|This is from the McKerrow edition, 'The Works of Thomas Nashe: edited from the original texts', London, 1905|
'Summer's Last Will and Testament' : This is Nashe's only surviving play. Internal evidence indicates it was produced before John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, while he was at his summer residence in Croydon during the first week of October, 1592. This private production was its only known performance: it is not suited to the public stage, being long, static, and requiring a large cast.|
Plot: King Summer is dying. He calls up all his past servants to question them on how well they have performed their duty. Attended by his putative heir, Autumn, and his counsellor, Winter, in this scene Summer interrogates his servant Sol:
Summer: I, marrie, here comes maiestie in pompe,|
Resplendent Sol, chiefe planet of the heauens:
He is our seruant, lookes he ne're so big.
Sol. My liege, what crau'st thou at thy vassals hands?
Summer. Hypocrisie, how it can change his shape!
How base is pride from his own dunghill put!
Howe I haue rais'd thee, Sol, I list not tell,
Out of the Ocean of aduersitie,
To sit in height of honors glorious heauen,
To be the eye-sore of aspiring eyes;
To giue the day her life from thy bright lookes,
And let nought thriue vpon the face of earth,
From which thou shalt withdraw thy powerful smiles.
What hast thou done deseruing such hie grace?
What industrie, or meritorious toyle,
Canst thou produce, to proue my gift well plac'de?
Some service or some profit I expect:
None is promoted but for some respect.
Sol. My Lord, what needs these termes betwixt vs two?
Vpbraiding ill beseemes your bounteous mind:
I do you honour for aduancing me.
Why, t'is a credit for your excellence,
To haue so great a subiect as I am:
This is your glorie and magnificence,
That, without stouping of your mightinesse,
Or taking any whit from your high state,
You can make one as mightie as your selfe.
Autumne. O arrogance exceeding all beliefe!
Summer my Lord, this sawcie vpstart Iacke,
That now doth rule the chariot of the Sunne,
And makes all starres deriue their light from him,
Is a most base insinuating slaue,
The sonne of parsimony and disdaine,
One that will shine on friends and foes alike,
That vnder brightest smiles hideth blacke showers,
Whose enuious breath doth dry up springs and lakes,
And burnes the grasse, that beastes can get no foode.
Winter. No dunghill hath so vilde an excrement,
But with his beames he will forthwith exhale:
The fennes and quag-mires tithe to him their filth:
Foorth purest mines he sucks a gainefull drosse:
Greene Iuy-bushes at the Vintners doores
He withers, and deuoureth all their sap.
Autumne. Lasciuious and intemperate he is.
The wrong of Daphne is a well-known tale:
Eche euening he descends to Thetis lap,
The while men thinke he bathes him in the sea.
O, but when he returneth whence he came
Downe to the West, then dawnes his deity,
Then doubled is the swelling of his lookes;
He ouerloades his carre with Orient gemmes,
And reynes his fiery horses with rich pearle:
He termes himselfe the god of Poetry,
And setteth wanton songs vnto the Lute.
Winter. Let him not talke; for he hath words at will,
And wit to make the baddest matter good.
Summer. Bad words, bad wit : oh, where dwels faith or truth?
Ill usury my fauours reape from thee,
Vsurping Sol, the hate of heaven and earth.
Sol. If Enuy unconfuted may accuse,
Then Innocence must uncondemned dye.
The name of Martyrdome offence hath gaynd,
When fury stopt a froward Iudges eares.
Much Ile not say (much speech much folly shewes),
What I haue done, you gaue me leaue to doe.
The excrements you bred, whereon I feede,
To rid the earth of their contagious fumes:
With such grosse carriage did I loade my beames:
I burnt no grass, I dried no springs and lakes,
I suckt no mines, I withered no greene boughes,
But when, to ripen haruest, I was forc'st
To make my rayes more feruent than I wont.
For Daphnes wrongs, and scapes in Thetis lap,
All Gods are subiect to the like mishap
Starres daily fall (t'is vse is all in all)
And men account the fall but natures course:
Vaunting my iewels, hasting to the West,
Or rising early from the gray ei'de morne,
What do I vaunt but your large bountihood,
And shew how liberall a Lord I serve?
Musique and poetrie, my two last crimes,
Are those two exercises of delight,
Wherewith long labours I doe weary out.
The dying Swanne is not forbid to sing.
The waues of Heber playd on Orpheus strings.
When he (sweet musiques Trophe) was destroyd.
And as for Poetry, woods eloquence,
(Dead Phaetons three sisters funerall teares
That by the gods were to Electrum turnd,)
Not flint, or rockes of Icy cynders fram'd,
Deny the sourse of siluer-falling streames.
Enuy enuieth not outcryes vnrest:
In vaine I plead ; well is to me a fault,
And these my words seeme the slyght webbe of arte,
And not to haue the taste of sounder truth.
Let none but fooles be car'd for of the wise;
Knowledge owne children knowledge most despise.
Summer. Thou know'st too much to know to keepe the meane.
He that sees all things oft sees not himselfe.
The Thames is witness of thy tyranny,
Whose waues thou hast exhaust for winter showres.
The naked channell playnes her of thy spite,
That laidst her intrailes into open sight.
Unprofitably borne to man and beast,
Which like to Nilus yet doth hide his head,
Some few years since thou let'st o'reflow these walks,
And in the horse-race headlong ran at race,
While in a cloude thou hid'st thy burning face:
Where was thy care to rid contagious filth,
When some men (wetshod) with his waters droupt?
Others that ate the Eeles his heate cast vp
Sickned and dyde, by them impoysoned.
Sleep'st thou, or keep'st thou then Admetus sheepe,
Thou driu'st not back these flowings to the deepe?
Sol. The winds, not I, haue floods & tydes in chase:
Diana, whom our fables call the moone,
Only commaundeth o're the raging mayne ;
Shee leads his wallowing offspring up and downe;
Shee wayning, all streams ebbe; in the yeare
She was eclipst, when that the Thames was bare.
Summer. A bare coniecture, builded on perhaps:
In laying thus the blame vpon the moone,
Thou imitat'st subtle Pithagoras,
Who, what he would the people should beleeue,
The same he wrote with blood vpon a glasse,
And turnd it opposite gainst the new moone;
Whose beames, reflecting on it with full force,
Shewd all those lynes, to them that stood behinde,
Most playnly writ in circle of the moone;
And then he said, Not I, but the new moone,
Faire Cynthia, perswades you this and that.
With like collusion shalt thou not blind mee:
But for abusing both the moone and mee,
Long shalt thou be eclipsed by the moone,
And long in darknesse liue, and see no light.
Away with him, his doome hath no reuerse.
Sol. What is eclipst will one day shine againe:
Though Winter frownes, the Spring wil ease my paine.
Time from the brow doth wipe out euery stayne.