Swetnam the Woman Hater – Act One, scene two

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Enter MISOGYNOS, solus.

MISOGYNOS
By this, my thundering book is press’d abroad.
I long to hear what a report it bears.
I know ‘twill startle all our city dames,
Worse than the roaring lions, or the sound
Of a huge double cannon. Swetnam’s name
Will be more terrible in women’s ears
Than ever yet misogynist hath been.

Enter SWASH.

SWASH
Puff, give me some air! I am almost stifl’d, puff. Oh, my sides!

MISOGYNOS
From whence com’st thou in such a puffing heat?
Hast thou been running for a wager, Swash?
Thou art horribly imboss’d. Where hast thou been?
My life, he was haunted with some spirit.

SWASH
A spirit? I tink all the devils in hell have had a pinch at my haunches. I have been among the Furies, the Furies! A pox on your book! I have been paid, i’faith. You have set all the women in the town in an uproar.

MISOGYNOS
Why, what’s the matter, Swash?

SWASH
Ne’er was poor Swash so lash’d and pash’d and crash’d and dash’d as I have been. Look to yourself. They’re up in arms for you.

MISOGYNOS
Why, have they weapons, Swash?

SWASH
Weapons? Sir, I’ll be sworn they have, and cutting ones. I felt the smart of ‘em from the loins to the legs, from the head to th’hams, from the front to the foot. I have not one free spot. Oh, I can show you, sir, such characters.                [Begins to strip.

MISOGNENOS
What dost thou mean, man? Wilt shame thyself?

SWASH
Why, here’s none but you and I, sir, is there?

MISOGYNOS
Good, good, i’faith. This was a brave revenge.

SWASH
If’t be so good, would you had had’t for me.

MISOGYNOS
And if I live, I will make all the world
To hate, as I do, this affliction, woman.

SWASH
But we shall be afflicted in th’meantime. Pray, let’s leave this land. If we stayhere, we shall be torn a-pieces. Would we had kept in our own country; there w’are safe enough. You might have writ and rail’d your bellyful, and few, or none, would contradict you, sir.

MISOGYNOS
Oh, but for one that writ against me, Swash,
I’d had a glorious conquest in that isle.
How my books took effect! How greedily
The credulous people swallowed down my hooks!
How rife debate sprang betwixt man and wife!
The little infant that could hardly speak,
Would call his mother whore. Oh, it was rare!

SWASH
[Aside.] Oh, damn’d rogue! I stay here, in hope, to see him hang’d, and carry news to England; then I know the women there will never see me want; for God, he knows, I love ‘em with my heart, but dare not show it for my very ears. [Aloud.] What course, sir, shall we take to hide ourselves?

MISOGYNOS
The same we did at Bristow, “Fenching Boy.”
Oh, ‘tis a fearful name to females, Swash.
I have bought foils already, set up bills,
Hung up my two-hand sword, and chang’d my name.
Call me Misogynos.

Enter SCANFARDO.

SWASH
A sodden nose?

MISOGYNOS
Misogynos, I say. Remember, Swash.
Here comes a gentleman.
I know him well; he serves a noble lord.
Seignior Scanfardo, happily encountered!

SCANFARDO
Thanks, my noble gladiator, doctor of defence.

MISOGYNOS
A master, sir, of the most magnanimous method of cudgel-cracking.

SCANFARDO
I’m glad I met with you.
I was now coming to be entered, sir.

MISOGYNOS
That you shall presently. My rapier, Swash.
Come, sir, I’ll enter you.

SCANFARDO
What mean you, sir?

MISOGYNOS
You say you would be entered. If you will,
I’ll put you to the puncto presently.

SCANFARDO
Your scholar, sir, I mean.

MISOGYNOS
Oh, welcome, sir!
What, have you brought your fees?

SCANFARDO
Yes, sir. What is’t?

MISOGYNOS
Twenty piastros, your admittance, sir,
And five, your quarteridge.

SWASH
Besides usher’s fees.
There goes a garnish and a breakfast too.

SCANFARDO
Well, I’m content. There ‘tis.                                                   [Gives money.

SWASH
Come when you will. Find you piastros, sir, and we’ll find your crack’d crowns.

MISOGYNOS
Book him, my bold usher.

SWASH
That I will. Your denomination, seignior.

SCANFARDO
Seignior Scanfardo, Della Santa Cabrado.

SWASH
Siegnior Scanfardo, Della, Sancta, Cabrado? A terrible name.

MISOGYNOS
Give me your hand, scholar; so I’ll call you now.
I’ll make you one of the sons of art.
Swash, give my scholar the foil.

SWASH
Do not take it in scorn. I have gi’n many a good gentleman the foil, sir.

MISOGYNOS
I was going this morning to practise a young duellist
That shortly goes to fight at Callis Sands.
Come, sir, to your ground.

SCANFARDO
Not here in public. I am a young beginner.
Come to my chamber, sir. I’ll practise there.

MISOGYNOS
Do, and I’ll teach you the very mystery of fencing; that in a fortnight, you shall be able to challenge any scholar under the degree of a provost, and in a quarter of a year, beat all the fencers in Germany. Our English masters of this noble science would ha’ gi’n forty pound to have known that trick.

SCANFARDO
Say you so, sir? By this hand, I shall think my money well-bestow’d then. But to tell you the truth, sir, the reason I would learn, is, because I am to be married shortly, adn they say, “Then or never is the time for a man to get the mastery.”

MISOGYNOS
How, marry, scholar? That art not mad, I hope. Do you know what you do?

SCANFARDO
I know what I shall do, master, that’s as good.

MISOGYNOS
Do you know what she is you are to marry?

SCANFARDO
A woman; I am sure of that.

MISOGYNOS
No, she’s a devil, harpy, cockatrice.

SCANFARDO
And you were not my master—

MISOGYNOS
Scholar, be advised; they are all most vile and wicked.

SCANFARDO
How, sir?

MISOGYNOS
Dissemblers! The very curse of man! Monsters indeed!

SWASH
That I’ll be sworn there are, for I have known some of ‘em that ha’ devoured you three lordships in cullices and caudles before breakfast.

MISOGYNOS
And creatures the most imperfect, for look ye, sir,
Th’are nothing of themselves,
Only patch’d up to cozen and gull men,
Borrowing their hair from one, complexions from another,
Nothing their own that’s pleasing, all dissembled;
Not so much, but their very breath
Is sophisticated with amber-pellets, and kissing causes.
Marry a woman, scholar? Thou undergo’st an harder task
Than those bold spirits that did undertake
To steal the great Turk into Christendom.
A woman! She’s an angel at ten, a saint at fifteen,
A devil at forty, and a witch at fourscore.
If you will marry, marry none of these;
Neither the fair, nor the foul, the rich, nor the poor,
The good, nor the bad.

SCANFARDO
Who should I marry then, sir?

MISOGYNOS
Marry, none at all.

SCANFARDO
Proceed this from experience?

MISOGYNOS
From reason, sir, the mistress of experience.
Happy were man, had woman never been.
Why did not nature infuse the gift of procreation
In man alone, without the help of woman,
Even as we see one seed, produce another?

SWASH
Or as you see one knave make twenty, master.

MISOGYNOS
Thou sayst true, Swash; or why might not a man
Revive again, like to the elm and oak?

SWASH
Many logger-heads do, sir.

MISOGYNOS
When they are cut down to the very root,
Yet in short time you see, young branches spring again.

SWASH
If ‘twere so at Tyburn, what a find company of crack-ropes would spring up then?

MISOGYNOS
Then we should ne’er be acquainted with the deceitful devices of a woman’s crooked conditions, which are so many, that if all the world were paper, the sea ink, trees and plants pens, and every man clerks, scribes, and notaries; yet would all that paper be scribbled over, the ink wasted, pens worn to the stumps, and all the scriveners weary, before they could describe the hundredth part of a woman’s wickedness.

SCANFARDO
Methinks you are too general. Some, no doubt,
As many men, are bad. Condemn not all for some.
What think you, sir, of those that have good wives?

MISOGYNOS
And reason too; and here’s the difference:
Those that have good wives, ride to hell
Upon ambling hackneys, and all the rest
Upon trotting jades to the devil.

SCANFARDO
Is that the difference? I’ll not marry, sure.
I’ll rather turn whoremaster and go afoot with the devil.

SWASH
You’ll hardly do that if you love whoring, sir, for many lose a leg in such service.

SCANFARDO
But do you hear, sir? How long is’t since you became such a bitter enemy to women?

MISOGYNOS
Since I had wisdom. When I was a fool
I doted on such follies, but now I have left ‘em,
And do vow to be the everlasting scourge
To all their sex. What the reason is,
I’ll tell you, sir, hereafter. Read but that.                                  [Handing his book.
I have arraign’d ‘em all, and painted forth
Those furies to the life.
That tall the world may know that doeth it read,
I was a true misogynist indeed.                                                                         [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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