The Witch of Edmonton – Act Five, scene three

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Enter FRANK THORNEY and Officers with halberds and exeunt.  Enter, as to see the execution, OLD CARTER, OLD THORNEY, KATHERINE, and WINNIFRIDE, weeping.

Here let our sorrows wait him.  To press nearer
The place of his sad death, some apprehensions
May tempt our grief too much, at height already.
Daughter, be comforted.

Comfort and I
Are too far separated to be join’d
But in eternity.  I share too much
Of him that’s going thither.

Poor woman, ‘twas not thy fault.  I grieve to see thee weep for him that hath my pity too.

My fault was lust, my punishment was shame.
Yet I am happy that my soul is free
Both from consent, fore-knowledge, and intent
Of any murder, but of mine own honour,
Restor’d again by a fair satisfaction,
And since not to be wounded.

Daughter, grieve not
For what necessity forceth; rather resolve
To conquer it with patience.
Alas, she faints!

My griefs are strong upon me.
My weakness scarce can bear them.

[Within.] Away with her!  Hang her!  Witch!

Enter MOTHER SAWYER, Officers with halberds and Country people.

The witch, that instrument of mischief!  Did not she witch the devil into my son-in-law when he kill’d my poor daughter?  Do you hear, Mother Sawyer?

What would you have?  Cannot a poor old woman
Have you leave to die without vexation?

Did not you bewitch Frank to kill his wife?  He could never have done’t without the devil.

Who doubts it?  But is every devil mine?
Would I had one now whom I might command
To tear you all in pieces.  Tom would have done’t
Before he left me.

Thou didst bewitch Anne Ratcliffe to kill herself.

Churl, thou liest.  I never did her hurt.
Would you were all as near your ends as I am,
That gave evidence against me for it.

I’ll be sworn, Master Carter, she bewitched Gammer Washbowl’s son to cast her pigs a day before she would have farried.  Yet they were sent up to London, and sold for as good Westminster dog-pigs at Bartholomew Fair, as ever great-bellied ale-wife longed for.

These dogs will mad me.  I was well resolv’d
To die in my repentance, though ‘tis true
I would live longer if I might; yet since
I cannot, pray torment me not.  My conscience
Is settled as it should be.  All take heed
How they believe the devil, at last he’ll cheat you.

Thou’dst best confess all truly.

Yet again?
Have I scarce breath enough to say my prayers?
And would you force me to spend that in bawling?
Bear witness, I repent allformer evil.
There is no damned conjurer like the devil.

Away with her, away!

 [Exeunt MOTHER SAWYER with Officers; Country People follow.

Enter FRANK THORNEY to execution; Officers, Justice, SIR ARTHUR, WARBECK, and SOMERTON.

Here’s the sad object which I yet must meet
With hope of comfort, if a repentant end
Make him more happy than misfortune would
Suffer him here to be.

Good sirs, turn from me.
You will revive affliction almost kill’d
With my continual sorrow.

Oh Frank, Frank!
Would I had sunk in mine own wants, or died
But one bare moment ere thy fault was acted!

To look upon your sorrows, executes me
Before my execution.

Let me pray you, sir—

Thou much wrong’d woman, I must sigh for thee,
As he that’s only loath to leave the world,
For that he leaves thee in it unprovided,
Unfriended; and for me to beg a pity
From any man to thee when I am gone,
I more than I can hope; nor to say truth,
Have I deserv’d it; but there is a payment
Belongs to goodness from the great exchequer
Above; it will not fail thee, Winnifride.
Be that thy comfort.

Let it be thine too,
Untimely lost young man!

He is not lost,
Who bears his peace within him.  Had I spun
My web of life out at full length, and dream’d
Away my many years in lusts, in surfeits,
Murders of reputations, gallant sins
Commended or approv’d, then though I had
Died easily, as great and rich men do,
Upon my own bed, not compell’d by justice,
You might have mourn’d for me indeed.  My miseries
Had been as everlasting as remediless.
But now the law hath not arraign’d, condemn’d
With greater rigour my unhappy fact,
Than I myself have ever little sin
My memory can reckon from my childhood.
A court hath been kept here, where I am found
Guilty; the difference is, my impartial judge
Is much more gracious than my faults
Are monstrous to be nam’d, yet they are monstrous.

Here’s comfort in this penitence.

It speaks
How truly you are reconcil’d and quickens
My dying comfort, that was ne’er expiring
With my last breath.  Now this repentance makes thee,
As white an innocence; and my first sin with thee,
Since which I knew none like it, by my sorrow,
Is clearly cancell’d.  Might our souls together
Climb to the height of their eternity,
And there enjoy what earth denied us, happiness.
But since I must survive, and be the monument
Of thy lov’d memory, I will preserve it
With a religious care, and pay thy ashes
A widow’s duty, calling that end best,
Which though it stain the name, makes the soul blest.

Give me thy hand, poor woman; do not weep.
Farewell.  Thou dost forgive me?

‘Tis my part
To use that language.

Oh, that my example
Might teach the world hereafter what a curse
Hangs on their heads, who rather choose to marry
A goodly portion, than a dower of virtues!
Are you there, gentlemen?  There is not one
Amongst you whom I have not wrong’d.  [To OLD CARTER.] You most.
I robb’d you of a daughter, but she is
In heaven, and I must suffer for it willingly.

Ay, ay, she’s in heaven, and I am glad to see thee so well prepared to follow her.  I forgive thee with all my heart.  If thou hadst not had ill counsel, thou wouldst not have done as thou didst.  The more shame for them.

Spare you excuse to me.  I do conceive
What you would speak.  I would you could as easily
Make satisfaction to the law, as to my wrongs.
I am sorry for you.

And so am I, and heartily forgive you.

I will pray for you, for her sake, who, I am sure,
Did love you dearly.

Let us part friendly too.
I am asham’d of my part in thy wrongs.

Yare are all merciful,
And send me to my grave in peace.  Sir Arthur,
Heaven send you a new heart.  [To OLD THORNEY.] Lastly to you, sir,
And though I have deserv’d not to be call’d
Your son, yet give me leave upon my knees
To beg a blessing.

Thy cheeks with the last tears my griefs have left me.
Oh, Frank, Frank, Frank!

Let me beseech you, gentlemen,
To comfort my old father; keep him with ye;
Love this distressed widow; and as often
As you remember what a graceless man
I was, remember likewise that these are
Both free, both worthy of a better fate,
Than such a son or husband as I have been.
All help me with your prayers.  On, on; ‘tis just
That law should purge the guilt of blood and lust.          [Exeunt with Officers, &c.

Go thy ways.  I did not think to have shed one tear for thee, but thou hast made me water my plants spite of my heart.  Master Thorney, cheer up, man.  Whilst I can stand by you, you shall not want help to keep you from falling.  We have lost our children both on’s the wrong way, but we cannot help it.  Better or worse, ‘tis now as ‘tis.

I thank you, sir.  You are more kind than I
Have cause to hope or look for.

Master Somerton, is Kate yours or no?

We are agreed.

And but my faith is pass’d
I should fear to be marri’d.  Husbands are
So cruelly unkind.  Excuse me that
I am thus troubled.

Thou shalt have no cause.

Take comfort, Mistress Winnifride.  Sir Arthur,
For his abuse to you, and to your husband,
Is by the bench enjoin’d to pay you down
A thousand marks.

Which I will soon discharge.

Sir, ‘tis too great a sum to be employ’d
Upon my funeral.

Come, come.  If luck had serv’d, Sir Arthur, and every man had his due, somebody might have totter’d ere this, without paying fines.  Like it as you list.  Come to me, Winnifride, shalt be welcome.  Make much of her, Kate, I charge you.  I do not think but she’s a good wench, and hath had wrong as well as we.  So let’s every man home to Edmonton with heavy hearts, yet as merry as we can, though not as we would.

Join, friends, in sorrow.  Make of all the best.
Harms past may be lamented, not redress’d.                                              [Exeunt.

Proceed to the Epilogue


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