Internet Shakespeare Editions

Become a FriendSign in

About this text

  • Title: Everyman In His Humor (Modern)
  • Editor: David Bevington

  • Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Ben Jonson
    Editor: David Bevington
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Everyman In His Humor (Modern)

    480[Enter Thorello, Giuliano, [and] Piso.
    Piso, come hither. There lies a note within upon my desk; here, take my key. It's no matter, neither. Where's the boy?
    Within, sir, in the warehouse
    Let him tell over that Spanish gold and weigh it. And do you see the delivery of those wares to Signor Bentivole. I'll be there 485myself at the receipt of the money anon.
    Very good, sir.
    Exit Piso.
    Brother, did you see that same fellow there?
    Ay, what of him?
    He is e'en the honestest faithful servant that is this day 490in Florence -- I speak a proud word now -- and one that I durst trust my life into his hands, I have so strong opinion of his love, if need were.
    God send me never such need! But you said you had somewhat to tell me. What is't?
    Faith, brother, I am loath to utter it,
    495As fearing to abuse your patience,
    But that I know your judgment more direct,
    Able to sway the nearest of affection --
    Come, come, what needs this circumstance?
    I will not say what honor I ascribe
    500Unto your friendship, nor in what dear state
    I hold your love; let my continued zeal,
    The constant and religious regard
    That I have ever carried to your name,
    My carriage with your sister, all contest
    505How much I stand affected to your house.
    You are too tedious. Come to the matter, come to the matter.
    Then, without further ceremony, thus:
    My brother Prospero, I know not how,
    Of late is much declined from what he was
    510And greatly altered in his disposition.
    When he came first to lodge here in my house,
    Ne'er trust me if I was not proud of him.
    Methought he bare himself with such observance,
    So true election, and so fair a form,
    515And -- what was chief -- it showed not borrowed in him,
    But all he did became him as his own,
    And seemed as perfect, proper, and innate
    Unto the mind as color to the blood.
    But now his course is so irregular,
    520So loose affected and deprived of grace,
    And he himself withal so far fall'n off
    From his first place, that scarce no note remains
    To tell men's judgments where he lately stood.
    He's grown a stranger to all due respect,
    525Forgetful of his friends, and, not content
    To stale himself in all societies,
    He makes my house as common as a mart,
    A theater, a public receptacle
    For giddy humor and diseasd riot.
    530And there, as in a tavern or a stews,
    He and his wild associates spend their hours
    In repetition of lascivious jests,
    Swear, leap, and dance, and revel night by night,
    Control my servants, and indeed what not?
    Faith, I know not what I should say to him. So God save me, I am e'en at my wit's end. I have told him enough, one would think, if that would serve. Well, he knows what to trust to for me. Let him spend, and spend, and domineer till his heart ache. An he get a penny more of me, I'll give him this ear.
    Nay, good brother, have patience.
    'Sblood, he mads me! I could eat my very flesh for anger. I mar'l you will not tell him of it, how he disquiets your house.
    Oh, there are divers reasons to dissuade me.
    But, would yourself vouchsafe to travail in it,
    545Though but with plain and easy circumstance,
    It would both come much better to his sense
    And savor less of grief and discontent.
    You are his elder brother, and that title
    Confirms and warrants your authority,
    550Which, seconded by your aspect, will breed
    A kind of duty in him and regard;
    Whereas if I should intimate the least,
    It would but add contempt to his neglect,
    Heap worse on ill, rear a huge pile of hate,
    555That in the building would come tott'ring down
    And in her ruins bury all our love.
    Nay, more than this, brother: if I should speak,
    He would be ready in the heat of passion
    To fill the ears of his familiars
    560With oft reporting to them what disgrace
    And gross disparagement I had proposed him;
    And then would they straight back him in opinion,
    Make some loose comment upon every word,
    And out of their distracted fantasies
    565Contrive some slander that should dwell with me.
    And what would that be, think you? Marry, this:
    They would give out, because my wife is fair,
    Myself but lately married, and my sister
    Here sojourning a virgin in my house,
    570That I were jealous. Nay, as sure as death,
    Thus they would say; and how that I had wronged
    My brother purposely, thereby to find
    An apt pretext to banish them my house.
    Mass, perhaps so.
    Brother, they would, believe it. So should I,
    Like one of these penurious quacksalvers,
    But try experiments upon myself,
    Open the gates unto mine own disgrace,
    Lend bare-ribbed Envy opportunity
    580To stab my reputation and good name.
    [Enter Bobadilla and Matheo.
    [To Bobadilla] I will speak to him.
    [To Matheo] Speak to him? Away, by the life of Pharaoh! You shall not, you shall not do him that grace. [To Thorello] The time 585of day to you, gentleman. Is Signor Prospero stirring?
    How then? What should he do?
    [Ignoring Giuliano] Signor Thorello, is he within, sir?
    He came not to his lodging tonight, sir, I assure you.
    [To Bobadilla] Why, do you hear? You!
    This gentleman hath satisfied me. I'll talk to no scavenger. [He starts to leave.]
    How, "scavenger"? Stay, sir, stay!
    Exeunt [Bobadilla and Matheo].
    [Restraining him] Nay, brother Giuliano.
    'Sblood, stand you away, an you love me!
    You shall not follow him now, I pray you. Good faith, you shall not.
    Ha! "Scavenger"? Well, go to. I say little, but by this good day - God forgive me I should swear -- if I put it up so, say I am the rankest -- that ever pissed! 'Sblood, an I swallow this, I'll ne'er draw my sword in the sight of man again 600while I live. I'll sit in a barn with Madge Owlet first. "Scavenger"? Heart, and I'll go near to fill that huge tumbrel slop of yours with somewhat, an I have good luck; your Gargantua breech cannot carry it away so.
    Oh, do not fret yourself thus! Never think on't.
    These are my brother's consorts, these! These are his cumrades, his 605walking mates! He's a gallant, a cavaliero too, right hangman cut! God let me not live an I could not find in my heart to swinge the whole nest of them, one after another, and begin with him first. I am grieved it should be said he is my brother, and take these courses. Well, he shall hear on't, and that tightly too, an I live, i'faith.
    But brother, let your apprehension then
    Run in an easy current, not transported
    With heady rashness or devouring choler,
    And rather carry a persuading spirit,
    Whose powers will pierce more gently and allure
    615Th'imperfect thoughts you labor to reclaim
    To a more sudden and resolved assent.
    Ay, ay, let me alone for that, I warrant you.
    Bell rings.
    How now? Oh, the bell rings to breakfast.
    Brother Giuliano, I pray you, go in and bear my wife company. 620I'll but give order to my servants for the dispatch of some business, and come to you presently.
    Exit Giuliano.
    [Enter Cob [with a tankard].
    What, Cob? Our maids will have you by the back, i'faith, for coming so late this morning.
    Perhaps so, sir. Take heed somebody have not them by the belly for walking so late in the evening. Exit.
    Now, in good faith, my mind is somewhat eased,
    Though not reposed in that security
    As I could wish. Well, I must be content.
    Howe'er I set a face on't to the world,
    Would I had lost this finger at a venture,
    630So Prospero had ne'er lodged in my house!
    Why, 't cannot be, where there is such resort
    Of wanton gallants and young revelers,
    That any woman should be honest long.
    Is't like that factious beauty will preserve
    635The sovereign state of chastity unscarred
    When such strong motives muster and make head
    Against her single peace? No, no. Beware
    When mutual pleasure sways the appetite,
    And spirits of one kind and quality
    640Do meet to parley in the pride of blood.
    Well, to be plain, if I but thought the time
    Had answered their affections, all the world
    Should not persuade me but I were a cuckold.
    Marry, I hope they have not got that start;
    645For opportunity hath balked them yet,
    And shall do still, while I have eyes and ears
    To attend the imposition of my heart.
    My presence shall be as an iron bar
    'Twixt the conspiring motions of desire.
    650Yea, every look or glance mine eye objects
    Shall check occasion, as one doth his slave
    When he forgets the limits of prescription.
    [Enter Bianca with Hesperida.
    Sister Hesperida, I pray you, fetch down the rose-water above in the closet. Exit Hesperida.
    655[To Thorello] Sweetheart, will you come in to breakfast?
    [Aside] An she have overheard me now!
    I pray thee, good muss, we stay for you.
    [Aside] By Christ, I would not for a thousand
    What ail you, sweetheart? Are you not well? Speak, good muss.
    Troth, my head aches extremely on a sudden.
    [Feeling his forehead] O Jesu!
    How now? What?
    Good lord, how it burns! Muss, keep you warm. Good truth, 665it is this new disease; there's a number are troubled withal. For God's sake, sweetheart, come in out of the air.
    [Aside] How simple and how subtle are her answers!
    "A new disease, and many troubled with it."
    Why, true, she heard me, all the world to nothing.
    I pray thee, good sweetheart, come in. The air will do you harm, in troth.
    I'll come to you presently. It will away, I hope.
    Pray God it do.
    A new disease? I know not new or old,
    But it may well be called poor mortals' plague,
    675For like a pestilence it doth infect
    The houses of the brain. First it begins
    Solely to work upon the fantasy,
    Filling her seat with such pestiferous air
    As soon corrupts the judgment, and from thence
    680Sends like contagion to the memory --
    Still each of other catching the infection,
    Which, as a searching vapor, spreads itself
    Confusedly through every sensive part
    Till not a thought or motion in the mind
    685Be free from the black poison of suspect.
    Ah, but what error is it to know this,
    And want the free election of the soul
    In such extremes! Well, I will once more strive,
    Even in despite of hell, myself to be,
    690And shake this fever off that thus shakes me.