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Why this is dreadful now as sudden death
To some rich man, that flatters all his sins
With promise of repentance when he's old,
And dies in the midway before he comes to't.
Sure you're not well, Biancha! How dost, prithee?
Bian. I have been better than I am at this time.
Lean. Alas, I thought so.
Bian. Nay, I have been worse too,
Than now you see me, sir.
Lean. I'm glad thou mendst yet, I feel
heart mend too. How came it to thee? Has any thing dislik’d thee in my absence ?
Bian. No, certain, I have had the best content
That Florence can afford.
Lean. Thou makest the best on't:
Speak, mother, what's the cause ? you must needs know.
Moth. Troth I know none, son ; let her speak herself;
Unless it be the same 'gave Lucifer a tumbling cast; that's pride.
Bian. Methinks this house stands nothing to my mind;
I'd have some pleasant lodging i' th' high street, sir;
Or if 'twere near the court, sir, that were much better;
'Tis a sweet recreation for a gentlewoman
To stand in a bay-window, and see gallants.
Lean. Now I have another temper, a mere stranger
To that of yours, it seems ; I should delight
To see none but yourself.
Bian. I praise not that:
Too fond is as unseemly as too churlish :
I would not have a husband of that proneness,
To kiss me before
Let's talk of other business, and forget it.
What news now of the pirates ? any stirring ?
Prithee discourse a little.
Moth. (aside.) I am glad he's here yet
To see her tricks himself; I had lied monstrously
If I had told 'em first.
Lean. Speak, what's the humour, sweet,
You make your lip so strange? this was not wont.
Bian. Is there no kindness betwixt man and wife,
Unless they make a pigeon-house of friendship,
And be still billing? 'tis the idlest fondness
That ever was invented.
Think of the world, how we shall live, grow serious ;
We have been married a whole fortnight now.
Lean. How? a whole fortnight! why, is that so long?
Bian. 'Tis time to leave off dalliance; 'tis a doctrine
Of your own teaching, if you be remember'd,
And I was bound to obey it.
Moth. (aside.) Here's one fits him ;
This was well catch'd i'faith, son, like a fellow
That rids another country of a plague,
And brings it home with him to his own house.
[Knocking within. Who knocks?
Lean. Who's there now? Withdraw you, Biancha;
Thou art a gem no stranger's eye must see,
Howe'er thou pleas'd now to look dull on me. [Exit Biancha.
You're welcome, sir : to whom your business, pray?
Mess. To one I see not here now.
Lean. Who should that be, sir?
Mess. A young gentlewoman, I was sent to.
Lean. A young gentlewoman?
Mess. Ay, sir, about sixteen : why look you wildly, sir ?
Lean. At your strange error: you've mistook the house, sir; There's none such here, I assure you.
Mess. I assure you too,
The man that sent me cannot be mistook.
Lean. Why, who is't sent you, sir ?
Mess. The duke.
Lean. The duke?
Mess. Yes, he entreats her company at a banquet
At Lady Livia's house.
Lean. Troth, shall I tell you, sir,
It is the most erroneous business
That e'er your honest pains was abus'd with:
I pray forgive me if I smile a little,
I cannot choose i'faith, sir, at an error
So comical as this, (I mean no harm though);
His grace has been most wondrous ill inform’d,
Pray so return it, sir. What should her name be?
Mess. That I shall tell you straight too,—Biancha Capella.
Lean. How, sir ! Biancha? What do you call th’ other?
Mess. Capella. Sir, it seems you know no such then.
Lean. Who should this be? I never heard o' th' name.
Mess. Then 'tis a sure mistake.
Lean. What if you inquir'd
In the next street, sir? I saw gallants there
In the new houses that are built of late;
Ten to one,
Mess. Nay, no matter,
I will return the mistake, and seek no farther.
Lean. Use your own will and pleasure, sir, you're welcome.
[Exit Messenger. What shall I think of first! Come forth, Biancha, Thou art betray'd, I fear me.
Bian. Betray'd ! how, sir ?
Lean. The duke knows thee.
Bian. Knows me! how know you that, sir?
Lean. Has got thy name.
Bian. (aside.) Ay, and my good name too;
That's worse o' th' twain.
Lean. How comes this work about?
Bian. How should the duke know me? can you guess, mother?
Moth. Not I with all my wits ; sure we kept house close.
Lean. Kept close! not all the locks in Italy
Can keep you women so; you have been gadding,
And ventur’d out at twilight, to th' court green yonder,
And met the gallant bowlers coming home;
Not to be seen ? what would you make of me?
Lean. A good wife, nothing else.
Bian. Why, so are some
That are seen ev'ry day, else the devil take 'em.
Lean. No more, then! I believe all virtuous in thee,
Without an argument; 'twas but thy hard chance
To be seen somewhere, there lies all the mischief.”
Our last extract commenced with a beautiful eulogy upon marriage. Let us now hear what the more experienced husband has to say upon this fertile subject.
“ Lean. Oh, thou the ripe time of man's misery, wedlock,
When all his thoughts, like over-laden trees,
Crack with the fruits they bear, in cares, in jealousies !
Oh! that's a fruit that ripens hastily,
After 'tis knit to marriage : it begins,
As soon as the
A little to show colour. Blessed powers !
Whence comes this alteration ? the distractions,
The fears and doubts it brings, are numberless,
And yet the cause I know not. What a peace
Has he that never marries! if he knew
The benefit he enjoy'd, or had the fortune
To come and speak with me, he should know then
The infinite wealth he had, and discern rightly
The greatness of his treasure by my loss.”
The reader may now take an extract from a banquet scene, where Biancha glitters as the duke's mistress, and her husband, the melancholy Leantio, mourns over her defection.
Duke. A kiss ; (kisses her.) that wit deserves to be made much
Come, our caroch.
Guard. Stands ready for your grace.
Duke. My thanks to all your loves. Come, fair Biancha,
We have took special care of you, and provided
Your lodging near us now.
Bian. Your love is great, my
Duke. Once more our thanks to all.
Omnes. All bless'd honours guard you.
[Exeunt all but Leantio and Livia. Cornets flourish. Lean. (without noticing Liv.) Hast thou left me then, Biancha,
And save the faith of woman: I ne'er felt
The loss of thee till now; 'tis an affliction
Of greater weight than youth was made to bear;
As if a punishment of after-life
Were fall’n upon man here ; so new it is
To flesh and blood; so strange, so insupportable ;
A torment e'en mistook, as if a body
Whose death were drowning, must needs therefore suffer it
In scalding oil.
Liv. Sweet-sir !
Lean. (without noticing her.) As long as mine eye saw thee, I half enjoy'd thee.
Lean. (without noticing her.) Canst thou forget
The dear pains my love took ? how it has watch'd
Whole nights together, in all weathers for thee,
Yet stood in heart more merry than the tempest
That sung about mine ears, like dangerous flatterers
That can set all their mischief to sweet tunes;
And then receiv'd thee from thy father's window
Into these arms at midnight; when we embrac'd
As if we had been statues only made for't,
To show art's life, so silent were our 'comforts,
And kiss'd as if our lips had grown together?”
They afterwards meet together at the lady's lodgings, when Leantio's anger overcomes his grief. The taunting which passes between them is very spirited.
“ Lean. You're richly plac'd.
Bian. Methinks you're wond'rous brave, sir.
Lean. A sumptuous lodging.
Bian. You've an excellent suit there.
Lean. A chair of velvet.
Bian. Is your cloak lin’d through, sir?
Lean. You're very stately here.
Bian. Faith, something proud, sir.
Lean. Stay, stay, let's see your cloth of silver slippers.
Bian. Who's your shoemaker? he's made you a new boot.
Lean. "Tis a brave life
Bian. I could ne'er see you
In such good clothes in my time.