Fiction > Harvard Classics > Philip Massinger > A New Way to Pay Old Debts
Philip Massinger (1583–1640).  A New Way to Pay Old Debts.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act I
Scene I
[Enter] WELLBORN [in tattered apparel,] TAPWELL, and FROTH 1

  WELL.  NO BOUSE? 2 nor no tobacco?
  TAP.        Not a suck, sir;
Nor the remainder of a single can
Left by a drunken porter, all night pall’d 3 too.        4
Froth. Not the dropping of the tap for your morning’s draught, sir:
’Tis verity, I assure you.
  WELL.        Verity, you brache! 4
The devil turn’d precisian! 5 Rogue, what am I?        8
  TAP.  Troth, durst I trust you with a looking-glass,
To let you see your trim shape, you would quit me
And take the name yourself.
  WELL.        How, dog!        12
  TAP.        Even so, sir.
And I must tell you, if you but advance
Your Plymouth cloak 6 you shall be soon instructed
There dwells, and within call, if it please your worship,        16
A potent monarch call’d the constable,
That does command a citadel called the stocks;
Whose guards are certain files of rusty billmen
Such as with great dexterity will hale        20
Your tatter’d, lousy——
  WELL.        Rascal! slave!
  FROTH.        No rage, sir.
  TAP.  At his own peril. Do not put yourself        24
In too much heat, there being no water near
To quench your thirst; and sure, for other liquor,
As mighty ale, or beer, they are things, I take it,
You must no more remember; not in a dream, sir.        28
  WELL.  Why, thou unthankful villain, dar’st thou talk thus!
Is not thy house, and all thou hast, my gift?
  TAP.  I find it not in chalk; and Timothy Tapwell
Does keep no other register.        32
  WELL.        Am not I he
Whose riots fed and cloth’d thee? Wert thou not
Born on my father’s land, and proud to be
A drudge in his house?        36
  TAP.        What I was, sir, it skills 7 not;
What you are, is apparent. Now, for a farewell,
Since you talk of father, in my hope it will torment you,
I’ll briefly tell your story. Your dead father,        40
My quondam master, was a man of worship,
Old Sir John Wellborn, justice of peace and quorum, 8
And stood fair to be custos rotulorum; 9
Bore the whole sway of the shire, kept a great house,        44
Reliev’d the poor, and so forth; but he dying,
And the twelve hundred a year coming to you,
Late Master Francis, but now forlorn Wellborn——
  WELL.  Slave, stop! or I shall lose myself.        48
  FROTH.        Very hardly:
You cannot out of your way.
  TAP.        But to my story:
You were then a lord of acres, the prime gallant,        52
And I your under-butler. Note the change now;
You had a merry time of’t: hawks and hounds,
With choice of running horses; mistresses
Of all sorts and all sizes, yet so hot,        56
As their embraces made your lordship melt;
Which your uncle, Sir Giles Overreach, observing,
(Resolving not to lose a drop of them,)
On foolish mortgages, statutes, and bonds,        60
For a while suppli’d your looseness, and then left you.
  WELL.  Some curate hath penn’d this invective, mongrel.
And you have studied it.
  TAP.        I have not done yet.        64
Your land gone, and your credit not worth a token
You grew a common borrower; no man scap’d
Your paper-pellets, 10 from the gentleman
To the beggars on highways, that sold you switches        68
In your gallantry.
  WELL.        I shall switch your brains out.
  TAP.  Where poor Tim Tapwell, with a little stock,
Some forty pounds or so, bought a small cottage;        72
Humbled myself to marriage with my Froth here,
Gave entertainment——
  WELL.        Yes, to whores and canters, 11
Clubbers by night.        76
  TAP.        True, but they brought in profit,
And had a gift to pay for what they call’d for,
And stuck not like your mastership. The poor income
I glean’d from them hath made me in my parish        80
Thought worthy to be scavenger, and in time
I may rise to be overseer of the poor;
Which if I do, on your petition, Wellborn,
I may allow you thirteen-pence a quarter.        84
And you shall thank my worship.
  WELL.        Thus, you dog-bolt,
And thus——  Beats and kicks him.
  TAP.  [to his wife.]  Cry out for help!        88
  WELL.        Stir, and thou diest:
Your potent prince, the constable, shall not save you.
Hear me ungrateful hell-hound! Did not I
Make purses for you? Then you lick’d my boots,        92
And thought your holiday cloak too coarse to clean them.
’Twas I that, when I heard thee swear if ever
Thou couldst arrive at forty pounds thou wouldst
Live like an emperor, ’twas I that gave it        96
In ready gold. Deny this, wretch!
  TAP.        I must, sir;
For, from the tavern to the taphouse, all,
On forfeiture of their licenses, stand bound        100
Ne’er to remember who their best guests were,
If they grew poor like you.
  WELL.        They are well rewarded
That beggar themselves to make such cuckolds rich.        104
Thou viper, thankless viper! impudent bawd!—
But since you are grown forgetful, I will help
Your memory, and tread you into mortar,
Nor leave one bone unbroken.  [Beats him again.]        108
  TAP.        Oh!
  FROTH.        Ask mercy.

  WELL.  ’Twill not be granted.
  ALL.        Hold—for my sake, hold.        112
Deny me, Frank? They are not worth your anger.
  WELL.  For once thou hast redeem’d them from this sceptre; 12
But let ’em vanish, creeping on their knees,
And, if they grumble, I revoke my pardon.        116
  FROTH.  This comes of your prating, husband; you presum’d
On your ambling wit, and must use your glib tongue,
Though you are beaten lame for’t.
  TAP.        Patience, Froth;        120
There’s law to cure our bruises.  They go off on their hands and knees.
  WELL.        Sent to your mother?
  ALL.  My lady, Frank, my patroness, my all!
She’s such a mourner for my father’s death,        124
And, in her love to him, so favours me,
That I cannot pay too much observance to her.
There are few such stepdames.
  WELL.        ’Tis a noble widow,        128
And keeps her reputation pure, and clear
From the least taint of infamy; her life,
With the splendour of her actions, leaves no tongue
To envy or detraction. Prithee tell me,        132
Has she no suitors?
  ALL.        Even the best of the shire, Frank,
My lord excepted; such as sue and send,
And send and sue again, but to no purpose;        136
Their frequent visits have not gain’d her presence.
Yet she’s so far from sullenness and pride,
That I dare undertake you shall meet from her
A liberal entertainment. I can give you        140
A catalogue of her suitors’ names.
  WELL.        Forbear it,
While I give you good counsel: I am bound to it.
Thy father was my friend, and that affection        144
I bore to him, in right descends to thee;
Thou art a handsome and a hopeful youth,
Nor will I have the least affront stick on thee,
If I with any danger can prevent it.        148
  ALL.  I thank your noble care; but, pray you, in what
Do I run the hazard?
  WELL.        Art thou not in love?
Put it not off with wonder.        152
  ALL.        In love, at my years!
  WELL.  You think you walk in clouds, but are transparent.
I have heard all, and the choice that you have made,
And, with my finger, can point out the north star        156
By which the loadstone of your folly’s guided;
And, to confirm this true, what think you of
Fair Margaret, the only child and heir
Of Cormorant Overreach? Does it blush and start,        160
To hear her only nam’d? Blush at your want
Of wit and reason.
  ALL.        You are too bitter, sir.
  WELL.  Wounds of this nature are not to be cur’d        164
With balms, but corrosives. I must be plain:
Art thou scarce manumis’d 13 from the porter’s lodge 14
And yet sworn servant to the pantofle, 15
And dar’st thou dream of marriage? I fear        168
’Twill be concluded for impossible
That there is now, or e’er shall be hereafter,
A handsome page or player’s boy of fourteen
But either loves a wench, or drabs love him;        172
Court-waiters not exempted.
  ALL.        This is madness.
Howe’er you have discover’d my intents,
You know my aims are lawful; and if ever        176
The queen of flowers, the glory of the spring,
The sweetest comfort to our smell, the rose,
Sprang from an envious briar, I may infer
There’s such disparity in their conditions        180
Between the goodness of my soul, the daughter,
And the base churl her father.
  WELL.        Grant this true,
As I believe it, canst thou ever hope        184
To enjoy a quiet bed with her whose father
Ruin’d thy state?
  ALL.        And yours too.
  WELL.        I confess it;        188
True; I must tell you as a friend, and freely,
That, where impossibilities are apparent,
’Tis indiscretion to nourish hopes.
Canst thou imagine (let not self-love blind thee)        192
That Sir Giles Overreach, that, to make her great
In swelling titles, without touch of conscience
Will cut his neighbour’s throat, and I hope his own too,
Will e’er consent to make her thine? Give o’er,        196
And think of some course suitable to thy rank,
And prosper in it.
  ALL.        You have well advis’d me.
But in the mean time you that are so studious        200
Of my affairs wholly neglect your own.
Remember yourself, and in what plight you are.
  WELL.  No matter, no matter.
  ALL.        Yes, ’tis much material.        204
You know my fortune and my means; yet something
I can spare from myself to help your wants.
  WELL.        How’s this?
  ALL.  Nay, be not angry; there’s eight pieces        208
To put you in better fashion.
  WELL.        Money from thee!
From a boy! A stipendiary! One that lives
At the devotion of a stepmother        212
And the uncertain favour of a lord!
I’ll eat my arms first. Howsoe’er blind Fortune
Hath spent the utmost of her malice on me—
Though I am vomited out of an alehouse,        216
And thus accoutred—know not where to eat,
Or drink, or sleep, but underneath this canopy 16
Although I thank thee, I despise thy offer;
And as I in my madness broke my state        220
Without th’ assistance of another’s brain,
In my right wits I’ll piece it; at the worst,
Die thus and be forgotten.
  ALL.        A strange humour!  Exeunt.        224
Note 1. Before Tapwell’s house. [back]
Note 2. Booze, drink. [back]
Note 3. Staled. [back]
Note 4. Hound. [back]
Note 5. Puritan. [back]
Note 6. Cudgel. [back]
Note 7. Matters. [back]
Note 8. A select number of the more learned justices, whose presence was necessary to constitute the bench. [back]
Note 9. Keeper of the county records. [back]
Note 10. Acknowledgments of indebtedness. [back]
Note 11. Whining beggars. [back]
Note 12. I. e., his cudgel. [back]
Note 13. Freed. [back]
Note 14. Where servants used to be punished. [back]
Note 15. Slipper. [back]
Note 16. I. e., the sky. [back]


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