Act III - Act III, Scene XV

[To them] MRS FRAIL and BEN.

BEN. Mess, I love to speak my mind. Father has nothing to do with me. Nay, I can't say that neither; he has something to do with me. But what does that signify? If so be that I ben't minded to be steered by him; 'tis as thof he should strive against wind and tide.

MRS FRAIL. Ay, but, my dear, we must keep it secret till the estate be settled; for you know, marrying without an estate is like sailing in a ship without ballast.

BEN. He, he, he; why, that's true; just so for all the world it is indeed, as like as two cable ropes.

MRS FRAIL. And though I have a good portion, you know one would not venture all in one bottom.

BEN. Why, that's true again; for mayhap one bottom may spring a leak. You have hit it indeed: mess, you've nicked the channel.

MRS FRAIL. Well, but if you should forsake me after all, you'd break my heart.

BEN. Break your heart? I'd rather the Mary-gold should break her cable in a storm, as well as I love her. Flesh, you don't think I'm false-hearted, like a landman. A sailor will be honest, thof mayhap he has never a penny of money in his pocket. Mayhap I may not have so fair a face as a citizen or a courtier; but, for all that, I've as good blood in my veins, and a heart as sound as a biscuit.

MRS FRAIL. And will you love me always?

BEN. Nay, an I love once, I'll stick like pitch; I'll tell you that. Come, I'll sing you a song of a sailor.

MRS FRAIL. Hold, there's my sister, I'll call her to hear it.

MRS FORE. Well; I won't go to bed to my husband to-night, because I'll retire to my own chamber, and think of what you have said.

SCAN. Well; you'll give me leave to wait upon you to your chamber door, and leave you my last instructions?

MRS FORE. Hold, here's my sister coming towards us.

MRS FRAIL. If it won't interrupt you I'll entertain you with a song.

BEN. The song was made upon one of our ship's-crew's wife. Our boatswain made the song. Mayhap you may know her, sir. Before she was married she was called buxom Joan of Deptford.

SCAN. I have heard of her.

BEN. [Sings]:-



BEN. If some of our crew that came to see me are not gone, you shall see that we sailors can dance sometimes as well as other folks. [Whistles.] I warrant that brings 'em, an they be within hearing. [Enter seamen]. Oh, here they be--and fiddles along with 'em. Come, my lads, let's have a round, and I'll make one. [Dance.]

BEN. We're merry folks, we sailors: we han't much to care for. Thus we live at sea; eat biscuit, and drink flip, put on a clean shirt once a quarter; come home and lie with our landladies once a year, get rid of a little money, and then put off with the next fair wind. How d'ye like us?

MRS FRAIL. Oh, you are the happiest, merriest men alive.

MRS FORE. We're beholden to Mr Benjamin for this entertainment. I believe it's late.

BEN. Why, forsooth, an you think so, you had best go to bed. For my part, I mean to toss a can, and remember my sweet-heart, afore I turn in; mayhap I may dream of her.

MRS FORE. Mr Scandal, you had best go to bed and dream too.

SCAN. Why, faith, I have a good lively imagination, and can dream as much to the purpose as another, if I set about it. But dreaming is the poor retreat of a lazy, hopeless, and imperfect lover; 'tis the last glimpse of love to worn-out sinners, and the faint dawning of a bliss to wishing girls and growing boys.

There's nought but willing, waking love, that can Make blest the ripened maid and finished man.


A soldier and a sailor,
A tinker and a tailor,
Had once a doubtful strife, sir,
To make a maid a wife, sir,
Whose name was buxom Joan.
For now the time was ended,
When she no more intended
To lick her lips at men, sir,
And gnaw the sheets in vain, sir,
And lie o' nights alone.


The soldier swore like thunder,
He loved her more than plunder,
And shewed her many a scar, sir,
That he had brought from far, sir,
With fighting for her sake.
The tailor thought to please her
With offering her his measure.
The tinker, too, with mettle
Said he could mend her kettle,
And stop up ev'ry leak.


But while these three were prating,
The sailor slyly waiting,
Thought if it came about, sir,
That they should all fall out, sir,
He then might play his part.
And just e'en as he meant, sir,
To loggerheads they went, sir,
And then he let fly at her
A shot 'twixt wind and water,
That won this fair maid's heart.