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SCENE 1.-A Room in CLERIMONT's House. Enter CLERIMONT, making himself ready, followed by his Page.
Cler. Have you got the song yet perfect, I gave you, boy?
Page. Yes, sir.
Cler. Let me hear it.
Page. You shall, sir; but i'faith let nobody else.
Page. It will get you the dangerous name of a poet in town, sir; besides me a perfect deal of ill-will at the mansion you wot of, whose lady is the argument of it; where now I am the welcomest thing under a man that comes there.
Cler. I think; and above a man too, if the truth were rack'd out of you.
Page. No, faith, I'll confess before, sir. The gentlewomen play with me, and throw me on the bed, and
carry me in to my lady: and she kisses me with her oil'd face, and puts a peruke on my head; and asks me an I will wear her gown? and I say no: and then she hits me a blow o' the ear, and calls me Innocent ! and lets me go.
Cler. No marvel if the door be kept shut against your master, when the entrance is so easy to youwell, sir, you shall go there no more, lest I be fain to seek your voice in my lady's rushes, a fortnight hence. Sing, sir. [Page sings.
Still to be neat, still to be drest-
True. Why, here's the man that can melt away his time and never feels it! What between his mistress abroad and his ingle at home, high fare, soft lodging, fine clothes, and his fiddle; he thinks the hours have no wings, or the day no post-horse. Well, sir gallant, were you struck with the plague this minute, or condemn'd to any capital punishment to-morrow, you would begin then to think, and value every article of your time, esteem it at the true rate, and give all for it.
Cler. Why, what should a man do?
True. Why, nothing; or that which, when 'tis done, is as idle. Hearken after the next horse-race, or hunting-match, lay wagers, praise Puppy, or Peppercorn, White-foot, Franklin; swear upon Whitemane's party; speak aloud, that my lords may hear you; visit my ladies at night, and be able to give them the character of every bowler or better on the green. These be the things wherein your fashionable men exercise themselves, and I for company.
Cler. Nay, if I have thy authority, I'll not leave yet. Come, the other are considerations, when we come to have gray heads and weak hams, moist eyes and shrunk
members. We'll think on 'em then; then we'll pray and fast.
True. Ay, and destine only that time of age to goodness, which our want of ability will not let us employ in evil !
Cler. Why, then 'tis time enough.
True. Yes; as if a man should sleep all the term, and think to effect his business the last day. 0, Clerimont, this time, because it is an incorporeal thing, and not subject to sense, we mock ourselves the fineliest out of it, with vanity and misery indeed! not seeking an end of wretchedness, but only changing the matter still.
Cler. Nay, thou'lt not leave now
True. See but our common disease! with what justice can we complain, that great men will not look upon us, nor be at leisure to give our affairs such dispatch as we expect, when we will never do it to ourselves nor hear, nor regard ourselves?
Cler. Foh thou hast read Plutarch's morals, now, or some such tedious fellow; and it shews so vilely with thee! 'fore God, 'twill spoil thy wit utterly. Talk to me of pins, and feathers, and ladies, and rushes, and such things and leave this Stoicity alone, till thou mak'st sermons.
True. Well, sir; if it will not take, I have learn'd to lose as little of my kindness as I can; I'll do good to no man against his will, certainly. When were you at the college!
Cler. What college?
True. As if you knew not!
Cler. No, faith, I came but from court yesterday. True. Why, is it not arrived there yet, the news! new foundation, sir, here in the town, of ladies, that call themselves the collegiates, an order between
courtiers and country-madams, that live from their husbands; and give entertainment to all the wits, and braveries of the time, as they call them cry down, or up, what they like or dislike in a brain or a fashion, with most masculine, or rather hermaphroditical authority; and every day gain to their college some new probationer.
Cler. Who is the president?
True. The grave and youthful matron, the lady Haughty.
Cler. A pox of her autumnal face, her pieced beauty! there's no man can be admitted till she be ready, now-a-days, till she has painted, and perfumed, and wash'd, and scour'd, but the boy, here; and him she wipes her oil'd lips upon, like a sponge. I have made a song (I pray thee hear it) on the subject. [Page sings.
Still to be neat, still to be drest,
Give me a look, give me a face,
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
True. And I am clearly on the other side: I love a good dressing before any beauty o' the world. O, a woman is then like a delicate garden; nor is there one kind of it; she may vary every hour; take often counsel of her glass, and choose the best. If she have good ears, shew them; good hair, lay it out; good
legs, wear short clothes; a good hand, discover it often; practice any art to mend breath, cleanse teeth, repair eye-brows; paint, and profess it.
Cler. How! publicly?
True. The doing of it, not the manner that must be private. Many things that seem foul in the doing, do please done. A lady should, indeed, study her face, when we thinks she sleeps; nor, when the doors are shut, should men be enquiring; all is sacred within, then. Is it for us to see their perukes put on, their false teeth, their complexion, their eye-brows, their nails? You see gilders will not work, but inclosed. They must not discover how little serves, with the help of art, to adorn a great deal. How long did the canvas hang afore Aldgate? Were the people suffered to see the city's Love and Charity, while they were rude stone, before they were painted and burnish'd? No; no more should servants approach their mistresses, but when they are complete and finish'd.
Cler. Well said, my Truewit.
True. And a wise lady will keep a guard always upon the place, that she may do things securely. I once followed a rude fellow into a chamber, where the poor madam, for haste, and troubled, snatch'd at her peruke to cover her baldness; and put it on the wrong way.
Cler. O prodigy !
True. And the unconscionable knave held her in compliment an hour with that reverst face, when I still look'd when she should talk from the t'other side.
Cler. Why, thou shouldst have relieved her.
True. No, faith, I let her alone, as we'll let this argument, if you please, and pass to another. When saw you Dauphine Eugenie?
Cler. Not these three days. Shall we go to him this morning he is very melancholy, I hear.