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fect state, with a scene between Shift, Drift, and Unthrift, three tinkers in Arabia, who sing, and afterwards rob Sedmond and his sister Clarisia. Conditions, the Vice, is attending upon them, and being captured, the thieves are about to hang him, when he offers to do the office for himself, if they will give him the halter, and let him ascend the tree. They consent, and when he is up he keeps them at bay with his knife, and calls loudly for assistance, upon which they are glad to make their escape. This may be
. quoted as the best specimen of the humorous part of the performance :• Conditions. Ha! and there be no remedie, but that
needs hang I must, • Give me the halter: Ile to it my self, and laie all care in
the dust. Unthrifte*. I am sure thou meanest not to hang with
out helpe of a friend. • Cond. Ist not as good to hang my self as another hale
the ende? Unthrifte. By gogs bloud, my maisters, and he will we
are all content, For then in tyme for hanging hym we neede not repent. • Well, Drifte, give the halter unto the elf. • Cond. Ha! was there ever little knave driven to hang
hymself? . Nay, I must also request your aide to helpe me into the tree. Shifte. Naie, if you lacke any helpe, then hang us all
three. * So lawe-now dispatche, and with spede make an ende.
• Cond. What to doe?
* He is by a misprint called Thrifte in this part of the scene.
Drifte. Marie, hang thyself. • Cond. Naie, by your leave, that is more than I doe
intende. • Unthrifte. Why, I am sure thou intendest not to serve
us in such sort. • Cond. Were not he mad would hang hymself to
shewe three tinkers sport? Shifte. Why, I am sure to serve us so thou doest not
intende. • Cond. A mad foole he were would desperatly die, and
never did offende. Shifte. By gogs bloud, Ile teare him doune, or els Ile
lose my life. • Cond. Backe againe, or Ile be so bolde as pare your
nailes with my knife.' The classical allusions in the serious dialogue are numerous, and the following, between Nomides and Sabia, each accusing the other sex of lightness and infidelity, shows that the author was a man of some little reading • Nomides. Not wrongfully but rightfully I shall expresse
your love; * And therefore, ladie, heare my talke that I in breef shall
speake, * And after, if you please, againe replie your minde to
breake. First, what love I praie you bare Helena unto her lorde
and kyng? • What constancie in Creseda did rest in every thyng ? • What love I praie you bare Phedria unto her Theseus, • When in his absence she desired his sonne Hippolitus ? • What true love eke bare Medea unto Duke Jason he ? Tushe, ladie, in vaine it is to talke, they all deceitfull be; And therefore, ladie, you must yeeld to me in that respect :
• Men still are just, though women must their plighted
vowes neglect...... Sabia. Then, Sir Knight, how faithfull was Eneas to
Didoes grace? . How faithfull was Duke Jason, he whom Medea did aide, • To whom he plighted faithe by vowe none other to im
brace, * When he to winne the golden fleece by Otes was dis
maide ? * And Theseus, I praie you also, how faithfull did be bide, • When that the vowe he once had made to Ariadne he
denide? • How faithfull was Diomedes, one of the Greekish crue ? : Though Troilus therein was juste, yet was he founde un
true. • And so betweene these twaine and Fortunes lucklesse
hap, She was like lazer faine to sit, and beg with dishe and
clap. • Tushe, tushe, you see to trust in men whose fickle braines
are so, • That at the first sight of every wight their plighted vowes
forgo.' The following sea-song, by pirates, is perhaps the oldest of the kind in English. * Lustely, lustely, lustely let us saile forthe, The winde trim doth serve us, it blowes from the north. • All thinges we have ready and nothing we want
• To furnish our ship that rideth hereby; • Victals and weapons thei be nothing skant, Like worthie mariners ourselves we will trie.
Lustely, lustely, &c. • Her flagges be new trimmed set flanting alofte,
Our ship for swift swimmyng, oh, she doeth excell:
• Wee feare no enemies, we have escaped them ofte: • Of all ships that swimmeth she beareth the bell.
Lustely, lustely, &c. • And here is a maister excelleth in skill,
• And our maisters mate he is not to seeke;
Lustely, lustely, &c.
• Wee will returne merely and make good cheare, * And holde all together as friends linkt in love, · The cannes shal be filled with wine ale and beere.
Lustely, lustely, &c.' This song, and another by the Tinkers in the opening, with the proverbial burden,
• Haie tistie tostie Tinkers, good fellowes they bee,
• In stopping of one hole thei use to make three,' are the best parts of the whole performance, judging from the fragment that is left of the latter song. The dialogues between the lovers are conducted with extraordinary tediousness, and the language of the French Doctor Mountagos, father of Sabia, merely absurd. A female idiot, called Lomia, is likewise introduced for the sake of variety, and to excite laughter at her imbecility.
The pretty interlude called Nice Wanton ** ought
* The title-page contains these explanatory verses :
• Wherein ye may see
Early sharpe that wyll be thorne,
not to be passed over, although it presents no very remarkable feature beyond the circumstance, that some of the principal characters are meant to represent persons, and are not merely symbolical abstractions. Xantipe is a foolish mother (and of course a scold) who spoils two of her children, Ismael and Dalila, but treats her son Barnabas with great severity, and compels him to go to school, while his brother and sister play truant. The result is, that Barnabas is well educated and kept in good control, while the two others, as they grow up, (which they do in the course of the short piece,) abandon themselves to the highest crimes and grossest vices. They fall into the hands of Iniquity, the Vice, and he is a very able instructor of very apt scholars. Ismael, after losing all he has at dice, takes to the highway, commits a robbery, and is hanged in chains : Dalila becomes a prostitute, and after severe sufferings dies of the loathsome diseases to which, by her way of life, she had been exposed. Barnabas, on the contrary, lives in great credit, and in the end is highly rewarded for his virtues. Before she dies, Dalila crawls to her brother Barnabas, and he does not recognize her : the avowal of her name is prettily managed where she says,
To be restored to health, alas, it is past, · Disease hath brought me into such decay :
"To be naught better unborne,
• Better unfed than naughtely taught.' At the bottom of the page is the date Anno Domini MDLX. ; but the printer's name is in the colophon: 'Imprinted at London, in Paules Churche yearde, at the Sygne of the Swane, by John Kyng.'