Arthurian and Grail Plays
THE BIRTH OF MERLIN
[Enter Clown and his sister.]
CLOWN. Come, sister, thou that art all fool, all mad-woman.
JOAN. Prithee, have patience, we are now at court.
CLOWN. At court! ha, ha, that proves thy madness: was there ever any woman in thy taking travel'd to court for a husband? 'Slid, 'tis enough for them to get children, and the city to keep 'em, and the countrey to finde nurses: every thing must be done in his due place, sister.
JOAN. Be but content a while; for, sure, I know
This journey will be happy. Oh, dear brother,
This night my sweet friend came to comfort me;
I saw him and embrac't him in mine arms.
CLOWN. Why did you not hold him, and call me to help you?
JOAN. Alas, I thought I had been with him still,
But when I wak't--
CLOWN. Ah! pox of all loger-heads, then you were but in a dream all this while, and we may still go look him. Well, since we are come to court, cast your cats eyes about you, and either finde him out you dreamt on, or some other, for Ile trouble my self no further.
[Enter Donobert, Cador, Edwin & Toclio.]
See, see, here comes more courtiers; look about you; come, pray, view 'em all well; the old man has none of the marks about him, the other have both swords and feathers: what thinkest thou of that tall yong gentleman?
JOAN. He much resembles him; but, sure, my friend,
Brother, was not so high of stature.
CLOWN. Oh, beast, wast thou got a childe with a short thing too?
DONOBERT. Come, come, Ile hear no more on't: go, lord Edwin,
Tell her, this day her sister shall be married
To Cador, Earl of Cornwal; so shall she
To thee, brave Edwin, if she'l have my blessing.
EDWIN. She is addicted to a single life,
She will not hear of marriage.
DONOBERT. Tush, fear it not: go you from me to her,
Use your best skill, my lord, and if you fail,
I have a trick shall do it: haste, haste about it.
EDWIN. Sir, I am gone;
My hope is in your help more then my own.
DONOBERT. And worthy Toclio, to your care I must
Commend this business
For lights and musick, and what else is needful.
TOCLIO. I shall, my lord.
CLOWN. We would intreat a word, sir. Come forward, sister. [Exeunt Donobert, Toclio, Cador.]
EDWIN. What lackst thou, fellow?
CLOWN. I lack a father for a childe, sir.
EDWIN. How! a God-father?
CLOWN. No, sir, we mean the own father: it may be you, sir, for any thing we know; I think the childe is like you.
EDWIN. Like me! prithee, where is it?
CLOWN. Nay, 'tis not born yet, sir, 'tis forth coming, you see; the childe must have a father: what do you think of my sister?
EDWIN. Why, I think if she ne're had husband, she's a whore, and thou a fool. Farewell. [Exit.]
CLOWN. I thank you, sir. Well, pull up thy heart, sister; if there be any law i'th' court, this fellow shall father it, 'cause he uses me so scurvily. There's a great wedding towards, they say; we'l amongst them for a husband for thee.
[Enter Sir Nicodemus with a letter.]
If we miss there, Ile have another bout with him that abus'd me. See! look, there comes another hat and feather, this should be a close letcher, he's reading of a love-letter.
SIR NICODEMUS. Earl Cador's marriage, and a masque to grace it.
This night shall make me famous for presentments.--
How now, what are you?
CLOWN. A couple of great Brittains you may see by our bellies, sir.
SIR NICODEMUS. And what of this, sir?
CLOWN. Why, thus the matter stands, sir: there's one of your courtiers hunting nags has made a gap through another mans inclosure. Now, sir, here's the question, who should be at charge of a fur-bush to stop it?
SIR NICODEMUS. Ha, ha, this is out of my element: the law must end it.
CLOWN. Your worship says well; for, surely, I think some lawyer had a hand in the business, we have such a troublesom issue.
SIR NICODEMUS. But what's thy business with me now?
CLOWN. Nay, sir, the business is done already, you may see by my sisters belly.
SIR NICODEMUS. Oh, now I finde thee: this gentlewoman, it seems, has been humbled.
CLOWN. As low as the ground would give her leave, sir, and your worship knows this: though there be many fathers without children, yet to have a childe without a father were most unnatural.
SIR NICODEMUS. That's true, ifaith, I never heard of a childe yet that e're begot his father.
CLOWN. Why, true, you say wisely, sir.
SIR NICODEMUS. And therefore I conclude, that he that got the childe is without all question the father of it.
CLOWN. I, now you come to the matter, sir; and our suit is to your worship for the discovery of this father.
SIR NICODEMUS. Why, lives he in the court here?
JOAN. Yes, sir, and I desire but marriage.
SIR NICODEMUS. And does the knave refuse it? Come, come, be merry, wench; he shall marry thee, and keep the childe too, if my knighthood can do any thing. I am bound by mine orders to help distressed ladies, and can there be a greater injury to a woman with childe, then to lack a father for't? I am asham'd of your simpleness: Come, come, give me a courtiers fee for my pains, and Ile be thy advocate my self, and justice shall be found; nay, Ile sue the law for it; but give me my fee first.
CLOWN. If all the money I have i'th' world will do it, you shall have it, sir.
SIR NICODEMUS. An angel does it.
CLOWN. Nay, there's two, for your better eye sight, sir.
SIR NICODEMUS. Why, well said! Give me thy hand, wench, Ile teach thee a trick for all this, shall get a father for thy childe presently, and this it is, mark now: You meet a man, as you meet me now, thou claimest marriage of me, and layest the childe to my charge; I deny it: push, that's nothing, hold thy claim fast, thy words carries it, and no law can withstand it.
CLOWN. Ist possible?
SIR NICODEMUS. Past all opposition; her own word carries it: let her challenge any man, the childe shall call him father; there's a trick for your money now.
CLOWN. Troth, sir, we thank you, we'l make use of your trick, and go no further to seek the childe a father, for we challenge you, sir: sister, lay it to him, he shall marry thee, I shall have a worshipful old man to my brother.
SIR NICODEMUS. Ha, ha, I like thy pleasantness.
JOAN. Nay, indeed, sir, I do challenge you.
CLOWN. You think we jest, sir?
SIR NICODEMUS. I, by my troth, do I. I like thy wit, yfaith: thou shalt live at court with me; didst never here of Nicodemus Nothing? I am the man.
CLOWN. Nothing? 'slid, we are out agen: thou wast never got with childe with nothing, sure.
JOAN. I know not what to say.
SIR NICODEMUS. Never grieve, wench, show me the man, and process shall fly out.
CLOWN. 'Tis enough for us to finde the children, we look that you should finde the father, and therefore either do us justice, or we'l stand to our first challenge.
SIR NICODEMUS. Would you have justice without an adversary? Unless you can show me the man, I can do you no good in it.
CLOWN. Why, then I hope you'l do us no harm, sir; you'l restore my money.
SIR NICODEMUS. What, my fee? marry, law forbid it!
Finde out the party, and you shall have justice,
Your fault clos'd up, and all shall be amended,
The childe, his father, and the law defended. [Exit.]
CLOWN. Well, he has deserv'd his fee, indeed, for he has brought our suit to a quick end, I promise you, and yet the childe has never a father; nor we have no more mony to seek after him. A shame of all lecherous placcats! now you look like a cat had newly kitten'd; what will you do now, tro? Follow me no further, lest I beat your brains out.
JOAN. Impose upon me any punishment, rather then leave me now.
CLOWN. Well, I think I am bewitcht with thee; I cannot finde in my heart to forsake her. There was never sister would have abus'd a poor brother as thou hast done; I am even pin'd away with fretting, there's nothing but flesh and bones about me. Well, and I had my money agen, it were some comfort. Hark, sister, [thunder] does it not thunder?
JOAN. Oh yes, most fearfully: what shall we do, brother?
CLOWN. Marry, e'ene get some shelter, e're the storm catch us: away, let's away, I prithee.
[Enter the Devil in mans habit, richly attir'd, his feet and his head horrid.]
JOAN. Ha, 'tis he! Stay, brother, dear brother, stay.
CLOWN. What's the matter now?
JOAN. My love, my friend is come; yonder he goes.
CLOWN. Where, where? show me where; I'le stop him, if the devil be not in him.
JOAN. Look there, look yonder!
Oh, dear friend, pity my distress,
For heaven and goodness, do but speak to me.
DEVIL. She calls me, and yet drives me headlong from her.
Poor mortal, thou and I are much uneven,
Thou must not speak of goodness nor of heaven,
If I confer with thee; but be of comfort:
Whilst men do breath, and Brittains name be known,
The fatal fruit thou bear'st within thy womb
Shall here be famous till the day of doom.
CLOWN. 'Slid, who's that talks so? I can see no body.
JOAN. Then art thou blind or mad. See where he goes,
And beckons me to come; oh, lead me forth,
I'le follow thee in spight of fear or death. [Exit.]
CLOWN. Oh brave! she'l run to the devil for a husband; she's stark mad, sure, and talks to a shaddow, for I could see no substance: well, I'le after her; the childe was got by chance, and the father must be found at all adventure. [Exit.]
[Enter Hermit, Modestia, and Edwin.]
MODESTIA. Oh, reverent sir, by you my heart hath reacht
At the large hopes of holy piety,
And for this I craved your company,
Here in your sight religiously to vow
My chaste thoughts up to heaven, and make you now
The witness of my faith.
HERMIT. Angels assist thy hopes.
EDWIN. What meanes my love? thou art my promis'd wife.
MODESTIA. To part with willingly what friends and life
Can make no good assurance of.
EDWIN. Oh, finde remorse, fair soul, to love and merit,
And yet recant thy vow.
This world and I are parted now for ever.
HERMIT. To finde the way to bliss, oh, happy woman,
Th'ast learn'd the hardest lesson well, I see.
Now show thy fortitude and constancy:
Let these thy friends thy sad departure weep,
Thou shalt but loose the wealth thou could'st not keep.
My contemplation calls me, I must leave ye.
EDWIN. O, reverent sir, perswade not her to leave me.
HERMIT. My lord, I do not, nor to cease to love ye;
I onely pray her faith may fixed stand;
Marriage was blest, I know, with heavens own hand. [Exit.]
EDWIN. You hear him, lady, 'tis not a virgins state,
But sanctity of life, must make you happy.
MODESTIA. Good sir, you say you love me; gentle Edwin,
Even by that love I do beseech you, leave me.
EDWIN. Think of your fathers tears, your weeping friends,
Whom cruel grief makes pale and bloodless for you.
MODESTIA. Would I were dead to all.
EDWIN. Why do you weep?
MODESTIA. Oh, who would live to see
How men with care and cost seek misery?
EDWIN. Why do you seek it then? What joy, what pleasure
Can give you comfort in a single life?
MODESTIA. The contemplation of a happy death,
Which is to me so pleasing that I think
No torture could divert me: What's this world,
Wherein you'd have me walk, but a sad passage
To a dread judgement-seat, from whence even now
We are but bail'd, upon our good abearing,
Till that great sessions come, when Death, the cryer,
Will surely summon us and all to appear,
To plead us guilty or our bail to clear?
What musick's this? [Soft musick.]
[Enter two Bishops, Donobert, Gloster, Cador, Constancia, Oswold, Toclio.]
EDWIN. Oh, now resolve, and think upon my love!
This sounds the marriage of your beauteous sister,
Vertuous Constancia, with the noble Cador.
Look, and behold this pleasure.
MODESTIA. Cover me with night,
It is a vanity not worth the sight.
DONOBERT. See, see, she's yonder.
Pass on, son Cador, daughter Constancia,
I beseech you all, unless she first move speech,
Salute her not.--Edwin, what good success?
EDWIN. Nothing as yet, unless this object take her.
DONOBERT. See, see, her eye is fixt upon her sister;
Seem careless all, and take no notice of her:--
On afore there; come, my Constancia.
MODESTIA. Not speak to me, nor dain to cast an eye,
To look on my despised poverty?
I must be more charitable;--pray, stay, lady,
Are not you she whom I did once call sister?
CONSTANCIA. I did acknowledge such a name to one,
Whilst she was worthy of it, in whose folly,
Since you neglect your fame and friends together,
In you I drown'd a sisters name for ever.
MODESTIA. Your looks did speak no less.
GLOSTER. It now begins to work, this sight has moved her.
DONOBERT. I knew this trick would take, or nothing.
MODESTIA. Though you disdain in me a sisters name,
Yet charity, me thinks, should be so strong
To instruct e're you reject. I am a wretch.
Even follies instance, who perhaps have er'd,
Not having known the goodness bears so high
And fair a show in you; which being exprest,
I may recant this low despised life,
And please those friends whom I mov'd to grief.
CADOR. She is coming, yfaith; be merry, Edwin.
CONSTANCIA. Since you desire instruction, you shall have it.
What ist should make you thus desire to live
Vow'd to a single life?
MODESTIA. Because I know I cannot flie from death.
Oh, my good sister, I beseech you, hear me:
This world is but a masque, catching weak eyes
With what is not our selves but our disguise,
A vizard that falls off, the dance being done,
And leaves Deaths glass for all to look upon;
Our best happiness here lasts but a night,
Whose burning tapers makes false ware seem right.
Who knows not this, and will not now provide
Some better shift before his shame be spy'd,
And knowing this vain world at last will leave him,
Shake off these robes that help but to deceive him?
CONSTANCIA. Her words are powerful, I am amaz'd to hear her!
DONOBERT. Her soul's inchanted with infected spells.
Leave her, best girl; for now in thee
Ile seek the fruits of age, posterity.--
Out o' my sight! sure, I was half asleep
Or drunk, when I begot thee.
CONSTANCIA. Good sir, forbear. What say you to that, sister?
The joy of children, a blest mothers name!
Oh, who without much grief can loose such fame?
MODESTIA. Who can enjoy it without sorrow rather?
And that most certain where the joy's unsure,
Seeing the fruit that we beget endure
So many miseries, that oft we pray
The heavens to shut up their afflicted day;
At best we do but bring forth heirs to die,
And fill the coffins of our enemy.
CONSTANCIA. Oh, my soul!
DONOBERT. Hear her no more, Constancia,
She's sure bewitcht with error; leave her, girl.
CONSTANCIA. Then must I leave all goodness, sir: away,
Stand off, I say.
DONOBERT. How's this?
CONSTANCIA. I have no father, friend, no husband now;
All are but borrowed robes, in which we masque
To waste and spend the time, when all our life
Is but one good betwixt two ague-days,
Which from the first e're we have time to praise,
A second fever takes us: Oh, my best sister,
My souls eternal friend, forgive the rashness
Of my distemper'd tongue; for how could she,
Knew not her self, know thy felicity,
From which worlds cannot now remove me?
DONOBERT. Art thou mad too, fond woman? what's thy meaning?
CONSTANCIA. To seek eternal happiness in heaven,
Which all this world affords not.
CADOR. Think of thy vow, thou art my promis'd wife.
CONSTANCIA. Pray, trouble me no further.
OMNES. Strange alteration!
CADOR. Why do you stand at gaze, you sacred priests?
You holy men, be equal to the gods,
And consummate my marriage with this woman.
BISHOP. Her self gives barr, my lord, to your desires
And our performance; 'tis against the law
And orders of the Church to force a marriage.
CADOR. How am I wrong'd! Was this your trick, my lord?
DONOBERT. I am abus'd past sufferance;
Grief and amazement strive which sense of mine
Shall loose her being first. Yet let me call thee daughter.
CADOR. Me, wife.
CONSTANCIA. Your words are air, you speak of want to wealth,
And wish her sickness, newly rais'd to health.
DONOBERT. Bewitched girls, tempt not an old mans fury,
That hath no strength to uphold his feeble age,
But what your sights give life to: oh, beware,
And do not make me curse you.
[Kneel.] MODESTIA. Dear father,
Here at your feet we kneel, grant us but this,
That, in your sight and hearing, the good hermit
May plead our cause; which, if it shall not give
Such satisfaction as your age desires,
We will submit to you.
CONSTANCIA. You gave us life;
Save not our bodies, but our souls, from death.
DONOBERT. This gives some comfort yet: Rise with my blessings.--
Have patience, noble Cador, worthy Edwin;
Send for the hermit that we may confer.
For, sure, religion tyes you not to leave
Your careful father thus; if so it be,
Take you content, and give all grief to me. [Exeunt.]
[Thunder and lightning; enter Devil.]
DEVIL. Mix light and darkness; earth and heaven dissolve,
Be of one piece agen, and turn to Chaos;
Break all your works, you powers, and spoil the world,
Or, if you will maintain earth still, give way
And life to this abortive birth now coming,
Whose fame shall add unto your oracles.
Lucina Hecate, dreadful Queen of Night,
Bright Proserpine, be pleas'd for Ceres love,
From Stigian darkness summon up the Fates,
And in a moment bring them quickly hither,
Lest death do vent her birth and her together. [Thunder.]
Assist, you spirits of infernal deeps,
Squint ey'd Erictho, midnight incubus,
Rise, rise to aid this birth prodigious.
[Enter Lucina and the three Fates.]
Thanks, Hecate; hail, sister to the gods!
There lies your way, haste with the Fates, and help,
Give quick dispatch unto her laboring throws,
To bring this mixture of infernal seed
To humane being; [Exit Fates.
And to beguil her pains, till back you come,
Anticks shall dance and musick fill the room.-- [Dance.]
DEVIL. Thanks, Queen of Shades.
LUCINA. Farewel, great servant to th'infernal king.
In honor of this childe, the Fates shall bring
All their assisting powers of knowledge, arts,
Learning, wisdom, all the hidden parts
Of all-admiring prophecy, to fore-see
The event of times to come: his art shall stand
A wall of brass to guard the Brittain land.
Even from this minute, all his arts appears
Manlike in judgement, person, state, and years.
Upon his brest the Fates have fixt his name,
And since his birth place was this forrest here,
They now have nam'd him Merlin Silvester.
DEVIL. And Merlins name in Brittany shall live,
Whilst men inhabit here or Fates can give
Power to amazing wonder; envy shall weep,
And mischief sit and shake her ebbone wings,
Whilst all the world of Merlins magick sings. [Exit.]
CLOWN. Well, I wonder how my poor sister does, after all this thundering; I think she's dead, for I can hear no tidings of her. Those woods yields small comfort for her; I could meet nothing but a swinherds wife, keeping hogs by the forestside, but neither she nor none of her sowes would stir a foot to help us; indeed, I think she durst not trust her self amongst the trees with me, for I must needs confess I offer'd some kindness to her. Well, I would fain know what's become of my sister: if she have brought me a yong cousin, his face may be a picture to finde his father by. So oh! sister Joan, Joan Go-too't, where art thou?
[Within.] JOAN. Here, here, brother, stay but a while, I come to thee.
CLOWN. O brave! she's alive still, I know her voice; she speaks, and speaks cherfully, methinks. How now, what moon-calf has she got with her?
[Enter Joan and Merlin with a book.]
JOAN. Come, my dear Merlin, why dost thou fix thine eye
So deeply on that book?
MERLIN. To sound the depth
Of arts, of learning, wisdom, knowledge.
JOAN. Oh, my dear, dear son,
Those studies fits thee when thou art a man.
MERLIN. Why, mother, I can be but half a man at best,
And that is your mortality; the rest
In me is spirit; 'tis not meat, nor time,
That gives this growth and bigness; no, my years
Shall be more strange then yet my birth appears.
Look, mother, there's my uncle.
JOAN. How doest thou know him, son? thou never saw'st him.
MERLIN. Yet I know him, and know the pains he has taken for ye, to finde out my father.--Give me your hand, good uncle.
CLOWN. Ha, ha, I'de laugh at that, yfaith. Do you know me, sir?
MERLIN. Yes, by the same token that even now you kist the swinherds-wife i'th' woods, and would have done more, if she would have let you, uncle.
CLOWN. A witch, a witch, a witch, sister: rid him out of your company, he is either a witch or a conjurer; he could never have known this else.
JOAN. Pray, love him, brother, he is my son.
CLOWN. Ha, ha, this is worse then all the rest, yfaith; by his beard he is more like your husband. Let me see, is your great belly gone?
JOAN. Yes, and this the happy fruit.
CLOWN. What, this hartichoke? A childe born with a beard on his face?
MERLIN. Yes, and strong legs to go, and teeth to eat.
CLOWN. You can nurse up your self, then? There's some charges sav'd for soap and caudle. 'Slid, I have heard of some that has been born with teeth, but never none with such a talking tongue before.
JOAN. Come, come, you must use him kindly, brother;
Did you but know his worth, you would make much of him.
CLOWN. Make much of a moncky? This is worse then Tom Thumb, that let a fart in his mothers belly; a childe to speak, eat, and go the first hour of his birth; nay, such a baby as had need of a barber before he was born too; why, sister, this is monstrous, and shames all our kindred.
JOAN. That thus 'gainst nature and our common births
He comes thus furnisht to salute the world,
Is power of Fates, and gift of his great father.
CLOWN. Why, of what profession is your father, sir?
MERLIN. He keeps a hot-house i'th' Low Countries; will you see him, sir?
CLOWN. See him? why, sister, has the childe found his father?
MERLIN. Yes, and Ile fetch him, uncle. [Exit.]
CLOWN. Do not uncle me, till I know your kindred: for my conscience, some baboon begot thee.--Surely, thou art horribly deceived, sister, this urchin cannot be of thy breeding; I shall be asham'd to call him cousin, though his father be a gentleman.
[Enter Merlin and Devil.]
MERLIN. Now, my kinde uncle, see: the childe has found his father, this is he.
CLOWN. The devil it is; ha, ha, is this your sweet-heart, sister? have we run through the countrey, haunted the city, and examin'd the court to finde out a gallant with a hat and feather, and a silken sword, and golden hangers, and do you now bring me to a ragamuffin with a face like a frying-pan?
JOAN. Fie, brother, you mistake, behold him better.
CLOWN. How's this? do you juggle with me, or are mine eyes matches? Hat and feather, sword, and hangers, and all! this is a gallant indeed, sister; this has all the marks of him we look for.
DEVIL. And you have found him now, sir:
Give me your hand, I now must call you brother.
CLOWN. Not till you have married my sister, for all this while she's but your whore, sir.
DEVIL. Thou art too plain, Ile satisfie that wrong
To her, and thee, and all, with liberal hand:
Come, why art thou fearful?
CLOWN. Nay, I am not afraid, and you were the devil, sir.
DEVIL. Thou needst not; keep with thy sister still,
And Ile supply your wants, you shall lack nothing
That gold and wealth can purchase.
CLOWN. Thank you, brother: we have gone many a weary step to finde you; you may be a husband for a lady, for you are far fetcht and dear bought, I assure you. Pray, how should I call your son, my cousin here?
DEVIL. His name is Merlin.
CLOWN. Merlin? Your hand, cousin Merlin; for your fathers sake I accept you to my kindred: if you grow in all things as your beard does, you will be talkt on. By your mothers side, cousin, you come of the Go-too'ts, Suffolk bred, but our standing house is at Hocklye i'th' Hole, and Layton-buzzard. For your father, no doubt you may from him claim titles of worship, but I cannot describe it; I think his ancestors came first from Hell-bree in Wales, cousin.
DEVIL. No matter whence we do derive our name:
All Brittany shall ring of Merlin's fame,
And wonder at his acts. Go hence to Wales,
There live a while; there Vortiger the king
Builds castles and strong holds, which cannot stand,
Unless supported by yong Merlins hand.
There shall thy fame begin: wars are a breeding;
The Saxons practise treason, yet unseen,
Which shortly shall break out.--Fair love, farewel;
Dear son and brother, here must I leave you all,
Yet still I will be near at Merlins call. [Exit.]
MERLIN. Will you go, uncle?
CLOWN. Yes, Ile follow you, cousin.-- Well, I do most horribly begin to suspect my kindred; this brother in law of mine is the devil, sure, and though he hide his horns with his hat and feather, I spi'd his cloven foot for all his cunning. [Exit.]
[Enter Ostorius, Octa, and Proximus.]
OSTORIUS. Come, come, time calls our close complots to action.
Go, Proximus, with winged speed flie hence,
Hye thee to Wales: salute great Vortiger
With these our letters; bid the king to arms,
tell him we have new friends, more forces landed
In Norfolk and Northumberland; bid him
Make haste to meet us; if he keep his word,
Wee'l part the realm between us.
OCTA. Bend all thine art to quit that late disgrace
The Christian hermit gave thee; make thy revenge
Both sure and home.
PROXIMUS. That thought, sir, spurs me on,
Till I have wrought their swift destruction. [Exit.]
OSTORIUS. Go, then, and prosper. Octa, be vigilant:
Speak, are the forts possest? the guards made sure?
Revolve, I pray, on how large consequence
The bare event and sequel of our hopes
Joyntly consists, that have embark't our lives
Upon the hazzard of the least miscarriage.
OCTA. All's sure: the queen your sister hath contrived
The cunning plot so sure, as at an instant
The brothers shall be both surpriz'd and taken.
OSTORIUS. And both shall die; yet one a while must live,
Till we by him have gather'd strength and power
To meet bold Edol, their stern general,
That now, contrary to the kings command,
Hath re-united all his cashier'd troops,
And this way beats his drums to threaten us.
OCTA. Then our plot's discover'd.
OSTORIUS. Come, th'art a fool, his army and his life
Is given unto us: where is the queen my sister?
OCTA. In conference with the prince.
OSTORIUS. Bring the guards nearer, all is fair and good;
Their conference, I hope, shall end in blood. [Exeunt.]
[Enter Prince and Artesia.]
ARTESIA. Come, come, you do but flatter;
What you term love is but a dream of blood,
Wakes with enjoying, and with open eyes
Forgot, contemn'd, and lost.
PRINCE. I must be wary, her words are dangerous.--
True, we'l speak of love no more, then.
ARTESIA. Nay, if you will, you may;
'Tis but in jest, and yet so children play
With fiery flames, and covet what is bright,
But, feeling his effects, abhor the light.
Pleasure is like a building, the more high,
The narrower still it grows; cedars do dye
Soonest at top.
PRINCE. How does your instance suit?
ARTESIA. From art and nature to make sure the root,
And lay a fast foundation, e're I try
The incertain changes of a wavering skie.
Make your example thus.--You have a kiss,--
Was it not pleasing?
PRINCE. Above all name to express it.
ARTESIA. Yet now the pleasure's gone,
And you have lost your joys possession.
PRINCE. Yet when you please, this flood may ebb again.
ARTESIA. But where it never ebbs, there runs the main.
PRINCE. Who can attain such hopes?
ARTESIA. Ile show the way to it, give you
A taste once more of what you may enjoy. [Kiss.]
PRINCE. Impudent whore!--
I were more false than atheism can be,
Should I not call this high felicity.
ARTESIA. If I should trust your faith, alas, I fear,
You soon would change belief.
PRINCE. I would covet martyrdom to make't confirm'd.
ARTESIA. Give me your hand on that you'l keep your word?
PRINCE. I will.
ARTESIA. Enough: Help, husband, king Aurelius, help!
Rescue betraid Artesia!
PRINCE. Nay, then 'tis I that am betraid, I see;
Yet with thy blood Ile end thy treachery.
ARTESIA. How now! what troubles you? Is this you, sir,
That but even now would suffer martyrdom
To win your hopes, and is there now such terror
In names of men to fright you? nay, then I see
What mettle you are made on.
PRINCE. Ha! was it but tryal? then I ask your pardon:
What a dull slave was I to be so fearful!--
Ile trust her now no more, yet try the utmost.--
I am resolved, no brother, no man breathing,
Were he my bloods begetter, should withhold
Me from your love; I'd leap into his bosom,
And from his brest pull forth that happiness
Heaven had reserved in you for my enjoying.
ARTESIA. I, now you speak a lover like a prince!--
ARTESIA. Help, Saxon princes: treason!
[Enter Ostorius, Octa, etc.]
OSTORIUS. Rescue the queen: strike down the villain.
[Enter Edol, Aurelius, Donobert, Cador, Edwin, Toclio, Oswold, at the other door.]
EDOL. Call in the guards: the prince in danger!
Fall back, dear sir, my brest shall buckler you.
AURELIUS. Beat down their weapons!
EDOL. Slave, wert thou made of brass, my sword shall bite thee.
AURELIUS. Withdraw, on pain of death: where is the traitor?
ARTESIA. Oh, save your life, my lord; let it suffice,
My beauty forc't mine own captivity.
AURELIUS. Who did attempt to wrong thee?
PRINCE. Hear me, sir.
AURELIUS. Oh, my sad soul! was't thou?
ARTESIA. Oh, do not stand to speak; one minutes stay
Prevents a second speech for ever.
AURELIUS. Make our guards strong:
My dear Artesia, let us know thy wrongs
And our own dangers.
ARTESIA. The prince your brother, with these Brittain lords,
Have all agreed to take me hence by force
And marry me to him.
PRINCE. The devil shall wed thee first:
Thy baseness and thy lust confound and rot thee!
ARTESIA. He courted me even now, and in mine ear
Sham'd not to plead his most dishonest love,
And their attempts to seize your sacred person,
Either to shut you up within some prison,
Or, which is worse, I fear, to murther you.
OMNES BRITTAINS. 'Tis all as false as hell.
EDOL. And as foul as she is.
ARTESIA. You know me, sir?
EDOL. Yes, deadly sin, we know you,
And shall discover all your villany.
AURELIUS. Chester, forbear!
OSTORIUS. Their treasons, sir, are plain:
Why are their souldiers lodg'd so near the court?
OCTA. Nay, why came he in arms so suddenly?
EDOL. You fleering anticks, do not wake my fury.
EDOL. Ratsbane, do not urge me.
ARTESIA. Good sir, keep farther from them.
PRINCE. Oh, my sick heart!
She is a witch by nature, devil by art.
AURELIUS. Bite thine own slanderous tongue; 'tis thou art false.
I have observ'd your passions long ere this.
OSTORIUS. Stand on your guard, my lord, we are your friends,
And all our force is yours.
EDOL. To spoil and rob the kingdom.
AURELIUS. Sir, be silent.
EDOL. Silent! how long? till Doomsday? shall I stand by,
And hear mine honor blasted with foul treason,
The state half lost, and your life endanger'd,
Yet be silent?
ARTESIA. Yes, my blunt lord, unless you speak your treasons.
Sir, let your guards, as traitors, seize them all,
And then let tortures and devulsive racks
Force a confession from them.
EDOL. Wilde-fire and brimstone eat thee! Hear me, sir.
AURELIUS. Sir, Ile not hear you.
EDOL. But you shall. Not hear me!
Were the worlds monarch, Cesar, living, he
Should hear me.
I tell you, sir, these serpents have betraid
Your life and kingdom: does not every day
Bring tidings of more swarms of lowsie slaves,
The offal fugitives of barren Germany,
That land upon our coasts, and by our neglect
Settle in Norfolk and Northumberland?
OSTORIUS. They come as aids and safeguards to the king.
OCTA. Has he not need, when Vortiger's in arms,
And you raise powers, 'tis thought, to joyn with him?
EDOL. Peace, you pernicious rat.
DONOBERT. Prithee, forbear.
EDOL. Away! suffer a gilded rascal,
A low-bred despicable creeper, an insulting toad,
To spit his poison'd venome in my face!
OCTA. Sir, sir!
EDOL. Do not reply, you cur; for, by the gods,
Tho' the kings presence guard thee, I shall break all patience,
And, like a lion rous'd to spoil, shall run
Foul-mouth'd upon thee, and devour thee quick.--
Speak, sir: will you forsake these scorpions,
Or stay till they have stung you to the heart?
AURELIUS. Y'are traitors all. This is our wife, our queen:
Brother Ostorius, troop your Saxons up,
We'l hence to Winchester, raise more powers,
To man with strength the Castle Camilot.--
Go hence, false men, joyn you with Vortiger,
The murderer of our brother Constantine:
We'l hunt both him and you with dreadful vengance.
Since Brittain fails, we'l trust to forrain friends,
And guard our person from your traitorous ends. [Exeunt Aurelius, Ostorius, Octa, Artesia, Toclio, Oswald.]
EDWIN. He's sure bewitcht.
GLOSTER. What counsel now for safety?
DONOBERT. Onely this, sir: with all the speed we can,
Preserve the person of the king and kingdom.
CADOR. Which to effect, 'tis best march hence to Wales,
And set on Vortiger before he joyn
His forces with the Saxons.
EDWIN. On, then, with speed for Wales and Vortiger!
That tempest once o'reblown, we come, Ostorius,
To meet thy traiterous Saxons, thee and them,
That with advantage thus have won the king,
To back your factions and to work our ruines.
This, by the gods and my good sword, I'le set
In bloody lines upon thy burgonet. [Exeunt.]