صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

no compunction in his heart: of which one, brother to a brothel' he kept, was trussed under a tree” as round as a ball." To some of his swearing companions thus it happened: A crew of them sitting in a tavern carousing, it fortuned an honest gentleman, and his friend, to enter their room: some of them being acquainted with him, in their domineering drunken vein, would have no nay, but down he must needs sit with them; being placed, no remedy there was, but he must needs keep even compass with their unseemly carousing. Which he refusing, they fell from high words to sound strokes, so that with much ado the gentleman saved his own, and shifted from their company. Being gone, one of these tiplers forsooth lacked a gold ring, the other sware they see “the gentleman take it from his hand. Upon this the gentleman was indicted before a judge: these honest men are deposed: whose * wisdom weighing the time of the brawl, gave light to the jury what power wine-washing poison had: they, according unto conscience, found the gentleman not guilty, and God released by that verdict the innocent. With his accusers thus it fared: one of them for murder was worthily executed: the other never since prospered: the third, sitting not long after upon a lusty horse, the beast suddenly died under him: God amend the man' Roberto every day acquainted with these examples, was notwithstanding nothing bettered, but rather hardened in wickedness. At last was that place" justified, “God warneth men by dreams and visions in the night, and by known examples in the day, but if he return not, he comes upon him with judgment that shall be felt.” For now when the number of deceits caused Roberto be hateful almost to all men, his immeasurable drinking had made him the perfect image of the dropsy, and the loathsome scourge of lust tyrannised in his loves: living in extreme poverty, and having nothing to pay but chalk,” which now his host accepted not for current, this miserable man lay comfortlessly languishing, having but one groat left (the just * proportion of his father's legacy) which looking on, he cried: “Oh now it is too late! too late to buy wit with thee: and therefore will I see if I can sell to careless youth what I negligently forgot to buy.”

Here (gentlemen) break I off Roberto's speech; whose life in most parts agreeing with mine, found one self punishment as I have done. Hereafter suppose me the said Roberto, and I will go on with that he promised: Greene will send you now his groatsworth of wit, that never showed a mitesworth in his life: and though no man now be by to do me good, yet, ere I die, I will by my repentance endeavour to do all men good.

:k sk + k + k k

And therefore (while life gives leave) will send warning to my old consorts,” which have lived as loosely as myself, albeit weakness will scarce suffer me to write, yet to my fellow scholars about this City, will I direct these few ensuing lines.

To those Gentlemen his Quondam acquaintance, that spend their wits in making Plays, R. G. wisheth a better exercise, and wisdom to prevent his extremities.

If woeful experience may move you (gentlemen) to beware, or unheard-of wretchedness entreat you to take heed, I doubt not but you will look back with sorrow on your time past, and endeavour with repentance to spend that which is to come. Wonder not (for with thee will I first begin), thou famous gracer of tragedians, that Greene, who hath said with thee like the fool in his heart, “There is no God,” should now give glory unto his greatness: for penetrating is his power, his hand lies heavy upon me, he hath spoken unto me with a voice of thunder, and I have felt he is a God that can punish enemies. Why should thy excellent wit, his gift, be so blinded, that thou shouldst give no glory to the giver? Is it pestilent Machiavellian policy that thou hast studied? O Punish "folly! What are his rules but mere confused mockeries, able to extirpate in small time the generation of mankind. For if Sic volo, sic jubeo," hold in those that are able to command: and if it be lawful Fas et nefas to do anything that is beneficial, only tyrants should possess the earth, and they striving to exceed in tyranny, should each to other be a slaughter man; till the mightiest outliving all, one stroke were left for Death, that in one age man's life should end. The brother" of this Diabolical Atheism is dead, and in his life had never the felicity he aimed at: but as he began in craft, lived in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1 trull "hanged * A poor pun; the man's name was Ball. 4 saw * i.e. the judge " scriptural passage * Chalk was used to keep a record of small debts. * exact


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

fear and ended in despair. Quam inscruta: bilia sunt Dei judicia?." This murderer...of many brethren had his conscience seared like Cain: this betrayer of Him that gave his life for him inherited the portion of Judas: this apostata perished as ill as Julian: and wilt thou, my friend, be his disciple? Look unto me, by him persuaded to that liberty, and thou shalt find it an infernal bondage. I know the least of my demerits merit this miserable death, but willful striving against known truth, exceedeth all the terrors of my soul. Defer not (with me) till this last point of extremity; for little knowest thou how in the end thou shalt be visited. With thee I join young Juvenal, that biting satirist, that lastly with me together writ a comedy. Sweet boy, might I advise thee, be advised, and get not many enemies by bitter words: inveigh against vain men, for thou canst do it, no man better, no man so well: thou hast a liberty to reprove all, and none more; for, one being spoken to, all are offended; none being blamed, no man is injured. Stop shallow water still running, it will rage; tread on a Worm and it will turn: then blame not scholars vexed with sharp lines, if they reprove thy too much liberty of reproof. And thou no less deserving than the other two, in some things rarer, in nothing inferior; driven (as myself) to extreme shifts, a little have I to say to thee: and were it not an idolatrous oath, I would swear by sweet S. George, thou art unworthy better hap, sith’ thou de Pondest on so mean a stay. Base minded men all three of you, if by my misery ye be not Warned: for unto none of you, like me, sought those burrs to cleave: those puppets, I mean, that speak from our mouths, those antics §amished in our colours. Is it not strange that !, so whom they all have been beholding: is it not like that you, to whom they all have been beholding, shall, were ye in that case that I *m now, be both at once of them forsaken? Yes, trust them not: for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger's heart wrapped in a Player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a bank verse as the best of you; and being an alsolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conoit the only Shake-scene in a country. O that I might entreat your rare wits to be employed In more profitable courses: and let those Apes mitate your past excellence, and never more

o How inscrutable are the judgments of God Since

acquaint them with your admired inventions I know the best husband of you all will never prove an usurer, and the kindest of them all will never prove a kind nurse: yet whilst you may, seek you better masters; for it is pity men of such rare wits, should be subject to the pleasures of such rude grooms. In this I might insert two more, that both have writ against these buckram gentlemen: but let their own works serve to witness against their own wickedness, if they persevere to maintain any more such peasants. For other new comers, I leave them to the mercy of these painted monsters, who (I doubt not) will drive the best minded to despise them: for the rest, it skills not though they make a jest at them. But now return I again to you three, knowing my misery is to you no news: and let me heartily entreat you to be warned by my harms. Delight not, as I have done, in irreligious oaths; for from the blasphemer's house a curse shall not depart. Despise drunkenness, which wasteth the wit, and maketh men all equal unto beasts. Fly lust, as the deathsman of the soul, and defile not the temple of the Holy Ghost. Abhor those epicures, whose loose life hath made religion loathsome to your ears: and when they sooth you with terms of mastership, remember Robert Greene, whom they have so often flattered, perishes now for want of comfort. Remember, gentlemen, your lives are like so many lighted tapers, that are with care delivered to all of you to maintain; these with wind-puffed wrath may be extinguished, which drunkenness put out, which negligence let fall: for man's time of itself is not so short, but it is more shortened by sin. The fire of my light is now at the last snuff, and the want of wherewith to sustain it, there is no substance left for life to feed on. Trust not then, I beseech ye, to such weak stays: for they are as changeable in mind, as in many attires. Well, my hand is tired, and I am forced to leave where I would begin; for a whole book cannot contain these wrongs, which I am forced to knit up in some few lines of words,

Desirous that you should live, though himself be dying, Robert Greene.


There be requisite effectually to act the Art of Cony-catching, three several parties: the setter, the verser, and the barnacle. The


nature of the setter, is to draw any person familiarly to drink with him, which person they call the cony, and their method is according to the man they aim at: if a gentleman, merchant, or apprentice, the cony is the more easily caught, in that they are soon induced to play, and therefore I omit the circumstance which they use in catching of them. And for because the poor country farmer or yeoman is the mark which they most of all shoot at, who they know comes not empty to the term,' I will discover the means they put in practice to bring in some honest, simple and ignorant men to their purpose. The cony-catchers, appareled like honest civil gentlemen, or good fellows, with a smooth face, as if butter would not melt in their mouths, after dinner when the clients are come from Westminster Hall, and are at leisure to walk up and down Paul's, Fleet-street, Holborn, the Strand, and such common haunted places, where these cozening companions attend only to spy out a prey: who as soon as they see a plain country fellow well and cleanly appareled, either in a coat of homespun russet, or of frieze, as the time requires, and a side” pouch at his side, “There is a cony,” saith one. At that word out flies the setter, and overtaking the man, begins to salute him thus: “Sir, God save you, you are welcome to London, how doth all our good friends in the country, I hope they be all in health?” The country-man seeing a man so courteous he knows not, half in a brown study at this strange salutation, perhaps makes him this answer: “Sir, all our friends in the country are well, thanks be to God, but truly I know you not, you must pardon me.” “Why, sir,” saith the setter, guessing by his tongue what country man he is, “are you not such a country man?” If he says yes, then he creeps upon him closely. If he say no, then straight the setter comes over him thus: “In good sooth, sir, I know you by your face and have been in your company before, I pray you, if without offence, let me crave your name, and the place of your abode.” The simple man straight tells him where he dwells, his name, and who be his next neighbours, and what gentlemen dwell about him. After he hath learned all of him, then he comes over his fellow kindly: “Sir, though I have been somewhat bold to be inquisitive of your name, yet hold me excused, for I took you for a friend of mine, but since by mistaking I have made you slack your business, we'll drink a

! session of court 2 wide

quart of wine, or a pot of ale together.” If the fool be so ready as to go, then the cony is caught; but if he smack the setter, and smells a rat by his clawing, and will not drink with him, then away goes the setter, and discourseth to the verser the name of the man, the parish he dwells in, and what gentlemen are his near neighbours. With that away goes he, and crossing the man at some turning, meets him full in the face, and greets him thus: “What, goodman Barton, how fare all our friends about you? You are well met, I have the wine for you, you are welcome to town.” The poor countryman hearing himself named by a man he knows not, marvels, and answers that he knows him not, and craves pardon. “Not me, goodman Barton, have you forgot me? Why I am such a man's kinsman, your neighbour not far off; how doth this or that good gentleman my friend? Good Lord that I should be out of your remembrance, I have been at your house divers times.” “Indeed sir,” saith the farmer, “are you such a man's kinsman? Surely, sir, if you had not challenged acquaintance of me, I should never have known you. I have clean forgot you, but I know the good gentleman your cousin well, he is my very good neighbour:” “And for his sake,” saith the verser, “we’ll drink afore we part.” Haply the man thanks him, and to the wine or ale they go. Then ere they part, they make him a cony, and so ferret-claw" him at cards, that they leave him as bare of money, as an ape of a tail. Thus have the filthy fellows their subtle fetches to draw on poor men to fall into their cozening practices. Thus like consuming moths of the commonwealth, they prey upon the ignorance of such plain souls as measure all by their own honesty, not regarding either conscience, or the fatal revenge that's threatened for such idle and licentious persons, but do employ all their wits to overthrow such as with their handythrift satisfy their hearty thirst, they preferring cozenage before labour, and choosing an idle practice before any honest form of good living. Well, to the method again of taking up their conies. If the poor countryman smoke them still, and will not stoop unto either of their lures, then one, either the verser, or the setter, or some of their crew, for there is a general fraternity betwixt them, steppeth before the cony as he goeth, and letteth drop twelve pence in the highway, that of force” the cony must see it. The countryman spying the shilling,

1 cheat " necessarily

maketh not dainty, for quis nisi mentis inops oillum respuit aurum,' but stoopeth very manmerly and taketh it up. Then one of the cony catchers behind, crieth half part, and so challengeth half of his finding. The countryman content, offereth to change the money. “Nay faith, friend,” saith the verser, “’tis ill luck to keep found money, we'll go spend it in a pottle of wine (or in a breakfast, dinner or supper, as the time of day requires).” If the cony say he will not, then answers the verser, “Spend my part.” If still the cony refuse, he taketh half and away. If they spy the countryman to be of a having and covetous mind, then have they a further policy to draw him on: another that knoweth the place of his abode, meeteth him and saith, “Sir, well met, I have run hastily to overtake you, I pray you, dwell you not in Darbyshire, in such a village?” “Yes, marry, do I, friend,” saith the cony. Then replies the vesser, “Truly, sir, I have a suit to you, I am going out of town, and must send a letter to the Parson of your parish. You shall not refuse to do a stranger such a favour as to carry it him. Haply, as men may in time meet, it may lie in my lot to do you as good a turn, and for your Pains I will give you twelve pence.” The Poor cony in mere simplicity saith, “Sir, I'll do so much for you with all my heart; where is Your letter?” “I have it not, good sir, ready Written, but may I entreat you to step into some tavern or alehouse? We'll drink the while, and I will write but a line or two.” At this the tony Stoops, and for greediness of the money, and upon courtesy goes with the setter into the tavern. As they walk, they meet the verser, * then they all three go into the tavern to. CT. . . .


In those days wherein Palmerin reigned king of Great Britain, famoused for his deeds of shivalry, there dwelled in the city of Caerbranck a gentleman of an ancient house, called Francesco, a man whose parentage though it were worshipful, yet it was not indued with much wealth, insomuch that his learning was better than his revenues, and his wit more beneficial than his substance. This Signor Francesco, desirous to bend the course of his compass to *me peaceable port, spread no more cloth in the wind than might make easy sail, lest hoisting

‘Who but a fool refuses offered gold P

up too hastily above the main yard, some sudden gust might make him founder in the deep. Though he were young, yet he was not rash with Icarus to soar into the sky, but to cry out with old Dedalus, Medium tenere tutissimum," treading his shoe without any slip. He was so generally loved of the citizens, that the richest merchant or gravest burghmaster would not refuse to grant him his daughter in marriage, hoping more of his ensuing fortunes, than of his present substance. At last, casting his eye on a gentleman's daughter that dwelt not far from Caerbranck, he fell in love, and prosecuted his suit with such affable courtesy as the maid, considering the virtue and wit of the man, was content to set up her rest with him, so that” her father's consent might be at the knitting up of the match. Francesco, thinking himself cocksure, as a man that hoped his credit in the city might carry away more than a country gentleman's daughter, finding her father on a day at fit opportunity, he made the motion about the grant of his daughter's marriage. The old churl, that listened with both ears to such a question, did not in this in ulramvis aurem dormire; * but leaning on his elbow, made present answer, that her dowry required a greater feofment than his lands were able to afford. And upon that, without farther debating of the matter, he rose up, and hied him home. Whither as soon as he came, he called his daughter before him, whose name was Isabel, to whom he uttered these words: “Why, housewife,” “ quoth he, “are you so idle tasked, that you stand upon thorns while * you have a husband? Are you no sooner hatched with the Lapwing but you will run away with the shell on your head? Soon pricks the tree that will prove a thorn, and a girl that loves too soon will repent too late. What, a husband? Why, the maids in Rome durst not look at Venus' temple till they were thirty, nor went they unmasked till they were married; that neither their beauties might allure other, nor they glance their eyes on ever

wanton. I tell thee, fond girl, when Nilus overfloweth before his time, Egypt is plagued with a dearth; the trees that blossom in Feb. ruary are nipped with the frosts in May; untimely fruits had never good fortune;" and young gentlewomen that are wooed and won ere they be wise, sorrow and repent before they be old. What seest thou in Francesco that

[ocr errors]

thine eye must choose, and thy heart must fancy? Is he beautiful? Why, fond girl, what the eye liketh at morn, it hateth at night. Love is, like a bavin," but a blaze; and beauty, why how can I better compare it than to the gorgeous cedar, that is only for show and nothing for profit; to the apples of Tantalus, that are precious to the eye, and dust in the hand; to the star Artophilex, that is most bright, but fitteth not for any compass; so young men that stand upon their outward portraiture, I tell thee they are prejudicial. Demophon was fair, but how dealt he with Phillis? AEneas was a brave man but a dissembler. Fond girl, all are but little worth, if they be not wealthy. And I pray thee, what substance hath Francesco to endue thee with ? Hast thou not heard, that want breaks amity, that love beginneth in gold and endeth in beggery; that such as marry but to a fair face, tie themselves oft to a foul bargain? And what wilt thou do with a husband that is not able to maintain thee? Buy, forsooth, a dram of pleasure with a pound of sorrow, and a pint of content with a whole ton of prejudicial displeasures? But why do I cast stones into the air, or breathe my words into the wind; when to persuade a woman from her will is to roll Sisiphus' stone; or to hale a headstrong girl from love, is to tie the Furies again in fetters. Therefore, housewife, to prevent all misfortunes I will be your jailer.” And with that, he carried her in and shut her up in his own chamber, not giving her leave to depart but when his key gave her license; yet at last she so cunningly dissembled, that she got thus far liberty, not to be close prisoner, but to walk about the house. Yet every night he shut up her clothes, that no nightly fear of her escape might hinder his broken slumbers. Where leaving her, let us return to Francesco; who to his sorrow heard of all these hard fortunes, and being pensive was full of many passions, but almost in despair, as a man that durst not come nigh her father's door, nor send any letters whereby to comfort his mistress, or to lay any plot of her liberty. For no sooner any stranger came thither, but he, suspicious they came from Francesco, first sent up his daughter into her chamber; then as watchful as Argus with all his eyes, he pried into every particular gesture, and behaviour of the party; and if any jealous humour took him in the head, he would not only be very inquisitive with

cutting questions, but would strain courtesies and search them very narrowly, whether they had any letters or no to his daughter Isabel. This narrow inquisition made the poor gentleman almost frantic, that he turned over Anacreon, Ovid de Arte amandi, and all books that might teach him any sleights of love; but, for all their principles, his own wit served him for

the best shift, and that was haply' begun

and fortunately ended thus. It chanced that as he walked thus in his muses, fetching the compass of his conceit * beyond the moon, he met with a poor woman that from door to door sought her living by charity. The woman, as her custom was, began her exordium with “I pray, good master,” and so forth, hoping to find the gentleman as liberal, as he was full of gracious favours. Neither did she miss of her imagination; for he, that thought her likely to be drawn on to the executing of his purpose, conceipted’ this, that gold was as good as glue to knit her to any practice whatsoever, and therefore out with his purse, and clapped her in the hand with a French crown. This unaccustomed reward made her more frank of her curtsies, that every rag reached the gentleman a reverence with promise of many prayers for his health. He, that harped on another string, took the woman by the hand, and sitting down upon the green grass, discoursed unto her from point to point the beginning and sequel of his loves, and how by no means, except by her, he could convey any letter. The beggar, desirous to do the gentleman any pleasure, said she was ready to take any pains that might redound to his content. Whereupon he replied thus; “Then, mother, thou shalt go to yonder abbey, which is her father's house; and when thou comest thither, use thy wonted eloquence to entreat for thine alms. If the master of the house be present, show thy passport, and seem very passionate; but if he be absent or out of the way, then, oh then, mother, look about if thou seest Diana masking in the shape of a virgin; if thou spiest Venus, nay, one more beautiful than love's goddess, and I tell thee she is my love, fair Isabel, whom thou shalt discern from her other sister, thus: her visage is fair, containing as great resemblance of virtue as linea. ments of beauty, and yet I tell thee she is full of favour, whether thou respects the outward portraiture or inward perfection; her eye like the diamond, and so pointed that it pierceth to

• range of his fancy "reasoned

* a dry twig

* beauty

" by chance * Sorrowful

« السابقةمتابعة »