A monologue from the play by Ben Jonson

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Bartholomew Fair (1614).
  • QUARLOUS: Hoy-day! how respective you are become o' the sudden! I fear this family will turn you reformed, too! I' faith, would thou wouldst leave thy exercise of widow-hunting once--this drawing after an old, reverend smock by the splay-foot! There cannot be an ancient tripe or trillibub i' the town, but thou art straight nosing it, and 'tis a fine occupation thou'lt confine thyself to when thou hast got one: scrubbing a piece of buff, as if thou hadst the perpetuity of Pannier Alley to stink in; or perhaps worse, currying a carcass that thou hast bound thyself to alive. I'll be sworn, some of them that thou art, or hast been, a suitor to, are so old as no chaste or married pleasure can ever become 'em. Thou must visit 'em as thou wouldst do a tomb, with a torch or three handfuls of link, flaming hot; and so thou mayst hap to make 'em feel thee, and after, come to inherit according to thy inches. A sweet course for a man to waste the brand of life for, to be still raking himself a fortune in an old woman's embers! We shall ha' thee, after thou hast been but a month married to one of 'em, look like the quartan ague and the black jaundice met in a face, and walk as if thou hadst borrowed legs of a spinner and voice of a cricket. I would endure to hear fifteen sermons a week for her, and such coarse and loud ones as some of 'em must be! I would e'en desire of fate, I might dwell in a drum, and take in my sustenance with an old, broken tobacco-pipe and a straw. Dost thou ever think to bring thine ears or stomach to the patience of a dry grace, as long as thy table-cloth; and droned out by the son here, that might be thy father, till all the meat o' thy board has forgot it was that day i' the kitchen? Or to brook the noise made in a question of predestination by the good labourers and painful eaters assembled together, put to 'em by the matron your spouse, who moderates with a cup of wine ever and anon, and a sentence out of Knox between? Or the perpetual spitting before and after a sober-drawn exhortation of six hours, whose better part was the hum-ha-hum? Or to hear prayers groaned out over thy iron chests, as if they were charms to break 'em? And all this for the hope of two apostle-spoons to suffer, and a cup to eat a caudle in! For that will be thy legacy. She'll ha' conveyed her state safe enough from thee, an she be a right widow.