NICANDER: Nicander, tender’d his self, could find all Sparta some pleasures and minister a gash or twain; but, well-a-day, commanded of a chiefer principal, the faecal wrack of society, these our barbarous Lacedaemonids, to contrary himself, in administering the polity, crosses his conscience thus; as oftest be men suited till they don office, and their honour wear; which them awestriking, transmogrifies quite! This is good man Service bow’d beneath a bawd; or humbleness hoisted high to lewd clouds; like a band of gold on a foul hand, itself some worth, but besmirch’d being put on.
CRISPBRAIN: Marry, sire, the sheepherder sogged in lanichol, haled eftsoon from forth his smoky sty sudden, with rod to graze all yokelry withal, and sudden gush of blood to scion the court, say, thus ensupremed, might soon strain and transmute to a lord more loft than the siege of Mytilene, before they themselves which bred up him on hard palms! And there no clamour will ruff the popinjay at his eye of conscience as we seize a gourmand at the morsure; nipp’d himself in the mean like a pavilion ‘twixt girdle and collet engraff’d; or a parr ‘twixt fry and smolt trouted; – that a weak piece of flesh mums up not the revoltive spirit more less likely than lowliness long captains the pridefully inclined! Rather wanting now his pomp, he is in the world what shekels in a swinery!
NICANDER: Hear me, quipster, close; I have heard tales told since boy-child days of men’s stormy courses, and seen the old wrinkled wept that told them, and young trembled that hearken’d: yet now, holing these up against mine own, do I think mine stranger than all fearful encounters men meet, and all demon-appearing figures imagination frame out: that then stand I profess’d this hour to be cast out of the orbit and revolution of daily men! – I, aspectant teeth to teeth charg’d against Fortune, who have broke and foil’d many traps till Death, with eyes more aber than the falcon-gentil’s, lurking amongst ivy tods, himself hath sicken’d with the venery! The Moirae enchaf’d so clepe me forth against a thunder in a cloud of dispatch, and decree I ricochet the stroke, clearing it! ’Tis a black storm tonight roiling, hodhead, source me fire suddenly to give eye this trode trod, knighted as Nyx; tonight do I yomp, I impledge, and venture without company toward myself! – die or live – death and life be as to me alike as tumult and order! – these threescore years and eight, nay, since my nativity, thus click’d from my Self quite, like swan laved in quag! No more! Heyday! Who is it plays?! Give me music the instant, ho, to thus medicine me. Such mighty witchery is music quidditative of, as calls wandering spirits home, gentles gnarring billows to an attemperature, and mince the thunder-stroke of heaven, till all, hearing, still in quiet, sleeping fall; or not discover paigles yellow the air; sweetbriars perfume; mollyblobs fledge vauntful May; crowfoots enflower dank bayous with treading; kingcups balsam swollen joints of the discourtesied shore; tender musk-mallows give suck flower-flies; or pretty umbels unclew infant heads from forth pillowy buds under Springtime’s brood to peep the vale; or pollywogs put up their gills and slough down infanthood, shunning of soft beds, the liever grown paddocks, and fall foot on dry hillocks to whisk up fragrances of open air; or mark a parcel of bobolinks and thrushes together trooping, laying on wing; – but fall pale all there with love, as rise aglow with intellection!
CRISPBRAIN: Cold sooth, lord king, thou’rt a man more peccadilloed
Than childhood abused, or virginity’s abode!
Yet do eyes questant plumb some stone inhumed in suffering,
More rich enjewel’d than that which rich ease may’st bring!
NICANDER: How goes the time with your wife, chuck, nowadays?
CRISPBRAIN: The hellcat’s more churner of the guts than’s a limekiln’s rotten breath; more madding than the bot to cattle, touchy as cattle lesion’d of the warbles; her passions petty like chaff, more chaff than midsummer rain; her lord the rather a foregatherer and convoker of hearts like the linden every way he doth chance to branch, soft is as basswood is; while as he goes the shrew, his caping snare to bag him for a destruction, spigot stop him at his very cock of kindness, – hath him by his hem of habiliment like birdlime, or enringing hopbine by the hip of the hop, as to hint him of some ruin if the kind dove attempt some good; wherefrom well he knows he cannot fly but is limed, as fowler’s fowl at birding!
NICANDER: Wherefore you be no good under her?
CRISPBRAIN: Nor atop her; for there’s the foul shift which breeds the getting of children hellbred, got of their mother’s womb, under me; that I since the top am, they little rocks enmass’d together like the corymb, and by their mother knock’d each against other raising them, grow little fires in their heart which, in time their ill-will to full form come, being stifled before to burn low, but now molten in all-consuming fire, shoot the top off, being myself, and break forth of the crater and charge toward heaven in mad eruption! This is the magma of the matter, ‘bove nor below begets aught but bad!
NICANDER: I have aspected it so, clear as pitchstone. But hath she no good come of her? I have had immeasurable comings of her, amplectant quite ton the heart, that thundering did shut up and swallow their rage; lightning, ere it touch’d the ground, cease, and hang suspent between heaven and earth like doubtful prayers; heaven musically inclined play at the thin ribs of the rough sea for catgut; fever’d earth in her fitful tremor still and quieten, maiden stars break in a present insurrection and forth of hiding at noontide; – hearing this nonpareil sing! Is it not true this I have heard? Sings not she so bidingly?
CRISPBRAIN: Though her tongue in her head warbles trill more sweet than an eye of grosbeaks or cardinals, binds your heart entuned to present worship; fear you she stores some insult by the bill to come at after praise, more sharper than your spelk sharp, as infant posset milk – rotten as it is sour: for never she leaves a good word in your pleasure but she grow sick, and cronk her crank like the great of a pipe till her hearer be took sicken, who, honking himself whole bowels in her eye, restore her healthy by proof of his own distemperature! Very breaklaw of women’s native lay!
NICANDER: Ha, so bad? This is most outrageous made out to wife man may hear, milking the point deep as doth a crankbird of a wood; for yet I have to come past a jack whose love-troth swiped him like new-come faith, and like to a minion new-reconciled, made mad him more than month of May mew’d in middle of March! – that I stand here aghast like beech solitary in the wood!
CRISPBRAIN: Myself, confess, am villain that could steal a chuckle or two of Enyo’s little pouch of happiness, hunt Artemis down to heart as tinkerbird take termite’s nest; but late marking my own chance in the guts of ruin, now wary-weary, spying out and in like a postern, who fall on or break out; yet know no ruse to be acquit of the lady but am come slumping under the books! – that I am to what is the dell’s will the which insomnious leaves are to the gripesome wind; eager on charge as her young chicks feed of the goldfinch; nodding every command ere it come to trance by breath! Say, I’m not one drop so bless’d to happen by a man so bless’d that bear such one wife and sleep both in one room of life!
Enter Crispbrain’s wife, Briseis.
BRISEIS: Greetings, king and husband, the hour take both happy!
NICANDER and CRISPBRAIN: And you, lady.
CRISPBRAIN: Breathe no more, lady, this present, but get you to haberdashery this sudden, fetch me needle, thread, to button your lips withal, those conjugate ember-red ribbons of your thought, and be such vile matter button’d and seal’d in; then repair again, ere you mar the fabric of this conference!
BRISEIS: ‘Tis just the hint, no time fitter! I have your goose in living coals, my lord fool, to iron out the matter! – (To Nicander) King, ware, here’s three more drybrains to show than a wisehead, fourtime hodskull like a mess; very lickspittle of fooldom and hoodlumery; come like an initial false hand, that we wait a better deal of Fortune; – or I am piteous inheritress of this rubbish heap! But what substance? Males are native fools; wisest of whom so remain, others worse grow; whose foolery come home to the woods, and fly out of the scope quite! Nor will Asclepius, all his herbage and roots, his herb most potent, the allheal, say all pinked with pains from the earth and thick-gather’d to a hellbroth, his lib come to warish these our pi-dogs diseased! – that all his subterfuge at grass, used to bub colour before like helleborein, grow blind, he lose targe, and straight fallen is!
CRISPBRAIN: Duck, dread king! The waive malapert begins blow, and ceaseth not till every house of man, all structurally suspect, raze in the brath! No man but is undone who she betongues!
BRISEIS: Furtive Hypnos enters never in to anoint my eyes but as an interloper; for never laid out in my almanac of days was an hour to slumber, else which repose enturbid the weather of my voyage; – as brought forth a blubber-faced babe my mother had no fingers to stop the pipe of my bawling, being burn’d all fingers in trying the hearth, and forespoke I was to sing, which now I see not done unless it be in weeping; then come a lass, did decry the boys solicitous gave no quiet, save at when mew’d up in father’s cell; but come a woman, heaven, to trouble me for my pains, did grin to yoke me with this loathsome counterfeit, this breakfaith; that, across three such intervals I have lain wake, and like a siren of flood more rough than rye kibbled, sung in it. Luckless then I, still the granary of my much too dear thyme, laid out to the patch for consumption as your fish nab stonefly, though he go for it, when he go for it.
NICANDER: Pray entertain me as mild cyan intermediate ‘twixt emerald and sapphirine; or brevier ‘twixt bourgeois and minion; and venture it amongst yourselves there’s some divinity perch’d upon this growth which, except deracinated of some wind dreadful, takes not wing thence, but sits still, till the arboreal head duck in heaven, as bobbing dolphins arche their backs above the element they live inhabiters of. For, lo, as sun and moon sometime do meet in an eclipse, and confound the heaven; even both you, come to the encounter, by degrees may earth amaze; and these cracks now you plain of, prove posterns to let heaven’s light in! Remember me not my twin-head, nay, not even Alcamenes, or else go, fetch you pricket, unfurl me the scroll of his days, and by and by thou find’st this potentate, cold proof! author of thousand peccadilloes patter in like sinewy heavendrops till the bayou of his rule did o’ercharge, spill o’er, and dominion and city both take, nibbles out now subsistence from pulp of his garden, feeding of cherries to soft-woven lays of reedbirds at twilight, now stretch’d content, or then larking amongst his jasmine perfum’d, courting sometime with the queen-of-the-night, full caparison’d in the phlox, lording it ‘pon colorfast viceroys, breezing beetles, crickets chirpy, husk-note croakers and sprier grasshoppers amid the stones and ears of grass, that all bepeople the floral manor round; othertime curl’d peaceful beneath golden sunflowers in the lea, or the embowering herb Peter, eating of wild smallage or celery curtail’d; and in every article lives more bless’d than prayers’ aim; as in the hahoo of his days! – So the vast space of his subjection, which he makes now all in peace, that Urbanity’s learning but teaches to forget his crossdeeds, and every rurigenous heart hail him that tyrannized simple country life!
BRISEIS: He is arrow, this is witcraft, which way the mighty rise! This be the mean, sweet king, that every other tyrant thing most boorish and beasty, as he which is my covering and finish you know who, and which with sticking pitches my sunny fortunes dark, this devil, should but, seeming to shrivel, recite a shrift and, taken with, with the mere word scour all his shames granate, while they he stain’d, die in the dye; as would a ravisher atone the trespass, and fully live, while the maid leave to a vacancy perpetual, which he fed on, home to nothing, like a duddery! – nor Murder, though he weed like Piety, may recall the life of his hand!
NICANDER: Alas, sweet madam, do you caulk this moral at the throat, and suffer it not live a word or two to do your soothings.
CRISPBRAIN: Why, look you, my lord, the grinchy trot remarks slips more minuter than gagate as mangabeys pick nits from brats’ backs a-allogrooming; that might as easy any coistril of the mob with a piece of kindling from the foam touch the very ooze of the sea, as seize the enchaf’d bag’s heart, whereabout she hath the cheval-de-frise! That, sooth-a-saying, no man coped by heaven can feast of her virtues, save he which climb out the cope, that’ll cope to wed! And I am to her wed, as to myself in perdition; taker of more fire than salamanda is proof to! You have mark’d, as you with me been mark today of her cannonade, great king. How do you now, sit still or fall off, carbonadoed and hewn in the exchange, that lose thus several limbs – very scatteration, like to a weedery?
NICANDER: Lo, she brinks my wit; I’ll no further but urge her patience! For now metrows I rule a wit gaping like a chaos! – Like a tib loudly pretty, not pretty loud; in quiet a natural, but beauty a most shrilly din; thus shy and dinny both in one like are yaffingales, so the world please it; so well it falls! Wreak her some discourtesy, and straight fall leftward of the law!
CRISPBRAIN: (Aside) A peachy externe and a heart of conker, the stone whereof is a drupe! – right counterfeit as a blank!
BRISEIS: (To her husband) The law use you well, if he be a southpaw; but as the law be right, to damn you are left, my lord!
NICANDER: He is pitted out quite, then pied in repentant like a rudesby the law pelts the books; that now could he die with some portance so refin’d, were hanging lenient something! Look he be well wed, madam!
CRISPBRAIN: I have caught the Briseis, to be wed; but am not well, gone down under the bruises, O king, which root our comfrey but abrade itself to medicine!
BRISEIS: This gangrel villatic, great king, is but rough with the lie, and so rives the cool of home as many a ruff wantons it with reeves!
CRISPBRAIN: A cry fluctuated in the wind like a sparrow hawk sudden broken-wing’d mid-air, or tattling myna disrupt in flowing speech, caulk’d at the very throat like an obligor!
BRISEIS: Thou know’st, husband, if it be more merry matter than marriage, that either it be I sit to break corn at the quernstone, or weave with soft fingerwork the rough hopsack out, or a making you the batiste lineny, or a-drying the hops to brew you good ale, I could commerce with the skies in tongue more sweet to hear than healing hyssop, labiate thyme, or the wild dog rose, and all sweet flowers upon the silken air which sprinkle their perfume dispersedly, to the smell!
NICANDER: (To Crispbrain) Despotism dreads counsel as misers do nickpurses! Were the love as great, one pistachio-shell had been room enough for two souls infinite! Heed thy ladylove!
BRISEIS: More correcter than a sentence, my lord; scourge the truant ludibrious!
CRISPBRAIN: (Aside) Unlid the matter of it, therein may you find a pint of word or two! – (To the king) O king, sea-toss’d on the pee of a desert-cat to barren shores of my Self, tell you, an agate stone is mountain majestic enough in my eye, your pistachio a full continent and entire, a speck of dust of your tot’s cheek is soil enow to sow all my crop in; nor is not a little breath of his lungs a present whirlstorm, and with what scanty pride in me I have wherewithal to presume mine, I pitch my tent from further gusts, sire, and beseechingly plead no draught more, or think me lost indiscoverably!
BRISEIS: The paddock spats forth no good, nor yield not, dear king, yield. There’s certain new theme for a dump flown in but now, be heaven ware of it, of a rowney and her ass which, if she have just enough of patience, and the ass enough of no wit, she carry on her back the every pace of the trudge; whereas which, if she have little of patience, and the ass little of no wit, there’s hard beating for him to kick the sense in and take her up; but as she have no patience, nor he any atom of wit, the couple may go along peaceably, and to neither’s ear neigh dissatisfaction, agoing!
CRISPBRAIN: (Applauds her) Most royal moral fittingly sewn upon the back of the hour!
NICANDER: Might we drive no armistice effectual ‘twixt you two? This matter querulential is as it goes ‘twixt opposites of like might, unresolv’d like to a dream clipt, which, as bitter for it, dernly stalks the bedder like water-sprites, treading air. Pray leave I brood on rulership awhile. No more your witcraft I will to entertain as piddle golden time away!
BOTH: Good your grace!