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PROLOGUE.

A Sport, only for Christmas, is the play
This hour presents t' you: to make you merry
Is all th' ambition 't has; and fullest aim,
Bent at your smiles, to win itself a name :
And if your edge be not quite taken off,
Wearied with sports, I hope 't will make you laugh.

DRAMATIS PERSONE.

BRANDINO, an old justice.
MARTINO, his clerk.

FRANCISCO, Two gentlemen.

ATTILIO

Two old men, suitors to the Widow.

RICARDO, a decayed young gentleman, and suitor to

the Widow.

LATROCINIO,

[blocks in formation]

VALERIA, the Widow.

MARTIA, daughter to one of the old suitors, and supposed a man, under the name of ANSALDO.

PHILIPPA, Justice Brandino's wife.

VIOLETTA, her waiting-maid.

Officers, Servants.

THE WIDOW.

ACT I. SCENE I.

Enter SIGNIOR MARTINO and FRANCISCO*. Francisco. Martino!

Martino. Signior Francisco! you're the luckiest gentleman to meet

Or see first in a morning: I never saw you yet,
But I was sure of money within less than half an hour.
Francisco. I bring you the same luck still.

Martino. What, you do not?

I hope, sir, you are not come for another warrant?
Francisco. Yes, faith, for another warrant.

Martino. Why there's my dream come out then: I never dreamed of a buttock, but I was sure to have money for a warrant. It is the luckiest part of all the body to me. Let every man speak as he finds: now your usurer is of opinion, that to dream of the devil is your wealthier dream; and I think if a man dream of that part that brings many to the devil, 'tis as good: and has all one smatch indeed; for if one be the flesh, the other's the broth; so 'tis in all his members, and we mark it; if gluttony be the meat, letchery is the porridge! they're both boiled together, and we clerks will have our modicum too, though it conclude in the two-penny chop. Why sir: Signior Francisco.

Francisco. 'Twas her voice sure,

*In the margin of the old copy "Table and Standish" are inserted, at which Martino must be supposed to be sitting. C.

Or my soul takes delight to think it was,
And makes a sound like her's.
Martino. Sir, I beseech you.

Francisco. It is the prettiest contriv'd building, this:
What poesy's that, I pr'ythee?
Martino. Which, sir; that

Under the great brass squirt?

Francisco. Aye, that, sir, that.

Martino. "From fire, from water, and all things amiss,

Deliver the house of an honest justice."

Francisco. There's like to be a good house kept then, when fire

And water's forbidden to come into the kitchen.
Not yet a sight of her? This hour's unfortunate.
And what's that yonder, pr'ythee?-O love's famine,
There's no affliction like thee.-Aye, I hear you, sir.
Martino. You're quicker ear'd than I then you

hear me Before I heard myself.

Francisco. A gift in friendship;

Some call it an instinct.

Martino. It may be,

Th' other's the sweeter phrase though. Look you, sir, Mine own wit this, and 'tis as true as turtle :

"A goose-quill and a clerk, a constable and a lanthorn, Bring many a bawd from coach to cart, and many a thief to one turn."

Francisco. That" one turn" help'd you well.

Martino. It has help'd me to money indeed for many a warrant. I am forty dollars the better for that " one turn;" and 't would come off quicker 'twere ne'er a whit the worse for me. But indeed when thieves are taken, and break away twice or thrice one after another, there's my gains; then go out more warrants to fetch 'em again. One fine nimble villain may worth a man ten dollars, in and out o' that fashion; I love such a one with my heart; aye, and will help him to 'scape too, and I can hear you me that. I'll have him in at all times at a month's warning; nay, say I

be

let him run like a summer nag all the vacation: see you these blanks, I'll send him but one of these bridles, and bring him in at Michaelmas with a vengeance. Nothing kills my heart, but when one of 'em dies, sir, then there's no hope of more money: I had rather lose at all times two of my best kindred than an excellent thief; for he's a gentleman I'm more beholding to. Francisco. You betray your mystery too much, sir. Yet no comfort?

'Tis but her sight that I waste precious time for ;
For more I cannot hope for, she's so strict,
Yet that I cannot have.

Martino. I am ready now, signior.

Here are blank warrants of all dispositions; give me but the name and nature of your malefactor, and I'll bestow him according to his merits.

Francisco. This only is th' excuse that bears me out, And keeps off impudence and suspicion

From my too frequent coming.

What name now

Shall I think on, and not to wrong the house?
This coxcomb will be prating.- One Attilio,
His offence wilful murder.

Martino. Wilful murder? Oh I love o' life to have such a fellow come under my fingers: like a beggar that's long a taking leave of a fat louse, I'm loth to part with him, I must look upon him over and over first. Are you wilful? i'faith I'll be as wilful as you then. [Philippa and Violetta at a window.

Philippa. Martino!

Martino. Mistress.

Philippa. Make haste, your master's going.

Martino. I'm but about a wilful murder, forsooth: I'll dispatch that presently.

Philippa. Good-morrow, sir. Oh that I durst say

more.

Francisco. 'Tis gone again: since such are all life's
pleasures,

No sooner known but lost, he that enjoys 'em,
The length of life, has but a longer dream;
He wakes to this i' th' end, and sees all nothing.

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