Act 3, Scene II

Scene: A Court in the Palace

Enter two Intelligencers.

1 Intelligencer.
There take your standing; be close and vigilant! here will I set myself; and let him look to his language! a' shall know the Duke has more ears in court than two.
2 Intelligencer.
I'll quote him to a tittle: Let him speak wisely, and plainly, and as hidden as a'can, I shall crush him; a' shall not 'scape [by] characters; though a' speak Babel, I shall crush him. We have a fortune by this service hanging over us, that, within this year or two, I hope we shall be call'd to be examiners, wear politic gowns guarded with copper-lace, making great faces full of fear and office; our labours may deserve this.
1 Intelligencer.
I hope it shall: Why, have not many men been raised from this worming trade, first, to gain good access to great men; then, to have commissions out for search; and lastly, to be worthily named at a great arraignment? Yes; and why not we? They that endeavour well deserve their fee. Close, close! a' comes; mark well, and all goes well!
[They stand apart.


Farewell, my hopes! my anchor now is broken!
Farewell, my quondam joys! of which no token
Is now remaining; such is the sad mischance,
Where lady Fortune leads the slippery dance.
Yet, at the length, let me this favour have,
Give me my wishes, or a wished grave!
The gods defend, so brave and valiant maw
Should slip into the never-satiate jaw
Of black Despair! No; thou shalt live and know
Thy full desires; Hunger, thy ancient foe,
Shall be subdued; those guts that daily tumble,
Through air and appetite, shall cease to rumble;
And thou shalt now at length obtain thy dish,
That noble part, the sweet head of a fish.
Then am I greater than the duke!—
2 Intelligencer.
There, there's a notable piece of treason? greater than the duke; mark that!
But how, or where; or when this shall be compass'd, is yet out of my reach.
I am so truly miserable, that might I be now knock'd o' th' head, with all my heart I would forgive a dog-killer.
Yet do I see,
Through this confusedness, some little comfort.
The plot, my lord, as e'er you came of a woman, discover.
1 Intelligencer.
Plots, dangerous plots! I will deserve by this most liberally.
'Tis from my head again.
Oh, that it would stand me, that I might fight, or have some venture, for it! that I might be turned loose, to try my fortune amongst the whole fry in a college or an inn of court, or scramble with the prisoners in the dungeon!
Nay, were it set down in the outer court,
And all the guard about it in a ring,
With their knives drawn, (which were a dismal sight,)
And after twenty leisurely were told,
I to be let loose only in my shirt,
To try their valour, how much of the spoil
I would recover from the enemies' mouths,
I would accept the challenge.
Let it go! Hast not thou been held to have some wit in the court, and to make some fine jests upon country people in progress-time? and wilt thou lose this opinion for the cold head of a fish? I say, let it go! I'll help thee to as good a dish of meat.
God, let me not live, if I do not wonder
Men should talk so profanely!
But 'tis not in the power of loose words,
Or any vain or misbehaving man,
To make me dare to wrong thy purity.
Show me but any lady in the court,
That hath so full an eye, so sweet a breath,
So soft and white a flesh: This doth not lie
In almond-gloves, nor ever hath been wash'd
In artificial baths; no traveller
That bath brought doctor home with him, hath dared,
With all his waters, powders, fucuses,
To make thy lovely corps sophisticate.
I have it; 'tis now infused; be comforted!
Can there be that little hope yet left
In nature? Shall I once more erect up trophies?
Shall I enjoy the sight of my dear saint,
And bless my palate with the best of creatures?
Ah, good my lord, by whom I breathe again,
Shall I receive this being?
Sir, I have found by certain calculation,
And settled revolution of the stars,
The fish is sent by the lord Gondarino
To his mercer: Now it is a growing hope
To know where 'tis.
Oh, it is far above
The good of women; the pathick cannot yield
More pleasing titillation!
But how to conapass it? search, cast about,
And bang your brains, Lazarillo! Thou art
Too dull and heavy to deserve a blessing.
Mylord, I'll not be idle:—Now, Lazarillo,
Think, think, think!
Valore. [Aside.]
Yonder's my informer, and his fellow, with table-books; they nod at me: upon my life, they have poor Lazarillo (that beats his brains about no such weighty matter) in for treason before this.
My lord, what do you think, if I should shave myself, put on midwife's apparel, come in with a handkerchief, and beg a piece for a great-bellied woman, or a sick child?
Good, very good!
Or corrupt the waiting prentice to betray the reversion?
1 Intelligencer.
There's another point in's plot; corrupt with money to betray: sure 'tis some fort a' means. Mark; have a care!
An 'twere the bare vinegar 'tis eaten with, it would in some sort satisfy nature: but might I once attain the dish itself, though I cut out my means through sword and fire, through poison, through anything that may make good my hopes—
2 Intelligencer.
Thanks to the gods, and our officiousness, the plot's discovered! fire, steel, and poison; burn the palace, kill the duke, and poison his privy-council.
To the mercer's!—Let me see! how if, before we can attain the means to make up our acquaintance, the fish be eaten?
If it be eaten, here he stands, that is the most dejected, most unfortunate, miserable, accursed, forsaken slave this province yields! I will not, sure, out-live it; no, I will die bravely, and like a Roman;
And after death, amidst the Elysian shades
I'll meet my love again.
1 Intelligencer.
"I will die bravely, like a Roman:" have a care; mark that! when he hath done all, he will kill himself.
Will nothing ease your appetite but this?
No; could the sea throw up his vastness,
And offer free his best inhabitants,
'Twere not so much as a bare temptation to me!
If you could be drawn to affect beef, venison, or fowl, it would be far the better.
I do beseech your lordship's patience!
I do confess that, in this heat of blood,
I have contemn'd all dull and grosser meats;
But I protest I do honour a chine of beef, I do reverence a loin of veal; but, good my lord, give me leave a little to adore this! But, my good lord, would your lordship, under colour of taking up some silks, go to the mercer's, I would in all humility attend your honour, where we may be invited, if fortune stand propitious.
Sir, you shall work me as you please.
Let it be suddenly, I do beseech your lordship! 'Tis now upon the point of dinner-time.
I am all yours.
1 Intelligencer.
Come, let's confer: Imprimis, a' saith, like a blasphemous villain, he's greater than the duke; this peppers him, an there were nothing else.
2 Intelligencer.
Then a' was naming plots; did you not hear?
1 Intelligencer.
Yes; but a' fell from that unto discovery, to corrupt by money, and so attain—
2 Intelligencer.
Ay, ay, a' meant some fort or citadel the duke hath; his very face betrayed his meaning. Oh, he is a very subtle and a dangerous knave; but if a' deal, a God's name, we shalt worm him.
1 Intelligencer.
But now comes the stroke, the fatal blow fire, sword, and poison: Oh, canibal, thou bloody canibal!
2 Intelligencer.
What had become of this poor state had not we been?
1 Intelligencer.
'Faith, it had lain buried in its own ashes, had not a greater hand been in't.
2 Intelligencer.
But note the rascal's resolution; after them act's, done, because he would avoid all fear of torture, and cozen the law, a' would kill himself: Was there ever the like danger brought to light in this age? Sure we shall merit much: we shall be able to keep two men a-piece, and a two-hand sword between us; we will live in favour of the state, betray our ten or twelve treasons a-week, and the people shall fear us. Come; to the lord Lucio! the sun shall not go down'till he be hang'd.