New Way to Pay Old Debts

March 18, 2020

Philip Massinger

Philip Massinger (1583–1640). A New Way to Pay Old Debts.
Vol. 47 pp. 859-870 of The Harvard Classics

A cunning uncle cheats his worthless nephew out of his fortune. The nephew, laughing stock of his former servants, sets out to retrieve his old position and riches.
(Massinger buried March 18, 1640.)

Act I
Scene II


  ORD.  Set all things right, or, as my name is Order,
And by this staff of office that commands you,
This chain and double ruff, symbols of power,
Whoever misses in his function,
For one whole week makes forfeiture of his breakfast,
And privilege in the wine-cellar.
  AMB.        You are merry,
Good master steward.
  FURN.        Let him; I’ll be angry.
  AMB.  Why, fellow Furnace, ’tis not twelve o’clock yet,
Nor dinner taking up; then, ’tis allow’d,
Cooks, by their places, may be choleric.
  FURN.  You think you have spoke wisely, goodman Amble,
My lady’s go-before!
  ORD.        Nay, nay, no wrangling.
  FURN.  Twit me with the authority of the kitchen!
At all hours, and all places, I’ll be angry;
And thus provok’d, when I am at my prayers
I will be angry.
  AMB.        There was no hurt meant.
  FURN.  I am friends with thee; and yet I will be angry.
  ORD.  With whom?
  FURN.        No matter whom: yet, now I think on it,
I am angry with my lady.
  WATCH.        Heaven forbid, man!
  ORD.  What cause has she given thee?
  FURN.        Cause enough, master steward.
I was entertain’d by her to please her palate,
And, till she forswore eating, I perform’d it.
Now, since our master, noble Allworth, died,
Though I crack my brains to find out tempting sauces,
And raise fortifications in the pastry
Such as might serve for models in the Low Countries;
Which, if they had been practised at Breda,
Spinola might have thrown his cap at it, and ne’er took it 2
  AMB.  But you had wanted matter there to work on.
  FURN.  Matter! with six eggs, and a strike 3 of rye meal,
I had kept the town till doomsday, perhaps longer.
  ORD.  But what’s this to your pet against my lady?
  FURN.  What’s this? Marry this: when I am three parts roasted
And the fourth part parboil’d, to prepare her viands,
She keeps her chamber, dines with a panada 4
Or water-gruel, my sweat never thought on.
  ORD.  But your art is seen in the dining-room.
  FURN.        By whom?
By such as pretend love to her, but come
To feed upon her. Yet, of all the harpies
That do devour her, I am out of charity
With none so much as the thin-gutted squire
That’s stolen into commission.
  ORD.        Justice Greedy?
  FURN.  The same, the same; meat’s cast away upon him,
It never thrives; he holds this paradox,
Who eats not well, can ne’er do justice well.
His stomach’s as insatiate as the grave,
Or strumpet’s ravenous appetites.  Knocking.
  WATCH.        One knocks.


  ORD.  Our late young master!
  AMB.        Welcome, sir.
  FURN.        Your hand;
If you have a stomach, a cold bake-meat’s ready.
  ORD.  His father’s picture in little.
  FURN.        We are all your servants.
  AMB.  In you he lives.
  ALL.        At once, my thanks to all;
This is yet some comfort. Is my lady stirring?

Enter LADY ALLWORTH, Waiting Woman, and Chambermaid

  ORD.  Her presence answers for us.
  L. ALL.        Sort those silks well.
I’ll take the air alone.  Exeunt Waiting Woman and Chambermaid.
  FURN.        You air and air;
But will you never taste but spoon-meat more?
To what use serve I?
  L. ALL.        Prithee, be not angry;
I shall ere long: i’ the mean time, there is gold
To buy thee aprons, and a summer suit.
  FURN.  I am appeas’d, and Furnace now grows cool. 5
  L. ALL.  And, as I gave directions, if this morning
I am visited by any, entertain ’em
As heretofore; but say, in my excuse,
I am indispos’d.
  ORD.        I shall, madam.
  L. ALL.        Do, and leave them.
Nay, stay you, Allworth.  Exeunt ORDER, AMBLE, FURNACE, and WATCHALL.
  ALL.        I shall gladly grow here,
To wait on your commands.
  L. ALL.        So soon turn’d courtier!
  ALL.  Style not that courtship, madam, which is duty
Purchas’d on your part.
  L. ALL.        Well, you shall o’ercome;
I’ll not contend in words. How is it with
Your noble master?
  ALL.        Ever like himself,
No scruple lessen’d in the full weight of honour.
He did command me, pardon my presumption,
As his unworthy deputy, to kiss
Your ladyship’s fair hands.
  L. ALL.        I am honour’d in
His favour to me. Does he hold his purpose
For the Low Countries?
  ALL.        Constantly, good madam;
But he will in person first present his service.
  L. ALL.  And how approve you of his course? You are yet
Like virgin parchment, capable of any
Inscription, vicious or honourable.
I will not force your will, but leave you free
To you own election.
  ALL.        Any form you please,
I will put on; but, might I make my choice,
With humble emulation I would follow
The path my lord marks to me.
  L. ALL.        ’Tis well answer’d,
And I commend your spirit. You had a father,
Blest be his memory! that some few hours
Before the will of Heaven took him from me,
Who did commend you, by the dearest ties
Of perfect love between us, to my charge;
And, therefore, what I speak, you are bound to hear
With such respect as if he liv’d in me.
He was my husband, and howe’er you are not
Son of my womb, you may be of my love,
Provided you deserve it.
  ALL.        I have found you,
Most honour’d madam, the best mother to me;
And, with my utmost strengths of care and service,
Will labour that you never may repent
Your bounties shower’d upon me.
  L. ALL.        I much hope it.
These were your father’s words: “If e’er my son
Follow the war, tell him it is a school
Where all the principles tending to honour
Are taught, if truly followed: but for such
As repair thither as a place in which
They do presume they may with license practise
Their lusts and riots, they shall never merit
The noble name of soldiers. To dare boldly,
In a fair cause, and for their country’s safety,
To run upon the cannon’s mouth undaunted;
To obey their leaders, and shun mutinies;
To bear with patience the winter’s cold
And summer’s scorching heat, and not to faint,
When plenty of provision fails, with hunger;
Are the essential parts make up a soldier,
Not swearing, dice, or drinking.”
  ALL.        There’s no syllable
You speak, but is to me an oracle,
Which but to doubt were impious.
  L. ALL.        To conclude:
Beware ill company, for often men
Are like to those with whom they do converse;
And, from one man I warn 6 you, and that’s Wellborn:
Not ’cause he’s poor, that rather claims your pity;
But that he’s in his manners so debauch’d,
And hath to vicious courses sold himself.
’Tis true, your father lov’d him, while he was
Worthy the loving; but if he had liv’d
To have seen him as he is, he had cast him off,
As you must do.
  ALL.        I shall obey in all things.
  L. ALL.  Follow me to my chamber, you shall have gold
To furnish you like my son, and still supplied,
As I hear from you.
  ALL.        I am still your creature.  Exeunt.

Note 1. A room in Lady Allworth’s house.
Note 2. The siege of Breda by Spinola in 1624–5 was one of the great events of the time.
Note 3. Two bushels.
Note 4. Bread soaked in hot water and milk.
Note 5. Q. reads Cooke.
Note 6. Q. warn’d.

Scene III


  GREEDY.  Not to be seen!
  OVER.        Still cloistered up! Her reason,
I hope, assures her, though she make herself
Close prisoner ever for her husband’s loss,
“Twill not recover him.
  ORD.        Sir, it is her will,
Which we, that are her servants, ought to serve,
And not dispute. Howe’er, you are nobly welcome;
And, if you please to stay, that you may think so,
There came, not six days since, from Hull, a pipe
Of rich Canary, which shall spend itself
For my lady’s honour.
  GREEDY.        Is it of the right race?
  ORD.  Yes, Master Greedy.
  AMB.        How his mouth runs o’er?
  FURN.  I’ll make it run, and run. Save your good worship!
  GREEDY.  Honest Master Cook, thy hand; again, how I love thee!
Are the good dishes still in being? Speak, boy.
  FURN.  If you have a mind to feed, there is a chine 2
Of beef, well seasoned.
  GREEDY.        Good!
  FURN.        A pheasant, larded.
  GREEDY.  That I might now give thanks for’t!
  FURN.        Other kickshaws.
Besides, there came last night, from the forest of Sherwood,
The fattest stag I ever cook’d.
  GREEDY.        A stag, man!
  FURN.  A stag, sir; part of it prepar’d for dinner,
And bak’d in puff-paste.
  GREEDY.        Puff-paste too! Sir Giles,
A ponderous chine of beef! a pheasant larded!
And red deer too, Sir Giles, and bak’d in puff-paste!
All business set aside, let us give thanks here.
  FURN.  How the lean skeletons rapt!
  OVER.        You know we cannot.
  MAR.  Your worships are to sit on a commission,
And if you fail to come, you lose the cause.
  GREEDY.  Cause me no causes. I’ll prove’t, for such dinner,
We may put off a commission: you shall find it
Henrici decimo quarto.
  OVER.        Fie, Master Greedy!
Will you lose me a thousand pounds for a dinner?
No more, for shame! We must forget the belly
When we think of profit.
  GREEDY.        Well, you shall o’er-rule me;
I could ev’n cry now.—Do you hear, Master Cook,
Send but a corner of that immortal pasty,
And I, in thankfulness, will, by your boy,
Send you—a brace of three-pences.
  FURN.        Will you be so prodigal?


  OVER.  Remember me to your lady. Who have we here?
  WELL.  You know me.
  OVER.        I did once, but now I will not;
Thou art no blood of mine. Avaunt, thou beggar!
If ever thou presume to own me more,
I’ll have thee cag’d and whipp’d.
  GREEDY.        I’ll grant the warrant.
Think of pie-corner, Furnace!  [Exeunt OVERREACH, GREEDY, and MARRALL.
  WATCH.        Will you out, sir?
I wonder how you durst creep in.
  ORD.        This is rudeness.
And saucy impudence.
  AMB.        Cannot you stay
To be serv’d, among your fellows, from the basket, 3
But you must needs press into the hall?
  FURN.        Prithee, vanish
Into some outhouse, though it be the pigstye;
My scullion shall come to thee.


  WELL.        This is rare:
Oh, here’s Tom Allworth. Tom!
  ALL.        We must be strangers;
Nor would I have you seen here for a million.  Exit.
  WELL.  Better and better. He contemns me too!

Enter Waiting Woman and Chambermaid

  WOMAN.  Foh, what a smell’s here! What thing’s this?
  CHAM.        A creature
Made out of the privy; let us hence, for love’s sake,
Or I shall swoon.
  WOMAN.        I begin to feel faint already.  [Exeunt Waiting Woman andChambermaid.
  WATCH.  Will you know your way;
  AMB.        Or shall we teach it you,
By the head and shoulders?
  WELL.        No; I will not stir;
Do you mark, I will not: let me see the wretch
That dares attempt to force me. Why, you slaves,
Created only to make legs, 4 and cringe;
To carry in a dish, and shift a trencher;
That have not souls only to hope a blessing
Beyond black-jacks or flagons; you, that were born
Only to consume meat and drink, and batten 6
Upon reversions!—who advances? Who
Shews me the way?
  ORD.        My lady!

Enter LADY ALLWORTH, Waiting Woman, and Chambermaid

  CHAM.        Here’s the monster.
  WOMAN.  Sweet madam, keep your glove to your nose.
  CHAM.        Or let me
Fetch some perfumes may be predominant;
You wrong yourself else.
  WELL.        Madam, my designs
Bear me to you.
  L. ALL.        To me!
  WELL.        And though I have met with
But ragged entertainment from your grooms here,
I hope from you to receive that noble usage
As may become the true friend of your husband,
And then I shall forget these.
  L. ALL.        I am amaz’d
To see and hear this rudeness. Dar’st thou think,
Though sworn, that it can ever find belief,
That I, who to the best men of this country
Deni’d my presence since my husband’s death,
Can fall so low as to change words with thee?
Thou son of infamy, forbear my house,
And know and keep the distance that’s between us;
Or, though it be against my gentler temper,
I shall take order you no more shall be
An eyesore to me.
  WELL.        Scorn me not, good lady;
But, as in form you are angelical,
Imitate the heavenly natures, and vouchsafe
At the least awhile to hear me. You will grant
The blood that runs in this arm is as noble
As that which fills your veins; those costly jewels,
And those rich clothes you wear, your men’s observance,
And women’s flattery, are in you no virtues,
Nor these rags, with my poverty, in me vices.
You have a fair fame, and, I know, deserve it;
Yet, lady, I must say, in nothing more
Than in the pious sorrow you have shewn
For your late noble husband.
  ORD.        How she starts!
  FURN.  And hardly can keep finger from the eye
To hear him nam’d.
  L. ALL.        Have you aught else to say?
  WELL.  That husband, madam, was once in his fortune
Almost as low as I; want, debts, and quarrels
Lay heavy on him: let it not be thought
A boast in me, though I say, I reliev’d him.
’Twas I that gave him fashion; mine the sword,
That did on all occasions second his;
I brought him on and off with honour, lady;
And when in all men’s judgments he was sunk,
And, in his own hopes, not to be buoy’d 7 up,
I stepp’d unto him, took him by the hand,
And set him upright.
  FURN.        Are not we base rogues,
That could forget this?
  WELL.        I confess, you made him
Master of your estate; nor could your friends,
Though he brought no wealth with him, blame you for it;
For he had a shape, and to that shape a mind
Made up of all parts, either great or noble:
So winning a behaviour, not to be
Resisted, madam.
  L. ALL.        ’Tis most true, he had.
  WELL.  For his sake, then, in that I was his friend,
Do not contemn me.
  L. ALL.        For what’s past excuse me,
I will redeem it. Order, give the gentleman
A hundred pounds.
  WELL.        No, madam, on no terms:
I will nor beg nor borrow sixpence of you,
But be suppli’d elsewhere, or want thus ever.
Only one suit I make, which you deny not
To strangers; and ’tis this.  Whispers to her.
  L. ALL.        Fie! nothing else?
  WELL.  Nothing, unless you please to charge your servants
To throw away a little respect upon me.
  L. ALL.  What you demand is yours.
  WELL.        I thank you, lady.
Now what can be wrought out of such a suit
Is yet in supposition: I have said all;
When you please, you may retire.—  [Exit LADY ALL.]
Nay, all’s forgotten;  [To the Servants.]
And, for a lucky omen to my projects,
Shake hands, and end all quarrels in the cellar.
  ORD.  Agreed, agreed.
  FURN.        Still merry Master Wellborn.  Exeunt.

Note 1. A hall in the same. 
Note 2. Part of the back: ribs or sirloin. 
Note 3. The basket of broken meats given in alms. 
Note 4. Bow. 
Note 5. A leathern beer can. 
Note 6. Feed. 
Note 7. Q. bung’d.

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