Charles Wentworth Dilke.

Old English plays; being a selection from the early dramatic writers .. (Volume 5) online

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Women beware Women : a Tragedy. By T. Mid-
dleton 1

A Trick to Catch the Old One : a Comedy. By T.
Middleton 129

A New Wonder, a Woman never Vext : a Comedy.
By W. Rowley 225

A ppius and Virginia : a Tragedy. By J. Webster . 34^









Duke of Florence.

Lord Cardinal, brother to the Duke.

Two Cardinals more.

A Lord.

Fabritio, father to Isabella.

Hippolito, brother to Fabritio.

Guardiano, uncle to the Foolish Ward,

The Ward, a rich young heir.

Leantio, a factor, husband to Brancha.

Sordido, the Ward's man.

Livia, sister to Fabritio and Hippolito.
Isabella, daughter to Fabritio.
Brancha, Leantio's wife.
Mother to Leantio, a widow.

States of Florence, Citizens, an Apprentice, Boys, Messenger,
and Servants.


ACT I. Scene I.

Enter Leantio with Brancha, and his Mother,

Moth. Thy sight was never yet more precious

to me :
Welcome ! with all the affection of a mother,
That comfort can express from natural love;
Since thy birth-joy (a mother's chiefest gladness,
After she's undergone her curse of sorrows)
Thou was't not more dear to me, than this hour
Presents thee to my heart. Welcome, again !

Leant. (Aside.) Alas, poor affectionate soul,
how her joys speak to me !
I have observ'd it often, and I know it is
The fortune commonly of knavish children
To have the loving'st mothers.

Moth. What's this gentlewoman ?

Leant. Oh, you have nam'd the most unvalued-

* The address by N. Ricliards to our autlior, should properly
have been prefixed to this play ; but as this and the preceding
were published in One volume, in 1657, and it is there of course
found in its present situation, I thought it unnecessary to reiqove
it, particularly as it is now iu a degree connected with bis life.



That youth of man had ever knowledge of.
As often as I look upon that treasure,
And know it to be mine, (there lies the blessing!)
It joys me that I ever was ordain'd
To have a being, and to live 'mongst men ;
Which is a fearful living, and a poor one,
Let a man truly think on't.
To have the toil and griefs of fourscore years
Put up in a white sheet, ty'd with two knots :
Methinks it should strike earthquakes in adul-
When e'en the very sheets they commit sin in,
May prove, for ought they know, all their last

Oh, what a mark were there for women then !
But beauty, able to content a conqueror,
(Whom earth could scarce content) keeps me in

compass :
I find no ^ish in me bent sinfully
To this man's sister, or to that man's wife :
In love's name let 'em keep their honesties,
And cleave to their own husbands, 'tis their duties.
Now when I go to church, [ can pray handsomely ;
Nor come like gallants only to see faces,
As if lust went to market still on Sundays.
I must confess I am guilty of one sin, mother,
More than I brought into the world with me;
But that I glory in ; 'tis theftj; but noble
As ever greatness yet shot up withal.
Moth. How's that ?
Leant. Never to be repented, mother,
Though sin be death ; I had died, if I had not sin*d.
And here's my master-piece : Do you now behold


Look on her well, she's mine; look on her better;
Now say if 'I be not the best piece of theft
That ever was committed ? and I have my pardon

for't ;
Tis seal'd from heaven by marriage.

Moth. Married to her !

Leant. You must keep counsel, mother, I am
undone else;
If it be known, I have lost her ; do but think now
What that loss is ; life's but a trifle to't !
From Venice, her consent and I have brought her
From parents great in wealth, more now in rage;
But let storms spend their furies ; now we have got
A shelter o'er our quiet innocent loves.
We are contented : little money she's brought me;
View but her face, you may see all her dowry.
Save that which lies lock'd up in hidden virtues.
Like jewels kept in cabinets.

Moth. You're to blame,
(If your obedience will give way to a check)
To wrong such a perfection.

Leant. How ! '

Moth. Such a creature.
To draw her from her fortune, which, no doubt.
At the full time, might have prov'd rich and noble;
You know not what you have done : my life can

give you
But little helps, and my death lesser hopes ;
And hitherto your own means has but made shift
To keep you single, and that hardly too :
What ableness have you to do her right then
In maintenance fitting her birth and virtues ?
Which ev'ry woman of necessity looks for,


And most to go above it; not confin'd
By their conditions, virtues, bloods, or births.
But flowing to affections, wills, and humours.
Leant. (Aside to his Moth.) Speak low, sweet

mother; you are able to spoil as many
As come within the hearing : if it be not
Your fortune to mar all, I have much marvel.
I pray do not you teach her to rebel.
When she's in a good way to obedience ;
To rise with other women in commotion
Against their husbands, for six gowns a year.
And so maintain their cause (when they're once up)
In all things else that require cost enough.
They are all of 'em a kind of spirits soon rais'd.
But not so soon laid, mother : As, for example,
A woman's belly is got up in a trice,
A simple chaise ere it be laid down again :
So ever in all their quarrels, and their courses.
And I'm a proud man, I hear nothing of 'em ;
They're very still, I thank my happiness.
And sound asleep ; pray let not your tongue wake

If you can but rest quiet, she's contented
With all conditions that my fortunes bring her to;
To keep close as a wife that loves her husband ;
To go after the rate of my ability,
Not the licentious swinge of her own will,
Like some of her old school-fellows ; she intends
To take out other works in a new sampler.
And frame the fashion of an honest love,
Which knows no wants : but mocking poverty
Brings forth more children, to make rich men



At divine providence, that feeds mouths of infants,
And sends them none to feed; but stuffs their

With fruitful bags, their beds with barren wombs.
Good mother, make not you things worse than

they are.
Out of your too much openness; pray take heed

Nor imitate the envy of old people.
That strive to mar good sport, because they are

1 would have you more pitiful to youth,
Especially to your own flesh and blood.
I'll prove an excellent husband, (here's my hand),
Lay in provision, follow my business roundly,
And make you a grandmother in forty weeks.
Go, pray salute her, bid her welcome cheerfully.
Moth. Gentlewoman, (salutes her) thus much

is a debt of courtesy.
Which fashionable strangers pay each other
At a kind meeting ; then there's more than one
Due to the knowledge I have of your nearness.
I am bold to come again, and now salute you
By th' name of daughter, which may challenge

Than ordinary respect. [Salutes her again*

Leant. (Aside.) Why, this is well now ;
And I think few mothers of threescore will mend it.
Moth. What I can bid you welcome to, is mean ;
But make it all your own : we are full of wants.
And cannot welcome worth.

Leant. (Aside.) Now this is scurry ;
And spoke as if a woman lack'd her teeth.


These old folks talk of nothing but defects,
Because they grow so full of 'em themselves.

Bran. Kind mother, there is nothing can be
To her that does enjoy all her desires.
Heaven &end a quiet peace with this man's love.
And I am as rich as virtue can be poor;
Which were enough after the rate of mind,
To erect temples for content plac'd here.
I have forsook friends, fortunes, and my country.
And hourly I rejoice in't. Here's my friends,
And few is the good number : (To Leant. Thy

(Howe'er they look), I will still name my fortunes,
Hopeful or spiteful, they shall all be welcome :
Who invites many guests, has of all sorts,
As he that traffics much, drinks of all fortunes,
Yet they_must all be welcome, and us'd well.
I'll call this place the place of my birth now.
And rightly too ; for here my love was born.
And that's the birth-day of a woman's joys.
You have not bid me welcome since 1 came.

Leant. That I did questionless.

Bran. No sure ? how was't ?
I have quite forgot it.

Leant. Thus, \K.isses her.

Bran. Oh, sir, 'tis true ;
Now I remember well : I have done thee wrong.
Pray take *t again, sir. {Kisses him.

Leant. How many of these wrongs
Could I put up in an hour ? and turn up the glass *
For twice as many more.

In aUusion to the hour-glass.


Moth. Wiirt please you to walk in, daughter ?
Bran. Thanks, sweet mother !
The voice of her that bare me, is not more pleas-
ing. \^Exeunt.
Leant. Though my own care, and my rich mas-
ter's trust,
Lay their commands both on my factorship.
This day and night, I'll know no other business
But her and her dear welcome. *Tis a bitterness
To think upon to-morrow ! that I must leave
Her still to the sweet hopes of the week's end ;
That pleasure should be so restrain'd and curb'd
After the course of a rich work-master.
That never pays till Saturday night !
Marry, it comes together in a round sum then.
And does more good, you'll say : Oh, fair-ey'd

Florence !
Didst thou but know what a most matchless jewel
Thou now art mistress of, a pride would take thee,
Able to shoot destruction through the bloods
Of all thy youthful sons: but 'tis great policy
To keep choice treasures in obscurest places :
Should we show thieves our wealth, 'twould make

'em bolder:
Temptation is a devil will not stick
To fasten upon a saint ; take heed of that ;
The jewel is cas'd up from all mens' eyes.
Who could imagine now a gem were kept,
Of that great value under this plain roof?
But how in times of absence? what assurance
Of this restraint then ? Yes, yes! there's one with

Old mothers know the world ; and such as these,
When sons lock chests, are good to look to keys.



Scene II.

Enter Guardiano, Fabritio, and Livia.

Guard. What, has your daughter seen him yet?
know you that?

Fab. No matter, she shall love him.

Guard. Nay, let's have fair play :
He has been now my ward some fifteen year,
And 'tis ray purpose (as time calls upon me,
By custom seconded, and such moral virtues)
To tender him a wife : now, sir, this wife
I'd fain elect out of a daughter of yours ;
You see my meaning's fair : if now this daughter
So tendered (let me come to your own phrase, sir,)
Should offer to refuse him, I were hanseli'd.
(Aside.) Thus am I fain to calculate all my words,
For the Ineridian of a foolish old man.
To take his understanding. What do you an-
swer, sir ?

Fab. I say still, she shall love him.

Guard. Tet again?
And shall she have no reason for this love ?

Fab. Why, do you think that women love with
reason ?

G^uard. (Aside.) I perceive fools are not at all
hours foolish.
No more than wise men wise.

Fab. I had a wife.
She ran mad for me ; she had no reason for't,
For ought I could perceive. What think you,
lady sister?


Chmrd. (Aside.) 'Twas a fit match that,
Being both out of their wits : a loving wife, it

She strove to come as near you as she could.

Fab. And if her daughter prove not mad for
love too,
She takes not after her ; nor after me,
If she prefer reason before my pleasure:
You're an experienc'd widow, lady sister,
I pray let your opinion come amongst us.

L,iv. I must offend you then, if truth will do't,
And take my niece's part, and call't injustice
To force her love to one she never saw.
Maids should both see, and like; all little enough ;
If they love truly after that, 'tis well.
Counting the time, she takes one man till death,
That's a hard task, I tell you ; but one may
Enquire at three years end amongst young wives,
And mark how the game goes.

Fab. Why, is not man
Tied to the same observance, lady sister,
And in one woman ?

Liv. 'Tis enough for him :
Besides, he tastes of many sundry dishes
That we poor wretches never lay our lips to ;
As obedience forsooth, subjection, duty, and such

All of our making, but serv*d in to them ;
And if we lick a finger, then sometimes.
We are not to blame ; your best cooks use it.

Fab. Thou'rt a sweet lady, sister, and a witty.

Liv. A witty ! Oh, the bud of commendation
Fit for a girl of sixteen ! I am blown, man !
I should be wise by this time ; and for instance,


I have buried my two husbands in good fashion,
And never mean more to marry.

Guard. No ! why so, lady ?

Liv. Because the third shall never bury me :
I think I am more than witty : how think you, sir?

Fab. I have paid often fees to a counsellor
Has had a weaker brain.

Liv. Then I must tell you,
Your money was soon parted.

Guard. Light her now, brother.

Liv. Where is my niece ? let her be sent for
If you have any hope 'twill prove a wedding:
'Tis fit i'faith she should have one sight of him,
And stop upon't, and not be join'd in haste,
As if they went to stock a new found land.

Fab. Look out her uncle, and you're sure of her:
Those two are ne'er asunder ; they've been heard
In argument at midnight ; moonshine nights
Are noon days with them ; they walk out their

sleeps ;
Or rather at those hours, appear like those
That walk in 'em, for so they did to me.
Look you, 1 told you truth ; they're like a chain,
Draw but one link, all follows.

nter Hippolito atid Isabella.

Guard. Oh affinity !
What piece of excellent workmanship art thou !
'Tis work clean wrought, for there's no lust, but

love in't,
And that abundantly; when in stranger things,
T'here is no love at all, but what lust brings.


Fab, On with your mask ! for 'tis your part to

see now,

And not be seen : Go to, make use of your time ;

See what you mean to like ; nay, and I charge you,

Like what you see : do you hear me ? there's no

The gentleman's almost twenty, and 'tis time
He were getting lawful heirs, and you a breeding
on 'em.

Isah. Good father !

Fab. Tell not me of tongues and rumours.
You'll say the gentleman is somewhat simple ;
The better for a husband, were you wise ;
For those that marry fools, live ladies' lives.
On with the mask ! I'll hear no more ! he's rich ;
The fool's hid under bushels.

Liv. Not so hid neither,
But here's a foul great piece of him methinks;
What will he be, when he comes altogether ?

Enter the Ward with a Trap-sticky and Sordido
his Mail.

Ward. Beat him ?
I beat him out o' th' field with his own cat-stick,
Yet gave him the first hand.
. Sord. Oh, strange !

Ward. I did it ;
Then he set Jacks on me.

Sord. What, my lady's tailor?

Ward. Ay, and I beat him too.

Sord. Nay, that's no wonder,
He's us'd to beating.

Ward. Nay, I tickl'd him
When I came once to my tippings.


Sord. Now you talk on 'em ; there was a
poulterer's wife made a great complaint of you
last night to your gardener, that you struck a
bump in her child's head as big as an egg.

Ward. An e^% may prove a chicken, then in
time the poulterer's wife will get by't. When
I am in game, I am furious ; came my mother's
eyes in my way, I would not lose a fair end :
no, were she alive, but with one tooth in her
head, I should venture the striking out of that.
I think of nobody when I am in play, I am so
earnest. Coads me, my gardianer ! Prithee lay
up my cat and cat-stick safe*.

Sord. Where, sir; i' th' chimney corner?

Ward. Chimney corner !

Sord. Yes, sir; your cats are always safe i' th'
chimney corner.
Unless they burn their coats.

Ward. Marry, that I am afraid on !

Sord. Why, then, I will bestow your cat i' th'
And there she's safe, I am sure.

Ward. If I but live
To keep a house, I'll mak^ thee a great man,
If meat and drink can do't. I can stoop gallantly,
And pitch out when I list: I'm dog at a hole:
I marv'l my guard ianer does not seek a wife
for me ;

* Cat-stick and trap-stick are the same, I conceive, as is now,
in our northern counties, called cat-stick; with which a wooden
ball, or oblong piece of wood, about three inches in length, there
called a trippet, is struck by the players. The game seems for-
merly, from a passage in Act III., to have been called cat and


I protest I'll have a bout with the maids else,
Or contract myself at midnight to the larder-
In presence of a fool, and a sack-posset.

Guard. Ward!

Ward. I feel myself after any exercise
Horribly prone : let me but ride, I'm lusty,
A cock-horse, straight i'faith !

Guard. Why, Ward, I say !

Ward. I'll forswear eating eggs on moonshine
nights ;
There's ne'er a one I eat, but turns into a cock ^
In four-and-twenty hours ; if my hot blood
Be not took down in time, sure 'twill crow shortly.

Guard. Do you hear, sir? follow me, I must

* new school you.

Ward. School me? I scorn that now; I am
past schooling.
I am not so base to learn to write and read ;
I was born to better fortunes in my cradle.


Fab. How do you like him, girl ? This is your
Like him, or like him not, wench, you shall have

, *. him,
And you shall love him.

Liv. Oh, soft there, brother ! though you be a
Your warrant cannot be serv'd out of your liberty;
You may compel, out of the power of father,
Things merely harsh to a maid's flesh and blood;
But when you come to love, there the soil alters;
You're in another country, where your laws
Are no more set by, than the cacklings
Of geese in Rome's great capitol.


Fab. Marry him she shall then ;
Let her agree upon love afterwards. \^Exit.

Liv. You speak now, brother, like an honest
That walks upon the earth with a staff;
You were up i' th' clouds before ; you'd command

And so do most old folks that go without it.
(To Hip.) My best and dearest brother ! I could

dwell here ;
There is not such another seat on earth.
Where all good parts better express themselves.
Hip. You'll make me blush anon.
Liv. 'Tis but like saying grace before a feast
then, #

And that most comely ; thou art all a feast.
And she that has thee, a most happy guest.
Prithee cheer up thy niece with special counsel*.

Hip. (Aside.) I would 'twere fit to speak to
her what I would ! but
'Twas not a thing ordain'd ; heaven has forbid it;
And 'tis most meet that I should rather perish
Than the decree divine receive least blemish:
Feed inward you my sorrows, make no noise,
Consume me silent, let me be stark dead
Ere the world know I'm sick. You see my ho-
If you befriend me, so.

Isah. (Aside.) Marry a fool !
Can there be greater misery to a woman
That means to keep her days true to her husband,

* Livia's quitting the stage is not marked in the original, and
yet it seems certain that she is not present during the ensuing
dialogue between Hippoiito and Isabella.


And know no other man ? so virtue wills it.
Why ; how can I obey and honour him,
But I must needs commit idolatry ?
A fool is but the image of a man,
And that but ill made neither. Oh the heart-
Of miserable maids, where love's enforc'd !
The best condition is but bad enough :
When women have their choices, commonly
They do but buy their thraldoms, and bring great

To men to keep 'em in subjection ;
As if a fearful prisoner should bribe
The keeper to be good to him, yet lies in still,
And glad of a good usage, a good look
Sometimes ; by'r lady, no misery surmounts a vf o-

man's !
Men buy their slaves, but women buy their masters :
Yet honesty and love makes all this happy.
And next to angels, the most bless'd estate.
That providence, that has made ev'ry poison
Good for some use, and sets four warring elements
At peace in man, can make a harmony /

In things that are most strange to human reason.
Oh, but this marriage ! What, are you sad too,

Faith then there's a whole household down tOr

gether :
Where shall I go to seek my comfort now
When my best friend's distressed ? What is't af-
flicts you, sir?
Hip. Faith, nothing but one grief that will not
ieave me.
And now 'tis welcome; ev'ry man has something

VOL. V. c


To bring him to his end, and this will serve,
Join'd with yonr father's cruelty to you,
That helps it forward.

Isab. Oh, be cheer'd, sweet uncle !
How long has 't been upon you ? I ne'er spy'd it:
What a dull sight have I! how long I pray, sir?

Hip. Since 1 first saw you, niece, and left

Isah. And could you deal so unkindly with my
To keep it up so long hid from my pity?
Alas ! how shall I trust your love hereafter ?
Have we pass'd through so many arguments,
And miss'd of that still, the most needful one ?
Wak'd out whole nights together in discourses,!.
And the main point forgot? we are to blame both ;
This is an obstinate, wilful, forgetfulness.
And faulty on both parts : let's lose no time now ;
Begin, good uncle, you that feel 't ; what is it ?

Hip. You of all creatures, niece, must never
hear on't ;
Tis not a thing ordain'd for you to know.

Isab. Not I, sir ? all my joys that word cuts off;
You made profession once you lov'd me best;
'Twas but profession !

Hip. Yes, I do't too truly,
And fear I shall be chid for't. Know the worst

then :
I love thee dearlier than an uncle can.
* Isab. Why so you ever said, and I believ'd it

Hip. (Aside.) So simple is the goodness of
her thoughts,
They understand not yetth' unhallowed language
Of a near sinner: I must yet be forced


(Though blushes be my venture) to come nearer.
As a man loves his wife, so love I thee.

Isab. What's that ?
Methought I heard ill news come toward me,
Which commonly we understand too soon;
Then over quick at hearing ; I'll prevent it.
Though my joys fare the harder; welcome it:
It shall ne'er come so near mine ear again.
Farewell all friendly solaces and discourses,
I'll learn to live without ye, for your dangers
Are greater than your comforts : what's become
Of truth in love, if such we cannot trust.
When blood, that should be love, is mix'd with lust!


Hip. The worst can be but death, and let it
He that lives joyless, ev'ry day's his doom.

lExit, '

Scene III.

Enter Leantio aloiie.

Lean. Methinks I'm e'en as dull now at depar-
As men observe great gallants the next day
After a revel ; you shall see 'em look
Much of my fashion, if you mark 'em well.
'Tis e'en a second hell to part from pleasure.
When man has got a smack on't: as many holidays
Coming together make your poor heads idle
A great while after, and are said to stick
Fast in their fingers' ends, e'en so does game
In a new married couple ; for the time

c 2


It Spoils all thrift, and indeed lies a-bed * ^

To invent all the new ways for great exp^nces.
[JBrancha and his Mother discovered starid-
ing at a tvindow above.
See, an shfe be not got on purpose now
Into the window to look after me :
I have no power to go now, an I should be hang'd :
Farewell all business ! I desire no niore
Than I see yondefr : let the goods at quay
Look to themselves ; why should 1 toil my youth

It is but begging two or three years sooner,
And stay with her continually : is't ^ "match?
Fie ! what a religion have I leap'd into ?
Get out again for shame ; the man loves best
When his care's most ; that shows his zeal to love :
Fondness is but the idiot to affection.
That |)lays at hot-cockles with rich merchants'

wives ;
Good to make sport withal when the chest's full,
And the long warehouse cracks. 'Tis time of day
For us to be more wise ; 'tis early with us ;
And if they lose the morning of their affairs.
They commonly lose the best part of the day :

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