SCENE I. [Before Tapwell's hoyse]

[Enter] WELLBORN [in tattered apparel,] TAPWELL, and FROTH


NO BOUSE?〖Booze, drink.〗 nor no tobacco?

Tap. Not a suck, sir;

Nor the remainder of a single can

Left by a drunken porter, all night pall'd〖Staled.〗 too.

Froth. Not the dropping of the tap for your morning's draught, sir:

'Tis verity, I assure you.

Well. Verity, you brache!〖Hound.〗

The devil turn'd precisian!〖Puritan.〗 Rogue, what am I?

Tap. Troth, durst I trust you with a looking-glass,

To let you see your trim shape, you would quit me

And take the name yourself.

Well. How, dog!

Tap. Even so, sir.

And I must tell you, if you but advance

Your Plymouth cloak〖Cudgel.〗 you shall be soon instructed

There dwells, and within call, if it please your worship,

A potent monarch call'd the constable,

That does command a citadel called the stocks;

Whose guards are certain files of rusty billmen

Such as with great dexterity will hale

Your tatter'd, lousy——

Well. Rascal! slave!

Froth. No rage, sir.

Tap. At his own peril. Do not put yourself

In too much heat, there being no water near

To quench your thirst; and sure, for other liquor,

As mighty ale, or beer, they are things, I take it,

You must no more remember; not in a dream, sir.

Well. Why, thou unthankful villain, dar'st thou talk thus!

Is not thy house, and all thou hast, my gift?

Tap. I find it not in chalk; and Timothy Tapwell

Does keep no other register.

Well. Am not I he

Whose riots fed and cloth'd thee? Wert thou not

Born on my father's land, and proud to be

A drudge in his house?

Tap. What I was, sir, it skills〖Matters.〗 not;

What you are, is apparent. Now, for a farewell,

Since you talk of father, in my hope it will torment you,

I'll briefly tell your story. Your dead father,

My quondam master, was a man of worship,

Old Sir John Wellborn, justice of peace and quorum,〖A select number of the more learned justices, whose presence was necessary to constitute the bench.〗

And stood fair to be custos rotulorum;〖Keeper of the county records.〗

Bore the whole sway of the shire, kept a great house,

Reliev'd the poor, and so forth; but he dying,

And the twelve hundred a year coming to you,

Late Master Francis, but now forlorn Wellborn——

Well. Slave, stop! or I shall lose myself.

Froth. Very hardly:

You cannot out of your way.

Tap. But to my story:

You were then a lord of acres, the prime gallant,

And I your under-butler. Note the change now;

You had a merry time of't: hawks and hounds,

With choice of running horses; mistresses

Of all sorts and all sizes, yet so hot,

As their embraces made your lordship melt;

Which your uncle, Sir Giles Overreach, observing,

(Resolving not to lose a drop of them,)

On foolish mortgages, statutes, and bonds,

For a while suppli'd your looseness, and then left you.

Well. Some curate hath penn'd this invective, mongrel.

And you have studied it.

Tap. I have not done yet.

Your land gone, and your credit not worth a token

You grew a common borrower; no man scap'd

Your paper-pellets,〖Acknowledgments of indebtedness.〗 from the gentleman

To the beggars on highways, that sold you switches

In your gallantry.

Well. I shall switch your brains out.

Tap. Where poor Tim Tapwell, with a little stock,

Some forty pounds or so, bought a small cottage;

Humbled myself to marriage with my Froth here,

Gave entertainment——

Well. Yes, to whores and canters,〖Whining beggars.〗

Clubbers by night.

Tap. True, but they brought in profit,

And had a gift to pay for what they call'd for,

And stuck not like your mastership. The poor income

I glean'd from them hath made me in my parish

Thought worthy to be scavenger, and in time

I may rise to be overseer of the poor;

Which if I do, on your petition, Wellborn,

I may allow you thirteen-pence a quarter.

And you shall thank my worship.

Well. Thus, you dog-bolt,

And thus—— Beats and kicks him.

Tap. [to his wife.] Cry out for help!

Well. Stir, and thou diest:

Your potent prince, the constable, shall not save you.

Hear me ungrateful hell-hound! Did not I

Make purses for you? Then you lick'd my boots,

And thought your holiday cloak too coarse to clean them.

'Twas I that, when I heard thee swear if ever

Thou couldst arrive at forty pounds thou wouldst

Live like an emperor, 'twas I that gave it

In ready gold. Deny this, wretch!

Tap. I must, sir;

For, from the tavern to the taphouse, all,

On forfeiture of their licenses, stand bound

Ne'er to remember who their best guests were,

If they grew poor like you.

Well. They are well rewarded

That beggar themselves to make such cuckolds rich.

Thou viper, thankless viper! impudent bawd!—

But since you are grown forgetful, I will help

Your memory, and tread you into mortar,

Nor leave one bone unbroken. [Beats him again.]

Tap. Oh!

Froth. Ask mercy.


Well. 'Twill not be granted.

All. Hold—for my sake, hold.

Deny me, Frank? They are not worth your anger.

Well. For once thou hast redeem'd them from this sceptre;〖l. e., his cudgel.〗

But let 'em vanish, creeping on their knees,

And, if they grumble, I revoke my pardon.

Froth. This comes of your prating, husband; you presum'd

On your ambling wit, and must use your glib tongue,

Though you are beaten lame for't.

Tap. Patience, Froth;

There's law to cure our bruises.

They go off on their hands and knees.

Well. Sent to your mother?

All. My lady, Frank, my patroness, my all!

She's such a mourner for my father's death,

And, in her love to him, so favours me,

That I cannot pay too much observance to her.

There are few such stepdames.

Well. 'Tis a noble widow,

And keeps her reputation pure, and clear

From the least taint of infamy; her life,

With the splendour of her actions, leaves no tongue

To envy or detraction. Prithee tell me,

Has she no suitors?

All. Even the best of the shire, Frank,

My lord excepted; such as sue and send,

And send and sue again, but to no purpose;

Their frequent visits have not gain'd her presence.

Yet she's so far from sullenness and pride,

That I dare undertake you shall meet from her

A liberal entertainment. I can give you

A catalogue of her suitors' names.

Well. Forbear it,

While I give you good counsel: I am bound to it.

Thy father was my friend, and that affection

I bore to him, in right descends to thee;

Thou art a handsome and a hopeful youth,

Nor will I have the least affront stick on thee,

If I with any danger can prevent it.

All. I thank your noble care; but, pray you, in what

Do I run the hazard?

Well. Art thou not in love?

Put it not off with wonder.

All. In love, at my years!

Well. You think you walk in clouds, but are transparent.

I have heard all, and the choice that you have made,

And, with my finger, can point out the north star

By which the loadstone of your folly's guided;

And, to confirm this true, what think you of

Fair Margaret, the only child and heir

Of Cormorant Overreach? Does it blush and start,

To hear her only nam'd? Blush at your want

Of wit and reason.

All. You are too bitter, sir.

Well. Wounds of this nature are not to be cur'd

With balms, but corrosives. I must be plain:

Art thou scarce manumis'd〖Freed.〗 from the porter's lodge〖Where servants used to be punished.〗

And yet sworn servant to the pantofle,〖Slipper.〗

And dar'st thou dream of marriage? I fear

'Twill be concluded for impossible

That there is now, or e'er shall be hereafter,

A handsome page or player's boy of fourteen

But either loves a wench, or drabs love him;

Court-waiters not exempted.

All. This is madness.

Howe'er you have discover'd my intents,

You know my aims are lawful; and if ever

The queen of flowers, the glory of the spring,

The sweetest comfort to our smell, the rose,

Sprang from an envious briar, I may infer

There's such disparity in their conditions

Between the goodness of my soul, the daughter,

And the base churl her father.

Well. Grant this true,

As I believe it, canst thou ever hope

To enjoy a quiet bed with her whose father

Ruin'd thy state?

All. And yours too.

Well. I confess it;

True; I must tell you as a friend, and freely,

That, where impossibilities are apparent,

'Tis indiscretion to nourish hopes.

Canst thou imagine (let not self-love blind thee)

That Sir Giles Overreach, that, to make her great

In swelling titles, without touch of conscience

Will cut his neighbour's throat, and I hope his own too,

Will e'er consent to make her thine? Give o'er,

And think of some course suitable to thy rank,

And prosper in it.

All. You have well advis'd me.

But in the mean time you that are so studious

Of my affairs wholly neglect your own.

Remember yourself, and in what plight you are.

Well. No matter, no matter.

All. Yes, 'tis much material.

You know my fortune and my means; yet something

I can spare from myself to help your wants.

Well. How's this?

All. Nay, be not angry; there's eight pieces

To put you in better fashion.

Well. Money from thee!

From a boy! A stipendiary! One that lives

At the devotion of a stepmother

And the uncertain favour of a lord!

I'll eat my arms first. Howsoe'er blind Fortune

Hath spent the utmost of her malice on me—

Though I am vomited out of an alehouse,

And thus accoutred—know not where to eat,

Or drink, or sleep, but underneath this canopy〖l. e., the sky.〗

Although I thank thee, I despise thy offer;

And as I in my madness broke my state

Without th' assistance of another's brain,

In my right wits I'll piece it; at the worst,

Die thus and be forgotten.

All. A strange humour! Exeunt.

All Directories