Act 4, Scene V

Scene: A Street before Merrythought's House.


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

Sir, they say they know all your money is gone, and they will trust you for no more drink.
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 have made a little stay,
But 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.
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.
So, boys; enough. Follow me: Let's change our place, and we shall laugh afresh.
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.
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.

Sir, your pleasure?
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.
Why, sir, you do not think of our plot; what will become of that, then?
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——
Well, sir, he shall come out, but if our play miscarry, sir, you are like to pay for't.
Bring him away then!
[Exit Boy.    
This will be brave, i'faith! George, shall not he dance the morris too, for the credit of the Strand?
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.

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 crossèd 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.