Narcissus

A TWELFE NIGHT MERRIMENT. 1

Anno 1602.

 

Enter the Porter at the end of supper.

Porter.

UntitledASTER and Mistris with all your guests,

God save you, heerin the matter rests;

Christmas is now at the point to bee past,

‘Tis giving vp the ghost & this is the last;

And shall it passe thus without life or cheere?

This hath not beene seene this many a yeere.

If youl have any sporte, then say the woord,

Heere come youths of the parish that will it affoord,

They are heere hard by comminge alonge,

Crowning their wassaile bowle2 with a songe:

10    They have some other sport too out of dowbt,

Let mee alone, & I will finde it out.

I am your porter & your vassaile,

Shall I lett in the boyes with their wassaile?

Say: they are at doore, to sing they beginne,

Goe to then, Ile goe & lett them in!

Enter the wassaile, two of them bearinge the bowle, & singinge the songe, & all of them bearing the burden.

The Songe.


Gentills all
Both great & small,
Sitt close in the hall
And make some roome,
20    For amongst you heere
At the end of your cheere
With our countrey beare
Wee ar bold to come.
Heers then a full carowse,
Let it goe about the house,
While wee doe carrye it thus
‘Tis noe great labour.
Heave it vpp merilye,
F. 81r rev. Let care & anger flye,
30    A pinne for povertye;3
Drinke to your neighbour.
Those that are wise,
Doe knowe that with spice
God Bacchus his iuyce
Is wholsome & good.4
It comforts age,
It refresheth the sage,
It rebateth rage,
And cheereth the bloud.
40 Heeres then a full, &c.
Take it with quicknes,
Tis phisicke5 for sicknes,
It driveth the thicknes
Of care from the harte;
The vaynes that are empty
It filleth with plenty,
Not one amongst twenty
But it easeth of smarte.
Heers then a full, &c.
50    Are you sadd,
For fortune badd,
And would bee gladd
As ever you were,
If that a quaffe
Doe not make you laffe,
Then with a staffe
Drive mee out of dore.
Heers then a full, &c.
To tell you his merritts,
60    Good thoughts it inherites,
It raiseth the spirritts
And quickens the witt;
It peoples the veyns,
It scoureth the reynes,6
It purgeth the braines
And maks all things fitte.
Heers then a full, &c.
It makes a man bold,
It keepes out the cold;
70    Hee hath all things twice told
Vnto his comforte,
Hee stands in the middle,
The world, hey dery diddle,
Goes round without a fiddle
To make them sporte.
Heers then a full carowse, &c.

F. 80v rev. Por. Why well said, my ladds of mettall,7 this is somwhat yett, ’tis trimlye done; but what sporte, what merriment, all dead, no vertue extant?

80    Pri[mus]. Pray, sir, gett our good Mistris to bestowe something on us,8 & wee ar gone.

Por. Talke of that tempore venturo;
9 there’s no goinge to any other houses now, your bowle is at the bottome, & that which is left is for mee.

Sec[undus]. Nay, good Master Porter.

Por. Come, come, daunce vs a morrice,10 or els goe sell fishe; I warrant youle make as good a night of it heere as if you had beene at all the houses in the towne.

Ter[tius]. Nay, pray letts goe, wee can doe nothinge.

90     Por. Noe! What was that I tooke you all a gabling tother day in mother Bunches backside by the well there, when Tom at Hobses ranne vnder the hovell with a kettle on’s head?

Pri. Why, you would not have a play, would you?

Por. Oh, by all meanes, ’tis your onely fine course. About it, ladds, a the stampe,11 I warrante you a reward sufficient; I tell you, my little windsuckers,12 had not a certaine melancholye ingendred with a nippinge dolour overshadowed the sunne shine of my mirthe, I had beene

100    I pre, sequor, one of your consorte.

F. 80r rev.wheres gooddy Hubbardes sonne—I saw him in his mothers holliday cloaths eennow?

Sec. Doe you heere, Master Porter, wee have pittifull nailes in our shooes;13 you were best lay something on the grounde, els wee shall make abhominable scarrs in the face on’t.

Por. Rem tenes;14 well, weele thinke on’t.

Ter. It is a most condolent tragedye wee shall move.

Por. Dictum puta; satis est quod suffocat.15

110    Sec. In faith, I tickle them for a good voice.

Por. Sufficiente quantitate16, a woord is enough to the wise.

Pri. You have noe butterd beare in the house, have yee?

Por. No, no, trudge, some of the guests are one the point to bee gone.

Sec. Have you ere a gentlewomans picture in the house, or noe?

Por. Why?

120    Sec. If you have, doe but hange it yonder, & twill make mee act in conye.17

Por. Well then, away about your geere.18

[Exeunt.

Enter Prologue.

Wee are noe vagabones, wee ar no arrant

Rogues that doe runne with plaies about the country.

Our play is good, & I dare farther warrant

F. 79v rev. It will make you more sport then catt in plum tree.

Wee are no saucye common playenge skipiackes,19

But towne borne lads, the kings owne lovely subiects.

This is the night, night latest of the twelve,

130    Now give vs leave for to bee blith & frolicke,

To morrow wee must fall to digg & delve;

Weele bee but short, long sittinge breeds the collicke.

Then wee beginne, & lett none hope to hisse vs,

The play wee play is Ovid’s owne Narcissus.20

Cephisus, Lyriope,21 Narcissus.

[Cep.] Open thine eares, my sonne, open I bidd

To heare the sound saw which the sage shall reed,

I meane the sage Tyresias,22 my ducke,

Which shall lay ope to thee thy lott, thy lucke.

Thy father I, Cephisus, that brave river

140    Who is all water, doe like water shiver.

As any man of iudgment may descrye

By face, hands washt, & bowle, thy father I.

Lyr. And I thy mother nimphe, as may bee seene

By coulours that I weare, blew, white, & greene;

For nimphes ar of the sea, & sea is right

Of colour truly greene & blew & white;

Would you knowe how, I pray? Billowes are blew,

Water is greene, & foome is white of hue.

Cep. Wee both bidd the, Narcisse, our dearest child,

150    With count’nance sober, modest lookes & milde,

To prophett’s wisest woords with tention harken;

F. 79r rev. But Sunne is gonne & welkin23 gins to darken,

Vulcan the weary horses is a shooinge,24

While Phebus with queene Thetis is a doinge:

Prophett comes not, letts goe both all & some,

Wee may goe home like fooles as wee did come.

Lyr. O stay deare husband, flowe not away bright water,

The prophett will come by sooner or later.

Cep. Why stand wee heere, as it were cappes a thrumming,25

160    To look for prophett? Prophett is not comminge.

Nar. Sweete running river which Cephisus hight,26

Whose water is so cleare, whose waves so bright,

Gold is thy sand and christall is thy current,

Thy brooke so cleare that no vile wind dare stirre in’t;

Thou art my father, & thou, sweetest nimphe,

Thou art my mother, I thy sonne, thy shrimpe.

Agree you in one point, to goe or tarrye,

Narcissus must obey, aye, must hee, marye.

Cep. Gush, water, gush! runne, river, from thy channell!

170    Thou hast a sonne more lovinge then a spanniell;

With watry eyes I see how tis expedient

To have a sonne so wise & so obedient.

Most beauteous sonne, yet not indeede so beautifull

As thou art mannerly & dutifull!

Lyr. See, husband, see, O see where prophett blind

In twice good time is comming heere behind.

Cep. O heere hee is, and now that hee’s come nye vs,

Lye close, good wife & sonne, least hee espye vs.

Enter Tyresias.

F. 78v rev. All you that see mee heere in byshoppes rochett,27

180     And I see not, your heads may runne on crotchett,28

For ought I knowe, to knowe what manner wight

In this strange guise I am, or how I hight;

I am Tyresias, the not seeing prophett,

Blinde though I bee, I pray lett noe man scoffe it:

For blind I am, yea, blind as any beetle,

And cannot see a whitt, no, nere so little.

Heere ar no eyes, why, they ar in my minde,

Wherby I see the fortunes of mankind;

Who made mee blind? Jove?29 I may say to you noe;

190    But it was Joves wife & his sister Juno.30

Juno & Jove fell out, both biggest gods,

And I was hee tooke vpp the merrye oddes.31

You knowe it all, I am sure, ’tis somewhat common,

And how besides seven yeares I was a woman;32

Which if you knowe you doe know all my state:

Come on, Ile fold the fortune of your fate.

Lyr. Tremblinge, Tyresias, I pray you cease to travell,

And rest a little on the groundy gravell.

Tyr. Who ist calls? Speake, for I cannot see.

200    Cep. Poore frends, sir, to the number of some three.

Tyr. What would you have?

Cep. Why, sir, this is the matter,

To bee plaine with you & not to flatter;

I am the stately river hight Cephise,

Smoother then glasse & softer farre then ice;

F. 78r rev. This nimphe before you heere whom you doe see

Is my owne wife, yclipt Lyriope.

Though with the dawbe of prayse I am loath to lome her,33

This Ile assure you, the blind poett Homer

210    Saw not the like amongst his nimphes and goddesses,

Nor in his Iliads, no, nor in his Odysses.

Thinke not, I pray, that wee are come for nought;

Our lovely infant have wee to you brought.

The purple hew of this our iolly striplynge

I would not have you thinke was gott with tiplinge;

Hee is our sonne Narcisse, no common varlett,34

Nature in graine hath died his face in skarlett.

Speak then, I pray you, speake, for wee you portune

That you would tell our sunnfac’t sonne his fortune.

220    Lyr. Doe not shrink backe, Narcissus, come & stand,

Hold vpp & lett the blind man see thy hand.

Tyr. Come, my young sonne, hold vp & catch audacitye;

I see thy hand with the eyes of my capacitye.

Though I speake riddles, thinke not I am typsye,

For what I speake I learnde it of a gipsye,

And though I speak hard woords of curromanstike,

Doe not, I pray, suppose that I am franticke.

The table of thy hand is somewhat ragged,

Thy mensall line is too direct and cragged,

230    Thy line of life, my sonne, is to, to breife,

And crosseth Venus girdle heere in cheife,

And heere (O dolefull signe) is overthwarte

In Venus mount a little pricke or warte.35

F. 77v rev. Besides heere, in the hillocke of great Jupiter,

Monnsieur la mors lyes lurking like a sheppbiter;36

What can I make out of this hard construction

But dolefull dumpes, decay, death, & destruction?

Cep. O furious fates, O three thread-thrumming sisters,37

O fickle fortune, thou, thou art the mistres

240    Of this mishapp; why am I longer liver?

Runne river, runne, & drowne thee in the river.

Tyr. Then sith to thee, my sonne, I doe pronounce ill,

It shall behove thee for to take good counsell,

And that eft soone; wisdoome they say is good,

Your parents ambo have done what they coode,38

They can but bringe horse to the water brinke,

But horse may choose whether that horse will drinke.

Lyr. Oh say, thou holy preist of high Apollo,

What harme, what hurt, what chaunge, what chaunce, will followe,

250    That if wee can wee may provide a plaster

Of holsome hearbes to cure this dire disaster.

Tyr. If I should tell you, you amisse would iudge it;

I have one salve, one medecine, in my budgett,39

And that is this, since you will have mee tell,

If hee himselfe doe never knowe; farewell.

[Exit Tyr.

Lyr. Mary come out, is his ould noddle dotinge?40

Heere is an ould said saw well woorth the notinge;

F. 77r rev. ll hee not know himselfe? Who shall hee then?

My boy shall knowe himselfe from other men,

260    I, & my boy shall live vntill hee dye,

In spight of prophett & in spight of pye.

It is an ould sawe: That it is too late

When steede is stolne to shutt the stable gate;41

Therfore take heed; yet I bethinke at Delph,

One Phibbus walls is written: Knowe thyselfe.42

Shall hee not know himselfe, and so bee laught on,

When as Apollo cries, gnotti seauton?43

[Exeunt.

                                                            Dorastus.44 Clinias.45

Come, prethy lett vs goe: come, Clinias, come,

And girt thy baskett dagger to thy bumme;

270    Lett vs, I say, bee packinge, and goe meete

The poore blind prophett stalking in the streete:

Lett us be iogginge quickly.

Cli. Peace, you asse,

I smell the footinge of Tyresias.

Enter Tyresias.

Dor. O thou which hast thy staffe to bee thy tutor,

Whose head doth shine with bright hairs white as pewter,

Like silver moone, when as shee kist her minion

In Late-mouse mont,46 the swaine yclipt Endimion,47

Who, beeing cald Endimion the drowsye,

280     F. 76v rev.Slept fifty yeers, & for want of shift was lowsye;

O thou whose breast, I, even this little cantle,

Is counsells capcase,48 prudences portmantle,49

O thou that pickest wisdome out of guttes50

As easy as men doe kernells out of nuttes,

Looke in our midriffs, & I pray you tell vs

Whether wee two shall live & dye good fellowes.

Tyr. How doe you both?

Dor. Well, I thanke you.

Tyr. Are you not sicklye?

290    Cli. Noe, I thanke God.

Tyr. Yet you shall both dye quicklye.

Goe, thou hast done, Tyresias; bidd adiew;

[Exit.

Thy part is well plaid & thy wordes are true.

Dor. Shall wee dye quickly, both? I pray what coulour?

Ile bee a diar, thou shalt be a fuller;

Weele cozin the prophett, I my life will pawne yee,

Thou shalt dye whyte, & Ile dye oreng tawnye.

Enter Narcissus walkinge.

Cli. O eyes, what see you? Eyes, bee ever bloud shedd

That turne your Master thus into a codshead.

300    O eyes, noe eyes, O instruments, O engines,

That were ordain’d to worke your Master’s vengeance!

His huge orentall beawty melts my eyeballs

Into rayne dropps, even as sunne doth snowballes.

F. 76r rev. Dor. Cracke eye strings, cracke,

Runne eyes, runne backe,

My lovely brace of beagles;

Looke no more on

Yon shininge sunne,

For your eyes are not eagles.

310    Leave off the chace

My pretty brace,

And hide you in your kennell,

And hunt no more,

Your sight is sore;

Oh that I had some fennell!51

Nar. Leave off to bragg, thou boy of Venus bredd,

I am as faire as thou, for white & redd;

If then twixt mee & thee theres no more oddes,

Why I on earth & thou amongst the goddes?

320    Cli. Thy voice, Narcisse,52 so softly & so loude,

Makes in mine eares more musicke then a crowde

Of most melodious minstrells, & thy tonge

Is edged with silver, & with iewells strunge;

Thy throate, which speaketh ever & anan,

Is farre more shriller then the pipe of Pan,53

Thy weasand pipe is clearer then an organ,54

Thy face more faire then was the head of Gorgon,55

Thy haire, which bout thy necke so faire dishevells,

Excells the haire of the faire queene of devills,56

330    And thy perfumed breath farr better savours

Then does the sweat hot breath of blowing Mavors;57

Thy azur’d veynes blewer then Saturne shine,

F. 75v rev. And what are Cupids eyes to those of thine?

Thy currall cheeks hath a farre better lustre

Then Ceres58 when the sunne in harvest bust her;

Silenus59 for streight backe, & I can tell yee,

You putt downe Bacchus for a slender bellye.

To passe from braunch to barke, from rine to roote,

Venus her husband hath not such a foote.

340    Dor. O thou whose cheeks are like the skye so blewe,

Whose nose is rubye, of the sunnlike hue,

Whose forhead is most plaine without all rinkle,

Whose eyes like starrs in frosty night doe twinkle,

Most hollowe are thy eyelidds, & thy ball

Whiter then ivory, brighter yea withall,

Whose ledge of teeth is farre more bright then jett is,

Whose lipps are too, too good for any lettice,

O doe thou condiscend vnto my boone,

Graunt mee thy love, graunt it, O silver spoone,

350    Silver moone, silver moone.

Cli. Graunt mee thy love, to speake I first begunne,

Graunt mee thy love, graunt it, O golden sunne.

Nar. Nor sunne, nor moone, nor twinkling starre in skye,

Nor god, nor goddesse, nor yet nimphe am I,

And though my sweete face bee sett out with rubye,

You misse your marke, I am a man as you bee.

Dor. A man, Narcisse, thou hast a manlike figure;

F. 75r rev. Then bee not like vnto the savage tiger,

So cruell as the huge camelion,

360    Nor yet so changing as small elephant.

A man, Narcisse, then bee not thou a wolfe,

To devoure my hart in thy mawes griping gulfe,

Bee none of these, & lett not nature vaunt her

That shee hath made a man like to a panther;

A man thou art, Narcisse, & soe are wee,

Then love thou vs againe as wee love thee.

Nar. A man I am, & sweare by gods above

I cannot yett find in my heart to love.

Dor. Cannott find love in hart! O search more narrowe, 370    Thou well shalt knowe him by his ivory arrowe;60

That arrowe, when in breast, my bloud was tunninge,

Broacht my harts barrell, sett it all a runninge,

Which with loves liquor vnles thou doe staunch,

All my lifes liquor will runne out my paunche.

Nar. Why would you have mee love? You talke most oddlye,

Love is a naughty thinge & an ungodlye.

Cli. Is love ungodlye? Love is still a god.

Nar. But in his nonage allwaies vnder rodde.61

Amb.62 O love, Narcissus, wee beseech thee, O love.

380    Nar. Noe love, good gentiles, Ile assure you, noe love.

[Exeunt Dorastus et Clinias, ambulat Narcissus.

Enter Florida, Clois.63

F. 74v rev. Clois, what ist I wis that I doe see,

What forme doth charme this storme within my breast,

What face, what grace, what race may that same bee,

So faire, so rare, debonaire, breeds this vnrest?

How white, how bright, how light, like starre of Venus

His beames & gleames so streames so faire between vs!

Clo. ‘Tis Venus sure, why doe wee stand and palter?

Lett vs goe shake our thighes vpon the altar.

Flo. Most brightest Hasparus,64 for thou seemst to mee soe,

390    I, and in very deed thou well maist bee soe,

For as bigg as a man is every plannett,

Although it seemes a farre that wee may spanne it,

Shine thou on mee, sweet plannet, bee soe good

As with thy fiery beames to warme my bloud;

Ile beare thee light, and thinke light of the burthen,

And say, light plannett neare was heavy lurden.

Nar. To speake the truth, faire maid, if you will have vs,

O Œdipus I am not, I am Davus.65

Clo. Good Master Davis, bee not so discourteous

400    As not to heare a maidens plaint for vertuous.

Nar. Speake on a Gods name, so love bee not the theame.

Flo. O, whiter then a dish of clowted creame,

Speake not of love? How can I overskippe

To speake of love to such a cherrye lippe?

Nar. It would beseeme a maidens slender vastitye

Never to speake of any thinge but chastitye.

Flo. As true as Helen was to Menela66

F. 74r rev.So true to thee will bee thy Florida.

Clo. As was to trusty Pyramus truest Thisbee67

410    So true to you will ever thy sweete Clois bee.

Flo. O doe not stay a moment nor a minute,

Loves is a puddle, I am ore shooes in it.

Clo. Doe not delay vs halfe a minutes mountenance

That ar in love, in love with thy sweet countenance.

Nar. Then take my dole although I deale my alms ill,

Narcissus cannot love with any damzell;

Although, for most part, men to love encline all,

I will not, I, this is your answere finall.

And so farwell; march on doggs, love’s a griper,

420    If I love any, ’tis Tickler & Piper.68

Ah, the poore rascall, never ioyd it since

His fellow iugler first was iugled hence,

Iugler the hope; but now to hunte abraode,

Where, if I meete loves little minitive god,

Ile pay his breech vntill I make his bumme ake,

For why, the talke of him hath turnd my stomacke.

[Exit.

Flo. And is hee gone? Letts goe & dye, sweet Cloris,

For poets of our loves shall write the stories.

 

Enter Clinias, Dorastus, meeting them.

Cli. Well mett, faire Florida sweete, which way goe you?

430     F. 73v rev. Flo. In faith, sweete Clinias, I cannot knowe you.

Dor. Noe, knowe, but did you see the white Narcisse?

Clo. The whitest man alive a huntinge is;

Hee that doth looke farre whiter then the vilett,

Or moone at midday, or els skye at twilight.

Cli. That is the same, even that is that Narcissus,

Hee that hath love despis’d, & scorned vs.

Flo. Not you alone hee scornes, but vs also;

O doe not greive when maids part stakes in woe.

O, that same youthe’s the scummer of all skorne,

440    Of surquedry the very shooing horne,

Piller of pride, casting topp of contempt,

Stopple of statelines for takinge vente.

Many youthes, many maids sought him to gaine,

Noe youthes, noe maids could ever him obtaine:

Then thus I pray, & hands to heaven vpp leave,

So may hee love & neare his love atcheive.

Looke you for maids no more, our parte is done,

Wee come but to bee scornd, & so are gone.

[Exeunt.

Dor. But wee have more to doe, that have wee perdie,

450    Wee must a fish & hunt the hare so hardye,

For even as after hare runnes swiftest beagle,

So doth Narcissus our poore harts corneagle.

[Exeunt.

Enter Eccho.69

F. 73r rev. Who, why, wherfore, from whence or what I am,

Knowe, if you aske, that Eccho is my name,

That cannott speake a woord, nor halfe a sillable,

Vnles you speake before so intelligible.

But ho, the hobby horse, youle think ‘t absurde

That I should of my selfe once speake a woord.

‘Tis true; but lett your wisdomes tell me than

460    How’de you know Eccho from another man?

I was a well toung’d nimphe, but what of that?

My mother Juno still to hold in chatte,

With tales of tubbes, from thence I ever strove,

Whiles nimphes abroad lay allwaies vnder Jove.

But oh, when drift was spied, my angry grammer

Made ever since my tottering tongue to stammer;

And now, in wild woods, & in moist mountaines,

In high, tall valleys, & in steepye plaines,

Eccho I live, Eccho, surnam’d the dolefull,

470    That, in remembrance, now could weepe a bowlfull;

Or rather, if you will, Eccho the sorrowfull,

That, in remembrance, now could weepe a barrowfull.

(Within. Yolp! yolpe!)

[Exit clamans70 Yolpe!

Enter Dorastus, Narcissus, Clinias.

Cantantes.71

Harke, they crye, I heare by that

The doggs have putt the hare from quatte,72

F. 72v rev. Then woe bee vnto little Watt,73

Yolp, yolp, yolp, yolp!

Hollowe in the hind doggs, hollowe,

So come on then, solla, solla,

And lett vs so blithly followe,

480    Yolp, &c.

O, the doggs ar out of sight,

But the crye is my delight;

Harke how Jumball74 hitts it right,

Yolp, &c.

Over briars, over bushes;

Whose affeard of pricks & pushes,

Hee’s no hunter woorth two rushes,

Yolp, &c.

But how long thus shall wee wander?

490    O, the hares a lusty stander,

Follow apace, the doggs are yonder,

Yolp, &c.

[Exeunt.

Enter one with a buckett and boughes and grasse.

A well there was withouten mudd,

Of silver hue, with waters cleare,

Whome neither sheepe that chawe the cudd,

Shepheards nor goates came ever neare;

Whome, truth to say, nor beast nor bird,

Nor windfalls yet from trees had stirrde.

[He strawes the grasse about the buckett.

F. 72r rev. And round about it there was grasse,

500    As learned lines of poets showe,

Which by next water nourisht was;

[Sprinkle water.

Neere to it too a wood did growe,

[Sets down the bowes.

To keep the place, as well I wott,

With too much sunne from being hott.

And thus least you should have mistooke it,

The truth of all I to you tell:

Suppose you the well had a buckett,

And so the buckett stands for the well;

And ’tis, least you should counte mee for a sot O,

510    A very pretty figure cald pars pro toto75.

[Exit.

Enter Dorastus, Eccho answeringe him within.

Dor. Narcissus?

Ecc. Kisse us.

Kisse you; who are you, with a botts take you?76

Botts take you.

Botts take mee, you rogue?

You rogue.

Slidd,77 hee retortes woord for woord.

Woord for woord.

Clinias, prethy, where art thou, Clinias?

520    In, yee asse.

In where—in a ditch?

Itch.

F. 71v rev. What is his businesse?

At his businesse.

You don’t tell mee trulye.

You lye.

Say so againe, ile cudgell you duely.

You doe lye.

Of your tearmes you are very full.

530    Your a very foole.

Doe you crowe, I shall cracke your coxcombe.

Coxcombe.

I shall make you whine & blubber.

Lubber.

Youle make an end & dispatch.

Patch.

Goe to, youle let these woordes passe.

Asse.

If I come to you Ile make you singe a palinodye.78

540    Noddye.

Foole, coxcombe, lubber, patch, & noddye,

Are these good woords to give a bodye?

Doe not provoke me, I shall come.

Come.

Meete mee if you dare.

If you dare.

I come, despaire not.

Spare not.

[Exit.

F. 71r rev.

Enter Clinias, Eccho answeringe within.

Cli. Dorastus, where art thou, Dorastus?

550    Ecc. Asse to vs.79

Asse to you, whose that’s an asse to you?

You.

Know mee for what I am, as good as your selfe.

Elfe.

Elfe! Why I hope you ben’t so malaparte.80

All a parte.

All apart, yes, wee ar alone; but you doe not meane to fight, I trust in Jove?

Trust in Jove.

560    Jove helpes then if wee fight, but wee trust to our swoordes.

Woordes.

Woordes; why, doe you thinke tis your woordes shall vs affright?

Right.

‘Tis noe such matter, you are mightely out.

Loute.

Lout, dost abuse mee so? Goe to, y’are a scall scabbe.

Rascall scabbe.

570    Rascall scabbe, why thou groome base & needye!

Niddye.81

Slidd, if I meete you Ile bange you.

Hange you.

F. 70v rev. Ist so; nay then, Ile bee at hand, kee pickpurse.82

Pickpurse.

Dare you vse mee thus to my face, spidar?

I dare.

But will you stand too’t & not flintch?

Not flinch.

580    Well, meete mee, I am like iron & steele, trustye.

Rustye.

Rusty, what, mocke mee to my face againe?

Asse againe.

Out of dowbt, if wee meete I shall thee boxe.

Oxe.

Why, the foole rides mee, I am spurrgald83 & iolted.

Jolthead.

Jolthead! this is more then I can brooke.

Rooke.84

590    Rooke too, nay then, as farr as a knockinge goes I am yours to commaund, sir.

Come on, sir.

[Exit.

Enter Narcissus.

O, I am weary; I have runne to daye

Ten miles, nay, 10 & a quarter I dare saye.

You may beleeve it, for my ioyntes are numme,

And every finger truly is a thumbe.

For my younge hunters, Clinias & Dorastus,

F. 70r rev. Surely so farre to day they have out past vs,

That heere I am encompast round about,

600    And doe not knowe the way nor in nor out.

What Holla, holla!

Ecc. Holla, holla.

Is any body nye?

I.

Come neere.

Come neere.

Whither?

Hither.

I prethy helpe mee foorth, els I am the rude woods forfeiture.

610    Faire feature.

O lord, sir, tis but your pleasure to call it soe.

Its soe.

I had rather have your counsell how to gett out of this laborinthe.

Labour in’t.

Labour in’t, why soe I doe, sore against my will, but to labour out of it what shall I doe?

Doe.

620    Nay, pray helpe mee out if you love mee.

Love mee.

Come neere, then, why doe you flye?

Why doe you flye?

Where b’ye?

F. 69v rev. Heerbye.

Let vs come together.

Let vs come together.

I prethy come.

I come.

630    Let mee dye first ere thou meddle with mee.

Meddle with mee.

[Exit.

Enter Dorastus, Clinias, at 2 doores.

Cli. Wast you, Dorastus, mockt mee all this season?

Dor. Pray, Clinias, hold your tounge, y’haue little reason

To make a foole of mee & mocke mee too.

Cli. Nay, sir, twas you that mockt mee, so you doe;

While heere I cald for you by greenwood side,

You gibde on mee, which you shall deare abide.

Dor. Nay, you did call mee, that I was loath to heare,

Truly such woords as a dogg would not beare.

640    But as I scorne so to bee ast & knaved,

Soe truly doe I scorne to bee outbraved.

Cli. O frieng panne of all fritters of fraud,

My scindifer,85 that longe hath beene vndrawde,

Shall come out of his sheath most fiery hott,

And slice thee small, even as hearbes to pott.

Dor. Thou huge & humminge humblebee, thou hornett,

Come doe thy worst, I say that I doe scorne it.

Cli. O with thy bloud Ile make so redd my whineard,86

F. 69r rev. As ripest liquor is of grapes in vineyearde.

650    Dor. And with thy bloud Ile make my swoord so ruddye,

As skye at eventide shall not bee soe bloudye.

[They fight & fall.

Cli. O, O, about my harte I feele a paine;

Dorastus, hold thy handes, for I am slaine.

Dor. This shall thy comfort bee when thou art dead,

That thou hast kild mee too, for I am spedd.

Cli. O, I am dead, depart life out of hand,

Stray, soule, from home vnto the Stingian87 strand.

Dor. Goe thou, my ghost, complaine thee vnto Rhadamant88

That the 3 sisters89 hartes are made of adamant.

660    Cli. Since wee must passe ore lake in Charons ferry,90

Had wee Narcissus wee should bee more merrye.

Dor. My soule doth say that wee must goe before,

Narcisse will overtake vs at the shore;

And that that mockt vs both, deformed dwarfe,

Will er’t bee long arive at Charons wharfe.

Cli. Lett us, Dorastus, die, departe, decease;

Wee lovd in strife, & lett vs dye in peace.

Dor. Stay, take mee with you, letts togither goe.

Am. Vild world adieu, wee die, ô ô ô ô!

670                                                                                                                                   Enter Narcissus.

Does the hagg followe? Stay for her never durst I;

Sh’as made mee runne so longe that I am thurstye,

F. 68v rev. But O, yee gods immortall, by good fortune

Heere is a well in good time & oportune;

Drinke, drinke, Narcissus, till thy belly burst,

Water is Rennish wine to them that thirst.

But oh remaine & let thy christall lippe

Noe more of this same cherrye water sippe;

What deadly beautye or what aerye nimphe

Is heare belowe now seated in the limphe?91

680    Looke, looke, Narcissus, how his eyes are silver,

Looke, least those eyes thy hart from thee doe pilfer,

Yet O looke not, for by these eyes so headye,

Thy hart from thee is filcht away allreadye;

O Well, how oft I kisse thy wholsome liquor,

While on my love kisses I heape a dicker.92

O love, come foorth accordinge to my mind,

How deepe I dive yet thee I cannott find;

O love, come foorth, my face is not so foule

That thou shouldst scorne mee; pittye mee, poor soule.

690    Well, dost thou scorne mee? Nimphes they did not soe,

They had a better thought of mee I trowe.

Not care of Ceres, Morpheus, nor of Bacchus,

That is meate, drinke, & sleepe from hence shall take vs;

Heere will I dye, this well shall bee my tombe,

My webb is spunne; Lachesis,93 loppe thy loome.

[Lye downe & rise vpp againe.

F. 68r rev. Tell mee, you woods, tell mee, you oakes soe stronge,

Whether in all your life, your life so longe,

So faire a youth pinde thus, & tell mee trulye

Whether that any man ere lov’d so cruellye.

700    The thinge I like I see, but what I see

And like, natheles I cannot find perdie,

And that that greives my liver most, no seas

Surging, mountaines, monstrous or weary ways,

Nor walls with gates yshutt doe mee remove;

A little water keepes mee from my love.

Come out, come out, deare boye.

Ecc. Come out, deare boye.

[Nar.] Thy frend I am, O doe not mee destroye;

Thou dost putt out thy hand as I doe mine,

710     And thou dost pinke vpon mee with thine eyen,

Smile as I smile; besides I tooke good keepe,

And saw thee eke shedd teares when I did weepe,

And by thy lippes moving, well I doe suppose

Woordes thou dost speake, may well come to our nose;

For to oure eares I am sure they never passe,

Which makes me to crye out, alas!

Ecc. Alas!

[Nar.] O delicate pretty youth,

Pretty youth;

720    Take on my woes pittye, youthe!

Pittye, youthe!

F. 67v rev.O sweetest boy, pray love mee!

Pray love mee!

Or els I dye for thee,

I dye for thee!

[Nar.] Colour is gone & bloud in face is thinne,

And I am naught left now but bone & skinne;

I dye; but though I dye it shall come to passe,

Certes it shall, that I which whilome was

730    The flower of youth, shalbee made flower againe.

I dye; farewell, O boy belov’d in vaine.

[Ecc.] O boy belov’d in vaine.

[Narcissus risinge vp againe.

And so I died & sunke into my grandam,

Surnamde old earth: lett not your iudgments randome,

For if you take mee for Narcissus y’are very sillye,

I desire you to take mee for a daffa downe dillye;94

For so I rose, & so I am in trothe,

As may appeare by the flower in my mouthe.

Ecc. Now auditors of intelligence quicke,

740    I pray you suppose that Eccho is sicke;

Sicke at the hart, for you must thinke,

For lacke of love shee could nor eate nor drinke;

Soe that of her nothinge remainde but bone,

And that they say was turn’d into a stone.

F. 67r rev.Onely her voice was left, as by good happe

You may perceive if you imparte a clappe.

[Exit.

 

Enter the Porter as Epilogue.

Are those the ladds that would doe the deede?

They may bee gone, & God bee their speede;

Ile take vpp their buckett, but I sweare by the water,

750    I have seene a farre better play at the theater.

Ile shutt them out of doores, ’tis no matter for their larges;

Thinke you well of my service, & Ile beare the charges.

If there bee any that expecte some dances,

‘Tis I must perform it, for my name is Frances.

FINIS.

 

  1. Twelfe Night:
    The last day of the Christmas season on which there were traditionally celebrations and feasting.

    This play exists in one manuscript, Oxford: Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson poet. 212 fols 67-82. In addition we have consulted the printed edition Narcissus, a Twelfe night merriment played by youths of the parish at the College of S. John the Baptist in Oxford, A.D. 1602, with appendix edited Margaret L. Lee (London: David Nutt, 1893). Our film version of this play will shortly be available on the EDOX website. For further reading on this play, see Elisabeth Dutton, “My boy shall knowe himself from other men”: active spectating, annuncation, and the St John’s College Narcissus, Medieval English Theatre 36 (2017) 68-83). Back to text

  2. Wassaile bowle:
    On Twelfth Night, people would drink wassail (an alcoholic punch) from a wassail bowl. This was part of the practice of “wassailing,” going door-to-door while singing and offering people a drink from the bowl in exchange for a gift. Back to text

  3. A pinne for povertye:
    “Forget your poverty!” Back to text

  4. Doe knowe that with spice/God Bacchus his iuyce/Is wholsome & good:
    Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and “his juice” is being served here with spice ie. mulled. Back to text

  5. phisicke:
    Medicine. Back to text

  6. scoureth the reynes:
    It scrubs your kidneys clean. Back to text

  7. Mettall:
    Mettle, character. Back to text

  8. gett our good Mistris to bestowe something on us:
    It was customary to give a gift to wassailers, who would go from door to door singing and offering drinks from the wassail cup. Back to text

  9. tempore venturo:
    At some time in the future. Back to text

  10. Morrice:
    Morris dancing. Traditional English folk dance. Back to text

  11. a the stampe:
    On the stamp. Apparently an oath. Back to text

  12. windsuckers:
    A bowdlerisation of “wind fuckers,” an insult. Back to text

  13. wee have pittifull nailes in our shooes:
    Their shoes are worn down so that the nails are sticking through the bottoms. Back to text

  14. Rem tenes:
    You understand. Back to text


  15. Dictum puta; satis est quod suffocat:
    “I was there; it is enough to choke.” Back to text

  16. Sufficiente quantitate:
    “A sufficient quantity.” Back to text

  17. In conye:
    Althougha coney is literally a rabbit, the context here suggests that it means something different, probably “act like a woman.” “Coney-catching” referred to theft through trickery, so the term could suggest that the actor’s performance is trickery, but as the “coney” was a rabbit raised for eating and therefore was tame, it could perhaps here imply a woman, as a tame creature, and perhaps also a deceitful one. Lee suggests, in her note to this line, that the correct reading could alternatively be “incony”, meaning “delicate.” Back to text

  18. your geere:
    A gere was a fit of passion. Back to text

  19. Skipiackes:
    A skipjack was a conceited fop or a dandy. Back to text

  20. Ovid’s owne Narcissus:
    The story of Echo and Narcissus in this play within a play is based on Ovid’s version in Book 3 of the Metamorphoses. Back to text

  21. Cephisus, Lyriope,:
    Narcissus’ father is Cephissus, a river god, and his mother Lyriope is a nymph. Back to text

  22. Tyresias:
    Tyresias (Tiresias) was a blind prophet. The first prophecy he makes recorded by Ovid is a prophecy about Narcissus’ death. Back to text

  23. welkin:
    The sky. Back to text

  24. Vulcan the weary horses is a shooinge,
    While Phebus with queene Thetis is a doinge:

    Vulcan takes over Phebus’ (Phoebus Apollo) ordinary role of driving the sun chariot across the sky while Phebus consorts with the sea-nymph Thetis. Back to text

  25. as it were cappes a thrumming:
    Like beggars/buskers playing stringed instruments. Back to text

  26. hight:
    “is called”. Back to text

  27. byshoppes rochett:
    A bishop’s ecclesiastical vestments. Back to text

  28. And I see not, your heads may runne on crotchett,/ For ought I knowe:
    Tyresias, as explained above, is blind. So, for all he knows, he might accidentally hit your head with his bishop’s crosier. Back to text

  29. Jove?:
    The king of the gods. Here mentioned mainly to set up the rhyme “no/Juno.” Back to text

  30. Juno:
    Queen of the gods and Jove’s sister. Back to text

  31. Juno & Jove fell out, both biggest gods,/ And I was hee tooke vpp the merrye oddes:
    In Book III of the Metamorphoses (lines 316-338), Ovid recounts how Tiresias was blinded by Juno when intervening in a dispute between her and Jove. They were arguing as to whether the woman or the man receives more pleasure during sex, and Tiresias sided with Jove’s assessment that women gain more pleasure than men. (He was supposed to be qualified to judge, because he had been transformed into a woman for a seven year period beforehand.) Because Tiresias intervened on Jove’s side, Juno struck him blind. To make up for this, however, Jove granted Tiresias the prophetic vision which he now possesses. Back to text

  32. And how besides seven yeares I was a woman:
    Tyresias had been transformed into a woman for seven years, previously. Back to text

  33. Though with the dawbe of prayse I am loath to lome her:
    I do not wish to smother her with my praise. The metaphor is of building a wall of wattle and daub construction — a wicker frame is covered with “loam” or clayish mud. Back to text

  34. varlett:
    Servant. Back to text

  35. The table of thy hand is somewhat ragged,/ Thy mensall line is too direct and cragged,/ Thy line of life, my sonne, is to, to breife,/ And crosseth Venus girdle heere in cheife,/ And heere (O dolefull signe) is overthwarte/ In Venus mount a little pricke or warte:
    Tyresias reads his palm. Back to text

  36. sheppbiter:
    A sheep-biter, or an animal that worries sheep. Metaphorically, the term also had the sense of “a sneaky and malicious person.” Back to text

  37. O furious fates, O three thread-thrumming sisters:
    The fates wove the tapestry of fate together, deciding the destiny of mortals. Back to text

  38. Ambo:
    “Both” in Latin. Back to text

  39. Budgett:
    A leather bag. Back to text

  40. is his ould noddle dotinge?:
    Is his brain rotting? Has he lost his sense?Back to text


  41. When steede is stolne to shutt the stable gate:
    “There’s no point shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.” Back to text

  42. I bethinke at Delph,/
    One Phibbus walls is written: Knowe thyselfe:

    Reference to Phibus’ (Phoebus Apollo’s) oracle at Delphi where “Know thyself” is written on the entrance. Back to text

  43. gnotti seauton:
    “Know thyself” in Greek. Back to text

  44. Dorastus:
    Dorastus is probably named after a significant character in Pandosto: The Triumph of Time, a prose romance first published in 1588 by Robert Greene. Nowadays this text is primarily known for having inspired the plot of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Back to text

  45. Clinias:
    Seemingly chosen as a generic Greek name for this character. The most famous Clinias is probably the father of Alcibiades, Socrates’ famous student. Back to text

  46. Late-mouse mont:
    Mount Latmus, where Endymion was said to reside. Back to text

  47. Endimion:
    According to legend, Endymion was a shepherd with whom the goddess of the moon fell in love. In some versions of the myth, the moon goddess so loved Endymion’s beauty that she asked Zeus to put him into an eternal sleep. It is unclear where the author got the idea that Endymion slept for only “fifty years.” Back to text

  48. capcase:
    A small case. Back to text

  49. portmantle:
    A portmanteau or travel case. Back to text

  50. pickest wisdome out of guttes:
    The practice of divining the future by reading entrails. Back to text

  51. Oh that I had some fennell!:
    Fennel was often used to ward off evil spirits and witchcraft. Back to text

  52. Narcisse:
    Narcissus, the beautiful hunter who fell in love with his own reflection. Back to text

  53. Pan:
    Pan was the god of the wild, of shepherds and of sheep. He was said to play the pipes beautifully, and was sexually aggressive. Back to text

  54. weasand pipe:
    The “weasand” is the windpipe (compare “weezing”). While Pan’s pipes played beautifully, Narcissus’ windpipe sounds even more lovely. Back to text

  55. Gorgon:
    A gorgon was a terrifying female creature in Greek mythology. Here the particular Gorgon being referred to is Medusa who, according to Ovid, was originally exceedingly beautiful. (Metamorphoses 4.770) However, she was later made hideous by a wrathful Minerva. Back to text

  56. the faire queene of devills:
    Possibly a reference to Lamia, Zeus’ (Jupiter’s) beautiful mistress who was later transformed into a child-eating monster by Zeus’ wife, Hera (Juno). Back to text

  57. Mavors:
    Mars, the Roman god of war. Back to text

  58. Ceres:
    Goddess of agriculture and, more specifically, grain crops. This reference seems to refer to the lustre of grains growing in the field. Back to text

  59. Silenus:
    A satyr and drunken companion of Bacchus. Back to text

  60. Thou well shalt knowe him by his ivory arrowe;/That arrowe, when in breast, my bloud was tunninge:
    Referring to the arrow of the god Cupid, or Love, son of Venus. Back to text

  61. But in his nonage allwaies vnder rodde:
    Cupid in his childhood is always being chastised, perhaps by his mother, Venus. Back to text

  62. Amb.:
    Abbreviation for Latin “ambo” or “both.” Both characters speak these lines. Back to text

  63. Florida, Clois:
    Two characters not mentioned in Ovid’s version of the Narcissus myth. Possibly both nymphs. Back to text

  64. Hasparus:
    The personification of the evening star. Back to text

  65. O Œdipus I am not, I am Davus:
    Oedipus was the mythical king of Thebes who accidentally killed his father and married his mother. Davus is a name commonly given to Roman slaves and which frequently appears in the comedies of Plautus and Terence. Back to text

  66. Helen was to Menela:
    Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, was married to Menelaus. However, the Trojan warrior Paris abducted her, beginning the Trojan War between Greece and Troy. In some versions of the story, Helen remained faithful to her husband Menelaeus throughout. Back to text

  67. Pyramus and Thisbe:
    The story of these two devoted lovers is told in Metamorphoses 4.55-92. Back to text

  68. Tickler and Piper:
    Presumably two jugglers. Back to text

  69. Eccho:
    Ovid describes how Echo was an Oread or mountain nymph who could only echo what other people said, rather than speaking for herself as a result of having been cursed by Juno. (Metamorphoses, 3.359) In the past, Echo would distract Juno with long conversations while the nymphs that slept with her husband Jupiter/Jove evaded being caught. When Juno found out, she cursed Echo’s power of speech in revenge. The events that occur when Echo met Narcissus are described in the same part of Book 3, lines 259-473. Back to text

  70. clamans:
    Shouting Back to text

  71. Cantantes:
    Singing Back to text

  72. The doggs have putt the hare from quatte:
    A quatte is a squat. Implicitly, the dogs have made the hare run. Back to text

  73. Watt:
    A colloquial name for a hare. Back to text

  74. Jumball:
    Presumably the name of one of the dogs. Back to text

  75. pars pro toto:
    Latin, “the part for the whole.” Back to text

  76. with a botts take you?:
    Unclear, perhaps an infestation of parasites. See the OED, bot, n.1 Back to text

  77. Slidd:
    A common minced oath, a contraction of “God’s eyelid.” Back to text

  78. palinodye:
    “An ode or song in which the author retracts a view or sentiment expressed in a former poem”, OED, “palinody, n.”. Back to text

  79. Asse to vs:
    In the following lines, Eccho has an exchange with Clinias solely by echoing his words (unseen) with slight modifications. Echo scenes, such as these with their long lists of puns, were common in Early Modern drama. Back to text

  80. Malaparte:
    “Malapert”, meaning saucy, presumptuous, impudent. Back to text

  81. Niddye:
    A variant of “noddy,” already used above, meaning an idiot. Back to text

  82. kee pickpurse:
    “Kee” is, apparently, a variant on “quo”, meaning “said.” The only instance that the OED cites of this word, however, is this very line. Back to text

  83. Spurgalld:
    A “spur-gall” is a gall caused by a spur. A horse that has been spurred on too much might be “spur-galled.” Back to text

  84. Rooke:
    A cheat or swindler. Back to text

  85. scindifer:
    A variant of “simitar.” Back to text

  86. whineard:
    A whinyard, a short-sword. Back to text

  87. Stingian:
    A variant of “Stygian,” pertaining to the river Styx over which the dead must cross as they pass into the afterlife according to Greek myth. Back to text

  88. Rhadamant:
    Rhadamanthus. According to Virgil’s Aeneid, he is one of the judges of the dead in the underworld. Back to text

  89. 3 sisters:
    The three fates who were said to decide human destiny by weaving the tapestry of human affairs. Back to text

  90. Since wee must passe ore lake in Charons ferry:
    Charon is, according to Greek myth, the boatman who ferries the souls of the dead across the River Styx and into the afterlife. Back to text

  91. What deadly beautye or what aerye nimphe/Is heare belowe now seated in the limphe?:
    Narcissus spots his own reflection in the well and quickly begins to fall in love. Back to text

  92. dicker:
    Strictly speaking, ten of something. In this case, he means “a lot.” Back to text

  93. Lachesis:
    The second of the three fates, mentioned above. Back to text

  94. daffa downe dillye:
    An old, colloquial form of “daffodil.” Daffodils are narcissuses. According to Ovid, Narcissus was transformed into the flower at the point that he died. Later tradition suggests that he became the flower of the same name which dwells next to bodies of water, so that he can continually stare at his own reflection. Back to text