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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Scene Study (Male-Male)

LAUNCE.

I am but a fool, look you, and yet I have the wit to think my master is a kind of a knave;

but that’s all one, if he be but one knave. He lives not now that knows me to be in love, yet I am in love, but a team of horse shall not pluck that from me; nor who ’tis I love; and yet ’tis a woman; but what woman, I will not tell myself; and yet ’tis a milkmaid; yet ’tis not a maid, for she hath had gossips; yet ’tis a maid, for she is her master’s maid, and serves for wages. She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel, which is much in a bare Christian.

Pulling out a paper.

Here is the cate-log of her condition. “Inprimis, She can fetch and carry.” Why, a horse can do no more; nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only carry, therefore is she better than a jade. “Item, She can milk.” Look you, a sweet virtue in a maid with clean hands.

Enter Speed.

SPEED.

How now, Signior Launce? what news with your mastership?

LAUNCE.

With my master’s ship? why, it is at sea.

SPEED.

Well, your old vice still: mistake the word. What news then in your paper?

LAUNCE.

The blackest news that ever thou heardst.

SPEED.

Why, man? how black?

LAUNCE.

Why, as black as ink.

SPEED.

Let me read them.

LAUNCE.

Fie on thee, jolthead, thou canst not read.

SPEED.

Thou liest; I can.

LAUNCE.

I will try thee. Tell me this: who begot thee?

SPEED.

Marry, the son of my grandfather.

LAUNCE.

O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother. This proves that thou canst not read.

SPEED.

Come, fool, come; try me in thy paper.

LAUNCE.

There—and Saint Nicholas be thy speed!

SPEED.

Reads.

“Inprimis, She can milk.”

LAUNCE.

Ay, that she can.

SPEED.

Reads.

“Item, She brews good ale.”

LAUNCE.

And thereof comes the proverb: “Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.”

SPEED.

“Item, She can sew.”

LAUNCE.

That’s as much as to say, “Can she so?”

SPEED.

“Item, She can knit.”

LAUNCE.

What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock?

SPEED.

“Item, She can wash and scour.”

LAUNCE.

A special virtue; for then she need not be wash’d and scour’d.

SPEED.

“Item, She can spin.”

LAUNCE.

Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living.

SPEED.

“Item, She hath many nameless virtues.”

LAUNCE.

That’s as much as to say “bastard virtues,” that indeed know not their fathers, and therefore have no names.

SPEED.

Here follow her vices.

LAUNCE.

Close at the heels of her virtues.

SPEED.

“Item, She is not to be kiss’d fasting, in respect of her breath.”

LAUNCE.

Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast. Read on.

SPEED.

“Item, She hath a sweet mouth.”

LAUNCE.

That makes amends for her sour breath.

SPEED.

“Item, She doth talk in her sleep.”

LAUNCE.

It’s no matter for that, so she sleep not in her talk.

SPEED.

“Item, She is slow in words.”

LAUNCE.

O villain, that set this down among her vices! To be slow in words is a woman’s only virtue. I pray thee out with’t, and place it for her chief virtue.

SPEED.

“Item, She is proud.”

LAUNCE.

Out with that too; it was Eve’s legacy, and cannot be ta’en from her.

SPEED.

“Item, She hath no teeth.”

LAUNCE.

I care not for that neither, because I love crusts.

SPEED.

“Item, She is curst.”

LAUNCE.

Well, the best is, she hath no teeth to bite.

SPEED.

“Item, She will often praise her liquor.”

LAUNCE.

If her liquor be good, she shall; if she will not, I will; for good things should be prais’d.

SPEED.

“Item, She is too liberal.”

LAUNCE.

Of her tongue she cannot, for that’s writ down she is slow of; of her purse she shall not, for that I’ll keep shut. Now, of another thing she may, and that cannot I help. Well, proceed.

SPEED.

“Item, She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults.”

LAUNCE.

Stop there; I’ll have her. She was mine and not mine twice or thrice in that last article. Rehearse that once more.

SPEED.

“Item, She hath more hair than wit”—

LAUNCE.

More hair than wit? It may be; I’ll prove it: the cover of the salt hides the salt, and therefore it is more than the salt; the hair that covers the wit is more than the wit, for the greater hides the less. What’s next?

SPEED.

“And more faults than hairs”—

LAUNCE.

That’s monstrous. O that that were out!

SPEED.

“And more wealth than faults.”

LAUNCE.

Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well, I’ll have her; and if it be a match, as nothing is impossible—

SPEED.

What then?

LAUNCE.

Why, then will I tell thee—that thy master stays for thee at the North-gate.

SPEED.

For me?

LAUNCE.

For thee? ay, who art thou? He hath stay’d for a better man than thee.

SPEED.

And must I go to him?

LAUNCE.

Thou must run to him, for thou hast stay’d so long that going will scarce serve the turn.

SPEED.

Why didst not tell me sooner? Pox of your love-letters!

Exit.

LAUNCE.

Now will he be swing’d for reading my letter—an unmannerly slave, that will thrust himself into secrets. I’ll after, to rejoice in the boy’s correction.

 

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