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Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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Sc. 2

Here enter Greene and Bradshaw

bradshaw See you them that comes yonder, Master Greene?


greene Ay, very well. Do you know them?

Editor’s NoteHere enter Black Will and Shakebag

bradshaw The one I know not, but he seems a knave,

4Chiefly for bearing the other company;

5For such a slave, so vile a rogue as he,

Editor’s Note6Lives not again upon the earth.

7Black Will is his name. I tell you, Master Greene,

Editor’s Note8At Boulogne he and I were fellow soldiers,

9Where he played such pranks

pg 13810As all the camp feared him for his villainy.

Editor’s Note11I warrant you he bears so bad a mind

Editor’s Note12That for a crown he'll murder any man.

[Then Bradshaw makes to leave]
Editor’s Note13

greene [aside] The fitter is he for my purpose, marry.

Editor’s Note14

will How now, fellow Bradshaw? Whither away so early?


bradshaw O Will, times are changed: no fellows now,

Editor’s Note16Though we were once together in the field;

17Yet thy friend to do thee any good I can.


will Why, Bradshaw, was not thou and I fellow soldiers at Boulogne, Editor’s Note19where I was a corporal and thou but a base mercenary groom? 'No 20fellows now' because you are a goldsmith and have a little plate in Editor’s Note21your shop? You were glad to call me 'fellow Will' and, with a curtsy Editor’s Note22to the earth, 'One snatch, good corporal' when I stole the half ox from Editor’s Note23John the victualler and domineered with it amongst good fellows in 24one night.


bradshaw Ay, Will, those days are past with me.

Editor’s Note26

will Ay, but they be not past with me—

27for I keep that same honourable mind still. Good neighbour Bradshaw, 28you are too proud to be my fellow; but, were it not that I see more 29company coming down the hill, I would be fellows with you once Editor’s Note30more, and share crowns with you too. But let that pass, and tell me 31whither you go.


bradshaw To London, Will, about a piece of service

33Wherein haply thou mayst pleasure me.


will What is it?

Editor’s Note35

bradshaw Of late Lord Cheyne lost some plate,

36Which one did bring and sold it at my shop,

Editor’s Note37Saying he served Sir Anthony Cooke.

38A search was made, the plate was found with me,

Editor’s Note39And I am bound to answer at the 'size.

40Now Lord Cheyne solemnly vows, if law will serve him, he'll hang 41me for his plate. Now I am going to London upon hope to find the Editor’s Note42fellow. Now, Will, I know thou art acquainted with such companions.

Editor’s Note43

will What manner of man was he?

Editor’s Note44

bradshaw A lean-faced, writhen knave,

45Hawk-nosed and very hollow-eyed,

Editor’s Note46With mighty furrows in his stormy brows,

Editor’s Note47Long hair down to his shoulders curled;

pg 13948His chin was bare, but on his upper lip

49A moustache, which he wound about his ear.


will What apparel had he?

Editor’s Note51

bradshaw A watchet satin doublet all to-torn,

Editor’s Note52(The inner side did bear the greater show);

Editor’s Note53A pair of threadbare velvet hose, seam rent;

Editor’s Note54A worsted stocking rent above the shoe;

55A livery cloak, but all the lace was off—

56'Twas bad, but yet it served to hide the plate.

Editor’s Note57

will [aside to Shakebag] Sirrah Shakebag, canst thou remember since 58we trolled the bowl at Sittingbourne, where I broke the tapster's head Editor’s Note59of the Lion with a cudgel-stick?


shakebag [aside to Will] Ay, very well, Will.


will [aside to Shakebag] Why, it was with the money that the plate 62was sold for. [Aloud] Sirrah Bradshaw, what wilt thou give him that 63can tell thee who sold thy plate?

Editor’s Note64

bradshaw Who, I pray thee, good Will?

Editor’s Note65

will Why, 'twas one Jack Fitten. He's now in Newgate for stealing a 66horse, and shall be arraigned the next 'size.


bradshaw Why then, let Lord Cheyne seek Jack Fitten forth, for I'll 68back and tell him who robbed him of his plate. This cheers my Editor’s Note69heart. Master Greene, I'll leave you, for I must to the Isle of Sheppey 70with speed.


greene Before you go, let me entreat you to carry this letter to 72Mistress Arden of Faversham, and humbly recommend me to herself.

[Then he gives Bradshaw a letter]

bradshaw That will I, Master Greene, and so farewell.

[Then he gives Will money]

74Here Will, there's a crown for thy good news.

Editor’s Note75

will Farewell, Bradshaw. I'll drink no water for thy sake whilst this lasts.

Exit Bradshaw.

76Now, gentleman, shall we have your company to London?


greene Nay, stay, sirs.

78A little more I needs must use your help,

79And in a matter of great consequence—

Editor’s Note80Wherein, if you'll be secret and profound,

Editor’s Note81I'll give you twenty angels for your pains.


will How? Twenty angels? Give my fellow George Shakebag and me 83twenty angels, and, if thou'lt have thy own father slain that thou 84mayst inherit his land, we'll kill him.


shakebag Ay, thy mother, thy sister, thy brother, or all thy kin.

pg 140 86

greene Well, this it is: Arden of Faversham

87Hath highly wronged me about the Abbey land,

Editor’s Note88That no revenge but death will serve the turn.

Editor’s Note89Will you two kill him? Here's the angels down,

Editor’s Note90And I will lay the platform of his death.

Editor’s Note91

will Plat me no platforms! Give me the money, and I'll stab him as 92he stands pissing against a wall, but I'll kill him.


shakebag Where is he?

Editor’s Note94

greene He is now at London, in Aldersgate Street.


shakebag He's dead as if he had been condemned by an act of 96Parliament, if once Black Will and I swear his death.


greene Here is ten pound;

[Then he gives them money]

and, when he is dead, ye shall have twenty more.


will My fingers itches to be at the peasant. Ah, that I might be set 99awork thus through the year, and that murder would grow to an Editor’s Note100occupation, that a man might work without danger of law—'swounds, Editor’s Note101I warrant I should be warden of the company! Come, let us be going, Editor’s Note102and we'll bait at Rochester, where I'll give thee a gallon of sack to handsel 103the match withal.


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2.2.1 Black Will and Shakebag Holinshed specifies that Black Will was armed with 'a sword and buckler' (small round shield), while his companion (Shakebag) carried 'a great staff on his neck'. For the use of a staff as a weapon, compare King Lear Sc. 20 (4.5).
Editor’s Note
2.6 again elsewhere
Editor’s Note
2.8 Boulogne (pronounced 'bùllen'). French seaport on the English Channel, captured by Henry VIII in 1544, but conceded back to the French by Edward VI in 1550.
Editor’s Note
2.11 warrant assure
Editor’s Note
2.12 crown a coin worth five shillings (or one quarter of a pound)
Editor’s Note
2.13 marry i.e. 'by the Virgin Mary'. An intensifier or interjection that had lost most of its original meaning.
Editor’s Note
2.14 Whither away Will may interrupt Bradshaw's attempt to leave.
Editor’s Note
2.16 field field of battle
Editor’s Note
2.19 base mercenary groom (a hired soldier, and thus inferior to an enlisted soldier)
Editor’s Note
2.21 curtsy bow
Editor’s Note
2.22 snatch small piece
Editor’s Note
2.23 victualler provider of food and drink
Editor’s Note
2.23 domineered dominated, rejoiced
Editor’s Note
2.26 be not past Will might deliver these lines threateningly, to which Bradshaw may react in some way. All of Black Will's questions and movements in this exchange with Bradshaw can be played darkly or comically, or in an unpredictable combination of both.
Editor’s Note
2.30 share crowns with you i.e. rob you
Editor’s Note
2.35 Cheyne (pronounced 'chay-nee'): Sir Thomas Cheyne (1485–1588), warden of the Cinque Ports and Kent's representative in Parliament
Editor’s Note
2.37 Sir Anthony Cooke Cooke (1504–76) was a prominent anti-Catholic politician and, in all likelihood, a tutor to Protestant King Edward VI. He was famous for his five exceptionally well-educated daughters, some still prominent and powerful Protestants in 1592: one married to Lord Burghley, another to the elder Francis Bacon, and the third (Elizabeth Russell) the active and formidable widow of the Earl of Bedford.
Editor’s Note
2.39 'size assize (legislative session)
Editor’s Note
2.42 companions i.e. knaves
Editor’s Note
2.43 What … he What did he look like?
Editor’s Note
2.44 writhen misshapen
Editor’s Note
2.46 furrows wrinkles
Editor’s Note
2.47 Long hair a signifier of lawlessness
Editor’s Note
2.51 watchet light blue
Editor’s Note
2.51 doublet close-fitting body garment, typical apparel for men
Editor’s Note
2.51 to-torn torn apart
Editor’s Note
2.52 The inner … show (the lining of the doublet was more visible than the external fabric)
Editor’s Note
2.53 threadbare worn out
Editor’s Note
2.53 hose leggings
Editor’s Note
2.53 rent torn
Editor’s Note
2.54 worsted woollen
Editor’s Note
2.57 trolled the bowl revelled; passed around the drinking cup
Editor’s Note
2.57 Sittingbourne (a town in Kent roughly nine miles from Faversham, on the Pilgrims' Road to Canterbury)
Editor’s Note
2.57 tapster's innkeeper's
Editor’s Note
2.59 the Lion the Lion's Inn
Editor’s Note
2.59 cudgel-stick a club
Editor’s Note
2.64 Who … Will? Will might hold out his hand, demanding money before he speaks, and then expecting more for each subsequent piece of information he supplies. He and Shakebag may continue, together, to 'shake down' the nervous Bradshaw until he succeeds in leaving (sometimes running).
Editor’s Note
2.65 Newgate London's principal prison
Editor’s Note
2.69 Isle of Sheppey (an island in Kent, on the south side of the Thames Estuary just opposite Faversham)
Editor’s Note
2.75 drink no water (because he would rather drink wine than water)
Editor’s Note
2.80 profound crafty
Editor’s Note
2.81 angels gold coins worth ten shillings (or half a pound)
Editor’s Note
2.88 will serve the turn will be suitable
Editor’s Note
2.89 Here's … down He may display the money here, but does not hand it over until 2.97 (when it might be snatched out of his hand).
Editor’s Note
2.90 lay the platform devise the plan for
Editor’s Note
2.91 Plat plot
Editor’s Note
2.94 Aldersgate Street Fashionable street that ran south from Aldersgate (one of the gates of the original walled medieval city of London) to the west end of Cheapside (an upscale shopping street).
Editor’s Note
2.100 'swounds a curse, contracting the very blasphemous oath, 'By God's wounds'
Editor’s Note
2.101 warden of the company Black Will imagines himself as a governing member of a company of murderers arranged like one of the certified livery companies of the City of London.
Editor’s Note
2.102 bait at Rochester i.e. stop for food and drink at Rochester (a city in Kent between London and Faversham)
Editor’s Note
2.102 sack Spanish wine
Editor’s Note
2.102 handsel salute, confirm
Editor’s Note
2.102 gallon of sack Will is sometimes played as an alcoholic, often drunk or drinking.
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