195.1[Scene 4]
Enter [Florila] the Puritan.
Florila What have I done? Put on too many clothes.
The day is hot, and I am hotter clad
Than might suffice health.
My conscience tells me that I have offended,
And I’ll put 200them off.
That will ask time that might be better spent.
One sin will draw another quickly so.
See how the Devil tempts. But what’s here?
[Picks up jewels] Jewels?
How should these come here?
Enter Labervele.
Labervele
Good morrow, lovely wife. What hast thou there?
205Florila
Jewels, my lord, which here I strangely found.
Labervele
That’s strange indeed. What, where none comes
But when yourself is here? Surely the heavens
Have rained thee jewels for thy holy life,
And using thy old husband lovingly,
Or else do fairies haunt this holy green,
As evermore 210mine ancestors have thought.
Florila
Fairies were but in times of ignorance,
Not since the true pure light hath been revealed.
And that they come from heaven I scarce believe.
For jewels are vain things. Much gold is given
For such fantastical and fruitless jewels,
215And therefore heaven, I know, will not maintain
The use of vanity. Surely I fear
I have much sinned to stoop and take them up,
Bowing my body to an idle work.
The strength that I have had to this very deed
Might have been used to take a poor soul up
In the highway.
220Labervele
You are too curious, wife. Behold your jewels.
What, methinks there’s posies written on them.
Then he reads.
Despair not of children,
Love with the longest;
When man is at the weakest,
God is at the strongest.
Wonderful rare and witty, nay, divine.
Why, this is heavenly comfort for thee, wife.
What is this other?
225God will reward her a thousandfold
That takes what age can, and not what age would.
The best that ever I heard. No mortal brain,
I think, did ever utter such conceit
For good plain matter and for honest rhyme.
Florila
Vain poetry. I pray you burn them, sir.
230Labervele
You are to blame, wife. Heaven hath sent you them
To deck yourself withal, like to yourself,
Not to go thus like a milkmaid.
Why there is difference in all estates
By all religion.
Florila
There is no difference.
Labervele
I prithee, wife, be of another mind
And wear these 235jewels and a velvet hood.
Florila
A velvet hood! O vain devilish device!
A toy made with a superfluous flap,
Which being cut off, my head were still as warm.
Diogenes did cast away his dish
Because his hand would serve to help him drink.
Surely these heathens 240shall rise up against us.
Labervele
Sure, wife, I think thy keeping always close,
Making thee melancholy, is the cause
We have no children, and therefore, if thou wilt,
Be merry and keep company i’ God’s name.
245Florila
Sure, my lord, if I thought I should be rid
Of this same banishment of barrenness,
And use our marriage to the end it was made,
Which was for procreation, I should sin,
If by my keeping house I should neglect
The lawful means to be a fruitful mother;
And therefore if it please you I’ll use resort.
250Labervele
[Aside] God’s my passion, what have I done? Who would have thought her pureness would yield so soon to courses of temptations? [Aloud] Nay, hark you, wife, I am not sure that going abroad will cause fruitfulness in you. That, you know, none knows but God himself.
255Florila
I know, my lord, ’tis true, but the lawful means must still be used.
Labervele
Yea, the lawful means indeed must still, but now I remember that lawful means is not abroad.
Florila
Well, well, I’ll keep the house still.
260Labervele
Nay, hark you, lady, I would not have you think — marry, I must tell you this, if you should change the manner of your life, the world would think you changed religion too.
Florila
’Tis true, I will not go.
Labervele
Nay, if you have a fancy.
265Florila
Yea, a fancy, but that’s no matter.
Labervele
Indeed, fancies are not for judicial and religious women.
Enter Catalian like a scholar.
Catalian
God save your lordship, and you, most religious lady.
Labervele
Sir, you may say God save us well indeed
270That thus are thrust upon in private walks.
Catalian
A slender thrust, sir, where I touched you not.
Labervele
Well, sir, what is your business?
Catalian
Why, sir, I have a message to my lady from Monsieur du Barte.
275Labervele
To ‘your lady’? Well, sir, speak your mind to ‘your lady’.
Florila
You are very welcome, sir, and I pray how doth he?
Catalian
In health, madam, thanks be to God, commending his duty to your ladyship, and hath sent you a message which I would desire your honour to hear in private.
280Florila
‘My ladyship’, and ‘my honor’! They be words which I must have you leave. They be idle words, and you shall answer for them truly. ‘My duty to you’, or ‘I desire you’, were a great deal better than ‘my ladyship’, or ‘my honour’.
Catalian
I thank you for your Christian admonition.
285Florila
Nay, thank God for me. Come, I will hear your message with all my heart, and you are very welcome, sir.
Labervele
[Aside] ‘With all my heart, and you are very welcome, sir’, and go and talk with a young lusty fellow able to make a man’s hair stand upright on his head! What purity is there in this, 290trow you? Ha, what wench of the faculty could have been more forward? Well, sir, I will know your message. [Aloud] You, sir, you, sir, what says the holy man, sir? Come, tell true, for by heaven or hell I will have it out.
Catalian
Why you shall, sir, if you be so desirous.
295Labervele
Nay, sir, I am more than so desirous. Come, sir, study not for a new device now.
Catalian
Not I, my lord, this is both new and old. I am a scholar, and being spiritually inclined by your lady’s most godly life, I am to profess the ministry and to become her chaplain, 300 to which end Monsieur du Barte hath commended me.
Labervele
Her chaplain, in the Devil’s name, fit to be vicar of hell!
Florila
My good head, what are you afraid of? He comes with a godly and neighbourly suit. What, think you his words or his 305looks can tempt me? Have you so little faith? If every word he spake were a serpent as subtle as that which tempted Eve, he cannot tempt me, I warrant you.
Labervele
Well answered for him, lady, by my faith. Well, hark you, I’ll keep your chaplain’s place yonder for a while, and at 310length put in one myself.
Enter Lemot.
What, more yet? God’s my passion, whom do I see? The very imp of desolation, the minion of our King, whom no man sees to enter his house but he locks up his wife, his children, and his maids, for where he goes he carries his house upon his head like a 315snail. Now, sir, I hope your business is to me.
Lemot
No, sir, I must crave a word with my lady.
Labervele
These words are intolerable, and she shall hear no more.
Lemot
She must hear me speak.
Labervele
Must she, sir? Have you brought the King’s warrant 320for it?
Lemot
I have brought that which is above kings.
Labervele
Why, every man for her sake is a Puritan. The Devil I think will shortly turn Puritan, or the Puritan will turn devil.
325Florila
What have you brought, sir?
Lemot
Marry this, madam. You know we ought to prove one another’s constancy, and I am come in all chaste and honourable sort to prove your constancy.
Florila
You are very welcome, sir, and I will abide your 330proof. It is my duty to abide your proof.
Labervele
You’ll bide his proof? It is your duty to bide his proof! How the devil will you bide his proof?
Florila
My good head, no otherwise than before your face in all honourable and religious sort. I tell you I am constant 335to you, and he comes to try whether I be so or no, which I must endure. Begin your proof, sir.
Lemot
Nay, madam, not in your husband’s hearing, though in his sight, for there is no woman will show she is tempted from her constancy, though she be a little. Withdraw yourself,340 sweet lady.
[They withdraw.]
Labervele
[Aside] Well, I will see though I do not hear. Women may be courted without offence, so they resist the courtier.
Lemot
Dear and most beautiful lady, of all the sweet honest and honourable means to prove the purity of a lady’s 345constancy, kisses are the strongest. I will therefore be bold to begin my proof with a kiss.
Florila
No, sir, no kissing.
Lemot
No kissing, madam? How shall I prove you then sufficiently not using the most sufficient proof? To flatter yourself 350by affection of spirit, when it is not perfectly tried, is sin.
Florila
You say well, sir. That which is truth is truth.
Lemot
Then do you well, lady, and yield to the truth.
Florila
By your leave, sir, my husband sees. Peradventure it may breed an offence to him.
355Lemot
How can it breed an offence to your husband to see your constancy perfectly tried?
Florila
You are an odd man, I see. But first, I pray, tell me how kissing is the best proof of chaste ladies.
Lemot
To give you a reason for that, you must give me 360leave to be obscure and philosophical.
Florila
I pray you be. I love philosophy well.
Lemot
Then thus, madam: every kiss is made, as the voice is, by imagination and appetite, and as both those are presented to the ear in the voice, so are they to the silent 365spirits in our kisses.
Florila
To what spirit mean you?
Lemot
To the spirits of our blood.
Florila
What if it do?
Lemot
Why then, my imagination and mine appetite 370working upon your ears in my voice, and upon your spirits in my kisses, piercing therein the more deeply, they give the stronger assault against your constancy.
Florila
Why then, to say, ‘prove my constancy’, is as much as to say, ‘kiss me’.
375Lemot
Most true, rare lady.
Florila
Then prove my constancy.
Lemot
Believe me, madam, you gather exceeding wittily upon it.
[Kisses her]
Labervele
Oh my forehead, my very heart aches at a blow! [Aloud] 380What dost thou mean, wife? Thou wilt lose thy fame, discredit thy religion, and dishonour me forever.
Florila
Away, sir, I will abide no more of your proof, nor endure any more of your trial.
Lemot
Oh, she dares not, she dares not. I am as glad I have 385tried your purity as may be. You, the most constant lady in France? I know an hundred ladies in this town that will dance, revel all night amongst gallants, and in the morning go to bed to her husband as clear a woman as if she were new christened, kiss him, embrace him, and say, ‘no, 390no, husband, thou art the man’, and he takes her for the woman.
Florila
And all this can I do.
Labervele
Take heed of it, wife.
Florila
Fear not, my good head, I warrant you, for 395him.
Lemot
Nay, madam, triumph not before the victory. How can you conquer that against which you never strive, or strive against that which never encounters you? To live idle in this walk, to enjoy this company, to wear 400this habit, and have no more delights than those will afford you, is to make Virtue an idle housewife, and to hide herself in slothful cobwebs that still should be adorned with actions of victory. No, madam, if you will unworthily prove your constancy to your husband, you must 405put on rich apparel, fare daintily, hear music, read sonnets, be continually courted, kiss, dance, feast, revel all night amongst gallants. Then if you come to bed to your husband with a clear mind and a clear body, then are your virtues ipsissima, then have you passed the full test 410of experiment, and you shall have an hundred gallants fight thus far in blood for the defence of your reputation.
Labervele
O vanity of vanities!
Florila
Oh husband, this is perfect trial indeed.
415Labervele
And you will try all this now, will you not?
Florila
Yea, my good head, for it is written, we must pass to perfection through all temptation, Habbakuk the fourth.
Labervele
Habbakuk? Cuck me no cucks! In a’ doors, I say. Thieves, Puritans, murderers! In a’ doors, I 420say.
Exit [with Florila].
Lemot
So now is he stark mad, i’faith. But, sirrah, as this is an old lord jealous of his young wife, so is ancient Countess Moren jealous of her young husband. We’ll thither to have some sport, i’faith.
Exeunt.