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THE CITY MADAM. A COMEDY. BY PHILIP
Luke, from a state of indigence and dependance, is sud
denly raised into immense affluence by a deed of gift of the estates of his brother Sir John Frugal, a merchant, re. tired from the world. He enters, from taking a survey of his new riches.
Luke. 'Twas no fantastic object, but a truth,
A real truth, no dream. I did not slumber;
And could wake ever with a brooding eye
To gaze upon't! it did endure the touch,
I saw, and felt it. Yet what I beheld
And handled oft, did so transcend belief
(My wonder and astonishment pass'd o'er)
I faintly could give credit to my senses,
Thou dumb magician,
(To the Key.)
That without a charm
Didst make my entrance easy, to possess
What wise men wish and toil for. Hermes' Moly;
Sybilla's golden bough; the great elixir,
Imagin’d only by the alchymist;
Compar'd with thee, are shadows, thou the substance
And guardian of felicity. No marvel,
My brother made thy place of rest his bosom,
Thou being the keeper of his heart, a mistress
To be hugg'd ever. In by-corners of
This sacred room, silver, in bags heap'd up,
Like billets saw'd and ready for the fire,
Unworthy to hold fellowship with bright gold,
That flow'd about the room, conceal'd itself.
There needs no artificial light, the splendour
Makes a perpetual day there, night and darkness
By that still-hurning lamp for ever banish'd.
But when, guided by that, my eyes had made
Discovery of the caskets, and they open'd,
Each sparkling diamond from itself shot forth
A pyramid of flames, and in the roof
Fix'd it a glorious star, and made the place
Heaven's abstract, or epitome : Rubies, saphires,
And ropes of orient pearl, these seen, I could not
But look on gold with contempt. And yet I found,
What weak credulity could have no faith in,
A treasure far exceeding these. Here lay
A manor bound fast in a skin of parchment;
The wax continuing hard, the acres melting.
Here a sure deed of gift for a market town,
If not redeem'd this day; which is not in
The unthrift's power. There being scarce one shire
In Wales or England, where my monies are not
Lent out at usury, the certain hook
To draw in more.
The extravagance of the City Madams aping court fashions
reprehended. Luke, having come into the possession of his brother Sir John
Frugals estates. Lady, wife to Sir John Frugal, and two daughters, in homely attire.
Luke. Save you, sister; I now dare stile you so. You were before Too glorious to be look'd on: now you appear Like a city matron, and my pretty neices Such things As they were born and bred there. Why should you ape The fashions of court ladies, whose high titles And pedigrees of long descent give warrant For their superfluous bravery? 'twas monstrous. Till now you ne'er look'd lovely.
Lady. Is this spoken In scorn ?
Luke. Fie, no; with judgment. I make good
My promise, and now shew you like yourselves,
In your own natural shapes.
Lady. We acknowledge
We have deserv'd ill from you, 104 yet despair not,
Though we're at your disposure, you'll maintain us
Like your brother's wife and daughters,
Luke. 'Tis my purpose.
Lady. And not make us ridiculous.
Lukę. Admir'd rather,
As fair examples for our proud city dames
And their proud brood to imitate. Hear
Gently, and in gentle phrase I'll reprehend
Your late disguis'd deformity.
Your father was
An honest country farmer, Goodman Humble,
By his neighbours ne'er calld master. . Did your pride
Descend from him ? but let that pass. Your fortune,
Or rather your husband's industry, advanc'd you
To the rank of merchant's wife. He made a knight,
And your sweet mistress-ship ladyfy’d, you wore
Satin on solemn days, a chain of gold,
A velvet hood, rich borders, and sometimes
A dainty miniver cap, a silver pin
Headed with a pearl worth threepence; and thus far
You were privileg'd, and no man envied it:
It being for the city's honour that
There should be distinction between
The wife of a patrician and a plebeian. -
But when the height
And dignity of London's blessings grew
Contemptible, and the name lady mayoress
Became a by-word, and you scorn'd the means
By which you were rais'd (my brother's fond indulgence
104 In his dependant state they had treated him very cruelly. They are now dependant on him.
Giving the reins to't) and no object pleas'd you
But the glitt'ring pomp and bravery of the court;
What a strange, nay monstrous metamorphosis follow'd!
No English workman then could please your fancy;
The French and Tuscan dress, your whole discourse ;
This bawd to prodigality entertain'd,
To buz into your ears, what shape this countess
Appear'd in, the last mask; and how it drew
The young lord's eyes upon her: and this usher
Succeeded in the eldest 'prentice's place,
To walk before you. Then, as I said,
(The reverend hood cast off) your borrow'd hair,
Powder'd and curld, was by your dresser's art
Form'd like a coronet, hang'd with diamonds,
And the richest orient pearl : your carkanets,
That did adorn your neck, of equal value; .
Your Hungerland bands, and Spanish Quellio ruffs :
Great lords and ladies feasted, to survey
Embroider'd petticoats; and sickness feign'd,
That your nightrails of forty pounds a-piece
Might be seen with envy of the visitants :
Rich pantables in ostentation shewn,
And roses worth a family. You were serv'd
In plate :
Stirr'd not a foot without a coach ; and going
To church, not for devotion, but to shew
Your pomp, you were tickled when the beggars cried
Heaven save your honour. This idolatry
Paid to a painted room. And, when you lay
In childbed, at the christening of this minx,
I well remember it, as you had been
An absolute princess (since they have no more)
Three several chambers hung: the first with arras,
And that for waiters; the second, crimson satin,
For the meaner sort of guests; the third of scarlet
Of the rich Tyrian dye: a canopy
To cover the brat’s cradle ; you in state,
Like Pompey's Julia.
Lady. No more, I pray you. ..
Luke. Of this be sure you shall not. I'll cut off
Whatever is exorbitant in you,
Or in your daughters; and reduce you to
Your natural forms and habits: not in revenge
Of your base usage of me; but to fright
Others by your example.105
A NEW WAY TO PAY OLD DEBTS. A COMEDY.
BY PHILIP MASSINGER.
Over-reach, (a cruel extortioner) treats about marrying his
daughter with Lord Lovell.
Over. To my wish we are private.
I come not to make offer with my daughter
A certain portion; that were poor and trivial :
In one word 'I pronounce all that is mine,
In lands or leases, ready coin or goods,
With her, my lord, comes to you; nor shall you have
One motive to induce you to believe
I live too long, since every year I'll add
Something unto the heap, which shall be yours too.
Lov. You are a right kind father.
Over. You shall have reason
To think me such. How do you like this seat?
It is well-wooded and well-water'd, the acres
Fertile and rich: would it not serve for change,
305 This bitter satire against the city women for aping the fashions of the court ladies must have been peculiarly gratifying to the females of the Herbert family and the rest of Massinger's poble patrons and patronesses.