Collaborative play writing/A Yorkshire Tragedy/Act 1
Act 1. Scene 1. Calvary Hall
Enter Samuel and Ralph
Samuel. Our mistress squeezes her legs together without hands, pines, moans, wails somewhat about the rose-leaved one, her gallant man, who has not made her humor light for two entire days.
Ralph. Such lightness will eventually make her heavy, Samuel.
Samuel. It is the usual way.
Ralph. And makese away from such beverage, even with looking.
Samuel. I do, only to hear.
Ralph. I never yet beheld a hapy whore, laughter rising from the throat, not the lungs, no smile from a contented heart but grimacing in velvet. I would not trade away my honesty for all the greater ones wear on their backs, which death too soon discharges.
Samuel. Fearfully she shuns any advice, good or inane, sleeping with the bad to escape the bad.
Ralph. A woman enters the world like a warmed-up pot, consuming man's property and honor, first to vapor, then to ashes, should she relieve the monkey from her flank.
Samuel. "The monkey tickles her senses, makes her want more," said our parson last Sunday night, exhorting that such ills soon end.
Ralph. Does he wish to kill the third part of his audience? Women bear more easily loss of parents, husband, child, than their soft couches. Let our mistress lip a serpent's egg or pastes of flies crushed together rather than pick unlawful fruit.
Samuel. That's my conclusion, too.- What is that noise? Our master cursing?
Ralph. A friend, on whom devils will smile during our final day.
Oliver. Fellow men, fellow sufferers, welcome me again. News spurt from my lungs.
Samuel. Welcome, sir.
Ralph. Welcome, sir, virtuously adherent to our master's excesses all the singing to London.
Oliver. Burning off both means and self. Our rooms were so quiet that I heard a pistol shot two doors from my own, blasting with holes three children, her mother's hopes, which, when she saw, dismissed herself as well.
Samuel. Fearful! I hear the parson say-
Oliver. Always the priest on his lips, first tasted in his chilhood, I believe.
Samuel. To spurn religion is a fearful thing,
Worse than a murder, murdering the soul
Oliver. Also a comely fashion among the younger crew, their ornament, a jewel in the ear of fashion, the only opinion of university students. We met a scholar, well mocked at first for his treatises among the flowers of the swelling school, who, in a week, quaffed fresher draughts of atheism, which made him shine so fitly that he put twenty women on their backs after meeting them at a single supper, friends of all kinds accruing so thickly that he pushed them off for air.
Ralph. I vouch for that story's veracity, Oliver being Sybil's son.
Samuel. More news?
Oliver. Not worth the shaking of your ears.
Samuel. We expect the load. Of London people we gladly hear, how sins make them more cheerful, the things for which eyes, ears, and nose strain for in pleasure, dogs following each other through the hoop.
Oliver. Below the sign of the bull, I saw a boy of five, scarred to the teeth with streaks. He spoke of moaning while his sister roasted his cat above the hearth, when in desperate hopes of prevention this sister of twelve fell on him in the shape of a wooden rod, blazing, whose sparks nearly blinded him. There the fuming sister stood, before his bleeding face, triumphing, beyond her years in cruelty, chortling with shaking of the midriff that would attract no surprise from a witch's, after thrashing him with strokes that seemed to fetch their strength from hell. Battered and amazed under such hands, his hair fell in the fire with the cat in a shriek of doom, from which only he drew forth with painful steps towards the street, where I found him, a pained devil, or suffering ghost, on whose every step follows pestilence and death.
Ralph. Amazement! Dead?
Oliver. As fresh on him as any life we bear.
Samuel. Did you discover the wee murderess?
Oliver. I saw her leave the house, her stick in hand,
With which she erewhile played the woman's role,
When, clutching for the strangest punishments,
I accidently poked her eye with it.
What came out of her mouth I shrink to tell.
The soundless terror rings about my dreams.
Ralph. Are we safe?
Samuel. How, when children murder?
Oliver. Tush. Do you think I would have told such a story unless I were safe from the parents' revenges? So, do you still hunger for the world?
Ralph. Was an unknowing fellow punished because of your deed?
Oliver. No, thinking each had set on the other, in sweetest silence father and mother heard the news. Some said a kind of terrified joy suffused their looks, whether from thrilling pains beyond their capacities, or considering nothing else could ever be the worst.
Samuel. My ears swill for such news in spite of charity.
Oliver. What of our mistress?
Ralph. You know her, Oliver.
Oliver. What sheets have warmed her lately?
Samuel. Not ours.
Ralph. Does the crossed antler guess at all her tricks?
Oliver. It is feared he does, or shrewdly suspects it.
Ralph. Some say he does not care.
Samuel. O, irrelegion! With a thousand oaths
He prophesies her death, but for the sake
Of form or habit.
Ralph. His curses are his meal.
Oliver. Fools lead themselves.
Ralph. Our mistress moans so for her love that cats
Mistake her for their own, and louder wail
For sharp contention.
Oliver. Meanwhile, the gallant keeps a wife, secretly hidden from our mistress' knowledge.
Samuel. Out of the eye of God and men.
Ralph. You jest.
Oliver. A hog in mire with two sows.
Samuel. Devils bless such unions.
Ralph. He is married?
Samuel. Yesternight he almost beat out the eggshell he calls brain, after she threw away some pipes that half chew away his lips.
Oliver. A thousand pointed daggers Yorkshire boast
Of may cross out the evil he does here.
Ralph. Not one word, Oliver and Samuel, lest our mistress' head, in fury spent, runs to the wall, since her sharp husband refuses to give her what she needs.
Samuel. She seeks a woman's peace, a rising piece
Of flesh to quiet her.
Ralph. It is much feared impatience will bring us
All hell with her.
Samuel. Yes, in the shape of lovers.
Ralph. Can our master continue so his life? No life but prisons spent in tears, no suit of grace but hiding prodigality of drink, with shame written on his forehead.
Oliver. His lands he sells to feed his vices, which even I little know of, his plate, his coins he drowns in wine-skins, his wife's jewels fall inside the pit of a drunkard's mouth.
Samuel. Is it possible? Should we already look for work elsewhere?
Oliver. Does he strive to make Yorkshire rich in whores,
Or to make all whores rich? That sturdiness
Almost always on seats of pillowed laps!
Samuel. Friends must detest his sight.
Ralph. His younger brother feeds on toads because of whoredom's generosity.
Oliver. Too well known, to his shame. Moreover, he
Owes more to men than what he owns in bones.
Samuel. Are harlots thrifty?
Ralph. The wife below them, not as she would wish,
Below the master.
Oliver. On our journey calling her a piece of dung kept in a jewel case, and filthier names I rarely put my tongue on.
Ralph. More noise? Him?
Lady Clutch. (within
Is he in?
Oliver. No, madam, not yet.
Lady Clutch. (within
Warn me of that.
Oliver. Yes, certainly, good madam.
Samuel. His sons do not escape his enmity.
Oliver. Move farther ahead to escape detection.
Ralph. He call them bastards to their heavy face.
Oliver. Ashamed such an unnatural bore them.
Ralph. He uses such terms as "the whore, the pimp,
And bastards" as a blessing during meals,
As casual and familiar as good day.
Samuel. Let us leave him.
Oliver. No, for the children, then, are sure to starve.
The dam knows man's trade only on her back,
Between the knees of curious knaves of hire,
The children shaking fruit-trees for their meals,
Unless performing the same business as
She does and could again perform at will.
Ralph. We wait on time.
Oliver. The whore- I mean our mistress.
Enter Lady Clutch
Lady Clutch. Not come, then? Playing still the man, with all
His shirt-tails bloody? I wash carelessness,
Though loathing vice, also forgetfulness,
For loyalty is virtuous. Say then, rogues,
Are you afraid to speak? Where is my love?
Oliver. Your husband in a brothel sleeps away
Excess, as fearfully as dice on palm.
No convocation of untrifty thieves
And luckless braggarts must he ever shun,
But in despite of nature heaves his breast
As cheerful as he can into the hands
Of fortune, torturing all his pursuits
By little, till the madcap freezes like
A soul asleep, much stricken and abused.
Lady Clutch. Ah, ah, damnation in a little box,
Which pitches him from any thought of worth.
Samuel. The worried pastor-
Lady Clutch. Away! No smooth religion in my ears
To tell of things which never can run straight!
Instead, stab both of them with distaff points.
Samuel. Your best hope.
Lady Clutch. My torment, hold! More of his witless chores
With dice and revels end than any yet
Last year. With ear of fire, repeat again
What you of such a monstrous husband hear.
Oliver. Your husband's meetings with both enemies
And friends are always spent in tossing pots,
With revelling to drown out virtuous ears
In flowing songs, his boastings at each hour
A neighbor legend, saying he stays flat
Awake while all the company fall off
On tiles of vomit, cesspools of their songs,
To quarrel, laugh, and monger is the stuff
Of men they know about, to dream with thoughts
Awake, to traffic in man's devilry,
To clap companions on the shoulder, quaff,
And surfeit, quaff again a second time,
With all of them, provided they bear mouths
To swill and tongues to curse.
Lady Clutch. You see how terribly I am abused.
Oliver. Who doubts your virtue?
Lady Clutch. Though virtue is an ass in such a case.
Beat women hard whenever they complain
Of husbands' wrongs, for do we not possess
The will and means to leave them when we should?
Oliver. Or else avenge yourself with other loves.
Lady Clutch. I charge you, clamp your lips with nails and screws.
Oliver. Who ever knew a prating pimp? Come, come,
I am your man, as everyone agrees.
Lady Clutch. Remember you are so, lest you become
No one at all.- Go, servants, to your tasks
Whenever this most cruel master comes.
Exeunt Samuel and Ralph
So open, fool? A babbler I detest.
Oliver. O, madam, why bites lips that make men swoon?
Lady Clutch. You bait me still.
Oliver. I sink in silence.
Lady Clutch. Vile polecat, do you sneer?
Oliver. You may not conjure me; I know your ways.
Lady Clutch. I will have you bound to your mother's corpse
If you but breathe against my chastity.
Cease all your loosely prating mummeries,
Lest thunder smoke you out where you are found.
Oliver. Ho, I am tamed.
Lady Clutch. Tongued ferret, peace. What if I choose to clasp
Some other love? I'll have him warm, if but
To vex my bold carouser in his cans,
In no wise enterprising where he should.
He kisses bowls of wine more often than
His wife: what marvel if I kiss elsewhere?
Oliver. No marvel, if you have a woman's crotch.
Lady Clutch. Rat-hound, clamp to. Lay patience on your lips,
Lest I decide to smack the devil from
His country mansion.- To our business next.
Say, did my husband buy the ring I want?
Oliver. What with his whoring, dicing, cardplaying,
He never found the time to think about
His long-faced wife.
Lady Clutch. Why did I marry? All my friends averred
Such unions are not worth our toenails when
We cut them off, although once grown on us.
Oliver. You'll cut off husband, too?
Lady Clutch. Hah? Keep below the hatches, swelling rat.
Oliver. What of the children?
Lady Clutch. Too true, I had almost forgotten them.
I stifle in these drudgeries, I pine.
Oliver. Rise, madam. Many other joys await.
Lady Clutch. Oh, no, let me but dive into the earth.
Oliver. How can a man permit his wife's train thus
To sweep the ground with dust and misery?
Lady Clutch. He throws me down to earth where dwell my thoughts.-
I hear his coach. On trenchers fix your mind,
When duty like a plague-sore rubs on me.
Oliver. I will, and not be slow in tarrying.
Exit Oliver and enter Master Clutch with papers in his hand
Lady Clutch. Ah, husband, will you stay till suppertime?-
Ha, are you well?- The meaning of this gloom?
Exit Master Clutch
O, gross! The viper hides his mood in weeds
For swifter striking.- My man, Oliver!
Oliver. Am I alive again?
Lady Clutch. No further jibes, but answer truthfully:
Is my life come? I'll surely despair
The whole night long should he but once miss out
His turn with me in bed.
Oliver. There are in houses secret passages,
A bed for more than one. I said before
A steward knows at all times what he knows.
Lady Clutch. But dare not breathe one word of it, unless
You wish that instant as your very last.
Oliver. The pleasure of deep whoring is in sleep,
Sweet, secret sleep, exactly as when we
Steal without being caught, our pillowcase.
Lady Clutch. Is it my husband's birthday? I think so.
Here are my savings for a husband's gift
To buy two pillows.
Oliver. Good. He will spend the day his mother groaned
Almost to the same use as her and you.
I'll pray for him wherever candles burn
As hot as he.
Lady Clutch. More often, if you wish that knave unsinged
After his death. Meanwhile, fetch me at once
My honey love, for such a husband no
Doubt plans to riot on his birthday night.
Oliver. I'll be your worker bee, sometimes aloft
With wax, not honey.
Lady Clutch. One or the other if you fly elsewhere.
Oliver. A worker bee cleans cells of detritus
From previous occupants.
Lady Clutch. So you arrange my bed, when Spruce departs
Before a drowsy husband staggers back.
Oliver. A worker bee builds alveolar cells
Of constant thickness for his treasure's store.
Lady Clutch. So you prepare my room when Spruce comes in.
Oliver. A worker bee is guardian of the hive.
Lady Clutch. To keep away strong insects from my store,
Our officers of law, adultery's
Dread, brushing them away with wings of force,
Or stinging them if once they creep within.
Oliver. I can do so.
Lady Clutch. Do so if you like gold more than your wax.
Exit Oliver and re-enter Master Clutch
Am I of glass? Does sunlight pass through me?
Master Clutch. A part of it, if we believe della Porta's refractions, the rest is blue at the base, red at the top, when your feet freeze and your face reddens.
Lady Clutch. What wife would not be aflame with such a husband?
Master Clutch. What do these shiftings mean? My man of trust
Possesses spurs to kick away his heels.
Is there a fire beside that guilty blush
Which gives the world a triple blazon that
You meditate adultery and sin?
Lady Clutch. I blush for you, suspecting innocents
When you sin earlier than most men awake,
Not pausing to salute your smiling wife
When passing by for papers.
Master Clutch. My papers fill our belly.
Lady Clutch. A thinner crust each day.
Master Clutch. Because of satin gowns unseemly cut
And spliced in many places, fit for whores.-
Why are you startled? Is the merest word
Enough to scare the guilty? Do not fret.
All's one for that and more, but, strained too far,
Remember my ten fingers, which press down
The scale on which you cheat.
Lady Clutch. Remembered on my cheeks too often still.
Master Clutch. Avoid my presence.
Lady Clutch. Should I be pushed away like cushioned seats?
Master Clutch. With prating never madden me today,
A woman's pride, but shame to any man.
Lady Clutch. What melancholy looks you cast about!
Is not all well in business?
Master Clutch. Yes,- no.- Is that your care? Another day
To fill our bellies nearly well enough:
Are you content?
Lady Clutch. Some fiend begins to snatch away your brain.
Master Clutch. Hell never can be peopled with such fiends
As we behold in Yorkshire. Go away.
Familiarity breeds security
When husbands know their wives.
Lady Clutch. Do not think wisdom breathes in you: this calm
Of violent melancholy is the perfect glass.
Master Clutch. If you once fail to please your husband's lust,
May putrid boils infect your busy loins.
Lady Clutch. Suspicion mars you. Papers everywhere
About to say what?
Master Clutch. A loss, dear wife, most of my pockets cut,
My wallet in a mire. Few things remain
Except to have my wife saw off my throat.
Lady Clutch. A devil leads your business acumen.
Master Clutch. Of lucre filched, bereft almost of life.-
What, tears? Out, out! You'll spoil my greasy coat.
Lady Clutch. What will we do?
Master Clutch. Still breathing, wife? Unlikely to last long.
Lady Clutch. Do you behold this world? How can a man
Born with your means so little money gain?
Master Clutch. Some do, some do not: reasoning on it
Irrelevant. Instead of thinking of
Investments, steal and kill: a better deal
In London business.
Lady Clutch. Is there no ample precedent at large
Of violent men by violent means pursued
Until our structure topples?- What, at last
My man in tears?
Master Clutch. But rest content it is no dew of blood,
Good medicine for what ails oftenest.
Samuel. Should the cook serve yet, madam?
Lady Clutch. My belly is already filled with griefs.
Master Clutch. Can she cook tasty poisons?
Samuel. Do you think God cannot look down, or fiends
Look up? Despair will sooner kill you, sir,
Than any loss of trivial merchandise.
Master Clutch. O, I am damned as certain as we speak.
Samuel. No, master, none, unless he dares to touch
The fingers of degenerate despair.
Lady Clutch. Off to your pots and handles!
Master Clutch. Damned, damned, for certain damned, no better fate,
A little more in sinking every day,
Until the devil pulls my beard to make
Lady Clutch. O, husband, cease this quailing.
Master Clutch. My terrors strike down flat the porcupines
Of commerce bristling up against my will,
So that all men investing with me fear
With me and let me go.
Lady Clutch. The dust on our graves covers all with grass.
Master Clutch. Philosophers sometimes kiss tongue to tongue
Your reasoning, spurned from my bosom still.
Lady Clutch. Who speaks of lovers? Do you see them near?
Master Clutch. Be careful: knives are sharp.
Lady Clutch. Away, strong guilt's suspicion! Say you lose
Investing, will you hazard all we have
On rolls of dice?
Master Clutch. If you suspect my judgment, I will rise
To tumble you, but not on beds of love.
O, poverty, we breathe on you again,
Pah! Pah! I scarcely bear my frame upright,
I lug the form of weeping carcasses,
Belonging to the tribe of market men
Who lose their money. Penury: a death
Is kinder than you are and frightens less.
A coinless man is nothing, wearied leaf
Spurned by November winds.
Lady Clutch. The saddened antic raves in autumn smoke.
Master Clutch. My mind has roses burning deep within,
All laws of nature blackly stifling in
Impossibilities of garden plots.
Lady Clutch. Peace, goat-head, peace.
Master Clutch. I will not lecher yet before your eyes,
But you will guess the thoughts of man anon,
The waiting long, the deed as sure as death.
I will arouse the earth with cries, surprise
Priests sleeping in church to their whorehouses
Until the nave cracks. No mute whining here!
Lady Clutch. Unsightly grief, where are you taking him?
Master Clutch. O, poverty! I stare you down at last,
Not with a hydra's head, but with my wife's.
The more I deal, the deeper is my grave,
Worms sounding out my name each night abed.
Lady Clutch. Your dire conclusion: not a coin, all drowned
In lechery and drink? If so, beware:
I'll be a female devil to you yet.
Master Clutch. You whisper death out of his sleep. No more.
We tread on grass with many holes in it.
All one, all trivial! But the very worst
Of ills myself inflicted on myself:
I have a wife, who still abhors my sight. (striking her
Lady Clutch. Ha! Ha! Where are my needles and your eyes?
Master Clutch. The locust singing in my gardenhouse!
Lady Clutch. In darkness, our unknowing hands arise
Against our very lives.
Master Clutch. Have you no lip to mend me? What worth springs
From branches when the root is rotting? Ha,
A marriage, sot? My eldest son must be
Either a rich thief or else a poor fool,
His patrimony lopped, next to garbage pails,
Or shavings of unlucky carpenters,
In famine's pinch, my second son the sport
Of rich men's beds, another one each day,
On whom they wipe themselves, my third, or turd,
Should he refuse to be the loathsome bawd
Of a lascivious duchess, I cannot
Love him again, for next term he should hang.
O, beggary! O, filth! How mean man is
Beneath your burdens!
Lady Clutch. A lousy loser and a beggar slave!
Master Clutch. The devil in his flesh out of the flames
Would scorn to be what I each day become.
Lady Clutch. Base, abject, carnal, filthy poverty!
Master Clutch. A maggot proudly bears more state than I.
Lady Clutch. On finding our fresh meat inside the grave,
Each starving worm will grimace on its piece.
Master Clutch. Love is our meat beneath the sun: within
A day, the beetles feed on maggot-pies,
The pulsing grey and juicy orange ones.
Lady Clutch. I'll give you jewels of my wedding-day.
Master Clutch. O, excellent! In what bin did my thoughts
Stray off? You have some money. Spill them here.
If you possess no more, I will please you
With what you least expect.
Lady Clutch. No more.
Master Clutch. I'll pound you in a cistern if you keep
Your money in a closet. Where is it?
Lady Clutch. No more.
Master Clutch. Send for your uncle, who has more and more.
Lady Clutch. Must your wife beg?
Master Clutch. Yes, vehemently, shamefully, for coins
Are what I am turned to, without which
I am a kind of nothing wanting more.
Lady Clutch. Man's reason warps before unpainted walls.
Master Clutch. Throw reason to your cat: it cannot feed
A man, a woman, and three shrinking sons.
My mortage buried, debts up to the lips,
My promises of money like caught flies
Awaiting on their web for spider laws,
What more than manly brain can fabricate
To get more money not thought out as yet?
Lady Clutch. I blush to share your bed.
Master Clutch. That sharing comes well in. You share my bed
With strangers few hear of. What winds blow me?
I must be pleasant to this wife for once
If I need money. I will please you, dear.
Lady Clutch. A pleasant pill that eats my brain away.
Master Clutch. I vow by all the stars that vomited
On my nativity, that never more
I'll shake the sheets with you, or muss your hair
With sighing if your hands by the next moon
Bear not my life on them, some silver, gold,
Or anything we barter with. To it
With hopping speed! I have not jested yet
This year, and we are in September. I
Last laughed when my sick father heaved at last
His suffering ghost, though I loved him well.
Lady Clutch. A wife is yours, so long as husbands keep
Her always warm in bed.
Master Clutch. A lovely union! Friends do not believe
My weighty maxim: man's for woman made,
For she deserves no better. Come to bed:
We'll seal this novel pact with heated blood.
Exeunt Master Clutch and Lady Clutch
Act 1. Scene 2. Calvary Hall
Enter Oliver and Ralph
Ralph. Why did she strike you?
Oliver. For being too quick in guiding her lover inside the house.
Ralph. Because the husband stayed.
Oliver. How could I know?
Ralph. Well served, bad bawd.
Oliver. It was a bad good idea.
Exeunt Oliver and Ralph