Incipit ACT II [SCENE 1]
1My adversary ever more twits me with my nephew;
2forsooth, my nephew, Why may not a virtuous uncle have a
3dissolute nephew? What though he be a brotheller, a waste-thrift,
4a common surfeiter, and, to conclude, a beggar? Must
5sin in him call up shame in me? Since we have no part in their
6follies, why should we have part in their infamies? For my strict
7hand towards his mortgage, that I deny not; I confess I had an
8uncle’s pen’worth. Let me see, half in half, true. I saw neither
9hope of his reclaiming nor comfort in his being, and was it not
10then better bestow’d upon his uncle than upon one of his aunts?
11I need not say ‘bawd’, for everyone knows what ‘aunt’ stands
12for in the last translation.
14There’s a country serving-man, sir, attends to speak with
16I’m at best leisure now; send him in to me.
Enter Host, like a serving-man
17Bless your venerable worship.
18Welcome, good fellow.
19[Aside] He calls me thief at first sight, yet he little thinks
I am an host.
21What’s thy business with me?
22Faith, sir, I am sent from my mistress to any sufficient
23gentleman indeed, to ask advice upon a doubtful point. ‘Tis
24indifferent, sir, to whom I come, for I know none, nor did my
25mistress direct me to any particular man, for she’s as mere a
26stranger here as myself; only I found your worship within, and
27‘tis a thing I ever lov’d, sir, to be dispatch’d as soon as I can.
28[Aside] A good blunt honesty; I like him well.—What is
30Faith, a country gentlewoman, and a widow, sir. Yesterday
31was the first flight of us, but now she intends to stay until
32a little term business be ended.
33Her name, I prithee.
34It runs there in the writings, sir, among her lands, Widow
36Medlar? Mass, have I ne’er heard of that widow?
37Yes, I warrant you, have you, sir; not the rich widow in
39Cuds me, there ‘tis, indeed. Thou hast put me into
40memory. There’s a widow indeed! Ah, that I were a bachelor
42No doubt your worship might do much then, but she’s
43fairly promis’d to a bachelor already.
44Ah, what is he, I prithee?
45A country gentleman too, one whom your worship
46knows not, I’m sure; h’as spent some few follies in his youth, but
47marriage, by my faith, begins to call him home. My mistress
48loves him, sir, and love covers faults, you know. One Master
49Witgood, if ever you have heard of the gentleman.
50Ha! Witgood, say’st thou?
51That’s his name indeed, sir. My mistress is like to bring
52him to a goodly seat yonder; four hundred a year, by my faith.
53But, I pray, take me with you.
55What countryman might this young Witgood be?
56A Leicestershire gentleman, sir.
57[Aside] My nephew. By th’ mass, my nephew. I’ll fetch
out more of this, i’ faith; a simple country fellow, I’ll work’t out
of him.—And is that gentleman, say’st thou, presently to marry
61Faith, he brought her up to town, sir; h’as the best card in
62all the bunch for’t, her heart; and I know my mistress will be
63married ere she go down. Nay, I’ll swear that, for she’s none
64of those widows that will go down first and be married after;
65she hates that, I can tell you, sir.
66By my faith, sir, she is like to have a proper gentleman
67and a comely; I’ll give her that gift.
68Why, does your worship know him, sir?
69I know him? Does not all the world know him? Can a
70man of such exquisite qualities be hid under a bushel?
71Then your worship may save me a labour, for I had
72charge given me to inquire after him.
73Inquire of him? If I might counsel thee, thou shouldst
74ne’er trouble thyself further. Inquire of him of no more but of
75me; I’ll fit thee. I grant he has been youthful, but is he not now
76reclaim’d? Mark you that, sir. Has not your mistress, think you,
77been wanton in her youth? If men be wags, are there not women
80Does not he return wisest that comes home whipp’d
81with his own follies?
82Why, very true, sir.
83The worst report you can hear of him, I can tell you, is
84that he has been a kind gentleman, a liberal, and a worthy; who
85but lusty Witgood, thrice-noble Witgood?
86Since your worship has so much knowledge in him, can
87you resolve me, sir, what his living might be? My duty binds
88me, sir, to have a care of my mistress’ estate. She has been ever
89a good mistress to me, though I say it. Many wealthy suitors
90has she nonsuited for his sake; yet, though her love be so
91fix’d, a man cannot tell whether his nonperformance may help
92to remove it, sir. He makes us believe he has lands and living.
93Who? Young Master Witgood? Why believe it, he has
94as goodly a fine living out yonder—what do you call the
96Nay, I know not, i’ faith.
97Hum. See like a beast, if I have not forgot the name.
98Pooh! And out yonder again, goodly grown woods and fair
99meadows—Pax on’t, I can ne’er hit of that place neither. He?
100Why, he’s Witgood of Witgood Hall; he, an unknown thing?
101Is he so, sir? To see how rumour will alter! Trust me,
102sir, we heard once he had no lands, but all lay mortgag’d to an
103uncle he has in town here.
104Push! ‘Tis a tale, ‘tis a tale.
105I can assure you, sir, ‘twas credibly reported to my
107Why, do you think, i’ faith, he was ever so simple to
108mortgage his lands to his uncle, or his uncle so unnatural to
109take the extremity of such a mortgage?
110That was my saying still, sir.
111Pooh! Ne’er think it.
112Yet that report goes current.
Nay, then, you urge me.
Cannot I tell that best that am his uncle.
115How, sir! What have I done?
116Why, how now? In a sound, man?
117Is your worship his uncle, sir?
118Can that be any harm to you, sir?
119I do beseech you, sir, do me the favour to conceal it.
120What a beast was I to utter so much! Pray, sir, do me the
121kindness to keep it in. I shall have my coat pull’d o’er my ears
122an’t should be known; for the truth is, an’t please your worship,
123to prevent much rumour and many suitors, they intend to be
124married very suddenly and privately.
125And dost thou think it stands with my judgment to do
126them injury? Must I needs say the knowledge of this marriage
127comes from thee? Am I a fool at fifty-four? Do I lack subtlety
128now, that have got all my wealth by it? There’s a leash of
129angels for thee. Come, let me woo thee. Speak. Where lie
131So I might have no anger, sir,—
132Passion of me, not a jot. Prithee, come.
133I would not have it known it came by my means.
134Why, am I a man of wisdom?
135I dare trust your worship, sir, but I’m a stranger to your
136house, and to avoid all intelligencers I desire your worship’s ear.
137[Aside] This fellow’s worth a matter of trust.—Come,
[Host whispers] Why now, thou’rt an honest lad. [Aside] Ah,
140Please you, sir, now I have begun with your worship,
141when shall I attend for your advice upon that doubtful point?
142I must come warily now.
Tut, fear thou nothing.
Tomorrow’s evening shall resolve the doubt.
145The time shall cause my attendance.
146Fare thee well. There’s more true honesty in such a
147country serving-man than in a hundred of our cloak companions.
148I may well call ‘em companions, for since blue coats
149have been turn’d into cloaks, we can scarce know the man from
150the master. George!
[Whispers] Keep the place secret. Commend
153me to my nephew. I know no cause, tell him, but he might see
And, do you hear, sir?
Take heed you use him with respect and duty.
158[Aside] Here’s a strange alteration. One day he must be
turn’d out like a beggar, and now he must be call’d in like a
161Ah, sirrah, that rich widow! Four hundred a year!
162Beside, I hear she lays claim to a title of a hundred more.
163This falls unhappily that he should bear a grudge to me now,
164being likely to prove so rich. What is’t, trow, that he makes me a
165stranger for? Hum, I hope he has not so much wit to apprehend
166that I cozened him; he deceives me then. Good Heaven, who
167would have thought it would ever have come to this pass?
168Yet he’s a proper gentleman, i’ faith, give him his due. Marry,
169that’s his mortgage, but that I ne’er mean to give him. I’ll
170make him rich enough in words, if that be good; and if it
171come to a piece of money, I will not greatly stick for’t. There
172may be hope some of the widow’s lands too may one day fall
173upon me, if things be carried wisely.
174Now, sir, where is he?
175He desires your worship to hold him excused; he has
176such weighty business it commands him wholly from all men.
177Were those my nephew’s words?
178Yes, indeed, sir.
179[Aside] When men grow rich they grow proud too, I
perceive that. He would not have sent me such an answer once
within this twelvemonth; see what ‘tis when a man’s come to his
lands.—Return to him again, sir; tell him his uncle desires his
183company for an hour. I’ll trouble him but an hour, say; ‘tis for
184his own good, tell him, and—do you hear, sir?—put ‘worship’
185upon him. Go to, do as I bid you. He’s like to be a gentleman
186of worship very shortly.
187[Aside] This is good sport, i’ faith.
188Troth, he uses his uncle discourteously now. Can he tell
189what I may do for him? Goodness may come from me in a minute
190that comes not in seven year again. He knows my humour;
191I am not so usually good. ‘Tis no small thing that draws
192kindness from me; he may know that, and he will. The chief
193cause that invites me to do him most good is the sudden astonishing
194of old Hoard, my adversary. How pale his malice will look
195at my nephew’s advancement! With what a dejected spirit he
196will behold his fortunes, whom but last day he proclaimed rioter,
197penurious makeshift, despised brothel-master! Ha, ha! ‘Twill
198do me more secret joy than my last purchase, more precious
199comfort than all these widows’ revenues.—
Enter [George and] and Witgood
201With much entreaty he’s at length come, sir.
202Oh, nephew, let me salute you, sir; you’re welcome,
204Uncle, I thank you.
205Y’ave a fault, nephew: You’re a stranger here. Well,
206Heaven give you joy!
Ha, we can hear.
You might have known your uncle’s house, i’ faith,
You and your widow. Go to, you were to blame,
If I may tell you so without offence.
How could you hear of that, sir?
Oh, pardon me!
It was your will to have it kept from me, I perceive now.
214Not for any defect of love, I protest, uncle.
215Oh, ‘twas unkindness, nephew. Fie, fie, fie!
216I am sorry you take it in that sense, sir.
217Pooh! You cannot colour it, i’ faith, nephew.
218Will you but hear what I can say in my just excuse, sir?
219Yes, faith, will I, and welcome.
220You that know my danger i’ th’ city, sir, so well, how great
221my debts are, and how extreme my creditors, could not out of
222your pure judgment, sir, have wish’d us hither.
223Mass, a firm reason indeed.
224Else my uncle’s house, why, ‘t ‘ad been the only make-match—
225Nay, and thy credit.
226My credit? Nay, my countenance! Push! Nay, I know,
227uncle, you would have wrought it so. By your wit you would
228have made her believe in time the whole house had been mine—
229Ay, and most of the goods too.
230La, you there. Well, let ‘em all prate what they will, there’s
231nothing like the bringing of a widow to one’s uncle’s house.
232Nay, let nephews be ruled as they list, they shall find
233their uncle’s house the most natural place when all’s done.
234There they may be bold.
235Life, they may do anything there, man, and fear neither
236beadle nor sum’ner. An uncle’s house, a very Cole Harbour!
237Sirrah, I’ll touch thee near now. Hast thou so much interest in
238thy widow that by a token thou couldst presently send for her?
239Troth, I think I can, uncle.
240Go to, let me see that.
241Pray, command one of your men hither, uncle.
244Attend my nephew.
[Witgood and George speak apart]
245[Aside] I love a’ life to prattle with a rich widow; ‘tis pretty,
methinks, when our tongues go together, and then to promise
much and perform little. I love that sport a’ life, i’ faith, yet I am
in the mood now to do my nephew some good, if he take me
250What, have you dispatch’d?
251I ha’ sent, sir.
252Yet I must condemn you of unkindness, nephew.
253Heaven forbid, uncle!
254Yes, faith, must I. Say your debts be many, your creditors
255importunate, yet the kindness of a thing is all, nephew; you
256might have sent me close word on’t, without the least danger or
257prejudice to your fortunes.
258Troth, I confess it, uncle; I was too blame there, but indeed
259my intent was to have clapp’d it up suddenly, and so have broke
260forth like a joy to my friends and a wonder to the world.
261Beside, there’s a trifle of a forty-pound matter towards the
262setting of me forth. My friends should ne’er have known on’t;
263I meant to make shift for that myself.
264How, nephew! Let me not hear such a word again, I
265beseech you. Shall I be beholding to you?
266To me? Alas, what do you mean, uncle?
267I charge you, upon my love. You trouble nobody but
269Y’ave no reason for that, uncle.
270Troth, I’ll ne’er be friends with you while you live and
272Nay, and you say so, uncle. Here’s my hand; I will not
274Why, well said. There’s some hope in thee when thou
275wilt be ruled. I’ll make it up fifty, faith, because I see thee so
276reclaimed. Peace, here comes my wife with Sam, her tother
[Enter Wife and Sam Freedom]
279Cousin Witgood! I rejoice in my salute; you’re most
280welcome to this noble city, govern’d with the sword in the
282[Aside] And the wit in the pommel!—Good Master Sam
283Freedom, I return the salute.
284By the mass, she’s coming, wife; let me see now how
285thou wilt entertain her.
286I hope I am not to learn, sir, to entertain a widow; ‘tis
287not so long ago since I was one myself.
289She’s come indeed.
290My uncle was desirous to see you, widow, and I presum’d to
292The presumption was nothing. Master Witgood. Is this
293your uncle, sir?
294Marry am I, sweet widow, and his good uncle he shall
295find me. Ay, by this smack that I give thee, thou’rt welcome.
296Wife, bid the widow welcome the same way again.
297[Aside] I am a gentleman now too, by my father’s occupation,
and I see no reason but I may kiss a widow by my father’s
copy. Truly, I think the charter is not against it; surely these
are the words: ‘The son, once a gentleman, may revel it,
though his father were a dauber’. ‘Tis about the fifteenth page.
I’ll to her.
[Attempts to kiss the Courtesan and is repulsed]
303Y’are not very busy now; a word with thee, sweet
305[Aside] Coad’s nigs! I was never so disgrac’d since the hour
my mother whipp’d me!
307Beside, I have no child of mine own to care for; she’s my
308second wife, old, past bearing. Clap sure to him, widow; he’s
309like to be my heir, I can tell you.
310Is he so, sir?
311He knows it already, and the knave’s proud on’t. Jolly
312rich widows have been offer’d him here i’ th’ city, great merchants’
313wives, and do you think he would once look upon ‘em?
314Forsooth, he’ll none. You are beholding to him i’ th’ country
315then, ere we could be; nay, I’ll hold a wager, widow, if he were
316once known to be in town, he would be presently sought after;
317nay, and happy were they that could catch him first.
319Oh, there would be such running to and fro, widow, he
320should not pass the streets for ‘em; he’d be took up in one great
321house or other presently. Faugh, they know he has it and must
322have it. You see this house here, widow? This house and all
323comes to him! Goodly rooms ready furnish’d, ceil’d with plaster
324of Paris, and all hung about with cloth of arras. Nephew!
326Show the widow your house. Carry her into all the rooms
327and bid her welcome. You shall see, widow. [Aside] Nephew,
strike all sure above and thou be’st a good boy. Ah,—
329Alas, sir, I know not how she would take it.
330The right way, I warrant ’ee. A pox! Art an ass? Would
331I were in thy stead. Get you up! I am asham’d of you.
[Exeunt Witgood and Courtesan.]
332[Aside] So, let ‘em agree as they will now. Many a match has been
struck up in my house i’ this fashion. Let ’em try all manner of
ways, still there’s nothing like an uncle’s house to strike the
stroke in. I’ll hold my wife in talk a little.—Now, Jenny, your
336son there goes a-wooing to a poor gentlewoman but of a
337thousand portion; see my nephew, a lad of less hope, strikes at
338four hundred a year in good rubbish.
339Well, we must do as we may, sir.
340I’ll have his money ready told for him again he come
341down. Let me see too. By th’ mass, I must present the widow
342with some jewel, a good piece of plate, or such a device; ‘twill
343hearten her on well. I have a very fair standing cup, and a good
344high standing cup will please a widow above all other pieces.
345Do you mock us with your nephew? I have a plot in my
346head, son; i’ faith, husband, to cross you.
347Is it a tragedy plot or a comedy plot, good mother?
348‘Tis a plot shall vex him. I charge you, of my blessing, son
349Sam, that you presently withdraw the action of your love from
350Master Hoard’s niece.
352Nay, I have a plot in my head, i’ faith. Here, take this
353chain of gold and this fair diamond. Dog me the widow home to
354her lodging, and at thy best opportunity fasten ‘em both upon
355her. Nay, I have a reach I can tell you. Thou art known what
356thou art, son, among the right worshipful, all the twelve companies.
357Truly, I thank ‘em for it.
358He? He’s a scab to thee! And so certify her thou hast two
359hundred a year of thyself, besides thy good parts, a proper
360person and a lovely. If I were a widow I could find it in my heart
361to have thee myself, son, ay, from ‘em all.
362Thank you for your good will, mother, but indeed I had
363rather have a stranger. And if I woo her not in that violent
364fashion, that I will make her be glad to take these gifts ere I
365leave her, let me never be called the heir of your body.
366Nay, I know there’s enough in you, son, if you once come
367to put it forth.
368I’ll quickly make a bolt or a shaft on’t.