|(Christmas and little brother Back-Winter are the only two servants who appear unaccompanied, a detail Summer notices.)|
Summer: Christmas, how chance thou com'st not as the rest,|
Accompanied with some music, or some song?
A merry carol would have graced thee well;
Thy ancestors have used it heretofore.
Christmas :Aye, Antiquity was the mother of ignorance; this latter world, that sees but with her spectacles, hath spied a pad in those sports more than they could.
Summer: What, is't against thy conscience for to sing?
Christmas: No, - nor to say, by my troth, if I may get a good bargain.
Summer: Why, thou shouldst spend, thou shouldst not care to get.
Christmas is god of hospitality.
Christmas: So will he never be of good husbandry. I may say to you, there is many an old god that is now grown out of fashion. So is the god of hospitality.
Summer: What reason canst thou give he should be left?
Christmas: No other reason, but that gluttony is a sin, and too many dunghills are infectious. A man's belly was not made for a powdering-beef tub. To feed the poor twelve days and let them starve all the year after would but stretch out the guts wider than they should be, and so make famine a bigger den in their bellies than he had before. I should kill an ox, and have some such fellow as Milo come and eat it up at a mouthful? Or like the Sybarites, do nothing all one year but bid guests against the next year? The scraping of trenchers you think would put a man to no charges - it is not a hundred pounds a year would serve the scullions in dishclouts! My house stands upon vaults; it will fall if it be overloaden with a multitude. Besides, have you never read of a city that was undermined and destroyed by moles? So, say I keep hospitality, and a whole fair of beggars bid me to dinner every day. What with making legs when they thank me at their going away, and settling their wallets handsomely on their backs, they would shake as many lice on the ground as were able to undermine my house and undo me utterly. It is their prayers would build it again if it were overthrown by this vermin, would it? I pray, who begun feasting and gourmandizing first but Sardanapalus, Nero, Heliogabalus, Commodus - tyrants, whoremasters, unthrifts! Some call them emperors, but I respect no crowns but crowns in the purse. Any man may wear a silver crown that hath made a fray at Smithfield and lost but a piece of his brainpan. And to tell you plain, your golden crowns are little better in substance, and many times got after the same sort.
Summer: Gross-headed sot, how light he makes of state!
Autumn : Who treadeth not on stars, when they are fallen?
Who talketh not of states, when they are dead?
A fool conceits no further than he sees,
He hath no sense of aught but what he feels.
Christmas :Aye, aye. Such wise men as you come to beg at such fool's door as we.
Autumn: Thou shut'st thy door: how should we beg of thee?
No alms but thy sink carries from thy house.
Will Summer: And I can tell you, that's as plentiful alms for the plague as the sheriff's tub to them of Newgate.
Autumn : For feasts thou keepest none, cankers thou feed'st:
The worms will curse thy flesh another day,
Because it yieldeth them no better prey.
Christmas: What worms do another day I care not, but I'll be sworn upon a whole kilderkin of single beer I will not have a worm-eaten nose like a pursuivant while I live. Feasts are but puffing up of the flesh, the purveyors for diseases: travel, costs, time, ill-spent. Oh, it were a trim thing to send, as the Romans did, round about the world for provision for one banquet! I must rig ships to Samos for peacocks, to Paphos for pigeons, to Austria for Oysters, to Phacis for pheasants, to Arabia for phoenixes, to Meander for swans, to the Orcades for geese, to Phrygia for woodcocks, to Malta for cranes, to the Isle of Man for puffins, to Ambracia for goats, to Tartole for lampreys, to Egypt for dates, to Spain for chestnuts - and all for one feast!
Will Summer: Oh sir, you need not. You may buy them at London better cheap.
Christmas: Liberalitas liberalitate perit: love me a little and love me long. Our feet must have wherewithal to fend the stones, our backs walls of wool to keep out the cold that besiegeth our warm blood; our doors must have bars, our doublets must have buttons. Item, for an old sword to scrape the stones before the door with, three half-pence: for stitching a wooden tankard that was burst - these water-bearers will empty the conduit and a man's coffers at once! Not a porter that brings a man a letter but will have his penny. I am afraid to keep past one or two servants lest, hungry knaves, they should rob me. And those I keep I warrant I do not pamper up too lusty; I keep them under with red herring and Poor John all the year long. I have dammed up all my chimneys for fear (though I burn nothing but small coal) my house should be set on fire with the smoke. I will not deny but, once in a dozen year when there is a great rot of sheep and I know not what to do with them, I keep open house for all the beggars in some of my out-yards; marry, they must bring bread with them. I am no baker.
Will Summer: As good men as you, and have thought no scorn to serve their 'prenticeships on the pillory.
Summer: Winter, is this thy son? Hear'st how he talks?
Winter : I am his father, therefore may not speak,
But otherwise I could excuse his fault.
Summer: Christmas, I tell thee plain - thou art a snudge,
And wer't not that we love thy father well,
Thou shouldst have felt what 'longs to avarice.
It is the honour of nobility
To keep high days and solemn festivals;
Then, to set their magnificence on view,
To frolic open with their favourites,
And use their neighbours with all courtesy,
When thou in hugger-mugger spend'st thy wealth.
Amend thy manners, breathe thy rusty gold:
Bounty will win thee love when thou art old.