The Case is Altered, by Ben Jonson

Act II.

Scene I.

Enter Jaques, solus.

SO now enough, my heart, beat now no more,
At least for this affright. What a cold sweat
Flow'd o'er my brows, and over all my bosom!
Had I not reason? to behold my door
Beset with unthrifts, and myself abroad?
Why, Jaques? was there nothing in the house
Worth a continual eye, a vigilant thought,
Whose head should never nod, nor eyes once wink?
Look on my coat, my thoughts, worn quite threadbare,
That time could never cover with a nap,
And by it learn, never with knaps of sleep
To smother your conceits of that you keep.
But yet I marvel why these gallant youths
Spoke me so fair, and I esteem'd a beggar?
The end of flattery is gain or lechery:
If they seek gain of me, they think me rich;
But that they do not. For their other object,
'Tis in my handsome daughter, if it be:
And, by your leave, her handsomeness may tell them
My beggary counterfeits, and that her neatness
Flows from some store of wealth, that breaks my coffers
With this same engine, love to mine own breed;
But this is answer'd: Beggars will keep fine
Their daughters, being fair, though themselves pine.
Well, then it is for her; I, 'tis sure for her,
And I make her so brisk for one of them,
That I might live alone once with my gold.
O 'tis a sweet companion, kind and true;
A man may trust it when his father cheats him,
Brother, or friend, or wife. O wondrous pelf!
That which makes all men false, is true itself.
But now this maid is but suppos'd my daughter;
For I being steward to a lord of France
Of great estate and wealth, call'd lord Chamont,
He gone into the wars, I stole his treasure;
(But hear not any thing) I stole his treasure,
And this his daughter, being but two years old,
Because it lov'd me so, that it would leave
The nurse herself, to come into mine arms,
And had I left it, it would sure have dy'd.
Now herein I was kind, and had a conscience;
And since her lady-mother, that did die
In child-bed of her, lov'd me passing well,
It may be nature fashion'd this affection,
Both in the child and her: but he's ill bred
That ransacks tombs, and doth deface the dead.
I'll therefore say no more, suppose the rest.
Here have I chang'd my form, my name and hers,
And live obscurely, to enjoy more safe
My dearest treasure: but I must abroad.

Enter Rachel.

Rach. What is your pleasure, sir?

Jaq. Rachel, I must abroad.
Lock thyself in, but yet take out the key,
That whosoever peeps in at the key-hole,
May yet imagine there is none at home.

Rach. I will, sir.

Jaq. But hark thee, Rachel, say a thief should come,
And miss the key, he would resolve indeed
None were at home, and so break in the rather:
Ope the door, Rachel; set it open, daughter;
But sit in it thyself, and talk aloud,
As if there were some more in house with thee:
Put out the fire, kill the chimney's heart,
That it may breathe no more than a dead man;
The more we spare, my child, the more we gain.


Scene II.

Enter Christophero, Juniper, and Onion.

Chr. What says my fellow Onion? come on.

Oni. All of a house, sir, but not fellows; you are my lord's steward: but I pray you what think you of love, sir?

Chr. Of love, Onion! why it's a very honourable humour.

Oni. Nay, if it be but worshipful, I care not.

Junip. Go to, it's honourable, check not at the conceit of the gentleman.

Oni. But in truth, sir, you shall do well to think well of love: for it thinks well of you, in me, I assure you.

Chr. Gramercy, fellow Onion; I do think well, thou art in love, art thou?

Oni. Partly, sir; but I am asham'd to say wholly.

Chr. Well, I will further it in thee to any honest woman, or maiden, the best I can.

Junip. Why now you come near him, sir, he doth vaile, he doth remunerate, he doth chew the cud in the kindness of an honest imperfection to your worship.

Chr. But who is it thou lovest, fellow Onion?

Oni. Marry, a poor man's daughter; but none of the honestest, I hope.

Chr. Why, wouldst thou not have her honest?

Oni. O no, for then I am sure she would not have me. 'Tis Rachel de Prie.

Chr. Why she hath the name of a very virtuous maiden.

Junip. So she is, sir; but the fellow talks in quiddities, he.

Chr. What wouldst thou have me do in the matter?

Oni. Do nothing, sir, I pray you, but speak for me.

Chr. In what manner?

Oni. My fellow Juniper can tell you, sir.

Junip. Why as thus, sir: your worship may commend him for a fellow fit for consanguinity, and that he shaketh with desire of procreation, or so.

Chr. That were not so good, methinks.

Junip. No, sir! why so, sir? what if you should say to her, corroborate thyself, sweet soul, let me distinguish thy paps with my fingers, divine mumps, pretty Pastorella! lookest thou so sweet and bounteous? comfort my friend here.

Chr. Well I perceive you wish I should say something may do him grace, and further his desires, and that be sure I will.

Oni. I thank you, sir; God save your life, I pray God, sir.

Junip. Your worship is too good to live long; you'll contaminate me no service.

Chr. Command thou wouldst say; no, good Juniper.

Junip. Health and wealth, sir.

[Exeunt Onion and Juniper.

Chr. This wench will I solicit for myself,
Making my lord and master privy to it;
And if he second me with his consent,
I will proceed, as having long ere this
Thought her a worthy choice to make my wife.

Scene III.

Enter Aurelia, Phœnixella.

Aur. Room for a case of matrons, colour'd black;
How motherly my mother's death hath made us!
I would I had some girls now to bring up;
O I could make a wench so virtuous,
She should say grace to every bit of meat,
And gape no wider than a wafer's thickness;
And she should make French curt'sies so most low,
That every touch should turn her over backward.

Phœn. Sister, these words become not your attire,
Nor your estate; our virtuous mother's death
Should print more deep effects of sorrow in us,
Than may be worn out in so little time.

Aur. Sister, i' faith you take too much tobacco,
It makes you black within, as y' are without.
What true-stitch sister, both your sides alike!
Be of a slighter work; for of my word,
You shall be sold as dear, or rather dearer.
Will you be bound to customs and to rites,
Shed profitable tears, weep for advantage,
Or else do all things as you are inclin'd?
Eat when your stomach serves (saith the physician)
Not at eleven and six. So, if your humour
Be now affected with this heaviness,
Give it1 the reins, and spare not, as I do
In this my pleasurable appetite.
It is precisianism to alter that
With austere judgment, that is given by nature.
I wept, you saw too, when my mother dy'd;
For then I found it easier to do so,
And fitter with my mode, than not to weep.
But now 'tis otherwise; another time
Perhaps I shall have such deep thoughts of her,
That I shall weep afresh some twelve month hence;
And I will weep, if I be so dispos'd,
And put on black as grimly then as now.
Let the mind go still with the body's stature,
Judgment is fit for judges, give me nature.

1 Give ME the reins, and spare not, as I do.] She is saying, it is best to follow one's humour, and not to check it by art and rule: and she means, that if Phœnixella is really afflicted, she should indulge her heaviness, as long as her nature prompted her so to do; and this sense leads us to read it, instead of me.

Give it the reins — that is, the heaviness you are now affected with.

Scene. IV.

Enter Aurelia, Phœnixella, Francisco, Angelo.

Franc. See, signior Angelo, here are the ladies;
Go you and comfort one, I'll to the other.

Ang. Therefore I come, sir; I'll to the eldest.
God save you, ladies; these sad modes of yours,
That make you choose these solitary walks,
Are hurtful for your beauties.

Aur. If we had them.

Ang. Come, that condition might be for your hearts,
When you protest faith, since we cannot see them.
But this same heart of beauty, your sweet face,
Is in mine eye still.

Aur. O you cut my heart
With your sharp eye.

Ang. Nay, lady, that's not so,
Your heart's too hard.

Aur. My beauty's heart?

Ang. O no.
I mean that regent of affection, madam,
That tramples on all love with such contempt
In this fair breast.

Aur. No more, your drift is savour'd;
I had rather seem hard-hearted ———

Ang. Than hard-favour'd;
Is that your meaning, lady?

Aur. Go to, sir;
Your wits are fresh I know, they need no spur.

Ang. And therefore you will ride them.

Aur. Say, I do,
They will not tire, I hope?

Ang. No, not with you.
Hark you, sweet lady.

Franc. 'Tis much pity, madam,
You should have any reason to retain
This sign of grief, much less the thing design'd.

Phœ. Griefs are more fit for ladies than their pleasures.

Franc. That is for such as follow nought but pleasures.
But you that temper them so well with virtues,
Using your griefs so, it would prove them pleasures;
And you would seem, in cause of griefs and pleasures,
Equally pleasant.

Phœ. Sir, so I do now.
It is the excess of either that I strive
So much to shun, in all my prov'd endeavours,
Although perhaps, unto a general eye,
I may appear most wedded to my griefs;
Yet doth my mind forsake no taste of pleasure,
I mean that happy pleasure of the soul,
Divine and sacred contemplation
Of that eternal and most glorious bliss,
Proposed as the crown unto our souls.

Franc. I will be silent; yet that I may serve
But as a decade in the art of memory,
To put you still in mind of your own virtues,
When your too serious thoughts make you too sad,
Accept me for your servant, honour'd lady.

Phœ. Those ceremonies are too common, signior Francis,
For your uncommon gravity and judgment,
And fits them only that are nought but ceremony.

Ang. Come, I will not sue stalely to be your servant,
But a new term, will you be my refuge?

Aur. Your refuge! why, sir?

Ang. That I might fly to you when all else fail me.

Aur. An' you be good at flying, be my plover.

Ang. Nay, take away the p.

Aur. Tut, then you cannot fly.

Ang. I'll warrant you: I'll borrow Cupid's wings.

Aur. Mass, then I fear me you will do strange things.
I pray you blame me not, if I suspect you;
Your own confession simply doth detect you.
Nay, and you be so great in Cupid's books,
'Twill make me jealous. You can with your looks
(I'll warrant you) enflame a woman's heart,
And at your pleasure take love's golden dart,
And wound the breast of any virtuous maid.
Would I were hence! good faith, I am afraid
You can constrain one, ere they be aware,
To run mad for your love.

Ang. O this is rare.

Scene V.

Aurelia, Phœnixella, Francisco, Angelo, Count.

Count. Close with my daughters, gentlemen! well done,
'Tis like yourselves: nay, lusty Angelo,
Let not my presence make you baulk your sport;
I will not break a minute of discourse
'Twixt you and one of your fair mistresses.

Ang. One of my mistresses? why thinks your lordship
I have so many?

Count. Many! no, Angelo,
I do not think th'ast many, some fourteen
I hear thou hast, even of our worthiest dames
Of any note in Milan.

Ang. Nay, good my lord, fourteen! it is not so.

Count. By th' mass that is't; here are their names to shew,
Fourteen, or fifteen to one. Good Angelo,
You need not be asham'd of any of them,
They are gallants all.

Ang. 'Sblood you are such a lord.

Count. Nay stay, sweet Angelo, I am dispos'd
A little to be pleasant past my custom.
[Exit Angelo.
He's gone, he's gone, I have disgrac'd him shrewdly.
Daughters, take heed of him, he's a wild youth;
Look what he says to you, believe him not,
He will swear love to every one he sees.
Francisco, give them counsel, good Francisco,
I dare trust thee with both, but him with neither.

Franc. Your lordship yet may trust both them with him.


Scene VI.

Count, Christophero.

Count. Well, go your ways, away. How now, Christophero,
What news with you?

Chr. I have an humble suit to your good lordship.

Count. A suit, Christophero! what suit, I prithee?

Chr. I would crave pardon at your lordship's hands,
If it seem vain or simple in your sight.

Count. I'll pardon all simplicity, Christophero;
What is thy suit?

Chr. Perhaps, being now so old a batchelor,
I shall seem half unwise, to bend myself
In strict affection to a poor young maid.

Count. What! is it touching love, Christophero?
Art thou dispos'd to marry? why 'tis well.

Chr. I, but your lordship may imagine now,
That I, being steward of your honour's house,
If I be married once, will more regard
The maintenance of my wife, and of my charge,
Than the due discharge of my place and office.

Count. No, no, Christophero, I know thee honest.

Chr. Good faith, my lord, your honour may suspect it;
But ————

Count. Then I should wrong thee; thou hast ever been
Honest and true, and will be still I know.

Chr. I, but this marriage alters many men,
And you may fear it will do me, my lord;
But ere it do so, I will undergo
Ten thousand several deaths.

Count. I know it, man.
Who wouldst thou have, I prithee?

Chr. Rachel de Prie,
If your good lordship grant me your consent.

Count. Rachel de Prie! what the poor beggar's daughter?
She's a right handsome maid, how poor soever,
And thou hast my consent with all my heart.

Chr. I humbly thank your honour; I'll now ask
Her father. [Exit.

Count. Do so, Christophero; thou shalt do well.
'Tis strange (she being so poor) he should affect her!
But this is more strange that myself should love her.
I spy'd her lately at her father's door,
And if I did not see in her sweet face
Gentry and nobleness, ne'er trust me more;
But this persuasion fancy wrought in me,
That fancy being created with her looks;
For where love is, he thinks his basest object
Gentle and noble: I am far in love,
And shall be forc'd to wrong my honest steward,
For I must sue and seek her for myself.
How much my duty to my late dead wife,
And my own dear renown, soe'er it sways,
I'll to her father straight, love hates delays.

Scene VII.

Enter Onion, Juniper, Valentine, Sebastian, Balthasar, Martino.

Oni. Come on, i'faith, let's to some exercise or other, my hearts.
Fetch the hilts; fellow Juniper, wilt thou play?

[Exit Martino.

Junip. I cannot resolve you; 'tis as I am fitted with the ingenuity, quantity, or quality of the cudgel.

Val. How dost thou bastinado the poor cudgel with terms!

Junip. O Ingle, I have the phrases, man, and the anagrams, and the epitaphs, fitting the mystery of the noble science.

Oni. I'll be hang'd an' he were not misbegotten of some fencer.

Seb. Sirrah, Valentine, you can resolve me now, have they their masters of defence in other countries, as we have here in Italy?

Val. O lord, I; especially they in Utopia: there they perform their prizes and challenges with as great ceremony as the Italian, or any nation else.

Balt. Indeed! how is the manner of it, for god's love, good Valentine?

Junip. Ingle, I prithee make recourse unto us; we are thy friends and familiars, sweet Ingle.

Val. Why thus, sir.

Oni. God a mercy, good Valentine; nay, go on.

Junip. Silentium bonus socius Onionus, good fellow Onion, be not so ingenious and turbulent. So, sir; and how? how, sweet Ingle?

Val. Marry, first they are brought to the public theatre.

Junip. What! ha' they theatres there?

Val. Theatres! I, and plays too, both tragedy and comedy, and set forth with as much state as can be imagined.

Junip. By god's so, a man is nobody till he has travell'd.

Seb. And how are their plays? as ours are? extemporal?

Val. O no; all premeditated things, and some of them very good, i' faith; my master used to visit them often when he was there.

Balt. Why how, are they in a place where any man may see them?

Val. I, in the common theatres, I tell you. But the sport is at a new play, to observe the sway and variety of opinion that passeth it. A man shall have such a confus'd mixture of judgment, pour'd out in the throng there, as ridiculous as laughter itself. One says he likes not the writing, another likes not the plot, another not the playing: and sometimes a fellow, that comes not there past once in five years, at a parliament time, or so, will be as deep mired in censuring as the best, and swear by god's foot he would never stir his foot to see a hundred such as that is.

Oni. I must travel to see these things, I shall never think well of myself else.

Junip. Fellow Onion, I'll bear thy charges, and thou wilt but pilgrimize it along with me to the land of Utopia.

Seb. Why but methinks such rooks as these should be ashamed to judge.

Val. Not a whit; the rankest stinkard of them all will take upon him as peremptory, as if he had writ himself in artibus magister.

Seb. And do they stand to a popular censure for any thing they present?

Val. I, ever, ever; and the people generally are very acceptive, and apt to applaud any meritable work; but there are two sorts of persons that most commonly are infectious to a whole auditory.

Balt. What be they?

Junip. I, come, let's know them.

Oni. It were good they were noted.

Val. Marry, one is the rude barbarous crew, a people that have no brains, and yet grounded judgments; these will hiss any thing that mounts above their grounded capacities; but the other are worth the observation, i' faith.

Omnes. Where be they? where be they?

Val. Faith, a few capricious gallants.

Junip. Capricious! stay, that word's for me.

Val. And they have taken such a habit of dislike in all things, that they will approve nothing, be it never so conceited or elaborate; but sit dispersed, making faces and spitting, wagging their upright ears, and cry, filthy, filthy; simply uttering their own condition, and 2 using their wryed countenances instead of a vice, to turn the good aspects of all that shall sit near them, from what they behold.

Enter Martino with cudgels.

Oni. O that's well said; lay them down; come, sirs,
Who plays, fellow Juniper, Sebastian, Balthasar?
Somebody take them up, come.

Junip. Ingle, Valentine?

Val. Not I, sir, I profess it not.

Junip. Sebastian.

Seb. Balthasar.

Balt. Who? I?

Oni. Come, but one bout; I'll give 'em thee, i' faith.

Balt. Why here's Martino.

Oni. Foh, he! alas! he cannot play a whit, man.

Junip. That's all one; no more could you in statu quo prius.
Martino, play with him; every man has his beginning and conduction.

Mart. Will you not hurt me, fellow Onion?

Oni. Hurt thee? no; and I do, put me among pot-herbs,
And chop me to pieces. Come on.

Junip. By your favour, sweet bullies, give them room, back, so.
Martino, do not look so thin upon the matter.

Oni. Ha! well play'd, fall over to my leg now: so, to your guard again: excellent! to my head now: make home your blow: spare not me, make it home, good, good again.

Seb. Why how now, Peter!

Val. Godso, Onion has caught a bruise.

Junip. Couragio! be not capricious; what!

Oni. Capricious! not I, I scorn to be capricious for a scratch, Martino must have another bout; come.

Val. Seb. Balt. No, no, play no more, play no more.

Oni. Foh, 'tis nothing, a fillip, a devise; fellow Juniper, prithee get me a plantan; I had rather play with one that had skill by half.

Mart. By my troth, fellow Onion, 'twas against my will.

Oni. Nay, that's not so, 'twas against my head;
But come, we'll ha' one bout more.

Junip. Not a bout, not a stroke.

Omnes. No more, no more.

Junip. Why I'll give you demonstration how it came,
Thou openedst thy dagger to falsify over with the backsword trick, and he interrupted before he could fall to the close.

Oni. No, no, I know best how it was, better than any man here. I felt his play presently; for look you, I gathered upon him thus, thus, do you see? for the double lock, and took it single on the head.

Val. He says very true, he took it single on the head.

Seb. Come, let's go.

Enter Martino with a cobweb.

Mart. Here, fellow Onion, here's a cobweb.

Oni. How! a cobweb, Martino! I will have another bout with you. 'Swounds, do you first break my head, and then give me a plaster in scorn? Come, to it, I will have a bout.

Mart. God's my witness.

Oni. Tut, your witness cannot serve.

Junip. 'Sblood, why what! thou art not lunatic, art thou? and thou be'st, avoid, Mephostophilus. Say the sign should be in Aries now, as it may be for all us, where were your life? answer me that?

Seb. He says well, Onion.

Val. Indeed does he.

Junip. Come, come, you are a foolish naturalist; go, get a white of an egg, and a little flax, and close the breach of the head, it is the most conducible thing that can be. Martino, do not insinuate upon your good fortune, but play an honest part, and bear away the bucklers.


1 Using their wryed countenances instead of a vice.] We have this sentiment again, expressed in the same words, in the induction to Every man out of his humour:

"Using his wryed looks,

"In nature of a vice, to wrest and turn

"The good aspect of those that shall sit near him."

And this shews The case is altered to have been in the number of Jonson's earliest productions; for we often find him repeating a thought or expression in his later plays, which he had before made use of, in some former piece.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56