Beaumont & Fletcher's Works (1 of 10) - the Custom of the Country
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Beaumont & Fletcher's Works (1 of 10) -The Custom of the Country, by Francis Beaumont and John FletcherEdited by Arnold Glover
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Title: Beaumont & Fletcher's Works (1 of 10) - The Custom of the Country
Author: Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher
Edited by Arnold Glover
Release Date: April 15, 2004 [EBook #12039]
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Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Charles M. Bidwell and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team.
THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY.
* * * * *
Persons Represented in the Play.
Count Clodio, Governour and a dishonourable pursuer of Zenocia.
Manuel du Sosa, Governour of Lisbon, and Brother to Guiomar.
Arnoldo, A Gentleman contracted to Zenocia.
Rutilio, A merry Gentleman Brother to Arnoldo.
Charino, Father to Zenocia.
Duarte, Son to Guiomar, a Gentleman well qualified but vain glorious.
Alonzo, a young Portugal Gentleman, enemy to Duarte.
Leopold, a Sea Captain Enamour'd on Hippolyta.
Zabulon, a Jew, servant to Hippolyta.
Jaques, servant to Sulpitia.
Knaves, of the Male Stewes.
Zenocia, Mistress to Arnoldo, and a chaste Wife.
Guiomar, a vertuous Lady, Mother to Duarte.
Hippolyta, a rich Lady, wantonly in Love with Arnoldo.
Sulpitia, a Bawd, Mistress of the Male Stewes.
* * * * *
The Scene sometimes Lisbon, sometimes Italy.
* * * * *
The principal Actors wereJoseph Taylor. Robert Benfeild.John Lowin. William Eglestone.Nicholas Toolie. Richard Sharpe.John Underwood. Thomas Holcomb.
* * * * *
Actus primus. Scena prima.
Enter Rutilio, and Arnold[o].
Rut. Why do you grieve thus still?
Arn. 'Twould melt a Marble,And tame a Savage man, to feel my fortune.
Rut. What fortune? I have liv'd this thirty years,
And run through all these follies you call fortunes,
Yet never fixt on any good and constant,
But what I made myself: why should I grieve then
At that I may mould any way?
Arn. You are wide still.
Rut. You love a Gentlewoman, a young handsom woman,I have lov'd a thosand, not so few.
Arn. You are dispos'd.
Rut. You hope to Marry her; 'tis a lawful calling
And prettily esteem'd of, but take heed then,
Take heed dear Brother of a stranger fortune
Than e're you felt yet; fortune my foe is a friend to it.
Arn. 'Tis true I love, dearly, and truly love,A noble, vertuous, and most beauteous Maid,And am belov'd again.
Rut. That's too much o' Conscience,To love all these would run me out o' my wits.
Arn. Prethee give ear, I am to Marry her.
Rut. Dispatch it then, and I'le go call the Piper.
Arn. But O the wicked Custom of this Country,The barbarous, most inhumane, damned Custom.
Rut. 'Tis true, to marry is a Custom
I' the world; for look you Brother,
Wou'd any man stand plucking for the Ace of Harts,
With one pack of Cards all dayes on's life?
Arn. You do notOr else you purpose not to understand me.
Rut. Proceed, I will give ear.
Arn. They have a CustomIn this most beastly Country, out upon't.
Rut. Let's hear it first.
Arn. That when a Maid is contracted
And ready for the tye o'th' Church, the Governour,
He that commands in chief, must have her Maiden-head,
Or Ransom it for mony at his pleasure.
Rut. How might a man atchieve that place? a rare Custom!An admirable rare Custom: and none excepted?
Arn. None, none.
Rut. The rarer still: how could I lay about me,In this rare Office? are they born to it, or chosen?
Arn. Both equal damnable.
Rut. Me thinks both excellent,Would I were the next heir.
Arn. To this mad fortuneAm I now come, my Marriage is proclaim'd,And nothing can redeem me from this mischief.
Rut. She's very young.
Rut. And fair I dare proclaim her,Else mine eyes fail.
Arn. Fair as the bud unblasted.
Rut. I cannot blame him then, if 'twere mine own case,I would not go an Ace less.
Arn. Fye Rutilio,Why do you make your brothers miseryYour sport and game?
Rut. There is no pastime like it.
Arn. I look'd for your advice, your timely Counsel,How to avoid this blow, not to be mockt at,And my afflictions jeer'd.
Rut. I tell thee Arnoldo,
An thou wert my Father, as thou art but my Brother,
My younger Brother too, I must be merry.
And where there is a wench yet can, a young wench,
A handsome wench, and sooner a good turn too,
An I were to be hang'd, thus must I handle it.
But you shall see Sir, I can change this habit
To do you any service; advise what you please,
And see with what Devotion I'le attend it?
But yet me thinks, I am taken with this Custom,
[Enter Charino and Zenocia.
And could pretend to th' place.
Arn. Draw off a little;Here comes my Mistress and her Father.
Rut. A dainty wench!Wou'd I might farm his Custom.
Char. My dear Daughter,
Now to bethink your self of new advice
Will be too late, later this timeless sorrow,
No price, nor prayers, can infringe the fate
Your beauty hath cast on yo[u], my best Zenocia,
Be rul'd by me, a Fathers care directs ye,
Look on the Count, look chearfully and sweetly;
What though he have the power to possess ye,
To pluck your Maiden honour, and then slight ye
By Custom unresistible to enjoy you;
Yet my sweet Child, so much your youth and goodness,
The beauty of your soul, and Saint-like Modesty,
Have won upon his mild mind, so much charm'd him,
That all power laid aside, what Law allows him,
Or sudden fires, kindled from those bright eyes,
He sues to be your servant, fairly, nobly
For ever to be tyed your faithful Husband:
Consider my best child.
Zeno. I have considered.
Char. The blessedness that this breeds too, consider
Besides your Fathers Honour, your own peace,
The banishment for ever of this Custom,
This base and barbarous use, for after once
He has found the happiness of holy Marriage,
And what it is to grow up with one Beauty,
How he will scorn and kick at such an heritage
Left him by lust and lewd progenitors.
All Virgins too, shall bless your name, shall Saint it,
And like so many Pilgrims go to your shrine,
When time has turn'd your beauty into ashes,
Fill'd with your pious memory.
Zeno. Good FatherHide not that bitter Pill I loath to swallowIn such sweet words.
Char. The Count's a handsome Gentleman,
And having him, y'are certain of a fortune,
A high and noble fortune to attend you:
Where if you fling your Love upon this stranger
This young Arnoldo, not knowing from what place
Or honourable strain of blood he is sprung, you venture
All your own sweets, and my long cares to nothing,
Nor are you certain of his faith; why may not that
Wander as he does, every where?
Zen. No more Sir;
I must not hear, I dare not hear him wrong'd thus,
Vertue is never wounded, but I suffer.
'Tis an ill Office in your age, a poor one,
To judge thus weakly: and believe your self too,
A weaker, to betray your innocent Daughter,
To his intemp'rate, rude, and wild embraces,
She hates as Heaven hates falshood.
Rut. A good wench,She sticks close to you Sir.
Zeno. His faith uncertain?
The nobleness his vertue springs from, doubted?
D'ye doubt it is day now? or when your body's perfect,
Your stomach's well dispos'd, your pulse's temperate,
D'ye doubt you are in health? I tell you Father,
One hour of this mans goodness, this mans Nobleness
Put in the Scale, against the Counts whole being,
Forgive his lusts too, which are half his life,
He could no more endure to hold weight with him;
Arnoldo's very looks, are fair examples;
His common and indifferent actions,
Rules and strong ties of vertue: he has my first love,
To him in sacred vow I have given this body,
In him my mind inhabits.
Rut. Good wench still.
Zeno. And till he fling me off, as undeserving,Which I confess I am, of such a blessing,But would be loth to find it so—
Arn. O never;
Never my happy Mistress, never, never,
When your poor servant lives but in your favour,
One foot i'th' grave the other shall not linger.
What sacrifice of thanks, what age of service,
What danger, of more dreadful look than death,
What willing Martyrdom to crown me constant
May merit such a goodness, such a sweetness?
A love so Nobly great, no power can ruine;
Most blessed Maid go on, the Gods that gave this,
This pure unspotted love, the Child of Heaven,
In their own goodness, must preserve and save it,
And raise you a reward beyond our recompence.
Zeno. I ask but you, a pure Maid to possess,And then they have crown'd my wishes: If I fall thenGo seek some better love, mine will debase you.
Rut. A pretty innocent fool; well, Governour,
Though I think well of your custom, and could wish my self
For this night in your place, heartily wish it:
Yet if you play not fair play and above board too,
I have a foolish gin here, I say no more;
I'le tell you what, and if your honours guts are not inchanted.
Arn. I should now chide you Sir, for so declining
The goodness and the grace you have ever shew'd me,
And your own vertue too, in seeking rashly
To violate that love Heaven has appointed,
To wrest your Daughters thoughts, part that affection
That both our hearts have tyed, and seek to give it.
Rut. To a wild fellow, that would weary her;
A Cannibal, that feeds on the heads of Maids,
Then flings their bones and bodies to the Devil,
Would any man of discretion venture such a gristle,
To the rude clawes of such a Cat-a-mountain?
You had better tear her between two Oaks, a Town Bull
Is a meer Stoick to this fellow, a grave Philosopher,
And a Spanish Jennet, a most vertuous Gentleman.
Arn. Does this seem handsome Sir?
Rut. Though I confess
Any man would desire to have her, and by any means,
At any rate too, yet that this common Hangman,
That hath whipt off the heads of a thousand maids already,
That he should glean the Harvest, sticks in my stomach:
This Rogue breaks young wenches to the Saddle,
And teaches them to stumble ever after;
That he should have her? for my Brother now
That is a handsome young fellow; and well thought on,
And will deal tenderly in the business;
Or for my self that have a reputation,
And have studied the conclusions of these causes,
And know the perfect manage, I'le tell you old Sir,
If I should call you wise Sir, I should bely you,
This thing, you study to betray your child to,
This Maiden-monger. When you have done your best,
And think you have fixt her in the point of honour,
Who do you think you have tyed her to? a Surgeon,
I must confess an excellent dissector,
One that has cut up more young tender Lamb-pies—
Char. What I spake Gentlemen, was meer compulsion,
No Fathers free-will, nor did I touch your person
With any edge of spight; or strain your loves
With any base, or hir'd perswasions;
Witness these tears, how well I wisht your fortunes. [Exit.
Rut. There's some grace in thee yet, you are determinedTo marry this Count, Lady.
Zen. Marry him Rutilio?
Rut. Marry him, and lye with him I mean.
Zen. You cannot mean that,
If you be a true Gentleman, you dare not,