Demanding a Knight




On Stage


Social Issues
The Knight of the Burning Pestle





Act V, Lines 284-395

and Epilogue

Merchant. Oh, Master Merrythought, I am 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 wand'ring spirit,

Not yet at rest, pursues me everywhere,

Crying, "I'll haunt thee for they cruelty."

My daughter, she is gone, I know not how,

Taken invisible, and whether living

Or in grave, 'tis yet uncertain to me.

O Master Merrythought, these are the weights

Will sink me to my grave. Forgive me sir.

Old Merrythought. Why, sir, I do forgive you, and be merry;

And if the wag in's lifetime played the knave,

Can you forgive him too?

Merchant. With all my heart, sir.

Old Merrythought. Speak it again, and heartily.

Merchant. Now, by my soul, I do.

Old Merrythought. [Sings.]

With that came out his paramour.

She was as white as a lily flower.

Hey troll, trollie, lollie.

[Enter Luce and Jasper.]

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'th matter.

Merchant. I do, I do.

Citizen. I do not like this. Peace, boys; hear me, one of you! Everybody's part is come to an end but Rafe's and he's left out.

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

Citizen. Rafe, 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.

Citizen. He shall, Nell. Rafe, come away quickly and die, boy.

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

Citizen. Take you no care of that, sir boy. Is not his part at an end, think you, when he's dead? Come away, Rafe.

[Enter Rafe, with a forked arrow through his head.]

Rafe. When I was mortal, this my costive corpse

Did lap up figs and raisins in the Strand,

Where sitting, I espied a lovely dame,

Whose master wrought with lingel and with awls,

And under ground he vampied 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 Barbaroso, that insulting giant,

And all his captives soon set at liberty.

Then honor 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, Rafe, did undertake

Only for my beloved Susan's sake.

Then coming home, and sitting in my shop

With apron blue, Death came unto my stall

To cheapen aqua vitae; 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.

Citizen. 'Tis a pretty fiction, i'faith.

Rafe. Then I took 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 me 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, etc.

Wife. Well said, Rafe. Do your obeisance to the gentlemen and go your ways. Well said, Rafe.

[Exit Rafe]

Old Merrythought. Methinkgs all we, thus kind and unexpectedly reconciled, should not depart without a song.

Merchant. A good motion.

Old Merrythough. Strike up, then.


Better music ne'er was known

Than a choir of heats in one.

Let each other that hath been

Troubled with the gall or spleen,

Learn of us to keep his brow

Smooth and plain as ours are now.

Sing, though before the hour of dying;

He shall rise, and then by crying,

"Hey, ho, 'tis nought but mirth

That keeps the body from the earth."

[Exeunt omnes.]


Citizen. 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 Rafe, a poor fatherless child; and if I might see you at my house, it should go hard but I would have a pottle 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 him 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.