Act 1, Scene III

Scene: An Apartment in the House of Count Valore.

Enter VALORE and ORIANA.

Oriana.
'Faith, brother, I must needs go yonder.
Valore.
And i'faith, sister, what will you do yonder?
Oriana.
I know the lady Honoria will be glad to see me.
Valore.
Glad to see you? 'Faith, the lady Honoria cares for you as she doth for all other young ladies; she is glad to see you, and will shew you the privy-garden, and tell you how many gowns the duchess had. Marry, if you have ever an old uncle, that would be a lord, or ever a kinsman that hath done a murder, or committed a robbery, and will give good store of money to procure his pardon, then the lady Honoria will be glad to see you.
Oriana.
Ay, but they say one shall see fine sights at the court.
Valore.
I'll tell you what you shall see; you shall see many faces of man's making, for you shall find very few as God left them: And you shall see many legs too; amongst the rest you shall behold one pair, the feet of which were in times past sockless, but are now, through the change of time (that alters all things,) very strangely become the legs of a knight and a courtier; another pair you shall see, that were heir-apparent legs to a glover, these legs hope shortly to be honourable; when they pass by they will bow, and the mouth to these legs will seem to offer you some courtship; it will swear, but it will lie; hear it not!
Oriana.
Why, and are not these fine sights?
Valore.
Sister,
In seriousness you yet are young, and fair
A fair young maid, and apt——
Oriana.
Apt?
Valore.
Exceeding apt;
Apt to be drawn to——
Oriana.
To what?
Valore.
To that you should not be; 'tis no dispraise;
She is not bad that hath desire to ill,
But she that hath no power to rule that will:
For there you shall be woo'd in other kinds
Than yet your years have known;
The chiefest men will seem to throw themselves
As vassals at your service, kiss your hand,
Prepare you banquets, masks, shows, all inticements
That Wit and Lust together can devise,
To draw a lady from the state of grace
To an old lady widow's gallery;
And they will praise your virtues; beware that
The only way to turn a woman whore,
Is to commend her chastity: You'll go?
Oriana.
I would go, if it were but only to shew you, that I could be there, and be moved with none of these tricks.
Valore.
Your servants are ready?
Oriana.
An hour since.
Valore.
Well, if you come off clear from this hot service, your praise shall be the greater. Farewell, sister!
Oriana.
Farewell, brother!
Valore.
Once more! If you stay in the presence till candle-light, keep on the foreside o' th' curtain; and, do you hear, take heed of the old bawd, in the cloth-of-tissue sleeves, and the knit mittens! Farewell, sister!—[Exit ORIANA.] Now am I idle; I would I had been a scholar, that I might have studied now! the punishment of meaner men is, they have too much to do; our only misery is, that without company we know not what to do. I must take some of the common courses of our nobility, which is thus: if I can find no company that likes me, pluck off my hat-band, throw an old cloak over my face, and, as if I would not be known, walk hastily through the streets, till I be discovered then "there goes count Such-a-one," says one "There goes count Such-a-one," says another; "Look how fast he goes," says a third; "There's some great matters in hand questionless," says a fourth; when all my business is to have them say so. This hath been used. Or, if I can find any company, I'll after dinner to the stage to see a play; where, when I first enter, you shall have a murmur in the house; every one that does not know, cries, "What nobleman is that?" all the galllants on the stage rise, vail to me, kiss their hand, offer me their places: Then I pick out some one, whom I please to grace among the rest, take his seat, use it, throw my cloak over my face, and laugh at him: the poor gentleman imagines himself most highly graced, thinks all the auditors esteem him one of my bosom-friends, and in right special regard with me. But here comes a gentleman, that I hope will make me better sport than either street and stage fooleries.
[Retires to one side of the Stage.

Enter LAZARILLO and Boy.

This man loves to eat good meat; always provided he do not pay for it himself. He goes by the name of the Hungry Courtier; marry, because I think that name will not sufficiently distinguish him (for no doubt he hath more fellows there) his name is Lazarillo; he is none of these same ordinary eaters, that will devour three breakfasts, and as many dinners, without any prejudice to their bevers, drinkings, or suppers; but he hath a more courtly kin of hunger, and doth hunt more after novelty than plenty. I'll over-hear him.

Lazarillo.
Oh, thou most itching kindly appetite,
Which every creature in his stomach feels,
Oh, leave, leave yet at last thus to torment me!
Three several sallads have I sacrificed,
Bedew'd with precious oil and vinegar,
Already to appease thy greedy wrath.—
Boy !
Boy.    
Sir?
Lazarillo.
Will the count speak with me?
Boy.    
One of his gentlemen is gone to inform him of your coming, sir.
Lazarillo.
There is no way left for me to compass this fish-head, but by being presently made known to the duke.
Boy.    
That will be hard, sir.
Lazarillo.
When I have tasted of this sacred dish,
Then shall my bones rest in my father's tomb
In peace; then shall I die most willingly,
And as a dish be served to satisfy
Death's hunger; and I will be buried thus:
My bier shall be a charger borne by four,
The coffin where I lie a powd'ring-tub,
Bestrew'd with lettuce, and cool sallad-herbs
My winding-sheet of tansies; the black guard
Shall be my solemn mourners; and, instead
Of ceremonies, wholesome burial prayers
A printed dirge in rhyme shall bury me.
Instead of tears let them pour capon-sauce
Upon my hearse, and salt instead of dust,
Manchets for stones; for other glorious shields
Give me a voider; and above my hearse,
For a trutch sword, my naked knife stuck up!
[VALORE comes forward.
Boy.    
Master, the count's here.
Lazarillo.
Where?—My lord, I do beseech you——
[Kneeling.
Valore.
You are very welcome, sir; I pray you stand up; you shall dine with me.
Lazarillo.
I do beseech your lordship, by the love I still have borne to your bonourable house——
Valore.
Sir, what need all this? you shall dine with me. I pray rise.
Lazarillo.
Perhaps your lordship takes me for one of these same fellows, that do, as it were, respect victuals.
Valore.
Oh, sir, by no means.
Lazarillo.
Your lordship has often promised, that whensoever I should affect greatness, your own hand should help to raise me.
Valore.
And so much still assure yourself of.
Lazarillo.
And though I must confess I have ever shunn'd popularity, by the example of others, yet I do now feel myself a little ambitious: Your lordship is great, and, though young, yet a privy-counsellor.
Valore.
I pray you, sir, leap into the matter; what would you have me do for you?
Lazarillo.
I would entreat your lordship to make me known to the duke.
Valore.
When, sir?
Lazarillo.
Suddenly, my lord; I would have you present me unto him this morning.
Valore.
It shall be done: But for what virtues would you have him take notice of you?
Lazarillo.
Your lordship shall know that presently.
Valore. [Aside.]
'Tis pity of this fellow; he is of good wit, and sufficient understanding, when he is not troubled with this greedy worm.
Lazarillo.
'Faith, you may entreat him to take notice of me for anything; for being an excellent farrier, for playing well at span-counter, or sticking knives in walls, for being impudent, or for nothing; why may not I be a favourite on the sudden? I see nothing against it.
Valore.
Not so, sir; I know you have not the face to be a favourite on the sudden.
Lazarillo.
Why then, you shall present me as a gentleman well qualified, or one extraordinary seen in divers strange mysteries.
Valore.
In what, sir? as how?
Lazarillo.
Marry as thus——

Enter Intelligencer.

Valore.
Yonder's my old spirit, that hath haunted me daily, ever since I was a privy-counsellor; I must be rid of him.—[To the Intelligencer.] I pray you stay there; I am a little busy; I will speak with you presently.
Lazarillo.
You shall bring me in, and after a little other talk, taking me by the hand, you shall utter these words to the duke; "May it please your grace, to take note of a gentleman, well read, deeply learned, and thoroughly grounded in the hidden knowledge of all sallads and pot-herbs whatsoever."
Valore.
'Twill be rare! If you will walk before, sir, I will overtake you instantly.
Lazarillo.
Your lordship's ever.
[Exit.
Valore. [Aside.]
This fellow is a kind of an informer, one that lives in ale-houses and taverns; and because he perceives some worthy men in this land, with much labour and great expence, to have discover'd things dangerously hanging over the state, he thinks to discover as much out of the talk of drunkards in tap-houses: He brings me informations, pick'd out of broken words, in men's common talk, which, with his malicious mis-application, he hopes will seem dangerous; he doth, besides, bring me the names of all the young gentlemen in the city, that use ordinaries, or taverns, talking (to my thinking) only as the freedom of their youth teach them, without any further ends, for dangerous and seditious spirits; he is, besides, an arrant whoremaster as any is in Milan, of a layman; I will not meddle with the clergy: He is parcel lawyer, and in my conscience much of their religion: I must put upon him some piece of service.—Come hither, sir: What have you to do with me?
Intelligencer.
Little, my lord; I only come to know how your lordship would employ me.
Valore.
Observed you that gentleman that parted from me but now?
Intelligencer.
I saw him now, my lord.
Valore.
I was sending for you; I have talk'd with this man, and I do find him dangerous.
Intelligencer.
Is your lordship in good earnest?
Valore.
Hark you, sir; there may perhaps be some within ear-shot.
[He whispers with him.

Enter LAZARILLO and Boy.

Lazarillo.
Sirrah, will you venture your life, the duke hath sent the fish head to my lord?
Boy.    
Sir, if he have not, kill me, do what you will with me!
Lazarillo.
How uncertain is the state of all mortal things! I have those crosses from my cradle, from my very cradle, insomuch that I do begin to desperate: Fortune, I do despise thee, do thy worst!—Yet, when I do better gather myself together, I do find it is rather the part of a wise man to prevent the storms of fortune by stirring, than to suffer 'em, by standing still, to pour themselves upon his naked body: I will about it.
Valore.
Who's within there?

Enter a Serving-man.

Let this gentleman out at the back-door!—Forget not my instructions. If you find anything dangerous, trouble not yourself to find out me, but carry your informations to the lord Lucio; he is a man grave, and well experienced in these businesses.

Intelligencer.
Your lordship's servant.
[Exeunt Intelligencer and Serving-man.
Lazarillo.
Will it please your lordship walk?
Valore.
Sir, I was coming; I will overtake you.
Lazarillo.
I will attend you over against the lord Gondarino's house.
Valore.
You shall not attend there long.
Lazarillo.
Thither must I
To see my love's face, the chaste virgin head
Of a dear fish, yet pure and undeflower'd,
Not known of man; no rough-bred country hand
Hath once touch'd thee, no pander's wither'd paw,
Nor an un-napkin'd lawyer's greasy fist,
Hath once slubber'd thee; no lady's supple hand,
Wash'd o'er with urine, hath yet seized on thee
With her two nimble talons; no court-hand
Whom his own natural filth, or change of air,
Hath bedeck'd with scabs, hath marr'd thy whiter grace:
Oh, let it be thought lawful then for me,
To crop the flower of thy virginity!
Valore.
This day I am for fools; I am all theirs:
Though, like to our young wanton cocker'd heirs,
Who do affect those men above the rest
In whose base company they still are best,
I do not with much labour strive to be
The wisest ever in the company;
But for a fool our wisdom oft amends,
As enemies do teach us more than friends.
[Exit.