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  • Title: The Puritan (Folio 3, 1664)

  • Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Authors: Thomas Middleton, William Shakespeare
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Puritan (Folio 3, 1664)

    The Puritan Widow.
    my profession; the multiplicity of Schollars, hatcht, and
    nourisht in the idle Calmes of peace, makes'em like Fi-
    shes one devour another; and the communitie of Learn-
    225ing has so plaid upon affections, and there by almost Re-
    ligion is come about to Phantasie, and discredited by be-
    ing too much spoken of--in so many and mean mouths. I
    my self being a Schollar and a Graduate, have no other
    comfort by my learning, but the affection of my words,
    230to know how Schollar-like to name what I want, and
    can call my self a Beggar both in Greek and Latine, and
    therefore not to cog with Peace, I'le not be afraid to say,
    'tis a great Breeder, but a bad Nourisher: a great getter
    of Child
    ren, which must either be Thieves or Rich men,
    235Knaves or Beggars.
    Skirmish. Well, would I had been born a Knave then,
    when I was born a Beggar, for if the truth were known,
    I think I was begot when my Father had never a penny
    in his purse.
    240Pye.Puh, faint not old Skirmish, let this warrant thee,
    Facilis Descensus Averni, 'tis an easie journey to a
    Knave, thou maist be a Knave when thou wilt; and
    Peace is a good Madam to all other professions, and an
    arrant Drab to us, let us handle her accordingly, and by
    245our wits thrive in despight of her; for the law lives by
    quarrels, the Courtier by smooth good-morrows, and
    every profession makes it self greater by imperfections,
    why not we then by shifts, wiles, and forgeries? and
    seeing our brains are the onely Patrimonies, let's spend
    250with judgement, not like a desperate son and heir, but
    like a sober and discreet Templer,---one that will never
    march beyond the bounds of his allowance, and for our
    thriving means, thus, I my self will put on the Deceit of
    a Fortune-teller, a Fortune-teller.
    255Skirm. Very proper.
    Pye. And you a figure-caster, or a Conjurer.
    Skir. A Conjurer.
    Pye. Let me alone, I'le instruct you, and teach you to
    deceive all eyes, but the Devils.
    260Skir. Oh I, for I would not deceive him and I could
    choose, of all others.
    Pye. Fear not I warrant you; and so by these means
    we shall help one another to Patients, as the condition of
    the age affords creatures enow for cunning to work upon.
    265Skir. Oh wondrous, new fools and fresh asses.
    Pye. Oh, fit, fit, excellent.
    Skir. What in the name of Conjuring?
    Pye-boord. My memory greets me happily with an ad-
    mirable subject to graze upon. The Lady-Widow, who
    270of late I saw weeping in her Garden, for the death of her
    Husband, sure she's but a watrish soul, and half on't by
    this time is dropt out of her eyes: device well manag'd
    may do good upon her: it stands firme, my first practise
    shall be there.
    275Skir. You have my voice, George.
    Pye-board. Sh'as a gray Gull to her Brother, a fool to
    her onely son, and an ape to her youngest Daughter;---
    I over-heard'em severally, and from their words I'le drive
    my device; and thou old Peter Skirmish shalt be my se-
    280cond in all slights.
    Skir. Ne're doubt me, George Pye-board,----only you
    must teach me to conjure.

    Enter Captain Idle, pinion'd, and with a guard
    of Officers passeth over the Stage.
    285Pye. Puh, I'le perfect thee, Peter:
    How now? what's he?
    Skir. Oh George! this sight kills me,
    'Tis my sworn Brother, Captain Idle.
    Pye. Captain Idle.
    290Skir. Apprehended for some fellonious act or other,
    he has started out, h'as made a Night on't, lackt silver;
    I cannot but commend his resolution, he would not pawn
    his Buff-Jerkin, I would either some of us were employed,
    or might pitch our Tents at Usurers doors, to kill the
    295slaves as they peep out at the Wicket.
    Pye. Indeed those are our ancient enemies; they keep
    our money in their hands, and make us to be hang'd for
    robbing of'em, but come let's follow after to the Prison,
    and know the nature of his offence, and what we can
    300stead him in, he shall be sure of; and I'le uphold it still,
    that a charitable Knave, is better then a soothing Puri-

    Enter at one door Corporal Oath, a vain-glorious fellow,
    and at the other, three of the Widdow Puritans Ser-
    305vingmen, Nicholas Saint-Tantlings, Simon Saint,
    Mary-Overies, and Frailty in black scurvy mourn-
    ing coats, and Books at their Girdles, as coming from
    Church. They meet.

    Nich. What Corporal Oath? I am sorry we have
    310met with you next our hearts; you are the man that we
    are forbidden to keep company withall, we must not
    swear I can tell you, and you have the name for swearing.
    Sim. I, Corporal Oath, I would you would do so
    much as forsake us, we cannot abide you, we must not be
    315seen in your company.
    Frail. There is none of us I can tell you, but shall be
    soundly whipt for swearing.
    Corp. Why how now? we three? Puritanical Scrape-
    shooes, Flesh a good Fridayes; a hand.
    320All. Oh.
    Corp. Why Nicholas Saint-Tantlings, Simon Saint
    Mary-Overies, has the De'il possest you, that you swear
    no better, you half-Christened Katomites, you ungod-
    mother'd Varlets, do's the first lesson teach you to be
    325proud, and the second to be Cox-combs; proud Cox-
    combs; not once to do duty to a man of Mark.
    Frail. A man of Mark, quatha, I do not think he can
    shew a Beggars Noble.
    Corp. A Corporal, a Commander, one of spirit, that
    330is able to blow you up all drye with your Books at your
    Simon. We are not taught to believe that, sir, for we
    know the breath of man is weak.
    Corp breaths on Frailty.
    Frail. Foh, you lie Nicholas; for here's one strong
    335enough; blows us up, quatha, he may well blow me above
    twelve-score off on him: I warrant if the wind stood
    right, a man might smell him from the top of Newgate, to
    the the Leads of Ludgate.
    Corp. Sirrah, thou hollow book of Wax-candle.
    340Nich. I, you may say what you will, so you swear not.
    Corp. I swear by the------
    Nich. Hold, hold, good Corporal Oath; for if you
    swear once, we shall fall down in a sown presently.
    Corp. I must and will swear: you quivering Cox-
    345combs, my Captain is imprisoned, and by Vulcan's Lea-
    ther Cod-piece point---------
    Nich. O Simon, what an oath was there.
    Frail. If he should chance to break it, the poor man's
    Breeches would fall down about his heels, for Venus al-
    350lows but one point to his hose.