Epicene, or the Silent Woman
The Poet prays you, then, with better thought
To sit; and when his cates are all in brought,
Though there be none far-fet, there will dear-bought
Be fit for ladies; some for lords, knights, squires,
Some for your waiting-wench and city-wires,
Some for your men and daughters of Whitefriars (Prologue 19-24).
Truewit. [...] You see gilders will not work but enclosed. They must not discover how little serves with the help of art to adorn a great deal. How long did the canvas hang afore Aldgate? Were the people suffered to see the city’s Love and Charity while they were rude stone, before they were painted and burnished? No. No more should servants approach their mistresses but when they are complete and finished (1.1.116–23).
Truewit. ’Slid, I would be the author of more to vex him; that purpose deserves it: it gives thee law of plaguing him. I’ll tell thee what I would do. I would make a false almanac, get it printed, and then ha’ him drawn out on a coronation day to the Tower-wharf, and kill him with the noise of the ordnance (1.2.11–16).
Clerimont. [...] He is one of the Braveries, though he be none o’ the Wits. He will salute a judge upon the bench and a bishop in the pulpit, a lawyer when he is pleading at the bar, and a lady when she is dancing in a masque, and put her out. He does give plays and suppers, and invites his guests to ’em aloud out of his window as they ride by in coaches. He has a lodging in the Strand for the purpose, or to watch when ladies are gone to the china-houses or the Exchange, that he may meet ’em by chance and give ’em presents, some two or three hundred pounds’ worth of toys, to be laughed at. He is never witout a spare banquet or sweetmeats in his chanber, for their women to alight at and come up to, for a bait (1.3.30–42).
Truewit. Marry, your friends do wonder, sir, the Thames being so near, wherein you may drown so handsomely; or London Bridge at a low fall with a fine leap, to hurry you down the stream; or such a delicate steeple i’t he town as Bow, to vault from; or a braver height as Paul’s; or if you affected to do it nearer home and a shorter way, an excellent garret window into the street; or a beam in the said garret, with this halter
(He shows him a halter)
which they have sent, and desire that you would sooner commit your grave head to this knot than to the wedlock noose; or take a little sublimate and go out of the world like a rat, or a fly (as one said) wiht a straw i’ your arse: any way rather than to follow this goblin matrimony (2.2.20–32).
Morose. [...] Your knighthood itself shall come on its knees, and it shall be rejected; it shall be sued forits fees to execution, and not be redeemed; it shall cheat at the twelvepenny ordinary, it knightood, for its diet all the term time, and tell teales for it in the vacation, to the hostess; or it knighthood shall do worse, take sanctuary in Coleharbour, and fast. It shall fright all it friends with borrowing letters, and when one of the four-score hath brought it knighthood ten shillings, it knighthood shall go to the Cranes or the Bear at the Bridge-foot and be drunk in fear; it shall not have money to discharge one tavern-reckoning, to invite the old creditors to forbear it knighthood, or the new that should be, to trust it knighthood (2.5.108–21).
Otter. [...] Tom Otter’s bull, bear and horse is known all over England, in rerum natura.
Mistress Otter. ’Fore me, I will ’na-ture’ ’em over to Paris Garden and ’na-ture’ you thither too, if you pronounce ’em again. Is a bear a fit beast, or a bull, to mix in society with great ladies? Think i’ your discretion, in any good polity?
Otter. The horse then, good princess.
Mistress Otter. Well, I am contented for the horse; they love to be well horsed, I know. I love it myself.
Otter. And it is a delicate fine horse this. Poetarum Pegasus. Under correction, princess, Jupiter did turn himself into a -- taurus, or bull, under correction, good princess.
Clerimont. Ay, she must hear argument. Did not Pasiphae, who was a queen, love a bull? And was not Calisto, the mother of Arcas, turned into a bear and made a star, Mistress Ursula, i’ the heavens?
Morose. You can speak then!
Epicene. Yes, sir.
Morose. Speak out, I mean.
Dauphine. Oh, hold me up a little, I shall go away i’ the jest else. He has got on his whole nest of nightcaps, and locked himself up i’ the top o’ the house, as high as ever he can climb from the noise. I peeped in at a cranny and saw him sitting over a cross-beam o’ the roof, like him o’ the saddler’s horse in Fleet Street, upright; and he will sleep there (4.1.20–26).
Truewit. [...] Then if she be covetous and craving, do you promise anything, and perform sparingly; so shall you keep her in appetite still. Seem as you would give, but be like a barren field that yields little, or unlucky dice to foolish and hoping gamesters. Let your gifts be slight and dainty, rather than precious. Let cunning be above cost. Give cherries at time of year, or apricots; and say they were sent you out o’ the country, though you bought ’em in Cheapside (4.1.108–16).
Otter. Agreed. Now you shall ha’ the bear, cousin, and Sir John Daw the horse, and I’ll ha’ the bull still. Sound, Tritons o’ the Thames (4.2.64–66).
Centaure. Let him allow you your coach and four horses, your woman, your chambermaid, your page, your gentleman-usher, your French cook, and four grooms.
Centaure. It will open the gate to your fame.
Haughty. Here’s Centaure has immortalised herself with taming of her wild male.
Mavis. Ay, she has done the miracle of the kingdom.
Epicene. But ladies, do you count it lawful to have such plurality of servants, and do ’em all graces?
Haughty. Why not? Why should women deny their favours to men? Are they poorer, or the worse?
Daw. Is the Thames the less for the dyer’s water, mistress?
La Foole. Or a torch for lighting many torches? (4.4.20–34)
Dauphine. Marry, God forbid, sir, that you should geld yourself to anger your wife.
Morose. So it would rid me of her! And that I did supererogatory penance, in a belfry, at Westminster Hall, i’ the Cockpit, at the fall of a stag, the Tower Wharf (what place is there else?) London Bridge, Paris Garden, Billingsgate, when the noises are at their height and loudest. Hay, I would sit out a play that were nothing but fights at sea, drum, trumpet and target! (4.4.10–18)
- Jonson, Ben. Epicene. Ed. Richard Dutton. Revels Plays. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2004. Print.