The Muse Among the Motors


1.1. Sepulchral

SWIFTER than aught ’neath the sun the car of Simonides moved him.
Two things he could not out-run — Death and a Woman who loved him.

1.2. Arterial

FROST upon small rain — the ebony-lacquered avenue
 Reflecting lamps as a pool shows goldfish.
The sight suddenly emptied out of the young man’s eyes
 Entering upon it sideways.
In youth, by hazard, I killed an old man.
   In age I maimed a little child.
Dead leaves under foot reproach not:
But the lop-sided cherry-branch — whenever the sun rises,
   How black a shadow!

1.3. Carmen Circulare

DELLIUS, that car which, night and day,
 Lightnings and thunders arm and scourge —
Tumultuous down the Appian Way —
 Be slow to urge.
Though reckless Lydia bid thee fly,
 And Telephus o’ertaking jeer,
Nay, sit and strongly occupy
 The lower gear.
They call, the road consenting, “Haste!”—
 Such as delight in dust collected —
Until arrives (I too have raced! )
 The unexpected.
What ox not doomed to die alone,
 Or inauspicious hound, may bring
Thee ’twixt two kisses to the throne
 Of Hades’ King,
I cannot tell; the Furies send
 No warning ere their bolts arrive.
’Tis best to reach our chosen end
 Late but alive.

1.4. The Advertisement

WHETHER to wend through straight streets strictly,
Trimly by towns perfectly paved;
Or after office, as fitteth thy fancy,
Faring with friends far among fields;
There is none other equal in action,
Sith she is silent, nimble, unnoisome,
Lordly of leather, gaudily gilded,
Burgeoning brightly in a brass bonnet,
Certain to steer well between wains.

1.5. The Justice’s Tale

WITH them there rode a lustie Engineere
Wel skilled to handel everich waie her geere,
Hee was soe wise ne man colde showe him naught
And out of Paris was hys learnynge brought.
Frontlings mid brazen wheeles and wandes he sat,
And on hys heade he bare an leathern hat.
Hee was soe certaine of his governance,
That, by the Road, he tooke everie chaunce.
For simple people and for lordlings eke
Hee wolde not bate a del but onlie squeeke
Behinde their backés on an horné hie
Until they crope into a piggestie.
He was more wood than bull in china-shoppe,
And yet for cowes and doggés wolde hee stop,
Not out of Marcie but for Preudence-sake —
Than hys dependaunce ever was hys brake.

1.6. The Consolations of Memory

BLESSÈD was our first age and morning-time. Then were no waies tarren, ne no cars numberen, but each followed his owne playinge-busyness to go about singly or by large interspaces, for to leden his viage after his luste and layen under clene hedge. Jangling there was not, nor the overtaking wheele, and all those now cruel clarions were full-hushed and full-still. Then nobile horses, lest they should make the chariots moveable to run by cause of this new feare, we did not press, and were apayed by sweete thankes of him that drave. There was not cursings ne adventure of death blinded bankes betweene, but good-fellowship of yoke-mates at ignorance equal, and a one pillar of dust covered all exodus . . . . But, see now how the blacke road hath strippen herself of hearte and beauty where the dumbe lampe of Tartarus winketh red, etc.

1.7. The Four Points

ERE stopping or turning, to put foorth a hande
Is a charm that thy daies may be long in the land.
Though seventy-times-seven thee Fortune befriend,
O’ertaking at corners is Death in the end.
Sith main-roads for side-roads care nothing, have care
Both to slow and to blow when thou enterest there.
Drink as thou canst hold it, but after is best;
For Drink with men’s Driving makes Crowners to Quest.

1.8. To a Lady, Persuading Her to a Car

LOVE’S fiery chariot, Delia, take
Which Vulcan wrought for Venus’ sake.
Wings shall not waft thee, but a flame
Hot as my heart — as nobly tame:
Lit by a spark, less bright, more wise
Than linked lightnings of thine eyes!
Seated and ready to be drawn
Come not in muslins, lace or lawn,
But, for thy thrice imperial worth,
Take all the sables of the North,
With frozen diamonds belted on,
To face extreme Euroclydon!
Thus in our thund’ring toy we’ll prove
Which is more blind, the Law or Love;
And may the jealous Gods prevent
Our fierce and uncontrouled descent!

1.9. The Progress of the Spark

THIS SPARK now set, retarded, yet forbears
To hold her light however so he swears
That turns a metalled crank, and leather cloked,
With some small hammers tappeth hither an yon;
Peering as when she showeth and when is gone;
For wait he must till the vext Power’s evoked
That’s one with the lightnings. Wait in the showers soaked;
Or by the road-side sunned. She’ll not progress.
Poor soul, here taught how great things may by less
Be stayed, to file contacts doth himself address!

1.10. The Braggart

PETROLIO, vaunting his Mercedes’ power,
Vows she can cover eighty miles an hour.
I tried the car of old and know she can.
But dare he ever make her? Ask his man!

1.11. When the Journey Was Intended to the City

WHEN that with meat and drink they had fulfilled
Not temperately but like him conceived
In monstrous jest at Meudon, whose regale
Stands for exemplar of Gargantuan greed,
In his own name supreme, they issued forth
Beneath new firmaments and stars astray,
Circumvoluminant; nor had they felt
Neither the passage nor the sad effect
Of many cups partaken, till that frost
Wrought on them hideous, and their minds deceived.
Thus choosing from a progeny of roads,
That seemed but were not, one most reasonable,
Of purest moonlight fashioned on a wall,
Thither they urged their chariot whom that flint
But tressed received, itself unscathed — not they.

1.12. To Motorists

SINCE ye distemper and defile
Sweet Herè by the measured mile,
Nor aught on jocund highways heed
Except the evidence of speed;
And bear about your dreadful task
Faces beshrouded ’neath a mask;
Great goblin eyes and glue hands
And souls enslaved to gears and bands;
Here shall no graver curse be said
Than, though y’are quick, that ye are dead!

1.13. The Tour

THIRTEEN as twelve my Murray always took —
 He was a publisher. The new Police
Have neater ways of bringing men to book,
 So Juan found himself before J.P.’s
Accused of storming through that placed nook
 At practically any pace you please.
The Dogberry, and the Waterbury, made
It fifty mile — five pounds. And Juan paid!

1.14. The Idiot Boy

HE WANDERED down the moutain grade
 Beyond the speed assigned —
A youth whom Justice often stayed
 And generally fined.
He went alone, that none might know
 If he could drive or steer.
Now he is in the ditch, and Oh!
 The differential gear!

1.15. The Landau

THERE was a landau deep and wide,
 Cushioned for Sleep’s own self to sit on —
The glory of the country-side
 From Tanner’s End to Marlow Ditton.
John of the broad and brandied cheek
  (Well I recall its eau-de-vie hues! )
Drove staid Sir Ralph five days a week
  At speeds which we considered Jehu’s. . . .
But now’ poor John sleeps very sound,
 And neither hears nor smells the fuss
Of the young Squire’s nine-hundred-pound —
 Er — Mors communis omnibus.
And I who in my daily stroll
  Observe the reckless chauffeur crowd her,
Laudator temporis, extol
  The times before the Act allowed her.

1.16. Contradictions

THE DROWSY carrier sways
 To the drowsy horses’ tramp.
His axles winnow the sprays
Of the hedge where the rabbit plays
 In the light of his single lamp.
He hears a roar behind,
 A howl, a hoot, and a yell,
A headlight strikes him blind
And a stench o’erpowers the wind
 Like a blast from the mouth of Hell.
He mends his swingle-bar,
 And loud his curses ring;
But a mother watching afar
Hears the hum of the doctor’s car
 Like the beat of an angel’s wing!
So, to the poet’s mood,
 Motor or carrier’s van,
Properly understood,
Are neither evil nor good —
 Ormuzd not Ahriman!

1.17. Fastness

THIS is the end whereto men toiled
 Before thy coachman guessed his fate,—
 How thou shouldst leave thy, ’scutcheoned gate
On that new wheel which is the oiled —
To see the England Shakespeare saw
 (Oh, Earth, ’tis long since Shallow died!
 Yet by yon farrowed sow may hide
Some blue deep minion of the Law)—
To range from Ashby-de-la-Zouch
 By Lyonnesse to Locksley Hall,
 Or haply, nearer home, appal
Thy father’s sister’s staid barouche.

1.18. The Beginner

After He Has Been Extemporising on an Instrument
Not of His Own Invention
LO! What is this that I make — sudden, supreme, unrehearsed —
 This that my clutch in the crowd pressed at a venture has raised?
Forward and onward I sprang when I thought (as I ought) I reversed,
 And a cab like martagon opes and I sit in the wreckage dazed.
And someone is taking my name, and the driver is rending the air
 With cries for my blood and my gold, and a snickering news-boy brings
My cap, wheel-pashed from the kerb. I must run her home for repair,
 Where she leers with her bonnet awry — flat on the nether springs!

1.19. Lady Geraldine’s Hardship

I TURNED— Heaven knows we women turn too much
To broken reeds, mistaken so for pine
That shame forbids confession — a handle I turned
(The wrong one, said the agent afterwards)
And so flung clean across your English street
Through the shrill-tinkling glass of the shop-front — paused,
Artemis mazed ’mid gauds to catch a man,
And piteous baby-caps and christening-gowns,
The worse for being worn on the radiator.
.  .  .  .  .
My cousin Romney judged me from the bench:
Propounding one sleek forty-shillinged law
That takes no count of the Woman’s oversoul.
I should have entered, purred he, by the door —
The man’s retort — the open obvious door —
And since I chose not, he — not he — could change
The man’s rule, not the Woman’s, for the case.
Ten pounds or seven days. . . Just that. . . I paid!

1.20. The Bother

HASTILY Adam our driver swallowed a curse in the darkness —
Petrol nigh at end and something wrong with a sprocket
Made him speer for the nearest town, when lo! at the crossways
Four blank letterless arms the virginal signpost extended.
“Look!” thundered Hugh the Radical. “This is the England we boast of —
Bland, white-bellied, obese, but utterly useless for business.
They are repainting the signs and have left the job in the middle.
They are repainting the signs and traffic may stop till they’ve done it,
Which is to say: till the son-of-a-gun of a local contractor,
Having laboriously wiped out every name for
Probably thirty miles round, be minded to finish his labour!
Had not the fool the sense to paint out and paint in together?”
Thus, not seeing his speech belied his Radical Gospel
(Which is to paint out the earth and then write “Damn” on the shutter),
Hugh embroidered the theme imperially and stretched it
From some borough in Wales through our Australian possessions,
Making himself, reformer-wise, a bit of a nuisance
Till, with the help of Adam, we cast him out on the landscape.

1.21. The Dying Chauffeur

WHEEL me gently to the garage, since my car and I must part —
 No more for me the record and the run.
That cursèd left-hand cylinder the doctors call my heart
 Is pinking past redemption — I am done!
They’ll never strike a mixture that’ll help me pull my load.
 My gears are stripped — I cannot set my brakes.
I am entered for the finals down the timeless untimed Road
 To the Maker of the makers of all makes!

1.22. The Inventor

TIME and Space decreed his lot,
 But little Man was quick to note:
When Time and Space said Man might not,
 Bravely he answered, “Nay! I mote.”
I looked on old New England.
 Time and Space stood fast.
Men built altars to Distance
 At every mile they passed.
Yet sleek with oil, a Force was hid
Making mock of all they did,
Ready at the appointed hour
  To yield up to Prometheus
The secular and well-drilled Power
 The Gods secreted thus.
And over high Wantastiquer
 Emulous my lightnings ran,
Unregarded but afret,
 To fall in with my plan.
I beheld two ministries,
 One of air and one of earth —
At a thought I married these,
  And my New Age came to birth!
For rarely my purpose errs
 Though oft it seems to pause,
And rods and cylinders
 Obey my planets’ laws.
Oil I drew from the well,
 And Franklin’s spark from its blue;
Time and Distance fell,
 And Man went forth anew.
On the prairie and in the street
 So long as my chariots roll
I bind wings to Adam’s feet,
 And, presently, to his soul!

1.23. The Ballad of the Cars

“NOW this is the price of a stirrup-cup,”
 The kneeling doctor said.
And syne he bade them take him up,
 For he saw that the man was dead.
They took him up, and they laid him down
 (And, oh, he did not stir ),
And they had him into the nearest town
 To wait the Coroner.
They drew the dead-cloth over the face,
 They closed the doors upon,
And the cars that were parked in the market-place
 Made talk of it anon.
Then up and spake a Daimler wide,
 That carries the slatted tank:—
“’Tis we must purge the country-side
 And no man will us thank.
“For while they pray at Holy Kirk
 The souls should turn from sin,
We cock our bonnets to the work,
 And gather the drunken in.—
“And if we spare them for the nonce,—
 Or their comrades jack them free,—
They learn more under our dumb-iròns
 Than they learned at time mother’s knee.”
Then up and spake an Armstrong bold,
 And Siddeley, was his name:—
“I saw a man lie stark and cold
 By Grantham as I came.
“There was a blind turn by a brook,
 A guard-rail and a fail:
But the drunken loon that overtook
 He got no hurt at all!
“I ha’ trodden the wet road and the dry —
 But and the shady lane;
And why the guiltless soul should die,
 Good reason find I nane.”
Then up and spake the Babe Austin —
 Had barely room for two —
“’Tis time and place that make the sin,
 And not the deed they do.
“For when a man drives with his dear,
 I ha’ seen it come to pass
That an arm too close or a lip too near
 Has killed both lad and lass.
“There was a car at eventide
 And a sidelings kiss to steal —
The God knows how the couple died,
 But I mind the inquest weel.
“I have trodden the black tar and the heath —
 But and the cobble-stone;
And why the young go to their death,
 Good reason find I none.”
Then spake a Morris from Oxenford,
 (’Was keen to a Cowley Friar ):—
“How shall we judge the ways of the Lord
 That are but steel and fire?
“Between the oil-pits under earth
  And the levin-spark from the skies,
We but adventure and go forth
 As our man shall devise:
“And if he have drunken a hoop too deep,
 No kinship can us move
To draw him home in his market-sleep
 Or spare his waiting love.
“There is never a lane in all England
 Where a mellow man can go,
But he must look on either hand
 And back and front also.
“But he must busk him every tide,
 At prick of horn, to leap
Either to hide in ditch beside
 Or in the bankès steep.
“And whether he walk in drink or muse,
 Or for his love be bound,
We have no wit to mark and chuse,
 But needs must slay or wound.”
.  .  .  .  .
They drew the dead-cloth from its face.
 The Crowner looked thereon;
And the cars that were parked in the market-place
 Went all their ways anon.

1.24. A Child’s Garden

NOW there is nothing wrong with me
Except — I think it’s called T.B.
And that is why I have to lay
Out in the garden all the day.
Our garden is not very wide,
And cars go by on either side,
And make an angry-hooty noise
That rather startles little boys.
But worst of all is when they take
Me out in cars that growl and shake,
With charabancs so dreadful-near
I have to shut my eyes for fear.
But when I’m on my back again,
I watch the Croydon aeroplane
That flies across to France, and sings
Like hitting thick piano-strings.
When I am strong enough to do
The things I’m truly wishful to,
I’ll never use a car or train
But always have an aeroplane;
And just go zooming round and round,
And frighten Nursey with the sound,
And see the angel-side of clouds,
And spit on all those motor-crowds!

1.25. The Moral

YOU mustn’t groom an Arab with a file.
 You hadn’t ought to tension-spring a mule.
You couldn’t push a brumby fifty mile
 And drop him in a boiler-shed to cool.
I’ll sling you through six counties in a day.
 I’ll hike you up a grade of one in ten.
I am Duty, Law and Order under way,
 I’m the Mentor of banana-fingered men!
I will make you I know your left hand from your right.
 I will teach you not to drink about your biz.
I’m the only temperance advocate in sight!
 I am all the Education Act there is!

1.26. The Marrèd Drives of Windsor

It is to be observed of this play that, though its plan is irregular, it has been made instrumental to the production of many discriminate characters who deliver themselves with candour and propriety, as they approach towards, or recede from, the operations of Justice. The juxtaposition of Hamlet and Falstaff may be questioned by the learned or the delicate, but the conjectural critic of an author neither systematic nor consequential can affirm that those same forces of natural genius, which expatiate in splendour and passion, demand for their refreshment and sanity an abruptness of release and a lawlessness of invention, proportioned to precedent constrictions. He only who hath never toiled in the anfractuous mines of Philosophy or Letters, nor subdued himself to the ignoble needs of the Stage, will dispute the proposition.
There is a tradition that this play was composed after a drinking bout. I would prefer to credit that it owed its birth to some such concatenation of circumstances as 1 have adumbrated. The more so since, amid much that is ill-considered, or even depraved, our author has assigned to the crafty and careless Falstaff an awful, if fleeting, visitation of self-knowledge. Let us now be told no more of the illegitimacy of this play

1.26.1. ACT I

Argument, FALSTAFF, NYM, POINS, BARDOLPH and FLUELLEN having accompanied PRINCE HENRY in a motor drive through the city of London, their car breaks down, and FALSTAFF returns to the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap, where he is, followed by the PRINCE and FLUELLEN.

Enter FALSTAFF, habited as a motorist

Here’s all at an end between us, or I’ll never taste sack again. Prince or no Prince, I’ll not ride with him to Coventry on the hinder parts of a carbonadoed stink, not though he call her all the car in Christendom. Sack! Sack! Sack!

HOSTESS. I spied her out of the lattice. A’ fizzled and a’ groaned and a’ shook from the bones out, Sir John, and a’ ran on her own impulsidges back and forth o’ Chepe, and I knew that there was but one way to it when I saw them fighting at the handles. She died of a taking of pure wind on the heart, and they be about her body now with tongs. A marvellous searching perfume, Sir John!

FALSTAFF. He hath called me ribs; he hath called me tallow. There is no name in the extremer oiliness of comparisons which I have not borne meekly. But to go masked at midday; to wrap my belly in an horse-hide cloak of ten thousand buttons till I looked like a mushroomed dunghill; to be smoked over burnt oils; to be enseamed, moreover, with intolerable greases; and thus scented, thus habited, thus vizarded, to leap out-for I leaped, mark you . . . Another cup of sack! But there’s vengeance for my case! These eyes have seen the Lord’s Anointed on his knees in Chepe, foining with the key of Shrewsbury Castle, which Poins had bent to the very crook of Nym’s theftuous elbow, to wake the dumb devil in the guts of her. “Sweet Hal,” said I, “are all horses sold out of England, that thou must kneel before the lieges to any petrol-piddling turnspit?” Then he, Poins, and Bardolph whose nose blanched with sheer envy of her bodywork, begged a shoulder of me to thrust her into some alley, the street being full of Ephesians of the old church. Whereat I . . .


PRINCE. Whereat thou, hearing her once or twice tenderly backfire —

FALSTAFF. Heaven forgive thee, Hal! She thundered and lightened a full half-hour, so that Jove Himself could not have bettered the instruction. There’s a pit beneath her now, which she blew out of thy father’s highway the while I watched, where Sackerson could stand to six dogs.

PRINCE. Hearing, I say, her gentle outcry against Poins’ mishandling, thou didst flee up Chepe, calling upon the Sheriff’s Watch for a red flag.

FALSTAFF. I? Call me Jack if I were not jack to each of her wheels in turn till I am stamped like a butter-pat with the imprint of her underpinnings. I seek a red flag?

PRINCE. Ay, roaring like a bull.

FALSTAFF. Groans, Hal, groans such as Atlas heaved. But she overbore me at. the last. Why hast thou left her?— Faugh, that a King’s son should ever reek like a smutty-wicked lamp upon the wrong side of the morning!

PRINCE. There was Bardolph in the buckbasket behind, nosing fearfully overside like a full-wattled turkey-poult from Norfolk. There was Poins upon his belly beneath her, thrice steeped in pure plumbago, most despairfully clanking of chains like the devil in Brug’s Hall window; and there were some four thousand ’prentices at her tail, crying, “What ho!” and that she bumped. Methought ’twas no place for my father’s son.

FALSTAFF. Take any man’s horses and hale her to bed! The laws of England are at thy commandment, that the Heir should not be made a common stink in the nostrils of the lieges.

PRINCE. She’d not stir for all Apollo’s team — not though Phæton himself, drunk with nectar, lashed ’em stark mad. Poor Phæton!

HOSTESS. A’ was a King’s son, was a’ not, and came to’s end by keeping of bad company?

FALSTAFF. No more than a little horseflesh. I tell thee, Hal, this England of ours has never looked up since the nobles fell to puking over oil-buckets by the side of leather-jerkined Walloons.

PRINCE. He that drives me now is French as our princely cousin.

FALSTAFF. Dumain? Hang him for a pestilent, poke-eyed, chicken-chopping, hump-backed, leather-hatted, muffle-gloved ape! He hath been fined as often as he hath broken down; and that is at every tavern ’twixt here and York. Dumain! He’s the most notorious widow-maker on the Windsor road. His mother was a corn-cutter at Ypres, and his father a barber at Rouen, by which beastly conjunction he rightly draws every infirmity that damns him in his trade. Item: He cuts corners niggardly and upon the wrong side. Item: He’ll look behind him after a likely wench in the hottest press of Holborn, though he skid into the kennel for it. Item: He depends upon his brake to save him at need — a death-bed repentance, Hal, as hath been proved ere this, since grace is uncertain. Item: He is too proud to clean the body of her, but leaves the care of that which should be the very cote-armour of his mechanic knighthood to an unheedful ostler. Thus, at last, he comes to overlook even the oiling; and so it falls that she’s where she must be, and not where thou wouldst have her. Ay, laugh if thou wilt, Hal, but a round worthy knight need not fire himself through three baronies in eight hours to know the very essence of the petrol 1 that fumes him. Domain will one day clutch thee into Hell upon the first speed.

PRINCE. Strange that clear knowledge should so long outlive mere nerve! I’ll dub Domain knight when I come to the throne, if he be not hanged first for murder on the highway. ’Twill save the state a pension.

FALSTAFF. So the lean vice goes ever before the solid virtue, (Confused noise without.) What riot’s afoot now?

FLUELLEN. Riots, look you, by my vizaments, make one noise, but murders another. There’s riots in Monmouth; but, by my vizaments, look you, there’s murders in Chepe. Pabes and old ’oomen — they howl so tamnably.

FALSTAFF. Rebellion rather! Half London’s calling on thy name, Hal, and half on thy father’s. Well, if it be successful, forget not who was promised the reversion of the Chief Justice-ship. Ha! Unquestioned rebellion, if broken crowns signify aught.

Enter HERALDS (wounded)

Most gracious lord, the car that bore thy state,
Too long neglected and adjudged acold,
Hath, without warning or advertisement,
Risen refreshed from her supposed stand
In unattended revolution.

PRINCE. This it is to be a King’s son! That a pitiful twelve horse touring-car 2 cannot jar off her brakes but they must rehearse it me in damnable heroics. Your pleasure, gentlemen?

HERALDS. The blood upon our boltered brow attests
’Twas Bardolph’s art that waked her, whereat she
Skipped thunderously before our mazèd eyes,
Drew out o’er several lieges (all with God!),
Battered a house or so to lathes, and now
Fumes on her side in Holborn. Please you, come!

PRINCE. Anon! Seek each a physician according to his needs and revenues. I’ll be with you anon. (To FALSTAFF.) The third in three weeks! These whoreson German clockcases no sooner dint honest English paving-stone than they incontinent lay their entrails on the street. Five hundred and seventy pounds! I’ll out and pawn the Duchy!

HERALDS. The Lord Chief Justice waits thy princely will,
In thy dread father’s Court at Westminster.

FALSTAFF. A Star Chamber matter, Hal — a Star Chamber matter! Glasses, Doll! We’ll drink to his deliverance.

HERALDS. You, too, Sir John, as party to those broils
And breakings-forth, in like attainder stand
For judgment: wherein fail not at your peril!

FALSTAFF. I do remember now to have had some dealings with this same Chief Justice. An old feeble man, drawn abroad in a cart by horses. We must enlighten — enlighten him, Hal. (Exeunt.)

1.26.2. ACT II

Argument. PRINCE HENRY, POINS, FLUELLEN, NYM, and SIR JOHN FALSTAFF (BARDOLPH having escaped) are charged, on DOGBERRY’S evidence, before the LORD CHIEF JUSTICE at Westminster, with exceeding the speed-limit and leaving their car unattended in the street. PORTIA defends them. JUSTICE SHALLOW has been accommodated with a seat on the Bench.

PRINCE. Where’s our red rear-lamp? Where’s Bardolph?

POINS. Shining over Southwark if he be not puffed out by now. He ran when the watch came. The Chief Justice looks sourly. Is any appointed to speak for us, Hal?

PRINCE. Thy notorious innocence, my known virtue, and if these fail, Sir John’s big belly. I have fed my father’s exchequer here twice since Easter.

CH. JUSTICE. Intemperate, rash, and ill-advisèd men —
Yoke-fellows at unsavoury enterprise —
Harry, and you, Sir John, stand forth for sentence!

FLUELLEN. Put — put there is no indictments discharged upon us yet. To pronounce sentences, look you, pefore the indictments is discharged is ropperies and oppressions.

NYM. Ay, that’s the humour of it. When they cry Budget we must cry mum.

FALSTAFF. Cram the Welsh flannel down his own throat, or we are imprisoned after the fine. I know the Chief Justice is sick of me.

SHALLOW (to CH. JUSTICE). My lord, my lord, if you suffer yon fat knight to talk, he’ll cozen the teeth out of your lord-ship’s head, while his serving-man steals the steeped crust you’d mumble to. I lent him a thousand pounds, my lord.

FALSTAFF. I deny it not. For the which I promised thee advancement. And art thou not now visibly next the Chief justice himself?

SHALLOW. Not on my merits, Sir John. I sit here simple of courtesy as visiting-justice. I’d do as much for my lord if he came to Gloucestershire, ’faith!

FALSTAFF. Shallow! Shallow! I say I gave thee occasion and opportunity to rise. Promotion is in thy hands. (To CH. JUSTICE.) Have a care, my lord! He fingers his dagger already.

SHALLOW. My dagger? My ink-horn, la! I’ll sit further off. I told you how he’d talk, my lord. But I’ll sit further off. My dagger, ’faith!

CH. JUSTICE. Sir John! Sir John! The licence of inveterate humour overstretched rends like an outworn garment — with like shame to the enduer. Answer me roundly, what defence make you to the charge you have run through Chepe at ten leagues the hour?

FALSTAFF. Roundly, my lord, my shape — my evident shape.

CH. JUSTICE. But ’tis so charged, and will be so witnessed.

DOGBERRY. Yes, and by one that hath a stopped watch and everything forsworn about him. Write it down fifteen leagues, my lord.

PRINCE (to CH. JUSTICE). We knights of the road have ever been fair quarry for your knights of the post to bind to, but this passes endurance. We left our car, my lord, extinct and combust in the kennel, while we sought an engineer to hoist her. In which stay she would have continued, but for the prying vulgar who found on her some handle to their curiosity, which, doubtless, they turned. For in such a car as this ——

CH. JUSTICE. In such a car as this
The enfranchised ’prentices of London quash
Our harmless babes and necessary wives
At morning to the sound of Sabbath bells
Through panicked Huntingdon.

PORTIA. In such a car as this,
Slides young Desire athwart the mountain-tops,
Drinking the airs that part him from his dear
’Twixt Berwick and Glamorgan.

CH. JUSTICE. In such a car as this,
The lecherous Israelite to Brighthelmstone
Convoys his Jessica.

PORTIA. In such a car as this,
The lean chirurgeon burns the midnight oil
Impetuous over England. Where his lamp
Strikes pale the hedgerow, all the affrighted fays,
Their misty revels in the dew divulged,
Flee to the coney’s burrow, or divide
His antre with the squirrel — whom that ministrant
Marks not, his eyes being bent to thrid the dark,
Indifferent beneath the morning star,
To the poor cot that summoned him, and the life —
Some hour-old, mother-naked life, scarce held
By the drowsy midwife but it yarks and squeaks
Batlike, and batlike, would to the void again.
This he forbids, and yet not he, whose art,
His car unaiding, else had ne’er o’erleaped
The largess of a county in an hour.

SHALLOW. Neat, faith, la! For how a brace of twins now, the far side Cotsall, of a snowy night, my lord?

FALSTAFF. A pregnant wit. Which of thy misdeeds, Hal, hath raised this angel to help us? I’ll ask Doll.

PRINCE. Peace, dunghill, peace! She was never of Doll’s company.

PORTIA. And I charge you, my lord, if ever need,
Extreme and urgent need, hath visited you,
Or, in the unprobeable decree of Time,
May visit and masterfully constrain, think well
Ere your abhorrence of new enginery
Seal up the avenues of mercy here!

CH. JUSTICE. I sealed no avenues. They sealed the King’s
(Albeit it was called Northumberland)
With hellish engines drawn across the street
In an opposed and desperate barrier
Unto the lieges’ progress.

PORTIA. Not by their will, nor their intent, my lord!
It was a passing humour of the car
Gusty incontinence which, overlooked,
As unregard oft cows pretension,
May well not chance again.

CH. JUSTICE. But if it chance?

PORTIA. If the deep-brooding vault of Heaven retain
Memory and record of miracle
Vouchsafed, like this your prayed-for mercy, once,
And, in default of quail, rain from her gate
Heaven’s sweetest choristers — then it may fall,
But not till then!

FLUELLEN. Put — put — look you, she is telling the old shentlemans to wait till the sky shall rain larks! It is open contempts of Courts!

NYM. Ay, there’s humours in them all. But I think the old man’s humour is sweeter.

CH. JUSTICE. Yet, bating miracle, how if mercy breed
Not gratitude, but livelier insolence,
And through my softened verdict after years
Grow bold to break the law? How if our England —
Loverly, temperate, the midmost close of peace —
Dissolve in smoke and oils along the green,
Till sickened memory conceive no minute
Unharried, unpollutable, unhooted?
If I loose these, what do I loose on England?

PORTIA. Too late! Too late! That babe is viable!
The hour we dread o’ertops us while we wonder,
Not asking sufferance, but imposing change,
Most multitudinously. Hark, it sings i’ the wind!

ARIEL (invisible) sings:
  Where the car slips there slip I—
  In a sunbeam’s path I lie!
  There I crouch while crowds do cry,
  After somersaults muddily!
  Where I lie, where I lie, shall I live now
  Under the bonnet that bangs on my brow?

FALSTAFF (to PRINCE). The Chief Justice is mazed by the fairies. He hath great motions towards virtue. He’ll let us go.

CH. JUSTICE. Ourselves have snuffed some savour of these changes,
And more our horses who, poor winkered fools,
Hearing their dooms outstrip them, cast aside
And pole the all-shattered house-fronts.
                 We ourselves,
Of purpose to repair to Westminster,
Infirmity and age consenting, signalled
From her hot lair an horseless chariot
Which, in the recorded twelfth part of an hour,
Bore our inviolate ermines half a league.
It is, and woe it is, the chill refuge,
The lean, unenvied privilege of Age,
To meet new changes with old courtesy,
Not as averting change but sparing souls
Worn weak, and bodies extenuate with the years
That heed nor never heeded! Set them free.
What has been was, and what will be, must be!

1.26.3. ACT III

Argument. A room in the Boar’s Head Tavern set for a banquet to celebrate the discharge of the motorists from the King’s justice. Enter PRINCE HENRY with PORTIA and several others. Also FALSTAFF drunk.

FALSTAFF. “When that I had and a little tinny car —
With a heigh-ho, the wind and the screen —”
Empty the radiator!

HOSTESS. Sir John, there’s one without says he’s your twin brother.

FALSTAFF. I’ll be the wise child. Have him in! (Enter HAMLET drunk.) Ha! ’Begot a night’s ride the cooler side o’ the blanket! But if I be knight,. he’s Blood-Royal. (To PRINCE HENRY) Here’s thy meat, Hal. I stay by our commons.

PRINCE. Lions know lions, tho’ they pride apart,
And Princes Princes. (To HAMLET) For these, my companions
Rejoicingly from Justice, your pardon, Brother,
And, if it so far please, your title.

HAMLET. Prince. Hamlet of Denmark. Your pardon too. ’Tis the Rhenish . . . But conceive, sirrah, how it comes about ’neath the unjust stars, that by a few ink-spirts and frail pretences of the plays, a bald-paced ostler to Pegasus conjures life into such as we. In which continuance, mark you, we live and inextinguishably shake spheres: he having left the globe — how long? But I’ll go find my double. 3

PRINCE. Rumour wrongs not the Danes. They drink too deep.
He is full proof. (To HAMLET) Welcome, distracted Sir.
We have a foolish feast in hand, whereat,
Wine and our near escapes making familiar,
You shall be richer by a score of brothers
Before the score is paid. Seek and make merry.
(To NYM) When the fat gentleman stumbles, lay him against the arras, head highest. There’s a crown waiting.

NYM. For him — not me. That’s an old humour.

PRINCE (to PORTIA). ‘Lovely lady,
To whom we go in bondage, first, of beauty,
And next of golden advocacy, snatching
Us from deservèd Bridewells,— name thy fee.

PORTIA. I here confess I never owned a car;
Never, in all my life, have driven car;
And, touching any uses of a car,
From airiest hearsays 4 were my pleadings drawn.
Therefore, I ask no guerdon but a car,
To experience on the heels of phantasy.

PRINCE. A car? A car?

PORTIA. I said even so — one car.

HAMLET (to FALSTAFF). Women have dread affections, for their spirit,
Out-plumbing ours, their easier sympathies
Frame both the passion and the appurtenance;
Else they go mad.

FALSTAFF. True! Doll’s a she-kite of the same feather. But moulting — moulting!

PRINCE (to PORTIA). Nay, entertain conjecture of a time
When, horses fed to hounds, the thrice-stuffed streets
Ring, reek and rumble with opprobrious wains
Inveterately unheedful. Straw between
Their bulks the rash and pillioned amorists
Whose so mis-timed embracernents on the wood 5
Sling hose and cap 6 to inquest.

BEATRICE. Signor Prince, spare thyself a dry mouth and us drier discourse. The world moves, for all man’s owlings, and we women in the va’ward 7 .

NYM. That’s the new humour. To over-run the law and the lieges and say “I am a maid!”

BENEDICK. To have at a man sideways out of a blind lane, and if he give natural vent on some broken head, arm, or running board 8 , her husband or lover must challenge him as though he were Claudio.

BEATRICE. That, Signor Benedick, shall never be. For when I drive you shall stay at home.

SHYLOCK. I have a bond! I have a bond in my office,
Whose virtue is — for every pound of flesh,
Or drop of blood, on such mistakings drawn,
Or push of market-bestial — being signed
(And some poor ducats paid) assures the holder
’Gainst every act and charge of law or leech.

PORTIA. We made sweet composition long ago,
Shylock and I. He pays upon such bonds,
As, in mine office, I can well avouch;
Having prepared the like for Jessica
Whose paths are wayward. Let them see it, Jew.

(SHYLOCK shows the company a Third Party Risks Policy. HAMLET and FALSTAFF talk apart.)

FALSTAFF (to HAMLET). Unconfined truth! Cowards natural, both of us, with each some huddled deliverance of jest or philosophy to piece out the skirts of ’voided occasion. ’You drive?

HAMLET. For action to be taken on the instant? I’d liever . . . ! But, oh, God — I have no choice, being what I am and informed of myself past endurance.

FALSTAFF. I have some same cause. How, now, of drink and lechery to drown self-knowledge?

HAMLET. ’Serves me not. There’s a mad woman whom I drowned floats in my every cup, like borage 9 . But I am not brave.

FALSTAFF. Women in liquor! Double damnation and half satisfaction. Think you, Ham, that he who made us twins knew his work?

HAMLET. I set no limit, being born of that soul —
One spark in all its hells. Flesh, canst thou tremble?

FALSTAFF. I am too young to ’scape the cold fit o’ mornings.

HAMLET. Shake to thy core, contemplating what vasts
Unlawful, and what darkness, whereto ours
Is the sun’s targe, had he adventured down
(Holding the poised brain ice) till he arraigned 10
A murderess, a Moor, a mad King — me!
For ensample of all uttermosts of woe
Man bears or shall be designate to suffer
Inly or of the Gods!

FALSTAFF. True enough. But the sack’s here, and I have ’scaped Justice an hour. What a plague does the Jew with his papers?

PRINCE (taking Insurance Policy from SHYLOCK).
Thus furnished, and with knowledge of the wealth
Behind the bond, are all my doubts resolved.
My fears? (To PORTIA) Fair lady, warn me of thy comings
When that car rolls its fifty roystering steeds
Which is our instant, grateful, deadly gift!

SIR A. AGUECHEEK. There’s simply no back-alley left in Illyria now where a man may let’s liquor out of him, but he must stand ready to leap into either hedge.

PRINCE. To-morrow be his own klaxon 11 . Till he call,
Put cars away, and revel comrades all!

FESTE. When all about the joiners thrive —
    And coffins quick as man can saw;—
   When learning lady-owners drive,
    And beaks sit brooding on the Law;
   When roasting cabs hiss on the grass,
   Then lightly brays the headlong ass:—
    “Where to? To Hell!” Oh, word of fear,
   Unpleasing to the charioteer!

1. Petard, which is almost synonymous. HORNE TOOKE: First Folio: private notes upon. [back]
2. Touraine-cart (conjectural).— WARBURTON. [back]
3. . . . After the transparent reference to “the unjust stars,” the word “inkspirts” leaps to the eye of the initiated as the simplest anagram of “scripsit” (the “k” being used, of course, for the desiderated “c,” and the apparently superfluous “n,” for the initial of Nicholas, Bacon’s father). “Frail pretences” (taking the first three letters of the first, and the last four of the second, word) reveals, beyond negation, the same “Frances” who wrote to his King (Mar. 25, 1631) that he might be “frail and partake, etc.” The “bald-pated ostler” who “conjures life into, etc.,” is even more palpable and needs not the addi tional “continuance” which follows. Nor does this exhaust the category. Miss Nessa Droenbergh acutely explains Hamlet’s opening remark to Prince Henry as a well-bred man’s apology for phenomena due to liquor-excess — briefly a hiccough. But we must remember that Bacon, where possible, always “doubles his clues,” on the principle of the British railroads’ “distant” and “home” signals. Thus after “Your pardon too,” comes “’Tis the Rhenish,” a German wine long traded into Britain and the Baltic, and later known as “hoc(k).” So we have, all but en clair, the author of “Shakespeare’s” plays proclaiming, “Hoc scripsit Frances Bacon.” (Francis Bacon wrote this.) What more, in the name of sanity, is needed to convince anyone who is not delivered over to the “man of Stratford” complex?— From PROFESSOR 0. P. CALLOWITZ’S William the World-Impostor. [back]
4. Hearses.— WARBURTON (conjectural). [back]
5. The text is corrupt. It is impossible to imagine a street paved with wood. But mis-timed embracements might well be “untoward.”— JOHNSON. [back]
6. At this epoch the London ’prentices wore cloth caps, and their female companions stockings, which had then been largely discovered by the vulgar.— THEOBALD. [back]
7. ”Ford” (conjectural).— STEEVENS. [back]
8. ‘Running aboard — in the sense of vessels falling “foul” of each other at sea, (Conjectural.)— JOHNSON. [back]
9. An allusion to the old distich:
         “I, Borage,
         Give courage.”
The herb is not included in the Queen’s category of those used by Ophelia previous to her suicide, nor does Ophelia herself mention it. (Conjectural.)— STEEVENS. [back]
10. Mr. Malone says that this word should be “arrayed,” in the sense of displaying before the public; but considering that each one of the characters enumerated is, in various forms, arraigned by Conscience, that most dreadful of judges, I incline towards the former reading.— M. MASON. [back]
11. “Sexton.” This word, through corruption, has been lost, and is now restored to its original meaning.— SIR T. HANMER. [back]