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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From ‘A New Way to Pay Old Debts’

By Philip Massinger (1583–1640)

  • (See full text.)
  • [Sir Giles Overreach, on fire with greed and with ambition to found a great feudal house, treats about marrying his daughter with Lord Lovell.]

  • OVERREACH—To my wish: we are private.

    I come not to make offer with my daughter

    A certain portion,—that were poor and trivial:

    In one word I pronounce all that is mine,

    In lands or leases, ready coin or goods,

    With her, my lord, comes to you; nor shall you have

    One motive to induce you to believe

    I live too long, since every year I’ll add

    Something unto the heap, which shall be yours too.

    Lovell—You are a right kind father.
    Overreach—You shall have reason

    To think me such. How do you like this seat?

    It is well wooded and well watered,—the acres

    Fertile and rich: would it not serve for change

    To entertain your friends in a summer progress?

    What thinks my noble lord?
    Lovell—’Tis a wholesome air,

    And well built; and she that is mistress of it

    Worthy the large revenues.
    Overreach—She the mistress!

    It may be so for a time; but let my lord

    Say only that he but like it, and would have it,—

    I say, ere long ’tis his.

    Overreach—You do conclude too fast: not knowing me,

    Nor the engines that I work by. ’Tis not alone

    The lady Allworth’s lands;—but point out any man’s

    In all the shire, and say they lie convenient

    And useful for your Lordship, and once more

    I say aloud, they are yours.
    Lovell—I dare not own

    What’s by unjust and cruel means extorted.

    My fame and credit are more dear to me,

    Than so to expose ’em to be censured by

    The public voice.
    Overreach—You run, my lord, no hazard:

    Your reputation shall stand as fair

    In all good men’s opinions as now.

    Nor can my actions, though condemned for ill,

    Cast any foul aspersion upon yours:

    For though I do contemn report myself,

    As a mere sound, I still will be so tender

    Of what concerns you in all points of honor,

    That the immaculate whiteness of your fame,

    Nor your unquestioned integrity,

    Shall e’er be sullied with one taint or spot

    That may take from your innocence and candor.

    All my ambition is to have my daughter

    Right Honorable, which my lord can make her;

    And might I live to dance upon my knee

    A young Lord Lovell, born by her unto you,

    I write nil ultra to my proudest hopes.

    As for possessions and annual rents,

    Equivalent to maintain you in the part

    Your noble birth and present state require,

    I do remove the burden from your shoulders,

    And take it on my own; for though I ruin

    The country to supply your riotous waste,

    The scourge of prodigals (want) shall never find you.

    Lovell—Are you not frighted with the imprecations

    And curses of whole families, made wretched

    By your sinister practices?
    Overreach—Yes, as rocks are

    When foamy billows split themselves against

    Their flinty ribs; or as the moon is moved

    When wolves, with hunger pined, howl at her brightness.

    I am of a solid temper, and like these,

    Steer on a constant course: with mine own sword,

    If called into the field, I can make that right

    Which fearful enemies murmured at as wrong.

    Now, for those other piddling complaints,

    Breathed out in bitterness: as when they call me

    Extortioner, tyrant, cormorant, or intruder

    On my poor neighbor’s rights, or grand incloser

    Of what was common to my private use;

    Nay, when my ears are pierced with widows’ cries,

    And undone orphans wash with tears my threshold:

    I only think what ’tis to have my daughter

    Right Honorable; and ’tis a powerful charm

    Makes me insensible of remorse or pity,

    Or the least sting of conscience.
    Lovell—I admire

    The toughness of your nature.
    Overreach—’Tis for you,

    My lord, and for my daughter, I am marble.