صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

though not of delicate features; and that hath rather dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect. Neither is it almost seen," that very beautiful persons are otherwise of great virtue; as if nature were rather busy not to err, than in labour to produce excellency. And therefore they prove accomplished, but not of great spirit; and study rather behaviour than virtue. But this holds not always: for Augustus Caesar, Titus Vespasianus, Philip le Bel of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all high and great spirits; and yet the most beautiful men of their times. In beauty, that of favour is more than that of colour; and that of decent and gracious motion more than that of favour. That is the best part of beauty, which a picture cannot express; no nor the first sight of the life. There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. A man cannot tell whether Apelles or Albert Durer were the more trifler; whereof the one would make a personage by geometrical proportions; the other, by taking the best parts out of divers faces, to make one excellent. Such personages, I think, would please nobody but the painter that made them. Not but I think a painter may make a better face than ever was; but he must do it by a kind of felicity (as a musician that maketh an excellent air in music), and not by rule. A man shall see faces, that if you examine them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet altogether do well. If it be true that the principal part of beauty is in decent motion, certainly it is no marvel though persons in years seem many times more amiable; pulchrorum autumnus pulcher; * for no youth can be comely but by pardon, and considering the youth as to make up the comeliness. Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last; and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance; but yet certainly again, if it light well, it maketh virtues shine, and vices blush.


About that time that the terror of the world and fever quartan of the French, Henry the Eight (the only true subject of chronicles), advanced his standard against the two hundred and fifty

"it is scarcely ever seen * Beautiful persons

have a beautiful autumn.

towers of Tournay and Terouenne, and had the Emperor and all the nobility of Flanders, Holland, and Brabant as mercenary attendants on his full-sailed fortune, I, Jack Wilton, (a gentleman at least,) was a certain kind of an appendix or page, belonging or appertaining in or unto the confines of the English court; where what my credit was, a number of my creditors that I cozened can testify: Caelum petimus stultilia, which of us all is not a sinner? Be it known to as many as will pay money enough to peruse my story, that I followed the court or the camp, or the camp and the court. There did I (Soft, let me drink before I go any further!) reign sole king of the cans and black jacks, prince of the pygmies, county palatine of clean straw and provant, and, to conclude, lord high regent of rashers of the coals and red herring cobs. Paulo mafora canamus. Well, to the purpose. What stratagemical acts and monuments do you think an ingenious infant of my years mightenact? You will say, it were sufficient if he slur a die, pawn his master to the utmost penny, and minister the oath of the pantofle artificially. These are signs of good education, I must confess, and arguments of In grace and virtue to proceed. Oh, but Aliquid latet quod non patet, there's a further path I must trace: examples confirm; list, lordings, to my proceedings. Whosoever is acquainted with the state of a camp understands that in it be many quarters, and yet not so many as on London bridge. In those quarters are many companies: Much company, much knavery, as true as that old adage, “Much courtesy, much subtilty.” Those companies, like a great deal of corn, do yield some chaff; the corn are cormorants, the chaff are good fellows, which are quickly blown to nothing with bearing a light heart in a light purse. Amongst this chaff was I winnowing my wits to live merrily, and by my troth so I did: the prince could but command men spend their blood in his service, I could make them spend all the money they had for my pleasure. But poverty in the end parts friends; though I was prince of their purses, and exacted of my unthrift subjects as much liquid allegiance as any kaiser in the world could do, yet where it is not to be had the king must lose his right: want cannot be withstood, men can do no more than they can do: what remained then, but the fox's case must help, when the lion's skin is out at the elbows? There was a lord in the camp, let him be a Lord of Misrule if you will, for he kept a plain alehouse without welt or guard of any Wybush, and sold cider and cheese by pint and bypound to all that came, (at the very name of tier I can but sigh, there is so much of it in Rhenish wine nowadays). Well, Tendit ad idou virus, there's great virtue belongs (I can tell you) to a cup of cider, and very good men have sold it, and at sea it is Aqua carlestis; but that's neither here nor there, if it had no other patron but this peer of quart pots to authorise it, it were sufficient. This great lord, this worthy lord, this noble lord, thought Moscom (Lord, have mercy upon us!) to have his great velvet breeches larded with the droppings of this dainty liquor, and yet he was an old Servitor, a cavalier of an ancient house, as might appear by the arms of his ancestors, drawn very amiably in chalk on the inside of his tent door. He and no other was the man I chose out to damn with a lewd moneyless device; for coming to him on a day, as he was counting his barrels and setting the price in chalk on the head of them, I did my duty very devoutly, and told his aley honour I had matters of some secrecy to impart unto him, if it pleased him to grant me private audience. “With me, young Wilton?” quod he; “marry, and shalt! Bring us a pint of tider of a fresh tap into the Three Cups here; wash the pot.” So into a back room he led me, where after he had spit on his finger, and picked off two or three moats of his old mothtalen velvet cap, and sponged and wrung all therheumatic drivel from his ill-favoured goat's beard, he bade me declare my mind, and thereupon he drank to me on the same. I up with a long circumstance, alias, a cunning shift of the seventeens, and discoursed unto him what entire affection I had borne him time out of mind, partly for the high descent and lineage from whence he sprung, and partly for the tender care and provident respect he had of poor soldiers, that, whereas the vastity of that place (which afforded them no indifferent supply of drink or of victuals) might humble them to, some extremity, and so weaken their hands, he vouchsaid in his own person to be a victualler to the camp (a rare example of magnificense and honourable courtesy), and diligently Po. vided that without far travel every man might for his money have cider and cheese his belly full; nor did he sell his cheese by the Woy. .# or his cider by the great, but abased himse with his own hands to take a *. knife (a homely instrument for such a #. personage to touch) and out it 9." . ike a true justiciary, in little penny". So it would do a man good for to look upon.

likewise of his cider, the poor man might have his moderate draught of it (as there is a moderation in all things) as well for his doit or his dandiprat as the rich man for his half sous or his denier. “Not so much,” quoth I, “but this tapster's linen apron which you wear to protect your apparel from the imperfections of the spigot, most amply bewrays your lowly mind. I speak it with tears, too few such noble men

have we, that will draw drink in linen aprons.

Why, you are every child's fellow; any man that comes under the name of a soldier and a good fellow, you will sit and bear company to the last pot, yea, and you take in as good part the homely phrase of ‘Mine host, here's to you,' as if one saluted you by all the titles of your barony. These considerations, I say, which the world suffers to slip by in the channel of forgetfulness, have moved me, in ardent zeal of your welfare, to forewarn you of some dangers that have beset you and your barrels.” At the name of dangers he start up, and bounced with his fist on the board so hard that his tapster overhearing him, cried, “Anon, anon, sir! by and by l’’ and came and made a low leg and asked him what he lacked. He was ready to have striken his tapster for interrupting him in attention of this his so much desired relation, but for fear of displeasing me he moderated his fury, and only sending for the other fresh pint, willed him look to the bar, and come when he is called, “with a devil's name !” Well, at his earnest importunity, after I had moistened my lips to make my lie run glib to his journey's end, forward I went as followeth. “It chanced me the other night, amongst other pages, to attend where the King, with his lords and many chief leaders, sat in counsel: there, amongst sundry serious matters that were debated, and intelligences from the enemy given up, it was privily informed (No villains to these privy informers!) that you, even you that I now speak to, had – (O would I had no tongue to tell the rest; by this drink, it grieves meso I am not able to repeat it!)" Now was my drunken lord ready to hang himself for the end of the full point, and over my neck he throws himself very lubberly, and entreated me, as I was a proper young gentleman and ever looked for pleasure at his hands, soon to rid him out of this hell of suspense, and resolve him of the rest: then fell, he on his knees, wrung his hands, and I think on my conscience, wept out all the cider that he had drunk in a j; before: to move me to have pity on him, hose and put his rusty ring on my finger, gave me his greasy purse with that single money that was in it, promised to make me his heir, and a thousand more favours, if I would expire the misery of his unspeakable tormenting uncertainty. I, being by nature inclined to Mercie (for indeed I knew two or three good wenches of that name), bade him harden his ears, and not make his eyes abortive before their time, and he should have the inside of my breast turned outward, hear such a tale as would tempt the utmost strength of life to attend it and not die in the midst of it. “Why (quoth I) myself that am but a poor childish well-willer of yours, with the very thought that a man of your desert and state by a number of peasants and varlets should be so injuriously abused in hugger mugger, have wept. The wheel under our city bridge carries not so much water over the city, as my brain hath welled forth gushing streams of sorrow. My eyes have been drunk, outrageously drunk, with giving but ordinary intercourse through their seacircled islands to my distilling dreariment. What shall I say? that which malice hath said is the mere overthrow and murder of your days. Change not your colour, none can slander a clear conscience to itself; receive all your fraught of misfortune in at once.

“It is buzzed in the King's head that you are a secret friend to the enemy, and under pretence of getting a license to furnish the camp with cider and such like provant, you have furnished the enemy, and in empty barrels sent letters of discovery and corn innumerable.”

I might well have left here, for by this time his white liver had mixed itself with the white of his eye, and both were turned upwards, as if they had offered themselves a fair white for death to shoot at. The truth was, I was very loth mine host and I should part with dry lips: wherefore the best means that I could imagine to wake him out of his trance, was to cry loud in his ear, “Ho, host, what's to pay? will no man look to the reckoning here?” And in plain verity it took expected effect, for with the noise he started and bustled, like a man that had been scared with fire out of his sleep, and ran hastily to his tapster, and all to belaboured him about the ears, for letting gentlemen call so long and not look in to them. Presently he remembered himself, and had like to fall into his memento again, but that I met him half ways and asked his lordship what he meant to slip his neck out of the collar so suddenly, and, being revived, strike his tapster so hastily.

“Oh (quoth he), I am bought and sold for doing my country such good service as I have done. They are afraid of me, because my good deeds have brought me into such estimation with the commonalty. I see, I see, it is not for the lamb to live with the wolf.” “The world is well amended (thought I) with your cidership; such another forty years' nap together as Epimenides had, would make you a perfect wise man.” “Answer me (quoth he), my wise young Wilton, is it true that I am thus underhand dead and buried by these bad tongues?” “Nay (quoth I), you shall pardon me, for I have spoken too much already; no definitive sentence of death shall march out of my wellmeaning lips; they have but lately sucked milk, and shall they so suddenly change their food and seek after blood?” “Oh, but (quoth he) a man's friend is his friend; fill the other pint, tapster: what said the King? did he believe it when he heard it? I pray thee say; I swear by my nobility, none in the world shall ever be made privy that I received any light of this matter by thee.” “That firm affiance (quoth I) had I in you before, or else I would never have gone so far over the shoes, to pluck you out of the mire. . Not to make many words, (since you will needs know,) the King says flatly, you are a miser and a snudge, and he never hoped better of you.” “Nay, then (quoth he) questionless some planet that loves not cider hath conspired against me.” “Moreover, which is worse, the King hath vowed to give Terouenne one hot breakfast only with the bungs that he will pluck out of your barrels. I cannot stay at this time to report each circumstance that passed, but the only counsel that my long cherished kind inclination can possibly contrive, is now in your old days to be liberal: such victuals or provision as you have, presently distribute it frankly amongst poor soldiers; I would let them burst their bellies with cider and bathe in it, before I would run into my prince's ill opinion for a whole sea of it. If greedy hunters and hungry tale-tellers pursue you, it is for a little pelf that you have; cast it behind you, neglect it, let them have it, lest it breed a farther inconvenience. Credit my advice, you shall find it prophetical: and thus have I discharged the part of a poor friend.” With some few like phrases of ceremony, “Your Honour's poor suppliant,” and so forth, and “Farewell, my good youth, I thank thee and will remember thee,” we parted.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

But the next day I think we had a dole of (ider, cider in bowls, in scuppets, in helmets; and to conclude, if a man would have filled his tools full, there he might have had it: provant thrust itself into poor soldiers' pockets whether they would or no. We made five peals of shot into the town together of nothing but spiggots and saucets of discarded empty barrels: every under-soot soldier had a distenanted tun, as Diogenes had his tub to sleep in. I myself got as many confiscated tapster's aprons as made me a tent as big as any ordinary commander's in the field. But in conclusion, my wellbeloved baron of double beer got him humbly On his mary-bones to the king, and complained he was old and stricken in years, and had never an heir to cast at a dog, wherefore if it might please his Majesty to take his lands into his hands, and allow him some reasonable pension to live, he should be marvellously well pleased: as for wars, he was weary of them; yet as long as his Highness ventured his own person, he would not flinch a foot, but make his withered body a buckler to bear off any blow advanced against him.

The King, marvelling at this alteration of his tider merchant (for so he often pleasantly termed him), with a little farther talk bolted out, the whole complotment. Then was I Pitifully whipped for my holiday lie, though they made themselves merry with it many a winter's evening after.

THOMAS DEKKER (1570?–16412)



The theatre is your poets' royal exchange, upon which their muses (that are now turned to merchants) meeting, barter away that light commodity of words for a lighter ware than words, plaudities, and the breath of the great beast; which (like the threatenings of two towards) vanish all into air. Players and their factors, who put away the stuff, and make the best of it they possibly can (as indeed 'tis their parts so to do), your gallant, your courtier, and your captain, had wont to be the soundest paymasters; and I think are still the surest chapmen; and these, by means that their heads are well stocked, deal upon this comical freight by the gross: when your groundling, and gallely commoner buys his sport by the penny,

and, like a haggler, is glad to utter it again by retailing. Since then the place is so free in entertainment, allowing a stool as well to the farmer's son as to your templer: that your stinkard has the selfsame liberty to be there in his tobacco fumes, which your sweet courtier hath: and that your carman and tinker claim as strong a voice in their suffrage, and sit to give judgment on the play's life and death, as well as the proudest momus among the tribes of critic: it is fit that he, whom the most tailors' bills do make room for, when he comes, should not be basely (like a viol) cased up in a corner. Whether therefore the gatherers’ of the public or private playhouse stand to receive the afternoon's rent, let our gallant (having paid it) presently advance himself up to the throne of the stage. I mean not into the lord's room (which is now but the stage's suburbs); no, those boxes, by the iniquity of custom, conspiracy of waiting women and gentlemen ushers, that there sweat together, and the covetousness of sharers, are contemptibly thrust into the rear, and much new satin is there damned, by being smothered to death in darkness. But on the very rushes, where the comedy is to dance, yea, and under the state" of Cambises himself must our feathered estridge," like a piece of ordnance, be planted, valiantly (because impudently) beating down the mewes and hisses of the opposed rascality. For do but cast up a reckoning, what large comings-in are pursed up by sitting on the stage. First a conspicuous eminence is got; by which means, the best and most essential parts of a gallant (good clothes, a proportionable leg, white hand, the Persian lock, and a tolerable beard) are perfectly revealed. By sitting on the stage, you have a signed patent to engross the whole commodity of censure; may lawfully, presume to be a girder; and stand at the helm to steer the passage of scenes; yet no man shall once offer to hinder you from obtaining the title of an insolent, overweening coxcomb. By sitting on the stage, you may (without travelling for it) at the very next door ask whose play it is: and, by that quest of inquiry, the law warrants you to avoid much mistaking: if you know not the author, you may rail against him: and peradventure so behave yourself, that you may enforce the author to know you. By sitting on the stage, if you be a knight, you may happily' get you a mistress: if a mere Fleet-street gentleman, a wife: but assure yourself, by continual residence, you are the first and principal man in election to begin the number of We Three.”

1 a resident of one of the inns of court keepers * canopy “ostrich

* door. * cudgel

By spreading your body on the stage, and by being a justice in examining of plays, you shall put yourself into such true scenical authority, that some poet shall not dare to present his muse rudely upon your eyes, without having first unmasked her, rifled her, and discovered all her bare and most mystical parts before you at a tavern, when you most knightly shall, for his pains, pay for both their suppers. By sitting on the stage, you may (with small cost) purchase the dear acquaintance of the boys: have a good stool for sixpence: at any time know what particular part any of the infants present: get your match lighted, examine the play-suits' lace, and perhaps win wagers upon laying 'tis copper, etc. And to conclude, whether you be a fool or a justice of peace, a cuckold, or a captain, a lord-mayor's son, or a dawcock, a knave, or an under-sheriff; of what stamp soever you be, current, or counterfeit, the stage, like time, will bring you to most perfect light and lay you open: neither are you to be hunted from thence, though the scarecrows in the yard hoot at you, hiss at you, spit at you, yea, throw dirt even in your teeth: 'tis most gentlemanlike patience to endure all this, and to laugh at the silly animals: but if the rabble, with a full throat, cry, “Away with the fool,” you were worse than a madman to tarry by it: for the gentleman and the fool should never sit on the stage together.

Marry, let this observation go hand in hand with the rest: or rather, like a country serving-man, some five yards before them. Present not yourself on the stage (especially at a new play) until the quaking prologue hath (by rubbing) got colour into his cheeks, and is ready to give the trumpets their cue, that he's upon point to enter: for then it is time, as though you were one of the properties, or that you dropped out of the hangings, to creep from behind the arras, with your tripos or threefooted stool in one hand, and a teston mounted between a forefinger and a thumb in the other: for if you should bestow your person upon the vulgar, when the belly of the house is but half

haply, by chance * A jest that still survives, – a picture of two fools or asses with this inscription.

full, your apparel is quite eaten up, the fashion lost, and the proportion of your body in more danger to be devoured than if it were served up in the counter amongst the poultry: avoid that as you would the bastome." It shall crown you with rich commendation to laugh aloud in the midst of the most serious and saddest scene of the terriblest tragedy: and to let that clapper (your tongue) be tossed so high, that all the house may ring of it: your lords use it; your knights are apes to the lords, and do so too: your in-a-court-man is zany” to the knights, and (marry very scurvily) comes likewise limping after it: be thou a beagle to them all, and never lin” snuffing, till you have scented them: for by talking and laughing (like a ploughman in a morris) you heap Pelion upon Ossa, glory upon glory: as first, all the eyes in the galleries will leave walking after the players, and only follow you: the simplest dolt in the house snatches up your name, and when he meets you in the streets, or that you fall into his hands in the middle of a watch, his word shall be taken for you: he'll cry “He’s such a gallant,” and you pass. Secondly, you publish your temperance to the world, in that you seem not to resort thither to taste vain pleasures with a hungry appetite: but only as a gentleman to spend a foolish hour or two, because you can do nothing else: thirdly, you mightily disrelish the audience, and disgrace the author: marry, you take up (though it be at the worst hand) a strong opinion of your own judgment, and enforce the poet to take pity of your weakness, and, by some dedicated sonnet, to bring you into a better paradise, only to stop your mouth. If you can (either for love or money), provide yourself a lodging by the water side: for, above the convenience it brings to shun shoulder-clapping," and to ship away your cockatrice betimes in the morning, it adds a kind of state unto you, to be carried from thence to the stairs of your play-house: hate a sculler (remember that) worse than to be acquainted with one o' th' scullery. No, your oars are your only sea-crabs, board them, and take heed you never go twice together with one pair: often shifting is a great credit to gentlemen; and that dividing of your fare will make the poor watersnakes be ready to pull you in pieces to enjoy your custom: no matter whether upon landing, you have money or no: you may swim in twenty of their boats over the river upon

* ape * cease ‘by a constable

« السابقةمتابعة »