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DEATH, A COMEDIE
Written in Latin by M. S. D and
translated into English by Robert Squire
CHRYSOCANCRIO an ould man
SCOMBRIO his sonne, a yonge man
CRANCUS Chrysocancrio’s servant
GRAMPOGNA a witche
GRINCO her sonne
FRANGICOSTONIDES a bragadochio or roaringe boy
MORS called alsoe Thanatus
GRANBUFO the witches devill, or familiar
Death by yonge Scombrio is sent
to his ould cov’tous sire
To bee his servant, with intent
hee cause him to expire,
And covenants with Death, that hee, 5
when he hath done the deede,
Shall have them therefore for his fee
on termes ’twixt them agreed.
The devill in the interim
doth further promis make him 10
To give his fathers goods to him
soe hee lykwyse may take him,
But after Death. the youth is pleas’de,
the ould man’s gott awaye.
Hee on his fathers wealth is seaz’de, 15
and they demannd theire paie.
But they, throughe Scombrio’s shrewde pate
and Crancus’ wiles, at last,
By judgment of the magistrate,
in theire demaunds are caste. 20
Worthie spectators, yow perhaps doe wonder
What death shud have to doe in comedies.
And well you maie, yet please yee yeeld attention.
I will remove this scruple from your thoughts.
How litle men alive doe make accoumpt 5
Of Deaths and of the devills testimonies,
And how most lyke to death they leade their lives
That give themselves to sordid usurie,
How cruell and how hard to bee intreated,
How meager, leane, and with’red are those creatures 10
Throughe pininge hunger, watchinge [sleeplessness], and the lyke.
And the more macilent [gaunt] they are thereby,
The lesse they have of honestie and goodnes,
Which makes them ever hated of their owne
As well at home as of all else that knowe them. 15
Of these, and those, and all, this comedie
Will give you instant prooffe, least that it may
Be thought hereafter strange what here I saie.
Wherein, if further you shall see the devill,
The architect of fraude, and Death himself 20
Baffulld and over-reachte by countrie clownes,
Yow may (if’t please yow) laugh. But ’tis not lawull
For any one to imitate the lyke,
Save him whose lief [life] aboundeth with good deeds,
Which not from ill-gott weath, but grace proceedes. 25
For to live well prevents Death of his prize.
Soe all’s lost labour livinge otherwyse.
But loe a servant. Yow of him shall heare
The ground of all. Bee silent and give eare.
ACT I, SCENE i
Crancus, a servant by Scombrio his maisters sonne, who is desirous to bee ridd of Chrysocancrio his father, a verie meserable ould man, is sent to seeke Death.
CRAN. Whoe undertakes a troublous busines 30
Had neede of prudent counsaile in the same.
I therefore hither have betooke my selfe
To you, right wyse and learned auditors,
For your advice and freindly aide. Moreover,
My maisters sonne, call’d Scombrio, implores 35
Your wisdoms, as hee doth my diligence.
The matter’s brieflie this. His wealthie father,
Who hath the gout in’s feete, but more in’s hands
Whereby he has lost the giving use of them,
Hee gladlie wud bee rid on and have deade. 40
But still he lives. I should saie, still he coughes.
And thoughe ’tis fifteene yeares since he hath spitt
All’s teeth t one out, once he has not dyed.
His goods e’vn shewe as they wud part with him
And passe ov’r to his heire, and yet the lief 45
Of this ould driveling fellowe hinders them.
Here’s all I am to saie for this. And nowe
I have in speciall charge to fetch him Death
That hee may rid his sire out of his troubles.
But for I understand hee raignes each-where, 50
Yet noe-wheare sees him, onelie tracks his foote-steps,
The chiefest thinge I wud demaund of yow
Is how or where I maie fynde out this Death.
There’s many saie hee dwells most with phisitions
And the apothecaries, but because 55
Hee there costs much, and cost, of all things else,
The coveteous ould man may not awaie with,
Nor any thinge more frights him then to dye
A costlie death, I must not goe to them.
Now, if I shud goe seeke unto disseases, 60
By whom comes often death, they will, I feare,
Despaire to kill him. Few of them him seazes
Whose onely health and lief bee mens disseases.
Besydes, soe sparinglie hee fares as nothinge
He takes allmost that may ingender them, 65
But instantly hee casts it up againe.
What if I then betake mee to the court
And seeke him there amongst the peeres and gallants?
I heare indeed, and that by good intelligence,
Hee keepes there muche, and is manteyn’d in pompe, 70
Practizeing murder as his recreation.
But here my mynde is alsoe in despaire,
Lest I shall fynde him soe ambitious
As that hee will regard the countrie litle
And give up all his service to the court. 75
What shall I doe? What’s your advice herein?
But staie! Whoe’s this I see comes towards mee?
ACT I, SCENE ii
Death in the habite of a courtier meetes Crancus, whoe desires him to goe home with him to kill the ould man.
DEATH Which waie soev’r I goe, all men adore mee
As if I were some god, and doe mee honor
As to the patrone of all humane kynde. 80
Whether for feare of their owne selves they doe it
Or the desire they have of others hurt,
Or both, I will not here stand to dispute.
One, maykinge to entrapp his neighbours lief,
Craves my assistance that I wud make short-worke 85
And break his necke. Another, to accomplish
His filthie lust, seekes to procure my favor
To th’ end he may bee rid of his corrivall [rival].
A third, growne wearie of his liefe, deviseth
To finish’t with a halter. Him doe I, 90
First hang’d upon a beame once, fairely carrie
With mee to Hell, there to be after buried.
I pleasure all alyke, am ever readie
For good amd badd, mad-men and wanton lovers,
Pore-men and riche, yea kings and, most of all, 95
Theire favorites, who oft-tymes through ambition
And flatterie, wanting a good take-heede,
Receave theire death unlookte for. These court-spiders
And pallace-ratts I am accustom’de still
With these same weapons to destroy and kill, 100
And cleanse the walles of.
CRAN. This same man belyke
Is some ratt or mouse-catcher of the court.
And yet, I rather thincke, a chymneye-sweeper,
Soe uglie-foule and smudgie is his face.
What yf I take him with mee to our house? 105
Although indeed few ratts doe trouble us,
As driven thence by hunger, yet introth [in truth]
There wants noe cobwebbs there, nor smokie walls.
DEATH For greater game I have beene at the court,
Where there bee men are envious and wrathfull, 110
Proude, riotous, rich, who nothinge more doe wishe
Then to themselves well, and the worste to others.
Yet now my journey lyes another waie,
To witt, unto the countrie, that if any
Bee myndefull there to end themselves or others, 115
They maie have my assistance readie to it.
For I in this serve all, and gratis doe it.
CRAN. A deadlie service sure, yett will he have
The harmes hee doth men soe esteem’de good turnes.
DEATH Whoe in his house soe ever intertaines mee 120
Shall never fynde his goods throughe mee to wast.
For money, meate, nor clothe I weighe not of,
Nor doe I counsaile others once to use them.
Naie, ’tis my will that all the familie
Where I doe serve bee nought but very bones, 125
Soe may they spare all suche superluous charges.
CRAN. This ellow wilbee a most wellcome guest
To our ould man, but to my fellowe servants
And mee (no doubt) hee wil bee much offensive,
Who art full glad (God wott) to doe our service 130
Onelie for meate and drinke. And as for money,
We have but little store, or none at all,
Nor have wee any meanes to compasse it,
Thoughe wee as faine wud have it as our lyves.
Wherefore wee have our fingers ever apte 135
To take all comes to hand, resembling much
The polypus [octopus] that houldes what hee dus touche.
Ile change a word yet with him. Save thee heartely,
Thou third part of a man.
DEATHThe lyke to thee,
Thou onlie part of mischief. But I preethee 140
Why dust thou call mee soe.
CRAN. Ile tell thee why.
I see noe flesh thou hast, and lief, I heare,
Abydes not with thee. What art then but bones?
DEATH How thinkst thou I can move and have noe lief?
CRAN. Sure with trmblinge motion, as the earth 145
Doth with an earth-quake or the aire with thunder.
DEATH Thou shudst saie rather that I have my motion
From the aryseinge to the fall.
CRAN. Naie surelie
’Tis from the fall unto th’ aryseing rather.
For thou, that ha’st beene from the worlds creation 150
Companion with the wormes, art rysen up
From under earth to teache (I thincke) that courtiers
Beleeve the resurrection of the deade.
But how will they beleeve thee that are wont
Not to beleeve in God?
DEATHThey will beleeve mee 155
When they shall feele and knowe themselves to die.
CRAN. Noe whitt the more, for they doe thincke the deade,
After th’ are gone, doe feele not any thinge,
Nor will they yeeld there is a God or heaven,
To waive thereby all scruple of a Hell. 160
Yet this opinion is but current onely
Amongst the Machiavellian politicks.
But leavinge these same things, a word with thee.
Know’st thou ould Chrysocancrio?
That toothlesse, covetous and coughinge wretch, 165
Father to Scombrio?
CRAN. The very same.
DEATH And what of him?
CRAN. Marie, that there are many
Doe thincke has liv’d too longe.
DEATH I doe beleeve it.
CRAN. Amongst whom Scombrio his sonne is one.
DEATH Thou speakes a lovinge sonne! Naturall. 170
CRAN. Yes, that hee may one nat’rall daie live merrilie,
Hee wishes for this fathers death, and shortly.
For hee is passing wearie of him.
What’s that thou tells mee?
CRAN. Marie, this I tell thee.
Hee has compasion on him. For the yong man 175
Considers well the troubles of ould age.
DEATH And verie wiselye too. But what death chieflie
Doth hee desire to have his father dye?
CRAN. An easie death, and yet a suddaine one.
DEATH. A tender harted sonne!
CRAN. Why there thou hitte it. 180
DEATH. What if hee bee throwne off some steepe downe-fall?
CRAN. It will not doe (I fear), for the ould whoresonne
Is soe forespent through bloud-consuminge cares
And want of foode that hee’s become all aireye.
DEATH. Best stop his weasand then and strangle him. 185
CRAN. As though hee breath’d but onely att his throate.
Noe, now, hee hath a skinne is of that nature
As hee may take his wynde through’t ev’ry where.
DEATH Thou tells mee of a strange ould man indeed,
That Death can hardlie make a riddance of. 190
CRAN. Nay more: hee has this long tyme liv’d in Hell.
DEATH How? Liv’d in Hell? That’s strange.
CRAN. Thoughe strange, yet true.
DEATH How can that bee?
CRAN. Nay I will tell thee further.
If thou wudst kill this ould man, thou must first
Fetche out his soule from thence, for there it is. 195
DEATH Come leave thiese toyes and lett mee knowe thy meaninge.
CRAN. Why th’ art a blockheade, understands mee not.
For if wee call that Hell that’s under-grounde
And there’s a riche-mans soule where lyes his treasure,
Then is ould Chysocancrio’s soule in Hell. 200
I dare avouche it, for hee has his treasure
DEATHAwaie, thou pratling knave.
I will not meddle with him. Fare thou well,
For I am wont to bringe downe soules to Hell
And not to fetch um out.
CRAN. Noe hast but good 205
Worm-eat’n antiquite. And harke yee now.
Wud’st kill this fellowe? Then best take my counsaile.
First goe thy waies and ransacke up his treasure,
Then bringe it hither and lett mee dispose of it,
And soe thou has his lief and kills him straight. 210
DEATH How foolish-wise thou art!
CRAN. How wyse thou fooles it!
DEATH Peace, sirrah. Here comes Scombrio himselfe.
Lett’s stepp aside and harken what hee saies.
Scombrio, willinge to knowe what will become of his father, goes to treate with a witch about it.
SCOM. I am perswaded noethinge is soe irkesome
To any sonne as is a cov’tous father, 215
And long-lyv’d too, but specially to him
That’s of a free and lib’rall disposicion,
As I doe knowe my selfe to bee, and hap’lie
You knowe it all, if yow knowe any thinge.
I am no foole, as many doe suppose, 220
Onely unlesse for this, that I was borne
Where none but fooles doe usually frequent.
Yet if some thinck riche men most fooles of all,
I most wud wish to bee of that same crewe.
For, if I might, my mynde desireth more 225
To bee a wealthie foole then wyse and pore.
But my unconscionable ould father
Has longe envy’de mee that, who has this cashe,
Yet lives besydes it as hee had it not.
Which I dare well avouche to bee great follie, 230
Nor suffers mee to put it out to use,
Which I esteeme a greater injurie,
Nor myndes to dye yet that I might enjoye it,
Which is indeed the greatest grief of all.
CRAN. Heares thou not now what his dissease is?
DEATH Yes. 235
I knowe it well. It is hereditarie,
Hee takes it from his dad.
Ev’n to a haire! Well, lett us heare the rest.
SCOM. Besydes the lib’rall arts (which I indeed
Yet never learn’de), there is (I heare) another, 240
And call’d of some the arte of divination,
Or, as more brieflie others tearme it, witch-craft.
This art a woman here that dwells neare-by,
They saie, professeth, whom I’me goeinge to
(To tell yow some and all), to learne of her 245
And of the divell her familiar
What will become of him (I meane my father),
Whom all the neighbours wish were at the devill,
And for myne owne part I indeed denye not
But I cud want him very willinglie, 250
Even for the publick-wealth.
’Tis for his fathers wealth and not the publicke.
CRAN. O yes, the publicke. For ’tis his desire
His father’s wealth that nowe is lodg’de in private
Maie walke in publicke.
SCOM. I have sent before 255
Crancus my servant to consult with Death —
CRAN. And in the meane whyle goes his servants maister
To counsaile with the devill. Heres good worke!
SCOM. — and bringe him home that hee may doe the matter
With all the speede maie bee.
CRAN. That is, maie speede him. 260
SCOM. But for Death comes not in the way of any
Save those that have a sure experience of him,
And it wud bee tooo tedious to expect
One of another world to come and tell mee
Of Deaths approache, it is my present purpose 265
To have advice herein with Deaths owne brother,
The devill here, by this his witches meanes.
But her dore opens, and here comes herselfe.
Grampogna the witch, haveinge sent Grinco her sonne to fetch the devill backe from court, flouteth Scombrio and returnes into her howse.
GRAM. I marvell what’s the matter that has made
My freind Granbufo and familiar devill 270
Leave mee thus hastely and speed to court.
And yet indeed, before hee went hee tould mee
Had somewhat there to doe would yeeld him proffitt,
And now hee has beene absent certaine howers.
I am perswaded all Hells wholle imployment 275
Can scarcely bee sufficent for one court,
Th’ave daylie there such hellish busines.
But I will send my sonne to fetche him thence
For I ha somethinge for him here to doe.
Hoe Grinco, Grinco!
GRI. Whoe’s that calls soe fast? 280
GRAM. Come hither to thy mother, chylde.
GRI. I cannot.
GRAM. Why, boy? What ailes thee?
GRI. For I heare yow not.
GRAM. How soe?
GRI. Because I am asleepe.
GRAM. Come hither,
Sirra, I saie.
GRI. I saie I am asleepe.
GRAM. What saist thou, knave?
GRI. Nought, if yow hould your peace.
GRAM. Wudst make mee wood that I might cudgell thee? 285
GRI. Naie, make mee iron first, then doe your pleasure.
GRAM. Come out, I saie, here quickly.
GRI. I am out.
GRAM. What? Out of dores here?
GRI. Nay, out of my sleepe,
And now out here too. And now what’s the matter?
GRAM. Sirra, goe take thy waie right to the court.
GRI. The right waie quotha! What if’t bee not right? 290
For it is said that courtiers for the most part
Goe the wrong waie.
GRAM.Why then goe thou soe too.
GRI. Soe I perhaps shall nev’r gett thither.
There shalt thou fynde Granbufo thy companion.
GRI. The devill yow doe meane.
GRAM. Yes, even hee. 295
And my good freind.
GRI. In any thing but good.
GRAM. Tell him he must come hither presentlie.
GRI. Tell me then first where I maie fynde the youth.
GRAM. Seeke him amonge the weomen, where he sitts
Att theire left eare for th’ most part lyke a flea. 300
GRI. You’de ha [have] mee thincke belyke that all the fleas
That I shall see in court bee devills sure.
But looke yow now. Hee’s here as yow wud wishe.
GRAM. Which hee?
GRI. The devill sure. For here’s a flea,
Or else a louse, and that’s more lykely truelie. 305
GRAM. Wilt thou not gett thee gone, knave?
GRI. Soe, what else
Wud you with mee now?
GRAM. Marie, hange thy-selfe.
GRI. I will.
GRAM. What wilt?
GRI. Fetch yow the devill straight. Exit.
SCOM. I will salute her now. Save thee, Grampogna,
Most famous sorceress.
GRAM. Thee alsoe, Scombrio, 310
The sonne of usuringe Chrysocancrio.
Wud’st any thinge with mee?
SCOM. Tell mee that first.
GRAM. Thou seekes for Death.
SCOM. Now soe the devill help thee
As thou speakes trueth.
GRAM. But here hee’s not with mee.
For though I wud acquaintence with the devill, 315
With Death I wud not.
SCOM. And with death wud I.
But not with the devill.
GRAM. But not for thy selfe.
SCOM. Hoe there! Believe mee, I have noe such thought.
GRAM. Thou wudst then have him for thy father?
They terme thee right that calls thee sooth-sayer. 320
GRAM. Wilt heare my counsaile?
SCOM. I, and heede it too.
GRAM. Goe to then, hange thy selfe, and thou has Death. Exit.
Scombrio deviseth how hee maie be revenged for the injurie done him. Which to accomplish, he purposes to gett some lustie swaggerer to assist him.
SCOM. Why thou — art gone? — bidst mee goe hange my selfe?
Thou rotten, stincking queene! Thou vilde ould witche!
Thou devils dunghill! Nay, shee floutes mee too. 325
“Goe hang thyselfe?” O damn’de without redempcion!
I sweare I will not take it att her hands.
What? “Hange thy selfe?” Who? Mee? I hang my selfe?
I scorne’t i’faith. Never the daies I live.
Hange her selfe rather, as shee well deserves, 330
And as all such damn’de witches ought to doe.
O Lord, how I cud fight now if I had
A hart and sword! Is there here none of yow
Will help mee to them? What? And laugh yow too?
I then perceave indeede ’tis one a purpose 335
Well yet, bee sure, this ware-house of the devill,
This carrainely [carrion-like] ould jade that wants a beatinge,
She’s paie for th’ pinnes [pains]. Straight therefore to the court.
Will I nowe goe to seeke a champion,
One of those men of sword that are all valour, 340
Call’d roaringe boyes or of the damned crewe,
That for the most part waighe not God a fether,
Nor feare the devill. One of these I’le have
To pounder this same witch.
Crancus brings Death tho his yonge maister, who hires him, on certaine condicions agreed upon, to kill the ould man, and sends him home with the servant.
CRAN. Lett’s goe unto him.
Maister, what hast?
SCOM. Who’s hee that calls? What, Crancus? 345
CRAN. Behould sir, here is Death I went to looke for,
And I ha brought him to yow, sir.
SCOM. To mee?
Bad I yow, sirra, bringe him mee?
CRAN. I [Aye], yow,
But ’twas to kill your father.
SCOM. Hoe! That’s well.
DEATH What wage wilt promis mee to kill thy father? 350
SCOM. Thou’d have his flesh to cloathe thy bones withall.
DEATH And nothing else?
SCOM. What shud I promis three?
DEATH Thy owne sweete selfe.
SCOM. And wudst thou then ha mee?
DEATH “Tis thee indeed I’de have.
SCOM. Goe too, thou shalt.
After an hundred yeares to come I’me for thee. 355
DEATH A matche with this. Yet just soe many yeares
Thy sire live too.
SCOM. I like not that condicion.
Ill bate [reduce] thee fiftie of the hundred rather.
DEATH Nor lyke I that.
SCOM. I’le bate twentie more.
DEATH It will not doe.
SCOM. Wilt thou not then be pleased 360
That thirty yeares I may survive my father?
DEATH Noe, that I will not.
SCOM. Bee it then but twentie.
DEATH I am not pleas’d yet.
SCOM. I will ha but tenn.
DEATH Not soe much neythere.
SCOM. Well, but one then bee it.
DEATH Not one, in trothe.
SCOM. In troth, I lyke not that. 365
DEATH Nay, not a monthe.
SCOM. I lyke that worse than th’ other.
DEATH Not a short winteres daie.
SCOM. That worst of all.
What shall I doe? I would not by my meanes
My father shud on earth bee made immortall.
Well, I will make another bargain with thee. 370
Kill me the ould man, let me ha that done,
And thou shalt ha mee, yet on this condicion,
That I may have but soe much leasure left mee
As I may praie but one small pray’re to God.
DEATH ’Tis done. And now farewell. Live, if thou canst. 375
SCOM. Well, well sir. Crancus, take him home.
CRAN. But, sir,
I am not pleas’de for all this.
SCOM. What’s the matter?
CRAN. I lyke noe whitt of that coondicion, sir,
That yow, as soone as hee has kill’d your father,
Agree that he shall kill yow too, unlesse 380
Yow alsoe please to leave me heire of all.
Were yow soe franticke, after one pore prayer
To yeeld to dye?
SCOM. Away, foole, hould thy peace.
I will praye none hereafter, never feare it.
CRAN. I mary, sir, that’s wyslie done.
SCOM. Awaie. 385
Thus havinge given death the dogge to hould,
Ile goe and paie the devill with lyke gold.