A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 9 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 508 pages of information about A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 9.

Would I were silent actor in my grave!


    PHILOMUSUS and STUDIOSO become fiddlers:  with their concert.

And tune, fellow-fiddlers; Studioso and I are ready.

[They tune.

STUDIOSO, going aside, sayeth,
Fair fell good Orpheus, that would rather be
King of a molehill than a keisar’s slave: 
Better it is ’mongst fiddlers to be chief,
Than at [a] player’s trencher beg relief. 
But is’t not strange, this mimic ape should prize
Unhappy scholars at a hireling rate? 
Vile world, that lifts them up to high degree,
And treads us down in groveling misery. 
England affords those glorious vagabonds,
That carried erst their fardles on their backs,
Coursers to ride on through the gazing streets,
Sweeping[128] it in their glaring satin suits,
And pages to attend their masterships: 
With mouthing words that better wits have framed,
They purchase lands, and now esquires are made.[129]

Whate’er they seem, being ev’n at the best,
They are but sporting fortune’s scornful jest.

So merry fortune’s wont from rags to take
Some ragged groom, and him a[130] gallant make.

The world and fortune hath play’d on us too long.

Now to the world we fiddle must a song.

Our life is a plain-song with cunning penn’d,
Whose highest pitch in lowest base doth end. 
But see, our fellows unto play are bent;
If not our minds, let’s tune our instrument.

Let’s in a private song our cunning try,
Before we sing to stranger company.

[PHILOMUSUS sings.  They tune.

How can he sing, whose voice is hoarse with care? 
How can he play, whose heart-strings broken are? 
How can he keep his rest, that ne’er found rest? 
How can he keep his time, whom time ne’er bless’d? 
Only he can in sorrow bear a part
With untaught hand and with untuned heart. 
Fond hearts, farewell, that swallow’d have my youth;
Adieu, vain muses, that have wrought my ruth;
Repent, fond sire, that train’dst thy hapless son
In learning’s lore, since bounteous alms are done. 
Cease, cease, harsh tongue:  untuned music, rest;
Entomb thy sorrows in thy hollow breast.

Thanks, Philomusus, for thy pleasant song. 
O, had this world a touch of juster grief,
Hard rocks would weep for want of our relief.

The cold of woe hath quite untun’d my voice,
And made it too-too hard for list’ning ear: 
Time was, in time of my young fortune’s spring,
I was a gamesome boy, and learn’d to sing—­
But say, fellow-musicians, you know best whither we go:  at what door
must we imperiously beg?

Project Gutenberg
A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 9 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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