A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 8 online

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And found him dead, with twenty wounds upon him.

HOST. But what became of them?

CON. They fled this way.

HOST. Then, neighbour, let us here no longer stay,
But hence and lay the country roundabout:
They shall be quickly found, I have no doubt.



_Enter_ VIRTUE _and_ EQUITY, _with other attendants_.

VIR. My lords, you see how far this worldly state perverted is;
From good declin'd, inclined still to follow things amiss:
You see but very few that make of Virtue any price:
You see all sorts with hungry wills run headlong into vice.

EQ. We see it oft, we sorrow much, and heartily lament,
That of himself man should not have a better government.

VER. The very beasts that be devoid of reason, dull and dumb,
By nature learn to shun those things whereof their hurt may come.
If man were then but as a beast, only by nature taught,
He would also by nature learn to shun what things are nought.
But man with reason is endued: he reason hath for stay;
Which reason should restrain his will from going much astray.

EQ. Madam, 'tis true:
Where reason rules, there is the golden mean.

VER. But most men stoop to stubborn will,
Which conquereth reason clean.

EQ. And will again to fancy yields,
Which twain be special guides,
That train a man to tread ill paths,
Where ease and pleasure bides.

VER. No ease, no pleasure, can be good, that is not got with pains.

EQ. That is the cause from Virtue's love
Man's fancy still refrains.

VER. And pains, I think, they feel likewise,
That unto vice do bend.

EQ. They feel, no doubt: but yet such pains
Come not before the end.

VIR. I grieve for man, that man should be of ill attempts so[413] fain.

EQ. Grieve not for that: evil tasted once, turns him to good again.

VIR. Then will I take a cheerful mind,
Unpleasant thoughts expel,
And cares for man commit to them,
That in the heavens do dwell.

EQ. Do so, dear madam, I beseech you most heartily,
And recreate yourself, before you go hence, with some sweet melody.

_The Song.

If pleasure be the only thing,
That man doth seek so much:
Chief pleasures rest, where virtue rules:
No pleasure[s] can be such.

Though Virtue's ways be very strait,
Her rocks be hard to climb:
Yet such as do aspire thereto,
Enjoy all joys in time.

Plain is the passage unto vice,
The gaps lie wide to ill:
To them that wade through lewdness' lake
The ice is broken still.

This therefore is the difference,
The passage first seems hard
To Virtue's train; but then most sweet
At length is their reward.

To those again, that follow vice,
The way is fair and plain;
But fading pleasures in the end
Are bought with lasting[414] pain.

If pleasure be the only thing, &c_.



VIR. Now, my lords, I see no cause but that depart we may.

EQ. Madam, to that shall like you best we willingly obey.

LIB. Yet,[415] lady, stay awhile, and hear of strange adventures.

VIR. Of what adventures tell you? let us know.

LIB. Master Sheriff, of that is happened do you make show.

SHER. Then, may it please you, the effect is this:
There is a certain roister, named Prodigality,
That long about this town hath ruffled in great jollity!
A man long suspected of very lewd behaviour,
Yet standing ever so high in Fortune's favour,
As never till now he could be bewrayed
Of any offence, that to him might be laid:
Now wanting (belike) his wonted bravery,
He thought to supply it by murther and robbery.

EQ. By murther and robbery?

SHER. Yea, sure.

VIR. How?

SHER. This gallant, I tell you, with other lewd franions,
Such as himself, unthrifty companions,
In most cruel sort, by the highway-side,
Assaulted a countryman as he homewards did ride:
Robbed him, and spoiled him of all that they might,
And lastly bereav'd him of his life outright.

VIR. O horrible fact!

SHER. The country hereupon rais'd hue and try straightway:
He is apprehended, his fellows fled away.
I supplying, though unworthy, for this year
The place of an officer, and sheriff of the shire,
To my prince's use, have seized on his money,
And bring you the same, according to my duty:
Praying the party may have the law with speed,
That others may be terrified from so foul a deed.

VIR. So horrible a fact can hardly plead for favour:
Therefore go you, Equity, examine more diligently
The manner of this outrageous robbery:
And as the same by examination shall appear,
Due justice may be done in presence here.

EQ. It shall be done, madam.

SHER. Then, madam, I pray you, appoint some officer to take the money,
That I may return again with Equity.

VIR. Let it be delivered to my steward Liberality.


LIB. What, Money? how come you to be so fat and foggy?

MON. Surely, sir, by the old chuff, that miser Tenacity.

LIB. How so?

MON. He would never let me abroad to go,
But lock'd me up in coffers, or in bags bound me fast,
That, like a boar in a sty, he fed me at last,
Thus Tenacity did spoil me for want of exercise:
But Prodigality, clean contrariwise,
Did toss me and fleece me, so bare and so thin,
That he left nothing on me but very bone and skin.

LIB. Well, Money, will you bide with him that can devise
To rid you and keep you from these extremities?

MON. Who is that?

LIB. Even myself, Liberality.

MON. Sir, I like you well, and therefore willingly
I am contented with you to remain,
So as you protect me from the other twain.

LIB. I warrant thee.
First, from thy bands I'll set thee free,
And after thy sickness cured shall be.

MON. Thanks and obedience I yield and vow to Liberality.

[_Exit_ MONEY.

_Enter_ CAPTAIN WELL-DONE [_and other_ SUITORS.]

CAP. W. My lord, according to your appointment and will,
I come to attend your pleasure.

LIB. Have you brought your bill?[416]

CAP. W. Yea, my lord.

LIB. Give it me.
I'll be your mean unto the prince, that it may despatched be:
The while take here these hundred crowns, to relieve ye.

CAP. W. God save the queen, and God save Liberality!

2D SUITOR. Sir, I have long served the prince at great expense,
And long have I been promised a recompense:
I beseech you consider of me.

LIB. What, do you serve without fee?

2D SUITOR. Yea, truly, sir.

LIB. Hold, pray for the queen. [_Gives him money_.]

2D SUITOR. It shall be my prayer day and night truly:
God save the queen, and God save Liberality!

3D SUITOR. Now, good my lord, vouchsafe of your charity
To cast here aside your faithful eye
Upon a poor soldier, naked and needy,
That in the queen's wars was maimed, as you see.

LIB. Where have you served?

3D SUITOR. In France, in Flanders; but in Ireland most.

LIB. Under whom?

3D SUITOR. Under Captain Well-done.

CAP. W. He was my soldier indeed, sir, until he lost his leg.

LIB. Hold, pray for the queen. [_Gives him money_.]

3D SUITOR. God save the queen, and God save Liberality!


CRIER, PRODIGALITY, [_to whom_] _the_ JUDGE.

TIP. Room, my masters, give place, stand by:
Sir Equity hath sent me to let you understand,
That hither he will resort out of hand,
To sit upon the arraignment of Prodigality.

LIB. In good time.

TIP. Behold, he comes.

LIB. Now, Equity, how falls the matter out?

EQ. That Prodigality is guilty of the fact, no doubt.
And therefore for furtherance of justice effectually,
My lord the judge comes to sit upon him presently:
Wherein we crave your assistance.

LIB. I'll wait upon you.

TIP. Room, my masters, room for my lord: stand by.

_The_ JUDGE _placed, and the_ CLERKS _under him_.

JUDGE. Call for the prisoner.

CLERK. Make an oyes, Crier.

CRIER. Oyes, oyes, oyes!

CLERK. Sheriff of Middlesex.

CRIER. Sheriff of Middlesex.

CLERK. Bring forth the prisoner.

CRIER. Bring forth the prisoner.

CLERK. Prodigality.

CRIER. Prodigality.

CLERK. Pain of the peril shall fall thereon.

CRIER. Pain of the peril shall fall thereon.

SHER. Here, sir.

CLERK. Prodigality, hold up thy hand. [_He holds it up_.
Thou art indicted here by the name of Prodigality,
For that thou, the fourth day of February,
In the three and forty year of the prosperous reign
Of Elizabeth, our dread sovereign,
By the grace of God, of England, France, and Ireland queen,
Defender of the faith, &c.,
Together with the other malefactors yet unknown,
At Highgate,[417] in the county of Middlesex, aforesaid,
Didst feloniously take from one Tenacity,
Of the parish of Pancridge,[418] yeoman, in the said county,
One thousand pounds of gold and silver sterling.
And also, how thyself, the said Prodigality,
With a sword, price twenty shillings, then and there cruelly
Didst give the said Tenacity upon the head
One mortal wound, whereof he is now dead,
Contrary to the queen's peace, her crown, and dignity.

JUDGE. How say'st thou, Prodigality, to this robbery,
Felony, and murther? art thou guilty
Or not guilty?

PROD. My lord, I beseech you
Grant me counsel to plead my cause.

JUDGE. That may not be; it standeth not with our laws.

PROD. Then, good my lord, let me some respite take.

JUDGE. Neither may that be; thus doth the indictment lie,
Thou art accus'd of murther and of robbery,
To which thou must now answer presently,
Whether thou be thereof guilty or not guilty.

PROD. Well, since there is no other remedy,
And that my fact falls out so apparently,
I will confess that indeed I am guilty,
Most humbly appealing to the prince's mercy.

JUDGE. Then what canst thou say for thyself, Prodigality,
That according to the law thou shouldst not die?

PROD. Nothing, my lord; but still appeal to the prince's mercy.

JUDGE. Then hearken to thy judgment: thou,
Prodigality, by that name hast been
Indicted and arraigned here of a robbery,
Murther, and felony, against the laws committed
By thee: the indictment whereof being read unto thee
Here, thou confessest thyself to be guilty therein:
Whereupon I judge thee to be had from hence
To the place thou cam'st fro, and from thence to
The place of execution, there to be hanged,
Till thou be dead. God have mercy on thee!

PROD. My lord, I most humbly beseech you to hear me.

JUDGE. Say on.

PROD. I confess I have run a wanton wicked race,
Which now hath brought me to this woful wretched case:
I am heartily sorry, and with tears do lament
My former lewd and vile misgovernment.
I find the brittle stay of trustless Fortune's state.
My heart now thirsteth after Virtue all too late:
Yet, good my lord, of pity condescend
To be a mean for him that meaneth to amend.
The prince is merciful, of whose great mercy
Full many have largely tasted already;
Which makes me appeal thereto more boldly.

JUDGE. Prodigality, I not mislike your wailful disposition;
And therefore for you to the prince there shall be made petition,
That though your punishment be not fully remitted,
Yet in some part it may be qualified.

PROD. God save your life!

down before the_ QUEEN, _and, after reverence made_,
VIRTUE _speaketh_


_Most mighty queen, yonder I sat in place,
Presenting show of chiefest dignity;
Here prostrate, lo, before your princely grace
I show myself, such as I ought to be,
Your humble vassal, subject to your will,
With fear and love your grace to reverence still_.




_Grim the Collier of Croyden; or, The Devil and his Dame: with the Devil
and Saint Dunston. By I.T. London. Printed in the year_ [1662]. 12mo.


The initial letters J.T. are placed before this play as those belonging
to the author of it. What his name was, or what his condition, are
alike unknown. It was printed in 12mo, 1662, with two others, "Thorny
Abby; or, The London Maid," and "The Marriage Broker," in a volume
entitled "Gratiae Theatrales; or, A Choice Ternary of English Plays."
Chetwood says it was printed in 1599, and Whincop, in the year
1606.[419] I cannot but suspect the fidelity of both these writers
in this particular.[420]


You're welcome; but our plot I dare not tell ye,
For fear I fright a lady with great belly:
Or should a scold be 'mong you, I dare say
She'd make more work than the devil in the play.
Heard you not never how an actor's wife,
Whom he (fond fool) lov'd dearly as his life,
Coming in's way did chance to get a jape,[421]
As he was 'tired in his devil's shape;
And how equivocal a generation
Was then begot, and brought forth thereupon?
Let it not fright you; this I dare to say,
Here is no lecherous devil in our play.
He will not rumple Peg, nor Joan, nor Nan,
But has enough at home to do with Marian,
Whom he so little pleases, she in scorn
Does teach his devilship to wind the horn;
But if your children cry when Robin comes,
You may to still them buy here pears or plums.
Then sit you quiet all who are come in,
St Dunstan will soon enter and begin.


ST DUNSTAN, _Abbot of Glastonbury_.
MORGAN, _Earl of London_.
LACY, _Earl of Kent_.
HONOREA, _Morgan's daughter_.
MARIAN, _her Waiting-maid_.
NAN, _Marian's maid_.
MUSGRAVE, _a young Gentleman_.
MILES FORREST, _a Gentleman_.
RALPH HARVEY, _an Apothecary_.
GRIM, _the Collier of Croydon_.
CLACK, _a Miller_.
JOAN, _a Country Maid_.
AEACUS | _Devils_.
AKERCOCK, _or Robin Goodfellow_, |
MALBECCO'S _Ghost, Officers, Attendants, &c.

The Stage is England_.



_A place being provided for the devil's consistory, enter_
ST DUNSTAN, _with his beads, book, and crosier-staff, &c_.

ST. DUN. Envy, that always waits on virtue's train,
And tears the graves of quiet sleeping souls,
Hath brought me after many hundred years
To show myself again upon the earth.
Know then (who list) that I am English born,
My name is Dunstan; whilst I liv'd with men,
Chief primate of the holy English church.
I was begotten in West Saxony:[423]
My father's name was Heorstan, my mother's Cinifred.
Endowed with my merit's legacy,
I flourish'd in the reign of seven great kings:
The first was Athelstane, whose niece Elfleda
Malicious tongues reported I defiled:
Next him came Edmond, then Edred, and Edwy.
And after him reign'd Edgar, a great prince.
But full of many crimes, which I restrain'd:
Edward his son, and lastly Ethelred.
With all these kings was I in high esteem,
And kept both them and all the land in awe:
And, had I liv'd, the Danes had never boasted
Their then beginning conquest of this land.
Yet some accuse me for a conjuror,
By reason of those many miracles
Which heaven for holy life endowed me with;
But whoso looks into the "Golden Legend"[424]
(That sacred register of holy saints)
Shall find me by the pope canonised,
And happily the cause of this report
Might rise by reason of a vision
Which I beheld in great King Edgar's days,
Being that time Abbot of Glastonbury,
Which (for it was a matter of some worth)
I did make known to few until this day:
But now I purpose that the world shall see
How much those slanderers have wronged me:
Nor will I trouble you with courts and kings;
Or drive a feigned battle out of breath;
Or keep a coil myself upon the stage;
But think you see me in my secret cell,
Arm'd with my portass,[425] bidding of my beads.
But on a sudden I'm o'ercome with sleep!
If aught ensue, watch you, for Dunstan[426] dreams.

[_He layeth him down to sleep; lightning and thunder;
the curtains drawn on a sudden_; PLUTO, MINOS, AEACUS,
RHADAMANTHUS, _set in counsel; before them_ MALBECCO'S
_ghost guarded with furies_.

PLU. You ever-dreaded judges of black hell,
Grim Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanth,
Lords of Cocytus, Styx, and Phlegethon,
Princes of darkness, Pluto's ministers,
Know that the greatness of his present cause
Hath made ourselves in person sit as judge,
To hear th'arraignment of Malbecco's ghost.
Stand forth, thou ghastly pattern of despair,
And to this powerful synod tell thy tale,
That we may hear if thou canst justly say
Thou wert not author of thy own decay.

MAL.[427] Infernal Jove, great prince of Tartary,
With humble reverence poor Malbecco speaks,
Still trembling with the fatal memory
Of his so late concluded tragedy.
I was (with thanks to your great bounty) bred
A wealthy lord, whilst that I liv'd on earth;
And so might have continu'd to this day,
Had not that plague of mankind fall'n on me:
For I (poor man) join'd woe unto my name
By choosing out a woman for my wife.
A wife! a curse ordained for the world.
Fair Helena! fair she was indeed,
But foully stain'd with inward wickedness.
I kept her bravely, and I lov'd her dear;
But that dear love did cost my life and all.
To reckon up a thousand of her pranks,
Her pride, her wasteful spending, her unkindness,
Her false dissembling, seeming sanctity,
Her scolding, pouting, prating, meddling,
And twenty hundred more of the same stamp,
Were but to heap[428] an endless catalogue
Of what the world is plagu'd with every day.
But for the main of that I have to tell,
It chanced thus - Late in a rainy night,
A crew of gallants came unto my house,
And (will I, nill I) would forsooth be lodg'd.
I brought them in, and made them all good cheer
(Such as I had in store), and lodg'd them soft.
Amongst them one, ycleped[429] Paridell
(The falsest thief that ever trod on ground),
Robb'd me, and with him stole away my wife.
I (for I lov'd her dear) pursu'd the thief,
And after many days in travel spent,
Found her amongst a crew of satyrs wild,
Kissing and colling[430] all the livelong night.
I spake her fair, and pray'd her to return;
But she in scorn commands me to be gone,
And glad I was to fly, to save my life.
But when I backward came unto my house,
I find it spoil'd, and all my treasure gone.
Desp'rate and mad, I ran I knew not whither,
Calling and crying out on heaven and fate,
Till, seeing none to pity my distress,
I threw myself down headlong on a rock,
And so concluded all my ills at once.
Now, judge you, justice benchers, if my wife
Were not the instrument to end my life.

PLU. Can it be possible (you lords of hell)
Malbecco's tale of women should be true?
Is marriage now become so great a curse,
That whilom was the comfort of the world?

MIN. Women, it seems, have lost their native shame,
As no man better may complain than I;
Though not of any whom I made my wife,
But of my daughter, who procured my fall.

AEAC. 'Tis strange what plaints are brought us every day
Of men made miserable by marriage;
So that, amongst a thousand, scarcely ten
Have not some grievous actions 'gainst their wives.

RHA. My lord, if Rhadamanth might counsel you,
Your grace should send some one into the world,
That might make proof if it be true or no.

PLU. And wisely hast thou counseled, Rhadamanth,
Call in Belphegor to me presently;
[_One of the furies goes for_ BELPHEGOR.
He is the fittest that I know in hell
To undertake a task of such import;
For he is patient, mild, and pitiful -
Humours but ill agreeing with our kingdom.


And here he comes. Belphegor, so it is,
We in our awful synod have decreed
(Upon occasion to ourselves best known)
That thou from hence shall go into the world,
And take upon thee the shape of a man,
In which estate thou shalt be married.
Choose thee a wife that best may please thyself,
And live with her a twelvemonth and a day.
Thou shalt be subject unto human chance,
So far as common wit cannot relieve thee;
Thou shalt of us receive ten thousand pounds,
Sufficient stock to use for thy increase:
But whatsoever happens in that time,
Look not from us for succour or relief.
This shalt thou do, and when the time's expired,
Bring word to us what thou hast seen and done.

BEL. With all my heart, my lord, I am content,
So I may have my servant Akercock
To wait on[431] me, as if he were my man,
That he may witness likewise what is done.

PLU. We are contented, he shall go with thee.

MIN. But what meantime decrees your majesty
Of poor Malbecco?

PLU. He shall rest with us,
Until Belphegor do return again;
And as he finds, so will we give his doom.
Come, let us go and set our spyal[432] forth,
Who for a time must make experiment,
If hell be not on earth as well as here.


[_It thunders and lightens; the devils go forth_;
DUNSTAN, _rising, runneth about the stage, laying
about him with his staff_.

ST DUN. Satan, avaunt! thou art man's enemy:
Thou shalt not live amongst us so unseen,
So to betray us to the prince of darkness.
Satan, avaunt! I do conjure thee hence. -
What, dream'st thou, Dunstan? yea, I dream'd indeed.
Must then the devil come into the world?
Such is, belike, the infernal king's decree;
Well, be it so; for Dunstan is content.
Mark well the process of the devil's disguise,
Who happily may learn you to be wise.
Women, beware, and make your bargains well,
The devil, to choose a wife, is come from hell.



_Enter_ MORGAN, _Earl of London_, LACY, _Earl of Kent,

MOR. My Lord of Kent, your honour knows my mind,
That ever has, and still does honour you,
Accounting it my daughter's happiness
(Amidst her other infelicities),
That you vouchsafe to love her as you do.
How gladly I would grant your lordship's suit
The heavens can witness, which with ruthless ears
Have often heard my yet unpitied plaints;
And could I find some means for her recovery,
None but yourself should have her to your wife.

LACY. My Lord of London, now long time it is,
Since Lacy first was suitor to your daughter,
The fairest Honorea, in whose eyes
Honour itself in love's sweet bosom lies.
What shall we say, or seem to strive with heaven,
Who speechless sent her first into the world?
In vain it is for us to think to loose
That which by nature's self we see is bound.
Her beauty, with her other virtues join'd,
Are gifts sufficient, though she want a tongue:
And some will count it virtue in a woman
Still to be bound to unoffending silence;
Though I could wish with half of all my lands,
That she could speak: but since it may not be,
'Twere vain to imprison beauty with her speech.

FOR. Have you not heard, my lords, the wondrous fame
Of holy Dunstan, Abbot of Glastonbury?
What miracles he hath achiev'd of late;
And how the rood of Dovercourt[433] did speak,
Confirming his opinion to be true:
And how the holy consistory fell,
With all the monks that were assembled there,
Saving one beam, whereon this Dunstan sat;
And other more such miracles as these.
They say he is of such religious life,
That angels often use to talk with him,
And tell to him the secrets of the heavens.
No question, if your honours would but try,
He could procure my lady for to speak.

MOR. Believe me, Forrest, thou hast well advis'd,
For I have heard of late much talk of him.

LACY. Is not that Dunstan he who check'd the king
About his privy dealing with the nun,
And made him to do penance for the fault?

MOR. The same is he; for whom I straight will send.
Miles Forrest shall in post to Glastonbury,
And gently pray the abbot for my sake
To come to London. Sure, I hope the heavens
Have ordain'd Dunstan to do Morgan good.

LACY. Let us despatch him thither presently;
For I myself will stay for his return,
And see some end or other, ere I go.

MOR. Come, then, Lord Lacy: Forrest, come away.



_Enter_ BELPHEGOR, _attired like a physician_;
AKERCOCK, _his man, in a tawny coat_.

BEL. Now is Belphegor, an incarnate devil,
Come to the earth to seek him out a dame:
Hell be my speed! and so, I hope, it will.
In lovely London are we here arrived;
Where, as I hear, the earl hath a fair daughter
So full of virtue and soft modesty,
That yet she never gave a man foul word.

AKER. Marry, indeed, they say she cannot speak.

BEL. For this cause have I taken this disguise,
And will profess me a physician,

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