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Full Online Book HomePlaysEvery Man Out Of His Humour - Act 1 - Scene 1
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Every Man Out Of His Humour - Act 1 - Scene 1 Post by :Allnewe Category :Plays Author :Ben Jonson Date :May 2012 Read :3240

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Every Man Out Of His Humour - Act 1 - Scene 1

ACT I - SCENE I

SCENE I. -- The Country.

(ENTER MACILENTE, WITH A BOOK.)


MACI.
"Viri est, fortunae caecitatem facile ferre."
'Tis true; but, Stoic, where, in the vast world,
Doth that man breathe, that can so much command
His blood and his affection? Well, I see
I strive in vain to cure my wounded soul;
For every cordial that my thoughts apply
Turns to a corsive and doth eat it farther.
There is no taste in this philosophy;
'Tis like a potion that a man should drink,
But turns his stomach with the sight of it.
I am no such pill'd Cynick to believe,
That beggary is the only happiness;
Or with a number of these patient fools,
To sing: "My mind to me a kingdom is,"
When the lank hungry belly barks for food,
I look into the world, and there I meet
With objects, that do strike my blood-shot eyes
Into my brain: where, when I view myself,
Having before observ'd this man is great,
Mighty and fear'd; that lov'd and highly favour'd:
A third thought wise and learn'd; a fourth rich,
And therefore honour'd; a fifth rarely featur'd;
A sixth admired for his nuptial fortunes:
When I see these, I say, and view myself,
I wish the organs of my sight were crack'd;
And that the engine of my grief could cast
Mine eyeballs, like two globes of wildfire, forth,
To melt this unproportion'd frame of nature.
Oh, they are thoughts that have transfix'd my heart,
And often, in the strength of apprehension,
Made my cold passion stand upon my face,
Like drops of dew on a stiff cake of ice.

COR.
This alludes well to that of the poet,
"Invidus suspirat, gemit, incutitque dentes,
Sudat frigidus, intuens quod odit."

MIT.
O, peace, you break the scene.

(ENTER SOGLIARDO AND CARLO BUFFONE.)

MACI.
Soft, who be these?
I'll lay me down awhile till they be past.

(LIES DOWN.)

CAR.
Signior, note this gallant, I pray you.

MIT.
What is he?

CAR.
A tame rook, you'll take him presently; list.

SOG.
Nay, look you, Carlo; this is my humour now! I have land and money, my friends left me well, and I will be a gentleman whatsoever it cost me.

CAR.
A most gentlemanlike resolution.

SOG.
Tut! an I take an humour of a thing once, I am like your tailor's needle, I go through: but, for my name, signior, how think you? will it not serve for a gentleman's name, when the signior is put to it, ha?

CAR.
Let me hear; how is it?

SOG.
Signior Insulso Sogliardo: methinks it sounds well.

CAR. O excellent! tut! an all fitted to your name, you might very well stand for a gentleman: I know many Sogliardos gentlemen.

SOG.
Why, and for my wealth I might be a justice of peace.

CAR.
Ay, and a constable for your wit.

SOG.
All this is my lordship you see here, and those farms you came by.

CAR.
Good steps to gentility too, marry: but, Sogliardo, if you affect to be a gentleman indeed, you must observe all the rare qualities, humours, and compliments of a gentleman.

SOG.
I know it, signior, and if you please to instruct, I am not too good to learn, I'll assure you.

CAR.
Enough, sir. -- I'll make admirable use in the projection of my medicine upon this lump of copper here. (ASIDE) -- I'll bethink me for you, sir.

SOG.
Signior, I will both pay you, and pray you, and thank you, and think on you.

COR.
Is this not purely good?


MACI.
S'blood, why should such a prick-ear'd hind as this
Be rich, ha? a fool! such a transparent gull
That may be seen through! wherefore should he have land,
Houses, and lordships? O, I could eat my entrails,
And sink my soul into the earth with sorrow.


CAR.
First, to be an accomplished gentleman, that is, a gentleman of the time, you must give over housekeeping in the country, and live altogether in the city amongst gallants: where, at your first appearance, 'twere good you turn'd four or five hundred acres of your best land into two or three trunks of apparel -- you may do it without going to a conjurer -- and be sure you mix yourself still with such as flourish in the spring of the fashion, and are least popular; study their carriage and behaviour in all; learn to play at primero and passage, and ever (when you lose) have two or three peculiar oaths to swear by, that no man else swears: but, above all, protest in your play, and affirm, "Upon your credit, As you are a true gentleman", at every cast; you may do it with a safe conscience, I warrant you.

SOG.
O admirable rare! he cannot choose but be a gentleman that has these excellent gifts: more, more, I beseech you.

CAR.
You must endeavour to feed cleanly at your ordinary, sit melancholy, and pick your teeth when you cannot speak: and when you come to plays, be humorous, look with a good starch'd face, and ruffle your brow like a new boot, laugh at nothing but your own jests, or else as the noblemen laugh. That's a special grace you must observe.

SOG.
I warrant you, sir.

CAR.
Ay, and sit on the stage and flout, provided you have a good suit.

SOG.
O, I'll have a suit only for that, sir.

CAR.
You must talk much of your kindred and allies.

SOG.
Lies! no, signior, I shall not need to do so, I have kindred in the city to talk of: I have a niece is a merchant's wife; and a nephew, my brother Sordido's son, of the Inns of court.

CAR.
O, but you must pretend alliance with courtiers and great persons: and ever when you are to dine or sup in any strange presence, hire a fellow with a great chain, (though it be copper, it's no matter,) to bring you letters, feign'd from such a nobleman, or such a knight, or such a lady, "To their worshipful, right rare, and nobly qualified friend and kinsman, signior Insulso Sogliardo": give yourself style enough. And there, while you intend circumstances of news, or enquiry of their health, or so, one of your familiars whom you must carry about you still, breaks it up, as 'twere in a jest, and reads it publicly at the table: at which you must seem to take as unpardonable offence, as if he had torn your mistress's colours, or breath'd upon her picture, and pursue it with that hot grace, as if you would advance a challenge upon it presently.

SOG.
Stay, I do not like that humour of challenge, it may be accepted; but I'll tell you what's my humour now, I will do this: I will take occasion of sending one of my suits to the tailor's, to have the pocket repaired, or so; and there such a letter as you talk of, broke open and all shall be left; O, the tailor will presently give out what I am, upon the reading of it, worth twenty of your gallants.

CAR.
But then you must put on an extreme face of discontentment at your man's negligence.

SOG.
O, so I will, and beat him too: I'll have a man for the purpose.

MAC.
You may; you have land and crowns: O partial fate!

CAR.
Mass, well remember'd, you must keep your men gallant at the first, fine pied liveries laid with good gold lace; there's no loss in it, they may rip it off and pawn it when they lack victuals.

SOG.
By 'r Lady, that is chargeable, signior, 'twill bring a man in debt.

CAR.
Debt! why that's the more for your credit, sir: it's an excellent policy to owe much in these days, if you note it.

SOG.
As how, good signior? I would fain be a politician.

CAR.
O! look where you are indebted any great sum, your creditor observes you with no less regard, than if he were bound to you for some huge benefit, and will quake to give you the least cause of offence, lest he lose his money. I assure you, in these times, no man has his servant more obsequious and pliant, than gentlemen their creditors: to whom, if at any time you pay but a moiety, or a fourth part, it comes more acceptably than if you gave them a new-year's gift.

SOG.
I perceive you, sir: I will take up, and bring myself in credit, sure.

CAR.
Marry this, always beware you commerce not with bankrupts, or poor needy Ludgathians; they are impudent creatures, turbulent spirits, they care not what violent tragedies they stir, nor how they play fast and loose with a poor gentleman's fortunes, to get their own. Marry, these rich fellows that have the world, or the better part of it, sleeping in their counting-houses, they are ten times more placable, they; either fear, hope, or modesty, restrains them from offering any outrages: but this is nothing to your followers, you shall not run a penny more in arrearage for them, an you list, yourself.

SOG.
No! how should I keep 'em then?

CAR.
Keep 'em! 'sblood, let them keep themselves, they are no sheep, are they? what, you shall come in houses, where plate, apparel, jewels, and divers other pretty commodities lie negligently scattered, and I would have those Mercuries follow me, I trow, should remember they had not their fingers for nothing.

SOG.
That's not so good, methinks.

CAR.
Why, after you have kept them a fortnight, or so, and shew'd them enough to the world, you may turn them away, and keep no more but a boy, it's enough.

SOG.
Nay, my humour is not for boys, I'll keep men, an I keep any; and I'll give coats, that's my humour: but I lack a cullisen.

CAR.
Why, now you ride to the city, you may buy one; I'll bring you where you shall have your choice for money.

SOG.
Can you, sir?

CAR.
O, ay: you shall have one take measure of you, and make you a coat of arms to fit you, of what fashion you will.

SOG.
By word of mouth, I thank you, signior; I'll be once a little prodigal in a humour, i'faith, and have a most prodigious coat.


MAC.
Torment and death! break head and brain at once,
To be deliver'd of your fighting issue.
Who can endure to see blind Fortune dote thus?
To be enamour'd on this dusty turf,
This clod, a whoreson puck-fist! O G----!
I could run wild with grief now, to behold
The rankness of her bounties, that doth breed
Such bulrushes; these mushroom gentlemen,
That shoot up in a night to place and worship.


CAR.
(SEEING MACILENTE.)
Let him alone; some stray, some stray.

SOG.
Nay, I will examine him before I go, sure.

CAR.
The lord of the soil has all wefts and strays here, has he not?

SOG.
Yes, sir.

CAR.
Faith then I pity the poor fellow, he's fallen into a fool's hands.

(ASIDE.)

SOG.
Sirrah, who gave you a commission to lie in my lordship?

MAC.
Your lordship!

SOG.
How! my lordship? do you know me, sir?

MAC. I do know you, sir.

CAR. He answers him like an echo.

(ASIDE.)

SOG.
Why, Who am I, sir?

MAC.
One of those that fortune favours.

CAR.
The periphrasis of a fool. I'll observe this better.

(ASIDE.)

SOG.
That fortune favours! how mean you that, friend?

MAC.
I mean simply: that you are one that lives not by your wits.

SOG.
By my wits! no sir, I scorn to live by my wits, I. I have better means, I tell thee, than to take such base courses, as to live by my wits. What, dost thou think I live by my wits?

MAC.
Methinks, jester, you should not relish this well.

CAR.
Ha! does he know me?

MAC.
Though yours be the worst use a man can put his wit to, of thousands, to prostitute it at every tavern and ordinary; yet, methinks, you should have turn'd your broadside at this, and have been ready with an apology, able to sink this hulk of ignorance into the bottom and depth of his contempt.

CAR.
Oh, 'tis Macilente! Signior, you are well encountered; how is it? O, we must not regard what he says, man, a trout, a shallow fool, he has no more brain than a butterfly, a mere stuft suit; he looks like a musty bottle new wicker'd, his head's the cork, light, light!

(ASIDE TO MACILENTE.)

-- I am glad to see you so well return'd, signior.

MAC.
You are! gramercy, good Janus.

SOG.
Is he one of your acquaintance? I love him the better for that.

CAR.
Od's precious, come away, man, what do you mean? an you knew him as I do, you'd shun him as you would do the plague.

SOG.
Why, sir?

CAR.
O, he's a black fellow, take heed of him.

SOG.
Is he a scholar, or a soldier?

CAR.
Both, both; a lean mongrel, he looks as if he were chop-fallen, with barking at other men's good fortunes: 'ware how you offend him; he carries oil and fire in his pen, will scald where it drops: his spirit is like powder, quick, violent; he'll blow a man up with a jest: I fear him worse than a rotten wall does the cannon; shake an hour after at the report. Away, come not near him.

SOG.
For God's sake let's be gone; an he be a scholar, you know I cannot abide him; I had as lieve see a cockatrice, specially as cockatrices go now.

CAR.
What, you'll stay, signior? this gentleman Sogliardo, and I, are to visit the knight Puntarvolo, and from thence to the city; we shall meet there.

(EXIT WITH SOGLIARDO.)


MAC.
Ay, when I cannot shun you, we will meet.
'Tis strange! of all the creatures I have seen,
I envy not this Buffone, for indeed
Neither his fortunes nor his parts deserve it:
But I do hate him, as I hate the devil,
Or that brass-visaged monster Barbarism.
O, 'tis an open-throated, black-mouth'd cur,
That bites at all, but eats on those that feed him.
A slave, that to your face will, serpent-like,
Creep on the ground, as he would eat the dust,
And to your back will turn the tail, and sting
More deadly than the scorpion: stay, who's this?
Now, for my soul, another minion
Of the old lady Chance's! I'll observe him.

(ENTER SORDIDO WITH AN ALMANACK IN HIS HAND.)

SORD.
O rare! good, good, good, good, good!
I thank my stars, I thank my stars for it.

MAC.
Said I not true? doth not his passion speak
Out of my divination? O my senses,
Why lost you not your powers, and become
Dull'd, if not deaded, with this spectacle?
I know him, it is Sordido, the farmer,
A boor, and brother to that swine was here.
(ASIDE.)

SORD.
Excellent, excellent, excellent! as I would wish, as I would wish.

MAC.
See how the strumpet fortune tickles him,
And makes him swoon with laughter, O, O, O!


SORD.
Ha, ha, ha! I will not sow my grounds this year. Let me see, what harvest shall we have? "June, July?"

MAC.
What, is't a prognostication raps him so?

SORD.
"The 20, 21, 22 days, rain and wind." O good, good! "the 23, and 24, rain and some wind," good! "the 25, rain," good still! "26, 27, 28, wind and some rain"; would it had been rain and some wind! well, 'tis good, when it can be no better. "29, inclining to rain": inclining to rain! that's not so good now: "30, and 31, wind and no rain": no rain! 'slid, stay: this is worse and worse: What says he of St. Swithin's? turn back, look, "saint Swithin's: no rain!"


MAC.
O, here's a precious, dirty, damned rogue,
That fats himself with expectation
Of rotten weather, and unseason'd hours;
And he is rich for it, an elder brother!
His barns are full, his ricks and mows well trod,
His garners crack with store! O, 'tis well; ha, ha, ha!
A plague consume thee, and thy house!


SORD.
O here, "St. Swithin's, the 15 day, variable weather, for the most part rain", good! "for the most part rain": why, it should rain forty days after, now, more or less, it was a rule held, afore I was able to hold a plough, and yet here are two days no rain; ha! it makes me muse. We'll see how the next month begins, if that be better. "August 1, 2, 3, and 4, days, rainy and blustering:" this is well now: "5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, rainy, with some thunder;" Ay marry, this is excellent; the other was false printed sure: "the 10 and 11, great store of rain"; O good, good, good, good, good! "the 12, 13, and 14 days, rain"; good still: "15, and 16, rain"; good still: "17 and 18, rain", good still: "19 and 20", good still, good still, good still, good still, good still! "21, some rain"; some rain! well, we must be patient, and attend the heaven's pleasure, would it were more though: "the 22, 23, great tempests of rain, thunder and lightning".


O good again, past expectation good!
I thank my blessed angel; never, never
Laid I (a) penny better out than this,
To purchase this dear book: not dear for price,
And yet of me as dearly prized as life,
Since in it is contain'd the very life,
Blood, strength, and sinews, of my happiness.
Blest be the hour wherein I bought this book;
His studies happy that composed the book,
And the man fortunate that sold the book!
Sleep with this charm, and be as true to me,
As I am joy'd and confident in thee
(PUTS IT UP.)

(ENTER A HIND, AND GIVES SORDIDO A PAPER TO READ.)

MAC.
Ha, ha, ha!
Is not this good? Is not pleasing this?
Ha, ha, ha! God pardon me! ha, ha!
Is't possible that such a spacious villain
Should live, and not be plagued? or lies be hid
Within the wrinkled bosom of the world,
Where Heaven cannot see him? S'blood! methinks
'Tis rare, and strange, that he should breathe and walk,
Feed with digestion, sleep, enjoy his health,
And, like a boisterous whale swallowing the poor,
Still swim in wealth and pleasure! is't not strange?
Unless his house and skin were thunder proof,
I wonder at it! Methinks, now, the hectic,
Gout, leprosy, or some such loath'd disease,
Might light upon him; of that fire from heaven
Might fall upon his barns; or mice and rats
Eat up his grain; or else that it might rot
Within the hoary ricks, even as it stands:
Methinks this might be well; and after all
The devil might come and fetch him. Ay, 'tis true!
Meantime he surfeits in prosperity,
And thou, in envy of him, gnaw'st thyself:
Peace, fool, get hence, and tell thy vexed spirit,
Wealth in this age will scarcely look on merit.

(RISES AND EXIT.)

SORD. Who brought this same, sirrah?

HIND.
Marry, sir, one of the justice's men;
he says 'tis a precept, and all their hands be at it.

SORD.
Ay, and the prints of them stick in my flesh,
Deeper than in their letters: they have sent me
Pills wrapt in paper here, that, should I take them,
Would poison all the sweetness of my book,
And turn my honey into hemlock juice.
But I am wiser than to serve their precepts,
Or follow their prescriptions. Here's a device,
To charge me bring my grain unto the markets:
Ay, much! when I have neither barn nor garner,
Nor earth to hid it in, I'll bring 't; till then,
Each corn I send shall be as big as Paul's.
O, but (say some) the poor are like to starve.
Why, let 'em starve, what's that to me? are bees
Bound to keep life in drones and idle moths? no:
Why such are these that term themselves the poor,
Only because they would be pitied,
But are indeed a sort of lazy beggars,
Licentious rogues, and sturdy vagabonds,
Bred by the sloth of a fat plenteous year,
Like snakes in heat of summer, out of dung;
And this is all that these cheap times are good for:
Whereas a wholesome and penurious dearth
Purges the soil of such vile excrements,
And kills the vipers up.

HIND.
O, but master,
Take heed they hear you not.

SORD.
Why so?

HIND.
They will exclaim against you.

SORD.
Ay, their exclaims
Move me as much, as thy breath moves a mountain.
Poor worms, they hiss at me, whilst I at home
Can be contented to applaud myself,
To sit and clap my hands, and laugh, and leap,
Knocking my head against my roof, with joy
To see how plump my bags are, and my barns.
Sirrah, go hie you home, and bid your fellows
Get all their flails ready again I come.

HIND.
I will, sir.
(EXIT.)

SORD.
I'll instantly set all my hinds to thrashing
Of a whole rick of corn, which I will hide
Under the ground; and with the straw thereof
I'll stuff the outsides of my other mows:
That done, I'll have them empty all my garners,
And in the friendly earth bury my store,
That, when the searchers come, they may suppose
All's spent, and that my fortunes were belied.
And to lend more opinion to my want,
And stop that many-mouthed vulgar dog,
Which else would still be baying at my door,
Each market-day I will be seen to buy
Part of the purest wheat, as for my household;
Where when it comes, it shall increase my heaps:
'Twill yield me treble gain at this dear time,
Promised in this dear book: I have cast all.
Till then I will not sell an ear, I'll hang first.
O, I shall make my prices as I list;
My house and I can feed on peas and barley.
What though a world of wretches starve the while;
He that will thrive must think no courses vile.
(EXIT.)


COR.
Now, signior, how approve you this? have the humourists exprest themselves truly or no?


MIT.
Yes, if it be well prosecuted, 'tis hitherto happy enough: but methinks Macilente went hence too soon; he might have been made to stay, and speak somewhat in reproof of Sordido's wretchedness now at the last.

COR.
O, no, that had been extremely improper; besides, he had continued the scene too long with him, as 'twas, being in no more action.

MIT.
You may inforce the length as a necessary reason; but for propriety, the scene wou'd very well have borne it, in my judgment.

COR.
O, worst of both; why, you mistake his humour utterly then.

MIT.
How do I mistake it? Is it not envy?

COR.
Yes, but you must understand, signior, he envies him not as he is a villain, a wolf in the commonwealth, but as he is rich and fortunate; for the true condition of envy is, 'dolor alienae felicitatis', to have our eyes continually fixed upon another man's prosperity that is, his chief happiness, and to grieve at that. Whereas, if we make his monstrous and abhorr'd actions our object, the grief we take then comes nearer the nature of hate than envy, as being bred out of a kind of contempt and loathing in ourselves.

MIT.
So you'll infer it had been hate, not envy in him, to reprehend the humour of Sordido?

COR.
Right, for what a man truly envies in another, he could always love and cherish in himself; but no man truly reprehends in another, what he loves in himself; therefore reprehension is out of his hate. And this distinction hath he himself made in a speech there, if you marked it, where he says, "I envy not this Buffone, but I hate him." Why might he not as well have hated Sordido as him?

COR.
No, sir, there was subject for his envy in Sordido, his wealth: so was there not in the other. He stood possest of no one eminent gift, but a most odious and fiend-like disposition, that would turn charity itself into hate, much more envy, for the present.

MIT.
You have satisfied me, sir. O, here comes the fool, and the jester again, methinks.

COR.
'Twere pity they should be parted, sir.

MIT.
What bright-shining gallant's that with them? the knight they went to?

COR.
No, sir, this is one monsieur Fastidious Brisk, otherwise called the fresh Frenchified courtier.

MIT.
A humourist too?

COR.
As humorous as quicksilver; do but observe him; the scene is the country still, remember.

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