23 January 2017

Sir Clyomon Meets Subtle Shift

[scene ii of Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes, my modern-spelling edition, based on the quarto as given in the Malone Society reprint, with notes adapted from Bullen and Dyce. The original author is unknown, though I like to think that Edward de Vere (perhaps assisted by one of the authors he supported) might be responsible. In the notes below B is Bullen, D Dyce, and Q the quarto. Scene ii was finished 23 January 2007.]
Enter Sir Clyomon, Knight of the golden Shield, son to the King of Denmark, booted.  Subtle Shift, the Vice, within, also booted.*
Come on good fellow, follow me, that I may understand
Of whence thou art, thus traveling here in a foreign land;
Come, why dost thou not leave loitering there and follow after me?
Subtle Shift
[within] Ah, I am in and’t shall please you!
In! why, where art thou in?
Subtle Shift
Faith, in a dirty ditch with a wanion,† so berayed‡ as it’s pity to see.
Well, I see thou art a merry companion, I shall like better of thy company:
But, I pray thee, come away.
Subtle Shift
[within] If I get out one of my legs, as fast as I may.
Ha lo! ah my buttock! the very foundation thereof doth break;
Ha lo! once again, I am as fast as though I had frozen here a week.
Here let him flip unto the stage backwards, as though he had pulled his leg out of the mire, one boot off, and then rise up to run in again.
Why how now! whither runn’st thou? art thou foolish in thy mind?
Subtle Shift
But to fetch one of my legs and’t shall please, that I have left in the mire behind.
One of thy legs! why, look, man, both thy legs thou hast!
It is but one of thy boots thou hast lost, thy labor thou dost wast.
Subtle Shift
But one of my boots! Jesu, I had such a wrench with the fall,
That, I assure, I did think one of my legs had gone withal.
Well, let that pass, and tell me what thou art, and what is thy name,
And from whence thou cam’st, and whither thy journey thou dost frame,
That I have met thee by the way, thus traveling in this sort.
Subtle Shift
What you have requested, and’t shall please, I am able to report,
What I am by my nature each wight shall perceive
That frequenteth my company by the learning I have:
I am the son of Apollo, and from his high seat I came;
But whither I go, it skills§ not, for Knowledge is my name,
And whoso hath knowledge, what needs he to care
Which way the wind blow, his way to prepare?
And art thou Knowledge?  Of troth, I am glad that I have met with thee.
Subtle Shift
I am Knowledge, and have as good skill in a woman as any man whatsoever he be,
For this I am certain of, let me but lie with her all night,
And I’ll tell you in the morning whether she is maid, wife, or sprite;
And as for other matters, speaking of languishes or any other thing,
I am able to serve, and’t shall please, and’t were great Alexander the King.
Of troth, then, for thy excellency, I will thee gladly entertain,
If in case that with me thou wilt promise to remain.
Subtle Shift
Nay, and’t shall please ye, I am like to a woman, say nay, and take it:
When a gentleman proffers entertainment, I were a fool to forsake it.
Well, Knowledge, then sith thou art content my servant to be,
And endued with noble qualities thy personage I see,
Thou having perfect knowledge how thyself to behave,
I will send thee of mine errand; but haste thither, I crave,
For here I will stay thy coming again.
Subtle Shift
Declare your pleasure, sir, and whither I shall go, and then the case is plain.
Nay, of no great importance, but being here in Suavia
And near unto the court, I would have thee to take thy way
Thither with all speed, because I would hear
If any shows or triumphs be towards, else would I not come there;
For only upon feats of arms is all my delight.
Subtle Shift
[aside] If I had known so much before, serve that serve will, I would have served no martial knight.—
Well, sir, to accomplish your will, to the court I will hie,
And what news is there stirring, bring word by and by.
Do so, good Knowledge, and here in place thy coming I will stay,
For nothing doth delight me more than to hear of martial play.
[Exit Subtle Shift.

* sd] B; “Enter Sir Clyomon Knight of the Golden Sheeld, sonne to the King of Denmarke, with subtill Shift the Vice, booted.” Q.  The dialog necessitates the changes in stage directions.  “‘The Vice’—equivalent in this stage-direction to ‘the buffoon’—was a prominent character in the early Moral Plays…” D.  “Sir Clyomon and Shift are “booted” (in their riding-boots) as they are going on a journey.” B

wanion] D B; woman Q.  With a wanion = with a curse, with a murrain. D, B.

berayed] befouled.

§ skills] It skills not = it matters not.

‖ languishes] A corruption of languages.

¶ say nay, and take it] A proverbial expression.  Faire de guedon guedon.  To mince or simper it; to be nice, quaint, scrupulous of receiving what inwardly is longed for; to say nay and take it, as men say maids do.”—Cotgrave.  (Cf. Richard III., iii. 7:—“Play the maid’s part,—still answer nay, and take it.”)

⁂ towards] in preparation, at hand.

sd] D B; Q has Subtle Shift exit at the end of his last speech.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah! Good old Clyomon, the playwright's foil. Neat! rfh

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