Bacchus: Wherefore didst thou call me, Vertumnus? hast any drink to give me? One of you hold my ass while I light. Walk him up and down the hall, till I talk a word or two.|
Summer: What, Bacchus? still animus in patinis, no mind but on the pot?
Bacchus: Why, Summer, Summer, how wouldst thou do but for rain? What is a fair house without water coming to it? Let me see how a smith can work if he have not his trough standing by him. What sets an edge on a knife? The grindstone alone? no, the moist element poured upon it, which grinds out all gaps, sets a point upon it and scours it as bright as the firmament. So, I tell thee, give a soldier wine before he goes to battle, it grinds out all the gaps, it makes him forget all scars and wounds and fight in the thickest of his enemies as though he were at foils with his fellows. Give a scholar wine, going to his book or being about to invent, it sets a new point on his wit, it glazeth it, it scours it, it gives him acumen! Plato saith, vinum esse fomitem quendam, et incitabilem ingenii virtutisque. Aristotle saith, Nulla est magna scientia absque mixtura dementiae, 'There is no excellent knowledge without madness'. And what makes a man more mad in the head than wine? Qui bene vult poyein, debet ante pinyen, 'He that will do well must drink well'. Prome, prome, potum prome...'ho butler a fresh pot'. Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero terra pulsanda - a pox on him that leaves his drink behind. Hey, Rendezvous.
Summer: It is wine's custom to be full of words.
I pray thee, Bacchus, give us vicissitudinem loquendi.
Bacchus: A fiddlestick! Ne'er tell me that I am full of words. Faecundi calices, quem non fecere disertum? aut epi, aut abi: either take your drink, or you are an infidel.
Summer: I would about thy vintage question thee:
How thrive thy vines? Hadst thou good store of grapes?
Bacchus:[not listening] Vinum quasi venenum, wine is poison to a sick body. A sick body is no sound body: ergo, wine is a pure thing and is poison to all corruption. Tri-lil! The Hunter's Hoop to you! I'll stand to it, Alexander was a brave man. And yet an arrant drunkard.
Winter: Fie, drunken sot, forget'st thou where thou art?
My lord asks thee, what vintage thou hast made?
Bacchus: Our vintage was a vintage, for it did not work upon the advantage, it came in the vanguard of Summer
And winds and storms met it by the way
And made it cry, alas and well-a-day.
Summer : That was not well; but all miscarried not?
Bacchus : Faith, shall I tell you no lie? Because you are my countryman and so forth, and a good fellow is a good fellow though he have not a penny in his purse - We had but even pot luck; a little to moisten our lips, and no more. That same Sol is a pagan and a proselyte. He shined so bright all summer that he burned more grapes than his beams were worth, were every beam as big as a weaver's beam. A fabis abstinendum: faith, he should have abstained, for what is flesh and blood without his liquor?
Autumn : Thou want'st no liquor, nor no flesh and blood.
I pray thee, may I ask without offence?
How many tuns of wine hast in thy paunch?
Methinks that, built like a round church,
Should yet have some of Julius Caesar's wine:
I warrant 'twas not broached this hundred year.
Bacchus : Hear'st thou, dough-belly? Because thou talk'st, and talk'st, and durst not drink to me a blackjack, wilt thou give me leave to broach this little kilderkin of my corpse against thy back?? I know thou art but a micher, and durst not stand me. A vous, Monsieur Winter - a Frolic? Upsy-freesy-cross? Ho - supernagulum!
[Knocks the jack upon his thumb
- i.e. He drinks off the blackjack and turns it upside down, knocking the rim against his thumbnail to show there is no drop left inside.]
Winter : Gramercy, Bacchus, as much as though I did.
For this time though must pardon me perforce.
What, give me the disgrace? Go to, I say, I am no Pope, to pardon any man.[There is no stage direction here in the text, but judging by the rest of this speech Bacchus seems to be obliging someone to drink: it may be Winter] Ran-ran-tarra! cold beer makes good blood. St George for England! somewhat is better than nothing. Let me see, hast thou done me justice? why so. Thou art a king, though there were no more kings in the cards than the knave. Summer! - wilt thou have a demi-culverin that shall cry hufty tufty and make thy cup fly fine meal in the element?
Summer : No, keep thy drink, I pray thee, to thyself.
Bacchus : This Pupillonian in the fool's coat shall have a cast of martins and a whiff. To the health of Captain Rhinocerotry! Look to it, let him have weight and measure.
Will Summers : What an ass is this! I cannot drink so much, though I should burst.
Bacchus : Fool, do not refuse your moist sustenance. Come, come, dog's-head-in-the-pot! do what you are born to.
Will Summers : If you will needs make me a drunkard against my will, so it is. I'll try what burden my belly is of.
Bacchus : Crouch, crouch on your knees, fool, when you pledge god Bacchus.
[Here Will Summers drinks, and they sing about him. Bacchus begins.]
All :Monsieur Mingo in quaffing did surpass
In cup, in can or glass.
Bacchus : Ho, well shot - a toucher, a toucher.
For quaffing Toy doth surpass
In cup or can or glass -
All : God Bacchus, do him right
And dub him knight -
[Here he dubs Will Summers with the black jack]|
Bacchus : Rise up, Sir Robert Tosspot!
Summer : No more of this, I hate it to the death.
No such deformer of the soul and sense
As is this swinish, damned-born drunkeness.
Bacchus, for thou abusest so earth's fruits,
Imprisoned live in cellars and in vaults:
Let none commit their counsels unto thee:
Thy wrath be fatal to thy dearest friends
Unarméd run upon thy foemen's swords;
Never fear any plague before it fall:
Dropsies and wat'ry tympanies haunt thee,
Thy lungs with surfeiting be putrified,
To cause thee have an odious stinking breath;
Slaver and drivel like a child at mouth;
Be poor and beggarly in thy old age;
Let thy own kinsmen laugh when thou complain'st,
And many tears gain nothing but blind scoffs.
This is the guerdon due to drunkeness -
Shame, sickness, misery, follow excess.
Bacchus :Now on my honour, Sim-Summer, thou art a bad member, a dunce, a mongrel to discredit so worshipful an art after this order. Thou hast cursed me, and I will bless thee: Never cup of Nipitaty in London come near thy niggardly habitation. I beseech the gods of good fellowship thou may'st fall into a consumption with drinking small beer. Every day may'st thou eat fish, and let it stick in the midst of thy maw for want of a cup of wine to swim away in. Venison be venenum to thee: and may that vintner have the plague in his house that sells thee a drop of claret to kill the poison of it. As many wounds may'st thou have as Caesar had in the senate house, and get no white wine to wash them with. And to conclude - pine away in melancholy and sorrow, before thou hast the fourth part of a dram of my juice to cheer up thy spirits.
Summer : Hale him away, he barketh like a wolf;
It is his drink, not he, that rails on us.
Bacchus : Nay soft, brother Summer, back with that foot. Here is a snuff in the bottom of the jack, enough to light a man to bed withal. We'll leave no flocks behind us, whatsoe'er we do.
Summer : Go drag him hence, I say, when I command.
Bacchus : Since we must needs go, let's go merrily. Farewell, Sir Robert Tosspot! Sing amain Monsieur Mingo, whilst I mount up my ass.
[Here they go out singing Monsieur Mingo as they came in]
Will Summers : Of all gods, this Bacchus is the ill-favoured'st, misshapen god that ever I saw. A pox on him, he hath christened me with a new name of 'Sir Robert Tosspot' that will not part from me this twelvemonth. Ned Fool's clothes are so perfumed with the beer he poured on me that there shall not be a Dutchman within twenty mile but he'll smell out and claim kindred of him. What a beastly thing is it to bottle up ale in a man's belly, when a man must set his guts on a gallon pot-last, only to purchase the alehouse title of a 'boon companion'! "Carouse, pledge me an you dare!" "Swounds! I'll drink with thee for all that ever thou art worth!" It is even as two men should strive who should run furthest into the sea for a wager. Methinks these are good household terms: "Will it please you to be here, sir?" "I commend me to you." "Shall I be so bold as trouble you?" "Saving your tale, I drink to you." An if these were put in practice but a year or two in taverns, wine would soon fall from six and twenty pound a tun and be beggar's money, a penny a quart, and take up his inn with waste beer in the alm's tub.
I am a sinner as others. I must not say much of this argument. Everyone, when he is whole, can give advice to them that are sick. My masters, you that be good fellows, get you into corners and sup off your provender closely. Report hath a blister on her tongue. Open taverns are telltales. Non peccat quicunque; potest peccasse negare
Notes and speculations about staging:
The Bacchus presented in this scene isn't the youthful slender Dionysos familiar to us in paintings by Titian and Caravaggio. Bacchus here is a burly, belligerent, domineering drunk who can't speak to another character without trying to force booze on him. The one exception is Autumn, who essays a little joke at the expense of Bacchus' 'paunch' which is 'like a round church': Bacchus retaliates by calling him 'dough-belly', threatens to urinate on him and dismisses him as a 'micher', an insignificant wimp who daren't drink. Autumn makes no further contribution to the scene.
Bacchus is closer to old Silenus below, the bald, fat-bellied roaring follower of the god who rides on an ass. Whether on the night this ass was a real animal or a kind of pantomime horse I don't know. (Was there a bit of stage-business at the point where Bacchus tells his companions to 'hold my ass while I light'? I'd hope so.)
Anyone who doesn't want to join Bacchus in getting smashed as quickly as possible is liable to be abused (Winter gets off lightly) and the scene ends with Will Summers/Toy on his knees attempting to swallow an entire blackjack of beer at one go and then having the contents dumped over him in a mock 'knighting' ceremony. I suspect a lot of very coarse slapstick in this scene, with a fair amount of farting and belching.
The main thing to realise is that Bacchus acts with gross impropriety considering that he is addressing Summer, his liege lord. 'Fie, drunken sot! Forget'st thou where thou art?' asks Winter, scandalized. Well, yes. But as Summer points out, drink'll do that for you...
Monsieur Mingo : Apparently a genuine drinking song popular at the time, as Shakespeare uses it to comic effect in Henry IV, Part 2. 'Mingo' means 'I urinate' in Latin.
Drinking references: Bacchus uses many terms from contemporary drinking practice. Tri-lil, the Hunter's Hoop, Upsy-freesy-cross and Supernagulum are all drinking games. I don't know what they all mean but Supernagulum, Latin for 'on the nail', was to drain a glass so thoroughly that when turned upside down and tapped against the thumbnail not a drop ran out: 'Hunter's Hoop' may have been connected with the metal hoops on tankards which, like 'pegs', measured the amount each drinker could have when they were sharing.
Animus in patinis? - 'Got your mind on your meal?'
Vicissitudinem loquendi -
Vinum esse fomitem quendam, et incitabilem ingenii virtutisque -
Nulla est magna scientia absque mixtura dementiae -
Qui bene vult poyein, debet ante pinyen -
Prome, prome, potum prome -
A fabis abstinendum -
Whether Bacchus' garbled speech about 'our vintage was a vintage for it did not work on the advantage etc.' is a corruption in the text or an imitation of a drunk's slurring repetitions, I don't know.