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  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    [Enter Thorello and Piso.
    He will expect you, sir, within this half hour.
    Why, what's o'clock?
    New stricken ten.
    Hath he the money ready, can you tell?
    Yes, sir. Baptista brought it yesternight.
    Oh, that's well. Fetch me my cloak. Exit Piso.
    Stay, let me see: an hour to go and come,
    Ay, that will be the least; and then 'twill be
    An hour before I can dispatch with him,
    Or very near. Well, I will say two hours.
    1075Two hours? Ha? Things never dreamt of yet
    May be contrived, ay, and effected too,
    In two hours' absence. Well, I will not go.
    Two hours. No, fleering Opportunity,
    I will not give your treachery that scope.
    1080Who will not judge him worthy to be robbed
    That sets his doors wide open to a thief
    And shows the felon where his treasure lies?
    Again, what earthy spirit but will attempt
    To taste the fruit of Beauty's golden tree,
    1085When leaden sleep seels up the dragon's eyes?
    Oh, Beauty is a project of some power,
    Chiefly when Opportunity attends her.
    She will infuse true motion in a stone,
    Put glowing fire in an icy soul,
    1090Stuff peasants' bosoms with proud Caesar's spleen,
    Pour rich device into an empty brain,
    Bring youth to Folly's gate, there train him in,
    And after all extenuate his sin.
    Well, I will not go; I am resolved for that.
    1095[Enter Piso [with Thorello's cloak].
    Go carry it again. Yet stay! Yet do, too!
    I will defer it till some other time.
    Sir, Signor Platano will meet you there with the bond.
    That's true. By Jesu, I had clean forgot it;
    1100I must go. What's o'clock?
    Past ten, sir.
    [Aside] Heart, then will Prospero presently be here too,
    With one or other of his loose consorts.
    I am a Jew if I know what to say,
    1105What course to take, or which way to resolve.
    My brain, methinks, is like an hourglass,
    And my imaginations, like the sands,
    Run dribbling forth to fill the mouth of Time,
    Still changed with turning in the ventricle.
    1110What were I best to do? It shall be so.
    Nay, I dare build upon his secrecy. --
    [Aside] Yet, now I have bethought me, too, I will not. --
    1115Is Cob within?
    I think he be, sir.
    [Aside] But he'll prate too; there's no talk of him.
    No, there were no course upon the earth to this,
    If I durst trust him; tut, I were secure.
    1120But there's the question now: if he should prove
    Rimarum plenus, then, 'sblood, I were rooked.
    The state that he hath stood in till this present
    Doth promise no such change. What should I fear, then?
    Well, come what will, I'll tempt my fortune once. --
    1125Piso, thou mayst deceive me, but I think
    Thou lov'st me, Piso.
    Sir, if a servant's zeal and humble duty
    May be termed love, you are possessed of it.
    I have a matter to impart to thee,
    1130But thou must be secret, Piso.
    Sir, for that --
    Nay, hear me, man. Think I esteem thee well
    To let thee in thus to my private thoughts.
    Piso, it is a thing sits nearer to my crest
    1135Than thou art ware of. If thou shouldst reveal it --
    Reveal it, sir?
    Nay, I do not think thou wouldst,
    But if thou shouldst --
    Sir, then I were a villain.
    1140Disclaim in me forever if I do.
    [Aside] He will not swear. He has some meaning,
    Else, being urged so much, how should he choose
    But lend an oath to all this protestation?
    1145He is no puritan, that I am certain of.
    What should I think of it? Urge him again,
    And in some other form? I will do so. --
    Well, Piso, thou hast sworn not to disclose.
    Ay, you did swear?
    Not yet, sir, but I will,
    So please you.
    Nay, I dare take thy word.
    But if thou wilt swear, do as you think good;
    I am resolved without such circumstance.
    By my soul's safety, sir, I here protest,
    My tongue shall ne'er take knowledge of a word
    Delivered me in compass of your trust.
    Enough, enough, these ceremonies need not.
    I know thy faith to be as firm as brass.
    1160Piso, come hither; nay, we must be close
    In managing these actions. So it is --
    [Aside] Now he has sworn, I dare the safelier speak --
    I have of late by divers observations --
    [Aside] But whether his oath be lawful, yea or no, ha?
    1165I will ask counsel ere I do proceed. --
    Piso, it will be now too long to stay.
    We'll spy some fitter time soon, or tomorrow.
    At your pleasure, sir.
    I pray you, search the books 'gainst I return
    1170For the receipts 'twixt me and Platano.
    I will, sir.
    And hear you: if my brother Prospero
    Chance to bring hither any gentlemen
    Ere I come back, let one straight bring me word.
    Very well, sir.
    Forget it not, nor be not you out of the way.
    I will not, sir.
    Or whether he come or no, if any other,
    Stranger or else, fail not to send me word.
    Yes, sir.
    Have care, I pray you, and remember it.
    I warrant you, sir.
    But Piso, this is not the secret I told thee of.
    No, sir, I suppose so.
    Nay, believe me, it is not.
    I do believe you, sir.
    By heaven, it is not; that's enough.
    Marry, I would not thou shouldst utter it
    To any creature living; yet I care not.
    1190Well, I must hence. Piso, conceive thus much:
    No ordinary person could have drawn
    So deep a secret from me. I mean not this,
    But that I have to tell thee; this is nothing, this.
    Piso, remember, silence buried here.
    1195[Aside] No greater hell than to be slave to fear.
    Exit Thorello.
    "Piso, remember, silence buried here"?
    Whence should this flow of passion, trow, take head? Ha?
    Faith, I'll dream no longer of this running humor,
    1200For fear I sink. The violence of the stream
    Already hath transported me so far
    That I can feel no ground at all. But soft --
    [Enter Cob [not seeing Piso at first].
    Oh, it's our waterbearer. Somewhat has crossed him now.
    Fasting days. What tell you me of your fasting days? Would they were all on a light fire for me! They say the world shall be consumed with fire and brimstone in the latter day, but I would we had these Ember weeks and these villainous Fridays burnt in the meantime, and then --
    Why, how now, Cob, what moves thee to this choler, ha?
    Collar, sir? 'Swounds, I scorn your collar. I, sir, am no collier's horse, sir; never ride me with your collar. An you do, I'll show you a jade's trick.
    Oh, you'll slip your head out of the collar. Why, Cob, you mistake me.
    Nay, I have my rheum, and I be angry as well as another, sir.
    Thy "rheum"? Thy humor, man; thou mistakest.
    "Humor"? Mack, I think it be so, indeed. What is this "humor"? It's some rare thing, I warrant.
    Marry, I'll tell thee what it is, as 'tis generally received in these days: it is a monster bred in a man by self-love and affectation, and fed by folly.
    How? Must it be fed?
    Oh, ay, humor is nothing if it be not fed. Why, didst thou never hear of that? It's a common phrase, "Feed my humor."
    I'll none on it. Humor, avaunt! I know you not; be gone. Let who will make hungry meals for you; it shall not be I. Feed you, quoth he? 'Sblood, I have much ado to feed myself, especially on 1225these lean rascal days too. An't had been any other day but a fasting day -- a plague on them all, for me! By this light, one might have done God good service and have drowned them all in the flood two or three hundred thousand years ago. Oh, I do stomach them hugely! I have a maw, now, an 'twere for Sir Bevis's horse.
    Nay, but I pray thee, Cob, what makes thee so out of love with fasting days?
    Marry, that that will make any man out of love with them, I think: their bad conditions, an you will needs know. First, they are of a Flemish breed, I am sure on't, for they raven up more butter than all the days of the week beside. Next, they stink of fish miserably. 1235Thirdly, they'll keep a man devoutly hungry all day, and at night send him supperless to bed.
    Indeed, these are faults, Cob.
    Nay, an this were all, 'twere something. But they are the only known enemies to my generation. A fasting day no sooner comes but my lineage goes to rack. Poor cobs, they smoke for it; they melt in passion. 1240And your maids too know this, and yet would have me turn Hannibal and eat my own fish and blood!
    ([He] pulls out a red herring [and addresses it].) My princely coz, fear nothing. I have not the heart to devour you, an I might be made as rich as Golias. Oh, that I had room for my tears! I could weep salt water enough now to preserve the lives 1245of ten thousand of my kin. But I may curse none but these filthy almanacs, for, an 'twere not for them, these days of persecution would ne'er be known. I'll be hanged an some fishmonger's son do not make on them, and puts in more fasting days than he should do because he would utter his father's dried stockfish.
    'Soul , peace! Thou'lt be beaten like a stockfish else. [He 1250sees a group approaching.] Here is Signor Matheo. Now must I look out for a messenger to my master.
    Exeunt Cob and Piso.