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

List of Characters.

CRASY,* a young citizen falling into decay.
JEREMY,* his apprentice.
SARPEGO,* a pedant.
SNEAKUP, Crasy’s father-in-law.
PYANNET,* Sneakup’s wife.
[Sir Andrew] TICKET,*
}two courtiers.*
JOSINA, Crasy’s wife.
LINSY-WOLSEY,* a thrifty citizen.
TOBY,* son to Sneakup.
BRIDGET, Josina’s maid.
CRACK,* a boy that sings.
ISABEL, a keeping woman.
JOAN, a keeping woman.
[TRYMAN, a courtesan.]*
[The Tickets' PAGE]*

The Prologue.

Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote.* Gentlemen,* you* see I come unarmed among you, sine virga aut ferula,* without rod or ferula, which are the pedant’s weapons. Id est,* that is to say I come not hither to be an instructor to any of you, that were aquilam volare docere, aut delphinum natare,* to teach the ape* well learned as myself. Nor came I to instruct the comedians. That were for me to be asinus inter simias,* the fool o’the company: I dare not undertake them. I am no pædagogus* nor hypodidascalus* here. I approach not hither ad erudiendum, nec ad corrigendum.* Nay, I have given my scholars leave to play, to get a vacuum* for myself today, to act a particle here in a play,* an actor being wanting that could bear it with port 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 Jove* the terror of my brow* spoil not your mirth, for you cannot forget the fury of a tutor when you have lain under* the blazing comet* of his wrath, with quæso præceptor te precor da ...* etc. But let fear pass, nothing but mirth’s intended. But I had forgot myself: a prologue should be in rhyme* etc. therefore I will begin again.

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

        Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote.*
        The schoolmaster that never yet besought ye,
        Is now become a suitor that you’ll sit,
        And exercise your judgement with your wit,*
        On this our comedy, which, in bold phrase,
        The author says has passed with good applause*
        In former times.* For it was written when
        It bore just judgement* and the seal* of Ben.*
        Some in this round* may have both seen’t and heard,
        Ere I, that bear its title,* wore a beard.*
        My suit is therefore that you will not look,
        To find more in the title than the book.*
        My part the pedant, though it seem a column*
        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?*
        In nova fert animus...* then I’ll do my best
        To gain your plaudite* among the rest.
        So with the salutation I first brought ye,
        Quotquot adestis, salvete, salvetote.
[Enter SERVANTS and] a dinner carried over the stage in covered dishes.*
[SERVANTS carrying the dishes] exit.

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

4JeremyWill you not go in* and dine, sir?

5CrasyNo. I am of other diet* today.

6JeremyThe whole company expects you.*

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

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

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

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

        Of paper it was once. Would I had now
        Green’s Groat’s-worth of Wit* for it. But ’twill serve
        To light tobacco pipes.* Here, let me see,
        Here is three hundred pound,* two hundred here.*
        And here one hundred,* and two hundred here,
        Fifty,* fifty, fifty, and one hundred here,
        And here one hundred and fifty. Besides
        A many parcels* of small debts,* which make
        Two hundred more. I shall not live to tell it,
        But put it up, and take 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.*

        Now what news?   [CRASY] takes up a scroll   

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

11CrasyThese they are; my debts
        That strike me through. This bag* 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 this* were current money!

14JeremyWhat shall I say?

15CrasyEven what thou wilt, good Jeremy.

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

17CrasyBut I hope few of the last appear.

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

19CrasyTo feed on,* 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.

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

22Jeremy   [Aside]   In troth I pity him ... *Exit [JEREMY] weeping.

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;*
        I must take nimble hold upon occasion,*
        Or lie for ever in the bankrupt ditch*
        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,*
        Which doth infect a city like the plague
        And teach men knavery that were never born to’t,
        Whereby the rope-deserving rascal* gains
        Purple* and furs, trappings and golden chains.
        Base Composition,* baser far than want,
        Than beggary, imprisonment, slavery:
        I scorn thee, though thou lov’st a tradesman dearly*
        And mak’st a chandler 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,* sir.....

27CrasyWhy what of her?
        Is there a plate lost, or a ’postle-spoon,*
        A china dish broke, or an ancient glass
        And stained with wine her* damask tablecloth?
        Or is the salt fallen towards her?* 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,* 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,* whose fit* is now got up
        To such a height the Devil cannot lay* it.
        The learned schoolmaster, Master Sarpego,
        Has conjured it by all his parts of speech,
        His tropes and figures and cannot be heard
        I’th’ furious tempest.* All your creditors
        Are gone in rage, will take their course,* they say.
        Some of your debtors stay, I think, to laugh at her.

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

34CrasyWhat* raging rout hath rent thy rest?
        What scold hath scutched thy sconce?

35SarpegoI’ll breath it to thy bolder breast,
        That askst me for the nonce.*
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.* Food hath been eaten, wine drunk, talk passed, breath spent, labour lost. For why? Mistress Pyannet,* your mother-in-law, Master Sneakup’s wife, (though she will be called by none but her own name)* that woman of an eternal tongue, that creature of an everlasting noise, whose perpetual talk is able to deafen a miller,* whose discourse is more tedious than a justice’s charge,* she that will out-scold ten carted bawds, even when she is sober, and out-chat fifteen midwives, though fourteen of them be half drunk, this she-thing hath burst all. Demosthenes* himself would give her over. Therefore hopeless Sarpego is silent.

36PyannetO are you here, sir? You have spun a fair thread. Here’s much ado and little help.* We can make bolt nor shaft,* find neither head nor foot* 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; 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.

40Pyannet*Kind 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, 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 grazier is come to be a Justice of Peace and what, as an honest man? He grew* to be able to give nine hundred pound* with my daughter, and what, by honesty? Master Sneakup and I are come up to live i’th’ City and here we have lien these three years,* and what, for honesty? Honesty! What should the City do with honesty when ’tis enough to undo a whole corporation?* Why are your wares gummed?* your shops dark?* Your prices* writ in strange characters?* What, for honesty? Honesty? Why is hard wax* called ’merchant’s wax’ and is said seldom or never to be ripped off* but it plucks the skin of a lordship* with it? What, for honesty? Now (mortified my concupiscence!)* dost thou think, that our neighbour, Master Linsy-Wolsey here, from the son of a tripe-wife* and a rope-maker,* could aspire to be an alderman’s deputy, to be worshipful Master Linsy-Wolsey, venerable Master Linsy-Wolsey, to wear satin* sleeves and whip beggars?* And what, by honesty? Have we bought an office* here for our towardly and gracious son and heir here, young Master Sneakup....

45TobyYes, forsooth, mother.

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

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.*

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

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

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

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’Uds so!* there’s a trick! 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.* 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 tender or possibly express by...

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

65PyannetOur best labour or utmost devoir. Yes, I protest, sweet madam. I beseech you, as you pass by in coach sometimes, vouchsafe 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?* 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, my very being, will you needs* take your journey? I shall fall, before your return, into a consumption.* If you did but conceive what your departure will bring upon me, I know, my sweet, nay I do know...* but go your ways.    [Aside]    Strike my finger into mine eye.*   [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.* Yet...*

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

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

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

73Josina*What’s a clock, Bridget?

74BridgetPast three, forsooth.

75Josina’Tis past sleeping time* 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?*

78JeremyWho I, forsooth? No, forsooth.

79JosinaAye,* forsooth, and no, forsooth? then I perceive you are,* forsooth. But I advise you to take heed how you level your affection towards me.* I am your mistress and I hope you never* 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. I have heard my mother say his father was a ferreter...

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.*

86JeremyIndeed, forsooth!

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

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

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.* Ignorance is woman’s greatest enemy. Who’s within? Bridget!

90BridgetHere, forsooth.

91JosinaGo your ways to Mistress Parmisan,* the cheesemonger’s wife in Old Fish Street,* and commend me to her and entreat her to pray Mistress Cauliflower,* the Herb-woman in the Old Change,* that she will desire Mistress Piccadell* in Bow Lane* in any hand to beseech the good old dry-nurse mother cetera,* she knows where, to provide me an honest, handsome, secret* young man that can write and read* written hand. Take your errand with you:* that can write and read written hand.

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

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

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

95RufflitFarewell, good Master Crasy.

96TobyAdieu, brother.

97SarpegoIterum iterumque vale.*

98Linsy-WolseyHeartily goodbye,* good Master Crasy.

99CrasyNay, but gentlemen, a little of your patience.* You all know your own debts and my almost impudent* necessities: satisfy* me that I may discharge others. Will you suffer me to sink under my freeness? shall my goodness and ready piety 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.*

100TicketBlood of Bacchus,* ’tis true, ’tis my day.* What then? Dost take me for a citizen that thou* thinkest I’ll keep my day?* No, thou’st find that I am a courtier: let my day keep me and ’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 know thee.

101CrasyO sir, now you are in favour* 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.*Exit [TICKET].

103SarpegoThat is synonima* for a fool. An ironical epithet,* upon my facundity.*

104CrasyO Master Sarpego! I know you will satisfy your own driblet of ten pound* I lent you out of my purse.

105SarpegoDiogenes Laertius,* on a certain time, demanding of Cornelius Tacitus,* an Areopagite* of Syracusa,* what was the most commodious and expeditest method to kill the itch,* answered...

106CrasyAnswer me my moneys I beseech you.*

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

108TobyWhy look you, brother,* it was thought, that I had a tender pericranion or, in direct phrase, that I was an unthrifty fool. Signior, no:* 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, no* 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.* 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.* 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 office there, so 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,* to rise* by a good wife. Farewell, sweet brother. Prithee grow rich again and wear good clothes that we may keep our acquaintance still.* Farewell, dear brother.Exit [TOBY].

111CrasyMaster Rufflit...

112RufflitWhat, does thy fist gape* for money from me?

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

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; touseth other men’s sheets; flatters all he fears; contemns all he needs not, starves* all that serve him, and undoes all that trust him. Dost ask me money as I am a gallant of fashion? I do thee courtesy* I beat thee not.

115CrasyI lent it you on your single word.

116Rufflit’Tis pity but thou shouldest lose* thy freedom for it. You tradesmen have a good order in your city not to lend a gentleman money without a citizen bound with him.* But you, forsooth, scorn orders! By this light, ’tis pity thou loosest not thy freedom for it. Well, when I am flush thou shalt feel* 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!* 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.*

118RufflitThou art in my debt. I have given thee counsel worth three score, dog-cheap. Well I’ll rent* 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 genius had directed me to deal always with such honest, neighbourly men as yourself. I hope you will not deny me a courtesy.

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

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

123Linsy-WolseyMy good friend Master Crasy, I have no tricks and jerks to come over you as the witty gentleman had erewhile but I know a plain bargain is a plain bargain, and wit is never good till it be bought.* 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 end* of unsuspicious freeness?
        Are open hands of cheerful piety,
        A helpful bounty, and most easy goodness,
        Rewarded thus?
        Is to be honest termed to be a fool?
        Respect 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.**

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

126CrasyWhat Jeremy?

127JeremyHonest,* sir. Get up your debts as fast as you can abroad for on my understanding (which great Jove* knows is but little) she will take up* 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 back* but the lackey 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 fain to make myself an ass* or else I had been tempted to have been a knave.

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

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

134Crasy* If ever it be in thy possible ability, wrong all men. Use thy wit to abuse all things that have but sense of wrong.* For, without mercy, all men have injured thy mistrustless master, milked my thoughts from my heart and money from my purse,* and, last, laughed at my credulity. Cheat, cozen,* 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.* In brief, be a knave and prosper; for honesty has beggared me.

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

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

Edited by Elizabeth Schafer