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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Enter George Py-bord a Schollar and a Citizen, and un-
    to him an old Souldier, Peter Skirmish.
    Pye. What's to be done now, old Lad of War, thou
    170that wert wont to be as hot as a turn-spit, as nimble as a
    Fencer, and as lowsie as a Schoole-master; now thou
    art put to silence like a Sectary,---War sits now like a
    Justice of peace, and does nothing: where be your Mus-
    kets, Calivers and Hotshots? in Long-lane, at pawn, at
    175pawn;---Now keyes are our onely Guns, Key-guns, Key-
    guns, and Bawdes the Gunners,---who are your senti-
    nells in peace, and stand ready charg'd to give warning;
    with hems, hums, and pocky-coffs; onely your Chambers
    are licenst to play upon you, and Drabs enow to give fire
    180to 'em.
    Skir. Well, I cannot tell, but I am sure it goes wrong
    with me, for since the cessure of the wars, I have spent a-
    bove a hundred Crownes out a purse: I have been a Sol-
    dier any time this forty yeares, and now I perceive an old
    185Soldier, and an old Courtier have both one destiny, and in
    the end turn both into hob-nayles.
    Pye. Pretty mystery for a Beggar, for indeed a hob-
    naile is the true embleme of a Beggar's Shoe-soale.
    Skir. I will not say but that War is a bloud-sucker,
    190and so; but in my conscience, (as there is no soldier but
    has a piece of one, though it be full of holes like a shot
    Ancient, no matter, 'twill serve to swear by) in my con-
    science, I think some kinde of Peace has more hidden op-
    pressions, and violent heady sins, (though looking of a
    195gentle nature) then a profest warre.
    Pye. Troth, and for mine own part, I am a poor Gen-
    tleman, and a Schollar, I have been matriculated in the
    University, wore out six Gowns there, seen some fools,
    and some Schollars, some of the City, and some of the
    200Countrey, kept order, went bare-headed over the Qua-
    drangle, eat my Commons with a good stomack, and
    Battled with Discretion; at last, having done many
    slights and tricks to maintain my wit in use (as my brain
    would never endure me to be idle,) I was expell'd the
    205University, onely for stealing a Cheese out of Jesus Col-
    Skir. Is't possible?
    Pye. Oh! there was one Welshman (God forgive him)
    pursued it hard? and never left, till I turn'd my staffe to-
    210ward London, where when I came, all my friends were
    pit-hold, gone to Graves, (as indeed there was but a few
    left before) then was I turn'd to my wits, to shift in the
    world, to towre among Sons and Heires, and Fooles, and
    Gulls, and Ladies eldest Sons, to work upon nothing, to
    215feed out of Flint, and ever since has my belly been much
    beholding to my brain: But now to return to you, old
    Skirmish. I say as you say, and for my part wish a Tur-
    bulency in the world, for I have nothing in the world,
    but my wits, and I think they are as mad as they will be:
    220and to strengthen your Argument the more, I say an ho-
    nest warre, is better than a bawdy peace: as touching
    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-
    tan. Exeunt.