Act 1. Scene 1. The earl's palace
Enter two citizens
1 Citizen. The outcome may prove bloody.
2 Citizen. As sometimes said, whoever displeases the state is liable to draw wondrous terrors on his head.
1 Citizen. My experience on our country's manners forbids me to interpret rumors otherwise.
2 Citizen. It is feared that the people's will, a floodgate opening to whatever please the million, will sap the goodly root that makes the million live, together with all fruit-wisdoms neither they nor we can chew on.
1 Citizen. I often hear that windy title, liberty, blown through the robes of strictest tyrants. Though atoms in aptitude, that one word makes them Typhons.
Enter two counsellors
2 Citizen. Our counsellors shuffle. Have you no word to gloze them with?
1 Citizen. None, except what housewives speak of in their duller soap-hours: men who always follow the earl's weathercock, though spinning to their father's dishonor, men who flatter, Olympic at it.
2 Citizen. Feeding on the bran of vagaries in liberty and state promotion. With such clouds, counsellors consider that their country is excellently served.
1 Citizen. Dull satin nozzles! Behold how trimly they sweep the large earl's chair of state, complete with the king's gift-showers. One would think it had lain at least one month in cellar damps among declining derelicts.
2 Citizen. Pests on their officialdom! You'll find them before their motley tumblers highly flattering the low mob, pronouncing that the sort of democracy prevailing among us, as they understand it, wings towards high heaven, nearly blessed, and that those traitors- so they term their betters- who, in throes of industry, labor for themselves alone, come the state what will, should be on the townhall pole strung up as so many beanstalks.
1 Citizen. The throng is mighty in their thoughts. By Solon, they would have state-laws wound tighter around our necks, all for the service of the meaner folk.
2 Citizen. His earldom comes.
Enter the earl of Somerset
1 Citizen. Hear tyranny, blown in his wind, speak of his enemies, I mean any who does not please him. When the king's fire blows his glassy honors, he gets bigger as we speak.
2 Citizen. State-grooms who obtain from him revenues, not the crowing commonality, will agree with him.
1 Citizen. I'll look through crutches until I hear better words.
2 Citizen. I hope I die before. The honey-earl, the king's shepherd-friend in bedchambers, lifts himself as if he ready to pipe.
1 Citizen. Let us retire farther back for more security, while counsellors of state shoot bullet-holes through our eyes.
Somerset. Advance, good citizens. Your business done
Amid our larders and our kitchens, hear
What we decree to please all people well.
1 Citizen. We thank your grace.
Somerset. The state concerns us nearly. Never doubt
Our thoughts are always to the people knit,
Their will like ours. Of what use is the state
If not maintained for general welfare?
It is much breathed over greasiest boards-
Mere gossip knowledge- that all murderers,
The plunderers of state- as who offends
Our grimiest subjects but is not proclaimed
A foe to government?- have grown of late
To monstrous shapes, and therefore to be trimmed
By ropes of statecraft: so they will, and hard.
A murder we account an act of blood
With blood to be repressed. Name only one
Who in the sight of his own children slain,
Of friends, of uncles butchered, or else of
His wife's remains bestrewn piecemeal in trash,
Has not run mad, to live part-time, in hope
Of sapping blood from him who thieved and killed,
Who violated and cut off, and this
With knowledge of the punishments reserved
When followed on the heel of capture. "Ha,"
Some may exclaim, "what penance is reserved,
Our laws so pygmy weak?" Heed our design:
Our newest course of law we here decree
The gravest and the bloodiest towards these:
No scorner of man's life, let him be high
Within our love, or lowest laborer
Who with his heavy footsteps raises dust,
No man-reviler will escape, but bleed,
And that more cunningly. Enough on this.
1 Counsellor. Most worthy is the proclamation!
2 Counsellor. A Solomon's, alive among the great!
1 Citizen. (to 2 Citizen
Am I no prophet on the words of fools?
2 Citizen. Isaiah day or night!
1 Counsellor. I cannot wag as tongue of all men's thoughts
Concerning these decrees, yet for my part
We hear a royal message in these words.
All good men are amazed and nearly swoon
In fear each night, with prayers that the cross
Of open pillage and remorseless deaths
Will be delivered from our country's neck:
So British-brutish murders, in fears spent,
Become a worm, not snakes beneath our steps.
2 Counsellor. I think I speak for all good men: there is
No worse ignominy than common racks
That separate men's bones from duty, yet
Much more can be invented: cauldrons dipped
In hell, man-made, reserved for only them.
These recent murders, not of one hand's birth,
Indoctrinate all virtues into sickliness.
My lord the earl, with wisdom heeding well
Complaints of groaning subjects, whose fair wives
And sons have met with death, compassionates,
So that the ambidextrous fiend who cuts
With either hand, with more than death will be
Requited cruelly, and many more.
Thus justice resonates through common mouths
With one complete entire voice, filled with saws
Of generations past and present, thus
We kill to spare loved ones from killing, cut
The hand that will not hold before it kills
Us all entirely, and thereby raise
A wind unwitched, to swell prosperity
On billows of state-sails in swiftest course,
Thus ending terrors of the night, or death
In many secret conclaves.
1 Counsellor. It is the death of terror, not itself,
Our subjects' love, our country's farthest hope,
Which all good men applaud with hands of love.
Somerset. I thank your voices. By our potency,
It will be common law, well ratified,
As if created with a single voice.
He who lifts bloody hands against his own-
Are we not all our own?- will die at once,
Too bloodily. Let us remove ourselves
To revels, all our weary cares bobbed down,
To drink more fondly on the love we bear
Our subjects, worthy of our every toil.
2 Counsellor. With joy we will embrace this offered cheer.
Exeunt the earl and the second counsellor
Counsellor 1. So, sir, we can agree?
Exit the first counsellor
1 Citizen. You see how citizens, much needed here,
Should come to witness every day such news.
2 Citizen. To quaff at least.
Exeunt the two citizens
Act 1. Scene 2. A street
Enter Jeremy and Jeremina
Jeremy. One may be of two minds regarding the earl's declarations.- Do you heed, daughter?
Jeremina. The ear as daughter to a father's tongue.
Jeremy. On one side excessive though sometimes deserving cruelty, feeding on her own brood, the hands of death as reversed glasses of creating light, crushing injustice with her bloodiest fruit, on the other lenity, forgiveness, patience, teeming grounds of creation's garden. The wicked in state-made engines restrain lives, to the sweaty post, the bed of straw, the final pit, to fashion us according to dictates of those in power.
Jeremina. Such murderous punishments are a way to heat our engines up. When the condemned hang, their progeny uses the same rope to choke us.
Jeremy. True. Death's variety can never be circumscribed. She wears a motley coat, never fashioned from one piece of cloth, and we, poor man, poor woman, must try them all.
Jeremina. Over our head death hovers- no, flies everywhere. Our wretchedness draws her speeding on like Mercury, who should be pounded in lead otherwise.
Jeremy. Death is everything to us: sometimes a friend to soothe despair, the medicine to any injury, the fire consuming enemies, to make us sing in misery, our laughing echo in remote caves, when pounding our heads on stalactites and stubbing our toes on stalagmites, in a dream delivering us from sleep, the only sound of joy at midnight, our one sun, though belabored by the sweep of clouds and winds of lusts, a banquet arresting looseness to make us tame, a night that, like a bracelet, takes our dreams in hand, fit for what awaits us.
Jeremina. All good. I have heard it all, yet, uncloyed, would hear it all again.
Jeremy. Death is also a midwife, by whose hands we are delivered to eternity, yet there is a black thing preventing us to take wing thereto: murder in our thoughts. Do you hear that word in your dreams at night? Confess, if you do, and then conceive and embrace a witttier engine for our flight.
Jeremina. Never, father, for she yields for our meals a double fork, killing my enemy and me.
Jeremy. Virtue's daughter, not mine! I was defrocked because of your allurements, but no matter now. Never yield to death's cloud-visions. Though apparent to the sun's glory, yet when affliction frowns like the magistrate who discovers us, eager flames dance around the guilty, from which punishment a viper rises, able to mangle blood and brood, leaving us with many hearts environed in flames, to close misdeeds in torment.
Jeremina. I believe so. Lash me with tongues of steel, let my young bones freeze under the curate's breath, curse me with restraint doubly portcullisied, with terrors our worse prisons afford, yet, against that one word, I stand secure, on a rack the miracle of patience.
Jeremy. Safe enough, I hope. Nevertheless, I carry an antidote against the black ointment, which on our blistered soul seems like a remedy but proves a scorpion. Mark well: our book of hell sighs with lungs swollen in blood for man or woman cursed with his brother's murder, our first damnation, for whose deed hell gapes widely with a full mouth.
Jeremina. I tremble at each letter.
Jeremy. Quake and stammer, lest you become that sorcerer's love-maiden.
Jeremina. Never. I am the fool of shadows when beggarly fears attend me.
Jeremy. A sound creed. A woman who murders engenders Cain's brood.
Jeremina. A horrible gourd of faith to drink from!
Jeremy. Clasp the book closely on either rising teat. Say that our demon, love, whispers in a fond woman's dream: "hack your bedfellow, love another." That heeded to and performed, what follows? From the legs of concupiscence springs the infant, wrath, kicking at remonstrances, one who will grow with you, your hairs against his, stronger each month, puny to be made readier. Then tell: will you milk such a child, or starve him in cellars? Your spirit's essence is snuffed out otherwise. From our blood fire rises, whose tongue licks wantonly. Will you feed the flame with trash? Pleasure's nostrils will be wearied, then, the mouth filled with a whirlwind of curses hourly forever after: for infidels no rest but rather sleep's perdition, to hug damnation like their pillow.
Jeremina. More whips of warning on my reddened ears!
Jeremy. We'll gobble apple peels tomorrow morn,
With scruggs of orange in a syrup to
Amuse ourselves with sermons without priests.
Jeremina. The daily nourishment I hourly take
And will expect!
Exeunt Jeremy and Jeremina
Act 1. Scene 3. Brewen's house
Enter Amaryll and Trencher
Amaryll. You make a slave of me with trencher tales.
Trencher. Too true.
Amaryll. Debauchery is tame, to be forgiven?
Trencher. I hear he is.
Amaryll. Sooner will the world turn honest than our master repent. It is more than a woman's nature to believe it. What does our Spaniard, the serving puff-piece, say to this?
Trencher. He talks, gaping, a moon-man, refusing to play with the ears of reason, like a man with a tiger-whelp when the dam is nearby.
Amaryll. That mathematician of men's lives is excellent at errors.
Trencher. Who can credit our master's grown virtuous?
Amaryll. Those who have an interest in it, his trencher-master, his steward of vice, his goblet-stooper in noisy carousings.
Trencher. The Spaniard melts his marrow with liquid hell.
Amaryll. His villainy admitted and confessed- for to his credit he answers to the name of vile subjugator- though sometimes shriving, he usually excites him to worse sinning, a blower-up of looseness marring our master's manhood with gimlets, he all the while in blessed white with Easter flowers, full of salutary benevolence towards one sinking in subterranean pleasures.
Trencher. No Spaniard but the compendium of vices in all nations.
Amaryll. Pouring powders on credulity, whispering perfumes of fealty, greeting our enemies with the same friendship as our friends, like priests convincing us to virtue for our harm.
Trencher. He'll stagger with a count, to prove he smiles amid fellows.
Amaryll. To cheat him of his tumblers.
Trencher. To ponder on his ruin.
Amaryll. To stab him with his own golden poniard.
Trencher. To lick his fingers as he dies.
Amaryll. Here, our improvement.
Fernando. Will you draw water? Our master chafes.
Trencher. Are you not the measle on his pleasures?
Amaryll. Which he should scratch away?
Fernando. "Sooner will the sun relinquish his spots, should the Tuscanian be believed," says our master, "than I my iniquities."
Amaryll. Yet he smiles now against our mistress.
Fernando. To drop his nose in bottles more pleasantly before she begins to fume.
Trencher. One brothel-keeper scorns another.
Fernando. I hope I may not be charged as woman's foulest abuser if I pronounce our mistress the primest whore in this parish. If confirmed, why should not the master's eleventh finger do elsewhere?
Amaryll. While carving his meat, you pronounce "duty", "fame", "honor", which he regards as atheists the credo.
Fernando. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan one.
Trencher. More golden coins to grace your silver age.
Fernando. Beneath heaven's watchful eye.
Amaryll. But who will support decaying limbs of old men's lusts half spent?
Fernando. Fatal hour-glass, is not your hole too large to prognosticate?
Amaryll. Out, rascally varlet slave! Never speak of holes you'll never see.
Fernando. No, she prefers to use them than speak of them. It is that rotted hair-spinner, our mistress, who teaches you this woman's chiding sport. Who else but she barks at our master, maddens him when his head falls on his plate of olives, full of tomcat suggestions in another's bed? So news pour into my ears while I suck on eggs each morning.
Amaryll. What she does in lacking, he does in augmenting.
Trencher. Man preys, awaiting no ceremony. If left unattended, he imposes his will before she bemoans her sex, a cat with meat while the moon shines through his ribs. I have seen such men.
Amaryll. Men rise when women fall.
Fernando. When women rise, I let my master fall
On them. He bears the heavier purse, I know.
Amaryll. Scorning jackal!
Fernando. Pleasant punishment, do not make me angrier.
Amaryll. Is woman man's pleasant punishment? What are you, guzzler's groom, hell in a little box, Charon without his boat, dredging in mud, blot of your sex, to carry our master to hell? You and him by scalding treatments dried off, grasshoppers in the August sun! Schoolboys copying your vices become grandfathers.
Fernando. Have you no end, mouth-piece? How can your tongue serve a husband at night if you wear it out by day?
Trencher. I'll serve you, pepper-box of railing.
Fernando. See how your wife, that sobbing rainbow, stares at a man with scorn, her lips a plague-sore red, Satan's work, eyelids: blue- pockmarks are sweeter- then her yellow-green-tawny-prune complexion, cream to make cats vomit, brows: black, two beggars dying next to each other.
Trencher. On you we already notice the beginning of evil before the bones crack, brows limned with melancholy, lust's mirror and sign of aging atheism, flat with lechery's decay, cheeks blown like a cur's infected bladder, with yellow about the eyes and brackish chins, prologue to insipid age in moth-eaten woolcases, smiles like daggers cutting through wrinkled paper, chops like bagpipes, wheezing as the wind bestirs from that dying furnace, your lungs, when retching at the urinal.
Amaryll. Here comes the declining lecher and his mare, bearing him asleep to hell.
Fernando. Water, I say.
Trencher. Not cool enough to calm the man's desires.
Exeunt Amaryll and Trencher, enter John and Anne from separate doors
John. We meet in softer terms than heretofore.
Anne. I hope we will.
John. Is that likely? You are still yourself.
Anne. And you, I thought, a caterpillar transformed.
John. Will we have water?
No vision you once hoped to know about.
Anne. A marriage like the fleeting pleasures in
The cell of a forgotten dungeon!
John. Your chiding makes me thirsty. (drinking
Anne. Breathing makes you thirsty.
John. I know my bottles better: perfumed drink.
Anne. Little else.
John. Why do I drink? So soon forgotten? Have
I not most often promised to amend?
Alas, remorses make me thirsty, too. (drinking
Anne. Ha, pigeon-hearted meekness to your glass,
Strong in wife-beatings, whose throat is all fire,
Consuming soggy vitals, though the loins
Undrillably hard crusts of Arctic ice.
John. What have I not suffered? What with my lechery, midday revellings, lascivious talk and pell-mell mayhem, you leave little room for swelling vice to enter. How may I pay loathsomeness back with so mild a disposition?
Anne. I'll think on it.
John. Here is what makes thinkers unthink. (drinking
Anne. Ingredients to make bears stagger.
John. Hee! Hee! I hope I may be forgiven.
Anne. Do you sometimes reflect I am your wife?
John. Even dead bitches shows their teeth.
Anne. All vessels of forgiveness I have drunk
John. And I the rest.
Anne. Think on it.
John. Who knows a better wife? I hear of none.
Anne. I will no more instruct a baby's ear
With Pappus' theorem of hexagons.
John. Hee! Hee! Hee! What a brain I drown asleep!
Do we have salted bits? But yet I know
Worse sins, worse outcomes: whoring, that.
Anne. Tongue-loose brawler! You speak of me to me?
John. When have I not since first we hooped our fingers in thraldom before church-bell echoes died? My memory is no buried peach yet.
Anne. I remember marriage.
John. To others: meat; the bone to struggle with
Alone for me.
Anne. Convoluted sea-snake!
John. Swine acorn-leavings!
Anne. Which you revel to suck on after drinking.
John. I know my bottles better: perfumed drink. (drinking
When pangs make all my veins swell, slippery
And variable you often prove, the fruit
Of love you give to barbers, leaving me
With hair to play with.
Anne. Half-eaten apple, canker, stale half-thing!
John. I weep, but water I as soon restore. (drinking
Anne. Each bottle is your second mouth. But yet
My shirt will not be ruffled on this night.
John. If you once dare to shake about the ears,
Anne. What, slave?
John. Let me expound on that later.
Anne. Miraculous scholar!
John. Why was I not buried after the ceremony?
Anne. A razor on that tongue!
John. Bugs on the manhood of your dalliers!
Vile woman, on our mouth and swinish glands
You clog us till we die.
Anne. Particular friends do a husband's right
Of office all day long.
John. Who can say this and smile?
Anne. I hope my mother taught me better, slave.
John. Good. I cannot be madder, then.
Anne. Or wiser.
John. A thousand husbands roar approval if
A thousand times I hit your face and breasts.
Anne. This will be answered.
John. I have gall enough. Gall I possess, though bitter: am I not of woman's flesh?
Anne. Know mine instead.
John. The muckhill of the world.
Anne. Replaced by what? How swine swim in their own filth!
John. I'll be with you anon, after kissing.
Anne. True, after kissing streaming urinals.
Fernando. His water.
Anne. I have a friend who brings a kiss of life
To woman. Kissing is the all in all
Of that man's trade. I'll wrap myself around
Insisting knees, though some call him the rag
On which a hurried woman wipes herself,
But yet more pleasing than a husband's snore.
The idle slumbers of a drunkard slave!
His dream's his poison, but for me a dram
Of poison is my dream, to put to sleep
With my own hands, with my own hands quite soon,
Which teeth of dragons cannot hold away,
A woman's art, in which you will be asked
To help deceive.
Fernando. If I must, willingly.
Exeunt Anne and Fernando