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Renascence Editions

Knight of the Burning Pestle.

Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625).

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Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed in February 2007 by Risa Stephanie Bear, University of Oregon, from the edition by Frederic W. Moorman, J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., Aldine House, London, 1922. Moorman used the edition of Dyce, 1843, as his source. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 2007 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the publisher, rbear[at]uoregon.edu.

Dedicated to Anniina Jokinen.


This unfortunate child, who, in eight days (as lately I have learned) was begot and born, soon after was by his parents (perhaps because he was so unlike his brethren) exposed to the wide world, who, for want of judgment, or not understanding the privy mark of irony about it (which shewed it was no offspring of any vulgar brain), utterly rejected it; so that, for want of acceptance, it was even ready to give up the ghost, and was in danger to have been smothered in perpetual oblivion, if you (out of your direct antipathy to ingratitude), had not been moved both to relieve and cherish it: wherein I must needs commend both your judgment, understanding, and singular love to good wits. afterwards sent it to me, yet being an infant and somewhat ragged: I have fostered it privately in my bosom these two years; and now, to shew my love, return it to you, clad in good lasting clothes, which scarce memory will wear out, and able to speak for itself; and withal, as it telleth me, desirous to try his fortune in the world, where, if yet it be welcome, father, foster-father, nurse, and child all have their desired end. If it be slighted or traduced, it hopes his father will beget him a younger brother, who shall revenge his quarrel, and challenge the world either of fond and merely literal interpretation or illiterate misprision. Perhaps it will be thought to be of the race of Don Quixote; we both may confidently swear it his elder above a year; and therefore may (by virtue of his birthright) challenge the wall of him. I doubt not but they will meet in their adventures, and I hope the breaking of one staff make them friends; and perhaps they will combine themselves, and travel through the world to seek their adventures. So I commit him to his good fortune, and myself to your love. Your assured friend,

W. B[urre].


The world is so nice in these our times, that for apparel there is no fashion; for music (which is a rare art, though now slighted) no instrument; for diet, none but the French kickshaws that are delicate; and for plays, no invention but that which now runneth an invective way, touching some particular persons, or else it is contemned before it is thoroughly understood. This is all that I have to say: that the author had no intent to wrong any one in this comedy; but, as a merry passage, here and there interlaced it with delight, which he hopes will please all, and be hurtful to none.


WHERE the bee can suck no honey, she leaves her sting behind; and where the bear cannot find origanum to heal his grief, he blasteth all other leaves with his breath. We fear it is like to fare so with us; that, seeing you cannot reap the wonted mirth. Our intent was at this time to move inward delight, not outward lightness; and to breed (if it might be) soft smiling, not loud laughing; knowing it, to the wise, to be a great pleasure to hear counsel mixed with wit, as to the foolish, to have sport mingled with rudeness. They were banished the theatre of Athens, and from Rome hissed, that brought parasites on the stage with apish actions, or fools with uncivil habits, or courtezans with immodest words. We have endeavoured to be as far from unseemly speeches, to make your ears glow, as we hope you will be free from unkind reports, or mistaking the authors' intention, (who never aimed at any one particular in this play,) to make our cheeks blush. And thus I leave it, and thee to thine own censure, to like or dislike.—VALE.


RALPH, his Apprentice.

VENTUREWELL, a Merchant.
MICHAEL, His Sons.
GEORGE, Apprentices.
Three Men, supposed captives.
Soldiers, and Attendants.

Woman, supposed a captive.
POMPIONA, Daughter of the King of Moldavia.

SCENE: London and the neighbouring Country, excepting
Act IV. Scene ii., where it is in Moldavia.

The Knight of the
Burning Pestle.


Several Gentlemen sitting on Stools upon the Stage. The Citizen, his Wife, and Ralph sitting below among the audience.

Enter Speaker of the Prologue.

S. of Prol. "From all that's near the court, from all that's great,
    Within the compass of the city-walls,
    We now have brought our scene—"

Citizen leaps on the Stage.

Cit. Hold your peace, goodman boy!

S. of Prol. What do you mean, sir?

Cit. That you have no good meaning: this seven years there hath been plays at this house, I have observed it, you have still girds at citizens; and now you call your play "The London Merchant." Down with your title, boy! down with your title!

S. of Prol. Are you a member of the noble city?

Cit. I am.

S. of Prol. And a freeman?

Cit. Yea, and a grocer.

S. of Prol. So, grocer, then, by your sweet favour, we intend no abuse to the city.

Cit. No, sir! yes, sir: if you were not resolved to play the Jacks, what need you study for new subjects, purposely to abuse your betters? Why could not you be contented, as well as others, with "The legend of Whittington," or "The Life and Death of Sir Thomas Gresham, with the building of the Royal Exchange, of story of Queen Eleanor, with the rearing of London Bridge upon woolsacks?"

S. of Prol. You seem to be an understanding man: what would you have us do, sir?

Cit. Why, present something notably in honour of the commons of the city.

S. of Prol. Why, what do you say to "The Life and Death of fat Drake, or the Repairing of Fleet-privies?"

Cit. I do not like that; but I will have a citizen, and he shall be of my own trade.

S. of Prol. Oh, you should have told us your mind a month since; our play is ready to begin now.

Cit. 'Tis all one for that; I will have a grocer, and he shall do admirable things.

S. of Prol. What will you have him do?

Cit. Marry, I will have him—

Wife. [below.] Husband, husband!

Ralph. [below.] Peace, mistress.

Wife. [below.]  Hold thy peace, Ralph; I know what I do, I warrant ye.—Husband, husband!

Cit. What sayest thou, cony?

Wife. [below.]  Let him kill a lion with a pestle, husband! let him kill a lion with a pestle!

Cit. So he shall.—I'll have him kill a lion with a pestle.

Wife. [below.] Husband! shall I come up, husband?

Cit. Ay, cony.—Ralph, help your mistress this way.—Pray, gentlemen, make her a little room.—I pray you, lend me your hand to help up my wife: I thank you, sir.—So.

[Wife comes on the Stage. 

Wife. By your leave, gentlemen all; I'm something troublesome: I'm a stranger here; I was ne'er at one of these plays, as they say, before; but I should have seen "Jane Shore" once; and my husband hath promised me, any time this twelvemonth, to carry me to "The Bold Beauchamps," but in truth he did not. I pray you, bear with me.

Cit. Boy, let my wife and I have a couple of stools and then begin; and let the grocer do rare things.

[Stools are brought.

S. of Prol. But, sir, we have never a boy to play him: every one hath a part already.

Wife. Husband, husband, for God's sake, let Ralph play him! beshrew me, if I do not think he will go beyond them all.

Cit. Well remembered, wife.—Come up, Ralph.—I'll tell you, gentlemen; let them but lend him a suit of reparel and necessaries, and, by gad, if any of them all blow wind in the tail on him, I'll be hanged.

[Ralph comes on the Stage. 

Wife. I pray you, youth, let him have a suit of reparel! — I'll be sworn, gentlemen, my husband tells you true: he will act you sometimes at our house, that all the neighbours cry out on him; he will fetch you up a couraging part so in the garret, that we are all as feared, I warrant you, that we quake again: we'll fear our children with him; if they be never so unruly, do but cry, "Ralph comes, Ralph comes!" to them, and they'll be as quiet as lambs.—Hold up thy head, Ralph; show the gentlemen what thou canst do; speak a huffing part; I warrant you, the gentlemen will accept of it.

Cit. Do, Ralph, do.

Ralph. " By Heaven, methinks, it were an easy leap
    To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon;
    Or dive into the bottom of the sea,
    Where never fathom-line touched any ground,
    And pluck up drowned honour from the lake of hell."

Cit. How say you, gentlemen, is it not as I told you?

Wife. Nay, gentlemen, he hath played before, my husband says, Mucedorus, before the wardens of our company.

Cit. Ay, and he should have played Jeronimo with a shoemaker for a wager.

S. of Prol. He shall have a suit of apparel, if he will go in.

Cit. In, Ralph, in, Ralph; and set out the grocery in their kind, if thou lovest me.

[Exit Ralph. 

Wife. I warrant, our Ralph will look finely when he's dressed.

S. of Prol. But what will you have it called?

Cit. "The Grocer's Honour."  

S. of Prol. Methinks " The Knight of the Burning Pestle " were better.

Wife. I'll be sworn, husband, that's as good a name as can be.

Cit. Let it be so.—Begin, begin; my wife and I will sit down.

S. of Prol. I pray you, do.

Cit. What stately music have you? you have shawms?

S. of Prol. Shawms! no.

Cit. No! I'm a thief, if my mind did not give me to. Ralph plays a stately part, and he must needs have shawms: I'll be at the charge of them myself, rather than we'll be without them.

S. of Prol. So you are like to be.

Cit. Why, and so I will be: there's two shillings; —[Gives money]—let's have the waits of Southwark; they are as rare fellows a« any are in England; and that will fetch them all o'er the water with a vengeance, as if they were mad.

S. of Prol. You shall have them. Will you sit down, then?

Cit. Ay.—Come, wife.

Wife. Sit you merry all, gentlemen; I'm bold to sit amongst you for my ease.

[Citizen and Wife sit down.

S. of Prol. "From all that's near the court, from all that's great,
    We now have brought our scene. Fly far from hence
    All private taxes, immodest phrases,
    Whatever may but show like vicious!
    For wicked mirth never true pleasure brings,
    But honest minds are pleased with honest things."—
Thus much for that we do; but for Ralph's part you must answer for yourself.

Cit. Take you no care for Ralph; he'll discharge himself, I warrant you.

[Exit Speaker of Prologue. 

Wife. I'faith, gentlemen, I'll give my word for Ralph.

Act First.

Scene I.

A Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Venturewell and Jasper.

Vent. Sirrah, I'll make you know you are my prentice,
    And whom my charitable love redeemed
    Even from the fall of fortune; gave thee heat
    And growth, to be what now thou art, new-cast thee;
    Adding the trust of all I have, at home,
    In foreign staples, or upon the sea,
    To thy direction; tied the good opinions
    Both of myself and friends to thy endeavours;
    So fair were thy beginnings. But with these,
    As I remember, you had never charge
    To love your master's daughter, and even then
    When I had found a wealthy husband for her;
    I take it, sir, you had not: but, however,
    I'll break the neck of that commission,
    And make you know you are but a merchant's factor.

    Jasp. Sir, I do liberally confess I am yours,
    Bound both by love and duty to your service,
    In which my labour hath been all my profit:
    I have not lost in bargain, nor delighted
    To wear your honest gains upon my back;
    Nor have I given a pension to my blood,
    Or lavishly in play consumed your stock;
    These, and the miseries that do attend them,
    I dare with innocence proclaim are strangers
    To all my temperate actions. For your daughter,
    If there be any love to my deservings
    Borne by her virtuous self, I cannot stop it;
    Nor am I able to refrain her wishes,
    She's private to herself, and best of knowledge
    Whom she will make so happy as to sigh for:
    Unto a fellow of so lame a presence,
    One that hath little left of nature in him.

Vent. 'Tis very well, sir: I can tell your wisdom
    How all this shall be cured.

Jasp. Your care becomes you.

Vent. And thus it shall be, sir: I here discharge you
    My house and service; take your liberty;
    And when I want a son, I'll send for you.


Jasp. These be the fair rewards of them that love!
    Oh, you that live in freedom, never prove
    The travail of a mind led by desire!

Enter Luce.

Luce. Why, how now, friend? struck with my father's thunder!

Jasp. Struck, and struck dead, unless the remedy
    Be full of speed and virtue; I am now,
    What I expected long, no more your father's.

Luce. But mine.

Jasp. But yours, and only yours, I am;
    That's all I have to keep me from the statute.
    You dare be constant still?

Luce. Oh, fear me not!
    In this I dare be better than a woman:
    Nor shall his anger nor his offers move me,
    Were they both equal to a prince's power.

Jasp. You know my rival!

Luce. Yes, and love him dearly;
    Even as I love an ague or foul weather:
    I prithee, Jasper, fear him not.

Jasp. Oh, no!
    I do not mean to do him so much kindness.
    But to our own desires: you know the plot 
    We both agreed on?

Luce. Yes, and will perform
    My part exactly.

Jasp. I desire no more.
    Farewell, and keep my heart; 'tis yours.

Luce. I take it;
    He must do miracles makes me forsake it.

[Exeunt severally.

[Cit. Fie upon 'em, little infidels! what a matter's here now! Well, I'll be hanged for a half-penny, if there be not some abomination knavery in this play. Well; let 'em look to't; Ralph must come, and if there be any tricks a-brewing—

Wife. Let 'em brew and bake too, husband, a' name; Ralph will find all out, I warrant you, an they were older than they are.— [Enter Boy.]— I pray, my pretty youth, is Ralph ready?

Boy. He will be presently.

Wife. Now, I pray you, make my commendations unto him, and withal carry him this stick of liquorice: tell him his mistress sent it to him; and bid him bite a piece; 'twill open his pipes the better, say.]

[Exit Boy. 

Scene II.

Another Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Venturewell and Humphrey.

Vent. Come, sir, she's yours; upon my faith, she's yours;
    You have my hand: for other idle lets
    Between your hopes and her, thus with a wind
    They are scattered and no more. My wanton prentice,
    That like a bladder blew himself with love,
    I have let out, and sent him to discover
    New masters yet unknown.

Hum. I thank you, sir,
    Indeed, I thank you, sir; and, ere I stir,
    It shall be known, however you do deem,
    I am of gentle blood, and gentle seem.

Vent, Oh, sir, I know it certain.

Hum. Sir, my friend,
    Although, as writers say, all things have end,
    And that we call a pudding hath his two,
    Oh, let it not seem strange, I pray, to you,
    If in this bloody simile I put
    My love, more endless than frail things or gut!

[Wife. Husband, I prithee, sweet lamb, tell me one thing; but tell me truly.—Stay, youths, I  beseech you, till I question my husband.

Cit. What is it, mouse?

Wife. Sirrah, didst thou ever see a prettier child? how it behaves itself, I warrant ye, and speaks and looks, and perts up the head!—I pray you, brother, with your favour, were you never none of Master Moncaster's scholars?

Cit. Chicken, I prithee heartily, contain thyself: the childer are pretty childer; but when Ralph comes, lamb—

Wife. Ay, when Ralph comes, cony!—Well, my youth, you may proceed.]

Vent. Well, sir, you know my love, and rest, I hope,
    Assured of my consent; get but my daughter's,
    And wed her when you please. You must be bold,
    And clap in close unto her: come, I know
    You have language good enough to win a wench.

[Wife. A whoreson Tyrant! h'as been an old stringer in's days, I warrant him.]

Hum. I take your gentle offer, and withal
    Yield love again for love reciprocal.

Vent. What, Luce! within there!

Enter Luce.

Luce. Called you, sir?

Vent. I did:
    Give entertainment to this gentleman;
    And see you be not froward.—To her, sir:
    My presence will but be an eye-sore to you.


Hum. Fair Mistress Luce, how do you? are you well?
    Give me your hand, and then I pray you tell
    How doth your little sister and your brother;
    And whether you love me or any other.

Luce. Sir, these are quickly answered.

Hum. So they are,
    Where women are not cruel. But how far
    Is it now distant from the place we are in,
    Unto that blessed place, your father's warren?

Luce. What makes you think of that, sir?

Hum. Even that face;
    For, stealing rabbits whilom in that place,
    God Cupid, or the keeper, I know not whether,
    Unto my cost and charges brought you thither,
    And there began—

Luce. Your game, sir.

Hum. Let no game,
    Or any thing that tendeth to the same,
    Be ever more remembered, thou fair killer,
    For whom I sate me down, and brake my tiller.

[Wife. There's a kind gentleman, I warrant you: when will you do as much for me, George?]

Luce. Beshrew me, sir, I am sorry for your losses,
    But, as the proverb says, I cannot cry:
    I would you had not seen me!

Hum. So would I,
    Unless you had more maw to do me good.

Luce. Why, cannot this strange passion be withstood;
    Send for a constable, and raise the town.

Hum. Oh, no! my valiant love will batter down
    Millions of constables, and put to flight
    Even that great watch of Midsummer-day at night.

Luce. Beshrew me, sir, 'twere good I yielded, then;
    Weak women cannot hope, where valiant men
    Have no resistance.

Hum. Yield, then; I am full
    Of pity, though I say it, and can pull
    Out of my pocket thus a pair of gloves.
    Look, Luce, look; the dog's tooth nor the dove's
    Are not so white as these; and sweet they be,
    And whipt about with silk, as you may see.
    If you desire the price, shoot from your eye
    A beam to this place, and you shall espy
    F. S, which is to say, my sweetest honey,
    They cost me three and twopence, or no money.

Luce. Well, sir, I take them kindly, and I thank you:
    What would you more?

Hum. Nothing.

Luce. Why, then, farewell.

Hum. Nor so, nor so; for, lady, I must tell,
    Before we part, for what we met together:
    God grant me time and patience and fair weather!

Luce. Speak, and declare your mind in terms brief.

Hum. I shall: then, first and foremost, for relief
    I call to you, if that you can afford it;
    I care not at what price, for, on my word, it
    Shall be repaid again, although it cost me
    More than I'll speak of now; for love hath tost me
    In furious blanket like a tennis-ball,
    And now I rise aloft, and now I fall.

Luce. Alas, good gentleman, alas the day!

Hum. I thank you heartily; and, as I say,
    Thus do I still continue without rest,
    I' the morning like a man, at night a beast,
    Roaring and bellowing mine own disquiet,
    That much I fear, forsaking of my diet
    Will bring me presently to that quandary,
    I shall bid all adieu.

Luce. Now, by St Mary,
    That were great pity!

Hum. So it were, beshrew me;
    Then, ease me, lusty Luce, and pity show me.

Luce. Why, sir, you know my will is nothing worth
    Without my father's grant; get his consent,
    And then you may with assurance try me.

Hum. The worshipful your sire will not deny me;
    For I have asked him, and he hath replied,
    "Sweet Master Humphrey, Luce shall be thy bride."

Luce. Sweet Master Humphrey, then I am content.

Hum. And so am I, in truth.

Luce. Yet take me with you;
    There is another clause must be annexed,
    And this it is: I swore, and will perform it,
    No man shall ever joy me as his wife
    But he that stole me hence. If you dare venture,
    I am yours (you need not fear; my father loves you);
    If not, farewell for ever!

Hum. Stay, nymph, stay:
    I have a double gelding, coloured bay,
    Sprung by his father from Barbarian kind;
    Another for myself, though somewhat blind,
    Yet true as trusty tree.

Luce. I am satisfied;
    And so I give my hand. Our course must lie
    Through Waltham-forest, where I have a friend
    Will entertain us. So, farewell, Sir Humphrey,
    And think upon your business.


Hum. Though I die,
    I am resolved to venture life and limb
    For one so young, so fair, so kind, so trim.


[Wife. By my faith and troth, George, and as I am virtuous, it is e'en the kindest young man that ever trod on shoe-leather.—Well, go thy ways; if thou hast her not, 'tis not thy fault, i'faith.

Cit. I prithee, mouse, be patient; 'a shall have her, or I'll make some of 'em smoke for't.

Wife. That's my good lamb, George. — Fie, this stinking tobacco kills me! would there were none in England!—Now, I pray, gentlemen, what good does this stinking tobacco do you? nothing, I warrant you: make chimneys o' your faces!]

Scene III.

A Grocer's Shop.

Enter Ralph, as a Grocer, reading Palmerin of England, with Tim and George.

[Wife. Oh, husband, husband, now, now! there's Ralph, there's Ralph.

Cit. Peace, fool! let Ralph alone.—Hark you, Ralph; do not strain yourself too much at the first.—Peace!—Begin, Ralph.]

Ralph. [Reads.] Then Palmerin and Trineus, snatching their lances from their dwarfs, and clasping their helmets galloped amain after the giant; and Palmerin, having gotten a sight of him, came posting amain, saying,' Stay, traitorous thief! for thou mayst not so carry away her, that is worth the greatest lord in the world;' and, with these words, gave him a blow on the shoulder, that he struck him besides his elephant. And Trineus, coming to the knight that had Agricola behind him, set him soon besides his horse, with his neck broken in the fall; so that the princess, getting out of the throng, between joy and grief, said, "All happy knight, the mirror of all such as follow arms, now may I be well assured of the love thou bearest me." I wonder why the kings do not raise an army of fourteen or fifteen hundred thousand men, as big as the army that the Prince of Portigo brought against Rosicleer, and destroy these giants; they do much hurt to wandering damsels, that go in quest of their knights.

[Wife. Faith, husband, and Ralph says true; for they say the King of Portugal cannot sit at his meat, but the giants and the ettins will come and snatch it from him.

Cit. Hold thy tongue.—On, Ralph!]

Ralph. And certainly those knights are much to be commended, who, neglecting their possessions, wander with a squire and a dwarf through the deserts to relieve poor ladies.

[Wife. Ay, by my faith, are they, Ralph; let 'em say what they will, they are indeed. Our knights neglect their possessions well enough, but they do not the rest.]

Ralph. There are no such courteous and fair well-spoken knights in this age: they will call one "the son of a whore," that Palmerin of England would have called "fair sir;" and one that Rosicleer would have called "right beauteous damsel," they will call "damned bitch."

[Wife. I'll be sworn will they, Ralph; they have called me so an hundred times about a scurvy pipe of tobacco.]

Ralph. But what brave spirit could be content to sit in his shop, with a flappet of wood, and a blue apron before him, selling mithridatum and dragon's-water to visited houses, that might pursue feats of arms, and, through    his noble achievements, procure such a famous history to be written of his heroic prowess?

[Cit. Well said, Ralph; some more of those words, Ralph!

Wife. They go finely, by my troth.]

Ralph. Why should not I, then, pursue this course, both for the credit of myself and our company? for amongst all the worthy books of achievements, I do not call to mind that I yet read of a grocer-errant: I will be the said knight. —Have you heard of any that hath wandered unfurnished of his squire and dwarf? My elder prentice Tim shall be my trusty squire, and little George my dwarf. Hence, my blue apron! Yet, in remembrance of my former trade, upon my shield shall be portrayed a Burning Pestle, and I will be called the Knight of the Burning Pestle.

[Wife. Nay, I dare swear thou wilt not forget thy old trade; thou wert ever meek.]

Ralph. Tim!

Tim. Anon.

Ralph. My beloved squire, and George my dwarf, I charge you that from henceforth you never call me by any other name but "the right courteous and valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle;" and that you never call any female by the name of a woman or wench, but "fair lady," if she have her desires, if not, "distressed damsel;" that you call all forests and heaths "deserts," and all horses "palfreys."

[Wife. This is very fine, faith.—Do the gentlemen like Ralph, think you, husband?

Cit. Ay, I warrant thee; the players would give all the shoes in their shop for him.]

Ralph. My beloved squire Tim, stand out. Admit this were a desert, and over it a knight-errant pricking, and I should bid you inquire of his intents, what would you say?

Tim. Sir, my master sent me to know whither you are riding?

Ralph. No, thus: "Fair sir, the right courteous and valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle commanded me to inquire upon what adventure you are bound, whether to relieve some distressed damsel, or otherwise."

[Cit. Whoreson blockhead, cannot remember!

Wife. I'faith, and Ralph told him on't before: all the gentlemen heard him.—Did he not, gentlemen? did not Ralph tell him on't?

George. Right courteous and valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle, here is a distressed damsel to have a halfpenny-worth of pepper.

[Wife. That's a good boy! see, the little boy can hit it; by my troth, it's a fine child.]

Ralph. Relieve her, with all courteous language. Now shut up shop; no more my prentices, but my trusty squire and dwarf. I must bespeak my shield and arming pestle.

[Exeunt Tim and George.

[Cit. Go thy ways, Ralph! As I'm a true man, thou art the best on 'em all.

Wife. Ralph, Ralph!

Ralph. What say you, mistress?

Wife. I prithee, come again quickly, sweet Ralph.

Ralph. By and by.]


Scene IV.

A Room in Merrythought's House.

Enter Mistress Merrythought and Jasper.

Mist. Mer. Give thee my blessing! no, I'll ne'er give thee my blessing; I'll see thee hanged first; it shall ne'er be said I gave thee my blessing. Thou art thy father's own son, of the right blood of the Merrythoughts. I may curse the time that e'er I knew thy father; he hath spent all his own and mine too; and when I tell him of it, he laughs, and dances, and sings, and cries, "A merry heart lives long-a." And thou art a wastethrift, and art run away from thy master that loved thee well, and art come to me; and I have laid up a little for my younger son Michael, and thou thinkest to bezzle that, but thou shall never be able to do it.—Come hither, Michael!

Enter Michael.

Come, Michael, down on thy knees; thou shalt have my blessing.

Mich. [Kneels.] I pray you, mother, pray to God to bless me.

Mist. Mer. God bless thee! but Jasper shall never have my blessing; he shall be hanged first: shall he not, Michael? how sayest thou?

Mich.Yes, forsooth, mother, and grace of God.

Mist. Mer. That's a good boy!

[Wife. I'faith, it's a fine-spoken child.]

Jasp. Mother, though you forget a parent's love
    I must preserve the duty of a child.
    I ran not from my master, nor return
    To have your stock maintain my idleness.

[Wife. Ungracious child, I warrant him; hark, how he chops logic with his mother!—Thou hadst best tell her she lies; do, tell her she lies.

Cit. If he were my son, I would hang him up by the heels, and flay him, and salt him, whoreson haltersack.]

Jasp. My coming only is to beg your love,
    Which I must ever, though I never gain it;
    And, howsoever you esteem of me,
    There is no drop of blood hid in these veins
    But, I remember well, belongs to you
    That brought me forth, and would be glad for you
    To rip them all again, and let it out.

Mist. Mer. I'faith, I had sorrow enough for thee, God knows; but I'll hamper thee well enough. Get thee in, thou vagabond, get thee in, and learn of thy brother Michael.

[Exeunt Jasper and Michael.

Mer. [Singing within.]
            Nose, nose, jolly red nose,
            And who gave thee this jolly red nose?

Mist. Mer. Hark, my husband! he's singing and hoiting; and I'm fain to cark and care, and all little enough.—Husband! Charles! Charles Merrythought!

Enter Merrythought.

Mer. [Sings.]
            Nutmegs and ginger, cinnamon and cloves;
            And they gave me this jolly red nose.

Mist. Mer. If you would consider your state, you would have little list to sing, i-wis.
Mer. It should never be considered, while it were an estate, if I thought it would spoil my singing.

Mist. Mer. But how wilt thou do, Charles? thou art an old man, and thou canst not work, and thou hast not forty shillings left, and thou eatest good meat, and drinkest good drink, and laughest.

Mer. And will do.

Mist. Mer. But how wilt thou come by it, Charles?

Mer. How! why, how have I done hitherto these forty years? I never came into my dining room, but, at eleven and six o'clock, I found excellent meat and drink o' the table; my clothes were never worn out, but next morning a tailor brought me a new suit: and without question it will be so ever; use makes perfectness. If all should fail, it is but a little straining myself extraordinary, and laugh myself to death.

[Wife. It's a foolish old man this; is not he, George?

Cit. Yes, cony.

Wife. Give me a penny i' the purse while I live, George.

Cit. Ay, by lady, cony, hold thee there.]

Mist. Mer. Well, Charles; you promised to provide for Jasper, and I have laid up for Michael. I pray you, pay Jasper his portion: he's come home, and he shall not consume Michael's stock; he says his master turned him away, but, I promise you truly, I think he ran away.

[Wife. No, indeed, Mistress Merrythought; though he be a notable gallows, yet I'll assure you his master did turn him away, even in this place; 'twas, i'faith, within this half-hour, about his daughter; my husband was by.

Cit. Hang him, rogue! he served him well enough: love his master's daughter! By my troth, cony, if there were a thousand boys, thou wouldst spoil them all with taking their parts; let his mother alone with him.

Wife. Ay, George; but yet truth is truth.]

Mer. Where is Jasper? he's welcome, however. Call him in; he shall have his portion. Is he merry?

Mist. Mer. Ah, foul chive him, he is too merry! —Jasper! Michael!

Re-enter Jasper and Michael.

Mer. Welcome, Jasper! though thou runnest away, welcome! God bless thee!  'Tis thy mother's mind thou shouldst receive thy portion; thou hast been abroad, and I hope hast learned experience enough to govern it; thou art of sufficient years; hold thy hand—one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, there is ten shillings for thee. [Gives money.] Thrust thyself into the world with that, and take some settled course: if fortune cross thee, thou hast a retiring place; come home to me; I have twenty shillings left. Be a good husband; that is, wear ordinary clothes, eat the best meat, and drink the best drink; be merry, and give to the poor, and, believe me, thou hast no end of thy goods.

Jasp. Long may you live free from all thought of ill,
    And long have cause to be thus merry still!
    But, father—

Mer. No more words, Jasper; get thee gone. Thou hast my blessing; thy father's spirit upon thee! Farewell, Jasper!

            But yet, or ere you part (oh, cruel!)
            Kiss me, kiss me, sweeting, mine own dear jewel!

So, now begone; no words.

[Exit Jasper.

Mist. Mer. So, Michael, now get thee gone too.

Mich. Yes, forsooth, mother; but I'll have my father's blessing first.

Mist. Mer. No, Michael; 'tis no matter for his blessing; thou hast my blessing; begone. I'll fetch my money and jewels, and follow thee; I'll stay no longer with him, I warrant thee.

[Exit Michael.

—Truly, Charles, I'll be gone too.

Mer. What! you will not?

Mist. Mer. Yes, indeed will I.

Mer. [Sings.]
            Heigh-ho, farewell, Nan!
            I'll never trust wench more again, if I can.

Mist. Mer. You shall not think, when all your own is gone, to spend that I have been scraping up for Michael.

Mer. Farewell, good wife; I expect it not: all I have to do in this world, is to be merry; which I shall, if the ground be not taken from me; and if it be,

            When earth and seas from me are reft,
            The skies aloft for me are left.

[Exeunt severally.

[Wife. I'll be sworn he's a merry old gentleman for all that. [Music.] Hark, hark, husband, hark! fiddles, fiddles! now surely they go finely. They say 'tis present death for these fiddlers, to tune their rebecks before the great Turk's grace; is't not, George? [Enter a Boy and dances.] But, look, look! here's a youth dances!—Now, good youth, do a turn o' the toe.—Sweetheart, i'faith, I'll have Ralph come and do some of his gambols.—He'll ride the wild mare, gentlemen, 'twould do your hearts good to see him.—I thank you, kind youth; pray, bid Ralph come.

Cit. Peace, cony!—Sirrah, you scurvy boy, bid the players send Ralph; or, by God's—an they do not, I'll tear some of their periwigs beside their heads: this is all riff-raff.

[Exit Boy.

Act Second.

Scene I.

A Room in the House of Venturewell.

Vent. And how, faith, how goes it now, son Humphrey?

Hum. Right worshipful, and my beloved friend
    And father dear, this matter's at an end.

Vent. 'Tis well: it should be so: I'm glad the girl
    Is found so tractable.

Hum. Nay, she must whirl
    From hence (and you must wink; for so, I say,
    The story tells,) to-morrow before day.

[Wife. George, dost thou think in thy conscience now 'twill be a match? tell me but what thou thinkest, sweet rogue. Thou seest the poor gentleman, dear heart, how it labours and throbs, I warrant you, to be at rest! I'll go move the father for't.

Cit. No, no; I prithee, sit still, honeysuckle; thou'lt spoil all. If he deny him, I'll bring half-adozen good fellows myself, and in the shutting of an evening, knock't up, and there's an end.

Wife. I'll buss thee for that, i'faith, boy. Well, George, well, you have been a wag in your days, I warrant you; but God forgive you, and I do with all my heart.]

Vent. How was it, son? you told me that to-morrow
    Before day-break, you must convey her hence.

Hum. I must, I must; and thus it is agreed:
    Your daughter rides upon a brown-bay steed,
    I on a sorrel, which I bought of Brian,
    The honest host of the Red roaring Lion,
    In Waltham situate. Then, if you may,
    Consent in seemly sort; lest, by delay,
    The Fatal Sisters come, and do the office,
    And then you'll sing another song.

Vent. Alas,
    Why should you be thus full of grief to me,
    That do as willing as yourself agree
    To any thing, so it be good and fair?
    Then, steal her when you will, if such a pleasure
    Content you both; I'll sleep and never see it,
    To make your joys more full. But tell me why
    You may not here perform your marriage?

[Wife. God's blessing o' thy soul, old man! i'faith, thou art loath to part true hearts. I see 'a has her, George; and I'm as glad on't!—Well, go thy ways, Humphrey, for a fair-spoken man; I believe thou hast not thy fellow within the walls of London; an I should say the suburbs too, I should not lie.—Why dost not rejoice with me, George?

Cit. If I could but see Ralph again, I were as merry as mine host, i'faith.]

Hum. The cause you seem to ask, I thus declare—
    Help me, O Muses nine! Your daughter sware
    A foolish oath, and more it was the pity;
    Yet no one but myself within this city
    Shall dare to say so, but a bold defiance
    Shall meet him, were he of the noble science;
    And yet she sware, and yet why did she sware?
    Truly, I cannot tell, unless it were
    For her own ease; for, sure, sometimes an oath,
    Being sworn thereafter, is like cordial broth;
    And this it was she swore, never to marry
    But such a one whose mighty arm could carry
    (As meaning me, for I am such a one)
    Her bodily away, through stick and stone,
    Till both of us arrive, at her request,
    Some ten miles off, in the wild Waltham-forest.

Vent. If this be all, you shall not need to fear
    Any denial in your love: proceed;
    I'll neither follow, nor repent the deed.

Hum. Good night, twenty good nights, and twenty more,
    And twenty more good nights,—that makes three-score!

[Exeunt severally.

Scene II.

Waltham Forest.

Enter Mistress Merrythought and Michael.

Mist. Mer. Come, Michael; art thou not weary, boy?

Mich. No, forsooth, mother, not I.

Mist. Mer. Where be we now, child?

Mich. Indeed, forsooth, mother, I cannot tell, unless we be at Mile-End: Is not all the world Mile-End, mother?

Mist. Mer. No, Michael, not all the world, boy; but I can assure thee, Michael, Mile-End is a goodly matter: there has been a pitchfield, my child, between the naughty Spaniels and the Englishmen; and the Spaniels ran away, Michael, and the Englishmen followed: my neighbour Coxstone was there, boy, and killed them all with a birding-piece.

Mich. Mother, forsooth—

Mist. Mer. What says my white boy?

Mich. Shall not my father go with us too?

Mist. Mer. No, Michael, let thy father go snick-up; he shall never come between a pair of sheets with me again while he lives; let him stay at home, and sing for his supper,  boy. Come, child, sit down, and I'll show my boy fine knacks, indeed. [They sit down: and she takes out a casket.] Look here, Michael; here's a ring, and here's a brooch, and here's a bracelet, and here's two rings more, and here's money and gold by th'eye, my boy.

Mich. Shall I have all this, mother?

Mist. Mer. Ay, Michael, thou shall have all, Michael.

[Cit. How likest thou this, wench?

Wife. I cannot tell; I would have Ralph, George; I'll see no more else, indeed, la; and I pray you, let the youths understand so much by word of mouth; for, I tell you truly, I'm afraid o' my boy. Come, come, George, let's be merry and wise: the child's a fatherless child; and say they should put him into a strait pair of gaskins, 'twere worse than knot-grass; he would never grow after it.]

Enter Ralph, Tim and George.

[Cit. Here's Ralph, here's Ralph!

Wife. How do you do, Ralph? you are welcome, Ralph, as I may say; it's a good boy, hold up thy head, and be not afraid; we are thy friends, Ralph; the gentlemen will praise thee, Ralph, if thou playest thy part with audacity. Begin, Ralph, a' God's name!]

Ralph. My trusty squire, unlace my helm: give me my hat.
    Where are we, or what desert may this be?

George. Mirror of knighthood, this is, as I take it, the perilous Waltham-down; in whose bottom stands the enchanted valley.

Mist. Mer. Oh, Michael, we are betrayed, we are betrayed! here be giants! Fly, boy! fly, boy, fly!

[Exit with Michael leaving the casket.

Ralph. Lace on my helm again. What noise is this?
    A gentle lady, flying the embrace
    Of some uncourteous knight! I will relieve her.
    Go, squire, and say, the Knight, that wears this Pestle
    In honour of all ladies, swears revenge
    Upon that recreant coward that pursues her;
    Go, comfort her, and that same gentle squire
    That bears her company.

Tim. I go, brave knight.


Ralph. My trusty dwarf and friend, reach me my shield;
    And hold it while I swear. First, by my knighthood;
   Then by the soul of Amadis de Gaul,
    My famous ancestor; then by my sword
    The beauteous Brionella girt about me;
    By this bright burning Pestle, of mine honour
    The living trophy; and by all respect
    Due to distressed damsels; here I vow
    Never to end the quest of this fair lady
    And that forsaken squire till by my valour
    I gain their liberty!

George. Heaven bless the knight
    That thus relieves poor errant gentlewomen!


[Wife. Ay, marry, Ralph, this has some savour in't; I would see the proudest of them all offer to carry his books after him. But, George, I will not have him go away so soon; I shall be sick if he go away, that I shall: call Ralph again, George, call Ralph again; I prithee, sweetheart, let him come fight before me, and let's ha' some drums and some trumpets, and let him kill all that comes near him, an thou lovest me, George!

Cit. Peace a little, bird: he shall kill them all, an they were twenty more on 'em than there are.]

Enter Jasper.

Jasp. Now, Fortune, if thou be'st not only ill,
    Show me thy better face, and bring about
    Thy desperate wheel, that I may climb at length,
    And stand. This is our place of meeting,
    If love hare any constancy. Oh, age,
    Where only wealthy men are counted happy!
    I am only rich in misery?
    My father's blessing and this little coin
    Is my inheritance; a strong revenue!
    From earth thou art, and to the earth I give thee:

[Throws away the money.

    There grow and multiply, whilst fresher air
    Breeds me a fresher fortune.—How! illusion?

[Sees the casket.

    What, hath the devil coined himself before me?
    'Tis metal good, it rings well; I am waking,
    And taking too, I hope. Now, God's dear blessing
    Upon his heart that left it here! 'tis mine;
    These pearls, I take it, were not left for swine.

[Exit with the casket.

[Wife. I do not like that this unthrifty youth should embezzle away the money; the poor gentlewoman his mother will have a heavy heart for it, God knows.

Cit. And reason good, sweetheart.

Wife. But let him go; I'll tell Ralph a tale in's ear shall fetch him again with a wanion, I warrant him, if he be above ground; and besides, George, here are a number of sufficient gentlemen can witness, and myself, and yourself, and the musicians, if we be called in question.

Scene III.

Another part of the Forest.

Enter Ralph and George.

But here comes Ralph, George; thou shalt hear him speak as he were an emperal.]

Ralph. Comes not sir squire again?

George. Right courteous knight,
    Your squire doth come, and with him comes the lady,
    For and the Squire of  Damsels, as I take it.

Enter Tim, Mistress Merrythought and Michael.

Ralph. Madam, if any service or devoir
    Of a poor errant knight may right your wrongs,
    Command it; I am prest to give you succour;
    For to that holy end I bear my armour.

Mist. Mer. Alas, sir, I am a poor gentlewoman, and I have lost my money in this forest!

Ralph. Desert, you would say, lady; and not lost
    Whilst I have sword and lance. Dry up your tears,
    Which ill befit the beauty of that face,
    And tell the story, if I may request it,
    Of your disastrous fortune.

Mist. Mer. Out, alas! I left a thousand pound, a thousand pound, e'en all the money I had laid up for this youth, upon the sight of your mastership, you looked so grim, and, as I may say it, saving your presence, more like a giant than a mortal man.

Ralph. I am as you are, lady; so to are they:
    All mortal. But why weeps this gentle squire?

Mist. Mer. Has he not cause to weep, do you think, when he hath lost his inheritance?

Ralph. Young hope of valour, weep not; I am here
    That will confound thy foe, and pay it dear
    Upon his coward head, that dares deny
    Distressed squires and ladies equity.
    I have but one horse, on which shall ride
    This fair lady behind me, and before
    This courteous squire: fortune will give us more
    Upon our next adventure. Fairly speed
    Beside us, squire and dwarf, to do us need!


[Cit. Did not I tell you, Nell, what your man would do? by the faith of my body, wench, for clean action and good delivery, they may all cast their caps at him.

Wife. And so they may, i'faith; for I dare speak it boldly, the twelve companies of London cannot match him, timber for timber. Well, George, an he be not inveigled by some of these paltry players, I ha' much marvel: but, George, we ha' done our parts, if the boy have any grace to be thankful.

Cit. Yes, I warrant thee, duckling.]

Scene IV.

Another part of the Forest.

Enter Humphrey and Luce.

Hum. Good Mistress Luce, however I in fault am
    For your lame horse, you're welcome unto Waltham;
    But which way now to go, or what to say,
    I know not truly, till it be broad day.

Luce. Oh, fear not, Master Humphrey; I am guide
    For this place good enough.

Hum. Then, up and ride;
    Or, if it please you, walk, for your repose,
    Or sit, or, if yon will, go pluck a rose;
    Either of which shall be indifferent
    To your good friend and Humphrey, whose consent
    Is so entangled ever to your will,
    As the poor harmless horse is to the mill.

Luce. Faith, an you say the word, we'll e'en sit down,
    And take a nap.

Hum. 'Tis better in the town,
    Where we may nap together; for, believe me.
    To sleep without a snatch would mickle grieve me.

Luce. You're merry, Master Humphrey.

Hum. So I am,
    And have been ever merry from my dam.

Luce. Your nurse had the less labour.

Hum. Faith, it may be,
    Unless it were by chance I did beray me.

Enter Jasper.

Jasp. Luce! dear friend Luce!

Luce. Here, Jasper.

Jasp. You are mine.

Hum. If it be so, my friend, you use me fine:
    What do you think I am?

Jasp. An arrant noddy.

Hum. A word of obloquy! Now, by God's body,
    I'll tell thy master; for I know thee well.

Jasp. Nay, an you be so forward for to tell,
    Take that, and that; and tell him, sir, I gave it:
    And say, I paid you well.

[Beats him.

Hum. Oh, sir I have it,
    And do confess the payment! Pray, be quiet.

Jasp. Go, get you to your night-cap and the diet,
    To cure your beaten bones.

Luce. Alas, poor Humphrey;
    Get thee some wholesome broth, with sage and comfrey;
    A little oil of roses and a feather
    To 'noint thy back withal.

Hum. When I came hither,
    Would I had gone to Paris with John Dory!

Luce. Farewell, my pretty nump; I am very sorry
    I cannot bear thee company.

Hum. Farewell:
    The devil's dam was ne'er so banged in hell.

[Exeunt Luce and Jasper.

[Wife. This young Jasper will prove me another thing, o' my conscience, an he may be suffered. George, dost not see, George, how 'a swaggers, and flies at the very heads o' folks, as he were a dragon? Well, if I do not do his lesson for wronging the poor gentleman, I am no true woman. His friends that brought him up might have been better occupied, i-wis, than have taught him these fegaries: he's e'en in the high way to the gallows, God bless him!

Cit. You're too bitter, cony; the young man may do well enough for all this.

Wife. Come hither, Master Humphrey; has he hurt you? now, beshrew his fingers for't! Here sweetheart, here's some green ginger for thee. Now, beshrew my heart, but 'a has peppernel in's head, as big as a pullet's egg! Alas, sweet lamb, how thy temples beat! Take  the peace on him, sweetheart, take the peace on him.

Cit. No, no; you talk like a foolish woman: I'll ha' Ralph fight with him, and swinge him up well-favouredly. — Sirrah boy, come hither. [Enter Boy.] Let Ralph come in and fight with Jasper.

Wife. Ay, and beat him well; he's an unhappy boy.

Boy. Sir, you must pardon; the plot of our play lies contrary; and 'twill hazard the spoiling of our play.

Cit. Plot me no plots! I'll ha' Ralph come out; I'll make your house too hot for you else.

Boy. Why, sir, he shall; but if any thing fall out of order, the gentlemen must pardon us.

Cit. Go your ways, goodman boy!

[Exit Boy.

I'll hold him a penny, he shall have his bellyfill of fighting now. Ho, here comes Ralph! no more!]

Scene V.

Another part of the Forest.

Enter Ralph, Mistress Merrythought, Michael, Tim and George.

Ralph. What knight is that, squire? ask him if he keep
    The passage, bound by love of lady fair,
    Or else but prickant.

Hum. Sir, I am no knight,
    But a poor gentleman, that this same night
    Had stolen from me, on yonder green,
    My lovely wife, and suffered (to be seen
    Yet extant on my shoulders) such a greeting,
    That whilst I live I shall think of that meeting.

[Wife. Ay, Ralph, he beat him unmercifully, Ralph, an thou sparest him, Ralph, I would thou went hanged.

Cit. No more, wife, no more.]

Ralph. Where is the caitiff-wretch hath done this deed?
    Lady, your pardon; that I may proceed;
    Upon the quest of this injurious knight.
    And thou, fair squire, repute me not the worse,
    In leaving the great venture of the purse
    And the rich casket, till some better leisure.

Hum. Here comes the broker hath purloined my treasure.

Enter Jasper and Luce.

Ralph. Go, squire, and tell him I am here,
    An errant knight-at-arms, to crave delivery
    Of that fair lady to her own knight's arms.
    If he deny, bid him take choice of ground,
    And so defy him.

Tim. From the Knight that bears
    The Golden Pestle, I defy thee, knight,
    Unless thou make fair restitution
    Of that bright lady.

Jasp. Tell the knight that sent thee,
    He is an ass; and I will keep the wench,
    And knock his head-piece.

Ralph. Knight, thou art but dead,
    If thou recall not thy uncourteous terms.

[Wife. Break 's pate, Ralph; break 's pate, Ralph, soundly!]

Jasp. Come, knight; I am ready for you. Now your Pestle [Snatches away his pestle.]
shall try what temper, sir, your mortar's of. With that he stood upright in his stirrups, and gave the Knight of the calf-skin such a knock [Knocks Ralph down.] that he forsook his horse and down he fell; and then he leaped upon him, and plucking off his helmet —

Hum. Nay, an my noble knight be down so soon,
    Though I can scarcely go, I needs must run.


[Wife. Run, Ralph, run, Ralph; run for thy life, boy; Jasper comes, Jasper comes!]

[Exit Ralph.

Jasp. Come Luce, we must have other arms for you:
    Humphrey, and Golden Pestle, both adieu!


[Wife. Sure the devil (God bless us!) is in this springald! Why, George, didst ever see such a fire-drake? I am afraid my boy's miscarried: if he be, though he were Master Merrythought's son a thousand times, if there be any law in England, I'll make some of them smart for't.

Cit. No, no; I have found out the matter, sweetheart; as sure as we are here, he is enchanted: he could no more have stood in Ralph's hands than I can in my lord mayor's. I'll have a ring to discover all enchantments, and Ralph shall beat him yet: be no more vexed, for it shall be so.]

Scene VI.

Before the Bell-Inn, Waltham.

Enter Ralph, Mistress Merrythought, Michael, Tim and George. 

[Wife. Oh, husband, here's Ralph again!—Stay, Ralph, let me speak with thee. How dost thou, Ralph? art thou not shrewdly hurt? the foul great lungies laid unmercifully on thee: there's some sugar-candy for thee. Proceed; thou shalt have another bout with him.

Cit. If Ralph had him at the fencing-school, if he did not make a puppy of him, and drive him up and down the school, he should ne'er come in my shop more.]

Mist. Mer. Truly Master Knight of the Burning Pestle, I am weary.

Mich. Indeed, la, mother, and I am very hungry.

Ralph. Take comfort, gentle dame, and you, fair squire;
    For in this desert there must needs be placed
    Many strong castles, held by courteous knights;
    And till I bring you safe to one of those,
    I swear by this my order ne'er to leave you.

[Wife. Well said, Ralph!— George, Ralph was ever comfortable, was he not?

Cit. Yes, duck.

Wife. I shall ne'er forget him. When he had lost our child, (you know it was strayed almost alone to Puddle-Wharf, and the criers were abroad for it, and there it had drowned itself but for a sculler,) Ralph was the most comfortablest to me: "Peace, mistress," says he, "let it go; I'll get you another as good." Did he not, George, did he not say so?

Cit. Yes, indeed did he, mouse.]

George. I would we had a mess of pottage and a pot of drink, squire, and were going to bed!

Tim. Why, we are at Waltham-town's end, and that's the Bell-Inn.

George. Take courage, valiant knight, damsel, and squire!
    I have discovered, not a stone's cast off,
    An ancient castle, held by the old knight
    Of the most holy order of the Bell,
    Who gives to all knights-errant entertain:
    There plenty is of food, and all prepared
    By the white hands of his own lady dear.
    He hath three squires that welcome all his guests;
    The first, hight Chamberlino, who will see
    Our beds prepared, and bring us snowy sheets,
    Where never footman stretched his buttered hams;
    The second, hight Tapstero, who will see
    Our pots full filled, and no froth therein;
    The third, a gentle squire, Ostlero hight,
    Who will our palfreys slick with wisps of straw,
    And in the manger put them oats enough,
    And never grease their teeth with candle-snuff.

[Wife. That same dwarfs a pretty boy, but the squire's a groutnol.]

Ralph. Knock at the gates, my squire, with stately lance.

[Tim knocks at the door.
Enter Tapster.

Tap. Who's there?—You're welcome, gentlemen: will you see a room?

George. Right courteous and valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle, this is the Squire Tapstero.

Ralph. Fair Squire Tapstero, I a wandering knight,
    Hight of the Burning Pestle, in the quest
    Of this fair lady's casket and wrought purse,
    Losing myself in this vast wilderness,
    Am to this castle well by fortune brought;
    Where, hearing of the goodly entertain
    Your knight of holy order of the Bell
    Gives to all damsels and all errant knights,
    I thought to knock, and now am bold to enter.

Tap. An't please you see a chamber, you are very welcome.


[Wife. George, I would have something done, and I cannot tell what it is.

Cit. What is it, Nell?

Wife. Why, George, shall Ralph beat nobody again? prithee, sweetheart, let him.

Cit. So he shall, Nell; and if I join with him, we'll knock them all.]

Scene VII.

A Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Humphrey and Venturewell.

[Wife. Oh, George, here's Master Humphrey again now that lost Mistress Luce, and Mistress Luce's father. Master Humphrey will do somebody's errand, I warrant him.]

Hum. Father, it's true in arms I ne'er shall clasp her;
    For she is stoln away by your man Jasper.

[Wife. I thought he would tell him.]

Vent. Unhappy that I am, to lose my child!
    Now I begin to think on Jasper's words,
    Who oft hath urged to me thy foolishness:
    Why didst thou let her go? thou lov'st her not,
    That wouldst bring home thy life, and not bring her.

Hum. Father, forgive me. Shall I tell you true?
    Look on my shoulders, they are black and blue:
    Whilst to and fro fair Luce and I were winding,
    He came and basted me with a hedge-binding.

Vent. Get men and horses straight: we will be there
    Within this hour. You know the place again!

Hum. I know the place where he my loins did swaddle;
    I'll get six horses, and to each a saddle.

[Exeunt severally.

[Wife. George, what wilt thou lay with me now, that Master Humphrey has not Mistress Luce yet? speak, George, what wilt thou lay with me?

Cit. No, Nell; I warrant thee, Jasper is at Puckeridge with her by this.

Wife. Nay, George, you must consider Mistress Luce's feet are tender; and besides 'tis dark; and, I promise you truly, I do not see how he should get out of Waltham forest with her yet.

Cit. Nay, cony, what wilt thou lay with me, that Ralph has her not yet?

Wife. I will not lay against Ralph, honey, because I have not spoken with him.]

Scene VIII.

A Room in Merrythought's House.

Enter Merrythought.

[Wife. But look, George, peace! here comes the merry old gentleman again.]

Mer. [Sings.]
            When it was grown to dark midnight,
                And all were fast asleep,
            In came Margaret's grimly ghost,
                And stood at William's feet.

I have money, and meat, and drink beforehand, till to-morrow at noon; why should I be sad? methinks I have half-a-dozen jovial spirits within me!

            I am three merry men, and three merry men!

To what end should any man be sad in this world? give me a man that when he goes to hanging cries,

            Troul the black bowl to me!

and a woman that will sing a catch in her travail! I have seen a man come by my door with a serious face, in a black cloak, without a hat-band, carrying his head as if he looked for pins in the street; I have looked out of my window half a year after, and have spied that man's head upon London-bridge. 'Tis vile: never trust a tailor that does not sing at his work; his mind is of nothing but filching.

[Wife. Mark this, George; 'tis worth noting; Godfrey my tailor, you know, never sings, and he had fourteen yards to make this gown: and I'll be sworn, Mistress Penistone the draper's wife had one made with twelve.]

Mer. [Sings.]
            'Tis mirth that fills the veins with blood,
            More than wine, or sleep, or food;
            Let each man keep his heart at ease
            No man dies of that disease.
            He that would his body keep
            From diseases, must not weep;
            But whoever laughs and sings,
            Never he his body brings
            Into fevers, gouts, or rheums,
            Or lingeringly his lungs consumes,
            Or meets with aches in the bone,
            Or catarrhs or griping stone;
            But contented lives for aye;
            The more he laughs, the more he may.

[Wife. Look, George; how sayst thou by this, George? is't not a fine old man?—Now, God's blessing o' thy sweet lips!—When wilt thou be so merry, George? faith, thou art the frowningest little thing, when thou art angry, in a country.

Cit. Peace, cony; thou shalt see him taken down too, I warrant thee.

Enter Venturewell.

Here's Luce's father come now.]

Mer. [Sings.]
            As you came from Walsingham,
                From that holy land,
            There met you not with my true love
                By the way as you came?

Vent. Oh, Master Merrythought, my daughter's gone!
    This mirth becomes you not; my daughter's gone!

Mer. [Sings.]
            Why, an if she be, what care I?
            Or let her come, or go, or tarry.

Vent. Mock not my misery; it is your son
    (Whom I have made my own, when all forsook him)
    Has stoln my only joy, my child, away.

Mer. [Sings.]
            He set her on a milk-white steed,
                And himself upon a grey;
            He never turned his face again,
                But he bore her quite away.

Vent. Unworthy of the kindness I have shown
    To thee and thine! too late I well perceive
    Thou art consenting to my daughter's loss.

Mer. Your daughter! what a stir's here wi' your daughter? Let her go, think no more on her, but sing loud. If both my sons were on the gallows, I would sing,

            Down, down, down they fall;
            Down, and arise they never shall.

Vent. Oh, might I behold her once again,
    And she once more embrace her aged sire!

Mer. Fie, how scurvily this goes! "And she once more embrace her aged sire?" You'll make a dog on her, will ye? she cares much for her aged sire, I warrant you.

            She cares not for her daddy, nor
                She cares not for her mammy,
            For she is, she is, she is, she is
                My lord of Lowgave's lassy.

Vent. For this thy scorn I will pursue that son
    Of thine to death.

Mer. Do; and when you ha' killed him,

            Give him flowers enow, palmer, give him flowers enow;
            Give him red, and white, and blue, green, and yellow.

Vent. I'll fetch my daughter—

Mer. I'll hear no more o' your daughter; it spoils my mirth.

Vent. I say, I'll fetch my daughter.

Mer. [Sings.]
            Was never man for lady's sake,
                    Down, down,
            Tormented as I poor Sir Guy,
                    De derry down,
            For Lucy's sake, that lady bright,
                    Down, down,
            As ever men beheld with eye,
                    De derry down.

Vent. I'll be revenged, by Heaven!

[Exeunt severally.

[Wife. How dost thou like this, George?

Cit. Why, this is well, cony; but if Ralph were hot once, thou shouldst see more.

Wife. The fiddlers go again, husband.

Cit. Ay, Nell; but this is scurvy music. I gave the whoreson gallows money, and I think he has not got me the waits of Southwark: if I hear 'em not anon, I'll twinge him by the ears.—You musicians, play Baloo!

Wife. No, good George, let's ha' Lachrymae! 

Cit. Why, this is it, cony.

Wife. It's all the better, George. Now, sweet lamb, what story is that painted upon the cloth? the Confutation of St Paul?

Cit. No, lamb; that's Ralph and Lucrece.

Wife. Ralph and Lucrece! which Ralph? our Ralph?

Cit. No, mouse; that was a Tartarian.

Wife. A Tartarian! Well, I would the fiddlers had done, that we might see our Ralph again!]

Act Third.

Scene I.


Enter Jasper and Luce.

Jasp. Come, my dear dear; though we have lost our way
    We have not lost ourselves. Are you not weary
    With this night's wandering, broken from your rest,
    And frighted with the terror that attends
    The darkness of this wild unpeopled place?

Luce. No, my best friend; I cannot either fear,
    Or entertain a weary thought, whilst you
    (The end of all my full desires) stand by me:
    Let them that lose their hopes, and live to languish
    Amongst the number of forsaken lovers,
    Tell the long weary steps, and number time,
    Start at a shadow, and shrink up their blood,
    Whilst I (possessed with all content and quiet)
    Thus take my pretty love, and thus embrace him.

Jasp. You have caught me, Luce, so fast, that, whilst I live,
    I shall become your faithful prisoner,
    And wear these chains for ever. Come, sit down,
    And rest your body, too, too delicate
    For these disturbances.—[They sit down.] So: will you sleep?
    Come, do not be more able than you are;
    I know you are not skilful in these watches,
    For women are no soldiers: be not nice,
    But take it; sleep, I say.

Luce. I cannot sleep;
    Indeed, I cannot, friend.

Jasp. Why, then, we'll sing,
    And try how that will work upon our senses.

Luce. I'll sing, or say, or any thing but sleep.

Jasp. Come, little mermaid, rob me of my heart
    With that enchanting voice.

Lute. You mock me, Jasper.

[They sing.

Jasp.     Tell me, dearest, what is love?
Luce.     'Tis a lightning from above;
                 'Tis an arrow, 'tis a fire,
                 'Tis a boy they call Desire;
                     'Tis a smile
                     Doth beguile
Jasp.         The poor hearts of men that prove.

             Tell me more, are women true?
Luce.    Some love change, and so do you.
Jasp.         Are they fair and never kind?
Luce.        Yes, when men turn with the wind.
Jasp.            Are they froward?
Luce.            Ever toward
                 Those that love, to love anew.

Jasp. Dissemble it no more; I see the god
    Of heavy sleep lay on his heavy mace
    Upon your eyelids.

Luce. I am very heavy.


Jasp. Sleep, sleep; and quiet rest crown thy sweet thoughts!
    Keep from her fair blood distempers, startings,
    Horrors, and fearful shapes! let all her dreams
    Be joys, and chaste delights, embraces, wishes,
    And such new pleasures as the ravished soul
    Gives to the senses!—So; my charms have took.
    Keep her, you powers divine, whilst I contemplate
    Upon the wealth and beauty of her mind!
    She is only fair and constant, only kind,
    And only to thee, Jasper. Oh, my joys!
    Whither will you transport me? let not fulness
    Of my poor buried hopes come up together
    And overcharge my spirits! I am weak.
    Some say (however ill) the sea and women
    Are governed by the moon; both ebb and flow,
    Both full of changes; yet to them that know,
    And truly judge, these but opinions are,
    And heresies, to bring on pleasing war
    Between our tempers, that without these were
    Both void of after-love and present fear,
    Which are the best of Cupid. Oh, thou child
    Bred from despair, I dare not entertain thee,
    Having a love without the faults of women,
    And greater in her perfect goods than men!
    Which to make good, and please myself the stronger,
    Though certainly I am certain of her love,
    I'll try her, that the world and memory
    May sing to after-times her constancy.—

[Draws his sword.

    Luce! Luce! awake!

Luce. Why do you fright me, friend,
With those distempered looks? what makes your sword
Drawn in your hand? who hath offended you?
I prithee, Jasper, sleep; thou art wild with watching.

Jasp. Come, make your way to Heaven, and bid the world,
With all the villanies that stick upon it,
Farewell; you're for another life.

Luce. Oh, Jasper,
How have my tender years committed evil,
Especially against the man I love,
Thus to be cropped untimely?

Jasp. Foolish girl,
Canst thou imagine I could love his daughter
That flung me from my fortune into nothing?
Discharged me his service, shut the doors
Upon my poverty, and scorned my prayers,
Sending me, like a boat without a mast,
To sink or swim? Come; by this hand you die;
I must have life and blood, to satisfy
Your father's wrongs.

[Wife. Away, George, away! raise the watch at Ludgate, and bring a mittimus from the justice for this desperate villain!—Now, I charge you, gentlemen, see the king's peace kept—Oh, my heart, what a varlet's this, to offer manslaughter upon the harmless gentlewoman!

Cit. I warrant thee, sweetheart, we'll have him hampered.]

Luce. Oh, Jasper, be not cruel!
    If thou wilt kill me, smile, and do it quickly,
    And let not many deaths appear before me;
    I am a woman, made of fear and love,
    A weak, weak woman; kill not with thy eyes,
    They shoot me through and through: strike, I am ready;
    And, dying, still I love thee.

Enter Venturewell, Humphrey and Attendants.

Vent. Whereabouts?

Jasp. [Aside.] No more of this; now to myself again.

Hum. There, there he stands, with sword, like martial knight,
    Drawn in his hand; therefore beware the fight,
    You that be wise; for, were I good Sir Bevis,
    I would not stay his coming, by your leaves.

Vent. Sirrah, restore my daughter!

Jasp. Sirrah, no.

Vent. Upon him, then!

[They attack Jasper, and force Luce from him.

[Wife. So; down with him, down with him, down with him! cut him i' the leg, boys, cut him i' the leg!]

Vent. Come your ways, minion: I'll provide a cage
    For you, you're grown so tame.—Horse her away.

Hum. Truly, I'm glad your forces have the day.

[Exeunt all except Jasper.

Jasp. They are gone, and I am hurt; my love is lost,
    Never to get again. Oh, me unhappy!
    Bleed, bleed and die! I cannot. Oh, my folly,
    Thou hast betrayed me! Hope, where art thou fled?
    Tell me, if them be'st any where remaining,
    Shall I but see my love again? Oh, no!
    She will not deign to look upon her butcher,
    Nor is it fit she should; yet I must venture.
    Oh, Chance, or Fortune, or whate'er thou art,
    That men adore for powerful, hear my cry,
    And let me loving lire, or losing die!


[Wife. Is 'a gone, George?

Cit. Ay, cony.

Wife. Marry, and let him go, sweetheart. By the faith o' my body, 'a has put me into such a fright, that I tremble (as they say) as 'twere an aspen-leaf. Look o' my little finger, George, how it shakes. Now, in truth, every member of my body is the worse for't.

Cit. Come, hug in mine arms, sweet mouse; he shall not fright thee any more. Alas, mine own dear heart, how it quivers!]

Scene II.

A Room in the Bell-Inn, Waltham.

Enter Mistress Merrythought, Ralph, Michael, Tim, George, Host and Tapster.

[Wife. Oh, Ralph! how dost thou, Ralph? How hast thou slept to-night? has the knight used thee well?

Cit. Peace, Nell; let Ralph alone.]

Ralph. Right courteous knight, who, for the orders sake
    Which thou hast ta'en, hang'st out the holy Bell,
    As I this flaming Pestle bear about,
    We render thanks to your puissant self,
    Your beauteous lady, and your gentle squires,
    For thus refreshing of our wearied limbs,
    Stiffened with hard achievements in wild desert.

Tap. Sir, there is twelve shillings to pay.

Ralph. Thou merry Squire Tapstero, thanks to thee
    For comforting our souls with double jug:
    And, if adventurous fortune prick thee forth,
    Thou jovial squire, to follow feats of arms,
    Take heed thou tender every lady's cause,
    Every true knight, and every damsel fair;
    But spill the blood of treacherous Saracens,
    And false enchanters that with magic spells
    Have done to death full many a noble knight.

Host. Thou valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle, give ear to me; there is twelve shillings to pay, and, as I am a true knight, I will not bate a penny.

[Wife. George, I prithee, tell me, must Ralph pay twelve shillings now?

Cit. No, Nell, no; nothing but the old knight is merry with Ralph.

Wife. Oh, is't nothing else? Ralph will be as merry as he.]

Ralph. Sir Knight, this mirth of yours becomes you well;
    But, to requite this liberal courtesy,
    If any of your squires will follow arms,
    He shall receive from my heroic hand
    A knighthood, by the virtue of this Pestle.

Host. Fair knight, I thank you for your noble offer: therefore, gentle knight, twelve shillings you must pay, or I must cap you.

[Wife. Look, George! did not I tell thee as much? the knight of the Bell is in earnest. Ralph shall not be beholding to him: give him his money, George, and let him go snick up.

Cit. Cap Ralph! no. — Hold your hand, Sir Knight of the Bell; there's your money [gives money]: have you any thing to say to Ralph now? Cap Ralph!

Wife. I would you should know it, Ralph has friends that will not suffer him to be capt for ten times so much, and ten times to the end of that—Now take thy course, Ralph.]

Mist. Mer. Come, Michael; thou and I will go home to thy father; he hath enough left to keep us a day or two, and we'll set fellows abroad to cry our purse and our casket: shall we, Michael?

Mich. Ay, I pray, mother; in truth my feet are full of chilblains with travelling.

[Wife. Faith, and those chilblains are a foul trouble. Mistress Merrythought, when your youth comes home, let him rub all the soles of his feet, and his heels, and his ancles with a mouse-skin; when he goes to bed, let him roll his feet in when he goes to bed, let him roll his feet in the warm embers, and, I warrant you, he shall be well; and you may make him put his fingers between his toes, and smell to them; it's very sovereign for his head, if he be costive.]

Mist. Mer. Master Knight of the Burning Pestle, my son Michael and I bid you farewell: I thank your worship heartily for your kindness.

Ralph. Farewell, fair lady, and your tender squire.
    If pricking through these deserts, I do hear
    Of any traitorous knight, who through his guile
    Hath light upon your casket and your purse,
    I will despoil him of them, and restore them.

Mist. Mer. I thank your worship.

[Exit with Michael.

Ralph. Dwarf, bear my shield; squire, elevate my lance:—
    And now farewell, you Knight of holy Bell.

[Cit. Ay, ay, Ralph, all is paid.]

Ralph. But yet, before I go, speak, worthy knight,
    Of aught you do of sad adventures know,
    Where errant knight may through his prowess win
    Eternal fame, and free some gentle souls
    From endless bonds of steel and lingering pain.

Host. Sirrah, go to Nick the barber, and bid him prepare himself, as I told you before, quickly.

Tap. I am gone, sir. [Exit.

Host. Sir Knight, this wilderness affordeth none   
    But the great venture, where full many a knight
    Hath tried his prowess, and come off with shame;
    And where I would not have you lose your life
    Against no man, but furious fiend of hell.

Ralph. Speak on, Sir Knight; tell what he is and where:
    For here I vow, upon my blazing badge,
    Never to blaze a day in quietness,
    But bread and water will I only eat,
    And the green herb and rock shall be my couch,
    Till I have quelled that man, or beast, or fiend,
    That works such damage to all errant knights.

Host. Not far from hence, near to a craggy cliff,
    At the north end of this distressed town,
    There doth stand a lowly house,
    Ruggedly builded, and in it a cave
    In which an ugly giant now doth won,
    Ycleped Barbarossa: in his hand
    He shakes a naked lance of purest steel,
    With sleeves turned up; and him before he wears
    A motley garment, to preserve his clothes
    From blood of those knights which he massacres
    And ladies gent: without his door doth hang
    A copper basin on a prickant spear;
    At which no sooner gentle knights can knock,
    But the shrill sound fierce Barbarossa hears,
    And rushing forth, brings in the errant knight,
    And sets him down in an enchanted chair;
    Then with an engine, which he hath prepared,
    With forty teeth, he claws his courtly crown;
    Next makes him wink, and underneath his chin
    He plants a brazen piece of mighty bord,
    And knocks his bullets round about his cheeks;
    Whilst with his fingers, and an instrument
    With which he snaps his hair off, he doth fill
    The wretch's ears with a most hideous noise:
    Thus every knight-adventurer he doth trim,
    And now no creature dares encounter him.

Ralph. In God's name, I will fight with him. Kind sir,
    Go but before me to this dismal care,
    Where this huge giant Barbarossa dwells,
    And, by that virtue that brave Rosicleer
    That damned brood of ugly giants slew,
    And Palmerin Frannarco overthrew,
    I doubt not but to curb this traitor foul,
    And to the devil send his guilty soul. 

Host. Brave-sprighted knight, thus far I will perform
    This your request; I'll bring you within sight
    Of this most loathsome place, inhabited
    By a more loathsome man; but dare not stay,
    For his main force swoops all he sees away.

Ralph. Saint George, set on before! march squire and page!


[Wife. George, dost think Ralph will confound the giant?

Cit. I hold my cap to a farthing he does; why, Nell, I saw him wrestle with the great Dutchman, and hurl him.

Wife. Faith, and that Dutchman was a goodly man, if all things were answerable to his bigness. And yet they say there was a Scotchman higher than he, and that they two and a knight met, and saw one another for nothing. But of all the sights that ever were in London, once I was married, methinks the little child that was so fair grown about the members was the prettiest; that and the hermaphrodite.

Cit. Nay, by your leave, Nell, Ninivie was better.

Wife. Ninivie! oh, that was the story of Jone and the wall, was it not, George?

Cit. Yes, lamb.]

Scene III.

The Street before Merry thought's House.

Enter Mrs. Merrythought. 

[Wife. Look, George, here comes Mistress Merrythought again! and I would have Ralph come and fight with the giant; I tell you true, I long to see't.

Cit. Good Mistress Merrythought, begone, I pray you, for my sake; I pray you, forbear a little; you shall have audience presently; I have a little business.

Wife. Mistress Merrythought, if it please you to refrain your passion a little, till Ralph have despatched the giant out of the way, we shall think ourselves much bound to you. [Exit Mistress Merrythought.] I thank you, good Mistress Merrythought.

Cit. Boy, come hither. [Enter Boy.] Send away Ralph and this whoreson giant quickly.

Boy. In good faith, sir, we cannot; you'll utterly spoil our play, and make it to be hissed; and it cost money; you will not suffer us to go on with our plot.—I pray, gentlemen, rule him.

Cit. Let him come now and despatch this, and I'll trouble you no more.

Boy. Will you give me your hand of that?

Wife. Give him thy hand, George, do; and I'll kiss him. I warrant thee, the youth means plainly.

Boy. I'll send him to you presently.

Wife. [Kissing him.] I thank you, little youth. Faith, the child hath a sweet breath, George; but I think it be troubled with the worms; cardus benedictus and mare's milk were the only thing in the world for't.

Scene IV.

Before a Barber's Shop, Waltham.

Enter Ralph, Host, Tim, and George.

Wife. Oh, Ralph's here, George!—God send thee good luck, Ralph.]

Host. Puissant knight, yonder his mansion is.
    Lo, where the spear and copper basin are!
    Behold that string, on which hangs many a tooth,
    Drawn from the gentle jaw of wandering knights!
    I dare not stay to sound; he will appear.


Ralph. Oh, faint not, heart! Susan, my lady dear,
    The cobbler's maid in Milk-street, for whose sake
    I take these arms, oh, let the thought of thee
    Carry thy knight through all adventurous deeds;
    And, in the honour of thy beauteous self,
    May I destroy this monster Barbarossa!—
    Knock, squire, upon the basin, till it break
    With the shrill strokes, or till the giant speak.

[Tim knocks upon the basin.

Enter Barber.

[Wife. Oh, George, the giant, the giant!—Now, Ralph for thy life!]

Bar. What fond unknowing wight is this, that dares
    So rudely knock at Barbarossa's cell,
    Where no man comes but leaves his fleece behind?

Ralph. I, traitorous caitiff, who am sent by fate
    To punish all the sad enormities
    Thou hast committed against ladies gent
    And errant knights. Traitor to God and men,
    Prepare thyself; this is the dismal hour
    Appointed for thee to give strict account
    Of all thy beastly treacherous villanies.

Bar. Fool-hardy knight, full soon thou shall aby
    This fond reproach: thy body will I bang;

[Takes down his pole.

    And, lo, upon that string thy teeth shall hang!
    Prepare thyself, for dead soon shalt thou be.

Ralph. Saint George for me!

Bar. Gargantua for me!

[They fight.

[Wife. To him, Ralph, to him! hold up the giant; set out thy leg before, Ralph!

Cit. Falsify a blow, Ralph, falsify a blow! the giant lies open on the left side.

Wife. Bear't off, bear't off still! there, boy!— Oh, Ralph's almost down, Ralph's almost down!

Ralph. Susan, inspire me! now have up again.

Wife. Up, up, up, up, up!, Ralph! down with him, down with him, Ralph!

Cit. Fetch him o'er the hip, boy!

[Ralph knocks down the Barber.

Wife. There, boy! kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, Ralph!

Cit. No, Ralph! get all out of him first.]

Ralph. Presumptuous man, see to what desperate end
    Thy treachery hath brought thee! The just gods,
    Who never prosper those that do despise them,
    For all the villanies which thou hast done
    To knights and ladies, now have paid thee home
    By my stiff arm, a knight adventurous.
    But say, vile wretch, before I send thy soul
    To sad Avernus, (whither it must go)
    What captives holdst thou in thy sable cave?

Bar. Go in, and free them all; thou hast the day.

Ralph. Go, squire and dwarf, search in this dreadful cave,
    And free the wretched prisoners from their bonds.

[Exeunt Tim and George.

Bar. I crave for mercy, as thou art a knight,
    And scorn'st to spill the blood of those that beg.

Ralph. Thou show'd'st no mercy, nor shalt thou have any;
    Prepare thyself, for thou shall surely die.

Re-enter Tim leading a Man winking, with a Basin under his Chin.

Tim. Behold, brave knight, here is one prisoner,
    Whom this vile man hath used as you see.

[Wife. This is the first wise word I heard the squire speak.]

Ralph. Speak what thou art, and how thou hast been used,
That I may give him condign punishment.

Man. I am a knight that took my journey post
    Northward from London; and in courteous wise
    This giant trained me to his loathsome den,
    Under pretence of killing of the itch;
    And all my body with a powder strewed,
    That smarts and stings; and cut away my beard,
    And my curled locks wherein were ribands tied;
    And with a water washed my tender eyes,
    (Whilst up and down about me still he skipt,)
    Whose virtue is, that, till my eyes be wiped
    With a dry cloth, for this my foul disgrace,
    I shall not dare to look a dog i' the face.

[Wife. Alas, poor knight!—Relieve him, Ralph; relieve poor knights, whilst you live.]

Ralph. My trusty squire, convey him to the town,
    Where he may find relief.—Adieu, fair knight.

[Exeunt Man with Tim, who presently re-enters.

Re-enter George, leading a second Man, with a patch over his nose.

George. Puissant Knight, of the Burning Pestle hight,
    See here another wretch, whom this fool beast
    Hath scotched and scored in this inhuman wise.

Ralph. Speak me thy name, and eke thy place of birth,
And what hath been thy usage in this cave.

2nd Man. I am a knight, Sir Pockhole is my name,
    And by my birth I am a Londoner,
    Free by my copy, but my ancestors
    Were Frenchmen all; and riding hard this way
    Upon a trotting horse, my bones did ache;
    And I, faint knight, to ease my weary limbs,
    Light at this cave; when straight this furious fiend,
    With sharpest instrument of purest steel,
    Did cut the gristle of my nose away,
    And in the place this velvet plaster stands:
    Relieve me, gentle knight, out of his hands!

[Wife. Good Ralph, relieve Sir Pockhole, and send him away; for in truth his breath stinks.]

Ralph. Convey him straight after the other knight.—
    Sir Pockhole, fare you well.

2nd Man. Kind sir, good night.

[Exit with George, who presently re-enters.

3rd Man [within]. Deliver us!   

[Cries within.

Woman [within]. Deliver us!

[Wife. Hark, George, what a woeful cry there is! I think some woman lies-in there.]

Man [within]. Deliver us!

Woman [Within]. Deliver us!

Ralph. What ghastly noise is this? Speak, Barbarossa,
Or, by this blazing steel, thy head goes off!

Bar. Prisoners of mine, whom I in diet keep.
    Send lower down into the cave,
    And in a tub that's heated smoking hot.
    There may they find them, and deliver them.

Ralph. Run, squire and dwarf; deliver them with speed.

[Wife. But will not Ralph kill this giant? Surely I am afraid, if he let him go, he will do as much hurt as ever he did.

Cit. Not so, mouse, neither, if he could convert him.

Wife. Ay, George, if he could convert him; but a giant is not so soon converted as one of us ordinary people. There's a pretty tale of a witch, that had the devil's mark about her, (God bless us!) that had a giant to her son, that was called Lob-lie-by-the-fire; didst never hear it, George?

Cit. Peace, Nell, here comes the prisoners.]

Re-enter Tim, leading a third Man, with a glass of lotion in his hand, and George leading a Woman, with diet-bread and drink in her hand.

George. Here be these pined wretches, manful knight,
    That for this six weeks have not seen a wight.

Ralph. Deliver what you are, and how you came
    To this sad cave, and what your usage was?

3rd Man. I am an errant knight that followed arms
    With spear and shield; and in my tender years
    I stricken was with Cupid's fiery shaft,
    And fell in love with this my ladydear.
    And stole her from her friends in Turnbull-street,
    And bore her up and down from town to town,
    Where we did eat and drink, and music hear;
    Till at the length at this unhappy town
    We did arrive, and coming to this cave,
    This beast us caught, and put us in a tub,
    Where we this two months sweat, and should have done
    Another month, if you had not relieved us.

Woman. This bread and water hath our diet been,
    Together with a rib cut from a neck
    Of burned mutton; hard hath been our fare:
    Release us from this ugly giant's snare!

3rd Man. This hath been all the food we have received;
    But only twice a-day, for novelty,
    He gave a spoonful of this hearty broth
    To each of us, through this same slender quill.

[Pulls out a syringe.

Ralph. From this infernal monster you shall go,
    That useth knights and gentle ladies so!—
    Convey them hence.

[3rd Man and Woman are led off by Tim and George,
who presently re-enter.

[Cit. Cony, I can tell thee, the gentlemen like Ralph.

Wife. Ay, George, I see it well enough.—Gentlemen, I thank you all heartily for gracing my man Ralph; and I promise you, you shall see him oftener.]

Bar. Mercy, great knight! I do recant my ill,
    And henceforth never gentle blood will spill.

Ralph. I give thee mercy; but yet shalt thou swear
    Upon my Burning Pestle, to perform
    Thy promise uttered.
Bar. I swear and kiss.

[Kisses the Pestle.

Ralph. Depart, then, and amend.—   

[Exit Barber.

    Come, squire and dwarf; the sun grows towards his set,
    And we have many more adventures yet.


[Cit. Now Ralph is in this humour, I know he would ha' beaten all the boys in the house, if they had been set on him.

Wife. Ay, George, but it is well as it is: I warrant you, the gentlemen do consider what it is to overthrow a giant.

Scene V.

The Street before Merrythought's House.

Enter Mistress Merrythought and Michael.

But, look, George; here comes Mistress Merrythought, and her son Michael.—Now you are welcome, Mistress Merrythought; now Ralph has done, you may go on.]

Mist. Mer. Mick, my boy—

Mich. Ay, forsooth, mother.

Mist. Mer. Be merry, Mick; we are at home now; where, I warrant you, you shall find the house flung out of the windows. [Music within.] Hark! hey, dogs, hey! this is the old world, i'faith, with my husband. If I get in among .them, I'll play them, such a lesson, that they shall have little list to come scraping hither again—Why, Master Merrythought! husband! Charles Merrythought!

Mer. [Appearing above, and singing.]
            If you will sing, and dance, and laugh,
                And hollow, and laugh again,
            And then cry, "there, boys, there!" why, then,
                One, two, three, and four,
            We shall be merry within this hour.

Mist. Mer. Why, Charles, do you not know your own natural wife? I say, open the door, and turn me out those mangy companions; 'tis more than time that they were fellow and fellow-like with you. You are a gentleman, Charles, and an old man, and father of two children; and I myself, (though I say it) by my mother's side niece to a worshipful gentleman and a conductor; he has been three times in his majesty's service at Chester, and is now the fourth time, God bless him and his charge, upon his journey.

Mer. [Sings.]
            Go from my window, love, go!
            Go from my window, my dear!
                The wind and the rain
                Will drive you back again;
            You cannot be lodged here.

Hark you, Mistress Merrythought, you that walk upon adventures, and forsake your husband, because he sings with never a penny in his purse; what, shall I think myself the worse? Faith, no, I'll be merry. You come not here; here's none but lads of mettle, lives of a hundred years and upwards; care never drunk their bloods, nor want made them warble "Heigh-ho, my heart is heavy.'"

Mist. Mer. Why, Master Merrythought, what am I, that you should laugh me to scorn thus abruptly? am I not your fellow-feeler, as we may say, in all our miseries? your comforter in health and sickness? have I not brought you children? are they not like you, Charles? look upon thine own image, hard-hearted man! and yet for all this—

Mer. [Sings.]
            Begone, begone, my juggy, my puggy,
            Begone, my love, my dear!
                The weather is warm,
                'Twill do thee no harm:
            Thou canst not be lodged here.—

Be merry, boys! some light music, and more wine!

[Exit above.

[Wife. He's not in earnest, George, is he?

Cit. What if he be, sweetheart?

Wife. Marry, if he be, George, I'll make bold to tell him he's an ingrant old man to use his bedfellow so scurvily.

Cit. What! how does he use her, honey?

Wife. Marry, come up, sir saucebox! I think you'll take his part, will  you not? Lord, how hot you have grown! you are a fine man, an' you had a fine dog; it becomes you sweetly!

Cit. Nay, prithee, Nell, chide not; for, as I am an honest man and a true Christian grocer, I do not like his doings.

Wife. I cry you mercy, then, George! you know we are all frail and full of infirmities.—D'ye hear, Master Merrythought? may I crave a word with you?]

Mer. [Appearing above.] Strike up lively, lads!

[Wife. I had not thought, in truth, Master Merrythought, that a man of your age and discretion, as I may say, being a gentleman, and therefore known by your gentle conditions, could have used so little respect to the weakness of his wife; for your wife is your own flesh, the staff of your age, your yoke-fellow, with whose help you draw through the mire of this transitory world; nay, she's your own rib: and again—

Mer. [Sings.]
            I came not hither for thee to teach,
            I have no pulpit for thee to preach,
            I would thou hadst kissed me under the breech,
                As thou art a lady gay.

[Wife. Marry, with a vengeance! I am heartily sorry for the poor gentlewoman: but if I were thy wife, i'faith, greybeard, i'faith—

Cit. I prithee, sweet honeysuckle, be content.

[Wife. Give me such words, that am a gentlewoman born! hang him, hoary rascal! Get me some drink, George; I am almost molten with fretting: now, beshrew his knave's heart for it!]

[Exit Citizen.

Mer. Play me a light lavolta. Come, be frolic. Fill the good fellows wine.

Mist Mer. Why, Master Merrythought, are you disposed to make me wait here? You'll open, I hope; I'll fetch them that shall open else.

Mer. Good woman, if you will sing, I'll give you something; if not—

            You are no love for me, Margaret,
                I am no love for you.—

Come aloft, boys, aloft!

 [Exit above.

Mist Mer. Now a churl's fist in your teeth, sir!— Come, Mick, we'll not trouble him; 'a shall not ding us i' the teeth with his bread and his broth, that he shall not. Come, boy; I'll provide for thee, I warrant thee. We'll go to Master Venturewells, the merchant: I'll get his letter to mine host of the Bell in Waltham; there I'll place thee with the tapster: will not that do well for thee, Mick? and let me alone for that old cuckoldly knave your father; I'll use him in his kind, I warrant ye.

Re-enter Citizen with Beer

[Wife. Come, George, where's the beer?

Cit. Here, love.

Wife. This old fornicating fellow will not out of my mind yet.—Gentlemen, I'll begin to you all; and I desire more of your acquaintance with all my heart. [Drinks.] Fill the gentlemen some beer, George. [Enter Boy.] Look, George, the little boy's come again: methinks he looks something like the Prince of Orange in his long stocking, if he had a little harness about his neck. George, I will have him dance fading. — Fading is a fine jig, I'll anure you, gentlemen.—Begin, brother. [Boy dances.] Now 'a capers, sweetheart!—Now a turn o' the toe, and then tumble! cannot you tumble, youth?

Boy. No, indeed, forsooth.

Wife. Nor eat fire?

Boy. Neither.

Wife. Why, then, I thank you heartily; there's twopence to buy you points withal.]

Act Fourth.

Scene I.

A Street.

Enter Jasper and Boy.

Jasp. There, boy, deliver this; but do it well.

[Gives a letter.

    Hast thou provided me four lusty fellows,
    Able to carry me? and art thou perfect
    In all thy business?

Boy. Sir, you need not fear;
    I have my lesson here, and cannot miss it:
    The men are ready for you, and what else
    Pertains to this employment.

Jasp. There, my boy;
    Take it, but buy no land.

[Gives money.

Boy. Faith, sir, 'twere rare
    To see so young a purchaser. I fly,
    And on my wings carry your destiny. 

Jasp. Go, and be happy!

[Exit Boy.]

    Now, my latest hope,
    Forsake me not, but fling thy anchor out,
    And let it hold! Stand fixed, thou rolling stone,
    Till I enjoy my dearest! Hear me, all
    You powers, that rule in men, celestial!


[Wife. Go thy ways; thou art as crooked a sprig as ever grew in London. I warrant him, he'll come to some naughty end or other; for his looks say no less: besides, his father (you know, George) is none of the best; you heard him take me up like a flirt-gill, and sing bawdy songs upon me; but, i'faith, if I live, George,—

Cit. Let me alone, sweetheart: I hare a trick in my head shall lodge him in the Arches for one year, and make him sing peccavi or I leave him; and yet he shall never know who hurt him neither.

Wife. Do, my good George, do!

Cit. What shall we have Ralph do now, boy?

Boy. You shall have what you will, sir.

Cit. Why, so, sir; go and fetch me him then, and let the Sophy of Persia come and christen him a child.

Boy. Believe me, sir, that will not do so well; 'tis stale; it has been had before at the Red Bull.

Wife. George, let Ralph travel over great hills, and let him be very weary, and come to the King of Cracovia's house, covered with black velvet; and there let the king's daughter stand in her window, all in beaten gold, combing her golden locks with a comb of ivory; and let her spy Ralph, and fall in love with him, and come down to him, and carry him into her father's house; and then let Ralph talk with her.

Cit. Well said, Nell; it shall be so.—Boy, let's ha't done quickly.

Boy. Sir, if you will imagine all this to be done already, you shall hear them talk together; but we cannot present a house covered with black velvet, and a lady in beaten gold.

Cit. Sir boy, let's ha't as you can, then.

Boy. Besides, it will show ill-favouredly to have a grocer's prentice to court a king's daughter.

Cit. Will it so, sir? you are well read in histories! I pray you, what was Sir Dagonet? was not he prentice to a grocer in London? Read the play of " The Four Prentices of London," where they toss their pikes so. I pray you, fetch him in, sir, fetch him in.

Boy. It shall be done.—It is not our fault, gentlemen.

Wife. Now we shall see fine doings, I warrant ye, George.

Scene II.

A Hall in the King of Moldavia's Court.

Enter Pompiona, Ralph, Tim, and George.

Oh, here they come! how prettily the King of Cracovia's daughter is dressed!

Cit Ay, Nell, it is the fashion of that country, I warrant ye.]

Pomp. Welcome, Sir Knight, unto my father's court,
    King of Moldavia; unto me Pompiona,
    His daughter dear! But, sure, you do not like
    Your entertainment, that will stay with us
    No longer but a night.

Ralph. Damsel right fair,
    I am on many sad adventures bound,
    That call me forth into the wilderness;
    Besides, my horse's back is something galled,
    Which will enforce me ride a sober pace.
    But many thanks, fair lady, be to you
    For using errant knight with courtesy!

Pomp. But say, brave knight, what is your name and birth?

Ralph. My name is Ralph; I am an Englishman,
    (As true as steel, a hearty Englishman,)
    And prentice to a grocer in the Strand
    By deed indent, of which I have one part:
    But fortune calling me to follow arms.
    On me this only order I did take
    Of Burning Pestle, which in all men's eyes
    I bear, confounding ladies' enemies.

Pomp. Oft have I heard of your brave countrymen,
    And fertile soil and store of wholesome food;
    My father oft will tell me of a drink
    In England found, and nipitato called,
    Which driveth all the sorrow from your hearts.

Ralph. Lady, 'tis true; you need not lay your lips
    To better nipitato than there is.

Pomp. And of a wild fowl he will often speak,
    Which powdered-beef-and-mustard called is:
    For there have been great wars 'twixt us and you;
    But truly, Ralph, it was not 'long of me.
    Tell me then, Ralph, could you contented be
    To wear a lady's favour in your shield?

Ralph. I am a knight of a religious order,
    And will not wear a favour of a lady
    That trusts in Antichrist and false traditions.

[Cit. Well said, Ralph! convert her, if thou canst.]

Ralph. Besides, I have a lady of my own
    In merry England, for whose virtuous sake
    I took these arms; and Susan is her name,
    A cobbler's maid in Milk Street; whom I vow
    Ne'er to forsake whilst life and Pestle last.

Pomp. Happy that cobbling dame, whoe'er she be,
    That for her own, dear Ralph, hath gotten thee!
    Unhappy I, that ne'er shall see the day
    To see thee more, that bear'st my heart away!

Ralph. Lady, farewell; I needs must take my leave.

Pomp. Hard-hearted Ralph, that ladies dost deceive!

[Cit. Hark thee, Ralph: there's money for thee [Gives money]; give something in the King of Cracovia'a house; be not beholding to him.]

Ralph. Lady, before I go, I must remember
    Your father's officers, who truth to tell,
    Have been about me very diligent:
    Hold up thy snowy hand, thou princely maid!
    There's twelve-pence for your father's chamberlain;
    And another shilling for his cook,
    For, by my troth, the goose was roasted well;
    And twelve-pence for your father's horse-keeper,
    For 'nointing my horse-back, and for his butter
    There is another shilling; to the maid
    That washed my boot-hose there's an English groat
    And two-pence to the boy that wiped my boots;
    And last, fair lady, there is for yourself
    Three-pence, to buy you pins at Bumbo-fair.

Pomp. Full many thanks; and I will keep them safe
    Till all the heads be off, for thy sake, Ralph.

Ralph. Advance, my squire and dwarf! I cannot stay.

Pomp. Thou kill'st my heart in passing thus away.


[Wife. I commend Ralph yet, that he will not stoop to a Cracovian; there's properer women in London than any are there, I-wis.

Scene III.

A Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Venturewell, Humphrey, Luce, and Boy.

But here comes Master Humphrey and his love again now, George.

Cit. Ay, cony; peace.]

Vent. Go, get you up; I will not be entreated;
    And, gossip mine, I'll keep you sure hereafter
    From gadding out again with boys and unthrifts:
    Come, they are women's tears; I know your fashion.—
    Go, sirrah, lock her in, and keep the key
    Safe as you love your life.

[Exeunt Luce and Boy.

    Now, my son Humphrey,
    You may both rest assured of my love
    In this, and reap your own desire.

Hum. I see this love you speak of, through your daughter,
    Although the hole be little; and hereafter
    Will yield the like in all I may or can,
    Fitting a Christian and a gentleman.

Vent. I do believe you, my good son, and thank you;
    For 'twere an impudence to think you flattered.

Hum. It were, indeed; but shall I tell you why?
    I have been beaten twice about the lie.

Vent. Well, son, no more of compliment. My daughter
    Is yours again: appoint the time and take her;
    We'll have no stealing for it; I myself
    And some few of our friends will see you married.

Hum. I would you would, i'faith! for, be it known,
    I ever was afraid to lie alone.

Vent. Some three days hence, then.

Hum. Three days! let me see:
    'Tis somewhat of the most; yet I agree,
    Because I mean against the appointed day
    To visit all my friends in new array.

Enter Servant.

Serv. Sir, there's a gentlewoman without would speak with your worship.

Vent. What is she?

Serv. Sir, I asked her not.

Vent. Bid her come in.

Enter Mistress Merrythought and Michael.

Mist. Mer. Peace be to your worship! I come as a poor suitor to you, sir, in the behalf of this child.

Vent. Are you not wife to Merrythought?

Mist. Mer. Yes, truly. Would I had ne'er seen his eyes! he has undone me and himself and his children; and there he lives at home, and sings and hoits and revels among his drunken companions! but, I warrant you, where to get a penny to put bread in his mouth he knows not: and therefore, if it like your worship, I would entreat your letter to the honest host of the Bell in Waltham, that I may place my child under the protection of his tapster, in some settled course of life.

Vent. I'm glad the heavens have heard my prayers. Thy husband,
    When I was ripe in sorrows, laughed at me;
    Thy son, like an unthankful wretch, I having
    Redeemed him from his fall, and made him mine,
    To show his love again, first stole my daughter,
    Then wronged this gentleman, and, last of all,
    Gave me that grief had almost brought me down
    Unto my grave, had not a stronger hand
    Relieved my sorrows. Go, and weep as I did,
    And be unpitied; for I here profess
    An everlasting hate to all thy name.

Mist. Mer. Will you so, sir? how say you by that?—Come, Mick; let him keep his wind to cool his pottage. We'll go to thy nurse's, Mick: she knits silk stockings, boy; and we'll knit too, boy, and be beholding to none of them all.

[Exit with Michael.
Enter Boy.

Boy. Sir, I take it you are the master of this house.

Vent. How then, boy!

Boy. Then to yourself, sir, comes this letter. [Gives letter.]

Vent. From whom, my pretty boy?

Boy. From him that was your servant; but no more
    Shall that name ever be, for he is dead:
    Grief of your purchased anger broke his heart.
    I saw him die, and from his hand received
    This paper, with a charge to bring it hither:
    Read it, and satisfy yourself in all.

Vent. [Reads.] Sir, that I have wronged your love I must confess; in which I have purchased to myself, besides mine own undoing, the ill opinion of my friends. Let not your anger, good sir, outlive me, but suffer me to rest in peace with your forgiveness: let my body (if a dying man may so much prevail with you) be brought to your daughter, that she may truly know my hot flames are now buried, and withal receive a testimony of the zeal I bore her virtue. Farewell for ever, and be ever happy! JASPER.

    God's hand is great in this: I do forgive him;
    Yet I am glad he's quiet, where I hope
    He will not bite again.—Boy, bring the body,
    And let him have his will, if that be all.

Boy. 'Tis here without, sir.

Vent. So, sir; if you please,
    You may conduct it in; I do not fear it.

Hum. I'll be your usher, boy; for, though I say it,
    He owed me something once, and well did pay it.


Scene IV.

Another Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Luce.

Luce. If there be any punishment inflicted
    Upon the miserable, more than yet I feel,
    Let it together seize me, and at once
    Press down my soul! I cannot bear the pain
    Of these delaying tortures.—Thou that art
    The end of all, and the sweet rest of all,
    Come, come, oh, Death! bring me to thy peace,
    And blot out all the memory I nourish
    Both of my father and my cruel friend!—
    Oh, wretched maid, still living to be wretched,
    To be a say to Fortune in her changes,
    And grow to number times and woes together!
    How happy had I been, if, being born,
    My grave had been my cradle!

Enter Servant.

Serv. By your leave,
    Young mistress; here's a boy hath brought a coffin:
    What 'a would say, I know not; but your father
    Charged me to give you notice. Here they come.


Enter Boy, and two Men bearing a Coffin.

Luce. For me I hope 'tis come, and 'tis most welcome.

Boy. Fair mistress, let me not add greater grief
    To that great store you have already. Jasper
    (That whilst he lived was yours, now dead
    And here enclosed) commanded me to bring
    His body hither, and to crave a tear
    From those fair eyes, (though he deserved not pity,)
    To deck his funeral; for so he bid me
    Tell her for whom he died.

Luce. He shall have many.—
    Good friends, depart a little, whilst I take
    My leave of this dead man, that once I loved.

[Exeunt Boy and Men.

    Hold yet a little, life! and then I give thee
    To thy first heavenly being. Oh, my friend!
    Hast thou deceived me thus, and got before me?
    I shall not long be after. But, believe me,
    Thou wert too cruel, Jasper, 'gainst thyself,
    In punishing the fault I could have pardoned,
    With so untimely death: thou didst not wrong me,
    But ever wert most kind, most true, most loving;
    And I the most unkind, most false, most cruel!
    Didst thou but ask a tear? I'll give thee all,
    Even all my eyes can pour down, all my sighs,
    And all myself, before thou goest from me:
    These are but sparing rites; but if thy soul
    Be yet about this place, and can behold
    And see what I prepare to deck thee with,
    It shall go up, borne on the wings of peace,
    And satisfied. First will I sing thy dirge,
    Then kiss thy pale lips, and then die myself,
    And fill one coffin and one grave together.

            Come, you whose loves are dead,
                And, whiles I sing,
                Weep, and wring
            Every hand, and every head
            Bind with cypress and sad yew;
            Ribands black and candles blue
            For him that was of men most true!

            Come with heavy moaning,
                And on his grave
                Let him have
            Sacrifice of sighs and groaning;
            Let him have fair flowers enow,
            White and purple, green and yellow,
            For him that was of men most true!

    Thou sable cloth, sad cover of my joys,
    I lift thee up, and thus I meet with death.

[Removes the Cloth, and Jasper rises out of the Coffin.

Jasp. And thus you meet the living.

Luce. Save me, Heaven!

Jasp. Nay, do not fly me, fair; I am no spirit:
    Look better on me; do you know me yet?

Luce. Oh, thou dear shadow of my friend!

Jasp. Dear substance;
    I swear I am no shadow; feel my hand,
    It is the same it was; I am your Jasper,
    Your Jasper that's yet living, and yet loving.
    Pardon my rash attempt, my foolish proof
    I put in practice of your constancy;
    For sooner should my sword have drunk my blood,
    And set my soul at liberty, than drawn
    The least drop from that body: for which boldness
    Doom me to any thing; if death, I take it,
    And willingly.

Luce. This death I'll give you for it;

[Kisses him.

    So, now I am satisfied you are no spirit,
    But my own truest, truest, truest friend:
    Why do you come thus to me?

Jasp. First, to see you;
    Then to convey you hence.

Luce. It cannot be;
    For I am locked up here, and watched at all hours,
    That 'tis impossible for me to scape.

Jasp. Nothing more possible. Within this coffin
    Do you convey yourself: let me alone,
    I have the wits of twenty men about me;
    Only I crave the shelter of your closet
    A little, and then fear me not. Creep in,
    That they may presently convey you hence:
    Fear nothing, dearest love; I'll be your second;

[Luce lies down in the Coffin, and Jasper covers her with the cloth.

    Lie close: so; all goes well yet—Boy!

Re-enter Boy and Men.

Boy. At hand, sir.

Jasp. Convey away the coffin, and be wary.

Boy. 'Tis done already.

[Exeunt Men with the Coffin.

Jasp. Now must I go conjure.

[Exit into a Closet.

Enter Venturewell.

Vent. Boy, boy!

Boy. Your servant, sir.

Vent. Do me this kindness, boy; (hold, here's a crown;)
    Before thou bury the body of this fellow,  
    Carry it to his old merry father, and salute him
    From me, and bid him sing; he hath cause.

Boy. I will, sir.

Vent. And then bring me word what tune he is in,  
    And have another crown; but do it truly.
    I have fitted him a bargain now will vex him.

Boy. God bless your worship's health, sir!

Vent. Farewell, boy!

[Exeunt severally.

Scene V.

A Street before Merrythought's House.

Enter Merrythought.

[Wife. Ah, old Merrythought, art thou there again? let's hear some of thy songs.]

Mer. [Sings.]
            Who can sing a merrier note
            Than he that cannot change a groat?

Not a denier left, and yet my heart leaps: I do wonder yet, as old as I am, that any man will follow a trade, or serve, that may sing and laugh, and walk the streets. My wife and both my sons are I know not where; I have nothing left, nor know I how to come by meat to supper; yet am I merry still, for I know I shall find it upon the table at six o'clock; therefore, hang thought!
            I would not be a serving-man
                To carry the cloak-bag still,
            Nor would I be a falconer
                The greedy hawks to fill;
            But I would be in a good house,
                And have a good master too;
            But I would eat and drink of the best,
                And no work would I do.

This it is that keeps life and soul together, mirth; this is the philosopher's stone that they write so much on, that keeps a man ever young.

Enter Boy.

Boy. Sir, they say they know all your money is gone, and they will trust you for no more drink.

Mer. Will they not? let 'em choose! The best is, I have mirth at home, and need not send abroad for that; let them keep their drink to themselves.

            For Julian of Berry, she dwells on a hill,
            And she hath good beer and ale to sell,
            And of good fellows she thinks no ill;
                And thither will we go now, now, now,
                And thither will we go now.

            And when you hare made a little stay,
            You need not ask what is to pay,
            But kiss your hostess, and go your way;
                And thither will we go now, now, now,
                And thither will we go now.

Enter another Boy.

2nd Boy. Sir, I can get no bread for supper.

Mer. Hang bread and supper! let's preserve our mirth, and we shall never feel hunger, I'll warrant you. Let's have a catch, boys; follow me, come.

        [They sing.]
                        Ho, ho, nobody at home!
            Meat, nor drink, nor money ha' we none.
                        Fill the pot, Eedy,
                        Never more need I.

Mer. So, boys; enough. Follow me: Let's change our place, and we shall laugh afresh.


[Wife. Let him go, George; 'a shall not have any countenance from us, nor a good word from any i' the company, if I may strike stroke in't.

Cit. No more 'a sha'not, love. But, Nell, I will have Ralph do a very notable matter now, to the eternal honour and glory of all grocers.— Sirrah! you there, boy! Can none of you hear?

Enter Boy.

Boy. Sir, your pleasure?

Cit. Let Ralph come out on May-day in the morning, and speak upon a conduit, with all his scarfs about him, and his feathers, and his rings, and his knacks.

Boy. Why, sir, you do not think of our plot; what will become of that, then?

Cit. Why, sir, I care not what become on't: I'll have him come out, or I'll fetch him out myself; I'll have something done in honour of the city: besides, he hath been long enough upon adventures. Bring him out quickly; or, if I come in amongst you—

Boy. Well, sir, he shall come out, but if our play miscarry, sir, you are like to pay for't.

Cit. Bring him away then!

[Exit Boy.

Wife. This will be brave, i'faith! George, shall not he dance the morris too, for the credit of the Strand?

Cit. No, sweetheart, it will be too much for the boy. Oh, there he is, Nell! he's reasonable well in reparel: but he has not rings enough.]

Enter Ralph, dressed as a May-lord.

Ralph. London, to thee I do present the merry month of May;
    Let each true subject be content to hear me what I say:
    For from the top of conduit-head, as plainly may appear,
    I will both tell my name to you, and wherefore I came here.
    My name is Ralph, by due descent though not ignoble I
    Yet far inferior to the stock of gracious grocery;
    And by the common counsel of my fellows in the Strand,
    With gilded staff and crossed scarf, the May-lord here I stand.
    Rejoice, oh, English hearts, rejoice! rejoice, oh, lovers dear!
    Rejoice, oh, city, town, and country! rejoice, eke every shere!
    For now the fragrant flowers do spring and sprout in seemly sort,
    The little birds do sit and sing, the lambs do make fine sport;
    And now the birchen-tree doth bud, that makes the schoolboy cry;
    The morris rings, while hobby-horse doth foot it feateously;
    The lords and ladies now abroad, for their disport and play,
    Do kiss sometimes upon the grass, and sometimes in the hay;
    Now butter with a leaf of sage is good to purge the blood;
    Fly Venus and phlebotomy, for they are neither good;
    Now little fish on tender stone begin to cast their bellies,
    And sluggish snails, that erst were mewed, do creep out of their shellies;
    The rumbling rivers now do warm, for little boys to paddle;
    The sturdy steed now goes to grass, and up they hang his saddle;
    The heavy hart, the bellowing buck, the rascal, and the pricket,
    Are now among the yeoman's peas, and leave the fearful thicket:
    And be like them, oh, you, I say, of this same noble town,
    And lift aloft your velvet heads, and slipping off your gown,
    With bells on legs, and napkins clean unto your shoulders tied,
    With scarfs and garters as you please, and "Hey for our town!" cried.
    March out, and show your willing minds, by twenty and by twenty,
    To Hogsdon or to Newington, where ale and cakes are plenty;
    And let it ne'er be said for shame, that we the youths of London
    Lay thrumming of our caps at home, and left our custom undone.
    Up, then, I say, both young and old, both man and maid a-maying,
    With drums, and guns that bounce aloud, and merry tabor playing!
    Which to prolong, God save our king, and send his country peace,
    And root out treason from the land! and so, my friends, I cease.


Act Fifth.

Scene I.

A Room in the House of Venturewell.

Enter Venturewell.

Vent. I will have no great store of company at the wedding; a couple of neighbours and their wives; and we will have a capon in stewed broth, with marrow, and a good piece of beef stuck with rosemary.

Enter Jasper, with his Face mealed.

Jasp. Forbear thy pains, fond man! it is too late.

Vent. Heaven bless me! Jasper!

Jasp. Ay, I am his ghost,
    Whom thou hast injured for his constant love;
    Fond worldly wretch! who dost not understand
    In death that true hearts cannot parted be.
    First know, thy daughter is quite borne away
    On wings of angels, through the liquid air,
    To far out of thy reach, and never more
    Shall thou behold her face: but she and I
    Will in another world enjoy our loves;
    Where neither father's anger, poverty,
    Nor any cross that troubles earthly men,
    Shall make us sever our united hearts.
    And never shall thou sit or be alone
    In any place, but I will visit thee
    With ghastly looks, and put into thy mind
    The great offences which thou didst to me:
    When thou art at thy table with thy friends,
    Merry in heart, and filled with swelling wine,
    I'll come in midst of all thy pride and mirth,
    Invisible to all men but thyself,
    And whisper such a sad tale in thine ear
    Shall make thee let the cup fall from thy hand,
    And stand as mute and pale as death itself.

Vent. Forgive me, Jasper! Oh, what might I do,
    Tell me, to satisfy thy troubled ghost?

Jasp. There is no means; too late thou think'st of this.

Vent. But tell me what were best for me to do?

Jasp. Repent thy deed, and satisfy my father,
    And beat fond Humphrey out of thy doors.


[Wife. Look, George; his very ghost would have folks beaten.]

Enter Humphrey.

Hum. Father, my bride is gone, fair Mistress Luce:
    My soul's the fount of vengeance, mischiefs sluice.

Vent. Hence, fool, out of my sight with thy fond passion!
    Thou hast undone me.

[Beats him.

Hum. Hold, my father dear,
    For Luce thy daughter's sake, that had no peer!

Vent. Thy father, fool! there's some blows more; begone.—

[Beats him.

    [Aside] Jasper, I hope thy ghost be well appeased
    To see thy will performed. Now will I go
    To satisfy thy father for thy wrongs.


Hum. What shall I do? I have been beaten twice,
    And Mistress Luce is gone. Help me, device!
    Since my true love is gone, I never more,
    Whilst I do live, upon the sky will pore;
    But in the dark will wear out my shoe-soles
    In passion in Saint Faith's church under Paul's.

[Wife. George, call Ralph hither; if you love me, call Ralph hither: I have the bravest thing for him to do, George; prithee, call him quickly.

Cit. Ralph! why, Ralph, boy!

Enter Ralph.

Ralph. Here, sir.

Cit. Come hither, Ralph; come to thy mistress, boy.

Wife. Ralph, I would have thee call all the youths together in battle-ray, with drums, and guns, and flags, and march to Mile-End in pompous fashion, and there exhort your soldiers to be merry and wise, and to keep their beards from burning, Ralph; and then skirmish, and let your flags fly, and cry, "Kill, kill, kill!" My husband shall lend you his jerkin, Ralph, and there's a scarf; for the rest, the house shall furnish you, and we'll pay for't. Do it bravely, Ralph; and think before whom you perform, and what person you represent.

Ralph. I warrant you, mistress; if I do it not, for the honour of the city and the credit of my master, let me never hope for freedom!

Wife. 'Tis well spoken, i'faith. Go thy ways; them art a spark indeed.

Cit. Ralph, Ralph, double your files bravely, Ralph!

Ralph. I warrant you, sir.


Cit. Let him look narrowly to his service; I shall take him else. I was there myself a pikeman once, in the hottest of the day, wench; had my feather shot sheer away, the fringe of my pike burnt off with powder, my pate broken with a scouring-stick, and yet, I thank God, I am here.

[Drums within.

Wife. Hark, George, the drums!

Cit. Ran, tan, tan, tan, tan, tan! Oh, wench, an thou hadst but seen little Ned of Aldgate, Drum-Ned, how he made it roar again, and laid on like a tyrant, and then struck softly till the ward came up, and then thundered again, and together we go! "Sa, sa, sa, bounce!" quoth the guns; "Courage, my hearts!" quoth the captains; "Saint George!" quoth the pikemen; and withal, here they lay: and there they lay: and yet for all this I am here, wench.

Wife. Be thankful for it, George; for indeed 'tis wonderful.]

Scene II.

Street (and afterwards Mile-End).

Enter Ralph and Company of Soldiers (among whom are William Hammerton, and George Greengoose), with drums and colours.

Ralph. March fair, my hearts! Lieutenant, beat the rear up.—Ancient, let your colours fly; but have a great care of the butcher's hooks at Whitechapel; they have been the death of many a fair ancient.—Open your files, that I may take a view both of your persons and munition. Sergeant, call a muster.

Serg. A stand!—William Hammerton, pewterer!

Ham. Here, captain!

Ralph. A corselet and a Spanish pike; 'tis well: can you shake it with a terror?

Ham. I hope so, captain.

Ralph. Charge upon me.

[He charges on RaIph.

—'Tis with the weakest: but more strength, William Hammerton, more strength. As you were again!—Proceed, Sergeant.

Serg. George Greengoose, poulterer!

Green. Here!

Ralph. Let me see your piece, neighbour Greengoose: when was she shot in?

Green. An't like you, master captain, I made a shot even now, partly to scour her, and partly for audacity.

Ralph. It should seem so certainly, for her breath is yet inflamed; besides, there is a main fault in the touch-hole, it runs and stinketh; and I tell you moreover, and believe it, ten such touchholes would breed the pox in the army. Get you a feather, neighbour, get you a feather, sweet oil, and paper, and your piece may do well enough yet. Where's your powder?

Green. Here.

Ralph. What, in a paper! as I am a soldier and a gentleman, it craves a martial court! you ought to die for't. Where's your horn? answer me to that.

Green. An't like you, sir, I was oblivious.

Ralph. It likes me not you should be so; 'tis a shame for you, and a scandal to all our neighbours, being a man of worth and estimation, to leave your horn behind you: I am afraid 'twill breed example. But let me tell you no more on't.—Stand, till I view you all.—What's become o' the nose of your flask?

1st Sold. Indeed, la, captain, 'twas blown away with powder.

Ralph. Put on a new one at the city's charge.— Where's the stone of this piece?

Sold. The drummer took it out to light tobacco.

Ralph. 'Tis a fault, my friend; put it in again.— You want a nose,—and you a stone.—Sergeant, take a note on't, for I mean to stop it 'i the pay. — Remove, and march!

[They march.

Soft and fair, gentlemen, soft and fair! double your files! as you were! faces about! Now, you with the sodden face, keep in there! Look to your match, sirrah, it will be in your fellow's flask anon. So; make a crescent now; advance your pikes; stand and give ear!—Gentlemen, countrymen, friends, and my fellow-soldiers, I have brought you this day, from the shops of security and the counters of content, to measure out in these furious fields honour by the ell, and prowess by the pound. Let it not, oh, let it not, I say, be told hereafter, the noble issue of this city fainted; but bear yourselves in this fair action like men, valiant men, and free men! Fear not the face of the enemy, nor the noise of the guns, for, believe me, brethren, the rude rumbling of a brewer's cart is far more terrible, of which you have a daily experience; neither let the stink of powder offend you, since a more valiant stink is nightly with you.
    To a resolved mind his home is everywhere:
    I speak not this to take away
    The hope of your return; for you shall see
    (I do not doubt it) and that very shortly
    Your loving wives again and your sweet children,
    Whose care doth bear you company in baskets.
    Remember, then, whose cause you have in hand,
    And, like a sort of true-born scavengers,
    Scour me this famous realm of enemies.
I have no more to say but this: stand to your tacklings, lads, and show to the world you can as well brandish a sword as shake an apron.
    Saint George, and on, my hearts!

All. Saint George, Saint George!


[Wife. 'Twas well done, Ralph! I'll send thee a cold capon a-field and a bottle of March beer; and, it may be, come myself to see thee.

Cit. Nell, the boy hath deceived me much; I did not think it had been in him. He has performed such a matter, wench, that, if I live, next year I'll have him captain of the galley-foist, or I'll want my will.]

Scene III.

A Room in Merrythought's House.

Enter Merrythought.

Mer. Yet, I thank God, I break not a wrinkle more than I had. Not a stoop, boys? Care, live with cats: I defy thee! My heart is as sound as an oak; and though I want drink to wet my whistle, I can sing.

            Come no more there, boys, come no more there;
            For we shall never whilst we live come any more there.

Enter Boy, and two Men bearing a Coffin.

Boy. God save you, sir!

Mer. It's a brave boy. Canst thou sing?

Boy. Yes, sir, I can sing; but 'tis not so necessary at this time.

Mer. [Sings.]
                 Sing we, and chant it;
                 Whilst love doth grant it.

Boy. Sir, sir, if you knew what I have brought you, you would have little list to sing.

Mer. [Sings.]
                 Oh, the Mimon round,
             Full long I have thee sought,
                 And now I have thee found,
             And what hast thou here brought?

Boy. A coffin, sir, and your dead son Jasper in it.

[Exit with Men.

Mer. Dead!

                                  Why, farewell he!
                              Thou wast a bonny boy,
                                  And I did love thee.

Enter Jasper.

Jasp. Then, I pray you, sir, do so still.

Mer. Jasper's ghost!

            Thou art welcome from Stygian lake so soon;
            Declare to me what wondrous things in Pluto's court are done.

Jasp. By my troth, sir, I ne'er came there; 'tis too hot for me, sir.

Mer. A merry ghost, a very merry ghost!

            And where is your true love? Oh, where is yours?

Jasp. Marry, look you, sir!

[Removes the cloth, and Luce rises out of the Coffin.

Mer. Ah, ha! art thou good at that, i'faith?

                 With hey, trixy, terlery-whiskin,
                     The world it runs on wheels:
                 When the young man's ——,
                     Up goes the maiden's heels.

Mistress Merrythought and Michael within.

Mist. Mer. [within.] What, Master Merrythought! will you not let's in? what do you think shall become of us?

Mer. [Sings.]
            What voice is that that calleth at our door?

Mist. Mer. [within.] You know me well enough; I am sure I have not been such a stranger to you.

Mer. [Sings.]
            And some they whistled, and some they sung,
                Hey, down, down!
            Ever as the Lord Barnet'a horn blew,
                Away, Musgrave, away!

Mist. Mer. [within.] You will not have us starve here, will you, Master Merrythought?

Jasp. Nay, good sir, be persuaded; she is my mother:
    If her offences have been great against you,
    Let your own love remember she is yours,
    And so forgive her.

Luce. Good Master Merrythought,
    Let me entreat you; I will not be denied.

Mist. Mer. [within.] Why, Master Merrythought, will you be a vexed thing still?

Mer. Woman, I take you to my love again; but you shall sing before you enter; therefore despatch your song and so come in.

Mist. Mer. [within.] Well, you must have your will, when all's done.—Mick, what song canst thou sing, boy?

Mich. [within.] I can sing none, forsooth, but  'A Lady's Daughter, of Paris properly,'

[sings within.]
                It was a lady's daughter, &c.

Merrythought opens the Door; enter Mistress Merrythought and Michael.

Mer. Come, you're welcome home again.

            If such danger be in playing,
                And jest must to earnest turn,
            You shall go no more a-maying—

Vent. [within.] Are you within, sir? Master Merrythought!

Jasp. It is my master's voice: good sir, go hold him
    In talk, whilst we convey ourselves into
    Some inward room.

[Exit with Luce.

Mer. What are you? are you merry?
    You must be very merry, if you enter.

Vent. [within.] I am, sir.

Mer. Sing, then.

Vent. [within.] Nay, good sir, open to me.

Mer. Sing, I say,
    Or, by the merry heart, you come not in!

Vent. [within.] Well, sir, I'll sing.

                Fortune, my foe, &c.

Merrythought opens the Door: Enter Venturewell.

Mer. You are welcome, sir, you are welcome: you see your entertainment; pray you, be merry.

Vent. Oh, Master Merrythought, I'm come to ask you
    Forgiveness for the wrongs I offered you,
    And your most virtuous son! they're infinite;
    Yet my contrition shall be more than they:
    I do confess my hardness broke his heart,
    For which just Heaven hath given me punishment
    More than my age can carry; his wandering spirit,
    Nor yet at rest, pursues me every where,
    Crying, " I'll haunt thee for thy cruelty."
    My daughter, she is gone, I know not how,
    Taken invisible, and whether living
    Or in the grave, 'tis yet uncertain to me.
    Oh, Master Merrythought, these are the weights
    Will sink me to my grave! forgive me, sir.

Mer. Why, sir, I do forgive you; and be merry;
    And if the wag in's lifetime played the knave,
    Can you forgive him too?

Vent. With all my heart, sir.

Mer. Speak it again, and heartily.

Vent. I do, sir;
    Now, by my soul, I do.

Re-enter Luce and Jasper.

Mer. [Sings.]
            With that came out his paramour;
            She was as white as the lily flower:
                    Hey, troul, troly, loly!
            With that came out her own dear knight;
            He was as true as ever did fight, &c.

Sir, if you will forgive 'em, clap their hands together; there's no more to be said i' the matter.

Vent. I do, I do.

[Cit. I do not like this. Peace, boys! Hear me, one of you: every body's part is come to an end but Ralph's, and he's left out.

Boy. 'Tis 'long of yourself, sir; we have nothing to do with his part.

Cit. Ralph, come away!—Make an end on him, as you have done of the rest, boys; come.

Wife. Now, good husband, let him come out and die.

Cit. He shall, Nell.—Ralph, come away quickly, and die, boy!

Boy. 'Twill be very unfit he should die, sir, upon no occasion—and in a comedy too.

Cit. Take you no care of that, sir boy; is not his part at an end, think you, when he's dead?— Come away, Ralph!]

Enter Ralph, with a forked Arrow through his Head.

Ralph. When I was mortal, this my costive corps
    Did lap up figs and raisins in the Strand;
    Where sitting, I espied a lovely dame,
    Whose master wrought with lingel and with awl,
    And underground he vamped many a boot.
    Straight did her love prick forth me, tender sprig,
    To follow feats of arms in warlike wise
    Through Waltham-desert; where I did perform
    Many achievements, and did lay on ground
    Huge Barbarossa, that insulting giant,
    And all his captives soon set at liberty.
    Then honour pricked me from my native soil
    Into Moldavia, where I gained the love
    Of Pompiona, his beloved daughter;
    But yet proved constant to the black thumbed maid
    Susan, and scorned Pompiona's love;
    Yet liberal I was, and gave her pins,
    And money for her father's officers.
    I then returned home, and thrust myself
    In action, and by all men chosen was
    Lord of the May, where I did flourish it,
    With scarfs and rings, and posy in my hand.
    After this action I preferred was,
    And chosen city-captain at Mile-End,
    With hat and feather, and with leading-staff,
    And trained my men, and brought them all off clear,
    Save one man that berayed him with the noise.
    But all these things I Ralph did undertake
    Only for my beloved Susan's sake.
    Then coming home, and sitting in my shop
    With apron blue, Death came into my stall
    To cheapen aquavitæ; but ere I
    Could take the bottle down and fill a taste,
    Death caught a pound of pepper in his hand,
    And sprinkled all my face and body o'er
    And in an instant vanished away.
[Cit. 'Tis a pretty fiction, i'faith.]

Ralph. Then took I up my bow and shaft in hand,
    And walked into Moorfields to cool myself:
    But there grim cruel Death met me again,
    And shot this forked arrow through my head;
    And now I faint; therefore be warned by me,
    My fellows every one, of forked heads!
    Farewell, all you good boys in merry London!
    Ne'er shall we more upon Shrove-Tuesday meet,
    And pluck down houses of iniquity;—
    My pain increaseth;—I shall never more
    Hold open, whilst another pumps both legs,
    Nor daub a satin gown with rotten eggs;
    Set up a stake, oh, never more I shall!
    I die! fly, fly, my soul, to Grocers' Hall!
    Oh, oh, oh, &c.

[Wife. Well said, Ralph! do your obeisance to the gentlemen, and go your ways: well said, Ralph!]

[Ralph rises, makes obeisance, and exit

Mer. Methinks all we, thus kindly and unexpectedly reconciled, should not depart without a song.

Vent. A good motion.

Mer. Strike up, then!


            Better music ne'er was known
            Than a quire of hearts in one.
            Let each other, that hath been
            Troubled with the gall or spleen.
            Learn of us to keep his brow
            oth and plain, as ours are now:
            Sing, though before the hour of dying;
            He shall rise, and then be crying,
            "Hey, ho, 'tis nought but mirth
            That keeps the body from the earth!"


[Cit. Come, Nell, shall we go? the play's done.

Wife. Nay, by my faith, George, I have more manners than so; I'll speak to these gentlemen first.—I thank you all, gentlemen, for your patience and countenance to Ralph, a poor fatherless child; and if I might see you at my house, it should go hard but I would have a bottle of wine and a pipe of tobacco for you: for, truly, I hope you do like the youth, but I would be glad to know the truth; I refer it to your own discretions, whether you will applaud hirm or no; for I will wink, and whilst you shall do what you will. I thank you with all my heart. God give you good night!—.Come, George.



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