Another part of the forest near Athens.
(Schoolmaster Gerrold; First Country Folk; Second Country Folk; Third Country Folk; Fourth Country Folk; Bavian; Nell; Friz; Maudline; Luce; Barbary; Taborer; Jailer’s Daughter; Theseus; Pirithous; Hippolyta; Emilia; Arcite; Dancers)
Led by Gerrold the schoolmaster, the country folk rehearse their Morris dance, but discover that one of the women they need is missing. As they curse her and promise to get back at her, the Jailer’s Daughter comes by, singing. Seeing her and realizing that she has gone mad, the country folk decide that bringing her into the Morris would add piquancy to their show. Hearing the hunting horns of the court, all except Gerrold go hide in the woods. Thesus comes by, and Gerrold interrupts him and begs him to take the time to watch their show. As Theseus is willing, he calls for the countrymen, who come in and perform their dance. Theseus rewards them richly and returns to hunting. (179 lines)
Enter a Schoolmaster Gerrold, four Countrymen as morris-dancers and another as the Bavian, five Wenches (Nell, Friz, Maudline, Luce and Barbary), with a Taborer.
What tediosity and disensanity
Is here among ye! Have my rudiments
Been labor’d so long with ye, milk’d unto ye,
And by a figure, even the very plum-broth
And marrow of my understanding laid upon ye,
And do you still cry, “Where?” and “How?” and “Wherefore?”
You most coarse frieze capacities, ye jane judgments,
Have I said, “Thus let be,” and “There let be,”
And “Then let be,” and no man understand me?
Proh Deum, medius fidius, ye are all dunces!
For why, here stand I; here the Duke comes; there are you,
Close in the thicket. The Duke appears, I meet him
And unto him I utter learned things,
And many figures; he hears, and nods, and hums,
And then cries, “Rare!” and I go forward. At length
I fling my cap up; mark there! Then do you,
As once did Meleager and the boar,
Break comely out before him; like true lovers,
Cast yourselves in a body decently,
And sweetly, by a figure, trace and turn, boys.
And sweetly we will do it, Master Gerrold.
Draw up the company. Where’s the taborer?
Here, my mad boys, have at ye!
But I say, where’s their women?
Here’s Friz and Maudline.
And little Luce with the white legs, and bouncing Barbary.
And freckled Nell—that never fail’d her master.
Where be your ribands, maids? Swim with your bodies,
And carry it sweetly and deliverly,
And now and then a favor and a frisk.
Let us alone, sir.
Where’s the rest o’ th’ music?
Dispers’d as you commanded.
And see what’s wanting. Where’s the Bavian?
My friend, carry your tail without offense
Or scandal to the ladies; and be sure
You tumble with audacity and manhood,
And when you bark, do it with judgment.
Quo usque tandem? Here is a woman wanting.
We may go whistle; all the fat’s i’ th’ fire.
We have, as learned authors utter, wash’d a tile,
We have been fatuus, and labored vainly.
This is that scornful piece, that scurvy hilding,
That gave her promise faithfully she would
Be here, Cicely the sempster’s daughter.
The next gloves that I give her shall be dogskin;
Nay, and she fail me once—You can tell, Arcas,
She swore by wine and bread she would not break.
An eel and woman,
A learned poet says, unless by th’ tail
And with thy teeth thou hold, will either fail.
In manners this was false position.
A fire ill take her! Does she flinch now?
Shall we determine, sir?
Our business is become a nullity,
Yea, and a woeful and a piteous nullity.
Now when the credit of our town lay on it,
Now to be frampal, now to piss o’ th’ nettle!
Go thy ways, I’ll remember thee, I’ll fit thee!
Enter Jailer’s Daughter.
“The George Alow came from the south,
From the coast of Barbary-a;
And there he met with brave gallants of war,
By one, by two, by three-a.
Well hail’d, well hail’d, you jolly gallants!
And whither now are you bound-a?
O, let me have your company
Till I come to the sound-a.”
“There was three fools fell out about an howlet:
The one said it was an owl,
The other he said nay,
The third he said it was a hawk,
And her bells were cut away.”
There’s a dainty mad woman, master,
Comes i’ th’ nick, as mad as a March hare.
If we can get her dance, we are made again.
I warrant her, she’ll do the rarest gambols.
A mad woman? We are made, boys!
And are you mad, good woman?
I would be sorry else.
Give me your hand.
I can tell your fortune.
You are a fool. Tell ten—I have pos’d him. Buzz!
Friend, you must eat no white bread; if you do,
Your teeth will bleed extremely. Shall we dance ho?
I know you, y’ are a tinker. Sirrah tinker,
Stop no more holes but what you should.
A tinker, damsel?
Or a conjurer.
Raise me a devil now, and let him play
Qui passa o’ th’ bells and bones.
Go take her,
And fluently persuade her to a peace.
“Et opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis”—
Strike up, and lead her in.
Come, lass, let’s trip it.
Persuasively and cunningly.
I hear the horns. Give me some meditation,
And mark your cue.
Exeunt all but Schoolmaster.
Pallas inspire me!
Enter Theseus, Pirithous, Hippolyta, Emilia, Arcite, and Train.
This way the stag took.
Stay, and edify.
What have we here?
Some country sport, upon my life, sir.
Well, sir, go forward, we will edify.
Ladies, sit down, we’ll stay it.
Thou doughty Duke, all hail! All hail, sweet ladies!
This is a cold beginning.
If you but favor, our country pastime made is.
We are a few of those collected here
That ruder tongues distinguish villager,
And to say verity, and not to fable,
We are a merry rout, or else a rable,
Or company, or by a figure, choris,
That ’fore thy dignity will dance a morris.
And I, that am the rectifier of all,
By title paedagogus, that let fall
The birch upon the breeches of the small ones,
And humble with a ferula the tall ones,
Do here present this machine, or this frame,
And, dainty Duke, whose doughty dismal fame
From Dis to Daedalus, from post to pillar,
Is blown abroad, help me, thy poor well-willer,
And with thy twinkling eyes look right and straight
Upon this mighty Morr—of mickle weight—
Is—now comes in, which being glu’d together
Makes Morris, and the cause that we came hither.
The body of our sport, of no small study,
I first appear, though rude, and raw, and muddy,
To speak, before thy noble Grace, this tenner;
At whose great feet I offer up my penner.
The next, the Lord of May and Lady bright,
The Chambermaid and Servingman, by night
That seek out silent hanging. Then mine Host
And his fat spouse, that welcomes to their cost
The galled traveller, and with a beck’ning
Informs the tapster to inflame the reck’ning.
Then the beast-eating Clown, and next the Fool,
The Bavian, with long tail and eke long tool,
Cum multis aliis that make a dance.
Say “Ay,” and all shall presently advance.
Ay, ay, by any means, dear domine.
Knock for school.
Intrate, filii; come forth, and foot it.
Enter the Dance. Music. Dance.
Ladies, if we have been merry,
And have pleas’d ye with a derry,
And a derry, and a down,
Say the schoolmaster’s no clown.
Duke, if we have pleas’d thee too
And have done as good boys should do,
Give us but a tree or twain
For a Maypole, and again,
Ere another year run out,
We’ll make thee laugh and all this rout.
Take twenty, domine.—How does my sweet heart?
Never so pleas’d, sir.
’Twas an excellent dance, and for a preface,
I never heard a better.
Schoolmaster, I thank you.
One see ’em all rewarded.
And here’s something
To paint your pole withal.
Now to our sports again.
May the stag thou hunt’st stand long,
And thy dogs be swift and strong!
May they kill him without lets,
And the ladies eat his dowsets!
Exeunt Theseus and his company. Wind horns.
Come, we are all made. Dii deaeque omnes!
Ye have danc’d rarely, wenches.