A Tale of a Tub (Jonson)/Act I/Scene I

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A Tale of a Tub by Ben Jonson
Act I, Scene I
This text follows the original spelling of the 1640 folio. Roll-over notes have been added to translate some obscure spellings.




Sir Hugh, Tub, Hilts.

  Hug. Now o' my Faith, Old Bishop Valentine,
You ha' brought us nipping weather: Februere
Doth cut and shear; your day, and Diocess
Are very cold. All your Parishioners;
As well your Layicks, as your Quiristers,
Had need to keep to their warm Feather-beds,
If they be sped of Loves: this is no season,
To seek new Makes in; though Sir Hugh of Pancrace,
Be hither come to Totten, on intelligence,
To the young Lord o' the Mannor, Squire Tripoly,
On such an Errand as a Mistris is.
What, Squire! I say?
* Printing Error: this is still part of Sir Hugh's dialogue                                Tub.* I should call him too:
Sir Peter Tub was his Father, a Salt-petre-man;[1]
Who left his Mother, Lady Tub of Totten-
Court, here, to revel, and keep open House in;
With the young Squire her Son, and's Governour Basket-
Hilts, both by Sword and Dagger: Domine,
Armiger Tub, Squire Tripoly, Expergiscere.
I dare not call alood, lest he** Printing Error: she, not he should hear me:
And think I conjur'd up the Spirit, her Son,
In Priests-lack-Latine: O she is jealous
Of all Mankind for him.
                                Tub. Chanon, i'st you?

[At the VVindor.

  Hug. The Vicar of Pancrace, Squire Tub! wa' hoh!
  Tub. I come, I stoop unto the call; Sir Hugh!

[He comes down in his Night-Gown.

  Hug. He knows my lure is from his Love: fair Awdrey,
Th'high Constables Daughter of Kentish-Town, here, Mr.
Tobias Turfe.
                   Tub. What news of him?
  Hug. He has wak'd me
An hour before I would, Sir. And my duty
To the young Worship of Totten-Court, Squire Tripoly;
Who hath my heart, as I have his: your Mrs.
Is to be made away from you, this morning,
Saint Valentines day: there are a knot of Clowns,
The Counsel of Finsbury, so they are y-styl'd,
Met at her Fathers; all the wise o' th' hundred;
Old Basi** Printing Error: Rasi, not Basi Clench of Hamsted, petty Constable;
In-and-In Medlay, Cooper of Islington,
And Headborough; with loud To-Pan, the Tinker,
Or Metal-man of Belsise, the Third-borough:
And D'ogenes Scriben, the great Writer of Chalcot.
  Tub. And why all these?
  Hug. Sir, to conclude in Counsel,
A Husband, or a Make for Mrs. Awdrey;
Whom they have nam'd, and prick'd down, Clay of Kilborn,
A tough young fellow, and a Tile-maker.
  Tub. And what must he do?
  Hugh. Cover her, they say:
And keep her warm, Sir: Mrs. Awdrey Turfe,
Last night did draw him for her Valentine;
Which chance, it hath so taken her Father and Mother,
(Because themselves drew so, on Valentine's Eve
Was thirty year) as they will have her married
To day by any means; they have sent a Messenger
To Kilborn, post, for Clay; which when I knew,
I posted with the like to worshipful Tripoly,
The Squire of Totten: and my advise to cross it.
  Tub. What is't, Sir Hugh?
  Hugh. Where is your Governour Hilts?
Basquet must do it.
                           Tub. Basquet shall be call'd:
Hilts, can you see to rise?
                                   Hil. Cham not blind, Sir,
With too much light.
                            Tub. Open your t'other Eye,
And view if it be day.
                              Hil. Che can spy that
At's little a hole as another, through a Milstone.
  Tub. He will ha' the last word, though he talk Bilke[2] for't.
  Hugh. Bilke? what's that?
  Tub. Why, nothing, a word signifying
Nothing; and borrow'd here to express nothing.
  Hugh. A fine device!
  Tub. Yes, till we hear a finer.
What's your device now, Chanon Hugh?
  Hugh. In private.
Lend it your Ear; I will not trust the Air with it;
Or scarce my Shirt; my Cassock sha' not know it;
If I thought it did, I'll burn it.
  Tub. That's the way,
You ha' thought to get a new one,
  Hugh: Is't worth it?
Let's hear it first.

[They whisper.

  Hugh. Then hearken, and receive it.
This 'tis, Sir, do you relish it? Tub. If Hilts
Be close enough to carry it; there's all.

[Hilts enters, and walks by,
making himself ready,

  Hil. It i' no Sand? nor Butter-milk? If't be,
Ich'am no Zive, or Watring-pot, to draw
Knots i' your 'casions. If you trust me, zo:
If not, praform it your zelves. Cham no Man's Wife,
But resolute Hilts: you'll vind me i' the Buttry.
  Tub. A testy Clown: but a tender Clown, as wooll:
And melting as the Weather in a Thaw:
He'll weep you, like all April: But he'ull roar you,
Like middle March afore: He will be as mellow,
And tipsie too, as October: And as grave,
And bound up like a Frost (with the new year)
In January; as rigid as he is rustick.
  Hug. You know his Nature, and describe it well;
I'll leave him to your fashioning.
  Tub. Stay, Sir Hugh;
Take a good Angel with you, for your Guide:
And let this guard you homeward, as the blessing,
To our device.
                    Hug. I thank you Squires Worship,
Most humbly (for the next, for this I am sure of.)

[The Squire goes off.

O for a Quire of these Voices, now,
To chime in a Man's Pocket, and cry chink!
One doth not chirp: it makes no harmony.
Grave Justice Bramble, next must contribute;
His Charity must offer at this Wedding:
I'll bid more to the Bason, and the Bride-Ale;
Although but one can bear away the Bride.
I smile to think how like a Lottery
These Weddings are. Clay hath her in possession;
The Squire he hopes to circumvent the Tile-Kill:
And now, if Justice Bramble do come off,[3]
'Tis two to one but Tub may lose his bottom.





Footnotes[edit]

  1. Saltpetre men were involved in the making of saltpetre, a compound used in the making of explosives: a combination of dung and urine was used. Part of the saltpetre man's job was to collect jars of urine left on doorsteps each morning, as well as to dig and collect dung; they were often despised as they had the legal right to enter private and business properties to dig for dung, which disturbed business as well as raising an unbearable stench from the decomposing fecal matter.
  2. Bilke was a buzzword of sorts around time frame around when this play was written, and was ridiculed by other authors as well. The meaning was essentially "nothing", as Tub explains; also "to deceive".
  3. do come off, meaning "pay well"