|Dekker His Dreame|
Thomas Dekker (1570–1632). The Shoemaker’s Holiday.
Vol. 47, pp. 469-483 of The Harvard Classics
We are indebted to Thomas Dekker for one of the most humorous characters in all Elizabethan literature; namely, Simon Eyre, an old shoemaker whose affairs became hilariously involved with those of the gentry.
Lincoln. MY lord mayor, you have sundry times
Feasted myself and many courtiers more;
Seldom or never can we be so kind
To make requital of your courtesy.
But leaving this, I hear my cousin Lacy
L. MAYOR. True, my good lord, and she loves him so well
That I mislike her boldness in the chase.
LINCOLN. Why, my lord mayor, think you it then a shame,
To join a Lacy with an Oateley’s name?
L. MAYOR. Too mean is my poor girl for his high birth;
Poor citizens must not with courtiers wed,
Who will in silks and gay apparel spend
More in one year than I am worth, by far:
LINCOLN. Take heed, my lord, advise you what you do!
A verier unthrift lives not in the world,
Than is my cousin; for I’ll tell you what:
’Tis now almost a year since he requested
To travel countries for experience.
I furnished him with coins, bills of exchange,
Letters of credit, men to wait on him,
Solicited my friends in Italy
Well to respect him. But to see the end:
Scant had he journey’d through half Germany,
But all his coin was spent, his men cast off,
Asham’d to show his bankrupt presence here,
Became a shoemaker in Wittenberg,
A goodly science for a gentleman
Of such descent! Now judge the rest by this:
Suppose your daughter have a thousand pound,
He did consume me more in one half year;
And make him heir to all the wealth you have
One twelvemonth’s rioting will waste it all.
Then seek, my lord, some honest citizen
To wed your daughter to.
L. MAYOR. I thank your lordship.
[Aside.] Well, fox, I understand your subtilty.—
As for your nephew, let your lordship’s eye
But watch his actions, and you need not fear,
For I have sent my daughter far enough.
And yet your cousin Rowland might do well,
Now he hath learn’d an occupation;
And yet I scorn to call him son-in-law.
LINCOLN. Ay, but I have a better trade for him.
I thank his grace, he hath appointed him
Chief colonel of all those companies
Must’red in London and the shires about,
To serve his highness in those wars of France.
See where he comes!—
Enter LOVELL, LACY, and ASKEW
Lovell, what news with you?
LOVELL. My Lord of Lincoln, ’tis his highness’ will,
With all his powers; he would not for a million,
But they should land at Dieppe within four days.
LINCOLN. Go certify his grace, it shall be done. Exit LOVELL.
Now, cousin Lacy, in what forwardness
Are all your companies?
LACY. All well prepared.
The men of Hertfordshire lie at Mile-end,
Suffolk and Essex train in Tothill-fields,
The Londoners and those of Middlesex,
All gallantly prepar’d in Finsbury,
With frolic spirits long for their parting hour.
And, if it please your cousin Lacy come
To the Guildhall, he shall receive his pay;
And twenty pounds besides my brethren
Will freely give him, to approve our loves
We bear unto my lord, your uncle here.
LACY. I thank your honour.
LINCOLN. Thanks, my good lord mayor.
L. MAYOR. At the Guildhall we will expect your coming. Exit.
LINCOLN. To approve your loves to me? No subtilty!
Nephew, that twenty pound he doth bestow
For joy to rid you from his daughter Rose.
But, cousins both, now here are none but friends,
I would not have you cast an amorous eye
Upon so mean a project as the love
Of a gay, wanton, painted citizen.
I know, this churl even in the height of scorn
Doth hate the mixture of his blood with thine.
I pray thee, do thou so! Remember, coz,
What honourable fortunes wait on thee.
Increase the king’s love, which so brightly shines,
And gilds thy hopes. I have no heir but thee,—
And yet not thee, if with a wayward spirit
LACY. My lord, I will for honour, not desire
Of land or livings, or to be your heir,
So guide my actions in pursuit of France,
As shall add glory to the Lacys’ name.
And, nephew Askew, there’s a few for you.
Fair Honour, in her loftiest eminence,
Stays in France for you, till you fetch her thence.
Then, nephews, clap swift wings on your designs.
Begone, begone, make haste to the Guildhall;
There presently I’ll meet you. Do not stay:
Where honour beckons, shame attends delay. Exit.
ASKEW. How gladly would your uncle have you gone!
LACY. True, coz, but I’ll o’erreach his policies.
I have some serious business for three days,
Which nothing but my presence can dispatch.
You, therefore, cousin, with the companies,
Shall haste to Dover; there I’ll meet with you:
Or, if I stay past my prefixed time,
Away for France; we’ll meet in Normandy.
The twenty pounds my lord mayor gives to me
You shall receive, and these ten Portuguese,
Part of mine uncle’s thirty. Gentle coz,
Have care to our great charge; I know, your wisdom
Hath tried itself in higher consequence.
ASKEW. Coz, all myself am yours: yet have this care,
To lodge in London with all secrecy;
Our uncle Lincoln hath, besides his own,
Many a jealous eye, that in your face
Stares only to watch means for your disgrace.
LACY. Stay, cousin, who be these?
EYRE. Leave whining, leave whining! Away with this whimpering, this puling, these blubbering tears, and these wet eyes! I’ll get thy husband discharg’d, I warrant thee, sweet Jane; go to!
HODGE. Master, here be the captains.
EYRE. Peace, Hodge; hush, ye knave, hush!
FIRK. Here be the cavaliers and the colonels, master.
EYRE. Peace, Firk; peace, my fine Firk! Stand by with your pishery-pashery, 12 away! I am a man of the best presence; I’ll speak to them, an 13 they were Popes.—Gentlemen, captains, colonels, commanders! Brave men, brave leaders, may it please you to give me audience. I am Simon Eyre, the mad shoemaker of Tower Street; this wench with the mealy mouth that will never tire, is my wife, I can tell you; here’s Hodge, my man and my foreman; here’s Firk, my fine firking 14 journeyman, and this is blubbered Jane. All we come to be suitors for this honest Ralph. Keep him at home, and as I am a true shoemaker and a gentleman of the gentle craft, buy spurs yourselves, and I’ll find ye boots these seven years.
MARG. Seven years, husband?
FIRK. Truly, master cormorant, 16 you shall do God good service to let Ralph and his wife stay together. She’s a young new-married woman; if you take her husband away from her a-night, you undo her; she may beg in the day-time; for he’s as good a workman at a prick and an awl, as any is in our trade.
JANE. O let him stay, else I shall be undone.
FIRK. Ay, truly, she shall be laid at one side like a pair of old shoes else, and be occupied for no use.
LACY. Truly, my friends, it lies not in my power:
By the lord mayor; I cannot change a man.
HODGE. Why, then you were as good be a corporal as a colonel, if you cannot discharge one good fellow; and I tell you true, I think you do more than you can answer, to press a man within a year and a day of his marriage.
EYRE. Well said, melancholy Hodge; gramercy, my fine foreman.
MARG. Truly, gentlemen, it were ill done for such as you, to stand so stiffly against a poor young wife, considering her case, she is new-married, but let that pass. I pray, deal not roughly with her; her husband is a young man, and but newly ent’red, but let that pass.
EYRE. Away with our pishery-pashery, your pols and your edipols! 18 Peace, midriff; silence, Cicely Bumtrinket! Let your head speak.
FIRK. Yea, and the horns too, master.
EYRE. Too soon, my fine Firk, too soon! Peace, scoundrels! See you this man? Captains, you will not release him? Well, let him go; he’s a proper shot; let him vanish! Peace, Jane, dry up thy tears, they’ll make his powder dankish. 19 Take him, brave men; Hector of Troy was an hackney to him, Hercules and Termagant 20 scoundrels. Prince Arthur’s Round-table-by the Lord of Ludgate—ne’er fed such a tall, such a dapper swordsman; by the life
of Pharaoh, a brave, resolute swordsman! Peace, Jane! I say no more, mad
FIRK. See, see, Hodge, how my master raves in commendation of Ralph!
ASKEW. I am glad, good Master Eyre, it is my hap
To meet so resolute a soldier.
Trust me, for your report and love to him,
A common slight regard shall not respect him.
LACY. Is thy name Ralph?
RALPH. Yes, sir.
LACY. Give me thy hand;
Thou shalt not want, as I am a gentleman.
Woman, be patient; God, no doubt, will send
Thy husband safe again; but he must go,
His country’s quarrel says it shall be so.
HODGE. Th’art a gull, by my stirrup, if thou dost not go. I will not have thee strike thy gimlet into these weak vessels; prick thine enemies, Ralph.
DODGER. My lord, your uncle on the Tower-hill
Stays with the lord mayor and the aldermen,
And doth request you with all speed you may,
To hasten thither.
ASKEW. Cousin, let’s go.
LACY. Dodger, run you before, tell them we come.—
This Dodger is mine uncle’s parasite, Exit DODGER.
The arrant’st varlet that e’er breath’d on earth;
He sets more discord in a noble house
And he, I fear, shall go with us to France,
To pry into our actions.
ASKEW. Therefore, coz,
It shall behove you to be circumspect.
LACY. Fear not, good cousin.—Ralph, hie to your colours. [Exit LACY and ASKEW.]
RALPH. I must, because there’s no remedy;
But, gentle master and my loving dame,
As you have always been a friend to me,
So in mine absence think upon my wife.
JANE. Alas, my Ralph.
MARG. She cannot speak for weeping.
EYRE. Peace, you crack’d groats, 24 you mustard tokens, 25 disquiet not the brave soldier. Go thy ways, Ralph!
JANE. Ay, ay, you bid him go; what shall I do
When he is gone?
FIRK. Why, be doing with me or my fellow Hodge; be not idle.
EYRE. Let me see thy hand, Jane. This fine hand, this white hand, these pretty fingers must spin, must card, must work; work, you bombast-cotton-candle-quean; work for your living, with a pox to you.—Hold thee, Ralph, here’s five sixpences for thee; fight for the honour of the gentle craft, for the gentlemen shoemakers, the courageous cordwainers, the flower of St. Martin’s, the mad knaves of Bedlam, Fleet Street, Tower Street and Whitechapel; crack me the crowns of the French knaves; a pox on them, crack them; fight, by the Lord of Ludgate; fight, my fine boy!
FIRK. Here, Ralph, here’s three twopences: two carry into France, the third shall wash our souls at parting, for sorrow is dry. For my sake, firk the Basa mon cues.
HODGE. Ralph, I am heavy at parting; but here’s a shilling for thee. God send 26 thee to cram thy slops 27 with French crowns, and thy enemies’ bellies with bullets.
RALPH. I thank you, master, and I thank you all.
Now, gentle wife, my loving lovely Jane,
Rich men, at parting, give their wives rich gifts,
Jewels and rings, to grace their lily hands.
Thou know’st our trade makes rings for women’s heels:
Here take this pair of shoes, cut out by Hodge,
Stitch’d by my fellow Firk, seam’d by myself,
Wear them, my dear Jane, for thy husband’s sake,
And every morning, when thou pull’st them on,
Remember me, and pray for my return.
Make much of them; for I have made them so
That I can know them from a thousand mo. Drum sounds. Enter the LORD MAYOR,the EARL OF LINCOLN, LACY, ASKEW, DODGER, and Soldiers. They pass over the stage; RALPH falls in amongst them; FIRK and the rest cry “Farewell,” etc., and so exeunt.
Note 1. A street in London
Note 28. Perforated.