The City Wit
The Woman Wears The Breeches.n9158
A Comedy.

List of Characters.

CRASY,n5776 a young citizen falling into decay.
JEREMY,n7830 his apprentice.
SARPEGO,n6176 a pedant.gg1529
SNEAKUP,gg3950 Crasy’s father-in-law.
PYANNET,n9157 Sneakup’s wife.
[Sir Andrew] TICKET,n9769
}two courtiers.n5777
JOSINA, Crasy’s wife.
LINSY-WOLSEY,n5779 a thrifty citizen.
TOBY,n6178 son to Sneakup.
BRIDGET, Josina’s maid.
CRACK,n5947 a boy that sings.
ISABEL, a keepinggg4139 woman.
JOAN, a keeping woman.
[TRYMAN, a courtesan.]n7832
[The Tickets' PAGE]n7926

The Prologue.n5738

Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote.n5739 Gentlemen,n5950 youn9719 see I come unarmed among you, sine virga aut ferula,n5740 without rod or ferula,gg3959 which are the pedant’sgg1529 weapons. Id est,n5741 that is to say I come not hither to be an instructor to any of you, that were aquilam volare docere, aut delphinum natare,n5742 to teach the apen6177 well learned as myself. Nor came I to instruct the comedians.gg1165 That were for me to be asinus inter simias,n5743 the fool o’the company: I dare not undertakegg4140 them. I am no pædagogusn5744 nor hypodidascalusn5745 here. I approach not hither ad erudiendum, nec ad corrigendum.n5746 Nay, I have given my scholars leave to play, to get a vacuumn5747 for myself today, to act a particlegg4141 here in a play,n5748 an actor being wanting that could bear it with portgg634 and state enough. A pedant is not easily imitated. Therefore in person, I, for your delight, have left my school to tread the stage. Pray Joven5737 the terror of my brown6179 spoil not your mirth, for you cannot forget the fury of a tutor when you have lain undern9482 the blazing cometn6180 of his wrath, with quæso præceptor te precor da ...n5750 etc. But let fear pass, nothing but mirth’s intended. But I had forgot myself: a prologue should be in rhymen5753 etc. therefore I will begin again.

        Kind gentlemen, and men of gentle kind,n9770
        (There is in that a figure,gg2401 as you’ll find)
        Because we’ll take your ears as ’twere in ropes,
        I’ll nothing speak but figures, strainsgg683 and tropes.gg4142

        Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote.n5751
        The schoolmaster that never yet besought ye,
        Is now become a suitor that you’ll sit,
        And exercise your judgement with your wit,n5752
        On this our comedy, which, in bold phrase,
        The author says has passed with good applausen9483
        In former times.n5755 For it was written when
        It bore just judgementn9484 and the sealn9346 of Ben.n5756
        Some in this roundn6206 may have both seen’t and heard,
        Ere I, that bear its title,n7928 wore a beard.n5757
        My suitgg773 is therefore that you will not look,
        To find more in the title than the book.n6210
        My part the pedant, though it seem a columnn6211
        Is but a page compared to the whole volume.
        What bulk have I to bear a scene to pass,
        But by your favours’ multiplying glass?n6213
        In nova fert animus...n5758 then I’ll do my best
        To gain your plauditen5760 among the rest.
        So with the salutation I first brought ye,
        Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote.n5766
ACT ONEn9666
[Enter SERVANTS and] a dinner carried over the stage in covered dishes.n9485
[SERVANTS carrying the dishes] exit.

3CrasySet forth that table, Jeremy.n9486
A table set forth with empty money-bags, bills, bonds and books of accounts, etc.n9720

4JeremyWill you not go inn9487 and dine, sir?

5CrasyNo. I am of other dietn9488 today.

6JeremyThe whole company expects you.n9489

7CrasyMay they sit merry with their cheer while I feed on this hard meat.n9490 And wait you within: I shall not change a trencher.gg522

8JeremyAlas, my good master.Exit [JEREMY].

9CrasyHere are the nests, but all the birds are flown.n9491
[CRASY] takes up the bags

        How easy a thing it is to be undone,
        When credulous man will trust his ’stategg4164 to others!
        Am I drawn dry?n9492 Not so much as the leesgg4165 left?
        Nothing but empty cask? have I no refuge
        To fly to now? Yes, here, about a groat’s gg75worth
[CRASY] takes up the bills and papers

        Of paper it was once. Would I had now
        Green’s Groat’s-worth of Witn5775 for it. But ’twill serve
        To light tobacco pipes.n9493 Here, let me see,
        Here is three hundred pound,n8764 two hundred here.n9494
        And here one hundred,n9495 and two hundred here,
        Fifty,n9496 fifty, fifty, and one hundred here,
        And here one hundred and fifty. Besides
        A many parcelsn7929 of small debts,n9497 which make
        Two hundred more. I shall not live to tellgg1675 it,
        But put it up, and takegg4166 it by the weight.
[CRASY] puts the bills, bonds into a bag

        O me! how heavy ’tis! And, doubtless, so ’twould be
        At some man’s heart. It troubles me a little.n9873

        Now what news?   [CRASY] takes up a scroll   

10JeremyMy mistress, and your mother,n6215 sir,
        Entreats you to come to dinner.

11CrasyThese they are; my debts
        That strike me through. This bagn9502 will never pay
        Any of these.

12JeremySir, shall I say you’ll come?

13CrasyHow well it were if any of my creditors
        Could once but dream that thisn9503 were current money!

14JeremyWhat shall I say?

15CrasyEven what thou wilt, good Jeremy.

16JeremyAlas, you know this dinner was appointed
        A friendly meetingn9504 for most of your creditors,
        And many of your debtors.n9505

17CrasyBut I hope few of the last appear.

18JeremyNone but some privileged courtiers that dare
        Put inn9506 at all men’s tables. They’re all set,n9507
        Your creditors on one side, and your debtors
        On t’other and do only stayn7930 for you.

19CrasyTo feed on,n9509 do they? Go. I will not come.

20JeremyI fear, sir, you will overthrow the good
        That was intended you. You know this meeting
        Was for the creditors to give longer day,
        As they should find your debtors to acknowledge
        The sums they owe you. Sir, I should be sorry
        To see you sink, or forced to hide your head,
        That looked as high as any in the city.

21CrasyPritheegg262 go in. And if they seem to stay,
        Pray ’em fall to.gg4589 Tell ’em I take this time
        Only to order my accounts, and that as soon
        As they are full and fit to talk,n9510 I’ll come.
        Good Jeremy, go.

22Jeremy   [Aside]   In troth I pity him ... n9511Exit [JEREMY] weeping.n7931

23CrasyA right good boy thou art. I think on thee.
        What must I do now? All I have is lost,
        And what I have not, sought to be forced from me;n9512
        I must take nimble hold upon occasion,n6216
        Or lie for ever in the bankrupt ditchn9514
        Where no man lends a hand to draw one out.
        I will leap over it or fall bravely in’t,
        Scorning the bridge of baseness, composition,n6220
        Which doth infect a city like the plague
        And teach men knavery that were never born to’t,
        Whereby the rope-deserving rascaln6221 gains
        Purplen6222 and furs, trappingsgg5216 and golden chains.
        Base Composition,n9515 baser far than want,gg1238
        Than beggary, imprisonment, slavery:
        I scorn thee, though thou lov’st a tradesman dearlyn9516
        And mak’st a chandlergg4167 lord of thousands yearly.
        I will have other aid. How now! Again?

24JeremyO sir, you are undone.

25CrasyHast thou no news, Jeremy?

26JeremyAlas, your mother,n9517 sir.....

27CrasyWhy what of her?
        Is there a plate lost, or a ’postle-spoon,n6223
        A china dish broke, or an ancient glass
        And stained with wine hern9518 damaskgg4927 tablecloth?
        Or is the salt fallen towards her?n6224 What’s the matter?

28JeremyHer mischievous tongue has over-thrown the good
        Was meant to you.

29CrasyWhat good, good Jeremy?

30JeremyYour creditors were on a resolution
        To do you good,n9519 and madly she opposed it,
        And with a vehement voice proclaims you a beggar,
        Says you have undone her daughter, that no good
        Is fit to be done for you, and such a storm
        Of wicked breath ....

31CrasyShe’s drunk, is she not, Jeremy?

32JeremyNo sir, ’tis nothing but her old disease,
        The tongue-ague,n7934 whose fitn7936 is now got up
        To such a height the Devil cannot layn9522 it.
        The learned schoolmaster, Master Sarpego,
        Has conjured it by all his parts of speech,
        His tropesgg4142 and figuresgg2401 and cannot be heard
        I’th’ furious tempest.n9523 All your creditors
        Are gone in rage, will take their course,n9524 they say.
        Some of your debtors stay, I think, to laugh at her.

33SarpegoNow deafness seize me.n9525 I disclaim my hearing. I defy my auditualgg4168 part. I renounce mine ears. Mistress Pyannet, a desperate palsy is on thy lips and an everlasting fever on thy tongue!n7938

34CrasyWhatn6225 raging routgg3467 hath rent thy rest?
        What scold hath scutchedgg4169 thy sconce?gg4170

35SarpegoI’ll breath it to thy bolder breast,
        That askst me for the nonce.n6226
You understand, or know, that here hath been a feast made to take up a ponderous difference between Master Sneakup, your father-in-law, and yourself, Master Crasy, and between most of your creditors and debtors.n9526 Food hath been eaten, wine drunk, talk passed, breath spent, labour lost. For why? Mistress Pyannet,n9529 your mother-in-law, Master Sneakup’s wife, (though she will be called by none but her own name)n9892 that woman of an eternal tongue, that creature of an everlasting noise, whose perpetual talk is able to deafen a miller,n6227 whose discourse is more tedious than a justice’s charge,n9812 she that will out-scold ten cartedgg3526 bawds, even when she is sober, and out-chat fifteen midwives, though fourteen of them be half drunk, this she-thing hath burst all. Demosthenesn5822 himself would give her over. Therefore hopeless Sarpego is silent.

36PyannetO are you here, sir? You have spun a fair thread.n7940 Here’s much ado and little help.n9530 We can make bolt nor shaft,n6242 find neither head nor footn9531 in your business. My daughter and I may both curse the time that ever we saw the eyes of thee.

37Crasy   [To SNEAKUP]    Sir, you have the civil virtue of patience in you. Dear sir, hear me.

38PyannetHe says he hears thee, and is ashamed to see thee. Hast not undone our daughter? Spent her portion;gg1143 deceived our hopes; wasted thy fortunes; undone thy credit; proved bankrupt?

39Crasy   [To SNEAKUP]   All was but my kind heart in trusting; in trusting, father.

40Pyannetn9717Kind heart! What should citizens do with kind hearts or trusting in anything but God and ready money?

41Crasy   [To SNEAKUP]   What would you, dear father, that I should do now?

42PyannetMarry, depart in peace, sir, vanish in silence, sir. I’ll take my daughter home, sir. She shall not beg with you, sir.   [To JOSINA]   No, marry, shalt thou not, no, ’deed,gg4174 duck, shalt thou not.

43Crasy   [To SNEAKUP]   Be yet but pleased to answer me, good sir. May not an honest man...?

44PyannetHonest man! Who the Devil wished thee to be an honest man? Here’s my worshipful husband, Master Sneakup, that from a graziergg466 is come to be a Justice of Peacegg4176 and what, as an honest man? He grewn9532 to be able to give nine hundred poundn7941 with my daughter, and what, by honesty? Master Sneakup and I are come up to live i’th’ City and here we have liengg5224 these three years,n9538 and what, for honesty? Honesty! What should the City do with honesty when ’tis enough to undo a whole corporation?n9618 Why are your wares gummed?n6243 your shops dark?n6244 Your pricesn5850 writ in strange characters?n6245 What, for honesty? Honesty? Why is hard waxn6246 called ’merchant’s wax’ and is said seldom or never to be ripped offn9539 but it plucks the skin of a lordshipn6247 with it? What, for honesty? Now (mortified my concupiscence!)n6248 dost thou think, that our neighbour, Master Linsy-Wolsey here, from the son of a tripe-wifen6249 and a rope-maker,n6250 could aspire to be an alderman’sgg531 deputy, to be worshipful Master Linsy-Wolsey, venerable Master Linsy-Wolsey, to wear satinn6251 sleeves and whip beggars?n6252 And what, by honesty? Have we bought an officen6254 here for our towardlygg2308 and gracious son and heir here, young Master Sneakup....

45TobyYes, forsooth,gg862 mother.

46PyannetAnd made him a courtier in hope of his honesty? Nay, once for all, did we marry our daughter here to thee, rackedgg4212 our purses to pay portion,gg1143n6257 left countryn5843 house-keeping to save charges, in hope either of thine or her honesty? No, we looked that thy warehouse should have eaten up castles,n6260 and that for thy narrow walk in a jeweller’s shop a whole countrygg1237 should not have sufficed thee.n6261

47Crasy   [To SNEAKUP]   If my uncunning disposition be my only vice, then, father...

48PyannetNay, and thou hast been married three years to my daughter, and hast not got her with child yet! How do’st answer that? For a woman to be married to a fruitful fool, there is some bearing with him yet (I know it by myself) but a dry barren fool! How dost thou satisfy that?

49CrasyIt may be defect in your daughter as probable as in me.

50PyannetO impudent varlet! Defect in my daughter? O horrible indignity! Defect in my daughter? Nay, ’tis well known before ever thou sawest her there was no defect in my daughter.n6314

51CrasyWell, if to be honest be to be a fool, my utmost ambition is a coxcomb.gg797   [To SNEAKUP]   Sir, I crave your farewell.

52PyannetMarry, sir, and have it with all his heart. My husband is a man of few wordsn9540 and hath committed his tongue to me and I hope I shall use it to his worship.n9541 Fare you well, sir.

53TicketThanks for your cheer and full bounty of entertainment, good Master Sneakup.n9542

54PyannetHe rather thanks you for your patience and kind visitation, good Sir Andrew Ticket, yes indeed, forsooth, does he.

55Lady TicketI take my leave, sir, too.

56Sneakup.Good madam....

57Pyannet’Udsgg4214 so!n6316 there’s a trick!gg5961 you must talk, must you? And your wife in presence, must you? As if I could not have said, 'good madam'. 'Good madam'! Do you see how it becomes you?

58Lady TicketGood Mistress Sneakup.

59PyannetGood madam, I beseech your ladyship to excuse our deficiency of entertainment.n7942 Though our power be not to our wish, yet we wish that our power were to your worth, which merits better service...

60Lady TicketPardon me.

61PyannetThan our rudeness...

62Lady TicketYou wrong yourself.

63PyannetCan tendergg4494 or possibly express by...

64Lady TicketI beseech you, forsooth.....

65PyannetOur best labour or utmost devoir.gg4215 Yes, I protest, sweet madam. I beseech you, as you pass by in coach sometimes, vouchsafegg496 to see me and, if I come to court, I will presume to visit your ladyship and your worthy knight, good Sir Andrew. And I pray you, madam, how does your monkey, your parrot, and paraquitoes?n6317 I pray commend me to ’em and to all your little ones. Fare you well, sweet creature.Exit PYANNET.

66RufflitWe’ll leave you to take private farewell of your wife, Master Crasy.

67TobyWe’ll meet you at your horse, brother.Exit ALL except CRASY, JOSINA.

68JosinaLoved, my dear heart, my sweetest,n9543 my very being, will you needsn9545 take your journey? I shall fall, before your return, into a consumption.n9619 If you did but conceive what your departure will bring upon me, I know, my sweet, nay I do know...n9544 but go your ways.    [Aside]    Strike my finger into mine eye.n6318   [To CRASY]    ’Tis not the first true tear a married woman has shed.

69CrasyWhy you hear the noise of that woman of sound, your mother. I must travel down or not keep up.n9546 Yet...n9547

70JosinaNay, go, I beseech you. You shall never say I undidgg4092 you. Go, I pray. But never look to see me my own woman again.n9548 How long will you stay forth?

71CrasyA fortnight at the least and a month at the most.n9549

72JosinaWell, a fortnight at the least. Never woman took a more heavygg5431 departure. Kiss me.   [CRASY kisses JOSINA]   Farewell. Kiss me again.   [CRASY kisses JOSINA]   I pray, does your horse amble or trot? Do not ride postgg4221 as you come home, I pray. Kiss me once more. Farewell.Exit CRASYHey ho! How I do gape.gg4224

73Josinan6373What’s a clock, Bridget?

74BridgetPast three, forsooth.gg862

75Josina’Tis past sleeping timen6321 then, Bridget.

76BridgetNothing is past to those that have a mind and means.

77JosinaThat’s true and tried. Go, lay my pillow, Bridget.Exit BRIDGETLord, what a thing a woman is in her husband’s absence! Wast thou ever in love, Jeremy?n8807

78JeremyWho I, forsooth? No, forsooth.

79JosinaAye,n8192 forsooth, and no, forsooth? then I perceive you are,n5828 forsooth. But I advise you to take heed how you level your affection towards me.n9550 I am your mistress and I hope you nevern6320 heard of any apprentice was so bold with his mistress.

80JeremyNo indeed, forsooth. I should be sorry there should be any such.

81JosinaNay, be not sorry neither, Jeremy. Is thy master gone? Look.   [Exit JEREMY]   A pretty youth, this same Jeremy! And is come of a good race.gg5227 I have heard my mother say his father was a ferreter...gg4225

82JeremyHe is gone, forsooth.

83JosinaCome hither, Jeremy. Dost thou see this handkerchief?

84JeremyYes, forsooth.

85JosinaI vowed this handkerchief should never touch anybody’s face but such a one as I would entreat to lie with me.n7947

86JeremyIndeed, forsooth!

87JosinaCome hither, Jeremy. There’s a spotn9551 o’thy cheek. Let me wipe it off.

88JeremyO Lord, forsooth! I’ll go wash it.Exit JEREMYn6376

89JosinaHeaven made this boy of a very honest appetite, sober ignorance and modest understanding. My old grandmother’s Latin is verified upon him: ars non habet inimicum præter ignorantem.n5832 Ignorance is woman’s greatest enemy. Who’s within? Bridget!

90BridgetHere, forsooth.

91JosinaGo your ways to Mistress Parmisan,n6322 the cheesemonger’s wife in Old Fish Street,n6323 and commend me to her and entreat her to pray Mistress Cauliflower,n6324 the Herb-woman in the Old Change,n6325 that she will desire Mistress Piccadelln6326 in Bow Lanen6327 in any handgg5962 to beseech the good old dry-nursegg4226 mother cetera,n6328 she knows where, to provide me an honest, handsome, secretn9552 young man that can write and readn6329 written hand. Take your errand with you:n9874 that can write and read written hand.

92BridgetI warrantgg859 you, forsooth.Exit [BRIDGET].

93JosinaSo, now will I meditate, take a nap, and dream out a few fancies.Exit [JOSINA].

94TicketWen9721 take our leaves, Master Crasy, and wish good journey to you.

95RufflitFarewell, good Master Crasy.

96TobyAdieu, brother.

97SarpegoIterum iterumque vale.n5854

98Linsy-WolseyHeartily goodbye,n6332 good Master Crasy.

99CrasyNay, but gentlemen, a little of your patience.n9561 You all know your own debts and my almost impudentn9562 necessities: satisfyn9563 me that I may discharge others. Will you suffer me to sink under my freeness?gg4745 shall my goodness and ready pietygg101 undo me? Sir Andrew Ticket, you are a professed courtier and should have a tender sense of honour. This is your day of payment for two hundred pound.n7951

100TicketBlood of Bacchus,n5855 ’tis true, ’tis my day.n9564 What then? Dost take me for a citizen that thoun6337 thinkest I’ll keep my day?n6333 No, thou’st find that I am a courtier: let my day keep me andgg857 ’twill. But dost hear? Come to the court. I will not say what I will do for thee but come to the court. I owe thee two hundred pounds: I’ll not deny’t if thou ask seven years hence for’t. Farewell. I say no more but come to the court and see if I will knowgg4227 thee.

101CrasyO sir, now you are in favourn9808 you will know nobody.

102TicketTrue. ’Tis just. Why should we, when we are in favour, know anybody when, if we be in disgrace, nobody will know us? Farewell, honest tradesman.n9565Exit [TICKET].

103SarpegoThat is synoniman5859 for a fool. An ironical epithet,n5865 upon my facundity.n5866

104CrasyO Master Sarpego! I know you will satisfy your own dribletgg415 of ten poundn7403 I lent you out of my purse.

105SarpegoDiogenes Laertius,n5869 on a certain time, demanding of Cornelius Tacitus,n5870 an Areopagiten5871 of Syracusa,n5873 what was the most commodious and expeditest method to kill the itch,n7950 answered...

106CrasyAnswer me my moneys I beseech you.n7953

107SarpegoPeremptorily,gg5234 careo supinis;n5896 I want money. I confess some driblets are in the debet.n6334 But, methinks, that you, being a man of wit, brain, forecastgg4228 and forehead, should not be so easy,gg4229 (I will not say foolish, for that were a figure)n9772 as to lend a philosopher money, that cries, when he is naked, omnia mea mecum porto.n5898 Well, sir, I shall ever live to wish that your own lanternn6336 may be your direction and that, wherever you travel, the cornucopian6335 of abundance may accompany you. Yes, sure, shall I. Vive valeque.n5897Exit [SARPEGO].

108TobyWhy look you, brother,n9583 it was thought, that I had a tender pericraniongg4231 or, in direct phrase, that I was an unthrifty fool. Signior, no:n9872 you shall now find, that I cannot only keep mine own but other men’s. It is rightly said he that is poor in appetite may quickly be rich in purse. Desire little, covet little, non6338 not your own, and you shall have enough.


110TobyYes, brother, little enough. I confess I am your debtor for the loan of some hundred marks.gg2889n7954 Now you have need: who has not? you have need to have it: I have need to pay it. Here’s need of all hands.n6339 But, brother, you shall be no loser by me. Purchase wit, get wit, look you, wit. And, brother, if you come to the Court, now my mother and my father have bought me an officegg5973 there, sogg1766 you will bring my sister with you, I will make the best show of you that I can. It may chance to set you up again, brother: ’tis many an honest man’s fortune,n9867 to risen6340 by a good wife. Farewell, sweet brother. Prithee grow rich again and wear good clothes that we may keep our acquaintance still.n9582 Farewell, dear brother.Exit [TOBY].

111CrasyMaster Rufflit...

112RufflitWhat, does thy fist gapen9584 for money from me?

113CrasyI hope it is not the fashion for a gallant of fashion to breakn6341 for so small a portion as the sum of an hundred angels.gg4232n7955

114RufflitFor a gallant of fashion to break! for a gallant of fashion? Dost thou know what a gallant of fashion is? I’ll tell thee. It is a thing that but once in three months has money in his purse; a creature made up of promise and protestation; a thing that fouls other men’s napkins; tousethgg4233 other men’s sheets; flatters all he fears; contemnsgg4234 all he needs not, starvesn6342 all that serve him, and undoes all that trust him. Dost ask me money as I am a gallant of fashion? I do thee courtesyn9585 I beat thee not.

115CrasyI lent it you on your singlegg4235 word.

116Rufflit’Tis pity but thou shouldest losen9586 thy freedomgg4236 for it. You tradesmen have a good ordergg684 in your city not to lend a gentleman money without a citizen bound with him.n9587 But you, forsooth, scorn orders! By this light, ’tis pity thou loosest not thy freedom for it. Well, when I am flushgg4237 thou shalt feeln9588 from me. Farewell. Prithee learn to have some wit. A handsome straight young fellow, grown into a pretty beard, with a proper bodied woman to his wife, and cannot bear a brain!n6343 Farewell. Dost hear? Be ruled by me: get money, do. Get money and keep it. Wouldst thrive? Be rather a knave than a fool. How much dost say I owe thee?

117CrasyFifty pound.n7956

118RufflitThou art in my debt. I have given thee counsel worth three score, dog-cheap.gg4238 Well I’ll rentn6344 the odd money.Exit [RUFFLIT].

119Linsy-Wolsey.Strange mad fellows these same, Master Crasy, methinks to deal withal.

120CrasyYou are right Master Linsy-Wolsey! I would my geniusgg2351 had directed me to deal always with such honest, neighbourly men as yourself. I hope you will not deny me a courtesy.gg4239

121Linsy-WolseyNot I, I protest. What is it?

122CrasyYou took once a jewel of me, which you sold for thirty pound,n7957 for which I have your bond for sixtyn9589 at your day of marriage. If you will now, because I want presentgg4240 money, give me but twenty pound,n8352 I’ll acquit you.

123Linsy-WolseyMy good friend Master Crasy, I have no tricks and jerksgg390 to come over you as the witty gentleman had erewhilegg3182 but I know a plain bargain is a plain bargain, and wit is never good till it be bought.n6347 If twenty pound will pleasure you, upon good security, I will procure it you; a hundred if you please. Do you mark, Master Crasy? On good security. Otherwise you must pardon me, Master Crasy. I am a poor tradesman, Master Crasy, keep both a linen and a woollen draper’s shop, Master Crasy, according to my name, Master Crasy, and would be loth to lend my money, Master Crasy, to be laughed at among my neighbours, Master Crasy, as you are, Master Crasy. And so fare you well, Master Crasy.Exit [LINSY-WOLSEY].

124CrasyIs this the endn9590 of unsuspicious freeness?gg4745
        Are open hands of cheerful piety,
        A helpful bounty, and most easygg4229 goodness,
        Rewarded thus?
        Is to be honest termed to be a fool?
        Respectgg4787 it, Heaven. Bear up still, merry heart.
        Droop not but scorn the world’s unjust despising.
        Who through goodness sinks, his fall’s his rising.n9606n9347

125JeremyO master, master, upon my knowledge, my mistress is forced since your departure to be...

126CrasyWhat Jeremy?

127JeremyHonest,n9809 sir. Get upgg4241 your debts as fast as you can abroadgg5978 for on my understanding (which great Joven5737 knows is but little) she will take upn6348 more than your due at home easily.

128CrasyBoy, didst never observe at the court gate that the lord was no sooner off from his horse backn9861 but the lackeygg6037 got up into the saddle and rode home?

129JeremyYes, sir, ’tis common.

130CrasyI scorn not my better’s fortune. And what is not my sin shall never be my shame.

131JeremyIn troth I was faingg715 to make myself an assn9596 or else I had been tempted to have been a knave.

132CrasyBoy, thou art now my prentice.gg4242 From hence be free. Poverty shall serve itself.n9597 Yet do one thing for me.

133JeremyIf it be in the power of my poor sconce.gg4170

134Crasyn9718 If ever it be in thy possible ability, wrong all men. Use thy wit to abuse all things that have but sense of wrong.n9598 For, without mercy, all men have injured thy mistrustlessgg4243 master, milked my thoughts from my heart and money from my purse,n9599 and, last, laughed at my credulity. Cheat, cozen,n6392gg3551 live by thy wits: ’tis most manly, therefore most noble. Horses get their living by their backs, oxen by their necks, swine and women by their flesh, only man by his brain.n6349 In brief, be a knave and prosper; for honesty has beggared me.

135JeremyFarewell, master.   [Aside].n7958   And if I put tricks upon some of them,n9600 let the end of the comedy demonstrate.Exit [JEREMY].

136CrasyI am resolved I will revenge.n9601 I never provokedgg5236 my brain yet. But now if I clap not fire in the tails of some of these Samson’s foxes...n5899 Seems my defect of fortunen9603 want of wit? No.
        The sense of our slight sports confessedn9604 shall have,n6350
        That any may be rich will be a knave.n9605

Edited by Elizabeth Schafer

n9158   The Woman Wears The Breeches. The play's subtitle alludes to the notion that a woman in control, usually of a marriage, can be seen to be wearing metaphorical breeches (today trousers). Tilley (B645) indicates that 'She wears the breeches' was popularly seen as a recipe for disaster. While Pyannet is the female character most clearly wearing the breeches in her marriage, the final moments of the play question whether it is possible to be sure who is wearing the breeches in the sense of controlling the situation as well as in the sense of who is male or female, masculine or feminine. [go to text]

n5776   CRASY, Something with cracks in, something liable to break up or fall (compare the term 'crazy paving'). Cracking up is precisely what Crasy is doing in financial terms.
Crasy also plays several roles in disguise: Doctor Pulse-Feel; Master Holywater, a court messenger; Master Footwell, a dance teacher.
In the octavo, the C of 'Crasy', opening the list of the dramatis personae, is a large capital, two lines high, something which gives this character's name great prominence.
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n7830   JEREMY, This is also the first name of Face, one of the tricksters in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, a play which is specifically evoked by Crack [CW 3.1.speech395]. [go to text]

n6176   SARPEGO, This Italianate name is also the name of a character (similarly pedantic and given to quoting Latin) in George Chapman's The Gentleman Usher. In John Marston's The Dutch Courtesan 2.1.131 the Quarto has the word 'Sarpego' for 'serpigo', a creeping skin disease sometimes associated with venereal disease. [go to text]

gg1529   pedant. teacher, tutor [go to text]

gg3950   SNEAKUP, As well as suggesting 'sneakiness' this name also suggests 'sneck up' a phrase used by Sir Toby to shut Malvolio up in Twelfth Night 2.3. The meaning there depends on 'sneck' as a latch or door bolt and shutting up the doors equates to shutting up speaking. [go to text]

n9157   PYANNET, The pyannet, or European magpie, has a very long-standing association with bad luck, something which possibly developed from its fondness for stealing small bright objects (including jewellery) and its harsh, unsonglike call. In the early modern period, this reputation as a harbinger of sorrow and trouble also resulted in the magpie being linked with witchcraft. The important associations for the character of Pyannet, however, are: the harsh chattering sound of the magpie; and its tendency to 'steal' glittering objects to decorate its nest (Pyannet attempts to steal money by defrauding 'his Grace' in Act 3 and she encourages her daughter, Josina, to steal jewels from Crasy). [go to text]

n9769   TICKET, OED (n1, 7a) defines a ticket as 'an acknowledgement of indebtedness, an IOU; a promise to pay'; this name is very appropriate for a character who habitually delays paying money he owes. [go to text]

n9771   RUFFLIT, To ruffle something is to put it into disarray or confusion (OED v1, IIa) and Rufflit's behaviour certainly brings disarray into Crasy's life. However, OED v2, 4b defines to ruffle as to handle (a woman) with rude familiarity and this is what Rufflit aspires to do with Josina. [go to text]

n5777   courtiers. The octavo brackets Ticket and Rufflit together as 'two Courtiers'. [go to text]

n5779   LINSY-WOLSEY, As Linsy-Wolsey comments in [CW 1.2.speech 123], he keeps 'both a linen and a woollen draper's shop ... according to my name'; his name evokes both the linen (linsey) and wool (wolsey) he sells. Linsy-Wolsey is also, the subsequent action reveals, a miser. [go to text]

n6178   TOBY, Sometimes Toby is referred to as 'Tobias'. [go to text]

n5947   CRACK, Crack's name has various associations beyond the primary meaning of a lively boy (OED 11); these include the breaking of wind (OED 3); or a prostitute (OED 14). [go to text]

gg4139   keeping taking care of a person (OED I, 3) [go to text]

n7832   [TRYMAN, a courtesan.] Tryman is not listed in the octavo's Dramatis Personae. In the opening stage direction for 3.1. she is referred to as 'the Tryman', which emphasises her role in testing other characters, especially in terms of their ability to see through the deceptions she is practising. [go to text]

n7926   [The Tickets' PAGE] This character is not listed in the octavo but he is needed to sing, at the beginning of 4.2., for Lady Ticket and Sneakup. A 'boy with a torch' also accompanies Ticket to his rendez-vous with Josina in 5.1. and this edition treats this boy as the same character although they could be played by different performers. [go to text]

n7927   [SERVANTS] These are not listed in the octavo but they are needed at the beginning of the play to carry the dinner over the stage. [go to text]

n5738   Prologue. Video The Prologue is very probably played by the actor playing Sarpego - the pedant - in character. Sarpego also speaks the Epilogue, and is a tutor much given to speaking in Latin, like the Prologue. Sarpego also plays the role of prologue in the entertainment performed at the wedding of Toby and Tryman (5.1.).
The dramatic ancestry of the pedant includes the stock character of il Dottore in Commedia dell’Arte and the fact that Brome uses a similar character elsewhere (Geron in The Lovesick Court) suggests he thought this character joke worked well. However, the amount of Latin in the prologue, and the erudite, often esoteric, references can make it difficult to play to a modern audience and, understandably, both the recent (2007) student productions of The City Wit, at Ballarat and at Royal Holloway, cut the prologue. Cutting usefully draws attention to what is lost when the prologue is not performed: the prologue can create a mood of comedy; he can also quell and quieten the audience in his bossy persona. His authoritarian foolishness could compare with, for example, John Cleese’s creation of Basil Fawlty who is constantly bossing people around and getting everything wrong.
The persona projected by the Prologue was something explored in detail in one of The City Wit workshops. While the obvious persona is that of an authoritarian schoolmaster, it was also suggested that a bumbling academic dropping books and losing papers might work. The actor, Robert Lister, felt it was important to acknowledge that the Latin would work on two different levels and create different jokes according to whether or not individuals in the audience understood any Latin. There was also some discussion of the levels of ‘reality’ here: the prologue sets up a discussion about acting which will have ramifications throughout the play where characters will frequently act out roles in order to deceive each other. For the performance of the prologue a player enters and, in the character of a schoolmaster, claims that the theatre company have asked him to play the role of a pedant because there was no player in the company ‘that could bear it with port’ as ‘A pedant is not easily imitated’. Generations of schoolchildren who have imitated their teachers and mocked their mannerisms could find that an entertainingly foolish proposition but, on one level, this is commenting on theatrical realism and realistic acting.
1. The first version of the prologue was performed by Robert Lister. Robert opened in sergeant major mode, and his tone of voice demanded everyone’s complete attention and enabled him to establish an authoritarian presence. He surveyed the audience, appeared to take in where the trouble makers might be and, with his left hand hooked as if on to the edge of a degree gown (in modern dress the equivalent would be a lapel), he appeared to have confidence and gravitas. This mood shifted when the prologue, whilst remaining in prose, suddenly produces three rhymes (play/ today/ play) which Robert played as light-hearted, playful, almost skittish. Afterwards he had to rein in his merriment with a clearing of the throat and a return to sobriety. The prologue’s sense of excitement about the chance of acting with professional players was clear and the joke about who is a real player and who is not (a real player pretends not to be a real player but to be excited at the prospect of working with real players) compares with the joke in 3.3. speech 459, where Crack refers to his acquaintance with the players. Here the prologue seemed almost to be suggesting that, despite his learning, he was a good chap with a sense of humour and could join in fun and games as well as anyone. Robert’s demeanour also suggested that the prologue was confident that the title of the play applied to him and that he was ‘the city wit’. Robert played the furious schoolmaster at full force, but immediately undercut this by carrying on in the same bellowing mode for ‘et cet-er-a’.
This first version of the prologue also demonstrated that there is a very noticeable shift in tone for the second part once the prologue shifts gear into rhyme: with Robert’s performance it was as if this section was in theatrical quotation marks, or as if it was, as the prologue says, the way a prologue ‘should be’. There was a joke in ‘I will begin again’ as the thought of this wordy speaker going through the prologue all over again was enough to make an audience wonder if they would ever get to the play. The second part of the prologue was then played much more lightly by Robert and with a corresponding lightness in demeanour and body movements. The round of applause Robert (and all other performers of the prologue) elicited indicates the speech ends with a clap trap. Robert also tended to talk to the ‘gentlemen’, as if assuming all the learning was bound to go over the heads of any women in the audience and this produced a lively discussion. There was a general feeling that the exclusionary ‘Gentlemen’ could function as the comic misogyny of a man who mainly deals with men and boys and is slightly terrified of women. The sub-title of the play (the Woman Wears the Breeches) encourages this kind of gender centred debate. It was suggested the prologue could deliberately ignore women in the audience and try hard to talk only to men; perhaps even panic slightly when registering that there were so many women present.
2. The second performance of the prologue was by Sam Alexander. This was bound to work very differently from Robert’s performance: Robert appeared far more mature, more like a conventional schoolmaster than Sam who was a youthful looking, young fogey figure. This performance began with the prologue sitting down at a table, as if in the school room, but Sam got slightly stuck there and the performance became more lively when the prologue got up and moved around. What worked particularly well, however, with the desk/ schoolroom idea was Sam’s tactic of throwing the Latin phrases at the audience as if he was the schoolmaster demanding instant translation from his pupils. When no translation was forthcoming, this prologue looked very disappointed in his pupils’ lack of progress. His affected clearing of the throat at the beginning of the prologue and at the point of ‘therefore I will begin again’ also proved very effective in characterising the prologue as self-satisfied, self-important but also (although he would never admit to it) slightly nervous. This prologue took the reference to Ben Jonson very seriously and crossed himself on the phrase ‘seal of Ben’, presumably indicating respect towards the recently departed Ben Jonson. A particular point of contrast in between these two prologues was at ‘quaeso praeceptor te precor da’ which Robert thundered, but which Sam handed across to a member of the audience to finish – ‘precor da….. (encouraging look) …. Et cetera (disappointment yet again with the standard of learning in the class)’, as if it was a quotation that was well known and the audience member/ schoolboy ought to be able to continue it. This prologue was terribly pleased with his doggerel rhymes but blundered into ‘applaise’ for ‘applause’ in order to make up the rhyme with ‘phrase’, and ‘volumm’ for ‘volume’ to rhyme with ‘column’. This false rhyming might be anachronistic (some words which rhymed in the Caroline period do not rhyme today) but it was very funny.
There was then some discussion of G.E. Bentley’s hypothesis (vol.3 p.60) that there are two prologues patched together at the beginning of The City Wit: discussion centred around whether any part of the prologue was redundant and the fact that the first part is in prose and the second part in verse, giving both parts a very different energy. Robert Lister suggested that it might be useful to explore both parts separately.
3. As a consequence of Robert’s suggestion, the third version of the prologue consists only of the prose first part, with Hannah Watkins playing the role as a bossy headmistress who is never wrong. This prologue was furious when anyone laughed and immediately eyeballed them in order to quell laughter; she reduced one victim of her disapproving gaze to helpless laughter and the more she glared at him the more he laughed. This prologue also used pausing to intimidate as she took the opportunity to survey the audience as if it was made up of very naughty pupils in need of stern correction. When she finished with ‘I will begin again’ there was laughter at the thought of enduring the glares all over again.
4. The second half of the prologue was then looked at in isolation from the first part. This reading aimed more at the bumbling schoolmaster approach, or the scatty academic who is trying desperately to be liked. Hannah Watkins tried to be much more hesitant and stressed bad rhymes; however, in discussion it was felt that this version seemed far too apologetic.
5. The final exploration was with Sam Alexander playing just the first half of the prologue in a bumbling way but keeping the self-confidence and arrogance. The table (which is not actually called for until the end of the prologue) here became essential as Sam deposited bag, papers, a bottle; shuffling his papers and getting them mixed up became a recurring motif and this prologue frequently got lost in what he was doing. At one point he suddenly realised that there were women in the audience and was shocked. From then on, however, he attempted to translate the Latin for the unlearned (that is, women) even though it appeared as if the Latin was so elementary it was difficult for him to know where to begin in translating it. The ending was then something of an anticlimax as this prologue ended with the statement he would begin again and then didn’t.
G.E.Bentley bases much of his discussion of The City Wit’s date and provenance on his reading of the prologue as two prologues glued together. In this workshop, what emerged was that although the prologue may indeed date from a post 1637 revival of The City Wit, that does not mean that there are two prologues here. The whole speech works well as a prologue: a schoolmasterly persona comes on and talks to the audience, then collects himself, rises to the occasion of appearing in a play and then delivers a traditional prologue. What seems possible is that because the character of Sarpego was popular in the first performances of the play, this character was given the prologue in the revival, and that this prologue was written specifically to showcase the character. It is worth noting that when the prologue says ‘On this our comedy’, he has changed voice from the ‘I’ of the opening and is speaking more conventionally on behalf of a theatre company rather than as an individual, but even this could be explained by the fact that the schoolmaster is now doing his job properly and speaking a ‘proper’ prologue. Bentley (vol.3 p.60) also suggests that ‘in this round’ might indicate that the revival was performed in the same playhouse as the original performances, which he argues was Salisbury Court. Bentley additionally argues that The City Wit is a boys' company play and, in discussion, Mike Leslie suggested the first part of the prologue would work well for a boys' company as it is full of knowledge one would expect to be familiar from school days. Lucy Munro was not persuaded by this line of argument and she offered a useful comparison with William Hawkins' Apollo Shroving, a school play from 1626 (published 1627), where Latin is actually banished from the stage when, after the prologue launches into Latin, a woman character, Lala, insists he switch to English as she is worried she will not be able to follow what is going on if Latin is used. Lala finishes by demanding ‘Why should not women act men, as well as boys act women? I will wear the breeches so I will’ (1.1. 198), a comment that mines a similar vein of humour to the subtitle of The City Wit (the Woman Wears the Breeches). A rather more famous dramatic dispute between men and women over the use of Latin appears in John Webster’s 1612 play The White Devil where, in ‘The Arraignment of Vittoria’ (3.2.15-7), Vittoria insists on the lawyer avoiding Latin because even though she understands it ‘amongst this auditory/ Which come to hear my cause, the half or more/ May be ignorant in’t’. This suggests that the use of Latin could easily be read as politically loaded in terms of class or gender.
While Bentley’s hypothesis over the provenance of The City Wit is still largely accepted today, it does not seem that, in performance, the prologue offers really robust support for his argument (for more on Bentley see critical and textual introductions).
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n5739   Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote. 'However many of you are come here, good day and very good health to you.' In the octavo this line is set in larger print than the main text; it is also set as a single line, marking out its importance in opening the play. [go to text]

n5950   Gentlemen, The audience would not have been entirely male and there may have been comedy in the fact that Sarpego's address is only directed at part of the audience.

In the octavo, the word 'Gentleman,' is set on a line of its own.
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n9719   you The opening of the prologue is marked by a large capital Y five lines high. [go to text]

n5740   sine virga aut ferula, 'without a rod or a cane' (for punishing pupils) [go to text]

gg3959   ferula, cane, rod, an instrument of punishment (OED 2) [go to text]

gg1529   pedant’s teacher, tutor [go to text]

n5741   Id est, 'that is', the source of the modern i.e. [go to text]

n5742   aquilam volare docere, aut delphinum natare, 'to teach the eagle to fly, or the dolphin to swim'. Eagles were proverbial for their ability to fly high (see Tilley E4 'You cannot fly like an Eagle with the wings of a wren'). [go to text]

n6177   ape OED cites 1632 (Massinger's The City Madam) as the first instance of 'ape' as a verb meaning 'to imitate' but, given the context of Sarpego's speech, and his discussion of acting, it is likely that an ape's ability to imitate is meant here. [go to text]

gg1165   comedians. actors [go to text]

n5743   asinus inter simias, 'an ass among the monkeys' [go to text]

gg4140   undertake OED (vI, 1b) records a now obsolete meaning: 'to reprove, rebuke, chide' which could carry the sense also of 'instruct' [go to text]

n5744   pædagogus A Latinised Greek term for a slave who accompanied children to and from school. [go to text]

n5745   hypodidascalus A Latinised Greek term for an under-teacher. [go to text]

n5746   ad erudiendum, nec ad corrigendum. 'in order to instruct, nor to correct' [go to text]

n5747   vacuum 'a time at leisure' [go to text]

gg4141   particle a small part or portion of the whole (OED II 4a); also grammatically a minor part of speech [go to text]

n5748   play, The rhymes 'play', '', 'play' draw attention to three jingling ten syllable lines embedded in the Prologue's prose. [go to text]

gg634   port dignified demeanour or manner (OED n4. 1) [go to text]

n5737   Jove The most powerful of the Roman gods. [go to text]

n6179   brow That is, when frowning. [go to text]

n9482   lain under That is: been subject to (his wrath). [go to text]

n6180   blazing comet Traditionally a comet was considered to be a sign of ill omen, but the image also suggests the wrath of the tutor was fiery, burning, or hurting the pupil. [go to text]

n5750   quæso præceptor te precor da ... 'I beg you, teacher, I entreat you grant....' (mercy). That is, the child is begging not to be beaten. [go to text]

n5753   rhyme The Prologue accordingly launches into rhyming, jingling couplets. [go to text]

n9770   Kind gentlemen, and men of gentle kind, As the Prologue points out in his next line, there is a figure, or some fancy rhetoric here: there is chiasmus, where the order of words in one of two parallel clauses is inverted in the other (OED)(kind-gentle-men/ men-gentle-kind); there is also polyptoton, a rhetorical figure involving the repetition of a word in different cases or inflections within the same sentence (OED). In addition the Prologue goes on to use an image of taking ears by ropes, that is capturing the attention of his listeners, an image that appears in early modern iconography sometimes in association with Hercules; the power of Hercules' rhetoric was figured by gold or silver chains emerging from his mouth to capture or chain up the ears (attention) of his listeners. [go to text]

gg2401   figure, figure of speech, piece of rhetoric [go to text]

gg683   strains (n) melody, tune (OED n2. 13a); (n) a passage of poetry (OED n2. 13b) [go to text]

gg4142   tropes. a figure of speech where a word or phrase is used figuratively or unusually (OED n. 1) [go to text]

n5751   Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote. The repetition of the Prologue's opening line indicates he meant it when he said 'I will begin again'. The metre of this line, however, clashes with the generally regular blank verse of this section of the prologue. [go to text]

n5752   wit, The first of very many references to wit in the play flatters the audience by assuming they do have what so many characters only think they have: 'wit'. See Introduction for a discussion of wit and witlessness in the play. [go to text]

n9483   passed with good applause That is, passed the test of being subjected to an audience's scrutiny and gained a creditable, or good, amount of applause. [go to text]

n5755   former times. This indicates that this part of the Prologue is from a revival rather than the original performance(s). G.E. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage III, p.60 suggests the play was revived around 1637-9 and that it originally dated from c.1630. See Introduction for a further discussion of dating. [go to text]

n9484   bore just judgement That is, it bore the reputation for being approved, that is, judged favourably (by the hard to please dramatist and poet Ben Jonson). [go to text]

n9346   seal The use of the word 'seal' suggests much about how The City Wit might be viewed in relation to the work of Ben Jonson. The 'seal' can suggest that Jonson approved of the play, and was willing to seal it, as one would seal a finished letter by folding it, dropping hot wax onto the join and then impressing the wax with a private seal stamp. This would mean Jonson saw The City Wit as a finished/ polished piece of work, ready to send out. Seals were also used on legal documents such as wills, which could suggest a line of inheritance from Jonson to The City Wit. The play also bears the 'seal' or imprimatur of Jonson, in the sense of his personal stamp, because The City Wit cites many of Jonson's plays, imitates specific Jonsonian moments and expects at least some in the audience to recognise and enjoy witty allusions to Jonson's most popular works, especially The Alchemist 1.1. (see, for example, The City Wit [CW 3.1.speech395]); Volpone (see, for example, The City Wit 3.1.); Epicoene 5.4. (see the unmasking of Tryman). The play is also 'Jonsonian' and so bears the 'seal' of Jonson in that it is following the dramatic model favoured by Jonson (as opposed, for example, to the model generally favoured by Shakespeare): The City Wit's Jonsonian dramaturgy can be seen in its use of humours, or obsessive characters, and in its sacrifice of complex characterisation in favour of a dizzyingly inventive plot line grounded in con tricks, deception, and an awareness of the metatheatricality of the characters' performances to each other within the play. [go to text]

n5756   Ben. Ben Jonson, who was Brome's mentor. [go to text]

n6206   round The playhouse, which was rounded in shape, and had the audience surrounding the stage. [go to text]

n7928   that bear its title, The play is full of characters who think that they are city wits; and what actually constitutes wit, and the lack of it, is a major concern in the play (see Introduction for more on 'wit'). If the Prologue is delivered by Sarpego, then this confidence that the title alludes to him, and that he is the city wit, is profoundly misplaced. [go to text]

n5757   beard. In the early modern period, most adult men wore beards, and beards functioned as a signifier of maturity. Consequently, this line may have significance in terms of the dating of The City Wit. Firstly the line is part of a section of the prologue which belongs to a revival; it refers back to the original performance of the play as taking place when the performer playing the Prologue could not, as he can in the present of that particular performance, grow a beard. This suggests that the revival was performed by an adult company (unless the Prologue is joking and is a boy who could not grow a beard). Secondly, there is the possibility that the prologue is making one of 'several comic allusions to size, dignity, etc.' that for Kaufmann (179) suggests a performance by boy actors. The evidence is inconclusive but the wearing of beards is mentioned again in relation to Crasy's disguises when Crack states he obtained the beard worn by Crasy-as-Holywater from actors, 'the players' [CW 3.3.speech460]. [go to text]

gg773   suit (n) petition, supplication [go to text]

n6210   book. This plays with the idea of the prologue being only a small part of the book that is the whole play; the image becomes more explicit in the next few lines. [go to text]

n6211   column The Prologue is suggesting impressiveness: a column can be structural, holding up the weight of a building; or it can be monumental (such as Trajan's column in Rome). And yet, in terms of his book metaphor, the column is just a vertical division or subsection of a page, a small part of the whole. [go to text]

n6213   multiplying glass? A mirror, which could seem to multiply because the Prologue's image is reflected in the eyes of all those in the audience. [go to text]

n5758   In nova fert animus... 'In nova fert animus' is a fragment from the opening lines of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The phrase continues '[....]mutatas dicere formas corpora' and the whole phrase means 'My spirit is moved to tell of bodies changed into new forms'. The Prologue, presumably, is expecting some in the audience to pick up this reference as the Metamorphoses was much read in the early modern period.
The dactyls of Ovid's line contrast with the iambics of the rest of the blank verse used by the Prologue here.
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n5760   plaudite 'applause' [go to text]

n5766   salvetote. Video The transition from the prologue to opening scene has to be made and even though no exit is formally marked for the prologue the performer does have to work out how to get offstage. This clip from the workshop shows the dinner being paraded around the stage and attracting the attention of the prologue, who then followed the dinner eagerly offstage, something which would allow him to move naturally into the character of Sarpego. Meanwhile Crasy was adding up the cost of the dinner and looking mournful. This Crasy was played as a version of Eeyore and extremely depressed, which kept the energy levels rather low. [go to text]

n9666   ACT ONE The City Wit opens with a prologue which is almost certainly played by the actor playing Sarpego, who appears already in role. The prologue is a complex piece of work which can be read archaeologically in order to provide clues about dating of the play; its rewriting for revivals and for print publication. However, the crucial point to make from a theatrical point of view is that the character delivering the Prologue was clearly a success with the audience and was not only expanded, and developed, in later performances of the play, but also recycled in other plays where Brome includes a pedant character who is trying to show off his learning and revealing his ridiculousness in the process such as the Curate in The Queen and Concubine.
The prologue has the potential to work effectively for several reasons: he uses Latin in a pompous way which is comical whether the audience knows Latin or not, because the pomposity ensures that even an audience member with no acquaintance with Latin whatsoever can laugh at the foolish arrogance, smugness and bossiness of the supposedly learned; the persona of the authoritative schoolmaster also allows the prologue to take control of the audience and establish character at the same time: he can hush the audience, reprove those who are not paying attention, pick out possible trouble makers and play off audience responses to get the whole group settled for the opening of the play proper when they will need to concentrate to pick up the plot and character information that will be given to them in a relatively short space of time.
The first scene introduces the crisis that precipitates the action of the whole play: Crasy, a jeweller, has lent out too much of his wealth without sufficient security. He has trusted courtiers and relatives to pay him back but they are now abandoning him when his creditors start asking for the money he owes to them to be paid. Crasy is facing bankruptcy and the play opens with a dinner taking place, a dinner which has been arranged in order to bring Crasy’s creditors and debtors together, presumably in the hope that the creditors will be impressed by the amount of money that is owed to Crasy, and the debtors will feel they ought to help out and pay up. This scheme is sabotaged by Crasy’s mother-in-law, Pyannet, who, just as the dinner is starting to go well, denounces Crasy as a bankrupt, and the creditors decide to proceed against him.
This basic, and vital, information is fed to the audience firstly by means of the opening sequence which is tightly focussed around the two most pivotal characters in the whole play, Crasy and his apprentice, Jeremy; Crasy sits on his own onstage, considering his piles of debts and IOUs whilst Jeremy repeatedly enters and exits, trying to persuade Crasy to join the offstage dinner. Jeremy expresses concern for Crasy, which suggests Crasy is a good master; the fact that Crasy has been so abandoned by those he trusted, and was generous towards, also helps generate audience sympathy for Crasy. Crasy is starting to think that he must do something to rescue his fortunes himself when, suddenly, the tightly focussed stage is invaded by almost every other character in the dramatis personae. The quiet, lonely place where Crasy has been contemplating his plight immediately becomes crowded and noisy. Brome continues to deploy tight focus, however, in amidst the crowded scene, as the action is shaped around Crasy’s attempt to get his father-in-law, Sneakup, to help him, whilst Sneakup is unable to get a word in edgeways as his talkative wife Pyannet keeps interrupting and speaking at length. The repeated joke of the assertive, talkative woman, Pyannet, speaking when her husband is actually being addressed but is unable to speak, allows the audience to get acquainted with this major character, who has also been much discussed already (by Crasy, Jeremy and by Sarpego) in terms of her (by then-contemporary standards) aberrant behaviour, before she first enters. While the Crasy-Sneakup-Pyannet sequence takes place, presumably all other characters watch and listen with interest, but once it has been determined that Crasy has to leave London for a while, because of his financial embarrassment, all the characters prepare to take their leave and the audience is briefly introduced to the courtiers Rufflit, Ticket, and Lady Ticket. When most of the characters have left the stage, Crasy is left alone to say farewell to his wife Josina who has been completely silent up until this point. The audience quickly learns that Josina is in many ways a stock character: the attractive and wayward city wife. She is keen to establish how long Crasy will be away so that she knows how long she can get up to whatever she wants to. As soon as her husband has departed she immediately makes an attempt to seduce Jeremy, but he flees.
1.2. both extends basic characterisation and fills in further detail about how Crasy got into the financial mess he is in. Crasy asks his debtors in turn to repay the money they owe him but Ticket, Sarpego, Rufflit, and Toby Sneakup all refuse. Finally Crasy asks his neighbour, Linsy-Wolsey to help him out and Linsy-Wolsey refuses unless Crasy can secure good credit. Abandoned by everyone except for Jeremy, Crasy determines he will avenge his wrongs and this resolution begins the real action of the play: the comedy of revenge that takes place as Crasy extracts money from those who have let him down. He also releases Jeremy from his apprenticeship: Jeremy thus becomes a free agent and he makes clear his view that Crasy has been treated very badly. Jeremy also informs Crasy of Josina’s attempt to seduce him. The City Wit is never romantic about marriage and Crasy is philosophical about the news of Josina's attempted adultery.
The first act of the play thus sets up the predicament that will provide the plot drivers for the rest of the action. It is a very assured opening to a play, something which attests to Brome’s confidence, sophistication and strategic, knowing deployment of dramaturgy even at this early stage in his career. The act introduces the audience in a memorable way to almost every character who is to feature in the play. Brome’s bravery in building scenes around quite large numbers of characters, something which is rarely a feature of modern theatre, is supported by his structuring of the scenes around small groups of characters, held in tight focus, whilst other characters are out of focus. While questions remain for modern performers as to what the characters do whilst they are out of focus, a great deal of information about situation and character is communicated very rapidly and the overall shape of the opening scene is very clear: one character (Crasy) interacts with one other character (Jeremy); there is a large influx of characters, who are nonetheless allowed enough stage time to establish themselves individually; there is an exodus of most of those characters; there is a duologue between Josina and Crasy followed by some character building in relation to Josina.
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n9485   a dinner carried over the stage in covered dishes. This indicates that the scene location is a room close to a dining-room. The main reason for the dinner being carried over the stage, presumably, is to impress clearly on the audience the fact that the dinner is about to take place. [go to text]

n9486   Set forth that table, Jeremy. Crasy's instruction makes 'Jeremy' the first character name that the audience learn. This is not a realistic play, but the setting forth of Crasy's table, or desk, establishes a reasonably clear sense of location: inside Crasy's house, where he can hide away from the dinner guests. The Antipodes 5.2. also uses a table, this time one 'covered with treasure', to help set the scene and illustrate the action. Dessen and Thomson (p.224-5) indicate that although tables are widely used plays of the period, they are usually tables for meals and only occasionally, as here, tables as desks, although two other instances they cite are in Brome: The Court Beggar and Sparagus Garden.
The table, presumably, is cleared away at the end of 1.1.
In the octavo the opening of the first scene of the play is marked by a large ornate S ('Set'); the S is surrounded by a picture frame decoration. This is the only instance of this kind of typeface in the text. The octavo uses the abbreviation 'Jer.' probably for reasons of space as the abbreviation is not used elswhere except in speech headings and stage directions.
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n9720   A table set forth with empty money-bags, bills, bonds and books of accounts, etc. Video The stage directions which open 1.1. are quite prescriptive and could be described as slightly fussy from a theatrical point of view (for a discussion of these stage directions as directed at readers see Textual Introduction). The objective in the workshop exploration was to investigate whether the clutter that is asked for (books of accounts, money bags, bills, bonds etc.) really adds something to the scene. Does there have to be a certain bulkiness to the pile of bills and ledger books so that they can offer an emblem of Crasy’s predicament? He is in a financial mess: does a messy pile of books on the table help to establish this in a clear and memorable way?
The other issue that was explored was the mood Crasy appears to be in at the beginning of the play. He is in a bad way financially but if he just plays the put-upon victim then he may not get the audience sufficiently interested in him. The reason he has to engage the audience is because he is the character they will travel with through the play; he is the character who will talk to the audience most and whose plots they will be party to. Crasy also has only a relatively short amount of time to achieve engagement with the audience before the stage is invaded by the guests at his dinner party and he risks being upstaged, or drowned out, by Pyannet.
1. The first run through had Robert Lister as an angry Crasy who was close to ranting in his fury about his situation. He was cross with everyone, including Jeremy, who was having to run around bringing in Crasy’s papers. This anger, however, was rendered slightly comic by the lead in to Crasy’s first entrance. The transition from the prologue to 1.1. was performed, although it was not played in full (sufficient personnel were not available for the dinner to be brought across the stage) and this transition was very funny; the prologue (Sam Alexander) almost had to be dislodged from the stage because he was enjoying performing on it so much. Once he realised that the play proper was really starting, the prologue then had to collect up his papers and belongings from the table and hurry off. When Robert Lister as Crasy said ‘Set forth that table, Jeremy’ there was almost the sense of ‘get that man (the prologue) away from my table’. Once in possession of the stage this Crasy remained fairly still while Hannah Watkins as Jeremy hurried and scurried around.
Robert commented that all the business that seems called for would need some work and he reiterated the question originally posed: what does a pile of papers provide that a couple of papers would not achieve? Why a table with books on it and not just an accounts book in the hand of the actor? Would the extent of Crasy’ problems not be as clear if the scale were not evoked visually? When a big (expensive) dinner is carried across the stage to be followed by the appearance of a big pile of bills, this very clearly signals the financial chaos Crasy is in.
This Crasy was mature and did not seem naïve or foolish enough to lend out money so unwisely. The biggest discussion point was the final line of speech 9 ‘It troubles me a little’ and how it might be played: is it overstated understatement? Thoughtful? Troubled? Laughing at himself? Some of the imagery Crasy uses is quite knotted: at the beginning of speech 9 Robert’s Crasy got a laugh with the image of the money bags as nests but with the birds/ money having flown away; here having the props to hand on the table really helped to make the language clear. 2. In the second run through Robert Lister was directed to play Crasy as Eeyore: morose, miserable and funny because of that. Brian Woolland pointed out that Morose in Jonson’s Epicoene is entertaining precisely because of his moroseness and that Tony Hancock’s successful comedy act over many years depended on playing a very similar vein of comedy. Robert was able to play moroseness without it starting to drag, and the energy of the scene was also lifted by Hannah Watkins as Jeremy who was still hurtling about whether bringing more bills or the latest news update. Again, the dramatic context provided by the prologue helped: Sam Alexander’s prologue took a long time to get off, really did not want to leave, and couldn’t resist telling Robert that the audience were great.
As part of the exploration of the image of the money bags as nests, Jeremy tipped one bag upside down and the bills fluttered out. Once Jeremy had gone Crasy then had to stoop wearily to pick the near worthless pieces of paper up. In this version Crasy delivered ‘It troubles me a little’ as if he was trying to make light of his sorrows.
There was then further discussion about Crasy’s situation. He is down but not out for the count, and very soon he will start picking himself up and will motivate himself to perpetrate a complex and energetic series of scams. Robert wanted to know what the turning point would be and why it would happen so that he could play the lead up to it. He felt the table and books etc. helped characterise Crasy as Master Disorganised, but Master Disorganised could not perpetrate the scams that Crasy does. Different actors might find the turning point at different places in the text but Jeremy’s exit weeping (speech 22) and Crasy’s reaction to this exit is a strong candidate.
Brian Woolland finally asked Robert to play ‘It troubles me a little’ more thoughtfully and more seriously, which he did.
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n9487   in This has the sense of 'into the dining-room to join the rest of the company'. [go to text]

n9488   other diet Crasy is not hungry because he is so worried about his finances; his 'other diet' is the pile of bills which are enough to drive all desire to eat away and so have an effect similar to eating food, that is, they make him not want to eat anything more. [go to text]

n9489   whole company expects you. Everyone in the dining-room is waiting for you. [go to text]

n9490   hard meat. The bills are as unwelcome and unpalatable as overcooked meat that is too tough to eat. [go to text]

gg522   trencher. plate or piece of wood (flat or circular) on which food was served (OED II 2) [go to text]

n9491   Here are the nests, but all the birds are flown. Tilley (B364) records that the expression 'the birds are flown' meant that a purse was empty. Crasy adds to this image by seeing the bills in front of him as the nests, with the cash (birds) flown away. [go to text]

gg4164   ’state estate [go to text]

n9492   dry? Crasy sees himself as a drink drawn from the cask, or barrel, with no drop of drink left in the barrel, not even the lees or sediment. [go to text]

gg4165   lees sediment left at the bottom of wine, dregs [go to text]

gg75   groat’s coin valued at roughly fourpence (OED 2), which in today's currency would be worth about £1.43 [go to text]

n5775   Green’s Groat’s-worth of Wit A 1592 pamplet by Robert Greene, famous now for its attack on Shakespeare. The full title continues 'bought with a Million of Repentance'. Wilkinson, in her introduction, argues for Greene's text as an influence on The City Wit. [go to text]

n9493   tobacco pipes. Tobacco had been introduced into England in the late sixteenth century. The paper that the bills are written on was worth around a groat (that is, four pence, worth around £1.49 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter)). However, the bills are so unlikely to be paid that the paper is now useless to Crasy and it might as well be used to light pipes. [go to text]

n8764   three hundred pound, That is, three hundred pounds; worth £26,750 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n9494   two hundred here. Two hundred pounds would be worth £17,830 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n9495   one hundred, A hundred pounds would be worth £8,900 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n9496   Fifty, Fifty pounds would be worth £4,458 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n7929   A many parcels A good many (OED 6b) parcels; a number of piles of bills and promissary notes. [go to text]

n9497   small debts, It is not clear at this stage whether Crasy is adding up what he owes or what he is owed, whether the bills are debts to him or his debts to others. What is clear is that large sums of money are involved. [go to text]

gg1675   tell count [go to text]

gg4166   take make a measurement (OED v. V 32b) [go to text]

n9873   It troubles me a little. That this is understatement is indicated by Crasy's subsequent speeches; he is so heavy hearted that he hardly pays any attention to Jeremy and focusses almost entirely on his pile of bills. [go to text]

n6215   mother, That is, mother-in-law. [go to text]

n9502   This bag The bag full of credit notes, from those who owe Crasy money, will never produce enough money to pay 'Any of these' or the pile of bills that Crasy has to pay. [go to text]

n9503   this The bag full of credit notes. [go to text]

n9504   A friendly meeting The plan is that the people to whom Crasy owes money will realise that he is also owed a great deal of money; they then may give him longer to retrieve that money from his debtors and then pay his own debts. [go to text]

n9505   debtors. That is, Rufflit, Ticket, Sarpego and Toby. [go to text]

n9506   Put in Put in an appearance, but also with the sense of putting in a hand, or grabbing at food, that is, these people are freeloaders who gatecrash dinner parties in order to get a free meal. [go to text]

n9507   set, Sitting at the place allocated to them at the dining-table. [go to text]

n7930   stay Waiting for him before starting their meal. [go to text]

n9509   To feed on, The image is cannibalistic: Crasy feels the diners are waiting to feed upon him, to consume him. [go to text]

gg262   Prithee (I) pray thee: (I) ask you; please [go to text]

gg4589   fall to. (when used in conjunction with "to" or "upon") to begin upon, take up, set about (OED v. 70d) [go to text]

n9510   they are full and fit to talk, When the diners are full of food (and presumably in a good mood because they have eaten well) and ready to talk, that is, not still stuffing food into their mouths. [go to text]

n9511   In troth I pity him ... Jeremy's line has to be addressed to the audience because of his use of 'him' to refer to Crasy: this would not be an acceptable form of address by an apprentice to his master, so it is clear that Crasy is not intended to hear this line. The first line of Crasy's next speech is then addressed to the departing Jeremy, who may or may not hear, and/ or acknowledge, these words. Crasy then goes into direct address mode himself and probably talks to the audience as he convinces himself to do something about the mess he is in. However, Jeremy's direct address, like his very brief direct address at [CW 1.2.speech135], may suggest to the audience that they should not forget about him. [go to text]

n7931   weeping. Video The stage direction ‘Exit [JEREMY] weeping’ is an important one but it is difficult for a modern actor to play with conviction. Sam Alexander, playing Jeremy, felt there was not enough of a trigger for the weeping and that for Jeremy the stakes needed to be much higher. There was some discussion about why he might be weeping: Jeremy’s apprenticeship and security are at stake if Crasy goes bankrupt; but Jeremy’s weeping is also important in showing he is the only character who cares about Crasy. His weeping might make the audience think Crasy could be worth caring about. However, even if Jeremy is a quite young, it still seems an excessive reaction, particularly so early in the play, when there is so little history to the relationship between Jeremy and Crasy. Sam also commented that, as there are no lines about the tears springing to his eyes, he felt the weeping might be a sniff rather than blubbering. His first attempt at exiting weeping was really more of a sigh.
There was also some experimentation in using noises off to help to build up a sense of pressure onstage. There was discussion of the fact that the dinner has been set up in order to help Crasy but he never goes in to join his guests, he keeps refusing to go in. His reluctance is understandable once the audience have met his guests (as they are so dreadful) but at this point the audience have not met them. The actors worked on Crasy making some moves towards going in to dinner but then hesitating as the noise of the feasting stops him in his tracks, and he realises he has to go and greet his guests at the (offstage) feast as the bankrupt failure. The noises off not only stop Crasy from going in to the feast but also help Jeremy register how tough Crasy is finding it all.
It is important that Jeremy does not appear at this stage to be the tough, resourceful, versatile character we find out he is in the final moments of the play; indeed if Jeremy here appears to be a bit of a wimp, it will help to fool the audience into thinking he is of no account. However, while Sam was able to weep in the sense of looking sad and sniffing slightly, he remained uncomfortable with the idea of more robust weeping. ]
The octavo has 'Exit' in italics and 'weeping' in ordinary typeface.
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n9512   what I have not, sought to be forced from me; That is, money I do not possess (partly because I have leant it out) will be forced from me (by my creditors). [go to text]

n6216   hold upon occasion, Occasion (or sometimes Time) was personified as a woman with a long lock of hair at the front of her head which had to be seized in order to take advantage of what the occasion could offer. If the forelock was missed, there was no second chance to grasp the hair as Occasion was bald on the back of her head. So to take hold upon occasion means to seize an opportunity, and not miss a chance.
Compare the use of this idea in [CW 5.1.speech800] [NOTE n8812].
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n9514   bankrupt ditch The image of the ditch is carried through several lines here: a bankrupt may lie in a ditch surrounded by filth; no one will offer a hand to help pull him out of the ditch; the ditch is something that can be leapt over or can be fallen into; there is a bridge over it, that is composition, but Crasy will have nothing to do with such a compromising bridge. Tilley records as proverbial the notion of lying in a ditch and feeling sorry for yourself rather than doing something about your problems (D388 'Lie not in the Ditch and say God help me'). [go to text]

n6220   composition, The vilification of Composition, who teaches men knavery, relies on: the sense of 'coming to an agreement'; and (OED 25b) the process by which an insolvent debtor could pay a proportion of a debt, by agreement with his or her debtors; and also (OED 24) the sense of making compromises, which Crasy sees here as morally tainting. [go to text]

n6221   rope-deserving rascal A rascal who deserves to be hanged. [go to text]

n6222   Purple That is, purple clothes, indicating high rank and wealth. [go to text]

gg5216   trappings ornaments, embellishments, decorations (OED) [go to text]

n9515   Composition, Crasy now imagines Composition as a person whose actions he scorns. [go to text]

gg1238   want, (n) need, poverty [go to text]

n9516   dearly The personified Composition loves a tradesman dearly because tradesmen are always compromising and making composition; however there is also the sense that composition may prove 'dear' in terms of the moral cost involved for those making composition. [go to text]

gg4167   chandler a maker or seller of candles [go to text]

n9517   mother, Crasy's mother-in-law, Pyannet. [go to text]

n6223   ’postle-spoon, An Apostle spoon, which was one of a set of spoons with images of Jesus and his apostles on the stem, usually made of silver or pewter and often given as christening gifts. [go to text]

n9518   her It appears that Pyannet's table cloth has been borrowed for the dinner, which suggests how short of cash Crasy is; he does not own a decent table cloth any more. [go to text]

gg4927   damask rich silk fabric woven with elaborate designs and figures, often of a variety of colours (OED II 3), the wearing of which indicates wealth [go to text]

n6224   salt fallen towards her? Spilling salt was considered particularly ominous in the period, partly because salt was then expensive but also because it was a real necessity as a preservative for food. If salt was spilt, the direction it fell in indicated the direction bad luck would travel towards; here this would mean Pyannet was in line for some bad luck. [go to text]

n9519   To do you good, Presumably the 'good' is that the creditors were willing to allow Crasy more time to pay off his debts. [go to text]

n7934   tongue-ague, This is literally, a fever of the tongue, but Jeremy really means Pyannet won't stop talking, something which accords with her name (Pyannet/the magpie). In the early modern period a talkative woman was seen to be an aberration. [go to text]

n7936   fit Pyannet is not actually having a fit, but she is talking so much and so vehemently that she is seen to be out of control, as if in a fit. [go to text]

n9522   lay To lay a spirit is to prevent it from ‘walking’ (OED v,1 3a) and so carries the meaning of controlling it. Pyannet's fit (of talking) is so severe that even the Devil himself, the controller of spirits, could not stop her talking. [go to text]

gg4142   tropes a figure of speech where a word or phrase is used figuratively or unusually (OED n. 1) [go to text]

gg2401   figures figure of speech, piece of rhetoric [go to text]

n9523   tempest. The metaphorical storm that Pyannet is creating by the noise she is making. [go to text]

n9524   will take their course, The creditors will revert to their original intentions and demand instant repayment of the money Crasy owes them, thus bringing the prospect of bankruptcy closer. [go to text]

n9525   deafness seize me. Video Sarpego’s first entrance in the play is startling; it inspires Crasy to launch into alliterative fourteeners, that is fourteen syllable lines, reminiscent of what in the Caroline period might be regarded as very old fashioned drama. The two characters are playing verbal games, but the fourteeners do pick up on the hyperbolic tragic vein of Sarpego’s opening speech (‘deafness seize me’) and its inflated vocabulary (‘auditual part’). The sequence memorably introduces Sarpego; however, if the prologue has been performed by Sarpego then this sequence reintroduces him and confirms the characterisation already established in the prologue. The staging challenge explored here in The City Wit workshop was how to deliver such florid speech whilst avoiding the risk of hamming it up.
Robert Lister performed this sequence with bravura and really managed to indicate how entertainingly ridiculous Sarpego could be. However, Sarpego is also delivering a great deal of information to the audience (some of which has already been mentioned by Jeremy) and recapitulating what is going on just before seven other characters crowd onstage transforming a private scene into a public one. Sarpego’s other major task here is to build up the audience’s sense of anticipation just before they finally meet the already much discussed Pyannet. As Sarpego continues with his characterisation of Pyannet as a monster, the audience are invited to laugh at the excesses of his description and become complicit with the misogyny of the jokes. Sarpego’s mention of term ‘mother-in-law’ is significant. Constructing talkative women as intrinsically funny is a traditional misogynist joke which works on similar lines to the mother-in-law joke. In working on this section David Broughton-Davies, playing Crasy, was initially startled by the unexpectedness of his character's shift into fourteeners. Robert Lister as Sarpego brought out the irony of a character making such a noise in the act of complaining about noise and indicated how impressive it was Pyannet had rendered Sarpego ‘silent’. Robert also brought out the histrionic qualities very successfully, evoking Bottom playing Pyramus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which indicated something of the fun that could be had with this moment.
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gg4168   auditual of or belonging to the sense of hearing (OED citing this as first usage) [go to text]

n7938   a desperate palsy is on thy lips and an everlasting fever on thy tongue! The palsy here is not paralysis but the shaking that sometimes accompanies paralysis. Sarpego is saying that Pyannet's lips are shaking from constant talking and that her tongue is moving feverishly because she is talking so much. [go to text]

n6225   What The move into octosyllables for four lines, with Sarpego picking up on and rhyming with Crasy's line endings, and the enthusiastic use of alliteration, evokes outdated, preShakespearian fashions in drama. The use of italics marks out these four lines in the octavo. [go to text]

gg3467   rout rowdy fellows, company [go to text]

gg4169   scutched to strike out at, to slash, to hit with a stick (OED 1, citing this example) [go to text]

gg4170   sconce? head, especially the crown or top of the head (OED n. 2) [go to text]

n6226   for the nonce. On purpose, for a particular purpose. [go to text]

n9526   to take up a ponderous difference between Master Sneakup, your father-in-law, and yourself, Master Crasy, and between most of your creditors and debtors. This is the first indication to the audience that the character onstage is 'Master Crasy'. Sarpego's speech also recapitulates on the situation Crasy and Jeremy have discussed: the dinner was an attempt to try to resolve Crasy's problems. Crasy and his father-in-law, Sneakup, are putting on the feast in order to persuade Crasy's creditors to give him more time to pay his debts, and perhaps to persuade some of those who owe him money to pay up. [go to text]

n9529   Mistress Pyannet, There has by now been so much discussion of Pyannet that the audience will have very clear expectations about what the character will be like before she arrives on stage. [go to text]

n9892   own name) Seventeenth century wives normally used their husband's name and Pyannet would have been called 'Mistress Sneakup'. [go to text]

n6227   miller, A miller would be accustomed to loud noise, from the mill grinding out flour (see Tilley M940, which indicates that to be 'born in a mill' was proverbial either for being very noisy or for being deaf). The noise in a busy mill was also likely to be ongoing through the working day. [go to text]

n9812   justice’s charge, The charge (task, duty or commission (OED n, 12)) of a justice of the peace could be seen to be tedious in the sense he would mainly be dealing with unexciting, mundane, humdrum, petty crimes; however, the actual reading out of the charges might also be what Sarpego is referring to. The character of Dogberry in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing mocks the kind of bumbling official who could make the reading out of a charge extremely 'tedious'. [go to text]

gg3526   carted a two-wheeled vehicle used to convey prisoners, such as vagrants, bawds, and whores, through the streets for increased public exposure to their chastisement, usually whipping (OED 2c) (sometimes the offender, wearing only a shirt or smock, was tied to the back of the cart and whipped through the streets by the beadle) [go to text]

n5822   Demosthenes A famous orator in 4th Century B.C. Greece. [go to text]

n7940   You have spun a fair thread. Video Pyannet, the woman who wears the metaphorical breeches in the Sneakups' marriage, enters the play dripping with irony: this phrase means 'You've made a real mess of things' (OED 3.c.).
Pyannet’s first appearance in the play was looked at in some detail in a workshop exploring how the traditional joke of the talkative woman, who will not let anyone speak when she wishes to hold the floor, might work. While there is a fairly obvious joke structure in Pyannet repeatedly speaking when her husband Sneakup is addressed, and not allowing Sneakup the opportunity to speak, this joke risks becoming repetitive if there is no variation at all. This sequence poses very particular challenges for the performer playing Pyannet, who needs to entertain the audience but also to put across a lot of information because on one level Pyannet is actually introducing many characters to the audience, especially Sneakup, Linsy-Wolsey, Toby and Josina. The audience need to listen to her, not just to laugh at the sound of her voice but while, for example, in speech 44 the repeated ‘What’s, and the torrent of rhetorical questions, are potentially very funny, the speech could easily become so shrill and predictable that the audience will no longer listen attentively. Pyannet is also establishing her own character: snobbish, scheming and loud-mouthed, not only mortifying her son-in-law, Crasy, but reminding everyone present of Linsy-Wolsey’s low social origins, and blithely implying her daughter has had a child out of wedlock.
1. In the first run through Joanna Hole as Pyannet made an impact very quickly, rushing on with a gaggle of characters trailing after her, as if struggling to keep up with a whirlwind. This raises the question of why everyone else follows Pyannet onstage and what they are doing while she talks and talks. The only obvious motivation for the other characters being onstage is that they want see Crasy’s humiliation, and to witness Pyannet in action as the ultimate monstrous mother-in-law joke. In this version Pyannet pushed in front of Sneakup when Crasy attempted to talk to him and then, when Crasy manoeuvred around so he had some access to Sneakup, Pyannet, as it were, chased after him and interposed herself between the two men again. When the discussion of Josina’s lack of offspring began, Crasy went and put his arm round Josina, something which does not really fit this husband/ wife relationship; more appropriately Clare Calbraith’s Josina tolerated this gesture but did not return it. Once Pyannet started casting doubts on his virility, Crasy walked off, insulted, and Pyannet’s three repetitions of the phrase ‘defect in my daughter’ really sounded like squawking, something which could be viewed as appropriate in a character named after a magpie. Blocking, however, became tricky in the scene overall, and several characters ended up in a line across the stage.
2. In the second version Pyannet came on amidst the crowd entering with her and could be heard, but not immediately seen. There is a risk of anticlimax with Pyannet’s entry as she has been so much talked about before she appears, and creating a deliberate puncturing of the build-up, with everyone looking in one direction while she comes on almost unnoticed, is a classic gag. Brian Woolland, as director, then interrupted and asked if the onstage crowd would laugh noticeably at Crasy’s humiliation so the audience register how much Crasy is squirming with embarrassment at this public dressing down. This raises the stakes for Crasy, as well as for the watching but silent Jeremy, who has more reason to seek revenge for his master the more he sees Crasy suffer. This also gives the crowd a real reason to be onstage, and a useful job of work to do. This time round Pyannet seemed more vicious and her burst of laughter at the thought of anyone with any wit being an ‘honest man’ registered her complete contempt for anything other than cheating business practices. Although it was sometimes difficult for the camera to capture, the crowd also became more significant contributors to the scene in this version because, as Pyannet ranted on, several characters began to slump as if half losing the will to live, while Crasy and Sneakup sat down, leaning against the table, as if sitting out the storm together. Pyannet also played the list of dishonest merchandising practices out to the audience, in effect accusing individual members of the audience of being guilty of these well-known tricks. The scene had a more interesting dynamic when Pyannet took control of the space in this way, sauntering around the stage and addressing first characters and then audience; one effective moment occurred when Crasy and Sneakup thought that, as Pyannet had gone on a walkabout, they might be able to grab a quick chat; Pyannet, however, seeming to have eyes in the back of head and still managed to bite their heads off. Pyannet had something of a struggle with the word ‘concupiscence’, as if it was a word she had only just encountered but one she was determined to use if she had half a chance, and Sarpego (Robert Lister) was seen to wince at the faux pas in her pronunciation.
3. The final, very brief, video clip shows Pyannet attacking Crasy in an extremely poised and restrained way. This was quite chilling, very quiet and full of malice towards Crasy for spoiling Pyannet’s hopes of social improvement. Pyannet’s voice was almost polite and Joanna Hole adopted a received pronunciation (posh) English accent, whereas in the earlier, more broadly comic versions, she assumed a northern English accent, presumably indicating Pyannet’s non metropolitan origins.
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n9530   much ado and little help. Tilley (A 36) lists this as proverbial. [go to text]

n6242   We can make bolt nor shaft, We cannot make a thick blunt arrow or a slender sharp one. [go to text]

n9531   head nor foot It is impossible to make sense (of your affairs). Compare the modern idiom of being unable to make head nor tail of something. [go to text]

gg1143   portion; dowry (monies, goods or lands brought by the wife to augment her husband’s estate on their marriage) [go to text]

n9717   Pyannet The octavo has Pi. instead of the usual Py. here. [go to text]

gg4174   ’deed, indeed [go to text]

gg466   grazier a person who grazes or feeds cattle ready for sale at market (OED 2) [go to text]

gg4176   Justice of Peace a lower ranking magistrate charged with keeping the peace and convicting and punishing offenders [go to text]

n9532   grew That is, his fortune grew. [go to text]

n7941   to be able to give nine hundred pound Worth £80,244 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). Pyannet is talking about the portion (see [CW 1.1.speech38]), or dowry, that Josina brought with her when she married Crasy. [go to text]

gg5224   lien lain [go to text]

n9538   three years, As Crasy and Josina have been married three years (see [CW 1.1.speech48]) it seems the marriage took place when the Sneakups moved to London. [go to text]

n9618   corporation? Pyannet is asserting, without any trace of irony, that the entire body of respectable and responsible London citizens would be financially undone if members of that corporation were to practise honesty on their business dealings. [go to text]

n6243   gummed? Stiffened with gum, which could give material a better appearance; so in a shop selling material, gumming the wares, the various pieces of material on sale, would make the goods look better quality than they actually are. [go to text]

n6244   dark? So that the real quality of the goods was difficult to discern. [go to text]

n5850   prices The octavo has prizes, a variant spelling of 'prices'. [go to text]

n6245   strange characters? That is, handwriting that is difficult to read. [go to text]

n6246   hard wax Sealing-wax (wax OED 4c), used to seal the parchment on which contracts, mortgages etc. were written. [go to text]

n9539   ripped off Wax was used for sealing or authenticating legal documents and would be ripped off when a document was opened. [go to text]

n6247   plucks the skin of a lordship The idea is that the document sealed with wax contains a contract so much in favour of the merchant that the lord who has agreed to it is bound to lose his 'skin' or all his money. [go to text]

n6248   mortified my concupiscence!) Literally this exclamation means 'may my sexual appetite and my desire for worldly things be disciplined, controlled by my awareness of the reality of death'; however this runs directly counter to the meaning of everything else Pyannet is saying which expresses a great desire for worldly things. Consequently the exclamation functions as kind of malapropism, with Pyannet using a phrase she doesn't really understand as an affectation. [go to text]

n6249   tripe-wife A woman who prepares and sells tripe as a business. The social status of a tripe wife can be judged from the fact that in [CW 4.2.speech671] Lady Ticket insults Pyannet by claiming that Pyannet's mother was a tripe-wife. (The latter reference is cited by OED 'tripe' 4). [go to text]

n6250   rope-maker, As Crasy's earlier speech (23) makes clear 'rope' readily evoked hanging, so making ropes was not a profession with great social kudos. [go to text]

gg531   alderman’s high-ranking officer of a guild or ward [go to text]

n6251   satin As satin was an expensive material, wearing it indicated wealth and sometimes (OED 'satin' 7c) dandyism. Here wearing satin indicates a social rise from humble origins (tripe-wives and rope-makers would not wear satin) to status within the City of London and the ability to wear satin as a sign of wealth and social standing. [go to text]

n6252   whip beggars? Begging was criminal under English law (see Jovial Crew for an extended treatment of begging) and beggars could be punished by whipping by beadles or justices of the peace, that is, lower ranking magistrates. Here the ability to whip beggars, or to consign them to a whipping, is seen as signifying the (in Pyannet's eyes) desirable status of a minor magistrate. [go to text]

n6254   bought an office An office was a position of responsibility but the sale of offices (and indeed titles) was a way of raising money for an impoverished monarch who, like Charles I, did not want to ask Parliament for money and risk being accountable to Parliament for his actions. As a consequence the sale of unimportant offices with grandiose titles but little actual responsibility was on the increase when The City Wit was written. [go to text]

gg2308   towardly promising, eager to learn [go to text]

gg862   forsooth, truly [go to text]

gg4212   racked stretched to an extreme degree, which is what happened to people tortured on a rack [go to text]

n6257   portion, Josina's dowry on marrying Crasy [go to text]

gg1143   portion, dowry (monies, goods or lands brought by the wife to augment her husband’s estate on their marriage) [go to text]

n5843   country Gave up living in a house in the country. The town versus country dynamic is often important in this play and the antagonism between town dwellers and those from the country becomes most outspoken in Pyannet's quarrel with Lady Ticket in 4.2.. Pyannet's (and Sneakup's, Toby's and Josina's) country origins might be marked by rustic accents. This might also apply to the 'Cornish' accent of Widow Tryman. [go to text]

n6260   warehouse should have eaten up castles, As Crasy is a jewel-merchant, the idea here is that the jewels Pyannet expected him to sell should have cost foolish, fashion-conscious and jewel-loving castle owners the price of their castles. [go to text]

n6261   for thy narrow walk in a jeweller’s shop a whole country should not have sufficed thee. Pyannet envisaged that Crasy's jewellery business would be so successful that he would be able to exchange his shop, with its 'narrow walk', from which prospective customers viewed jewels, for a whole country estate. [go to text]

gg1237   country countryside, including the idea of home town or county area, not necessarily a foreign nation [go to text]

n6314   defect in my daughter. Pyannet, in defending Josina's fertility and in asserting there is proof that Josina is not infertile, implies that Josina had become pregnant before Crasy ever saw her, let alone married her. [go to text]

gg797   coxcomb. cap in the shape of a cock’s comb worn by a professional fool (OED 1) [go to text]

n9540   My husband is a man of few words Pyannet seems to address the general company in this sentence, having focussed her attention on Crasy up to this point. [go to text]

n9541   to his worship. To his credit, or in a way that sustains his dignity as a man entitled to be addressed as 'worshipful'. [go to text]

n9542   Thanks for your cheer and full bounty of entertainment, good Master Sneakup. The fact that Ticket thanks Sneakup for his hospitality, although the dinner is taking place in Crasy's house, indicates that everyone is fully aware of Crasy's financial problems and that he is not funding the dinner himself. [go to text]

n6316   ’Uds so! Indeed, an intensive in reaction to the fact that Sneakup spoke. [go to text]

gg4214   ’Uds God's [go to text]

gg5961   trick! thoughtless or stupid act (OED n. 2b) [go to text]

n7942   Good madam, I beseech your ladyship to excuse our deficiency of entertainment. Pyannet shifts with comic abruptness from fishwife mode, for haranguing Crasy and Sneakup, into the register of an aspiring social climber when talking to Lady Ticket, using excessive politeness and absurd circumlocution. However, an element of verbal competition develops through this exchange as both women try, ostensibly politely, to talk the other one down. [go to text]

gg4494   tender offered for approval and acceptance (but with a suggestion of contractual obligation) [go to text]

gg4215   devoir. dutiful respect, courteous attention (OED 4) [go to text]

gg496   vouchsafe 'to show a gracious readiness or willingness, to grant readily, to condescend or deign, to do something' (OED v. 6b) [go to text]

n6317   your monkey, your parrot, and paraquitoes? Popular exotic pets for aristocrats of the time. Pyannet's request that Lady Ticket 'commend' Pyannet to Lady Ticket's pets, and 'all your little ones', suggests that Lady Ticket's pets have the kind of care and status more usually lavished on children. For more on exotic pets see, for example, The New Academy where monkeys, dormice, squirrels and paraquitoes are mentioned. For a monkey as a pet see Anthony van Dyck’s portrait of Henrietta Maria with Jeffrey Hudson (1633; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)[IMAGE QC_2_14]. Monkeys were associated with lust and parrots and paraquitoes (or parakeets) were associated with squawking. Cf. [NOTE n6051] [NOTE n952] [go to text]

n9543   Loved, my dear heart, my sweetest, Video Josina is something of an unknown quantity up to this point. She has been discussed but has not spoken herself, and she does not respond verbally to the questions about her lack of children after three years of marriage. The audience have heard Pyannet say that Josina had proved she had ‘no defect’ in terms of child bearing before she met Crasy, something which presumably means she has had a child out of wedlock, suggesting a certain wilfulness. Josina’s character is quickly established here as she launches into a list of endearments when her main concern really is to ascertain how long her husband will be away and she will have the freedom to do as she pleases. The workshop exploring the sequence between Josina and Crasy focussed on looking at how this husband and wife interact with each other and the main dramaturgical point emerging was that, having been completely silent and acquiescent in the humiliation of her husband, Josina suddenly bursts memorably and forcefully into speech and demonstrates is that although she can be silent in the presence of her mother, Josina has been learning much from Pyannet in terms of wearing the breeches in her marriage even though she does not always adopt precisely the same tactics. When Josina is alone with Crasy she talks and talks, just like Pyannet, and Crasy can hardly get a word in edgewise. Even when Josina demands her husband kiss her she hardly seems to stop talking and the kissing almost seems to be yet another tactic for preventing Crasy from speaking.
Clare Calbraith as Josina began the sequence by playing relatively convincing tenderness towards Crasy. After her aside about striking her finger into her eye in order to generate tears, however, the audience could see that Josina’s tenderness was faked and slightly overplayed. There was some discussion of this moment as it is open to question how much of this section is addressed to Crasy and how much is an aside to the audience: some felt that Josina’s comment about striking her finger into her eye might be sarcastic; some that it was a (faked) extreme statement of passion; however, more convincingly, Lucy Munro suggested that the last part of the sentence ‘Tis not the first true tear a married woman has shed’ could work if addressed to Crasy and the most sensible solution was to play ‘Strike my finger into mine eye’ as an aside but nothing else. Fake crying is, of course, the only kind of crying that normally takes place on stage and so Josina’s aside becomes part of a long line of metatheatrical moments in the play. The kissing became almost air kissing because it was so meaningless and Josina’s second ‘Farewell’ became a clear dismissal, almost ‘Are you going or not?’
The workshop included some brief work on Josina’s Mistress Parmisan speech [CW 1.1.speech91] working with the idea of playing this speech out to the audience, suggesting people in the audience knew about the characters mentioned and the kind of services they offered. There was discussion about whether ‘Et cetera’ could be: a cue to improvise; code, or a password, for ‘get me a man’, something which suggests Josina has done this kind of thing before; or perhaps it could be said knowingly to a woman in the audience, indicating Josina knows that that woman has been there, and done something very similar.
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n9545   will you needs Must you? [go to text]

n9619   consumption. Josina's claim is that she will fall ill with a consumption, or wasting sickness (OED 2a), when bereft of her husband's company. However, the audience soon learns that she will also, when away from Crasy, attempt to engage in wasteful expenditure of time, money, etc (OED 6) in pursuing love affairs with the impoverished couriters Rufflit and Ticket. OED also indicates that the economic meanings of 'consumption' that encompass the purchase and use of goods, services, materials, or energy (OED 7a) and the amount of goods, etc purchased and used (OED 7b) were in use from 1662 and The City Wit is certainly interested in characters who are focussed on 'consumption', in the economic meaning of the word; Josina is later described as being a walking image of excessive economic consumption (in Rufflit's description of Josina in [CW 4.1.speech622], which apportions blame for this to Crasy). [go to text]

n9544   know... The ellipsis may suggest Josina weeps (or appears to weep). [go to text]

n6318   Strike my finger into mine eye. This action was proverbial for bringing on tears (see Tilley F229) and there are several ways this line could be played. Wilkinson makes the whole of the rest of this speech into an aside, suggesting that Josina is not only making herself cry here but also adding a commentary to the audience on that fact. This edition accepts that 'strike my finger into mine eyes' would be best performed as an aside, as it is improbable that Josina would be signalling quite so obviously to Crasy that she can hardly wait for him to leave. However, the final section of Josina's speech could quite plausibly be addressed to Crasy: Josina is positioning herself as one in a long line of desolate wives weeping true tears over the departure of their husbands. This reading is supported by the punctuation of the octavo which separates 'strike my finger into mine eye' off from the rest of the speech as it is preceded by a semi colon and followed by a colon. In addition the upper case T in "'Tis" suggests a shift, which could be the shift back to addressing Crasy. This reading requires Josina to be pretending to sob, possibly in a rather overstated manner. Wilkinson's reading has the advantage of having Josina take the audience into her confidence and then position them as knowing more than Crasy, but it suggests that Josina would have to play 'true' as self evidently false or in inverted commas; that is, she is saying it is not the first time a false wife pretending to be 'true' has had to stick her finger in her eye in order to summon up tears and feign grief at her husband's absence which will give her freedom to do as she pleases. If none of the speech is an aside, it is just about possible to play 'strike my finger into mine eye' as an exclamation, drawing attention to Josina's tears, but this is a strained reading. [go to text]

n9546   travel down or not keep up. Crasy offers a neat balance between travelling down, that is to the country, or not keeping up, that is being able to maintain a living in London as he is accustomed to do. [go to text]

n9547   Yet... Although she was a silent presence until everyone except for her husband left the stage, Josina now reveals she is as adept as her mother at shutting her husband up. [go to text]

gg4092   undid ruined [go to text]

n9548   never look to see me my own woman again. There is a comic contrast here: Josina firstly states that she will fall to pieces without her husband, that is, she will never be the same woman again; but then in her very next sentence she starts checking out how long Crasy will be away so that she can do as she pleases without him knowing. [go to text]

n9549   A fortnight at the least and a month at the most. It is never made clear exactly how Crasy is going to recover his fortunes by disappearing to the country for between two and four weeks. Whilst away from London he would be also be away from his creditors and would not be in danger of being flung into debtors' prison but unless his own debtors start paying up, it is difficult to see how his fortunes can significantly improve in this time. Josina is going to live at her mother's house so housekeeping expenses will be reduced. Crasy is letting his apprentice Jeremy go, so he does not need to be fed. However, theatrically all that is crucial here is that there is a reason for Crasy to be out of town, something which frees him to assume his multiple disguises. [go to text]

gg5431   heavy serious (OED a1, III 12) [go to text]

gg4221   post in a hurry [go to text]

gg4224   gape. yawn (OED 6) [go to text]

n6373   Josina The octavo mistakenly has the Jos. and Bri. speech headings for speeches 73 and 74 (lines 314 and 315 in O) reversed. [go to text]

gg862   forsooth. truly [go to text]

n6321   sleeping time That is, a siesta. [go to text]

n8807   Wast thou ever in love, Jeremy? Mark Thornton Burnett (p.31-2) discusses this sequence, commenting 'A predicament that crops up repeatedly' in plays of the period dealing with master servant relationships 'involves the mistress's lustful desire for her young servant' (p.31). However, to describe Josina as 'attracted to Jeremy' (p.32) seems inaccurate: Josina, as she later makes clear, is primarily driven by the desire not to appear foolish to her neighbours by failing to take a lover while her husband is absent. Thus in [CW 4.1.speech607] she states of her pursuit of Ticket and Rufflit that it is: 'not that I do so much care for the use of them, yet because I would not be wondered at like an owl among my neighbours for living honest in my husband's absence'. For Josina almost any available male will do; Jeremy just happens to be the first to come into her vicinity once Crasy has left. Thornton Burnett also talks about Jeremy's 'innate goodness' (p.32), something which is implicit in the the apprentice's refusal to be disloyal to his master. However, dramatically what is important here is that Jeremy should appear to be a bit of a wimp; this should increase the chances of the audience believing that Jeremy is a put upon victim of sexual harrassment, and certainly not a virtuoso con merchant whose wit surpasses that of all the other characters. [go to text]

n8192   Aye, ] I (O) [go to text]

n5828   you are, Josina tries to change Jeremy's denial into an admission by juggling the homophones 'Aye'/ 'I'. [go to text]

n9550   level your affection towards me. Josina is pretending to warn Jeremy about how improper it would be for him to fall in love with her, but she is actually trying to hint that she would welcome romantic overtures from him. [go to text]

n6320   never Of course contrary to Josina's disingenuous suggestion here, some apprentices did have affairs with their master's wives, and some married those wives as soon as they became widows. [go to text]

gg5227   race. family (OED n6, I 1a) [go to text]

gg4225   ferreter... one who searches for and hunts rabbits etc. with a ferret (OED citing this reference); however, OED also records the meaning of one who searches minutely; a rummager (this latter meaning might well carry sexual innuendo) [go to text]

n7947   I vowed this handkerchief should never touch anybody’s face but such a one as I would entreat to lie with me. In a play so knowing in its references to other well-known plays, Josina's overtures to Jeremy have to be seen as a parody of the wooing, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi 1.2., by the Duchess of her socially inferior husband-to-be Antonio. The Duchess, however, is not only seeking marriage rather than an adulterous liaison but also talks of lying chastely in bed and talking with her husband (ll.414-17); this is clearly not what Josina has in mind. [go to text]

n9551   spot Josina is supposedly indicating a spot of dirt; it is extremely likely that there is no such spot. In The Duchess of Malfi 1.2., which is parodied here, the Duchess uses the suggestion that one of Antonio's eyes is bloodshot in order to get close to him physically and also to manoeuvre him into marriage: the Duchess gives Antonio her wedding ring (from her first marriage) to help cure his bloodshot eye (gold is supposed to cure this condition) having 'sworn never to part with [the ring], /But to [her] second husband'. Josina has less success than the Duchess as her attempt at a similar manoeuvre ('I vowed this handkerchief should never touch anybody's face but such a one as I would entreat to lie with me' speech 85) results in Jeremy fleeing her presence. [go to text]

n6376   JEREMY The octavo mistakenly has 'Exit Jos.'. As Jeremy also misses out on being given an exit he needs during [CW 1.1.speech81], his movements seem to have caused some confusion around here. [go to text]

n5832   ars non habet inimicum præter ignorantem. 'art has no enemy except for ignorance'. Tilley (A331) records this as proverbial. Josina's translation ('Ignorance is woman's greatest enemy') is not accurate and her ignorance of Latin, underscored by the fact that the Latin tag is about ignorance, could be seen as a joke at her expense, particularly given that (as we learn in [CW 2.2.speech199]) Josina, like most women in the Caroline period, is illiterate. Her education contrasts especially with that of her brother Toby, who has had a tutor, Sarpego, paid to teach him Latin. [go to text]

n6322   Parmisan, The modern spelling is Parmesan. [go to text]

n6323   Old Fish Street, A street in London where there had been a fish market since the Middle Ages. Now called Knightrider Street, it is close to Mansion House tube station. [go to text]

n6324   Cauliflower, ] Collifloore [go to text]

n6325   Old Change, A London street crossing Old Fish Street and nowadays close to Mansion House tube station. The King's Exchange (where bullion was brought to be made into coins) was on this street. [go to text]

n6326   Piccadell The modern spelling is piccadill; decorative edging to cut work, especially on collar, sleeve or ruff (OED 1). (The area of Piccadilly, which extends from Picadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner, was begining to develop in the seventeenth century under the ownership of Robert Baker a tailor 'who had made a fortune out of the sale of "'picadils"' (Weinreb and Hibbert p.613)). [go to text]

n6327   Bow Lane A London street off Cheapside and nowadays very close to Mansion House tube station. [go to text]

gg5962   in any hand in any case, at any rate (OED n. 28j) [go to text]

gg4226   dry-nurse a woman who takes care of a child but does not suckle it (as a wet-nurse does) (OED 1) [go to text]

n6328   et cetera, The octavo punctuation suggests that Josina is probably meant to say 'the good old dry-nurse mother ... et cetera' in a way that suggests that that she does not need to give any more details of the dry-nurse mother's range of activities which the audience might assume include procuring or help with contraception and abortion. It is also possible that Josina may say suggest 'Mother Et cetera' as a way of indicating everyone knows who this woman is, but Josina does not want to name names. [go to text]

n9552   secret Josina means someone who can keep secrets, or be discreet, as well as someone who can behave secretively, in a way that will not draw attention to themselves. [go to text]

n6329   write and read Like most women of the Caroline period, Josina is illiterate. [go to text]

n9874   Take your errand with you: This works as a combination of 'Don't forget your errand' and 'Get a move on'. [go to text]

gg859   warrant assure, promise [go to text]

n6330   booted, Dessen and Thomson comment (p.35) 'To enter booted is to imply a recently completed journey, or one about to be undertaken'. In the Caroline period the main reason for putting on boots was in order to ride a horse. [go to text]

n9721   We In the Octavo the W is two lines high. [go to text]

n5854   Iterum iterumque vale. 'Again and again farewell' [go to text]

n6332   goodbye, The octavo spelling 'Godbuy' makes the derivation from 'God be with you' clear (OED 'goodbye' cites this example). [go to text]

n9561   a little of your patience. Crasy is asking all his debtors to wait a moment before departing as he wants his money back. Ticket, Rufflit, Toby and Sarpego all owe him money. [go to text]

n9562   impudent OED (1) offers definitions which could work here: for example, 'wanting in shame or modesty' as applied to Crasy's necessities suggests that his dire circumstances are, as it were, harrassing him without modesty or moderation. However, OED also cites Hobbes from 1628 as using the word in the sense of ‘without the means of decency’, here used in relation to poverty-stricken mourners who did not have the means to appear decently at funerals of their friends. This meaning is also appropriate to Crasy: he does not have the means to appear decently in the City of London any more. [go to text]

n9563   satisfy That is, pay me the money you owe me, satisfy the debt. [go to text]

gg4745   freeness? readiness; generosity, liberality (OED n. 2) [go to text]

gg101   piety compassion; ‘faithfulness to the duties naturally owed to one's relatives ... affectionate loyalty and respect’ (OED n. 3) [go to text]

n7951   two hundred pound. Worth £17,830 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n5855   Bacchus, The Roman god of wine. The expression 'by Bacchus' is also used in The English Moor and is discussed in Steggle (2004 p.125). [go to text]

n9564   my day. That is, the day stipulated for me to pay the money I owe back to you. [go to text]

n6337   thou Ticket's use of 'thou', as opposed to Crasy' more respectful 'you', is a social put down. [go to text]

n6333   keep my day? Keep to the agreement to pay on a certain day. [go to text]

gg857   and if [go to text]

gg4227   know acknowledge [go to text]

n9808   in favour Presumably Crasy means that Ticket is currently in favour at court, that is he is mixing with those who have power, and influence with the King. [go to text]

n9565   honest tradesman. While, in the next speech, Sarpego sees this phrase as synonymous with being a fool, the play in general suggests that an honest tradesman is an impossibility because a tradesman who is honest will go out of business. However, the backstory implied for Crasy suggests that he was not only honest but also entrusted large amounts of money to people such as Ticket and Rufflit who are palpably untrustworthy. [go to text]

n5859   synonima Synonymous with, meaning the same as. A book of synonyms, entitled 'Synonima' was written by St Isidore of Seville. [go to text]

n5865   epithet, Octavo has 'Epithite', which, as Sarpego is saying it, might suggest affected pronunciation. [go to text]

n5866   facundity. A Latinism meaning eloquence, fluency. [go to text]

gg415   driblet a small sum of money or petty debts (OED 1a and b); a small quantity (OED 3) [go to text]

n7403   ten pound Worth £892 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n5869   Diogenes Laertius, 3rd century A.D. author of The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, an idiosyncratic collection of anecdotes and information. Catherine Shaw, Richard Brome p.66-7 comments that 'The lantern reference identifies the Diogenes to which Sarpego refers as the Greek philosopher (c.412-323 B.C.) who went forth searching for an honest man. This is not, however, the Diogenes Laertius who was a recorder of philosophical comment living in the early third century. Thus the speech allows the ironic thrust that this man should prate to Crasie about a search for an honest man while at the same time revealing the falseness of his pedantry'. [go to text]

n5870   Cornelius Tacitus, The well known Cornelius Tacitus, the 1st century A.D. Roman historian, is not known to have been an Areopagite of Syracuse. [go to text]

n5871   Areopagite Ares' hill in Athens (Mars' hill in Latin), known as the Areopagus, was a site where a judicial court sat and 'Areopagite' was a title given to a member of a court, not necessarily a court in Athens. [go to text]

n5873   Syracusa, Syracuse was an Ancient Greek city in Sicily. [go to text]

n7950   itch, Often 'the itch' refers specifically to a contagious disease, in which the skin is covered with vesicles and pustules, accompanied by extreme irritation, now known to be produced by the itch-mite, that is scabies (OED n, 1), although 'the itch' can also extend to include the meaning of a persistent desire to do something; either meaning could work here. [go to text]

n7953   Answer me my moneys I beseech you. That is, answer me by giving me my money back. [go to text]

gg5234   Peremptorily, decisively, conclusively (OED adv 5) [go to text]

n5896   careo supinis; 'I lack (anything to give you in) the upturned palm of my hand' [go to text]

n6334   debet. A Latinism for debt, or what is owed. [go to text]

gg4228   forecast foresight, prudence (OED n. 1a) [go to text]

gg4229   easy, compliant, credulous (OED 12a) [go to text]

n9772   I will not say foolish, for that were a figure) The figure would be alliteration, that is, the repetition of "f": forecast, forehead, foolish (and even, in terms of sound, philosopher). [go to text]

n5898   omnia mea mecum porto. 'I carry everything (I own) with me.' [go to text]

n6336   lantern The octavo spelling of Lanthorne could suggest possible double meanings here: on one level Sarpego is saying 'I wish your own lanthorne/ lantern will be your guide and that you will always travel with a great abundance of good things'; on another level, given the contemporary obsession with horns as a sign of cuckoldry, he could be suggesting Crasy should bear in mind the danger of acquiring a lant/horn, becoming horned, or cuckolded. [go to text]

n6335   cornucopia The horn of plenty, which is often represented as overflowing with fruit etc. but also the horn of a cuckold. The latter meaning is more to the fore because the octavo prints it 'Cornu copia', suggesting 'a plentiful number of horns'. Many contemporary dramas also have cuckolds making 'plenty' from their horns in the sense of generating an income, as in the example of Allwit in Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. [go to text]

n5897   Vive valeque. 'Good health and farewell' [go to text]

n9583   brother, Toby calls his brother-in-law 'brother'. [go to text]

gg4231   pericranion pericranium (OED 2) the skull, brain or mind [go to text]

n9872   Signior, no: When used without a name, 'signior' is a form of address, equivalent to ‘sir’ in English (OED n, 1b); however 'Signior, no' is also a famous phrase from Shakespeare's 1 Henry VI (3.5.27). After Alencon says 'Seignieur, no', the English hero Talbot replies 'Siegnieur, hang!'. [go to text]

n6338   no Do not desire even the things that you already own. [go to text]

n7954   hundred marks. Around £66 and worth £5,885 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

gg2889   marks. a gold or silver coin equivalent to two-thirds of a pound (of silver or sterling), that is about thirteen shillings and four pence (OED mark, n2, 2a cites J. Norden in 1607 who spells out the equivalence); one such coin in terms of today's spending power would equal £57.20p [go to text]

n6339   of all hands. On all sides, in all directions. [go to text]

gg5973   office position of status and (sometimes) responsibility [go to text]

gg1766   so so (that), so long as (OED adv. and conj. 26a) [go to text]

n9867   honest man’s fortune, The Honest Man's Fortune is a play by Nathan Field, John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, from 1612-13. Brome may have had this play in mind as it intersects with The City Wit in having a sequence in which a young man, Veramour, dressed as a woman, reveals he has breeches on and is a man. [go to text]

n6340   rise Rise socially but also suggestive; the wife's ability to excite, and satisfy, men will help her husband's upward mobility. [go to text]

n9582   Prithee grow rich again and wear good clothes that we may keep our acquaintance still. Toby's unabashedly acknowledges that he can only be friends with his brother-in-law if Crasy is rich and wearing fine clothing. Without wealth and 'good clothes', as far as Toby is concerned, Crasy is not an acceptable acquaintance. [go to text]

n9584   thy fist gape Rufflit's image is of Crasy's hand being open to receive money, like a mouth gaping hungrily for food. [go to text]

n6341   break Break faith or fail to honour one's obligations. [go to text]

n7955   an hundred angels. Around £50, worth £4,458 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

gg4232   angels. a gold coin worth around 10 shillings which had an image of the archangel Michael standing on and spearing a dragon [go to text]

gg4233   touseth to rumple, or tumble, bed clothes (OED 2) [go to text]

gg4234   contemns despise, scorn, slight (OED 1) [go to text]

n6342   starves ] sterves (O) [go to text]

n9585   I do thee courtesy I am doing you a favour or courtesy. [go to text]

gg4235   single honest, sincere, free from deceit (OED 14a) [go to text]

n9586   ’Tis pity but thou shouldest lose It is a pity (or even it would be a shame) unless you should/ you are made to lose (your freedom). The octavo spelling 'loose' combines the suggestion of Crasy losing the privileges that come with membership of a guild with a sense that he himself has loosened his hold on those privileges by behaving abnormally and lending money to a courtier solely on the basis of his promise that he would return it. [go to text]

gg4236   freedom the right of participating in the privileges attached to membership of a guild etc. also the right to practise a trade (OED n. II 14a) [go to text]

gg684   order procedure, customary practice (OED n. 12a); customary mode of proceeding in conduct of bodies such as parliaments or in trials (OED n. 12b) [go to text]

n9587   without a citizen bound with him. That is, without a citizen being legally bound alongside him to pay his debts if the gentleman should default on his loan. [go to text]

gg4237   flush plentifully supplied, especially with money (OED a1, 3a) [go to text]

n9588   feel Crasy will feel the money, from Rufflit, in his hands. [go to text]

n6343   A handsome straight young fellow, grown into a pretty beard, with a proper bodied woman to his wife, and cannot bear a brain! The octavo has 'Beare' for 'beard'. My emendation is based on the fact that this phrase is fairly precisely thrown back at Rufflit and the assembled throng in [CW 5.1.speech945] by Crasy who is mocking the onlookers' inability to see through his plots: 'a handsome young fellow with a pretty beard and a proper bodied woman to his wife and cannot bear a brain'. The word 'beard' makes more sense than 'bear' (growing into a beard suggests the achievement of maturity) and a 'd' has been added in black ink to the Eton copy of the play. [go to text]

n7956   Fifty pound. Worth £4,458 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

gg4238   dog-cheap. very cheap (OED cheap a. and adv. 6) [go to text]

n6344   rent Rufflit will rent out to Crasy the imaginary ten pounds he claims Crasy owes him for the 'counsel' Rufflit has offered him. [go to text]

gg2351   genius attendant spirit, guardian [go to text]

gg4239   courtesy. considerateness in dealing with others (OED 1a) [go to text]

n7957   thirty pound, Worth £2,675, in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

n9589   sixty Sixty pounds would be worth £5,200, in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

gg4240   present (adj. and adv.) ready at hand, immediately accessible or available (OED 5) [go to text]

n8352   twenty pound, Worth £1,783 in 2009 (National Archives currency converter). [go to text]

gg390   jerks witty gibes; can also refer to copulation [go to text]

gg3182   erewhile a short time ago; recently; but now [go to text]

n6347   wit is never good till it be bought. Linsy-Wolsey is contrasting himself with the fine, witty but moneyless gentlemen and his words here suggest something on the lines of the modern proverbial phrase 'fine words butter no parsnips'. Wit can be 'good' in the sense of clever, but, for Linsy-Wolsey, finances are more important than wit and his use of the word 'good' brings in the meaning of financially reliable or sound, having the ability to fulfil obligations (see OED 16). So, for Linsy-Wolsey, wit is not really worth anything unless it can produce or generate money. (See Tilley W545.)
Harbage (308) quotes this speech in support of his argument that 'Speeches which frequently repeat the term of address seemed to Brome so irresistibly funny that he employed the device at least once in nearly every comedy'.
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n9590   Is this the end Crasy shifts into verse for his reflections, which use his particular predicament as a basis for generalising on humankind's lack of moral fibre. [go to text]

gg4745   freeness? readiness; generosity, liberality (OED n. 2) [go to text]

gg4229   easy compliant, credulous (OED 12a) [go to text]

gg4787   Respect heed, pay attention to (OED v. 2b) [go to text]

n9347   Who through goodness sinks, his fall’s his rising. Kaufmann (p.51) reads this line as potentially 'a concrete affirmation of the Christian principle that charity is its own reward, for that is what Crasy has been scorned for being - charitable - in both the basic sense of open-hearted sympathy and trust of one's fellow man, and in the more restricted sense of using money to alleviate others' distress'. [go to text]

n9606   Who through goodness sinks, his fall’s his rising. The rhyming couplet emphasises the end of the sequence in which Crasy is spurned and let down by those who owe him money and favours. He adopts a high moral tone (in contrast with his cynicism in [CW 1.2.speech136], especially the final couplet of the act) maintaining that if someone's goodness and virtue cause their (worldly) fortunes to sink, nevertheless their moral stock will be rising.
The rhyming couplet is made up of an 11 syllable line followed by a 10 syllable line; 'thorough' rather than 'through' would improve the metre, 'thorough' being an alternative spelling of 'through'.
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n9809   Honest, Sexually honest, that is, faithful to her husband. [go to text]

gg4241   Get up to recover an expense, loss or arrears (OED get v, 80n) [go to text]

gg5978   abroad away from home (OED n. 3a) [go to text]

n5737   Jove The most powerful of the Roman gods. [go to text]

n6348   take up Although 'take up' refers to receiving the payment of Crasy's debts ('your due'), Jeremy implies that debtors may want to pay more than the money they owe and 'take up' Josina's skirts for sex (cf. e.g. Taming of the Shrew 4.3.152-3). Jeremy's circumspection and use of euphemism contrasts with Crasy's blunter, cruder comments. [go to text]

n9861   the lord was no sooner off from his horse back Crasy's crude image constructs his wife Josina as a horse to be ridden sexually; once the lord has finished riding the horse/ penetrating the woman, then the servant climbs up into 'the saddle' and rides the horse/ penetrates the woman. [go to text]

gg6037   lackey footman, man-servant (usually liveried) (OED) [go to text]

gg715   fain gladly, willingly, eagerly [go to text]

n9596   make myself an ass Play the ass, or pretend to be a fool (and act as if he did not understand that Josina was trying to bed him). This is a hint that Jeremy is capable of playing different roles. [go to text]

gg4242   prentice. apprentice [go to text]

n9597   Poverty shall serve itself. In freeing Jeremy from his apprenticeship, Crasy is rendering himself servantless but 'Poverty', or a man afflicted with poverty, has to serve himself and not be waited upon by others. [go to text]

gg4170   sconce. head, especially the crown or top of the head (OED n. 2) [go to text]

n9718   Crasy ] Car. (o). [go to text]

n9598   to abuse all things that have but sense of wrong. To deceive and to abuse the trust of everyone (or thing) that has even the least capacity to feel wronged. [go to text]

gg4243   mistrustless free from mistrust or suspicion [go to text]

n9599   milked my thoughts from my heart and money from my purse, While the image of milking money from Crasy's purse is unremarkable, that is, he has been defrauded of his money, his comment that his thoughts have been milked from his heart suggest psychological damage inflicted on him that cannot actually benefit those who have preyed on him. [go to text]

gg3551   cozen, deceive, dupe, beguile, impose upon (OED 2) [go to text]

n6392   cozen, The octavo has 'chosen' but this must be a slip for cosen/ cozen. George Powell's adaptation of The City Wit, A Very Good Wife, sticks closely to this speech but has 'cozen'. [go to text]

n6349   women by their flesh, only man by his brain. Women can make a living by selling their bodies through prostitution or, indeed, the marriage market, while men make money from their brains. Crasy's jaded analysis fails to take into account the fact that women could not legally practise many professions that require brain work, such as law, and were excluded from centres of learning such as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Crasy also omits to mention that men, as well as women, can sell their bodies for sex. [go to text]

n7958   [Aside]. The octavo does not mark this as an aside but Jeremy has just said farewell to Crasy and these lines read as direct address to the audience. They are also the only clue as to what Jeremy is up to during the play, until all is revealed in the closing moments of the action. [go to text]

n9600   put tricks upon some of them, Manage to play some tricks on, or con, some of them. [go to text]

n9601   revenge. Crasy's statement of intent helps identify The City Wit as a revenge comedy; the entire plot is driven by attempts to avenge the treatment of Crasy in the opening two scenes of the play. [go to text]

gg5236   provoked roused or spurred on (OED v. 2) in a neutral or positive sense, but not with the modern sense of being exasperated or irritated into action [go to text]

n5899   Samson’s foxes... Judges 15: 3-6, part of a ghastly narrative of violence and revenge, tells how Samson attempted to get even with the Philistines because his wife had been given away, by her father, to Samson's friend who had attended Samson at his wedding. Samson destroyed the Philistines' food crops by catching three hundred foxes, tying them in pairs by their tails, tying torches to their tails and then letting the crazed animals loose amongst the grain, grape and olive crops thus destroying them for that season. The Philistines then burnt Samson's wife and her father alive. Crasy's reference thus underscores the play's emphasis on (comic) revenge. [go to text]

n9603   my defect of fortune My deficiency in fortune, my bad luck. [go to text]

n6350   The sense of our slight sports confessed shall have, As 'slight sports' is referring to what the audience is about to see, this is talking about the meaning that will be clear at the end of the play. Kaufmann (p.51-2) suggests of this couplet that 'The rest of the play is a syllogistic demonstration of the truth of this proposition'. [go to text]

n9604   confessed Made evident, or made manifest (OED ppl a); that is when everything is made clear at the end of the play. [go to text]

n9605   That any may be rich will be a knave. Rhyming 'have' and 'knave' is awkward in modern English but the couplet rounds off Act 1, the first sequence of action, and offers a moral tag for the whole play. [go to text]