Act 1, Scene III

Scene: A Room in La Castre's House.

Enter LA CASTRE, NANTOLET, LUGIER, ROSALURA, and LILLIA BIANCA.

La Castre.
You and your beauteous daughters are most welcome!
Beshrew my blood they are fair ones!—Welcome, beauties,
Welcome, sweet birds!
Nantolet.
They are bound much to your courtesies.
La Castre.
I hope we shall be nearer acquainted.
Nantolet.
That's my hope too;
For, certain, sir, I much desire your alliance.
You see 'em; they are no gypsies; for their breeding,
It has not been so coarse, but they are able
To rank themselves with women of fair fashion.
Indeed, they have been trained well.
Lugier.
Thank me!
Nantolet.
Fit for the heirs of that state I shall leave 'em;
To say more, is to sell 'em. They say, your son,
Now he has travell'd, must be wond'rous curious
And choice in what he takes; these are no coarse ones.
Sir, here's a merry wench—let him look to himself;
All heart, i'faith!—may chance to startle him;
For all his care and travell'd caution,
May creep into his eye: If he love gravity,
Affect a solemn face, there's one will fit him.
La Castre.
So young and so demure?
Nantolet.
She is my daughter,
Else I would tell you, sir, she is a mistress
Both of those manners, and that modesty,
You would wonder at: She is no often-speaker,
But, when she does, she speaks well; nor no reveller,
Yet she can dance, and has studied the court elements,
And sings, as some say, handsomely; if a woman,
With the decency of her sex, may be a scholar,
I can assure you, sir, she understands too.
La Castre.
These are fit garments, sir.
Lugier.
Thank them that cut 'em!
Yes, they are handsome women, they have handsome parts too,
Pretty becoming parts.
La Castre.
'Tis like they have, sir.
Lugier.
Yes, yes, and handsome education they have had too,
Had it abundantly; they need not blush at it:
I taught it, I'll avouch it.
La Castre.
You say well, sir.
Lugier.
I know what I say, sir, and I say but right, sir:
I am no trumpet of their commendations
Before their father; else I should say farther.
La Castre.
'Pray you, what's this gentleman?
Nantolet.
One that lives with me, sir;
A man well bred and learn'd, but blunt and bitter;
Yet it offends no wise man; I take pleasure in't:
Many fair gifts he has, in some of which,
That lie most easy to their understandings,
He has handsomely bred up my girls, I thank him.
Lugier.
I have put it to 'em, that's my part, I have urged it;
It seems, they are of years now to take hold on't.
Nantolet.
He's wondrous blunt.
La Castre.
Bv my faith, I was afraid of him;
Does he not fall out with the gentlewomen sometimes?
Nantolet.
No, no; he's that way moderate and discreet, sir.
Rosalura.
If he did, we should be too hard for him.
Lugier.
Well said, sulphur!
Too hard for thy husband's head, if he wear not armour.
Nantolet.
Many of these bickerings, sir.
La Castre.
I am glad, they are no oracles!
Sure as I live, he beats them, he's so puissant.

Enter MIRABEL, PINAC, BELLEUR, DE GARD, and ORIANA.

Oriana.
Well, if you do forget——
Mirabel.
Pr'ythee, hold thy peace!
I know thou art a pretty wench; I know thou lov'st me;
Preserve it till we have a fit time to discourse on't,
And a fit place; I'll case my heart, I warrant thee;
Thou seest, I have much to do now.
Oriana.
I am answer'd, sir:
With me you shall have nothing on these conditions.
De Gard.
Your father and your friends.
La Castre.
You are welcome home, sir!
'Bless you, you are very welcome! 'Pray know this gentleman,
And these fair ladies.
Nantolet.
Monsieur Mirabel,
I am much affected with your fair return, sir;
You bring a general joy.
Mirabel.
I bring you service,
And these bright beauties, sir.
Nantolet.
Welcome home, gentlemen!
Welcome with all my heart!
Belleur & Pinac.
We thank you, sir.
La Castre.
Your friends will have their share too.
Belleur.
Sir, we hope
They'll look upon us, though we show like strangers.
Nantolet.
Monsieur De Gard, I must salute you also,
And this fair gentlewoman: you are welcome from your travel too!
All welcome, all!
[La Castre and Mirabel speak apart.
De Gard.
We render you our loves, sir,
The best wealth we bring home. By your favours, beauties!—
One of these two. You know my meaning.
Oriana.
Well, Sir;
They are fair and handsome, I must needs confess it,
And, let it prove the worst, I shall live after it:
Whilst I have meat and drink, love cannot starve me;
For, if I die o' th' first fit, I am unhappy,
And worthy to be buried with my heels upward.
Mirabel.
To marry, sir?
La Castre.
You know, I am an old man,
And every hour declining to my crave,
One foot already in; more sons I have not,
Nor more I dare not seek whilst you are worthy;
In you lies all my hope, and all my name,
The making good or wretched of my memory;
The safety of my state.
Mirabel.
And you have provided,
Out of this tenderness, these handsome gentlewomen,
Daughters to this rich man, to take my choice of?
La Castre.
I have, dear son.
Mirabel.
'Tis true, you are old, and feebled;
'Would you were young again, and in full vigour!
I love a bounteous father's life, a long one;
I am none of those, that, when they shoot to ripeness,
Do what they can to break the boughs they grew on;
I wish you many years, and many riches,
And pleasures to enjoy 'em: But for marriage
I neither yet believe in't, nor affect it,
Nor think it fit.
La Castre.
You'll render me your reasons?
Mirabel.
Yes, sir, both short and pithy, and these they are:
You would have me marry a maid?
La Castre.
A maid? what else?
Mirabel.
Yes, there be things called widows, dead men's wills,
I never loved to prove those; nor never long'd yet
To be buried alive in another man's cold monument.
And there be maids appearing, and maids being:
The appearing are fantastic things, mere shadows;
And, if you mark 'em well, they want their heads too
Only the world, to cozen misty eyes,
Has clapt 'em on new faces. The maids being
A man may venture on, if he be so mad to marry,
If he have neither fear before his eyes, nor fortune;
And let him take heed how he gather these too;
For look you, father, they are just like melons,
Musk-melons are the emblems of these maids;
Now they are ripe, now cut 'em they taste pleasantly,
And are a dainty fruit, digested easily;
Neglect this present time, and come to-morrow,
They are so ripe, they are rotten—gone! their sweetness
Run into humour, and their taste to surfeit!
La Castre.
Why, these are now ripe, son.
Mirabel.
I'll try them presently,
And, if I like their taste——
La Castre.
'Pray you please yourself, sir.
Mirabel.
That liberty is my due, and I'll maintain it.—
Lady, what think you of a handsome man now?
Rosalura.
A wholesome too, sir?
Mirabel.
That's as you make your bargain.
A handsome, wholesome man then, and a kind man,
To cheer your heart up, to rejoice you, lady?
Rosalura.
Yes, sir, I love rejoicing.
Mirabel.
To lie close to you?
Close as a cockle? keep the cold nights from you?
Rosalura.
That will be look'd for too; our bodies ask it.
Mirabel.
And get two boys at every birth?
Rosalura.
That's nothing;
I have known a cobler do it, a poor thin cobler,
A cobler out of mouldy cheese perform it,
Cabbage, and coarse black thread; methinks, a gentleman
Should take foul scorn to have an awl out-name him.
Two at a birth? Why, every house-dove has it:
That man that feeds well, promises as well too,
I should expect indeed something of worth from.
You talk of two?
Mirabel.
She would have me get two dozen,
Like buttons at a birth.
Rosalura.
You love to brag, sir;
If you proclaim these offers at your marriage,
(You are a pretty-timber'd man; take heed!)
They may be taken hold of, and expected,
Yes, if not hoped for at a higher rate too.
Mirabel.
I will take heed, and thank you for your counsel.—
Father, what think you?
La Castre.
'Tis a merry gentlewoman;
Will make, no doubt, a good wife.
Mirabel.
Not for me:
I marry her, and, happily, get nothing;
In what a state am I then, father? I shall suffer,
For anything I hear to th' contrary, more majorum;
I were as sure to be a cuckold, father,
A gentleman of antler——
La Castre.
Away, away, fool!
Mirabel.
As I am sure to fail her expectation.
I had rather get the pox than get her babies!
La Castre.
You are much to blame! If this do not affect you,
Pray try the other; she's of a more demure way.
Belleur.
That I had but the audacity to talk thus!
[Aside.
I love that plain-spoken gentlewoman admirably;
And, certain, I could go as near to please her,
If down-right doing——She has a perilous countenance!
If I could meet one that would believe me,
And take my honest meaning without circumstance——
Mirabel.
You shall have your will, sir; I will try the other;
But 'twill be to small use.—I hope, fair lady
(For, methinks, in your eyes, I see more mercy),
You will enjoin your lover a less penance;
And though I'll promise much, as men are liberal,
And vow an ample sacrifice of service,
Yet your discretion, and your tenderness,
And thriftiness in love, good huswife's carefulness
To keep the stock entire——
Lillia Bianca.
Good sir, speak louder,
That these may witness too, you talk of nothing:
I should be loth to bear the burthen
Of so much indiscretion.
Mirabel.
Hark ye, hark ye!
Ods-bobs, you are angry, lady!
Lillia Bianca.
Angry? no, sir;
I never own'd an anger to lose poorly.
Mirabel.
But you can love, for all this; and delight too,
For all your set austerity, to hear
Of a good husband, lady?
Lillia Bianca.
You say true, sir;
For, by my troth, I have heard of none these ten years,
They are so rare; and there are so many, sir,
So many longing women on their knees too,
That pray the dropping-down of these good husbands—
The dropping-down from Heaven; for they are not bred here—
That you may guess at all my hope, but hearing——
Mirabel.
Why may not I be one?
Lillia Bianca.
You were near 'em once, sir
When ye came o'er the Alps; those are near Heaven:
But since you miss'd that happiness, there's no hope of you.
Mirabel.
Can ye love a man?
Lillia Bianca.
Yes, if the man be lovely;
That is, be honest, modest. I would have him valiant,
His anger slow, but certain for his honour;
Travell'd he should be, but through himself exactly,
For 'tis fairer to know manners well than countries;
He must be no vain talker, nor no lover
To hear himself talk; they are brags of a wanderer,
Of one finds no retreat for fair behaviour.
Would you learn more?
Mirabel.
Yes.
Lillia Bianca.
Learn to hold your peace, then:
Fond girls are got with tongues, women with tempers.
Mirabel.
Women, with I know what; but let that vanish:
Go thy way, good wife Bias! Sure thy husband
Alust have a strong philosopher's stone, he will ne'er please thee else.
Here's a starcht piece of austerity!—Do you hear, father?
Do you hear this moral lecture?
La Castre.
Yes, and like it.
Mirabel.
Why, there's your judgment now; there's an old bolt shot!
This thing must have the strangest observation
(Do you mark me, father?) when she is married once,
The strangest custom, too, of admiration
On all she does and speaks, 'twill be past sufferance;
I must not lie with her in common language,
Nor cry, "Have at thee, Kate!" I shall be hiss'd then;
Nor eat my meat without the sauce of sentences,
Your powder'd beef and problems, a rare diet!
My first son monsieur Aristotle, I know it,
Great master of the metaphysicks, or so;
The second, Solon, and the best law-setter;
And I must look Egyptian god-fathers,
Which will be no small trouble: My eldest daughter
Sappho, or such a fiddling kind of poetess,
And brought up, invitâ Minerva, at her needle;
My dogs must look their names too, and all Spartan,
Lelaps, Melampus; no more Fox and Baudiface.
I married to a sullen set of sentences?
To one that weighs her words and her behaviours
In the gold weights of discretion! I'll be hang'd first.
La Castre.
Pr'ythee reclaim thyself.
Mirabel.
Pray ye, give me time then:
If they can set me anything to play at,
That seems fit for a gamester, have at the fairest!
Till then, see more and try more!
La Castre.
Take your time then;
I'll bar you no fair liberty.—Come, gentlemen;
And, ladies, come; to all, once more, a welcome!
And now let's in to supper.
[Exit.
Mirabel.
How dost like 'em?
Pinac.
They are fair enough, but of so strange behaviours——
Mirabel.
Too strange for me: I must have those have mettle,
And mettle to my mind. Come, let's be merry.
Belleur.
Bless me from this woman! I would stand the cannon,
Before ten words of hers.
De Gard.
Do you find him now?
Do you think he will be ever firm?
Oriana.
I fear not.
[Exeunt.