The Knight of the Burning Pestle/Act I

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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:
Besides, I cannot think you mean to match her
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.
[Exit.

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 halfpenny, 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’ God’s 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. [Exit.

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 blessèd 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, Lucé, 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 so 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.
[Exit.

Hum.

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

Wife.

By my faith and troth, George, and as I am virtuous, it is e’en the kindest young man that ever trod on shoeleather.—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 gentleman 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.
[Exit.

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 shalt 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!
[Sings.
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,
[Sings.
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; it’s 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.