Act 1, Scene IV

Scene: A Room in Merrythought's House.

Enter Mistress MERRYTHOUGHT and JASPER.

Mistress Merrythought.
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.

Michael.
[Kneels.] I pray you, mother, pray to God to bless me.
Mistress Merrythought.
God bless thee! but Jasper shall never have my blessing; he shall be hanged first: shall he not, Michael? how sayest thou ?
Michael.
Yes, forsooth, mother, and grace of God.
Mistress Merrythought.
That's a good boy!
[Wife.    
I'faith, it's a fine-spoken child.]
Jasper.
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.
Citizen.
If he were my son, I would hang him up by the heels, and flay him, and salt him, whoreson haltersack.]
Jasper.
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.
Mistress Merrythought.
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.
Merrythought.
[Singing within.]
Nose, nose, jolly red nose,
And who gave thee this jolly red nose?
Mistress Merrythought.
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.

Merrythought.
[Sings.]
Nutmegs and ginger, cinnamon and cloves;
And they gave me this jolly red nose.
Mistress Merrythought.
If you would consider your state, you would have little list to sing, i-wis.
Merrythought.
It should never be considered, while it were an estate, if I thought it would spoil my singing.
Mistress Merrythought.
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.
Merrythought.
And will do.
Mistress Merrythought.
But how wilt thou come by it, Charles?
Merrythought.
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?
Citizen.
Yes, cony.
Wife.    
Give me a penny i' the purse while I live, George.
Citizen.
Ay, by lady, cony, hold thee there.]
Mistress Merrythought.
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.
Citizen.
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.]
Merrythought.
Where is Jasper? he's welcome, however. Call him in; he shall have his portion. Is he merry!
Mistress Merrythought.
Ay, foul chive him, he is too merryl—Jasper! Michael!

Re-enter JASPER and MICHAEL.

Merrythought.
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.
Jasper.
Long may you live free from all thought of ill,
And long have cause to be thus merry still! But, father——
Merrythought.
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, sweating, mine own dear jewel!

So, now begone; no words.
[Exit Jasper.
Mistress Merrythought.
So, Michael, now get thee gone too.
Michael.
Yes, forsooth, mother; but I'll have my father's blessing first.
Mistress Merrythought.
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.
Merrythought.
What! you will not?
Mistress Merrythought.
Yes, indeed will 1.
Merrythought.
[Sings.]
Heigh-ho, farewell, Nan!
I'll never trust wench more again, if I can.
Mistress Merrythought.
You shall not think, when all your own is gone, to spend that I have been scraping up for Michael.
Merrythought.
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.
Citizen.
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.