The Works of John Dryden, Vol. II
Edited by Walter Scott
Part 8 out of 10
_Alm_. She'll have too great content to find him true;
And therefore, since his love is not for me,
I'll help to make my rival's misery. [_Aside_.
Spaniard, I never thought you false before:
Can you at once two mistresses adore?
Keep the poor soul no longer in suspence,
Your change is such as does not need defence.
_Cort_. Riddles like these I cannot understand.
_Alm_. Why should you blush? she saw you kiss my hand.
_Cyd_. Fear not; I will, while your first love's denied,
Favour your shame, and turn my eyes aside;
My feeble hopes in her deserts are lost:
I neither can such power nor beauty boast:
I have no tie upon you to be true,
But that, which loosened yours, my love to you.
_Cort_. Could you have heard my words!
_Cyd_.--Alas, what needs
To hear your words, when I beheld your deeds?
_Cort_. What shall I say? the fate of love is such,
That still it sees too little or too much.
That act of mine, which does your passion move,
Was but a mark of my respect, not love.
_Alm_. Vex not yourself excuses to prepare:
For one, you love not, is not worth your care.
_Cort_. Cruel Almeria, take that life you gave;
Since you but worse destroy me, while you save.
_Cyd_. No, let me die, and I'll my claim resign;
For while I live, methinks, you should be mine.
_Cort_. The bloodiest vengeance, which she could pursue,
Would be a trifle to my loss of you.
_Cyd_. Your change was wise: for, had she been denied,
A swift revenge had followed from her pride:
You from my gentle nature had no fears,
All my revenge is only in my tears.
_Cort_. Can you imagine I so mean could prove,
To save my life by changing of my love?
_Cyd_. Since death is that which naturally we shun,
You did no more than I, perhaps, had done.
_Cort_. Make me not doubt, fair soul, your constancy;
You would have died for love, and so would I.
_Alm_. You may believe him; you have seen it proved.
_Cort_. Can I not gain belief how I have loved?
What can thy ends, malicious beauty, be:
Can he, who kill'd thy brother, live for thee?
[_A noise of clashing of swords_.
[VASQUEZ _within, Indians against him_.
_Vasq_. Yield, slaves, or die; our swords shall force our way.
_Ind_. We cannot, though o'er-powered, our trust betray.
_Cort_. 'Tis Vasquez's voice, he brings me liberty.
_Vasq_. In spite of fate I'll set my general free;
Now victory for us, the town's our own.
_Alm_. All hopes of safety and of love are gone:
As when some dreadful thunder-clap is nigh,
The winged fire shoots swiftly through the sky,
Strikes and consumes, ere scarce it does appear,
And by the sudden ill prevents the fear:
Such is my state in this amazing woe,
It leaves no power to think, much less to do.
--But shall my rival live, shall she enjoy
That love in peace, I laboured to destroy? [_Aside_.
_Cort_. Her looks grow black as a tempestuous wind;
Some raging thoughts are rolling in her mind.
_Alm_. Rival, I must your jealousy remove,
You shall, hereafter, be at rest for love.
_Cyd_. Now you are kind.
_Alm_.--He whom you love is true:
But he shall never be possest by you.
[_Draws her dagger, and runs towards her_.
_Cort_. Hold, hold, ah barbarous woman! fly, oh fly!
_Cyd_. Ah pity, pity, is no succour nigh!
_Cort_. Run, run behind me, there you may be sure,
While I have life, I will your life secure.
[CYDARIA _gets behind him_.
_Alm_. On him, or thee,--light vengeance any where
[_She stabs and hurts him_.
--What have I done? I see his blood appear!
_Cyd_. It streams, it streams from every vital part:
Was there no way but this to find his heart?
_Alm_. Ah! cursed woman, what was my design!
This weapon's point shall mix that blood with mine!
[_Goes to stab herself, and being within his reach
he snatches the dagger_.
_Cort_. Now neither life nor death are in your
_Alm_. Then sullenly I'll wait my fatal hour.
_Enter_ VASQUEZ _and_ PIZARRO, _with drawn swords_.
_Vasq_. He lives, he lives.
_Cort_.--Unfetter me with speed;
Vasquez, I see you troubled that I bleed:
But 'tis not deep, our army I can head.
_Vasq_. You to a certain victory are led;
Your men, all armed, stand silently within:
I with your freedom did the work begin.
_Piz_. What friends we have, and how we came so strong,
We'll softly tell you as we march along.
_Cort_. In this safe place let me secure your fear:
No clashing swords, no noise can enter here.
Amidst our arms as quiet you shall be,
As Halcyons brooding on a winter sea.
_Cyd_. Leave me not here alone, and full of fright,
Amidst the terrors of a dreadful night:
You judge, alas, my courage by your own;
I never durst in darkness be alone:
I beg, I throw me humbly at your feet.
_Cort_. You must not go where you may dangers meet.
The unruly sword will no destinction make;
And beauty will not there give wounds, but take.
_Alm_. Then stay and take me with you; tho' to be
A slave to wait upon your victory.
My heart unmoved can noise and horror bear:
Parting from you is all the death I fear.
_Cort_. Almeria, 'tis enough I leave you free:
You neither must stay here, nor go with me.
_Aim_. Then take my life, that will my rest restore:
'Tis all I ask, for saving yours before.
_Cort_. That were a barbarous return of love.
_Alm_. Yet, leaving it, you more inhuman prove.
In both extremes I some relief should find;
Oh! either hate me more, or be more kind.
_Cort_. Life of my soul, do not my absence mourn:
But chear your heart in hopes of my return.
Your noble father's life shall be my care;
And both your brothers I'm obliged to spare.
_Cyd_. Fate makes you deaf, while I in vain implore;--
My heart forebodes, I ne'er shall see you more:
I have but one request,--when I am dead,
Let not my rival to your love succeed.
_Cort_. Fate will be kinder than your fears foretell;
Farewell, my dear.
_Cyd_.--A long and last farewell:
--So eager to employ the cruel sword?
Can you not one, not one last look afford!
_Cort_. I melt to womanish tears, and if I stay,
I find my love, my courage will betray;
Yon tower will keep you safe, but be so kind
To your own life, that none may entrance find.
_Cyd_. Then lead me there.--[_He leads her_.
For this one minute of your company,
I go, methinks, with some content to die.
[_Exeunt_ CORTEZ, VASQUEZ, PIZARRO, _and_ CYDARIA.
_Alm_. Farewell, O too much lov'd, since lov'd in vain!
What dismal fortune does for me remain!
Night and despair my fatal footsteps guide;
That chance may give the death which he denied.
CORTEZ, VASQUEZ, PIZARRO, _and_ SPANIARDS _return again_.
_Cort_. All I hold dear I trust to your defence;
Guard her, and on your life, remove not hence.
[_Exeunt_ CORTEZ _and_ VASQUEZ.
_Piz_. I'll venture that.--
The Gods are good; I'll leave her to their care,
Steal from my post, and in the plunder share.
SCENE I.--_A chamber royal, an Indian hammock discovered in it_.
_Enter_ ODMAR _with soldiers_, GUYOMAR, _and_ ALIBECH
_Odm_. Fate is more just than you to my desert,
And in this act you blame, heaven takes my part.
_Guy_. Can there be gods, and no revenge provide?
_Odm_. The gods are ever of the conquering side:
She's now my queen; the Spaniards have agreed,
I to my father's empire shall succeed.
_Alib_. How much I crowns contemn, I let thee see,
Chusing the younger, and refusing thee.
_Guy_. Were she ambitious, she'd disdain to own
The pageant pomp of such a servile throne;
A throne, which thou by parricide dost gain,
And by a base submission must retain.
_Alib_. I loved thee not before; but, Odmar, know,
That now I hate thee, and despise thee too.
_Odm_. With too much violence you crimes pursue,
Which if I acted, 'twas for love of you.
This, if it teach not love, may teach you fear:
I brought not sin so far, to stop it here.
Death in a lover's mouth would sound but ill:
But know, I either must enjoy, or kill.
_Alib_. Bestow, base man, thy idle threats elsewhere,
My mother's daughter knows not how to fear.
Since, Guyomar, I must not be thy bride,
Death shall enjoy what is to thee denied.
_Odm_. Then take thy wish--
_Guy_. Hold, Odmar, hold:
My right in Alibech I will resign;
Rather than see her die, I'll see her thine.
_Alib_. In vain thou wouldst resign, for I will be,
Even when thou leav'st me, constant still to thee:
That shall not save my life: Wilt thou appear
Fearful for her, who for herself wants fear?
_Odm_. Her love to him shows me a surer way:
I by her love her virtue must betray.--[_Aside_.
Since, Alibech, you are so true a wife, [_To her_.
'Tis in your power to save your husband's life:
The gods, by me, your love and virtue try;
For both will suffer, if you let him die.
_Alib_. I never can believe you will proceed
To such a black, and execrable deed.
_Odm_. I only threatened you; but could not prove
So much a fool, to murder what I love:
But in his death I some advantage see:
Worse than it is I'm sure it cannot be.
If you consent, you with that gentle breath
Preserve his life: If not, behold his death.
[_Holds his sword to his breast_.
_Alib_. What shall I do!
_Guy_. What, are your thoughts at strife
About a ransom to preserve my life?
Though to save yours I did my interest give,
Think not, when you were his, I meant to live.
_Alib_. O let him be preserved by any way:
But name not the foul price which I must pay.
_Odm_. You would, and would not,--I'll no longer stay.
[_Offers again to kill him_.
_Alib_. I yield, I yield; but yet, ere I am ill,
An innocent desire I would fulfil:
With Guyomar I one chaste kiss would leave,
The first and last he ever can receive.
_Odm_. Have what you ask: That minute you agree
To my desires, your husband shall be free.
[_They unbind her, she goes to her husband_.
_Guy_. No, Alibech, we never must embrace.
[_He turns from her_.
Your guilty kindness why do you misplace?
'Tis meant to him, he is your private choice;
I was made yours but by the public voice.
And now you leave me with a poor pretence,
That your ill act is for my life's defence.
_Alib_. Since there remains no other means to try,
Think I am false; I cannot see you die.
_Guy_. To give for me both life and honour too,
Is more, perhaps, than I could give for you.
You have done much to cure my jealousy,
But cannot perfect it unless both die!
For since both cannot live, who stays behind
Must be thought fearful, or, what's worse, unkind.
_Alib_. I never could propose that death you chuse;
But am, like you, too jealous to refuse.
Together dying, we together show
That both did pay that faith, which both did owe.
_Odm_. It then remains I act my own design:
Have you your wills, but I will first have mine.
Assist me, soldiers--
[_They go to bind her: She cries out_.
_Enter_ VASQUEZ, _and two Spaniards_.
_Vasq_. Hold, Odmar, hold! I come in happy time
To hinder my misfortune, and your crime.
_Odm_. You ill return the kindness I have shown.
_Vasq_. Indian, I say, desist.
_Odm_. Spaniard, be gone.
_Vasq_. This lady I did for myself design:
Dare you attempt her honour, who is mine?
_Odm_. You're much mistaken; this is she, whom I
Did with my father's loss, and country's buy:
She, whom your promise did to me convey,
When all things else were made your common prey.
_Vasq_. That promise made, excepted one for me;
One whom I still reserved, and this is she.
_Odm_. This is not she; you cannot be so base.
_Vasq_. I love too deeply to mistake the face:
The vanquished must receive the victor's laws.
_Odm_. If I am vanquished, I myself am cause.
_Vasq_. Then thank yourself for what you undergo.
_Odm_. Thus lawless might does justice overthrow.
_Vasq_. Traitors, like you, should never justice name.
_Odm_. You owe your triumphs to that traitor's shame.
But to your general I'll my right refer.
_Vasq_. He never will protect a ravisher:
His generous heart will soon decide our strife;
He to your brother will restore his wife.
It rests we two our claim in combat try,
And that with this fair prize the victor fly.
_Odm_. Make haste,
I cannot suffer to be long perplext;
Conquest is my first wish, and death my next.
[_They fight, the Spaniards and Indians fight_.
_Alib_. The gods the wicked by themselves o'erthrow:
All fight against us now, and for us too!
[_Unbinds her husband_.
[_The two Spaniards and three Indians kill each
other,_ VASQUEZ _kills_ ODMAR, GUYOMAR _runs
to his brothers sword_.
_Vasq_. Now you are mine; my greatest foe is slain.
_Guy_. A greater still to vanquish does remain.
_Vasq_. Another yet!
The wounds, I make, but sow new enemies,
Which from their blood, like earth-born brethren, rise.
_Guy_. Spaniard, take breath: Some respite I'll afford,
My cause is more advantage than your sword.
_Vasq_. Thou art so brave--could it with honour be,
I'd seek thy friendship more than victory.
_Guy_. Friendship with him, whose hand did Odmar kill!
Base as he was, he was my brother still:
And since his blood has washed away his guilt.
Nature asks thine for that which thou hast spilt.
[_They fight a little and breathe_, ALIBECH _takes
up a sword and comes on_.
_Alib_. My weakness may help something in the strife.
_Guy_. Kill not my honour to preserve my life:
Rather than by thy aid I'll conquest gain,
Without defence I poorly will be slain.
[_She goes back, they fight again_, VASQUEZ _falls_.
_Guy_. Now, Spaniard, beg thy life, and thou shalt live.
_Vasq_. 'Twere vain to ask thee what thou canst not give;
My breath goes out, and I am now no more;
Yet her, I loved, in death I will adore. [_Dies_.
_Guy_. Come, Alibech, let us from hence remove.
This is a night of horror, not of love.
From every part I hear a dreadful noise,
The vanquished crying, and the victor's joys.
I'll to my father's aid and country's fly,
And succour both, or in their ruin die. [_Exeunt_.
SCENE II.--_A Prison_.
MONTEZUMA, _Indian High Priest, bound_; PIZARRO, _Spaniards
with swords drawn, a Christian Priest_.
_Piz_. Thou hast not yet discovered all thy store.
_Mont_. I neither can nor will discover more;
The gods will punish you, if they be just;
The gods will plague your sacrilegious lust.
_Chr. Priest_. Mark how this impious heathen justifies
His own false gods, and our true God denies:
How wickedly he has refused his wealth,
And hid his gold, from christian hands, by stealth:
Down with him, kill him, merit heaven thereby.
_Ind. High Pr_. Can heaven be author of such cruelty?
_Piz_. Since neither threats nor kindness will prevail,
We must by other means your minds assail;
Fasten the engines; stretch 'em at their length,
And pull the straitened cords with all your strength.
[_They fasten them to the rack, and then pull them_.
_Mont_. The gods, who made me once a king, shall know,
I still am worthy to continue so:
Though now the subject of your tyranny,
I'll plague you worse than you can punish me.
Know, I have gold, which you shall never find;
No pains, no tortures, shall unlock my mind.
_Chr. Pr_. Pull harder yet; he does not feel the rack.
_Mont_. Pull 'till my veins break, and my sinews crack.
_Ind. High Pr_. When will you end your barbarous cruelty?
I beg not to escape, I beg to die.
_Mont_. Shame on thy priesthood, that such prayers can bring!
Is it not brave, to suffer with thy king?
When monarchs suffer, gods themselves bear part;
Then well mayest thou, who but my vassal art:
I charge thee, dare not groan, nor shew one sign;
Thou at thy torments dost the least repine.
_Ind. High Pr_. You took an oath, when you received the crown,
The heavens should pour their usual blessings down;
The sun should shine, the earth its fruits produce,
And nought be wanting to your subjects' use:
Yet we with famine were opprest, and now
Must to the yoke of cruel masters bow.
_Mont_. If those above, who made the world, could be
Forgetful of it, why then blamest thou me?
_Chr. Pr_, Those pains, O prince, thou sufferest now, are light
Compared to those, which, when thy soul takes flight,
Immortal, endless, thou must then endure,
Which death begins, and time can never cure.
_Mont_. Thou art deceived; for whensoe'er I die,
The Sun, my father, bears my soul on high:
He lets me down a beam, and mounted there,
He draws it back, and pulls me through the air:
I in the eastern parts, and rising sky,
You in heaven's downfal, and the west must lie.
_Chr. Pr_. Fond man, by heathen ignorance misled,
Thy soul destroying when thy body's dead:
Change yet thy faith, and buy eternal rest.
_Ind. High Pr_. Die in your own, for our belief is best.
_Mont_. In seeking happiness you both agree,
But in the search, the paths so different be,
That all religions with each other fight,
While only one can lead us in the right.
But till that one hath some more certain mark,
Poor human kind must wander in the dark;
And suffer pain eternally below,
For that, which here we cannot come to know.
_Chr. Pr_. That, which we worship, and which you believe,
From nature's common hand we both receive:
All, under various names, adore and love
One Power immense, which ever rules above.
Vice to abhor, and virtue to pursue,
Is both believed and taught by us and you:
But here our worship takes another way--
_Mont_. Where both agree, 'tis there most safe to stay:
For what's more vain than public light to shun,
And set up tapers, while we see the sun?
_Chr. Pr_. Though nature teaches whom we should adore,
By heavenly beams we still discover more.
_Mont_. Or this must be enough, or to mankind
One equal way to bliss is not designed;
For though some more may know, and some know less,
Yet all must know enough for happiness.
_Chr. Pr_. If in this middle way you still pretend
To stay, your journey never will have end.
_Mont_. Howe'er, 'tis better in the midst to stay,
Than wander farther in uncertain way.
_Chr. Pr_. But we by martyrdom our faith avow.
_Mont_. You do no more than I for ours do now.
To prove religion true--
If either wit or sufferings would suffice,
All faiths afford the constant and the wise:
And yet even they, by education swayed,
In age defend what infancy obeyed.
_Chr. Pr_. Since age by erring childhood is misled,
Refer yourself to our unerring head.
_Mont_. Man, and not err! what reason can you give?
_Chr. Pr_. Renounce that carnal reason, and believe.
_Mont_. The light of nature should I thus betray,
'Twere to wink hard, that I might see the day.
_Chr. Pr_. Condemn not yet the way you do not know;
I'll make your reason judge what way to go.
_Mont_. 'Tis much too late for me new ways to take,
Who have but one short step of life to make.
_Piz_. Increase their pains, the cords are yet too slack.
_Chr. Pr_. I must by force convert him on the rack.
_Ind. High Pr_. I faint away, and find I can no more:
Give leave, O king, I may reveal thy store,
And free myself from pains, I cannot bear.
_Mont_. Think'st thou I lie on beds of roses here,
Or in a wanton bath stretched at my ease?
Die, slave, and with thee die such thoughts as these.
[_High Priest turns aside, and dies_.
_Enter_ CORTEZ _attended by Spaniards, he speaks entering_.
_Cort_. On pain of death, kill none but those who fight;
I much repent me of this bloody night:
Slaughter grows murder when it goes too far,
And makes a massacre what was a war:
Sheath all your weapons, and in silence move,
'Tis sacred here to beauty, and to love.
What dismal sight is this, which takes from me
All the delight, that waits on victory!
[_Runs to take him off the rack_.
Make haste: How now, religion, do you frown?
Haste, holy avarice, and help him down.
Ah, father, father, what do I endure
To see these wounds my pity cannot cure!
_Mont_. Am I so low that you should pity bring,
And give an infant's comfort to a king?
Ask these, if I have once unmanly groaned;
Or aught have done deserving to be moaned.
_Cort_. Did I not charge, thou shouldst not stir from hence?
But martial law shall punish thy offence.
And you, [_To the Christian Priest_.
Who saucily teach monarchs to obey,
And the wide world in narrow cloisters sway;
Set up by kings as humble aids of power,
You that which bred you, viper-like, devour,
You enemies of crowns--
_Chr. Pr_. Come, let's away,
We but provoke his fury by our stay.
_Cort_. If this go free, farewell that discipline,
Which did in Spanish camps severely shine:
Accursed gold, 'tis thou hast caused these crimes;
Thou turn'st our steel against thy parent climes!
And into Spain wilt fatally be brought,
Since with the price of blood thou here art bought.
[_Exeunt Priest and_ PIZARRO.
[CORTEZ _kneels by_ MONTEZUMA, _and weeps_.
_Cort_. Can you forget those crimes they did commit?
_Mont_. I'll do what for my dignity is fit:
Rise, sir, I'm satisfied the fault was theirs:
Trust me, you make me weep to see your tears:
Must I chear you?
_Cort_. Ah heavens!
_Mont_. You're much to blame;
Your grief is cruel, for it shows my shame,
Does my lost crown to my remembrance bring:
But weep not you, and I'll be still a king.
You have forgot, that I your death designed,
To satisfy the proud Almeria's mind:
You, who preserved my life, I doomed to die.
_Cort_. Your love did that, and not your cruelty.
_Enter a Spaniard_.
_Span_. Prince Guyomar the combat still maintains,
Our men retreat, and he their ground regains:
But once encouraged by our general's sight,
We boldly should renew the doubtful fight.
_Cort_. Remove not hence, you shall not long attend;
I'll aid my soldiers, yet preserve my friend.
_Mont_. Excellent man! [_Exeunt_ CORTEZ, &c.
But I, by living, poorly take the way
To injure goodness, which I cannot pay.
_Alm_. Ruin and death run armed through every street;
And yet that fate, I seek, I cannot meet:
What guards misfortunes are and misery!
Death, that strikes all, yet seems afraid of me.
_Mont_. Almeria here! Oh turn away your face!
Must you be witness too of my disgrace?
_Alm_. I am not that Almeria whom you knew,
But want that pity I denied to you:
Your conqueror, alas, has vanquished me;
But he refuses his own victory:
While all are captives in your conquered state,
I find a wretched freedom in his hate.
_Mont_. Couldst thou thy love on one who scorned thee lose?
He saw not with my eyes, who could refuse:
Him, who could prove so much unkind to thee,
I ne'er will suffer to be kind to me.
_Alm_. I am content in death to share your fate;
And die for him I love, with him I hate.
_Mont_. What shall I do in this perplexing strait!
My tortured limbs refuse to bear my weight:
[_Endeavouring to walk, not being able_.
I cannot go to death to set me free;
Death must be kind, and come himself to me.
_Alm_. I've thought upon't: I have affairs below,
Which I must needs despatch before I go:
Sir, I have found a place where you may be, [_To him_.
(Though not preserved) yet, like a king, die free;
The general left your daughter in the tower,
We may a while resist the Spaniards' power,
If Guyomar prevail.
_Mont_. Make haste and call;
She'll hear your voice, and answer from the wall.
_Alm_. My voice she knows and fears, but use your own;
And, to gain entrance, feign you are alone.
[ALM. _steps behind_.
_Alm_. Louder yet.
_Mont_. Thou canst not, sure, thy father's voice forget.
[_He knocks at the door, at last_ CYDARIA _looks over the balcony_.
_Cyd_. Since my love went, I have been frighted so,
With dismal groans, and noises from below;
I durst not send my eyes abroad, for fear
Of seeing dangers, which I yet but hear.
_Cyd_. Sure, 'tis my father calls.
_Mont_. Dear child, make haste;
All hope of succour, but from thee, is past:
As when, upon the sands, the traveller
Sees the high sea come rolling from afar,
The land grow short, he mends his weary pace,
While death behind him covers all the place:
So I, by swift misfortunes, am pursued,
Which on each other are, like waves, renewed.
_Cyd_. Are you alone?
_Mont_. I am.
_Cyd_. I'll strait descend;
Heaven did you here for both our safeties send.
[CYDARIA _descends and opens the door_, ALMERIA _rushes betwixt
_Cyd_. Almeria here! then I am lost again.
_Alm_. Yield to my strength, you struggle but in vain.
Make haste and shut, our enemies appear.
[CORTEZ _and Spaniards appear at the other end_.
_Cyd_. Then do you enter, and let me stay here.
[_As she speaks,_ ALMERIA _overpowers her, thrusts
her in, and shuts_.
_Cort_. Sure I both heard her voice and saw her face:
She's like a vision vanished from the place.
Too late I find my absence was too long;
My hopes grow sickly, and my fears grow strong.
[_He knocks a little, then_ MONTEZUMA, CYDARIA, _and_
ALMERIA, _appear above_.
_Alm_. Look up, look up, and see if you can know
Those, whom in vain you think to find below.
_Cyd_. Look up, and see Cydaria's lost estate.
_Mont_. And cast one look on Montezuma's fate.
_Cort_. Speak not such dismal words as wound my ear;
Nor name death to me, when Cydaria's there.
Despair not, sir; who knows but conquering Spain
May part of what you lost restore again?
_Mont_. No, Spaniard; know, he who, to empire born,
Lives to be less, deserves the victor's scorn:
Kings and their crowns have but one destiny:
Power is their life; when that expires, they die.
_Cyd_. What dreadful words are these!
_Mont_. Name life no more;
'Tis now a torture worse than all I bore;
I'll not be bribed to suffer life, but die,
In spite of your mistaken clemency.
I was your slave, and I was used like one;
The shame continues when the pain is gone:
But I'm a king while this is in my hand--[_His sword_.
He wants no subjects, who can death command:
You should have tied him up, t'have conquered me;
But he's still mine, and thus he sets me free.
_Cyd_. Oh, my dear father!
_Alm_. When that is forced, there yet remain two more.
[_The Soldiers break open the first door, and go in_.
We shall have time enough to take our way,
Ere any can our fatal journey stay.
_Mont_. Already mine is past: O powers divine,
Take my last thanks: no longer I repine;
I might have lived my own mishap to mourn,
While some would pity me, but more would scorn!
For pity only on fresh objects stays,
But with the tedious sight of woes decays.
Still less and less my boiling spirits flow;
And I grow stiff, as cooling metals do.
Farewell, Almeria. [_Dies_.
_Cyd_. He's gone, he's gone,
And leaves poor me defenceless here alone.
_Alm_. You shall not long be so: Prepare to die,
That you may bear your father company.
_Cyd_. O name not death to me! you fright me so,
That with the fear I shall prevent the blow:
I know, your mercy's more than to destroy
A thing so young, so innocent as I.
_Cort_. Whence can proceed thy cruel thirst of blood,
Ah, barbarous woman? Woman! that's too good,
Too mild for thee: There's pity in that name,
But thou hast lost thy pity with thy shame.
_Alm_. Your cruel words have pierced me to the heart;
But on my rival I'll revenge my smart.
_Cort_. Oh stay your hand; and, to redeem my fault,
I'll speak the kindest words--
That tongue e'er uttered, or that heart e'er thought.
_Alm_. This but offends me more;
You act your kindness on Cydaria's score.
_Cyd_. For his dear sake let me my life receive.
_Alm_. Fool, for his sake alone you must not live:
Revenge is now my joy; he's not for me,
And I'll make sure he ne'er shall be for thee.
_Cyd_. But what's my crime?
_Alm_. 'Tis loving where I love.
_Cyd_. Your own example does my act approve.
_Alm_. 'Tis such a fault I never can forgive.
_Cyd_. How can I mend, unless you let me live?
I yet am tender, young, and full of fear,
And dare not die, but fain would tarry here.
_Cort_. If blood you seek, I will my own resign:
O spare her life, and in exchange take mine!
_Alm_. The love you shew but hastes her death the more.
_Cort_. I'll run, and help to force the inner door.
[_Is going in haste_.
_Alm_. Stay, Spaniard, stay; depart not from my eyes:
That moment that I lose your sight, she dies.
To look on you, I'll grant a short reprieve.
_Cort_. O make your gift more full, and let her live!
I dare not go; and yet how dare I stay!--
Her I would save, I murder either way.
_Cyd_. Can you be so hard-hearted to destroy
My ripening hopes, that are so near to joy?
I just approach to all I would possess:
Death only stands 'twixt me and happiness.
_Alm_. Your father, with his life, has lost his throne:
Your country's freedom and renown is gone.
Honour requires your death; you must obey.
_Cyd_. Do you die first, and shew me then the way.
_Alm_. Should you not follow, my revenge were lost.
_Cyd_. Then rise again, and fright me with your ghost.
_Alm_. I will not trust to that; since death I chuse,
I'll not leave you that life which I refuse:
If death's a pain, it is not less to me;
And if 'tis nothing, 'tis no more to thee.
But hark! the noise increases from behind;
They're near, and may prevent what I designed;
Take there a rival's gift. [_Stabs her_.
_Cort_. Perdition seize thee for so black a deed.
_Alm_. Blame not an act, which did from love proceed:
I'll thus revenge thee with this fatal blow;
Stand fair, and let my heart-blood on thee flow.
_Cyd_. Stay, life, and keep me in the cheerful light!
Death is too black, and dwells in too much night.
Thou leav'st me, life, but love supplies thy part,
And keeps me warm, by lingering in my heart:
Yet dying for him, I thy claim remove;
How dear it costs to conquer in my love!
Now strike: That thought, I hope, will arm my breast.
_Alm_. Ah, with what differing passions am I prest!
_Cyd_. Death, when far off, did terrible appear;
But looks less dreadful as he comes more near.
_Alm_. O rival, I have lost the power to kill;
Strength hath forsook my arm, and rage my will:
I must surmount that love which thou hast shown;
Dying for him is due to me alone.
Thy weakness shall not boast the victory,
Now thou shalt live, and dead I'll conquer thee:
Soldiers, assist me down.
[_Exeunt from above, led by Soldiers, and enter both, led by_ CORTEZ.
_Cort_. Is there no danger then? [_To_ CYDARIA.
_Cyd_. You need not fear
My wound; I cannot die when you are near.
_Cort_. You, for my sake, life to Cydaria give;
And I could die for you, if you might live.
_Alm_. Enough, I die content, now you are kind;
Killed in my limbs, reviving in my mind:
Come near, Cydaria, and forgive my crime.
[CYDARIA _starts back_.
You need not fear my rage a second time:
I'll bathe your wounds in tears for my offence.
That hand, which made it, makes this recompence.
[_Ready to join their hands_.
I would have joined you, but my heart's too high:
You will, too soon, possess him when I die.
_Cort_. She faints; O softly set her down.
_Alm_. 'Tis past!
In thy loved bosom let me breathe my last.
Here, in this one short moment that I live,
I have whate'er the longest life could give. [_Dies_.
_Cort_. Farewell, thou generous maid: Even victory,
Glad as it is, must lend some tears to thee;
Many I dare not shed, lest you believe [_To_ CYD.
I joy in you less than for her I grieve.
_Cyd_. But are you sure she's dead?
I must embrace you fast, before I know,
Whether my life be yet secure, or no:
Some other hour I will to tears allow,
But, having you, can shew no sorrow now.
_Enter_ GUYOMAR _and_ ALIBECH _bound, with Soldiers_.
_Cort_. Prince Guyomar in bonds! O friendship's shame!
It makes me blush to own a victor's name.
[_Unbinds him,_ CYDARIA, ALIBECH.
_Cyd_. See, Alibech, Almeria lies there;
But do not think 'twas I that murdered her.
[ALIBECH _kneels, and kisses her dead sister_.
_Cort_. Live, and enjoy more than your conqueror:
Take all my love, and share in all my power.
_Guy_. Think me not proudly rude, if I forsake
Those gifts I cannot with my honour take:
I for my country fought, and would again,
Had I yet left a country to maintain:
But since the gods decreed it otherwise,
I never will on its dear ruins rise.
_Alib_. Of all your goodness leaves to our dispose,
Our liberty's the only gift we chuse:
Absence alone can make our sorrows less;
And not to see what we can ne'er redress.
_Guy_. Northward, beyond the mountains, we will go,
Where rocks lie covered with eternal snow,
Thin herbage in the plains and fruitless fields,
The sand no gold, the mine no silver yields:
There love and freedom we'll in peace enjoy;
No Spaniards will that colony destroy.
We to ourselves will all our wishes grant;
And, nothing coveting, can nothing want.
_Cort_. First your great father's funeral pomp provide:
That done, in peace your generous exiles guide;
While I loud thanks pay to the powers above,
Thus doubly blest, with conquest, and with love.
BY A MERCURY.
To all and singular in this full meeting,
Ladies and gallants, Phoebus sends ye greeting.
To all his sons, by whate'er title known,
Whether of court, or coffee-house, or town;
From his most mighty sons, whose confidence
Is placed in lofty sound, and humble sense,
Even to his little infants of the time,
Who write new songs, and trust in tune and rhyme:
Be't known, that Phoebus (being daily grieved
To see good plays condemned, and bad received)
Ordains, your judgment upon every cause,
Henceforth, be limited by wholesome laws.
He first thinks fit no sonnetteer advance
His censure, farther than the song or dance.
Your wit burlesque may one step higher climb,
And in his sphere may judge all doggrel rhyme:
All proves, and moves, and loves, and honours too;
All that appears high sense, and scarce is low.
As for the coffee-wits, he says not much;
Their proper business is to damn the Dutch:
For the great dons of wit--
Phoebus gives them full privilege alone,
To damn all others, and cry up their own.
Last, for the ladies, 'tis Apollo's will,
They should have power to save, but not to kill:
For love and he long since have thought it fit,
Wit live by beauty, beauty reign by wit.
_Vitiis nemo sine nascitur; optimus ille
Qui minimis urgetur_. HORAT.
THE MAIDEN QUEEN
The Maiden Queen is said, by Langbaine, to be founded upon certain
passages in "The Grand Cyrus," and in "Ibrahim, the illustrious
Bassa." Few readers will probably take the trouble of consulting
these huge volumes, for the purpose of ascertaining the truth of
this charge. Even our duty, as editors, cannot impel us to the task;
satisfied, as we are, that, since these ponderous folios at that time
loaded every toilette, Dryden can hardly have taken more from such
well-known sources, than the mere outline of the story. Indeed, to
a certain degree, the foundation of the plot, upon a story in the
"Cyrus," is admitted by the author. The character of the queen is
admirably drawn, and the catastrophe is brought very artfully forward;
the uncertainty, as to her final decision, continuing till the last
moment. In this, as in all our author's plays, some passages of
beautiful poetry occur in the dialogue; as, for example, the scene in
act 3d betwixt Philocles and Candiope. The characters, excepting that
of the Maiden Queen herself, are lame and uninteresting. Philocles, in
particular, has neither enough of love to make him despise ambition,
nor enough of ambition to make him break the fetters of love. We might
have admired him, had he been constant; or sympathised with him, had
he sinned against his affections, and repented; but there is nothing
interesting in the vacillations of his indecision. The comic part of
the play contains much of what was thought wit in the reign of Charles
II.; for marriage is railed against, and a male and female rake join
in extolling the pleasures of a single life, even while the usage of
the theatre compels them, at length, to put on the matrimonial
chains. It is surprising, that no venturous author, in that gay age,
concluded, by making such a couple happy in their own way. The novelty
of such a catastrophe would have insured its success; and, unlike to
the termination of the loves of Celadon and Florimel, it would have
been strictly in character.
The Maiden Queen was first acted in 1667; and printed, as the poet has
informed us, by the command of Charles himself, who graced it with the
title of HIS play. Dryden mentions the excellence of the acting, so it
was probably received very favourably.
It has been the ordinary practice of the French poets, to dedicate
their works of this nature to their king; especially when they have
had the least encouragement to it, by his approbation of them on the
stage. But, I confess, I want the confidence to follow their example,
though, perhaps, I have as specious pretences to it, for this piece,
as any they can boast of; it having been owned in so particular a
manner by his majesty, that he has graced it with the title of his
play, and thereby rescued it from the severity (that I may not say
malice) of its enemies. But though a character so high and undeserved
has not raised in me the presumption to offer such a trifle to his
most serious view, yet I will own the vanity to say, that after this
glory which it has received from a sovereign prince, I could not send
it to seek protection from any subject. Be this poem, then, sacred to
him, without the tedious form of a dedication, and without presuming
to interrupt those hours which he is daily giving to the peace and
settlement of his people.
For what else concerns this play, I would tell the reader, that it is
regular, according to the strictest of dramatic laws; but that it is
a commendation which many of our poets now despise, and a beauty which
our common audiences do not easily discern. Neither indeed do I value
myself upon it; because, with all that symmetry of parts, it may want
an air and spirit (which consists in the writing) to set it off. 'Tis
a question variously disputed, whether an author may be allowed as a
competent judge of his own works. As to the fabric and contrivance
of them, certainly he may; for that is properly the employment of
the judgment; which, as a master-builder, he may determine, and that
without deception, whether the work be according to the exactness of
the model; still granting him to have a perfect idea of that pattern
by which he works, and that he keeps himself always constant to the
discourse of his judgment, without admitting self-love, which is
the false surveyor of his fancy, to intermeddle in it. These
qualifications granted (being such as all sound poets are presupposed
to have within them), I think all writers, of what kind soever, may
infallibly judge of the frame and contexture of their works. But
for the ornament of writing, which is greater, more various, and
_bizarre_ in poesy than in any other kind, as it is properly the
child of fancy; so it can receive no measure, or at least but a very
imperfect one, of its own excellences or failures from the judgment.
Self-love (which enters but rarely into the offices of the judgment)
here predominates; and fancy (if I may so speak), judging of itself,
can be no more certain, or demonstrative of its own effects, than two
crooked lines can be the adequate measure of each other. What I
have said on this subject may, perhaps, give me some credit with my
readers, in my opinion of this play, which I have ever valued above
the rest of my follies of this kind; yet not thereby in the least
dissenting from their judgment, who have concluded the writing of this
to be much inferior to my "Indian Emperor." But the argument of that
was much more noble, not having the allay of comedy to depress it; yet
if this be more perfect, either in its kind, or in the general
notion of a play, it is as much as I desire to have granted for the
vindication of my opinion, and what as nearly touches me, the sentence
of a royal judge. Many have imagined the character of Philocles to
be faulty; some for not discovering the queen's love, others for his
joining in her restraint: But though I am not of their number, who
obstinately defend what they have once said, I may, with modesty, take
up those answers which have been made for me by my friends; namely,
that Philocles, who was but a gentleman of ordinary birth, had no
reason to guess so soon at the queen's passion; she being a person
so much above him, and, by the suffrages of all her people, already
destined to Lysimantes: Besides, that he was prepossessed (as the
queen somewhere hints it to him) with another inclination, which
rendered him less clear-sighted in it, since no man, at the same time,
can distinctly view two different objects; and if this, with any
shew of reason, may be defended, I leave my masters, the critics, to
determine, whether it be not much more conducing to the beauty of my
plot, that Philocles should be long kept ignorant of the queen's love,
than that with one leap he should have entered into the knowledge of
it, and thereby freed himself, to the disgust of the audience, from
that pleasing labyrinth of errors which was prepared for him. As for
that other objection, of his joining in the queen's imprisonment, it
is indisputably that which every man, if he examines himself, would
have done on the like occasion. If they answer, that it takes from
the height of his character to do it; I would enquire of my overwise
censors, who told them I intended him a perfect character, or, indeed,
what necessity was there he should be so, the variety of images being
one great beauty of a play? It was as much as I designed, to shew one
great and absolute pattern of honour in my poem, which I did in the
person of the queen: all the defects of the other parts being set
to shew, the more to recommend that one character of virtue to the
audience. But neither was the fault of Philocles so great, if the
circumstances be considered, which, as moral philosophy assures
us, make the essential differences of good and bad; he himself
best explaining his own intentions in his last act, which was the
restoration of his queen; and even before that, in the honesty of his
expressions, when he was unavoidably led by the impulsions of his love
to do it. That which with more reason was objected as an indecorum,
is the management of the last scene of the play, where Celadon and
Florimel are treating too lightly of their marriage in the presence of
the queen, who likewise seems to stand idle, while the great action of
the drama is still depending. This I cannot otherwise defend, than by
telling you, I so designed it on purpose, to make my play go off more
smartly; that scene being, in the opinion of the best judges, the most
divertising of the whole comedy. But though the artifice succeeded, I
am willing to acknowledge it as a fault, since it pleased his majesty,
the best judge, to think it so.
I have only to add, that the play is founded on a story in the
"Cyrus," which he calls the Queen of Corinth; in whose character,
as it has been affirmed to me, he represents that of the famous
Christina, queen of Sweden. This is what I thought convenient to write
by way of preface to "The Maiden Queen;" in the reading of which I
fear you will not meet with that satisfaction, which you have had in
seeing it on the stage; the chief parts of it, both serious and comic,
being performed to that height of excellence, that nothing but a
command, which I could not handsomely disobey, could have given me the
courage to have made it public.
He who writ this, not without pains and thought,
From French and English theatres has brought
The exactest rules, by which a play is wrought.
The unities of action, place, and time;
The scenes unbroken; and a mingled chime
Of Jonson's humour, with Corneille's rhyme.
But while dead colours he with care did lay,
He fears his wit, or plot, he did not weigh,
Which are the living beauties of a play.
Plays are like towns, which, howe'er fortified
By engineers, have still some weaker side,
By the o'er-seen defendant unespied.
And with that art you make approaches now;
Such skilful fury in assaults you show,
That every poet without shame may bow.
Ours, therefore, humbly would attend your doom,
If, soldier-like, he may have terms to come,
With flying colours, and with beat of drum.
_The Prologue goes out, and stays while a tune is played, after
which he returns again_.
I had forgot one half, I do protest,
And now am sent again to speak the rest.
He bows to every great and noble wit;
But to the little Hectors of the pit
Our poet's sturdy, and will not submit.
He'll be beforehand with 'em, and not stay
To see each peevish critic stab his play;
Each puny censor, who, his skill to boast,
Is cheaply witty on the poet's cost.
No critic's verdict should, of right, stand good,
They are excepted all, as men of blood;
And the same law shall shield him from their fury,
Which has excluded butchers from a jury.
You'd all be wits--
But writing's tedious, and that way may fail;
The most compendious method is to rail:
Which you so like, you think yourselves ill used,
When in smart prologues you are not abused.
A civil prologue is approved by no man;
You hate it, as you do a civil woman:
Your fancy's palled, and liberally you pay
To have it quickened ere you see a play;
Just as old sinners, worn from their delight,
Give money to be whipped to appetite.
But what a pox keep I so much ado
To save our poet? He is one of you;
A brother judgment, and, as I hear say,
A cursed critic as e'er damned a play.
Good savage gentlemen, your own kind spare;
He is, like you, a very wolf or bear;
Yet think not he'll your ancient rights invade,
Or stop the course of your free damning trade;
For he (he vows) at no friend's play can sit,
But he must needs find fault, to shew his wit:
Then, for his sake, ne'er stint your own delight;
Throw boldly, for he sits to all that write;
With such he ventures on an even lay,
For they bring ready money into play.
Those who write not, and yet all writers nick,
Are bankrupt gamesters, for they damn on tick.
LYSIMANTES, _first Prince of the Blood_.
PHILOCLES, _the Queen's favourite_.
CELADON, _a courtier_.
_Queen of Sicily_.
CANDIOPE, _Princess of the Blood_.
ASTERIA, _the Queen's confident_.
FLORIMEL, _a maid of honour_.
FLAVIA, _another maid of honour_.
OLINDA, SABINA, _Sisters_.
MELISSA, _mother to_ OLINDA _and_ SABINA.
_Guards, Pages of Honour, Soldiers_.
SCENE I.--_Walks near the Court_.
_Enter_ CELADON _and_ ASTERIA, _meeting each other, he in
a riding habit; they embrace_.
_Cel_. Dear Asteria!--
_Ast_. My dear brother, welcome! A thousand welcomes! Methinks,
this year, you have been absent, has been so tedious:--I hope, as you
have made a pleasant voyage, so you have brought your good humour back
again to court?
_Cel_. I never yet knew any company I could not be merry in,
except it were an old woman's.
_Ast_. Or at a funeral.
_Cel_. Nay, for that you shall excuse me; for I was never merrier
than I was at a creditor's of mine, whose book perished with him.
But what new beauties have you at court? How do Melissa's two fair
_Ast_. When you tell me which of them you are in love with, I'll
_Cel_. Which of them, naughty sister! what a question's there?
With both of them; with each and singular of them.
_Ast_. Bless me!--You are not serious?
_Cel_. You look, as if it were a wonder to see a man in love. Are
they not handsome?
_Ast_. Ay; but both together--
_Cel_. Ay, and both asunder; why, I hope there are but two of
them; the tall singing and dancing one, and the little innocent one?
_Ast_. But you cannot marry both?
_Cel_. No, nor either of them, I trust in Heaven: but I can keep
them company; I can sing and dance with them, and treat them; and
that, I take it, is somewhat better than musty marrying them. Marriage
is poor folks' pleasure, that cannot go to the cost of variety; but I
am out of danger of that with these two, for I love them so equally, I
can never make choice between them. Had I but one mistress, I might go
to her to be merry, and she, perhaps, be out of humour; there were a
visit lost: But here, if one of them frown upon me, the other will be
the more obliging, on purpose to recommend her own gaiety; besides a
thousand things that I could name.
_Ast_. And none of them to any purpose.
_Cel_. Well, if you will not be cruel to a poor lover, you might
oblige me, by carrying me to their lodgings.
_Ast_. You know I am always busy about the queen.
_Cel_. But once or twice only; 'till I am a little flushed in my
acquaintance with other ladies, and have learned to prey for myself. I
promise you I'll make all the haste I can to end the trouble, by being
in love somewhere else.
_Ast_. You would think it hard to be denied now?
_Cel_. And reason good. Many a man hangs himself for the loss of
one mistress: How do you think, then, I should bear the loss of two;
especially in a court, where, I think, beauty is but thin sown?
_Ast_. There's one Florimel, the queen's ward, a new beauty, as
wild as you, and a vast fortune.
_Cel_. I am for her before the world. Bring me to her, and I'll
release you of your promise for the other two.
_Enter a Page_.
_Page_. Madam, the queen expects you.
_Cel_. I see you hold her favour; adieu, sister:--you have a
little emissary there, otherwise I would offer you my service.
_Ast_. Farewell, brother; think upon Florimel.
_Cel_. You may trust my memory for a handsome woman: I'll think
upon her, and the rest too; I'll forget none of them. [_Exit_
_Enter a Gentleman walking over the stage hastily; After him_
FLORIMEL _and_ FLAVIA _masked_.
_Fla_. Phormio! Phormio! you will not leave us?
_Gent_. In faith, I have a little business.
_Cel_. Cannot I serve you in the gentleman's room, ladies?
_Fla_. Which of us would you serve?
_Cel_. Either of you, or both of you.
_Fla_. Why, could you not be constant to one?
_Cel_. Constant to one!--I have been a courtier, a soldier, and a
traveller, to good purpose, if I must be constant to one: Give me some
twenty, some forty, some a hundred mistresses! I have more love than
any woman can turn her to.
_Flo_. Bless us! let us be gone, cousin: We two are nothing in
_Cel_. Yet, for my part, I can live with as few mistresses as any
man. I desire no superfluities; only for necessary change or so, as I
shift my linen.
_Flo_. A pretty odd kind of fellow this; he fits my humour
_Fla_. You are as inconstant as the moon.
_Flo_. You wrong him, he's as constant as the sun; he would see
all the world in twenty-four hours.
_Cel_. 'Tis very true, madam; but, like him, I would visit, and
_Flo_. For what an unreasonable thing it were, to stay long, be
troublesome, and hinder a lady of a fresh lover.
_Cel_. A rare creature this! [_Aside_]--Besides, madam, how
like a fool a man looks, when, after all his eagerness of two minutes
before, he shrinks into a faint kiss, and a cold compliment.--Ladies
both, into your hands I commit myself; share me betwixt you.
_Fla_. I'll have nothing to do with you, since you cannot be
constant to one.
_Cel_. Nay, rather than lose either of you, I'll do more; I'll be
constant to an hundred of you. Or, if you will needs fetter me to one,
agree the matter between yourselves; and the most handsome take me.
_Flo_. Though I am not she, yet since my mask is down, and you
cannot convince me, have a good faith of my beauty, and for once I
take you for my servant.
_Cel_. And for once I'll make a blind bargain with you. Strike
hands; is't a match, mistress?
_Flo_. Done, servant.
_Cel_. Now I am sure I have the worst on't: For you see the worst
of me, and that I do not of you, 'till you shew your face.--Yet, now I
think on't, you must be handsome.
_Flo_. What kind of beauty do you like?
_Cel_. Just such a one as yours.
_Flo_. What's that?
_Cel_. Such an oval face, clear skin, hazel eyes, thick brown
eye-brows, and hair as you have, for all the world.
_Fla_. But I can assure you, she has nothing of all this.
_Cel_. Hold thy peace, envy; nay, I can be constant an I set
_Flo_. 'Tis true she tells you.
_Cel_. Ay, ay, you may slander yourself as you please: Then you
have,--let me see.
_Flo_. Ill swear, you shall not see.
_Cel_. A turned up nose, that gives an air to your face:--Oh,
I find I am more and more in love with you!--a full nether lip, an
out-mouth, that makes mine water at it; the bottom of your cheeks a
little blub, and two dimples when you smile: For your stature, 'tis
well; and for your wit, 'twas given you by one that knew it had been
thrown away upon an ill face.--Come, you're handsome, there's no
_Flo_. Can you settle your spirits to see an ugly face, and not
be frighted? I could find in my heart to lift up my mask, and disabuse
_Cel_. I defy your mask:--Would you would try the experiment!
_Flo_. No, I won't; for your ignorance is the mother of your
devotion to me.
_Cel_. Since you will not take the pains to convert me, I'll make
bold to keep my faith. A miserable man, I am sure, you have made me.
_Fla_. This is pleasant.
_Cel_. It may be so to you, but it is not to me; for aught I see,
I am going to be the most constant Maudlin,--
_Flo_. 'Tis very well, Celadon; you can be constant to one you
have never seen, and have forsaken all you have seen?
_Cel_. It seems, you know me then:--Well, if thou should'st
prove one of my cast mistresses, I would use thee most damnably, for
offering to make me love thee twice.
_Flo_. You are i'the right: An old mistress, or servant, is an
old tune; the pleasure on't is past, when we have once learned it.
_Fla_. But what woman in the world would you wish her like?
_Cel_. I have heard of one Florimel, the queen's ward; would she
were as like her for beauty, as she is for humour!
_Fla_. Do you hear that, cousin? [_To_ FLOR. _aside_.
_Flo_. Florimel's not handsome: Besides she's inconstant; and
only loves for some few days.
_Cel_. If she loves for shorter time than I, she must love by
winter days and summer nights, i'faith.
_Flo_. When you see us together, you shall judge. In the mean
time, adieu, sweet servant.
_Cel_. Why, you won't be so inhuman to carry away my heart, and
not so much as tell me where I may hear news on't?
_Flo_. I mean to keep it safe for you; for, if you had it, you
would bestow it worse: Farewell, I must see a lady.
_Cel_. So must I too, if I can pull off your mask.
_Flo_. You will not be so rude, I hope.
_Cel_. By this light, but I will!
_Flo_. By this leg, but you shan't.
[_Exeunt_ FLO. _and_ FLA. _running_.
_Enter_ PHILOCLES, _and meets him going out_.
_Cel_. How! my cousin, the new favourite!--[_Aside_.
_Phil_. Dear Celadon! most happily arrived.--
I hear you've been an honour to your country
In the Calabrian wars; and I am glad
I have some interest in it.
_Cel_. But in you
I have a larger subject for my joys:
To see so rare a thing as rising virtue,
And merit, understood at court.
_Phil_. Perhaps it is the only act, that can
Accuse our queen of weakness.
_Enter_ LYSIMANTES, _attended_.
_Lys_. O, my lord Philocles, well overtaken!
I came to look you.
_Phil_. Had I known it sooner,
My swift attendance, sir, had spared your trouble.--
Cousin, you see prince Lysimantes [_To_ CEL.
Is pleased to favour me with his commands:
I beg you'll be no stranger now at court.
_Cel_. So long as there be ladies there, you need
Not doubt me. [_Exit_ CELADON.
_Phil_. Some of them will, I hope, make you a convert.
_Lys_. My lord Philocles, I'm glad we are alone;
There is a business, that concerns me nearly,
In which I beg your love.
_Phil_. Command my service.
_Lys_. I know your interest with the queen is great;
(I speak not this as envying your fortune,
For, frankly, I confess you have deserved it;
Besides, my birth, my courage, and my honour,
Are all above so base a vice,)--
_Phil._ I know, my lord, you are first prince o'the blood;
Your country's second hope:
And that the public vote, when the queen weds,
Designs you for her choice.
_Lys_. I am not worthy,
Except love makes desert;
For doubtless she's the glory of her time:
Of faultless beauty, blooming as the spring
In our Sicilian groves; matchless in virtue,
And largely souled where'er her bounty gives,
As, with each breath, she could create new Indies.
_Phil_. But jealous of her glory,--
_Lys_. You are a courtier; and, in other terms,
Would you say, she is averse from marriage,
Lest it might lessen her authority.
But whensoe'er she does, I know the people
Will scarcely suffer her to match
With any neighbouring prince, whose power might bend
Our free Sicilians to a foreign yoke.
_Phil_. I love too well my country to desire it.
_Lys_. Then, to proceed, (as you well know, my lord,)
The provinces have sent their deputies,
Humbly to move her, she would chuse at home;
And, (for she seems averse from speaking with them,)
By my appointment, have designed these walks,
Where well she cannot shun them.--Now, if you
Assist their suit, by joining yours to it,
And by your mediation I prove happy,
I freely promise you--
_Phil_. Without a bribe, command my utmost in it:--
And yet, there is a thing, which time may give me
The confidence to name,--
_Lys_. 'Tis yours whatever:--
But, tell me true, does she not entertain
Some deep and settled thoughts against my person?
_Phil_. I hope, not so; but she, of late, is froward;
Reserved, and sad, and vexed at little things;
Which her great soul, ashamed of, strait shakes off,
And is composed again.
_Lys_. You are still near the queen; and all our actions
Come to princes' eyes, as they are represented
By them, that hold the mirror.
_Phil_. Here she comes, and with her the deputies:
I fear all is not right.
_Enter Queen, Deputies after her;_ ASTERIA, _Guard,_ FLAVIA,
OLINDA, _and_ SABINA. _Queen turns back to the Deputies, and
_Queen_. And I must tell you,
It is a saucy boldness, thus to press
On my retirements.
_1 Dep_. Our business being of no less concern,
Than is the peace and quiet of your subjects;--
And that delayed,--
_2 Dep_. We humbly took this time
To represent your people's fears to you.
_Queen_. My people's fears! who made them statesmen?
They much mistake their business, if they think,
It is to govern.
The rights of subjects, and of sovereigns,
Are things distinct in nature:--Theirs is to
Enjoy propriety, not empire.
_Lys_. If they have erred, 'twas but an over-care;
An ill-timed duty.
_Queen_. Cousin, I expect
From your near blood, not to excuse, but check them.
They would impose a ruler upon their lawful queen:
For what's an husband else?
_Lys_. Far, madam, be it from the thoughts
Of any, who pretends to that high honour,
To wish for more than to be reckoned
As the most graced, and first of all your servants.
_Queen_. These are the insinuating promises
Of those, who aim at power. But tell me, cousin,
(For you are unconcerned, and may be judge,)
Should that aspiring man compass his ends,
What pawn of his obedience could he give me,
When kingly power were once invested in him?
_Lys_. What greater pledge than love! When those fair eyes
Cast their commanding beams, he, that could be
A rebel to your birth, must pay them homage.
_Queen_. All eyes are fair,
That sparkle with the jewels of a crown:
But now I see my government is odious;
My people find I am not fit to reign,
Else they would never--
_Lys_. So far from that, we all acknowledge you
The bounty of the gods to Sicily:
More than they are you cannot make our joys;
Make them but lasting in a successor.
_Phil_. Your people seek not to impose a prince;
But humbly offer one to your free choice:
And such a one he is--may I have leave
To speak some little of his great deserts?--
_Queen_. I'll hear no more.--
For you, attend to-morrow at the council:
[_To the Deputies_.
There you shall have my firm resolves:--meantime,
My cousin, I am sure, will welcome you.
_Lys_. Still more and more mysterious: But I have
Gained one of her women that shall unriddle it.--
_All Dep_. Heaven preserve your majesty!
[_Exeunt_ LYS. _and Dep_.
_Queen_. Philocles, you may stay.
_Phil_. I humbly wait your majesty's commands.
_Queen_. Yet, now I better think on't, you may go.
_Queen_. I have no commands;--or, what's all one,
You, no obedience.
_Phil_. How! no obedience, madam?
I plead no other merit; 'tis the charter
By which I hold your favour, and my fortunes.
_Queen_. My favours are cheap blessings, like rain and sunshine,
For which we scarcely thank the gods, because
We daily have them.
_Phil_. Madam, your breath, which raised me from the dust,
May lay me there again:
But fate nor time can ever make me lose
The sense of your indulgent bounties to me.
_Queen_. You are above them now, grown popular:--
Ah, Philocles! could I expect from you
That usage!--no tongue but yours
To move me to a marriage?--[_Weeps_.
The factious deputies might have some end in't,
And my ambitious cousin gain a crown:
But what advantage could there come to you?
What could you hope from Lysimantes' reign,
That you can want in mine?
_Phil_. You yourself clear me, madam. Had I sought
More power, this marriage sure was not the way.
But, when your safety was in question,
When all your people were unsatisfied,
Desired a king,--nay more, designed the man,--
It was my duty then,--
_Queen_. Let me be judge of my own safety.
I am a woman;
But danger from my subjects cannot fright me.
_Phil_. But Lysimantes, madam, is a person,--
_Queen_. I cannot love.
Shall I,--I, who was born a sovereign queen,
Be barred of that, which God and nature gives
The meanest slave, a freedom in my love?--
Leave me, good Philocles, to my own thoughts;
When next I need your counsel, I'll send for you.
_Phil_. I'm most unhappy in your high displeasure;
But, since I must not speak, madam, be pleased
To peruse this, and therein read my care.
[_He plucks out a paper, and presents it to her; but drops, unknown
to him, a picture. Exit_ PHI.
_Queen_. [_reads_.] A catalogue of such persons,--
What's this he has let fall, Asteria?
[_Spies the box_.
_Ast_. Your majesty?--
_Queen_. Take that up; it fell from Philocles.
[_She takes it up, looks on it, and smiles_.
_Queen_. How now, what makes you merry?
_Ast_. A small discovery I have made, madam.
_Queen_. Of what?
_Ast_. Since first your majesty graced Philocles,
I have not heard him named for any mistress,
But now this picture has convinced me.
_Queen_. Ha! let me see it.--
[_Snatches it from her_.
Candiope, prince Lysimantes' sister!
_Ast_. Your favour, madam, may encourage him,--
And yet he loves in a high place for him:
A princess of the blood; and, what is more,
Beyond comparison the fairest lady
Our isle can boast.
_Queen_. How!--she the fairest
Beyond comparison!--'Tis false! you flatter her;
She is not fair.
_Ast_. I humbly beg forgiveness on my knees,
If I offended you:--But next yours, madam,
Which all must yield to.
_Queen_. I pretend to none.
_Ast_. She passes for a beauty.
_Queen_. Ay, she may pass:--But why do I speak of her?--
Dear Asteria, lead me, I am not well o' the sudden.
_Ast_. Who's near there?--help the queen!
[_The guards are coming_.
_Queen_. Bid them away: 'Twas but a qualm,
And 'tis already going.
_Ast_. Dear madam, what's the matter?
You are of late so altered, I scarce know you.
You were gay humoured, and you now are pensive;
Once calm, and now unquiet:--
Pardon my boldness, that I press thus far
Into your secret thoughts: I have, at least,
A subject's share in you.
_Queen_. Thou hast a greater.
That of a friend:--But I am froward, say'st thou?
_Ast_. It ill becomes me, madam, to say that.
_Queen_. I know I am:--Pr'ythee, forgive me for it,--
I cannot help it;--but thou hast
Not long to suffer it.
_Queen_. I feel my strength each day and hour consume,
Like lilies wasting in a lymbeck's heat.
Yet a few days,
And thou shalt see me lie, all damp and cold,
Shrouded within some hollow vault, among
My silent ancestors.
_Ast_. O dearest madam!
Speak not of death; or think not, if you die,
That I will stay behind.
_Queen_. Thy love has moved me;--I, for once, will have
The pleasure to be pitied. I'll unfold
A thing so strange, so horrid of myself--
_Ast_. Bless me, sweet heaven!--
So horrid, said you, madam?
_Queen_. That sun, who with one look surveys the globe,
Sees not a wretch like me!--And could the world
Take a right measure of my state within,
Mankind must either pity me, or scorn me.
_Ast_. Sure none could do the last.
_Queen_. Thou longest to know it,
And I to tell thee, but shame stops my mouth.
First, promise me thou wilt excuse my folly;
And, next, be secret.
_Ast_. Can you doubt it, madam?
_Queen_. Yet you might spare my labour:--
Can you not guess?
_Ast_. Madam, please you, I'll try.
_Queen_. Hold, Asteria!--
I would not have you guess; for should you find it,
I should imagine that some other might,
And then I were most wretched:--
Therefore, though you should know it, flatter me,
And say you could not guess it.
_Ast_. Madam, I need not flatter you, I cannot--and yet,
Might not ambition trouble your repose?
_Queen_. My Sicily, I thank the Gods, contents me.
But, since I must reveal it, know,--'tis love:
I, who pretended so to glory, am
Become the slave of love.
_Ast_. I thought your majesty had framed designs
To subvert all your laws; become a tyrant,
Or vex your neighbours, with injurious wars;
Is this all, madam?
_Queen_. Is not this enough?
Then, know, I love below myself; a subject;
Love one, who loves another, and who knows not
That I love him.
_Ast_. He must be told it, madam.
_Queen_. Not for the world, Asteria:
Whene'er he knows it, I shall die for shame.
_Ast_. What is it, then, that would content you?
_Queen_. Nothing, but that I had not lov'd.
_Ast_. May I not ask, without offence, who 'tis?
_Queen_. Ev'n that confirms me, I have loved amiss;
Since thou canst know I love, and not imagine
It must be Philocles.
_Ast_. My cousin is, indeed, a most deserving person;
Valiant, and wise; handsome, and well-born.
_Queen_. But not of royal blood:
I know his fate, unfit to be a king.
To be his wife, I could forsake my crown; but not my glory:
Yet--would he did not love Candiope;
Would he loved me--but knew not of my love,
Or e'er durst tell me his.
_Ast_. In all this labyrinth,
I find one path, conducting to our quiet.
_Queen_. O tell me quickly then!
_Ast_. Candiope, as princess of the blood,
Without your approbation cannot marry:
First, break his match with her, by virtue of
Your sovereign authority.
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