Act II - Scene ii

[To them] Captain Bluffe.

SIR JO.  Oh, here a’ comes—Ay, my Hector of Troy, welcome, my bully, my Back; agad, my heart has gone a pit pat for thee.

BLUFF.  How now, my young knight?  Not for fear, I hope; he that knows me must be a stranger to fear.

SIR JO.  Nay, agad, I hate fear ever since I had like to have died of a fright.  But—

BLUFF.  But?  Look you here, boy, here’s your antidote, here’s your Jesuits’ powder for a shaking fit.  But who hast thou got with thee? is he of mettle?  [Laying his hand upon his sword.]

SIR JO.  Ay, bully, a devilish smart fellow: ’a will fight like a cock.

BLUFF.  Say you so?  Then I honour him.  But has he been abroad? for every cock will fight upon his own dunghill.

SIR JO.  I don’t know, but I’ll present you—

BLUFF.  I’ll recommend myself.  Sir, I honour you; I understand you love fighting, I reverence a man that loves fighting.  Sir, I kiss your hilts.

SHARP.  Sir, your servant, but you are misinformed, for, unless it be to serve my particular friend, as Sir Joseph here, my country, or my religion, or in some very justifiable cause, I’m not for it.

BLUFF.  O Lord, I beg your pardon, sir, I find you are not of my palate: you can’t relish a dish of fighting without sweet sauce.  Now, I think fighting for fighting sake’s sufficient cause; fighting to me’s religion and the laws.

SIR JO.  Ah, well said, my Hero; was not that great, sir? by the Lord Harry he says true; fighting is meat, drink, and cloth to him.  But, Back, this gentleman is one of the best friends I have in the world, and saved my life last night—you know I told you.

BLUFF.  Ay!  Then I honour him again.  Sir, may I crave your name?

SHARP.  Ay, sir, my name’s Sharper.

SIR JO.  Pray, Mr. Sharper, embrace my Back.  Very well.  By the Lord Harry, Mr. Sharper, he’s as brave a fellow as Cannibal, are not you, Bully-Back?

SHARP.  Hannibal, I believe you mean, Sir Joseph.

BLUFF.  Undoubtedly he did, sir; faith, Hannibal was a very pretty fellow—but, Sir Joseph, comparisons are odious—Hannibal was a very pretty fellow in those days, it must be granted—but alas, sir! were he alive now, he would be nothing, nothing in the earth.

SHARP.  How, sir!  I make a doubt if there be at this day a greater general breathing.

BLUFF.  Oh, excuse me, sir!  Have you served abroad, sir?

SHARP.  Not I, really, sir.

BLUFF.  Oh, I thought so.  Why, then, you can know nothing, sir: I am afraid you scarce know the history of the late war in Flanders, with all its particulars.

SHARP.  Not I, sir, no more than public letters or gazettes tell us.

BLUFF.  Gazette!  Why there again now.  Why, sir, there are not three words of truth the year round put into the Gazette.  I’ll tell you a strange thing now as to that.  You must know, sir, I was resident in Flanders the last campaign, had a small post there, but no matter for that.  Perhaps, sir, there was scarce anything of moment done but an humble servant of yours, that shall be nameless, was an eye-witness of.  I won’t say had the greatest share in’t, though I might say that too, since I name nobody you know.  Well, Mr. Sharper, would you think it?  In all this time, as I hope for a truncheon, this rascally gazette-writer never so much as once mentioned me—not once, by the wars—took no more notice than as if Nol. Bluffe had not been in the land of the living.

SHARP.  Strange!

SIR JO.  Yet, by the Lord Harry, ’tis true, Mr. Sharper, for I went every day to coffee-houses to read the gazette myself.

BLUFF.  Ay, ay, no matter.  You see, Mr. Sharper, after all I am content to retire; live a private person.  Scipio and others have done it.

SHARP.  Impudent rogue.  [Aside.]

SIR JO.  Ay, this damned modesty of yours.  Agad, if he would put in for’t he might be made general himself yet.

BLUFF.  Oh, fie! no, Sir Joseph; you know I hate this.

SIR JO.  Let me but tell Mr. Sharper a little, how you ate fire once out of the mouth of a cannon.  Agad, he did; those impenetrable whiskers of his have confronted flames—

BLUFF.  Death, what do you mean, Sir Joseph?

SIR JO.  Look you now.  I tell you he’s so modest he’ll own nothing.

BLUFF.  Pish, you have put me out, I have forgot what I was about.  Pray hold your tongue, and give me leave.  [Angrily.]

SIR JO.  I am dumb.

BLUFF.  This sword I think I was telling you of, Mr. Sharper.  This sword I’ll maintain to be the best divine, anatomist, lawyer, or casuist in Europe; it shall decide a controversy or split a cause—

SIR JO.  Nay, now I must speak; it will split a hair, by the Lord Harry, I have seen it.

BLUFF.  Zounds, sir, it’s a lie; you have not seen it, nor sha’n’t see it; sir, I say you can’t see; what d’ye say to that now?

SIR JO.  I am blind.

BLUFF.  Death, had any other man interrupted me—

SIR JO.  Good Mr. Sharper, speak to him; I dare not look that way.

SHARP.  Captain, Sir Joseph’s penitent.

BLUFF.  Oh, I am calm, sir, calm as a discharged culverin.  But ’twas indiscreet, when you know what will provoke me.  Nay, come, Sir Joseph, you know my heat’s soon over.

SIR JO.  Well, I am a fool sometimes, but I’m sorry.

BLUFF.  Enough.

SIR JO.  Come, we’ll go take a glass to drown animosities.  Mr. Sharper, will you partake?

SHARP.  I wait on you, sir.  Nay, pray, Captain; you are Sir Joseph’s back.