Persons in the Comedy
Young Knowell, in love with Bridget
Master Stephen, a country gull
Master Matthew, a town gull
Well-Bred, his half-brother
Kitely, husband to Down-right's sister
Bridget, Kitely's sister
Tib, Cob's wife
Scene I.—In Knowell's house. Enter Knowell, with
a letter from Well-Bred to Young Knowell.
Knowell: This letter is directed to my son.
Yet I will break it open.
What's here? What's this?
(Reads) "Why, Ned, I beseech thee, hast thou forsworn
all thy friends i' the Old Jewry? Dost thou
think us all Jews that inhabit there yet? If thou dost,
come over and but see our frippery. Leave thy vigilant
father alone, to number over his green apricots evening
and morning, o' the north-west wall. Prythee, come over
to me quickly this morning; I have such a present for
thee! One is a rhymer, sir, o' your own batch, but doth
think himself a poet-major of the town; the other, I
will not venture his description till you come."
Why, what unhallowed ruffian would have writ
In such a scurrilous manner to a friend!
Why should he think I tell my apricots?
Take you this letter, and deliver it my son,
But with no notice I have opened it, on your life.
[Exeunt. Then, enter Young Knowell, with the letter,
Young Knowell: Did he open it, say'st thou?
Brain-Worm: Yes, o' my word, sir, and read the contents.
For he charged me on my life to tell nobody
that he opened it, which unless he had done he would
never fear to have it revealed.
[Young Knowell moves apart to read the letter. Enter
Stephen. Knowell laughs.
Stephen: 'Slid, I hope he laughs not at me; an he
Knowell: Here was a letter, indeed, to be intercepted
by a man's father! Well, if he read this with
patience—— (Seeing Stephen) What, my wise cousin!
Nay, then, I'll furnish our feast with one gull more.
How now, Cousin Stephen—melancholy?
STEPHEN: Yes, a little. I thought you had laughed
at me, cousin.
Knowell: Be satisfied, gentle coz, and, I pray you,
let me entreat a courtesy of you. I am sent for this
morning by a friend in the Old Jewry: will you bear me
Stephen: Sir, you shall command me twice as far.
Knowell: Now, if I can but hold him up to his
Scene II.—Bobadill's room, a mean chamber, in Cob's
house. Bobadill lying on a bench. Enter Matthew,
ushered in by Tib.
Matthew: 'Save you, sir; 'save you, captain.
Bobadill: Gentle Master Matthew! Sit down, I pray
you. Master Matthew in any case, possess no gentlemen
of our acquaintance with notice of my lodging. Not
that I need to care who know it! But in regard I would
not be too popular and generally visited, as some are.
Matthew: True, captain, I conceive you.
Bobadill: For do you see, sir, by the heart of valour
in me except it be to some peculiar and choice spirit like
yourself—but what new book have you there?
Matthew: Indeed, here are a number of fine
speeches in this book.
"O eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears"—
There's a conceit! Another:
"O life, no life but lively form of death!
O world, no world but mass of public wrongs"—
O the Muses! Is't not excellent? But when will you
come to see my study? Good faith I can show you some
very good things I have done of late. But, captain, Master
Well-bred's elder brother and I are fallen out exceedingly.
Bobadill: Squire Down-right, the half-brother was't
not? Hang him rook! Come hither; you shall chartel
him. I'll show you a trick or two you shall kill him with,
at pleasure, the first staccato, if you will, by this air.
Come, put on your cloak, and we'll go to some private
place where you are acquainted, some tavern or so.
What money ha' you about you?
Matthew: Faith, not past a two shillings or so.
Bobadill: 'Tis somewhat with the least; but come,
we will have a bunch of radish and salt to taste our
wine, and after we'll call upon Young Well-bred.
Scene I.—Kitely's house. Kitely explains to Down-Right
that Well-Bred, who lodges with him brings
riotous companions to the house, which makes him
much troubled for his pretty wife and sister. Bobadill
and Matthew calling in search of Well-Bred,
the former insults Down-Right, and leaves him
Scene II.—Moorfields. Enter Brain-Worm, disguised
as a maimed soldier.
Brain-Worm: The truth is, my old master intends to
follow my young master, dry-foot, over Moorfields to
London this morning. Now I, knowing of this hunting
match, or rather conspiracy, and to insinuate with my
young master, have got me before in this disguise, determining
here to lie in ambuscade. If I can but get
his cloak, his purse, his hat, anything to stay his journey,
I am made for ever, in faith. But here comes my young
master and his cousin, as I am a true counterfeit man of
war, and no soldier.
[Enter Young Knowell and Stephen. Brain-Worm,
with a cock-and-bull tale of his services in the wars,
persuades Stephen to buy his sword as a pure Toledo.
Exeunt. Presently, enter Old Knowell, and
Brain-Worm meets him.
Brain-Worm (aside): My master! Nay, faith, have at
you; I am fleshed now, I have sped so well. Worshipful
sir, I beseech you, respect the estate of a poor soldier;
I am ashamed of this base course of life, but extremity
provokes me to it; what remedy?
Knowell: I have not for you now.
Brain-Worm: Good sir, by that hand, you may do the
part of a kind gentleman, in lending a poor soldier the
price of a can of beer; Heaven shall pay you, sweet worship!
Knowell: Art thou a man, and shamest not thou to beg?
To practise such a servile kind of life?
Either the wars might still supply thy wants,
Or service of some virtuous gentleman.
Brain-Worm: Faith, sir, I would gladly find some
other course—I know what I would say; but as for
service—my name, sir? Please you, Fitzsword, sir.
Knowell: Say that a man should entertain thee now,
Would'st thou be modest, humble, just, and true?
Brain-Worm: Sir, by the place and honour of a
Knowell: Nay, nay, I like not these affected oaths.
But follow me; I'll prove thee.
Brain-Worm: Yes, sir, straight. 'Slid, was there ever
a fox in years to betray himself thus! Now shall I be
possessed of all his counsels, and by that conduit, my
Scene I.—A room in the Windmill Tavern. Well-Bred,
Bobadill, Matthew. Enter Young Knowell
Well-Bred: Ned Knowell! By my soul, welcome!
(Lower) Sirrah, there be the two I writ of. But what
strange piece of silence is this? The sign of the Dumb
Knowell: Oh, sir, a kinsman of mine; he has his
Stephen: My name is Master Stephen, sir; I am
this gentleman's own cousin, sir; I am somewhat melancholy,
but you shall command me.
Matthew: Oh, it's your only fine humour, sir. Your
true melancholy breeds your perfect fine wit. I am melancholy
myself, divers times, and then I do no more but
take pen and paper presently, and overflow you half a
score or a dozen of fine sonnets at a sitting.
Well-Bred: Captain Bobadill, why muse you so?
Knowell: He is melancholy, too.
Bobadill: Why, sir, I was thinking of a most honourable
piece of service was performed at the beleaguering
of Strigonium; the first but the best leaguer that ever
I beheld with these eyes. Look you, sir, by St. George,
I was the first man that entered the breach; and had I
not effected it with resolution, I had been slain if I had
had a million of lives. Observe me judicially, sweet sir.
They had planted me three demiculvirins just in the
mouth of the breach, but I, with these single arms, my
poor rapier, ran violently upon the Moors, and put 'em
pell-mell to the sword.
[Enter Brain-Worm, who discloses himself apart, to
Knowell and Well-Bred, and reports that Old
Knowell is awaiting his return at Justice Clement's
Scene II.—At Kitely's. Kitely has gone to Justice
Clement's; very anxious about his wife and sister,
he has ordered Cash to send him a messenger if
Well-Bred comes home with any of his boon-companions.
Enter to Cash, Well-Bred, with the party
as in the last scene.
Well-Bred: Whither went your master, Thomas,
canst thou tell?
Cash: I know not; to Justice Clement's, I think, sir.
Knowell: Justice Clement! What's he?
Well-Bred: Why, dost thou not know him? He is a
city magistrate, a justice here, an excellent good lawyer
and a great scholar; but the only mad merry old fellow
Bobadill: Master Kitely's man, pray thee vouchsafe
us the lighting of this match. (Cash takes match, and
exits) 'Tis your right, Trinidado. Did you never take
any, Master Stephen?
Stephen: No, truly, sir, but I'll learn to take it now,
since you commend it so.
Bobadill: Sir, I have been in the Indies where this
herb grows; where neither myself nor a dozen gentlemen
more of my knowledge have received the taste of any
other nutriment in the world for the space of one and
twenty weeks, but the fume of this simple only. By Hercules,
I do hold it, and will affirm it, before any prince in
Europe, to be the most sovereign and precious weed that
ever the earth tendered to the use of man.
[Cob has entered meanwhile.
Cob: Mack, I marvel what pleasure they have in taking
this roguish tobacco. It's good for nothing but to
choke a man, and fill him full of smoke and embers.
And there were no wiser men than I, I'd have it present
whipping, man or woman, that should but deal with a
[Bobadill cudgels him. Enter Cash, who drags off the
lamenting Cob. While the rest are conversing,
Matthew and Bobadill slip out.
Well-Bred: Soft, where's Master Matthew? Gone?
Brain-Worm: No, sir, they went in here.
Well-Bred: Oh, let's follow them. Master Matthew
is gone to salute his mistress in verse. We shall have the
happiness to hear some of his poetry now. He never
Scene III.—Justice Clement's. Cob finds Kitely and
reports the arrival of Well-Bred's party. Kitely
hurries home in a panic. Enter Clement with Old
Knowell and Formal.
Clement (to Cob): How now, sirrah? What make
Cob: A poor neighbour of your worship, come to
crave the peace of your worship; a warrant for one that
has wronged me, sir; an I die within a twelvemonth and
a day, I may swear by the law of the land that he killed
Clement: How, knave? What colour hast thou for
Cob: Both black and blue, an't please your worship;
colour enough, I warrant you. [Baring his arm.
Clement: How began the quarrel between you?
Cob: Marry indeed, an't please your worship, only
because I spake against their vagrant tobacco; for nothing
Clement: Ha! You speak against tobacco. Your
Cob: Cob, sir, Oliver Cob.
Clement: Then, Oliver Cob, you shall go to jail.
Cob: Oh, I beseech your worship, for heaven's sake,
dear master justice!
Clement: He shall not go; I did but fear the knave.
Formal, give him his warrant. (Exeunt Formal and
Cob) How now, Master Knowell, in dumps? Your
cares are nothing. What! Your son is old enough to
govern himself; let him run his course.
Scene I.—At Kitely's. Dame Kitely and Down-Right,
who, to his sister's great indignation, is reproving
her for admitting Well-Bred's companions.
Enter Bridget, Matthew, and Bobadill; Well-Bred,
Stephen, Young Knowell, and Brain-Worm
at the back.
Bridget: Servant, in truth, you are too prodigal
Of your wit's treasure thus to pour it forth
Upon so mean a subject as my worth.
What is this same, I pray you?
Matthew: Marry, an elegy, an elegy, an odd toy.
I'll read it if you please.
[Exit Down-Right, disgusted. The rest listen to Matthew's
"elegy," consisting of scraps from Marlowe.
As Down-Right re-enters, fuming, Well-Bred
is beginning to chaff Matthew. Down-Right
interrupts with an attack on the whole company, and
threatens to slit Bobadill's ears. Swords are drawn
all round, and Knowell is endeavouring to calm the
disturbance, when Kitely enters.
Well-Bred: Come, let's go. This is one of my
brother's ancient humours, this.
Stephen: I am glad nobody was hurt by his "ancient
[Exeunt all but they of the house. Bridget and Dame
Kitely praise the conduct of Knowell, whereupon
Kitely conceives that he must be Dame Kitely's
Scene II.—The Old Jewry. Well-Bred has agreed with
Knowell to persuade Bridget to meet him at the
Tower so that they may be married. Brain-Worm
has been despatched to carry out other details of the
plot. Meeting Old Knowell with Formal he reports
that (as Fitzsword) his connection with OLD
Knowell has been discovered; that he has escaped
with difficulty from Young Knowell, and that
the father had better hasten to Cob's house to catch
his son in flagrante delicto. He then goes off with
Formal. Enter Bobadill, Young Knowell, Matthew,
Bobadill: I will tell you, sir, by way of private; were
I known to her majesty, I would undertake to save three
parts of her yearly charge in holding war. Thus, sir, I
would select nineteen more gentlemen of good spirit;
and I would teach the special rules, your punto, your reverso,
your staccato, till they could all play very near
as well as myself. We twenty would come into the field,
and we would challenge twenty of the enemy; kill them,
challenge twenty more; kill them, and thus kill every
man his twenty a day, that's twenty score; twenty score,
that's two hundred; five days a thousand, two hundred
days kills forty thousand.
[Enter Down-Right, who challenges Bobadill to draw
on the spot, and cudgels him while Matthew runs
away, to Knowell's enjoyment. Exeunt all.
Well-Bred makes the proposed arrangement with
Bridget. Brain-Worm, who has stolen Formal's
clothes, tricks Kitely and Dame Kitely severally
into hurrying off to Cob's house to catch each other
in misdoing. Then, meeting Bobadill and Matthew
he engages to procure them a warrant against
Down-Right, and a sergeant to serve it. Old
Knowell, Kitely, and Dame Kitely attended by
Cash, meet outside Cob's house, each with their own
suspicions; there is a general altercation, while TIB
refuses to admit any of them.
Scene III.—A street. Brain-Worm, who has exchanged
Formal's clothes for a sergeant's attire. Enter
Matthew and Bobadill.
Matthew: 'Save you, friend. Are you not here by
appointment of Justice Clement's man?
Brain-Worm: Yes, an't please you, sir; with a warrant
to be served on one Down-right.
[Enter Stephen, wearing Down-Right's cloak, which
he had picked up in the scrimmage. As they are
arresting him, Down-Right enters. He submits to
arrest, but has Stephen arrested for wearing his
cloak. The whole party marches off to Justice
Scene.—Hall in Justice Clement's. Clement, Kitely,
Clement: Stay, stay, give me leave; my chair, sirrah.
Master Knowell, you went to meet your son. Mistress
Kitely, you went to find your husband; you, Master
Kitely, to find your wife. And Well-bred told her first,
and you after. You are gulled in this most grossly all.
[Bobadill and Matthew are ushered in; then Brain-Worm,
with Down-Right and Stephen; all make
Clement: You there (to Bobadill), had you my
warrant for this gentleman's apprehension?
Bobadill: Ay, an't please your worship; I had it of
Clement: Officer (to Brain-Worm), have you the
Brain-Worm: No, sir; your worship's man, Master
Formal, bid me do it.
Brain-Worm, in fear of some worse penalty, discloses
himself. As he reveals one after another of his devices,
the delighted Justice begs for him a readily
granted pardon from Old Knowell. Finally, he
announces that by this time Young Knowell and
Bridget are married. Clement despatches a servant
to bring home the young couple to dinner "upon
my warrant." Enter Bridget, Young Knowell,
Clement: Oh, the young company—welcome, welcome,
give you joy. Nay, Mistress Bridget, blush not;
Master Bridegroom, I have made your peace; give me
your hand. So will I for all the rest, ere you forsake
my roof. Come, put off all discontent; you, Master
Down-right, your anger; you, Master Knowell, your
cares; Master Kitely and his wife, their jealousy.
Kitely: Sir, thus they go from me. Kiss me, sweetheart.
Clement: 'Tis well, 'tis well. This night we'll dedicate
to friendship, love, and laughter.