A play by Ben Jonson
The Masque Of Christmas
Title: The Masque Of Christmas
Author: Ben Jonson [More Titles by Jonson]
AS IT WAS PRESENTED AT COURT, 1616.
The Court being seated
Enter_ CHRISTMAS, _with two or three of the guard, attired in round hose, long stockings, a close doublet, a high-crowned hat, with a brooch, a long, thin beard, a truncheon, little ruffs, white shoes, his scarfs and garters tied cross, and his drum beaten before him.
Why, gentlemen, do you know what you do? ha! would you have kept me out? Christmas, old Christmas, Christmas of London, and Captain Christmas? Pray you, let me be brought before my lord chamberlain, I'll not be answered else: _'Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all:_ I have seen the time you have wish'd for me for a merry Christmas; and now you have me, they would not let me in: _I must come another time!_ a good jest, as if I could come more than once a year! Why, I am no dangerous person, and so I told my friends of the guard. I am old Gregory Christmas still, and though I come out of Pope's-head alley, as good a Protestant as any in my parish. The truth is, I have brought a Masque here, out o' the city, of my own making, and do present it by a set of my sons, that come out of the lanes of London, good dancing boys all. It was intended, I confess, for Curriers Hall; but because the weather has been open, and the Livery were not at leisure to see it till a frost came, that they cannot work, I thought it convenient, with some little alterations, and the groom of the revels' hand to 't, to fit it for a higher place; which I have done, and though I say it, another manner of device than your New-Year's-night. Bones o' bread, the king! (_seeing King James._) Son Rowland! Son Clem! be ready there in a trice: quick, boys!
Enter his Sons and Daughters, (ten in number,) led in, in a string, by Cupid, who is attired in a flat cap, and a prentice's coat, with wings at his shoulders.
MISRULE, in a velvet cap, with a sprig, a short cloak, great yellow ruff, like a reveller, his torch-bearer bearing a rope, a cheese, and a basket.
CAROL, _a long tawny coat, with a red cap, and a flute at his girdle, his torch-bearer carrying a song-book open._
MINCED-PIE, like a fine cook's wife, drest neat; her man carrying a pie, dish, and spoons.
GAMBOL, like a tumbler, with a hoop and bells; his torch-bearer armed with a colt-staff, and a binding cloth.
POST AND PAIR, with a pair-royal of aces in his hat; his garment all done over with pairs and purs; his squire carrying a box, cards, and counters.
NEW-YEAR'S-GIFT, in a blue coat, serving-man like, with an orange, and a sprig of rosemary gilt on his head, his hat full of brooches, with a collar of ginger-bread, his torch-bearer carrying a march-pane with a bottle of wine on either arm.
MUMMING, in a masquing pied suit, with a vizard, his torch-bearer carrying the box, and ringing it.
WASSEL, like a neat sempster and songster; her page bearing a brown bowl, drest with ribands, and rosemary before her.
OFFERING, in a short gown, with a porter's staff in his hand, a wyth born before him, and a bason, by his torch-bearer.
BABY-CAKE, drest like a boy, in a fine long coat, biggin-bib, muckender, and a little dagger; his usher bearing a great cake, with a bean and a pease.
They enter singing.
Give me leave to ask, for I bring you a masque
Gam. Here's one o' Friday-street would come in.
Chris. By no means, nor out of neither of the Fish-streets, admit not a man; they are not Christmas creatures: fish and fasting days, foh! Sons, said I well? look to it.
Gam. No body out o' Friday-street, nor the two Fish-streets there, do you hear?
Car. Shall John Butter o' Milk-street come in? Ask him.
Gam. Yes, he may slip in for a torch-bearer, so he melt not too fast, that he will last till the masque be done.
Chris. Right, son.
Our dance's freight is a matter of eight;
Each hath his knight for to carry his light,
Now their intent,--
Ven Now, all the lords bless me! where am I, trow? where is Cupid? "Serve the king!" they may serve the cobbler well enough, some of 'em, for any courtesy they have, I wisse; they have need o' mending: unrude people they are, your courtiers; here was thrust upon thrust indeed: was it ever so hard to get in before, trow?
Chris. How now? what's the matter?
Ven. A place, forsooth, I do want a place: I would have a good place, to see my child act in before the king and queen's majesties, God bless 'em! to-night.
Chris. Why, here is no place for you.
Ven. Right, forsooth, I am Cupid's mother, Cupid's own mother, forsooth; yes, forsooth: I dwell in Pudding-lane: ay, forsooth, he is prentice in Love-lane, with a bugle maker, that makes of your bobs, and bird-bolts for ladies.
Chris. Good lady Venus of Pudding-lane, you must go out for all this.
Ven. Yes, forsooth, I can sit anywhere, so I may see Cupid act: he is a pretty child, though I say it, that perhaps should not, you will say. I had him by my first husband; he was a smith, forsooth, we dwelt in Do-little-lane then: he came a month before his time, and that may make him somewhat imperfect; but I was a fishmonger's daughter.
Chris. No matter for your pedigree, your house: good Venus, will you depart?
Ven. Ay, forsooth, he'll say his part, I warrant him, as well as e'er a play-boy of 'em all: I could have had money enough for him, an I would have been tempted, and have let him out by the week to the king's players. Master Burbage has been about and about with me, and so has old master Hemings, too, they have need of him; where is he, trow, ha! I would fain see him--pray God they have given him some drink since he came.
Chris. Are you ready, boys? Strike up! nothing will drown this noise but a drum: a'peace, yet! I have not done. Sing,--
Now their intent is above to present--
Car. Why, here be half of the properties forgotten, father.
Offer Post and Pair wants his pur-chops and his pur-dogs.
Car. Have you ne'er a son at the groom porter's, to beg or borrow a pair of cards quickly?
Gam. It shall not need; here's your son Cheater without, has cards in his pocket.
Offer. Ods so! speak to the guards to let him in, under the name of a property.
Gam. And here's New-Year's-Gift has an orange and rosemary, but not a clove to stick in't.
New-Year. Why, let one go to the spicery.
Chris. Fy, fy, fy! it's naught, it's naught, boys.
Ven. Why, I have cloves, if it be cloves you want. I have cloves in my purse: I never go without one in my mouth.
Car. And Mumming has not his vizard, neither.
Chris. No matter! his own face shall serve, for a punishment, and 'tis bad enough; has Wassel her bowl, and Minced-pie her spoons?
Offer. Ay, ay: but Misrule doth not like his suit: he says the players have sent him one too little, on purpose to disgrace him.
Chris. Let him hold his peace, and his disgrace will be the less: what! shall we proclaim where we were furnish'd? Mum! mum! a'peace! be ready, good boys.
Which they do bring, and afore the king,
Hum drum, sauce for a coney;
And now to ye, who in place are to see
He might go back for to cry, _What you lack?_
And he leads on, though he now be gone,
Which you may know, by the very show,
This Carol plays, and has been in his days
But who is this? O, my daughter Cis,
Next in the trace, comes Gambol in place;
Now Post and Pair, old Christmas's heir,
Next in a trice, with his box and his dice,
But New-Year's-Gift, of himself makes shift,
This, I tell you, is our jolly Wassel,
Then Offering, he, with his dish and his tree,
Last, Baby-cake that an end doth make
There should have been, and a dozen I ween,
I prayed him, in a time so trim,
Now, Cupid, come you on.
Cup. _And which Cupid--and which Cupid--
Ven. Do not shake so, Robin; if thou be'st a-cold, I have some warm waters for thee here.
Chris. Come, you put Robin Cupid out with your water's and your fisling; will you be gone?
Ven. Ay, forsooth, he's a child, you must conceive, and must be used tenderly; he was never in such an assembly before, forsooth, but once at the Warmoll Quest, forsooth, where he said grace as prettily as any of the sheriff's hinch-boys, forsooth.
Chris. Will you peace, forsooth?
Cup. _And which Cupid--and which Cupid--_
Ven. Ay, that's a good boy, speak plain, Robin; how does his majesty like him, I pray? will he give eight-pence a day, think you? Speak out, Robin.
Chris. Nay, he is out enough. You may take him away, and begin your dance; this it is to have speeches.
Ven. You wrong the child, you do wrong the infant; I 'peal to his majesty.
Here they dance.
Chris. Well done, boys, my fine boys, my bully boys!
And march as fine as the Muses nine,
Now if the lanes and the allies afford
Though, put the case, when they come in place,
But were I so wise, I might seem to advise
Ay, and come to the court, for to make you some sport,
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