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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Every Man In His Humor
    Enter Lorenzo di Pazzi Sr. [and] Musco.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    Now trust me, here's a goodly day toward.
    5Call up my son Lorenzo. Bid him rise;
    Tell him I have some business to employ him in.
    I will, sir, presently.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    But hear you, sirrah:
    If he be at study, disturb him not.
    Very good, sir.
    Exit Musco.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    How happy would I estimate myself
    Could I by any mean retire my son
    From one vain course of study he affects!
    He is a scholar, if a man may trust
    15The liberal voice of double-tongued report,
    Of dear account in all our academies.
    Yet this position must not breed in me
    A fast opinion that he cannot err.
    Myself was once a student and, indeed,
    20Fed with the self-same humor he is now,
    Dreaming on naught but idle poetry;
    But since, experience hath awaked my spirits,
    And reason taught them how to comprehend
    The sovereign use of study.
    25Enter Stephano.
    What, cousin Stephano?
    What news with you, that you are here so early?
    Nothing but e'en come to see how you do, uncle.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    That's kindly done. You are welcome, cousin.
    Ay, I know that, sir; I would not have come else. How doth my cousin, uncle?
    Lorenzo Sr.
    Oh, well, well. Go in and see. I doubt he's scarce stirring yet.
    Uncle, afore I go in, can you tell me an he have e'er a book of the sciences of hawking and hunting? I would fain borrow it.
    35Lorenzo Sr.
    Why, I hope you will not a-hawking now, will you?
    No, wusse, but I'll practice against next year. I have bought me a hawk and bells and all; I lack nothing but a book to keep it by.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    Oh, most ridiculous!
    Nay, look you now, you are angry, uncle. Why, you know, an a man have not skill in hawking and hunting nowadays, I'll not give a rush for him. He is for no gentleman's company; and, by God's will, I scorn it, I, so I do, to be a consort for every humdrum. Hang them, scroyles! There's nothing in them in the world. What do you talk 45on it? A gentleman must show himself like a gentleman. Uncle, I pray you be not angry. I know what I have to do, I trow; I am no novice.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    Go to, you are a prodigal and self-willed fool.
    Nay, never look at me; it's I that speak.
    Take't as you will, I'll not flatter you.
    50What, have you not means enough to waste
    That which your friends have left you, but you must
    Go cast away your money on a buzzard,
    And know not how to keep it when you have done?
    Oh, it's brave! This will make you a gentleman!
    55Well, cousin, well, I see you are e'en past hope
    Of all reclaim. Ay, so, now you are told on it,
    You look another way.
    What would you have me do, trow?
    Lorenzo Sr.
    What would I have you do? Marry,
    60Learn to be wise and practice how to thrive,
    That I would have you do, and not to spend
    Your crowns on everyone that humors you.
    I would not have you to intrude yourself
    In every gentleman's society
    65Till their affections or your own desert
    Do worthily invite you to the place;
    For he that's so respectless in his course
    Oft sells his reputation vile and cheap.
    Let not your carriage and behavior taste
    70Of affectation, lest, while you pretend
    To make a blaze of gentry to the world,
    A little puff of scorn extinguish it
    And you be left like an unsavory snuff
    Whose property is only to offend.
    75Cousin, lay by such superficial forms,
    And entertain a perfect real substance.
    Stand not so much on your gentility,
    But moderate your expenses now at first
    As you may keep the same proportion still.
    80Bear a low sail.
    Enter a Servingman.
    Soft, who's this comes here?
    Gentlemen, God save you.
    Welcome, good friend. We do not stand much upon our gentility, 85yet I can assure you mine uncle is a man of a thousand pound land a year. He hath but one son in the world; I am his next heir, as simple as I stand here, if my cousin die. I have a fair living of mine own, too, beside.
    In good time, sir.
    "In good time, sir"? You do not flout, do you?
    Not I, sir.
    An you should, here be them can perceive it, and that quickly too. Go to. And they can give it again soundly, an need be.
    Why, sir, let this satisfy you. Good faith, I had no such intent.
    By God, an I thought you had, sir, I would talk with you.
    So you may, sir, and at your pleasure.
    And so I would, sir, an you were out of mine uncle's ground, I can tell you.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    Why, how now, cousin, will this ne'er be left?
    Whoreson base fellow! By God's lid, an 'twere not for shame, I would --
    100Lorenzo Sr.
    What would you do? You peremptory ass,
    An you'll not be quiet, get you hence!
    You see the gentleman contains himself
    In modest limits, giving no reply
    To your unseasoned, rude comparatives;
    105Yet you'll demean yourself without respect
    Either of duty or humanity.
    Go, get you in! 'Fore God, I am ashamed
    Thou hast a kinsman's interest in me.
    Exit Stephano.
    I pray you, sir, is this Pazzi house?
    110Lorenzo Sr.
    Yes, marry, is it, sir.
    I should inquire for a gentleman here, one Signor Lorenzo di Pazzi. Do you know any such, sir, I pray you?
    Lorenzo Sr.
    Yes, sir, or else I should forget myself.
    I cry you mercy, sir. I was requested by a gentleman of Florence, having some occasion to ride this way, to deliver you this letter.
    115[He gives a letter.]
    Lorenzo Sr.
    To me, sir? What do you mean? I pray you, remember your court'sy. [He reads.] "To his dear and most elected friend, Signor Lorenzo di Pazzi." [To the Servingman] What might the gentleman's name be, sir, that sent it? Nay, pray you, be covered.
    Signor Prospero.
    120Lorenzo Sr.
    Signor Prospero? A young gentleman of the family of Strozzi, is he not?
    Ay, sir, the same. Signor Thorello, the rich Florentine merchant, married his sister.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    You say very true.
    [Calling] Musco!
    [Enter Musco.
    125Lorenzo Sr.
    Make this gentleman drink here.
    [To the Servingman] I pray you, go in, sir, an't please you. Exeunt [Servingman and Musco].
    Now, without doubt, this letter's to my son.
    Well, all is one; I'll be so bold as read it,
    Be it for the style's sake and the phrase --
    130Both which, I do presume, are excellent,
    And greatly varied from the vulgar form,
    If Prospero's invention gave them life.
    [He opens the letter.]
    How now? What stuff is here?
    135[He reads.] "Sirrah Lorenzo, I muse we cannot see thee at Florence. 'Sblood, I doubt Apollo hath got thee to be his ingle, that thou commest not abroad to visit thine old friends. Well, take heed of him Apollo; he may do somewhat for his household servants or so, but for his retainers, I am sure I have known some of them that have followed him three, four, five year together, scorning the world with their bare heels, and at length been glad for a shift -- though no clean shift -- to lie a whole winter in half a sheet, cursing Charles' Wain and the rest of the stars intolerably. But quis contra divos? Well, sirrah, sweet villain, come and see me. But spend one minute in my company and 'tis enough. I think I have a world of good jests for thee. Oh, sirrah, I can show thee two of the most perfect, rare, and absolute true gulls that ever thou saw'st, if thou wilt come. 'Sblood, invent some famous, memorable lie or other to 140flap thy father in the mouth withal. Thou hast been father of a thousand in thy days; thou couldst be no poet else. Any scurvy, roguish excuse will serve; say thou com'st but to fetch wool for thine inkhorn. And then, too, thy father will say thy wits are a-woolgathering. But it's no matter; the worse, the better. Anything is good enough for the old man. Sirrah, how if thy 145father should see this now? What would he think of me? Well, however I write to thee, I reverence him in my soul for the general good all Florence delivers of him. Lorenzo, I conjure thee -- by what, let me see -- by the depth of our love, by all the strange sights we have seen in our days (ay, or nights either), to come to me to Florence 150this day. Go to, you shall come, and let your muses go spin for once. If thou wilt not, 'sheart, what's your god's name? Apollo? Ay. -- Apollo, if this melancholy rogue Lorenzo here do not come, grant that he do turn fool presently, and never hereafter be able to make a good jest or a blank verse, but live in more penury of wit and invention than either the Hall Beadle or Poet Nuntius."
    155Well, it is the strangest letter that ever I read.
    Is this the man my son so oft hath praised
    To be the happiest and most precious wit
    That ever was familiar with art?
    Now, by Our Lady's blessed Son, I swear
    160I rather think him most infortunate
    In the possession of such holy gifts,
    Being the master of so loose a spirit.
    Why, what unhallowed ruffian would have writ
    With so profane a pen unto his friend?
    165The modest paper e'en looks pale for grief
    To feel her virgin cheek defiled and stained
    With such a black and criminal inscription.
    Well, I had thought my son could not have strayed
    So far from judgment as to mart himself
    170Thus cheaply in the open trade of scorn,
    To jeering folly and fantastic humor.
    But now I see opinion is a fool,
    And hath abused my senses.
    [Calling] Musco!
    [Enter Musco.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    What, is the fellow gone that brought this letter?
    Yes, sir, a pretty while since.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    And where's Lorenzo?
    In his chamber, sir.
    180Lorenzo Sr.
    He spake not with the fellow, did he?
    No, sir, he saw him not.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    [Handing him the letter] Then, Musco, take this letter and deliver it
    Unto Lorenzo; but, sirrah, on your life,
    Take you no knowledge I have opened it.
    Oh, Lord, sir, that were a jest indeed!
    Exit Musco.
    Lorenzo Sr.
    I am resolved I will not cross his journey.
    Nor will I practice any violent mean
    To stay the hot and lusty course of youth;
    For youth restrained straight grows impatient,
    190And in condition like an eager dog,
    Who, ne'er so little from his game withheld,
    Turns head and leaps up at his master's throat.
    Therefore I'll study by some milder drift
    To call my son unto a happier shrift.