            [Exeunt.

Proceed to the Next Scene

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