To consult the text as the video plays, scroll down and the video will follow in a minimzed window.
Grobianus: Had you a prologue, I had not enter’d, for to say the truth I am old Grobian; did you ever heare of old Grobian? That’s I, and am he that hate manners worse then Tymon4 hated man. And what did he hate them for? Marrie for their foolish, foppish, apish complements, niceties, lispings, cringes; can’t our buisinesse bee done, and our Play acted, but a Coxe-combe in a cloke5 must scrape his lease of legs6 to begge Sir Tottipate’s applause in dogrime verse? And he goe away and swore he understood ne’re a worde. I like his stout humour best that [says] twas good, a good fat old Grobian he was. How sayes the gentleman in the plush? Will he conjecture us to like it? Yes marrie might he, goodman goosecapp, take your 6 shillinge 8d and buy sparragus7 for the thinge in the bagge there, an let a wiser man take your place. Now Grobian, tis as thou wouldest have it, here’s companie to thy minde, and Ile tell you fellow Grobians, what our sport is to night. You shall see the true shapes of men, not in the visor and shaddow of garbes and postures, but verie pure pate man, such as nature made u’m, such as ne’re swathed their feet in socks, for feare of the graine of their owne bodies, whose beardes and haire never impoverish’d the wearers, that banish wisely a barber as a superfluous member from their common weale,8 a Taylor is admitted, but one of the primative time, that cutts out longe bellies, short skirts, codpeese, you knowe, and most canonical round knees.9 Men who sound if they come nere a millener, and flie a Perfumer as the infection. Cookes indeed they have for necessitie, not for riot, fellowes that never licke their finders, but carrie in their countenancies the proffit of their places. Here’s true and honest friendship, noe slight god speedes, but a how doe you, soe well sett on, you shall remember the salute a weeke after.10 We doffe our heads sooner then our hatts, and a nod includes all ceremonie. Our Schollers are right too, such as if you did but see them, you would sweare they did look to nothinge but their bookes, verie ploddalls11 of Art, not a leafe turn’d o’re, but you have his hand he hath read it, and his marke is as true as Peters thumbe on a Haddocke,12 noe regarde of apparrell, Libertines13 you may judge them by their clothes, and Nazarites14 by their haire, their gowne is like a dun at your backes,15 which they would shake off. Then for the matter, noe grand sallets16 and kickshawes17 of learneingem, but the verie bruise of divinitie,18 fatt and glorious, which after the fortification of a third loafe and butter comes powerfully from his side, and soe fattens his authoritie. These are men old Grobian loves, out of these pickt modells of humanitie shall I seeke out a sonne in lawe,19which shall begett me sonns of my behaviour; my sole daughter Grobiana is all the comfort that I have, I will have her match’d, she deserves a good match, it would revive old Grobian to see my grand-child such as, spight the flattery, the world shal say:
Has grandseers eares, fathers nose and eyes,
Has mothers lippe and legge, and grandames tighes.
Pamphagus: Looke plump, you rogues, your bodyes shal bee feasted, but first ours, to morrow is the Grobian feast.23 Lorrell, you must enlarge the kennell of Cookes, your number is to thinne, if you want men for cleansinge, you may hire some of the best qualified currs you can gett, some of them are verie good huswifes,24 I heare.
Lorrell: Sir, you knowe my sufficiency, I hope the world has heard of Lorrells entertainments. I will content u’m, though the divell were in u’m.
Pamphagus: Let there be good store of Brawne,25 and hoggsflesh, therefore every like is norished by the like, let the possessed feed uppon meate that possessed hath beene,26 and harke, yee make the backe puddings27 not to bee fathom’d.
Oyestus: Most honorable Mr. Pamphage, may you live puddinge without end.
Pamphagus: Thankes, good Oyestus.
Oyestus: Crye you mercy.28 Sir, if I have offended,
My lawe is bad, and I could wish it mended,
I am your poore worships crier indeed lawe.
Pamphagus: Indeed thou art our most lamentable Crier.29
Oyestus: Yes, Sir, cuma causa, the lawe will make on crie, an’t please your lordship.
Pamphagus: Now Lorrell, what newe dish? Come, I knowe thy brain is pregnant, letts heare thy beast inventions, my fancy fattens with relation, full as well as this body by gustations.
Lorrell: You have heard off my flyinge puddinge?30 How doe you thinke that was made? People tooke it for a piece of art; nothinge else, Sir, I had newly stript him out of his warme skinne, the bagge he was sodde in, but my puddinge slipt into the feather tubbe, and because I would not plucke him, I sent it in for a made dish, and the apes,31 my brother Cookes, have imitated this Chaunce as a piece of service.
Oyestus: Yes indeed, an’t like your grace, I brought it in the dish before your honour. By the same token your worship was pleas’d to call me goose32 for it, supposinge it had beene somewhat slovingely done.
Lorrell: Oyestus there did me great service at the fall of a dish of stew’d oysters, which the rogue pleanteously repaired, a cold haveinge glandered him,33 and I ordered them, they past for good plump colchesters.
Oyestus: I never told your mistress of that, but it did mee good to see how heartily your honour fedde, beside the rest of the reverences, and truely it joy’d your worships poore Crier to see that he had any thinge about him could content your Lordship.34
Pamphagus: I remember the dish very well. By the same token Mr. Simon Slouch,35 a sodaine jeast beeinge broke, fell out a laughing, as he was eatinge them, and drove on up his nose which presently hee voyded most properly to the plate from whence it came, and his next neighbour swallow’d it with better lucke.
Oyestus: Good, your Lordship, to see how it should come from me to another.
Lorrell: I have a broth to morrowe shall putt downe all cullises,36 white broth, or pottage, and if they guesse the ingredients and true glorious composure, degrade me to a scull,37 and lett the blacke guard38 bee my jewrye.39 Such stuffe the divell did not tast, only one little hellhound, a cronie of myne, and one of St. Georges Apple squiers.40 Hearke in your eare. (They whisper.)
Oyestus: God blesse your worships whisperinge.
Pamphagus: I’st possible? what, made of a sheeps paunch? Nay, I allwayes conceivd it to be most glorious.
Lorrell: Nay, a thriftie and quicke way for haveinge the cuttinge of Potthearbes.41
Pamphagus: Well, Lorrell, thou hast deserv’d the bayes42 from all poets else, Ile not instruct thee, thou canst swimme without bladders.43 Oyestus, take that scrole, and invite all the guests, read it out.44
Oyestus: Please, your Lordship, I shall give an oyes45 first for attension.
Pamphagus: Doe, doe.
Oyestus: Oyes, oyes.
Pamphagus: All yee that are invited,
Oyestus: All yee that are devited –
Pamphagus: To the Grobian festuall –
Oyestus: To the Grobian estuall –
Phamphagus: Are sett downe in this scrole –
Oyestus: Are not set downe in this scrole –
Pamphagus: Their names underneath written –
Oyestus: Their names not underneath writte[n] –
Pamphagus: And the description of their habitation –
Oyestus: And the description of their habitatio[n] –
Phamphagus: Or dwellinge house, sittuate then and there –
Oyestus: Or dwellinge house, sittuate then and there:
Sir Simon Slouch, knight and Grobian.
Mr. Grouthead,46 Chaplaine and Grobian.
Ladye Fustie,47 widdow and Grobian.
Mr. Deawbeater48 of hounsditch, Grobian.
Mr. Lotium,49 Phisitian and Grobian.
Mr Dulman,50 Apothecarie and Grobian.
Mr Mulbery,51 Inkeeper and Grobian.
Old Thump,52 Lawyer and Grobian.
The Mayor and Aldermen of Gotham with the Towne Clarke.53
not forgettinge the two Bayleifes, Grobians.
Pamphagus: Come lett’s goe, the bench is uppon settinge.54
Enter Vans[lotten]), Tantoblin, Ursin, Court of assistants of Grobians.55
Tantoblin: True, master, and my wardens plow59 at the attendinge of the assisses, and the affayres of the Court stayes now the empting of Sir Epikures jakes,60 and you know what it is besides to hinder ones goodlucke.
Ursin:61 It was a baytinge day62 with mee too, and a great match with the white beare, besides singular sportes with the ape and horse, and wee neglected all these occasions, but wee must beare with it.
Vanslotten: Well, to the businesse.
Tantoblin: On, businesse is senior to complement.63
Ursin: Would the court were dismissed, that I were at the garden. I am never well but when I am amonge those valiant creatures, o, their companie is honie to mee.
Vanslotten: I told my dislike concerneinge newyeares gifts, and I hope it is ordered so that we shall have noe more Christmas Candles given.64
Tantoblin: It was most superfluous, I have seene a candle soe bigge it would serve to take the altitude and profunditie of the great Mogulls barbadoes65 as well as my pole.
Ursin: Besides the intolerable charge of makeinge snuffers for that great candle.
Tantoblin: Snuffers? Out uppon u’m, that a thinge not to be suffer’d in a Grobian commonweale.
Vanslotten: True, Tantoblin, they cyt of the thiefe that steales the tallow for our profit.
Tantoblin: Noe, every candle shall end of himself, goe out peaceably without an extinguisher, that the insence proper the buriall66 may be smelt and perfume the roome.
Ursin: A very decent ceremonie, an odour somewhat a kin to that of my beares, I like it.
Vanslotten: Wee did allsoe decree against all boyes or wenches that, upon holidayes or other, bringe nosegayes67 unto passengers.
Tantoblin: I did move your mastership to it, and upon most solid reason. I told you, how thereby the ayre was sophisticated, the true sent of creatures passinge by was not apprehended by the organ, but adulterate stuffe. If they will have nosegayes, I beseech you that I may have the patent, and they shall have good large ones made unto the proportion of this nose of like the Catherine wheele,68 which I take to bee most legitimate, and accordinge to the standard.
Tantoblin: Pamphage, what discoverie have made either for or against our customes?
Pamphagus: I sawe a gentleman handsomely in conceipt, tyeinge up his stockinges with a blew poynt.
Vanslotten: Did you invite him to dinner?
Pamphagus: He told me he would not fayle.
Tantoblin: He shall bee welcome.
Pamphagus: Another sweete natur’d gentleman I happily met withall in the street, upon some occasions turneinge against a wall.71 I presently saluted him, and hee let me such thankes it did my heart good to heare it.
Tantoblin: Thankes, my good friend, thats hee that makes the true use of feasts, send all unto their proper places,72 he is call’d the Auter,73 he hath a monopoly for all Butterie bookes, kitchinge bookes, besides old declamations and theames, which to the wonder of the world he spends very punctually, and constantly, you scarce can get any paper to put under pyes, against a good tyme for him. Paphage, let there be order taken, the tarts have some honie74 in them, wee care not for them else, they have noe operation.
Ursin: Let me intreate a little for my white beare, hee is my cronye.
Vanslotten: Let there be store of butter ynough, I beseech you.
Tantoblin: Tis noe matter wheather it be all new or noe, buy ynough, though it bee soe old that the marke be out of it.
Ursin: I, then it is in print, and let our oyle be train’d.
Tantoblin: I, then tis as right as a gunne, it hitts all our pallates.
Pamphagus: But, Sir, here will be the worshipfull Mr. Ployden75 in a new sute and cloake.
Vanslotten: How, how?
Tantoblin: I hope he will not aire it here.
Ursin: He forfeits his place if he doe.
Pamphagus: Noe, noe; a new sute which he hath soe quaintly durted, for as soone as Oyestus gave him his ticket, he runs to the hoggstye and tumples for halph and howre amonge them, and there the sowe and hee did soe snugge togeather, you would have sworne they had beene man and wife.
Vanslotten: Why! if he thinkes fittinge it shall bee a match.
Tantoblin: With all my heart, Ile be theyr father.76
Ursin: He hath deserv’d her.
Vanslotten: Let him bringe her alonge with him.
Ursin: And Ursula, my cub, shall beare her companie.
Tantoblin: Better want meat then guests.
Vanslotten: Here, Pamphage, reade our orders concerneinge the games that shall be used amonge the Grobian.
Pamphagus: It is edicted that every Grobian shall play at Bambery hott cockles77 at the four festivalls.
Tantoblin: Indeed a verye usefull sport but lately much neglected to the mollifieinge of the flesh.
Ursin: That was myne.
Pamphagus: Noe dauncinge unless it be the olde slatter de pouch80 or the beares masque.
Ursin: I had a hand in that too.
Pamphagus: That they must not forget the auncient sport of throweinge snoweballs, or slangturd, or snott!
Vanslotten: Let there [be] a penaltie upon the neglect of that.
Pamphagus: Let every Grobian save his ordure to crowne Fidlers, or daube passengers in the night, but in the day tyme let him use the cocklede moy,81 or if need be, the worst, and clap it to his fellows nose.
Tantoblin: Did you amerse Slouch for makeinge a curvie face, when hee sawe a fart turn’d into better stuffe.
Pamphagus: Tis lawefull for any man to let flee at meales freely, unlesse it be for the brethrens sake at Ireland, who onely that excepted, are the best Grobians.
Vanslotten: Let a fine be set upon him that cries claudius or mercye or whistle, after soe commendable and necessarie a dutie.
Tantoblin: That was ratefied by act of Parliament.
Ursin: Blessinge on his buttocks that promoted it.
Tantoblin: It was a rowser and was heard up into upper house.
Vanslotten: It had never past else. If he were liveinge wee should doe well to visit him.
Pamph[agus]: Let Oyestus crye all these orders in all market places, or where any great Companies are, ore publicke assemblies. Wee dismisse the court.
Tantoblin: Lets away, my belly rumbles. Ursin, hast any paper?
Ursin: Come, as good fellowship in shittinge as eatinge.
Pamphagus: Ile wait upon your worship.
Grobiana: How doe I looke to day?
Ungartred: As you were wonte to doe, round, bigge, and comly.
Grobiana: Methinks I looke like a Lordmaiors pageant with men underneath me.82
Ungartred: And indeed law, so you doe; if that fayre frontispeece of yours were but paynted, and your hinderparts a little more dawb’d, with two or three porters under, you would looke as like a pageant.
Grobiana: Is my face smooth, saiest thou?
Ungartred: Yes, yes, as longe as you keepe your maske on, a judicious eye cannot discerne one wrinkle with a perspective glasse, if you have but a sweete breath.
Grobiana: What then?
Ungartred: Why, then it would not stinke. The tother morneinge, when you rose wreakinge out of your bed, I smelt you three stories.83
Grobiana: I must confesse, I smelt my self a furlonge, is there noe remedie for it?
Ungartred: Yes, if you would but drinke over myht Barmodas, and eat fastinge two or three cloves of garlicke with some scallions, your breath will smell like a rose in June that noe bodye can come nere you for sweenesse.
Grobiana: Well, if I have sutours, as such a prettie piece as I cannot longe bee without, I will overcome u’m with my breath.
Ungartred: You speake, as if you were in love.
Grobiana: Dost thinke tis possible for me to bee in love with anybody but my self, this face which never is seene but upon festivall dayes soe satisfie my appetite that, were it not for leadinge apes in hell,84 I would be still content with my virginitie.
Ungartred: I perceave you have a yonge tooth.85
Grobiana: Noe, looke I have never a on.
Ungartred: Why, how doe you doe to hide the deformitie, when a merrie tale it told?
Grobiana: Oh! I hold my lipps close, and that gives such a grace to my swimpering that, when I must needes laugh out, I clappe both my handes upon my mouth and cry (o sweet loud). Why doest scratch thy head soe?
Ungartred: I have not dressed it this month, and then I kemb’d it with my fingers, and the rogueinge lice doe playe so many prankes about the scabbes behinde. I cannot bee perswaded but you are in love, you talk of things soe at randome.
Grobiana: I cannot condemne my self, I have had a fortnights minde and a months longeinge, I am somwhat addicted to the flesh.
Ungartred: Tis good to bee doeinge dosainely with honesty, for you knowe yongue sparkes will never leave temptinge of verginitie, till they have made mother of her.
Grobiana: There’s scarse a yongue man in all the parish can sleepe for dreameinge of mee; I have been reported for an excellent beautie, but they say the carreage of my body goes beyond all wench.86 Though my abilitie will not make me rich, yet let the imitation of my behaviour be thy performent: Looke up, as if you meditated upon the starrs, thus, and then have a comely cast with your eyes, and see your friend, when noe body knowes you look upon him, and when you heare a prettie tale told, bridle your head, thus, and crye: goodly, goodly; and bee sure never to make a noyse, but when you blow your nose thus. These qualities will enchaunt sutors, and bee of equall force with necessitie to make them breake stone walls for your companie. My father is mad to bee a grandsire that halph a dozen men of good sufficiency are at the scoole of complement87 to learne their lesson before they will adventure upon the boldnesse of sutorship.
Ungartred: Your beauty, gesture, carriage, and your qualities would make you a lady88 though you were the wife of a chaundler.
Grobiana: I am not for the curiosities of a man; so he hath his limbes and a purse, though is behaviour be rude, his speech clownish, his slops greasy, yet the good example of his bedfellow may turne him and make him surpasse our Tythinge man.89
Ungartred: You doe not knowe your husband yet? I saw the prettiest fellow the other day cast such a gloatinge eye upon you.
Grobiana: Dost know his profession?
Ungartred: Not very well, he had a pair of bow leggs with two feete at the end of them, and a couple of neate shoes, tyed with a riband of the broader sort, he did cut such a many of crosse capers, sure he was a Tayler.90
Grobiana: Hange him, nitlie breechd rogue, what, doest thinke Ile marry with a louse, halfe a man, that’s beaten every day by an army of vermin.
Ungartred: Oh, he sings curiously upon his shopboard of faire Rosamond and Jane Shore.
Grobiana: Faire Rosamond and Jane Shore?91 I can’t chuse but laugh at the two dowdies, fair Rosamond and Jane Shore? prettye beauties yfaith, had thee and I liv’d in those tymes, we should necessarily have been Concubines. And what do I care for his singinge, the gruntinge of my father is better musique by farre to me then a pair of ordans, though Piggs plaid on u’m.
Ungartred: There was another knockd at the dore a little after with a good face, but he smelt soe strangely.92 I told him you were not within. For cuds liggins93, I cannot get the sent of him out of my nose, if I should be hanged; he had some buisnesse of necessitie with you, and could not be at quiet, till he had bowrayed his mind to mee.
Grobiana: As sure as can be, it was he that I spied out of my chamber windowe, he had a pole upon his shoulder.94 Good lord, that you would not entertayne the gentleman.
Ungartred: Intruth, hee had a nose of the larger size not uncomely, but answerable to his face.
Grobiana: Alacke, alacke, pray, when hee comes next, if hee have noe minde to set in a roome, desire him to walke in the backside,95 and his Grobiana will attend on him.
Ungartred: Ah, Mr. Mullet,96 the fishmonger, is in a shrode pickle for you, he talkes broad language like a distracted lover. He was sorry you were not within, he brought a dish of gubbins97 which he hath kept any tyme this month for you, and he is afraid they begin to smell. He warrant he would exchange his patrimony for on benevolines98 from your lip. Heere was another too.
Grobiana: Not Mr. Cob,99 I hope, ah sweete soule, Ile lay my life it was that sweete soule, Mr. Cob. If he has met with my father,100 the world is myne. I was at breakfast with him the other morneing and he made the pretiest jeast.
Ungartred: Why, what was it?
Grobiana: When meate was first sett o’th table, he let such a rouseinge fart, that I and my father had like to burst our selves with, and then he put it off soe handsomely.
Ungartred: As how?
Grobiana: Why he said he could not avoid it.101
Ungartred: He did looke very prettily in my conceipt, and one thinge I observ’d very much in him, he had a beard which was none of the smallest ornaments.
Grobiana: A man without a beard has not soe much as save his fingers from – the rest is beastly.
Ungartred: He had a dozen Crommes102
stickinge in’t, and they did shewe like Starrs.
Grobiana: Of what fashion was it, picked, sqard, or howe?103
Ungartred: Just like a half moone; if one could have bin in the middle of it, he might have found Cribbidge enough in it to serve one for a fortnight. Mistress stand, I heare somebody comeinge.
Grobiana: It is my father and a gentleman.
Enter Grobianus and Oyestus.
Grobianus: My daughter is the gentlewoman in the maske.
Oyestus: Must I speake nowe? An’t please, she will believe I am to daune in one, if I speake not sodainely.
Grobianus: Be sure you have your invitation perfect, she is vile catchinge.
Oyestus: Had I best say fayre Lady or beautifull Mistress?
Grobianus: Both of them are little enough, take heed she takes noe acception. We shall have noe guest, be sure you fare not out.
Oyestus: I warrant you, Sir, I knowe that lawe, I have cride before Lords and Ladyes and the King and Queen too. Mrs Grobiana, your father and you are invited as special guests by our warden and master to the Grobian feast.
Grobiana: I will come.
Oyestus: I will certifie our companie you will be there to be waited on.
Grobiana: Withall observance, why this, tis to be taken notice of even by the graver sort. You Ungartred shall provide somethinge for your self at home.
Ungartred: My stomager is not soe eager, but I can stay here; take my handkerser,104 and clap up a piece of something for me.
Oyestus: Faire Grobiana, our wardens made a consultation, and holde it meete your beautifull waitinge gentlewoman should participate of their curtesies.
Grobiana: Take your handkercher againe, and pop in a peece of somethinge for the poore catt at home, and your owne breakfast.
Grobianus: Honest friend, no you are here, do us the office of a leader and happiely your good service may procure you a new coate, and Ile speake to Mr. Tantoblin for a badge.105
Enter Hunch, Jobernole,106 two Candidates.
Hunch: They are not sett downe yet because of the invitation of the faire Grobiana.
Jobernole: What, is my Mrs Grobiana there? A friend in court is better then a pound in pourse, one word of hers will prevaile more with the wardens then all our misbehaviour. Shall we goe or stay till dinner be done?
Hunch: I feare noe body but Mr. Ursin.
Jobernole: Mr. Ursin the Bearerd?107 What neede you feare Mr. Ursin the Bearerd?
Hunch: All my offenxe was, I let loose amonge his beares, it was the disgestion of a little honye I had eaten, which made the delicate creatures soe fall out, that it disturb’d his patience. I am sure I had the worst on’t, this buttock was halfe bit off.
Jobernole: Why don’t you enquire for help. There be a many of gentlewomen are blest in their cures, can’t you hold up108 to on of them.
Hunch: There was on that had it in hand this morneinge, shee had a lillie white hand, and drest it without a noise; only once I blew the blaster out of her hand, and she cried out: You beast.
Jobernole: You neede not feare Mr. Ursin for this, for Tantoblin is his great friend, and if hee should know the buisnesse, he would be angry with Mr. Ursin, and say he wrong’d his profession.
Hunch: Tis ill wrastlinge with Tantoblin, if he once take a pett in the nose. There is a dismission of the assembly, doe they know we are Candidates?
Jobernole: Yes, Yes, I spoke with Mr. Tantoblin, but that his head was full of buisnesse, he would have told me more of his minde.
Hunch: How shall I looke, when I am free-man, that look soe comixiously now?
Jobernole: Indeed, you looke lovely, I am afraid thou shoudest goe alonge with me, least the faire Grobiana should cast a wanton eye. She can’t abstaine, if she see hansomnesse.
Hunch: You neede not feare, I have made my choice. Grobiana? pish, pah, – the kitchinge stuffe wench.
Jobernole: What, she with the sachell cheekes?
Hunch: The same. She is sound enough, man, she has a belly like a tunne,109 and is breech’d like a gunne,110 she liv’d with a puritane111 once, and because she blew her nose in grace time, shee was turned out of her service, and now she cryes Kitchinge stuffe through the nose.112
Jobernole: That puritane was a course fellow, nor did hee know what belong’d to good manners.
Hunch: Stand, stand, they are drinkeinge healthes.
Jobernole: Away foole, tis only Tantoblin trumpetinge with the winde, I heard him right full halfe a mile, he spoke distinktly and pure Phillip.
Enter to dinner Grobianus, Grobiana, Vanslotten, Tantoblin, Ursin, Oyestus, Pamphagus, Ungartred.
Vanslotten: Brothers, accordinge to our yearly custome, we are here well mett. Grobianus, wellcome, the same to your faire daughter Grobiana.
Tantoblin: Faire one, you are wellcome, and if Tantoblin, the warden of the companie, saies it, hee’le make him strike that shall say nay.
Ursin: Now comes my turne, Lady, (for that title your beautie claimes113), ah, wood my beare were here to shew you some sport; nether would I have you thinke, because I am a bearerd, I have soe little humanitie in me as not to adore your beautie, which is more bright, then are the shades of night.
Grobianus: Daughter, these are the men I wish you, these be the moralls114 of the age, not like these gay butterflies which are as tender as old weather beaten userers115 in a thicke suit of old frize,116 but must be swath’d in close trousers for feare theire bones slip out of joynt, neither carrie they civet117 for feare of rotten lungs, but are contented with the auncient odor of Adams muske, which in my minde is much to be preferrd before a catte.
Grobiana: Indeed law, soe they are sweet men and of a holsome savour, especially that sweet gentleman Mr.Tantoblin, and I don’t thinke but he is a great Lawyer and honest, for he makes noe distinction of causes betweene rich and poore.
Vanslotten: Pamphage, what victualls?
Pamphagus: Why, you shall have sheepes pottages, hoggs harslet,118 stewd oysters and –
Vanslotten: And butter.
Oyestus: Mr. Pamphage, an’t please your good worship to usher in the butter.
Vanslotten: Set now where you will, only you shall set by me (takes Grobiana). O Lord, how shee melts, just like new butter spread with a warme hand. Fall too, handes were made before knives,119 spred your butter, knifes are dangerous, are they not?
Oyestus: An’t please your worship, the law is a cut-throate, and will make on singe in forma pauperis.
Vanslotten: Tantoblin, cut up the pye.
Tantoblin: Soe I will, as soone as I have clensed my knife, there is a little of our trade120 upon it.
Grobianus: Noe matter, all goes the same way, and comes to the same againe, only seven yeares difference.121 Daughter, observe theire sweete behaviour, some slovenly asse would have rise from table to have whett his knive, when a shoe is the best.
Grobiana: Sir, his actions cannot be right set forth by any, except he should live like Diogenes122 all his life tyme in a tubb.
Oyestus: An’t please your worship, they keepe fish in a tubb at Warbro.123
Tantoblin: I drinke to thee, and I would have thee know, I love thee like pye.
Grobiana: O let those wordes disperce contentments through all my sences. How happie is that woman above others that enjoyes this man. – Ungartred give me your handkercher to put up a bitt for the catt.124 – Wood I might heare a song.
Tantoblin: I will singe on.
There was a Lady lov’d a hogge:
Hony quoth shee,
Wood thou lie with me to night?
Ugh, quoth he. Etc.
Ungartred: Here stuffe it full, that I may have some.
Vanslotten: gentlewoman, you doe not eat as if you had a stomacke, will you eat any of this? Tis not poyson, I give you noe worse then came out of my owne mouth.
Grobiana: Thankes, twill need the lesse chewinge, but I had rather it had come from Mr. Tantoblin.
Ursin: Grobiana, how doe you doe? Fall to, her’s moe second course. I hope your daughter had din’d, shee’s like to fast else, except she will feast her eyes with the beares and the jackanapes after dinner.
(Grobiana rises and exit.)
Vanslotten: Whats the matter, e’nt she well?
Ungartred: Nothinge, Sir, but a fitt that takes my mistress allwayes at long meales, I thinke it be called the wind collect.
Vanslotten: Cannot she have a pot brought her in,125 why did shee goe?
Oyestus: An’t please your good lordship, necessitie has noe lawe.
Vanslotten: Come, lett us rise too, and stretch, then sleepe, till supper tyme, that it may be knowne to all:
Eatinge and sleepinge are proper to the Grobians hall.
Is shitten came shites the beginninge of love?126 Why then, Tantoblin, thou art happye, Grobiana’s thyne, the proverbe gives thee. Besides I did observe at dinner what sheepes eyes shee cast at mee, and how she smiled at the noddinge of my head, and answered those eyes with two thinges which they say are cupids arrowes. Her eye’s the shaft, my pate the head.127 They thinke I have read nothinge, but when they shall see what rheames of paper I have turn’d o’re and o’re, they will say I have not liv’d in a browne studdie128 all my life tyme.
Tantoblin: My eares doe glowe, sure somebody talkes of me, my too is as good as an Almanicke and by his colours does betray events as well as by the rainebow.
(Grobiana runs and ketches him.)
Grobiana: And have I found my Pyramus,131 this nose more worth then all his labours.
Tantoblin: Now make my courtship.
Grobiana: O let me kisse those lipps, those Austrian lipps132 and true barbarian eyes, laugh on thy love, and shew they sweet teeth, which none but thy head or such a head hath. See how I swell, o ease mee, or the Tympany133 will burst mee, harke how my laces cracke.
Tantoblin: I, thys you all say, how many promisses and vowes in the like manner have I had! Yet they have proved unfaithfull. Noe, noe, Grobiana, Tantoblin is a bird, and owles are not catch’d with chaffe.
Grobiana: Tis true thou art an owle,
And I resemble all the fowle
Which fly unto thee with my soule.
Fly not away nor hate the day,
We flock about for love and not for prey.
Tantoblin: I was brought up at Athens, tis hard coxeinge of me. But, gentle-woman, I must confesse I much like your modest way of loves, it shewes your simplicitie and true heartednesse, as for the rest, I care not a fart: Thats true love which ariseth from the heart.
Grobiana: Then let us joyne, but first my friends consent must be ask’d, I am an Edire, tis dangerous stealinge of mee.
(She goes to kiss him.)
Tantoblin: Nay looke you; now you will prevaile, if you will needes then take my nose a side, and there abouts you shall finde lipps.
Grobiana: I am glew’d to u’m.
Tantoblin: My mouth waters now.
Grobiana: I will be contracted presently.
Tantoblin: Noe, sweetinge, noe, I deale in open arces,134 I am noe medler in contracts. But Ile have another way of courtinge by silence, marke how I will doe that.
Ursin: Did you ever see such a foole? Hee’s in love Ile lay my life on’t, but Grobiana is bestowed allready, my thoughts of her have made her cocksure.135 Hee has noe good parts in him to be taken notice off, and were it not for his perfumes, beleeve mee, hee were not a gentleman. Grobiana has a choyce nose, shee would not let it bee in his bosome so long else. Ile try if shee loves the smell of a beare.
Grobiana: Mr Tantoblin, your are modestie itself.
Ursin: I had best stay and heare the complement.
Grobiana: What a soft hand you have got, ‘tis as soft as pap, sure there is somethinge in it.
Tantoblin: Hum, hum.
Ursin: Shee’le be so deepe in love shee’le prevent my plott.
Grobiana: Sure you are not well, when shall we be married?
Ursin: A match, she talkes of marriage allready. I will accost her. How dost thou my honycome punch?136 I have observ’d tonder cockscom, hee has not spake on wisee word, he has neither talke manners nor behaviour.
Grobiana: You speak strangely of Mr. Tantoblin, tis a poynt of wisdome to speake nothinge, and he hath said so much to mee.
Ursin: Heare, will you see some sport to day? Nan Stiles137 is to be baited by Rose and Tearethecoat.
Grobiana: Why doe you call your beare Nan? You talk of manners, sure her name is Annue, I can’t endue you should nickname any shee.
Ursin: I hope you take noe distast, for I meane nothing but love.
Grobiana: But such rudeness is not to be suffered, a man of your profession, a proper man, and one of whom the whole citie talke of.
Ursin: She begins to commend me, I could burst into explanation, and leave this rhetorique, I am in love Grobiana.
Grobiana: With whom?
Ursin: With you. Thou art my Dianyra, I and my beares will make up a Hercules,138 canst thou love me? Nay, you must not deny good baggpuddinge.139 If you doe my request but once denye, I cannot live, and therefore I will dye. Ile try, if poetry can worke upon her.
Grobiana: I wonder you’ld trouble yourself with such a course piece as I am.
Ursin: O say not course, youl’d make me soe indeed,
My stomacke’s queasy, and my heart doth bleed.
Grobiana: You may leave of your courtinge, for Grobiana loves noebody but Tantoblin.
Ursin: On kisse.
Grobiana: Nay, fy you touse140 my cloathes.
Ursin: I must.
Grobiana: Ile call Tantoblin, Tantoblin.
(He comes with his staff and knocks him downe.)
Tantoblin: You saucy bearhead. (Exit.)
Ursin: Murder, murder.
Enter Pamphagus, Lorell, Oyestus.
All: Why, whats the matter?
Pamphagus: What? Mr. Ursin in a sound?141 Lend your helpinge hands, somebody fetch a bucket of water, pinch, helpe.
Oyestus: An’t like your worship, Ile fetch a flient.
Lorrell: I, that will make him fart fine. Slife, his gutts are in his breeches, feele, he is broken bellied. I know they are his gutts, they are like his heart. Tender, good man.
Oyestus: What will the poore beares doe now? They fatherlesse and motherlesse, they will be fetch’dover with a habeas corpus.
Pamphagus: He waggs, there’s life in him.
Ursin: Where am I? O Tantoblin, Tantoblin, thou stinkeinge rogue, he has knockd me o#th head and broke my gutts out, I thinke. Zounds142 all to be shitt, as god judge me, all be to shitt, shirt and all. I have been in a company of hellhounds, since I was dead, whose hands are worse than Tantoblins.
Oyestus: An’t please your worship, Ile goe to Mr. Tantoblins house and fetch some warme thinge.
Ursin: Had I beene dead, I should have beene carried to church on a beare. My stomacke is ill at ease, I will goe in and have a caudle.
Oyestus: Softly, softly, softly.
Enter Grobiana sicke, Ungartred holdinge her head.
Grobiana: O, o, my head, hold harder, wench, my braines will fly in pieces else.
Ungartred: Marrie, god forbid, I had rather be in Randalls maides case,143 then such ill lucke should happen. Ile ty your noddle144 with my garter ay me, I hadn’t don’d u’m to day. But I’le clutch soundly with my hand. How doe you now?
Grobiana: I feele some virtue from thy fist, and I am very sensible of it.
Ungartred: Nay, though I say it, here’s a hand for a midwife. I could close a childes head stoutly, it should ne’re quake agen, I warrant.
Grobiana: O, o, Ungartred, now is it past into another place, my heart has a whirlewinde in’t, o, o, now it is gon downeward.
Ungartred: Bend your body and let it out, soe, soe it is gone, farewell it, they are but tenants at will,145 and may be turn’d out, when you list.
Grobiana: Thanke ye, I shall never see Tantoblin againe with these eyes, to see him come to close u’m146 thats enough for Grobiana, thats happinesse too much.
Ungartred: Did he but heare your groaneinges, he could not chuse but sympathize and doe the same. I have not read of a griefe so stronge on a sodaine raisd.
Grobiana: Had you seene Tantoblin, how he laid about for my sake.
Ungartred: Nay, Mars with a close stoole upon his head147 is not more terrible.
Grobiana: O my crupper148 akes to thinke what a swoop he gave Ursin but for on kisse.
Enter Grobianus, Oyestus.
Grobianus: My daughter ill, better humanitie were dead, all law manners. Grobiana, ha – speake, or old Grobian sleepes, ha – does shee sleepe? If she be soe, then let me heare her snore, shee was wont to call my swine togeather with that noise. Ungartred, wheres the desease fall, where doth it paine her?
Ungartred: It lay in her crupper last.
Grobianus: There, yes, yes, it is hereditall, my grandsires grandsire got it at the play of a match at football with on cradock,149 if you heard on’t, and since it continued in his posterioritye,150 and thus it takes mee sometymes.
Oyestus: I have heard your worship expresse some signes of griefe at the stoole.151
Grobianus: Did you not call for some reliefe?
Ungartred: Yes, yes, Tantoblin is still in her mouth, tis hee must be the plaster for her maladies. I have done all a woman can. She hath had brothes and cullises152 of all sorts, some made of [ ], others of dishclouts sod in u’m for corroboration, but all her delight is in puppie dogge pottage,153 that shee as if shee were playinge with the creature.
Oyestus: Is it possible? An’t like your honour, Ile kill a ketlinge for her, the broath154 will serve for julipp, if it be sodd with water cresses, which I will gather as I doe flinte.
(Grobiana stretches and yawnes.)
Did your highnes marke what a yawne shee gave, truely beyond my stretch, when I hold your worships candlestickes in a play night.155
Grobianus: I know her meaninge by her gapeinge.
Oyestus: Truly her Ladiship hath a goodly wide mouth.
(Ungartred blowes out the candle.)
Grobianus: Blow it out, and hold to her nose. There’s nothinge soe good, they say, to revive an old Grobian as this smell. Feathers are nothinge to it, a turd new laid is better then most receipts,156 but that is rare.
Oyestus: Upon occasion, I thinke, I could helpe you to on, my wife keepes on conserv’d.
Grobiana: Where am I?
Oyestus: Shee speakes uppon my conscience, Sir.
Grobianus: My daughter yet alive, and art not quite extinguish’d?
Grobiana: Some ravishinge odor has reviv’d mee.
Grobianus: I told you it would fetch her, it is the discordium157 of our family, beyond harts horne, or bezar stone, or patable gold.158 Thankes heav’n for this snuff of life. Let us your coat and cap, Oyestus, to keepe her new life warme.
Oyestus: Without offence spoken, I could make a poore jest, were it not unseasonable.
Ungartred: Never, never, foole amonge the Grobians, lets heare it.
Oyestus: Good gentlewoman, I doe not heare his worship speake it.
Grobianus: Nay, you are too modest now.
Oyestus: Cum causa.
Ungartred: Nay, your jest.
Oyestus: Intruth, I thought, an’t like your Lordship, when first her Ladiship put on my coat and cap, shee look’d (I shall not offend, I hope) like, I pray pardon, an Oyestus wife.159
Grobianus: Come, daughter, in spight of all hobgoblins.
To morrow night thou shallt enoy Tantoblins.
Manet Oyestus, Ungartred.
Ungartred: I doe think this officious creature may doe a longeinge creatyre a good curtsye. Oyestus, have nothinge for Ungartred?
Oyestus: Indeed all my flinte are disperc’d, but when I come again, Ile bringe stones of all sizes.
Ungartred: Prethee, talke not of thy flint stones. Try, thou shallt finde good ground of mee.
Oyestus: Cum causa, if you were plowd up. But wives and law must first be served to supper, which is beinge understood that [I] am married, and soe there doth some inconvenience arise, or I durst try you oyes otherwise.
Ungartred: What’s that to a maid?
Oyestus: Why that’s three,
Which is the maidens fee.
But if you were more ravenous then a steeple,
After Oyes may enter in all people.
Ungartred: This is the understandingst cockscombe.160
Oyestus: I think you[r] Ladiship be silent.
Ungartred: Now will I make him make leggs161 sauns number.
Oyestus, you’le dine with us to morrow?
(He makes leggs all the while.)
Youle carry a dish at the weddinge?
Nay, prethee, why this to me your fellow servant?
Hee is good for nothinge but to carry flints or eggs,
Or cryeinge oyes, or for makeinge leggs.
Enter Vanslotten, Tantoblin, Ursin etc.
Vanslotten: What’s the matter?
Ursin: Sir, the case is plaine, I have been wrongd by Tantoblin, my head was wrongd, my sides were wrongd, my breeches were wrongd, all to be wrongd, as God judge mee, I’ve witnesse on’t.
Oyestus: An’t like your worship, it was percussio.
Vanslotten: Hum, was it percussio saist thou, I doe not rightly understand the word, but I smell he wrongd, a foule fault, Ile be sworne, it cannot be Tantoblin. Why, where is Tantoblin?
Oyestus: If he had beene a beare, he would have bit you, I speake cum ratione.
Vanslotten: I am an officer, all the world knowes it, and have been ever since. I have had my sence, a man of uprightnesse. Justice can doe nothing without my scale,162 and, beleeve it, she thrives by it, she was a leane judge, shee wanted fatt bitts, but now shee’s a plump rogue, beleeve it. Enormities ought not to be swallowed up. Tantoblin hath wrongd Ursin, and Ursin hath suffered an injury by Tantoblin. I cannot sodainly decide the matter. What was the cause?
Oyestus: I, now you speake judiciously, causa sua.
Ursin: A salutation betweene I and Grobiana made this disturbance.
Vanslotten: How, what, you bearhead salute Grobiana? Intollerable! My memory is shallow, Oyestus, write it downe, Ursin saluted Grobiana.
Oyestus: An’t like your worship, qua formula?
Vanslotten: Trouble not my more serious meditations, you conceive me.
Oyestus: Soe, omnia bene.
Vanslotten: But now to the matter, for as I conceive, we have not yet spoke anythinge to the purpose.
Ursin: Why, sir?
Vanslotten: Nay let Tantoblin speake, the wiser man of the two, I know by his longe silence.
Tantoblin: Sir, the cas is thus. To tell you true I tooke him a polt of the pate and a good on, beleeve it, for I tooke [him] a slubberinge of my Grobiana, but I nubb’d his noddle to the purpose.
Vanslotten: Why, so then, Ursin, what needed you have this stirre, here he has confessed it, this is ample satisfaction, are you content?
Ursin: If you thinke fitt, I am. But there was sombody or other which strucke me such a blowe on the face with a flint, that it made my eye sparkle.
Oyestus: O tace, peace in the bellfrie.
Vanslotten: Let that passe, a blow, twas nothinge as longe as twas noe where but on the face. I could not blame Tantoblin much. Grobiana was betrothed his owne, and could not endure any finger should be in the buisnesse but his owne. I am to be at the solemnitie of the nuptials, so shall you. Laugh upon there and be friendes.
Ursin: I am sorry I have not taught my beare to dance, but I myself will grace Tantoblin with his bride.
Vanslotten: Why, soe alls well that ends well. Come letts walke to the nuptialls, there make friendes and drinke cupps to you all.
Tantoblin: Now that’s decreed who shall have the faire Grobiana, lett’s admitt the candidates that stood to be free of this our grobian hall.
Oyestus: An’t please your worship, the law will have u’m bound, and wait attendance in the great hall.
Tantoblin: They have all our voices, lett u’m be sworne.
Ursin: Pamphage, give them their oath.
Oyestus: Ist your worship pleasure they should hold up their handes?
Pamphagus: You must sweare never to buy a suit but at Longe lane,163 and that on of our fashion, its noe matter though it be lac’d like a footman,164 never to weare stockins, but when they are ruffed like a pigeon, nor gloves, till they have beene twice dippt in a dripping panne,165 nor shoes, till the phisitian hath given them ore to a dunghill; you shall sweare allsoe never to eat beefe, till the salt be alive in’t, nor any meat till on saviour has put out another, soe kisse the butter, and grease yourselves into our companie.
Ambo: We doe.
(Here they all thump u’m and cry welcome.)
Grobiana: When shall we goe to church? Ungartred, go you and looke out on of the fairest dishclouts166 to binde my heire in, and let there bee a posset167 made, and put some grease in’t, not amber, and see there bee noe cleane sheets laid on the bedd, lest we should gett could.
Ungartred: I will.
Tantoblin: Come letts goe and presently bee married and then to dinner, where you shall [have] cake and wine by whole tubfulls.
I hope you will come without biddinge.
At night you know, where I doe keepe my wedding.
(Exeunt omnes praeter Grobianus.)
O now tis right, I have matcht my daughter to my minde,
Yet somewhat is left for me that am behinde:
Not to begge applause or desire your handes
To joyne these jolly lovers in new bandes,
But to tell you true, because I begunne,
You may goe away, the play is done.
We would like to thank Janine Barrett, Perry Mills, and Meg Twycross for their help in preparing this edition.
The play was first performed at St John’s College and may be dated to 1637 on the evidence of a letter of 16 January that year: the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Richard Baylie, who was also President of St John’s, wrote to William Laud, the University Chancellor and notable St John’s alumnus, as follows:
Young Charles May presented us with a mock-shew on Saturday last, ye subject was slovenrie it selfe, ye marriage of Grobian’s daughter to Tantoblin; but ye cariadg and acting soe hansom and cleane, that I was not better pleased with a merriment these many yeares. (REED: Oxford, p. 556)
This letter appears therefore to be the work of Charles May, and not, as previously claimed, Roger Shipman and William Taylor: all of these were undergraduates at St John’s.
Grobiana’s Nuptials, in Grobianus in England. Ed. Ernst Rühl. (Berlin:Mayer and Müller, 1904).
‘Fart for Fart’s Sake: Fooling through the Body in Grobiana’s Nuptials, Elisabeth Dutton and James McBain, Theta XII, Théâtre Tudor (2016) 149-70.
Ms 30, Bodleiana, Oxford:
MS Bodley 30 seems to have begun life as the presentation copy of a Latin play, Physiponomachia (c. 1609-11), written by Christopher Wren and given to the President of St John’s, John Buckeridge, as part of an apparent tradition at the college. Pysiponomachia is a carefully spaced and neat Latin text: Grobiana’s Nuptials is in much more chaotically written English and occupies the second section of the manuscript. For further details of the manuscript, Christopher Wren, Physiponomachia, ed. Hans-Jürgen Weckermann (Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1981) p. 23.
Within a prologue a prologue:
This rather cryptic heading, and Grobianus’s opening lines, indicate some play on convention here. The prologue was generally associated with the first performance of a new play, and his role was to encourage the audience’s appreciation of the production on which subsequent performance would depend. Grobian’s assertion that he would not have appeared had there been a prologue perhaps suggests that there is no aspiration to a second performance. For an occasional play such as this, something akin to a student Christmas pantomime, there would be no expectation of a second performance, but perhaps the playwright is humorously also suggesting that the play does not warrant any such aspiration or justification. On prologues see Douglas Bruster and Robert Weimann, Prologues to Shakespeare’s Theatre (London: Routledge, 2004) 1-2, and Tiffany Stern, Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (Cambridge: CUP, 2009) 81-119.
Middle High German adjective “grob”, “uneducated” and “unrefined”, is the root of the word “Grobian”, which appears in 1482 in Zeninger’s Vocabularius teutonicus as the German translation of the Latin “rusticus”, and “Grobian” is still used in German to describe a boorish, rude or simple person, and as a synonym for “peasant”. In 1494 Sebastian Brant’s Narrrenschiff introduced Saint Grobian as a popular new saint for the order of drunkards and gluttons.
Timon of Athens is a historical figure who lived during the Peloponnesian War. The reference here might suggest Charles May’s awareness of Shakespeare’s play Timon of Athens, written ?1605-6, in which the portrayal of the protagonist seems to have been influenced by the sceptical philosophy and biter satirical wit of Timon of Phlius. Banquets feature prominently in Shakespeare’s play, as in May’s.
Coxe-combe in a cloke:
A cock’s comb was traditionally worn by a fool. A long cloak was the traditional attire of the Prologue, who would bow to the audience and speak in verse, asking applause, in the way here parodied by Grobianus. Sir Tottipate is a fictionalised member of the audience, one of the aristocratic men whom actors might seek to make a patron.
scrape his lease of leggs:
A reference to the Prologue’s habit of bowing repeatedly.
asparagus was a delicacy also valued for its medicinal properties – it was known to be diuretic, and was also sometimes considered an aphrodisiac. It was also known to cause odour in urine. Its name in English comes from medieval Latin sparagus and refers to its sprouting: it was often corrupted to ‘sparrow grass’, which is the name Samuel Pepys gives it, for example.
The common weal, or commonwealth, refers to public welfare or the general good, which in Latin is res public – hence the term can be used interchangeably with ‘republic’ in early modern English. It is an important term in political philosophy from Plato onwards, and is promoted by the humanist philosophers, notably Thomas More in his Utopia.
longe bellies, short skirts, codpeese, canonical round knees
References to outmoded fashion which, if worn, might make the Grobians objects of derision. Codpieces, for example, were popular in the 15th and 16th centuries, but were already mocked by Rabelais in his 1530s Gargantua and Pantagruel.
remember the salute a weeke after:
Grobianus here seems to suggest that when Grobians ‘bow’ in salutation they knock heads: a Grobian greeting is a ‘Glasgow kiss’.
ploddalls: plodders, dutiful but slow learners
his marke is as true as Peters thumbe on a Haddocke:
Saint Peter was a fisherman and the keeper of the books of account in which people’s actions are recorded for the Last Judgment. Grobianus here tells us that Grobian scholars leave greasy thumbprints all over books that they read.
The term referred from the 14th c. on to a freedman or emancipated slave; by the middle of the 16th c. it was used for a freethinker, and applied to certain Protestant sects in France and the Netherlands; by the end of the 16th c. it could be used for a licentious person who freely indulged his lusts.
a reference to Jesus and his disciples, who are traditionally protrayed with long hair
dun at your backes:
to ‘dun’ was to make insistent demands, and as a noun the word means an importunate creditor, or an agent employed to collect debts
A sallet is helmet; from French ‘salade’ which was based on Latin caelare, ‘engrave’: it is perhaps here deliberately confused with ‘salad’ which derived, also via French, from Latin sal, ‘salt’. Both terms, ‘sallet’ and ‘salad’, passed into Middle English.
from French, ‘quelque chose’, a term for a fanciful foreign dish.
bruise of divinite:
bruise is here a variant spelling for ‘brewes’, a broth or liquor in whcih beef and vegetables have been boiled, sometimes thickened with bread or meal.
I seeke out a sonne in lawe:
Grobianus here establishes the premise of the play’s plot, such as it is: an old man seeks to marry off his only daughter.
The name of Pamphagus, which means “Eating Everything”, also evokes Acolastus, since it is the name of one of that play’s main parasites. The allusion to Acolastus in Grobiana’s Nuptials, and to the pan-European tradition of Christian Terence, may give a clue as to May’s project in Grobiana’s Nuptials.
Lorrell’s name recalls the laurels used to crown the greatest playwrights ‘laureate’; the parallel between cooking and writing poetry is made explicit at line 120, where Pamphagus tells Lorrell he has deserved the ‘bays’, or laurel leaves.
Oyestus’ name puns on ‘oysters’, a foodstuff featuring prominently in the play, which also features a reference to an ‘oyster wife’, or prostitute. The name also refers to a public function, not merely that of town crier (he practises “oyes” for attention [l. 127]), but also, thanks to a play on “oyer and terminer”, the practice of a local court being empowered to hear and decide cases, as happens in the play.
The precise nature of the institutions in the play – the feast day, the Court – is unarticulated, but the Grobian community resembles an Oxford College with its communal dining; the University of Oxford also had its own system of law enforcement. The vulgarities of the Grobian feast also allude to the tradition of the Peasant Wedding, a popular theme in 16th and 17th c art: see Paul Vandenbroeck, “Verbeeck’s Peasant Weddings: A Study of Iconography and Social Function”, Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, Vol. 14, No. 2 (1984), pp. 79- 124
Since Pamphagus seems to refer to ‘men for cleansing’, it is not obvious why he refers here to housewifes, by definition female. The spelling ‘huswife’ may indicate an allusion to the term ‘hussy’ which comes from ‘housewife’, originally ‘huswife’: Johnson’s Dictionary notes that “It is common to use housewife in a good, and huswife or hussy in a bad sense”, so possibly this distinction, though noted later, was already beginning at the time of the writing of Grobiana’s Nuptials.
meat for roasting, most often, in English, boar’s flesh; also meaning ‘muscle’.
let the possessed feed uppon meate that possessed hath beene:
Pamphagus suggests that the guests should eat pig (hoggsflesh) since they are pigs themselves, and then refers to Christ’s miraculous healing of the possessed man, Legion: when the evil spirits are cast out of Legion Christ allows them to enter a herd of pigs, which then rush into a lake and drown. (Luke 8: 26-33)
backe puddings: Possibly a confusion, whether deliberate or intentional, with ‘black pudding’.
Oyestus: Crye you mercy …. :
Oyestus here speaks in verse, perhaps in imitation of the practice of the town crier to which he here refers.
An officer of the court who makes public proclamations: possibly here, since Oyestus is a ‘lamentable’ crier, the word also puns on ‘cry’ meaning ‘to weep’.
flyinge puddinge: Lorrell’s culinary masterpiece was, as he here explains, simply a pudding that he accidentally dropped into a tub of feathers, and which was subsequently mistaken for a bird.
apes: Lorrell’s fellow cooks are ‘apes’ because they imitate him: the ape was also traditionally seen as an ugly, dirty animal, and even equated with the devil.
goose: a gentle insult, for a foolish person.
a cold haveinge glandered him: Lorrell explains that Oyestus re-dressed the stewed oysters that had been dropped using his snot.
any thinge about him could content your Lordship.: Oyestus here presents himself very subserviently as ‘your worships poore Crier’ who is delighted that he can please his master with any aspect of his person of object on his person. That the ‘thing’ in question is his snot makes the speech parodic.
My Simon Slouch: This guest is clearly marked as Grobian by his laziness and poor posture.
cullises: a cullis is a strong, clear broth with meat, often given to invalids.
scull: Short for scullion, the lowest worker in the kitchen, whose job included the most menial tasks.
blacke guard: The term, like scullion, means a lowly kitchen worker: it possibly referred to the sooty appearance of workers who turned a spit over the fire. Its degraded meaning ‘scoundrel’ seems to be 18th century, and so probably the reference here is to lowly and dirty workers rather than the morally corrupt.
jewrye: Although the spelling might suggest a reference to Jews, the context seems to imply instead ‘jury’ — Lorrell suggests that the lowliest kitchen worker should be appointed to judge his work. Or perhaps this is a nouning of the adjective ‘jury’ meaning ‘temporary’: derived from French ajurie, ‘help’ or ‘relief’, this sailors’ slang was used in phrases like ‘jury leg’, meaning a wooden leg’: here this would imply that the scullions would be needed to support or perhaps temporarily replace Lorrell.
St George’s Apple squiers: Kept gallant, or the male servant of a prostitute. See James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, A Dictionary of archaic and provincial words, obselete phrases, proverbd and ancient customes from the fourteenth century (1887) which cites this instance and examples from Middleton and Beaumont and Fletcher, among others.
the cuttinge of Potthearbes:
Possibly Lorrell suggests that, by cooking a sheep’s stomach, he is saving time and money on buying and chopping herbs since the stomach will already include grass chewed into small pieces by the sheep.
The bay leaves that were used to crown the best poet, also known as the ‘poet laureate’ because bay leaves are a type of laurel; typically associated with Dante who is always portrayed wearing a laurel wreath. Pamphagus tells Lorrell he is the finest cook: by likening his cooking to poetry he creates an – in this context comically inappropriate – connection between the ‘art’ of cooking and that art of poetry.
Animal bladders were inflated as a bouyancy aids for novice swimmers.
read it out:
The (mis)reading of a scroll listing invitees to a feast seems to be a stock joke of the early modern theatre: see Peter in Romeo and Juliet.
‘Oyez, oyez’ (‘hear ye’) was the shout with which a crier prefaced his public proclamations.
Grouthead was a synonym for dunce.
This invitee is perhaps marked as Grobiana by her damp and moldy smell.
Mr Deawbeater is from Houndsditch, apparently a location with an established Jewish population. Its meaning here is unclear: is it inherently amusing to have a character whose occupation is beating Jews be seen as similar to one who slouches or one who smells a bit fusty? Is anti-semitism seen to be a folly, or is that being too optimistic and/or anachronistic?
Lotium is the term for a urine sample supplied for medical purposes.
The term implies a stupid or boring man.
The Mulberry was associated with stupidity because of its Latin name, morus: as a loanword from Greek morus also means ‘a fool’.
Old Thump’s name suggests a blunt physicality akin to Peter Thump in Henry VI, Part Two – or indeed “Hunch” within this text, albeit the joke is more effective here, if we anticipate that a lawyer and apprentice might behave differently.
The Mayor and Aldermen of Gotham with the Towne Clarke:
Together with the more Cratylic names of fools, the civic dignitaries from Gotham presumably refer to the “fools of Gotham”, mentioned in the Towneley Plays (12/260) and known equally often as the “wise men of Gotham”. The legend goes that Gotham folk pretended madness, which was a malady thought to be contagious, to dissuade King John from travelling through the village and thereby rendering the road a public right of way. This particular reference, to the feigning of madness that ironically demonstrates wisdom, can usefully be adapted to describe how the play performs bad behavior in order to prove scholarly virtue.
The phrase here seems to mean that the men of the Grobian court are taking their seats.
Court of assistants of Grobians:
The Grobian court appears to be some sort of parody of a legal court, or possibly some legislative body of the University of Oxford.
The name of Vanslotten, the presiding “judge” is difficult to trace. In Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller, a “gobbledegook” passage of Dutch from the Wittenberg leg of the tour includes the line, “Vanhotten, slotten, irk bloshen” (p. 247), which might have been in the author’s mind. This is obviously highly speculative, but it might be significant that the passage includes some jokes about oysters and also a pointed reference to Acolastus, the hugely successful prodigal play and archetype of Christian Terence drama.
makeing of a pound of Candles:
Vanslotten’s trade is chaundler: the profession was associated with bad smells, from the animal fat, ‘tallow’, used for candlewax, and from the sulphur used to make wicks flammable. The playwright makes repeated reference to these smells in the play.
The name of Tantoblin, the romantic lead, means both a small tartlet and a piece of excrement (OED, s.v. “tantadlin”)
my wardens plow…:
Tantoblin mentions ‘public’ activities that have been delayed by the performance of private ones: ploughing and the affairs of Court.
the empting of Sir Epikures jakes:
Sir Epikure’s name refers to the Epicurean philosophy that pleasure was the highest good: the term came to refer however simply to those who lived over-indulgently. Ben Jonson’s Alchemist features Sir Epicure Mammon. Jakes was a slang word for toilet; Tantoblin’s profession appears to be emptying toilets, which perhaps explains both his smell, as commented upon by Ungartered, and the long pole that he carries.
Ursin, as his name implies, is a bear-keeper.
a baytinge day:
Ursin keeps his bears for ‘baiting’, a blood-sport in which bears were pitted against each other or other animals such as bulldogs.
businesse is senior to complement:
Tantoblin appears to assert that business must come before pleasantries.
newyeares gifs…. Christmas candles:
Vanslotten’s concern about gift-giving seems to be motivated by laziness, since when candles are the gifts given he has to make more.
the great Mogulls barbadoes:
The term ‘great Mogul’ could refer to any of the Moslem Emperors of India: their ‘barbadoes’ are their beards.
the insence proper the buriall:
The sulphorous smell when a candle goes out naturally is the odour appropriate to a candle’s ‘death’, as incense is appropriate to a funeral.
Small posies of sweet-smelling flowers that were thought to protect against disease: it was thought that inhaling bad odours could cause illness.
St Catherine of Alexandria was tortured on a large wheel, which was smashed through divine intervention; Catherine was then beheaded. In iconography a broken wheel appears beside the saint.
Green vitriol, or earth impregnated with this vitriol. Green vitriol is iron sulphate, used historically in the manufacture of inks and wool dye. Although medically useful to prevent anemia, ingestion can lead to constipation.
the bitter, caustic quality of green vitiol makes it unlikely that it would be an ingredient in a delicious cake.
turneinge against a wall:
The sweet natured gentleman appears to be urinating against the wall.
Presumably refers to a hierarchical order of seating, or a seating plan, at a feast.
Author. This speech perhaps represents a self-referential joke about Charles May himself, who as the author of the play has been given access to the College’s store of books, ostensibly for reference or to supply paper for writing on; he has actually used the paper from the books as toilet paper, and as a result there is no paper available with which to line tins for pie-making (paper to put under pyes). The books so used are domestic – accounts, recipes – rather than more academic volumes, and this speech may provide insight into actual contemporary recycling practices. It also provides suggestive connections between the work of the Author and the work of College Officers in bringing people together at a feast, and indeed between writing and defecating.
Repeated references to honey in the play indicate a belief in its laxative effects or ‘operation’.
Possibly a reference to the Jesuit Father Ployden (Plowden) who appears in an engraving of ‘Priests of the Church of Rome’ by an unknown artist, 1620s, now in the National Portrait Gallery.
Possibly in the sense of religious father, ie a priest to marry them, or possibly simply the father to agree the match between Mr Ployden and the sow.
Bamberry hott cockles:
‘Hot cockles’ was a party game, that involved one blind-folded player laying his head in the lap of another, seated, player, while the others involved in the game hit him from behind, and he had to guess who gave the blows. The game had flirtatious, erotic potential and was the subject of Puritan protest: a few years after Grobiana’s Nuptials was performed, in 1650, Reformers complained of young people playing the game in Banbury (see Bernard Capp, England’s Culture Wars: Puritan Reformation and its Enemies in the Interregnum (Oxford: OUP, 2012. p.23)
Football was a rough game with few rules, famous for causing injuries: it was banned by St John’s College, Oxford, in 1555, and subsequently by other Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge. However, Oliver Cromwell was celebrated as one of the chief footballers while at Cambridge.
The sound of the bagpipes here seems to signal of the beginning of a bear-baiting.
slatter de pouch:
The OED records ‘slatter-pouch’ as a sweaty dance or game c.1600: the reference here recalls ‘clapper-de-pouch’, the name of a game alluding to copulation — see Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature (London: Athlone Press, 1994. p.247)
The meaning of ‘cockledemoy’ is obscure, but the word seems to refer a shell used as a form of payment; it is associated in early modern literature with prostitutes and perhaps syphilis: ‘cockle’ often refers to the buttocks, and the image of the shell is also used for both male and female genitals. (see Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Imagery, p.265).
a Lordmaiors pageant with men underneath me:
Civic festivities could involve pageants with platforms or canopies displaying statues carried through the streets by teams of men. Here Grobiana’s comment may imply at one level that she is as beautiful as a painted statue, but the image most immediately brought to the audience’s mind is one of something huge and ungainly; there is also of course sexual innuendo in ‘men underneath me’.
Ungartered says that she could smell Grobiana’s breath three floors away.
leadinge apes in hell:
The traditional fate of virgins – see Beatrice in Much Ado, Act II scene 1
Ungartered suggests that Grobiana’s tastes are naive and youthful.
beyond all wench:
Grobiana claims that her deportment is superior to all women’s, but there is perhaps also here a joke about the fact that, as she is played by a young man, her bearing is indeed not feminine.
scoole of complement:
‘School’ can refer to a place of education but also, from the early 17th century onwards, to a group of people sharing principles and methods (see Online Etymological Dictionary). Grobiana’s phrase recalls the title of a number of instructional conduct books such as Francis Seager’s, The School of Virtue (1577), and the translation, by ‘R.F. gent’, of Dedekind’s Grobianus et Grobiana, a probably source for Grobiana’s Nuptials. The translation’s title is satirical: The Schoole of Slovenrie Or Cato Turnd Wrong Side Outward. Translated out of Latine into English verse to the use of all English Christendome, except Court and Cittie.
make you a lady:
A reference to high social status, but also a knowing joke about the fact that the young man playing the role is in no sense a lady.
A local officer.
To ‘cut a caper’ is to dance about in a lively manner, but here Ungartered puns on ‘cutting’ as being the job of a tailor preparing fabric for sewing.
Faire Rosamond and Jane Shore:
‘Fair Rosamund’ was the mistress of Henry II; a ballad of her life was published in 1612 in a collection of Songs and Sonnets of Kings, Princes, Dukes, Lordes, Ladyes, Knights and Gentlemen etc, by Thomas Delone. Jane Shore was the mistress of Edward IV. Both royal mistresses were known for their great beauty.
smelt soe strangely:
Ungartered talks here of Tantoblin, whose occupation, clearing out sewers, ensures he has an unusual smell.
An exclamation, meaning obscure. ‘liggins’ is a dialet word meaning ‘lyings’, as in ‘lying in’ when sick.
pole upon his shoulder:
The tool of Tantoblin’s trade.
walke in the backside:
Literally to enter the house through the back – perhaps tradesman’s – door; also of course sexually suggestive.
The mullet is a fish that has been a food source since Roman times.
Mid 16th c, in sense of ‘fragments’, from the obsolete ‘gobbon’, meaning piece or mouthful, slice or gob, from Old French — possibly related to ‘gobbet’. Here it seems to mean a dish of broken up pieces of food, probably fish.
‘Benevolence’, or a benevolent uttterance.
Mr Cob’s name could refer to the central cylinder of the maize ear, a round loaf of bread, a strong, short-legged horse, a male swan or a round lump of coal: the impression, overall, is of a strong but squat man. Additionally, in the early seventeenth-century the term came to be used for a mixture of compressed clay and straw used to build walls, and it is perhaps this meaning that underlies the conversation about his beard that follows: it is full of crumbs.
met with my father:
To ask for Grobiana’s hand in marriage.
he could not avoid it:
With a pun on ‘void’ meaning ’empty out’ — the fart was ‘a voiding’.
picked, sqard, or howe:
Grobiana asks about the shape of Mr Cob’s beard, whether it is pointed or square.
handkerchief, here for wrapping up some food from the feast in a ‘doggy bag’ for Grobiana to bring home for Ungartered.
new coate… badge:
These two items would form a livery indicating that Oyestus had won employment in the household of Grobianus.
Jobernole is to be found in Marston’s book of satires, The Scourge of Villanie, where he writes: “Shall brainles Cyterne-heads, each iubernole / Poket the very Genius of thy soule?” (“In Lectores prorsus indignos”, ll. 25-26). In his edition, Davenport glosses the word as “Jobbernowl: a blockish or stupid head, a blockhead” (p. 261) and so it is quite possibly a contemporaneous term for a fool and perhaps also an acute intertextual reference.
Beard-herd, or bearkeeper.
Here apparently meaning to ingratiate oneself.
A barrel for beer.
breech’d like a gunne:
The breech is the back part of the gun; breeches are a garment like trousers, and by extension refer to the part of the body covered by breeches, the posterior.
A puritan is a follower of a strict form of Protestantism that teaches simple, austere lifestyle: Ungartered, we learn, lived with a puritan but was sent away because she blew her nose while he was praying the grace.
cryes Kitchinge stuffe through the nose:
Ungartered’s weeping causes her nose to run, and her snot is likened to kitchen waste.
Ursin says that Grobiana deserves the socially superior title ‘Lady’ on account her beauty, though of course beauty cannot confer a social title and again there is probably a joke about the fact that the young male actor playing the role can never be a lady.
Grobianus explains that the men present at the feast are exemplary patterns of moral behaviour, though the term refers to the proper behaviour of an individual in society, to manners, rather than to more inward, personal principles as in modern English.
Possibly an anti-semitic reference, since Jews were associated with usury.
A woollen fabric with a long, usually uncut, nap: the effect might have been rather scruffy.
The name given to musk, produced by the glands of the animal also called civet and used in perfumes.
A loaf of cooked minced pig’s offal, eaten cold.
hands were made before knives:
Vanslotten asserts that it is more natural to eat with one’s hands than with cutlery.
Tantoblin’s trade, as noticed about, seems to be emptying toilets – there are traces of this work on the knife with which he is about to cut the pie.
seven yeares difference:
Apparently the length of time Grobianus thinks it takes food to pass through the alimentary cycle.
A Greek thinker, one of the founders of Cynic philosophy, he renounced worldly possessions and reputedly lived in a large jar or a tub. Diogenes held that the artificial customs of a society were incompatible with human happiness, and he challenged ideas of good manners by eating in the market place and refusing to use utensils, by urinating and even masturbating in public.
keepe fish in a tubb at Warbro:
Oyestus apparently does not understand the reference to Diogenes living in a tub, or if he does he deliberately deflates the idea of this as the pointed choice of a philosopher.
put up a bitt for the catt:
Grobiana wraps food from the table to take home for the cat.
pot brought her in:
A chamber pot – Vanslotten seems to think there would be nothing strange in using a chamber pot in public, and indeed this may have been a fairly common practice. Though slightly later than Grobiana’s Nuptials, the bourdaloue was a small, discreet chamber pot resembling a gravy jug, often of painted porcelain, that was used by ladies in public places. It was apparently named after the Jesuit preacher Louis Bourdaloue (1632-1704), whose sermons were so long but also so gripping that ladies did not want to miss a word of them by leaving to relieve themselves, and so simply did so in the church.
Is shitten came shites the beginning of love?:
It is not clear exactly what this sentence means but it seems to refer to diarrhea as a symptom of love, and it has a proverbial ring.
Her eye’s the shaft, my pate the head:
The image of Cupid’s arrows as the cause of love is conventional, but the image here is developed in a bizarre and nonsensical manner.
The precise meaning is unclear, but in the context of Tantoblin’s apparent diarrhea, and the reference to his turning over paper that implies both reading books and using toilet paper, the colour brown has an unpleasantly scatalogical resonance.
hold this dart, hold thou this pole:
Cupid’s arrow and the pole that Tantoblin uses to unblock sewers are here confused.
As noted above, means ‘blockhead’: although it is also the name of a character in the play, Grobiana seems to refer her to Tantoblin: he certainly believes that she does so, as his next lines show.
A classical hero, famous for his strength. He was given Twelve Labours as a penance: these involved in some cases wrestling with wild animals.
Thick lower lip, often with a jutting jaw, also called ‘Habsburg jaw’ because of its association with the inbred European royal family that bore these features.
Distension of the abdomen with gas.
‘I deale in open arces, I am noe medler in contracts’:
Tantoblin appears obscenely to suggest that he has lots of free sex while avoiding marriage; his line plays on ‘meddling’ and the medlar fruit, commonly known as the ‘open-arse’.
As assured as a cock – the phrase was originally perfectly dignified, but given that the sense of ‘cock’ as meaning ‘penis’ was current from around 1610, it seems likely that Ursin’s line here would have also an obscene significance, particularly a it is applied to Grobiana – because of his thoughts of her she is cocksure.
‘Punch’ as a mixed drink with spirits, lemon juice, sweet sugars and spice is attested in the 1630s.
There was a famous bear of this name kept for bear-baiting in Shakespeare’s London.
There are two characters called Deianira in classical mythology: one was the second wife of Hercules, and she unwittingly killed him by putting a poisoned shirt on him; the other was an Amazon killed by Hercules. Neither bodes well for the relationship Ursin imagines for himself with Grobiana. The name means ‘man-destroyer’ or ‘destroyed or her husband.’
A sweet pudding boiled or steamed in a bag– perhaps Ursin’s description of himself, boiling with passion for Grobiana?
To make something disordered, as in ‘tousle’.
An oath, from ‘God’s wounds’.
Randalls maides case:
Lord Randall was the subject of a ballad from the Scottish border; he is poisoned by his lover.
tenants at will:
Ungartered characterizes Grobiana’s trapped wind as living inside her but under her control: she can expel it at will.
Close them – ie her eyes.
Mars with a close stoole upon his head:
Ungartered likens Tantoblin as he struck Ursin to the god of war: a close stoole is a chamber pot, perhaps here a substitute for the helmet Mars traditionally wears.
The buttocks, a term usually used for the rump of a horse.
Apparently most often a name, here with ‘on’ could mean ‘one Cradock’, ie a man named Cradock.
A conflation of ‘posterior’ and ‘posterity’.
at the stoole:
ie on the toilet.
Cullis or coulis: the juices the run out of meat when it is cooked, or a sauce or gravy made from these juices.
A thick soup or stew made with grains, vegetables and sometimes meat.
I hold your worships candlestickes in a play night:
I hold your worships candlestickes in a play night.
Recipes. Grobianus here outlines methods for reviving a Grobian including the sulphurous smell of an extinguished candle, feathers, and fresh excrement.
harts horne, or bezar stone, or patable gold:
A pun on ‘oyster wife’, a slang term for a prostitute.
A cock’s comb was traditionally worn by a fool
To bend the knees in a low bow.
A reference to the scales held by the personified figure of Justice in traditional iconography.
A street in Southwark.
lac’d like a footman:
A suit laced like a footman would be inappropriate to the rank of the Candidates: early modern society had strict rules about the nature of clothing appropriate to different ranks, and to flout these rules was to challenge the social order.
A pan of pig fat.
A hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale and spiced.