PODHEAD: Methinks all men are born lost, like wildlife in a quilt, and, in burning out the torchfires of their lives, wander seeking selves the nightlong; though who they go to seek, seek with them; as our inditer turn the house bottom-up for a quill, whilst quill seek quill by his hair, till the ink of his brain be dried up, that, here’s a quill now to write withal, there a roll of parchments by, yet to enscroll no more characters!
MENENIUS: To take you at it; all bootless then, when they find that find they did belate themselves from finding, and once palm-screen’d from the eye of their search?
PODHEAD: Marry, to the eye, sire!
MENENIUS: I’ll draw all in pawnery for a name which, in exchange for my life, buys me an eternity – that far more rich to me than the gem-pouching deep! –
PODHEAD: As I for wit which leaves me still, wantwit I, wanting wit, to little want wit, and be thus light with ignorance, which I give light, as not make so dark, but motley-hued, to invite further fools full well in! Bequote that we, often our suits denied, are snatch’d from our own harms, greatly loved of the motherly gods; since we, our selves knowing least, importunate that would do us most ill, and flee our own good, as porcupettes amble by the mouth of mountain ghosts, leaving their dam’s dugs to seek death-hiding sports in pardless grounds! – wherefore often are we denied poor prayers to preserve more rich avers, when that we kneel at hours inopportunate!
MENENIUS: Peise you the wind of this; ‘tis garnet tumefaction beneath skin of the soul to be pent up in mortality menial, but healing sweet, soul not, but mortal dies! I know deep this burden I bear, which but now down-presses the shoulders of my soul, yet not a grain the content of it! But that I had wit sharp as my spurs, I could ride a lightning to the purpose, and unlade thither the commodity and sic grow easy! But that had not, thus banish’d to life, death my pardon is!
PODHEAD: Believe me, I know what path I am on, but the stray kidnapp’d and let down on the road with roughest wolves and pards engirt; save not a doit how far from home estrang’d and lost – the hobble broke! A weary jade in the world, with too long a shanking shrunken! Pity not me?
MENENIUS: Straddle that about, and content you carry your own pack hard by the back, as do a humpback; fit on thee as thurible embowel incense, ere I am made as ass of a fool! Yond a barn there’s north-north lies, as thou cape thy course, look thou unlade there thy freighty yoke, and heave up rest of the next pallet! – waken, attends you a locust tree toward; eat fill and hang of it (there’s double service) on an arm with thy mellow plague like skill on a southpaw – at the word!
PODHEAD: The road by three is thribble shorter than one, and heaven chance it I be not pair’d, to length me by the heels, as lowborn hours ensue gold-garmented Sol to his hydrous rest; or haply where stinted, look I rise to the stint up!
MENENIUS: Lo, the world had till now thought you fruit of some yew; but now methinks thou dost pine.
PODHEAD: Sooth-a-say! Well-pluck’d! Magnific! I had benamed it so once when ‘twas springtime, and that bounty all liquor; when madness toppled madness, son the father, and thereafter more the gnarly tree of twisted fools; but in hurries a hungry harmattan, drinks up (to a lushing) my tree to the stem – axil and branch – till, but scion and lumber, nothing foliages but, ignitible, catches flame, as a jealous huswife her runagate break-knot at very kernel of his breaking!
MENENIUS: I knew a man at length poll’d of his wife, who, sans his horns, could enforce ne’er head-firsts more; and no head thus but the butt of the wife’s shrewry; who herself more censorious than the touch-me-not, eruptuous like Erebus, picks slips as foxhounds nose quarry out, and would often on the wretch sit like kyphosis; at but toys of dailiness would rattle poor heaven urgently so the stars shudder frighty with the din, and from the firmament, like meal from the sifter, fall to fine flour; out thereunder, no more! In such sum I could number, or to somesuch liken you, fallen from grace to the wither’d root like a fallfish, silver pale; yet grown a flowering fool of thine own branching! – feather’d the more bright show than jewelweed!
PODHEAD: Full man, main fool, that moieties himself to halves wed, to seek out a hole to hide his wanton his head in, like do Ostrich his in a dune, or truth in jest; and worst of the catalogue, to do it within the book, so his mischief is betax’d not to compt; for stands it not great in debt erewhile to be born man, then be overturn’d from his right the ledger, tumbling on the table, and render’s so unforgivably and unministerably bankrupt, that is, past forgiving and counsel? Hark, while the devil beagle thee, but find thou sunter to woman, straight gives he thee over, thou shalt find, ere lost in her clinch!
MENENIUS: Why, fears the devil woman; or loves, since it be said of the canonny, ‘A devil is woman’?
PODHEAD: Wide, good my lord, warrant you! Your Devil is a bachelor immemorial!
MENENIUS: Fear be the wherefore then?
PODHEAD: Nor so neither, but leaves you to the better hand, which, he knows, makes better work of thy clear-off; rack and ungular! – therefore the moose fallen in tigerous paw, retires the content canid! That there say we you are griddled about like colliers, or cinder’d like the lox! – in the teethier fourth of the sun!
MENENIUS: Marry, that’s more certainer than the unforeseen! Canid right quick; to embrace the thing past his wardy claw, in giving it leave to go; else seek out the deadly foe and break rank ranks with his self!
PODHEAD: That is pebble pick’d of the shore, or bellows embow’d in the hipside, like two crescents diametral, wind-proud, and full of nothing!
Enter Agrippa, an old philosopher
AGRIPPA: Have we here what? Here ambition fail’d, there foolery athwart, as choler and pride convocate both in secret counsel to slip the world’s apprehension; dissatisfied Menenius and our frothy Podhead!
PODHEAD: And come one to try both, and hang to do the world service, then hang the world to do his own, with natural gibberish; his head an applecart of stale apple-johns, come who will that’ll purchase of his rotten pippins, haggle his pleasure, and be ender of the market!
AGRIPPA: ‘Tis sure time to fool, when mullets may spring fresh at ear of May, yet there’s a December toward, when vain conceit hop in the hibernacle, and sagehood hunt!
Why, that’s out of rough winds! Old wither’d stumps stay no stouter sudden blast of wintertide than the slain beat retreat from or clubs or partisans or sicas! I’ll forth of my hibernacle to see you rail against biting air, unless thou importun’st more teeth!
MENENIUS: (Aside) The two recoils these ones make will unmake three, unless one make haste hence!
AGRIPPA: No more I pine but there appear teeth enow in my head for thine ear, with respect to thy grain, sweet corn! I am bountifully appreciant! Take that! There is sickle-sharp wit for thy wit!
PODHEAD: Root there, dry stump, though winter come! I have had done with thee! A cold grievance hithermost blows, I am for doors! (To Menenius) Part us, good liege!
MENENIUS: (To Agrippa) Again, my lord. Saturn reinspirit thee!
Exeunt Menenius and Podhead
AGRIPPA: I fear me, this twin-head from the swallow of the underworld
Somedeal breathe me near, not burn me, as fury would;
But miss me the hotness to purpose; the one
Dry with pining, t’other a most thinkless glutton,
Of drier skull ending the jest drawing long,
Of massier head drawing my shame in gloss-tongue;
Both eat dogbane, and starved pestilence eat both,
That contemn the frozen heyday of after-youth!
A blain on both conceit, more fooling the ensuit;
As through men’s conceit strongest flows foolery’s conduit,
In which flow their sure foundering and ruination,
Ere a man of them be saved by rumination!
But soft, dry stump! Curse you these yet-showy flowers?
‘Tis but envy that naught yield, else painful hours!
Therefore cease thou at the word thy poisonous spilth,
Which taking none I its flow repairs with its filth,
As a cry reverberant in so compact a store:
Hush! – for thy tent, there repent, for shame! – and no more!
Re-enter Menenius and Podhead
MENENIUS: Would the man of the Destinies’ tailoring stand but attent to the world, for the world’s sake, a world of service would slip undreamt by, and not a word of it hiss’d nor roun’d beneath his green of ignorance! Grow not I bare-scull’d, your knavery?
PODHEAD: True, your grace thank your eyes, such twin planets, which orbit thy vast sunny head, dread my lord!
MENENIUS: (Aside) This rum fool is thicker than the autocratic fog who doth seize on all the land; not a minute word I breathe with him but earth perceiveth my breadth presently! – Thy drift?
PODHEAD: All we are born sick, each waker dying waking, and each delay a hastener to our end; save he born ill, from all mortality secure! – Sure the fatal seamstresses, all sisters three, say, the Parcae; Morta, Decima, Nona; ever cutting, measuring, spinning with dial-hands cop from thy spindle-like cop gossamer threads in sewing thee an end, wherefore grow’st thou needy of wool like distaffs; and busybody Procrastination sends more hands to make more rapid work; the whorl whereof is, thou diest for weeds, in being pick’d bare by women!
MENENIUS: Crab this witwagging, pug-brat! Wilt thou fain leave not this fooling till art disgrac’d?
PODHEAD: Till reedbirds and blackbirds crack in the throat laying my shame, no! – though half-wink’d Aurora, roused on it, look dead in it!
MENENIUS: What is this ballyhoo about mine ears, thou sorry patch!
PODHEAD: Lo, there’s hurly of thine enemies vulturous, each of the other resenting, pecking his lunate beak in your flesh, and clawing others away for greed as cawing for meat and drink! That’s shuffle of sweet men! – to make table of their graves, and have eaters and drinkers press about where they lie!
MENENIUS: It cannot miss but some skinflinty moorage is upon me, which hoards all my voyage up ta a wasteful shore! There’s the wrench advancement withdraws in his bag, spending each surge! That I am flesh hath been hen insult to my spirit!
PODHEAD: Marry, master, that’s signal and embolder’d to the nosing as sand gnats on camels! But I could small fury for it instead of you, for , my imagination besides, who waits but when he lists, the rascal scaperight! I possess nothing at my command else but bric-a-brac! – nor owndom wherewith to dower my friends but my brain, the bran of invention, no barn itself one quart so plump and fulsome as Ceres’, and the meat of it, if it be not crack’d and chew’d off in advance of its husband, as elsewhen the use is!
MENENIUS: Thou art a saveless daw still, happier lodged in the rough of the matter; flock’st with swallows, with light wing fly every sober farthingdale of ground, and leave but feathers behind –
PODHEAD: Soon as the clime please not me! My food is in other air, as I feed on wing, and you speak on feathers! – To my nest hence, to yours you my lord, to hatch further nothings to yolk the time withal!
MENENIUS: Or you come at bevers with me the while, to wet our bald tongues, bantling, ere depart.
PODHEAD: I like it. The instant, go thou before!