The Broken Heart, by John Ford



A room in Bassanes’ house.

Enter Bassanes and Phulas.

Bassanes.  I’ll have that window next the street damm’d up; It gives too full a prospect to temptation,
And courts a gazer’s glances. There’s a lust
Committed by the eye, that sweats and travails,
Plots, wakes, contrives, till the deformed bear-whelp,
Adultery, be lick’d into the act,
The very act. That light shall be damm’d up;
D’ ye hear, sir?

Phulas.  I do hear, my lord; a mason
Shall be provided suddenly. 1

Bassanes.  Some rogue,
Some rogue of your confederacy, — factor 2
For slaves and strumpets! — to convey close packets
From this spruce springal 3 and t’ other youngster,
That gaudy earwig, or my lord your patron,
Whose pensioner you are. — I’ll tear thy throat out,
Son of a cat, ill-looking hound’s -head, rip-up
Thy ulcerous maw, if I but scent a paper,
A scroll, but half as big as what can cover
A wart upon thy nose, a spot, a pimple,
Directed to my lady; it may prove
A mystical preparative to lewdness.

Phulas.  Care shall be had: I will turn every thread
About me to an eye. — [Aside.] Here’s a sweet life!

Bassanes.  The city housewives, cunning in the traffic
Of chamber merchandise, set all at price
By wholesale; yet they wipe their mouths and simper,
Cull,4 kiss, and cry “sweetheart,” and stroke the head
Which they have branch’d; 5 and all is well again!
Dull clods of dirt, who dare not feel the rubs
Stuck on the[ir] foreheads.

Phulas.  ’T is a villanous world;
One cannot hold his own in ’t.

Bassanes.  Dames at court,
Who flaunt in riots, run another bias; 6
Their pleasure heaves the patient ass that suffers
Up on the stilts of office, titles, incomes;
Promotion justifies the shame, and sues for ’t.
Poor honour, thou art stabb’d, and bleed’st to death
By such unlawful hire! The country mistress
Is yet more wary, and in blushes hides
Whatever trespass draws her troth to guilt.
But all are false: on this truth I am bold,
No woman but can fall, and doth, or would. —
Now for the newest news about the city;
What blab the voices, sirrah?

Phulas.  O, my lord,
The rarest, quaintest, strangest, tickling news
That ever —

Bassanes.  Hey-day! up and ride me, rascal!
What is ’t?

Phulas.  Forsooth, they say the king has mew’d 7
All his gray beard, instead of which is budded
Another of a pure carnation colour,
Speckled with green and russet.

Bassanes.  Ignorant block!

Phulas.  Yes, truly; and ’t is talkt about the streets
That, since Lord Ithocles came home, the lions
Never left roaring, at which noise the bears
Have danc’d their very hearts out.

Bassanes.  Dance out thine too.

Phulas.  Besides, Lord Orgilus is fled to Athens
Upon a fiery dragon, and ’t is thought
’A never can return.

Bassanes.  Grant it, Apollo!

Phulas.  Moreover, please your lordship, ’t is reported
For certain, that whoever is found jealous
Without apparent proof that ’s wife is wanton
Shall be divorc’d: but this is but she-news;
I had it from a midwife. I have more yet.

Bassanes.  Antic, no more! Idiots and stupid fools
Grate my calamities. Why to be fair
Should yield presumption of a faulty soul —
Look to the doors.

Phulas.  [Aside.] The horn of plenty crest him!

Bassanes.  Swarms of confusion huddle in my thoughts
In rare distemper. — Beauty! O, it is
An unmatcht blessing or a horrid curse.

Enter Penthea and Grausis, an old Lady.

She comes, she comes! so shoots the morning forth,
Spangled with pearls of transparent dew. —

The way to poverty is to be rich,
As I in her am wealthy; but for her,
In all contents a bankrupt. —
  Lov’d Penthea!
How fares my heart’s best joy?

Grausis.  In sooth, not well,
She is so over-sad.

Bassanes.  Leave chattering, magpie. —
Thy brother is return’d, sweet, safe, and honour’d
With a triumphant victory; thou shalt visit him:
We will to court, where, if it be thy pleasure,
Thou shalt appear in such a ravishing lustre
Of jewels above value, that the dames
Who brave it there, in rage to be outshin’d,
Shall hide them in their closets, and unseen
Fret in their tears; whiles every wond’ring eye
Shall crave none other brightness but thy presence.
Choose thine own recreations; be a queen
Of what delights thou fanciest best, what company,
What place, what times; do anything, do all things
Youth can command, so thou wilt chase these clouds
From the pure firmament of thy fair looks.

Grausis.  Now ’t is well said, my lord. — What, lady! laugh,
Be merry; time is precious.

Bassanes.  [Aside.] Furies whip thee!

Penthea.  Alas, my lord, this language to your hand-maid
Sounds as would music to the deaf; I need
No braveries nor cost of art to draw
The whiteness of my name into offence:
Let such, if any such there are, who covet
A curiosity of admiration,
By laying-out their plenty to full view,
Appear in gaudy outsides; my attires
Shall suit the inward fashion of my mind;
From which, if your opinion, nobly plac’d,
Change not the livery your words bestow,
My fortunes with my hopes are at the highest.

Bassanes.  This house, methinks, stands some-what too much inward,
It is too melancholy; we’ll remove
Nearer the court: or what thinks my Penthea
Of the delightful island we command?
Rule me as thou canst wish.

Penthea.  I am no mistress.
Whither you please, I must attend; all ways
Are alike pleasant to me.

Grausis.  Island; prison!
A prison is as gaysome: we’ll no islands;
Marry, out upon ’em! Whom shall we see there?
Sea-gulls, and porpoises, and water-rats,
And crabs, and mews, and dog-fish; goodly gear
For a young lady’s dealing, — or an old one’s!
On no terms islands; I’ll be stew’d first.

Bassanes.  [Aside to Grausis.] Grausis,
You are a juggling bawd. — This sadness, sweetest,
Becomes not youthful blood. — [Aside to Grausis.] I’ll have you pounded. —
For my sake put on a more cheerful mirth;
Thou ’lt mar thy cheeks, and make me old in griefs. —
[Aside to Grausis.] Damnable bitch-fox!

Grausis.  I am thick of hearing,
Still, when the wind blows southerly. — What think ye,
If your fresh lady breed young bones, my lord?
Would not a chopping boy d’ye good at heart?
But, as you said —

Bassanes.  [Aside to Grausis.] I’ll spit thee on a stake,
Or chop thee into collops!

Grausis.  Pray, speak louder.
Sure, sure the wind blows south still.

Penthea.  Thou prat’st madly.

Bassanes.  ’T is very hot; I sweat extremely.

Re-enter Phulas.

Phulas.  A herd of lords, sir.

Bassanes.  Ha!

Phulas.  A flock of ladies.

Bassanes.  Where?

Phulas.  Shoals of horses.

Bassanes.  Peasant, how?

Phulas.  Caroches 1
In drifts; th’ one enter, th’ other stand with-out, sir:
And now I vanish. [Exit.]

Enter Prophilus, Hemophil, Groneas, Christalla, and Philema.

Prophilus.  Noble Bassanes!

Bassanes.  Most welcome, Prophilus; ladies, gentlemen,
To all my heart is open; you all honour me, —
[Aside.] A tympany 2 swells in my head already, —
Honour me bountifully. — [Aside.] How they flutter,
Wagtails and jays together!

Prophilus.  From your brother
By virtue of your love to him, I require
Your instant presence, fairest.

Penthea.  He is well, sir?

Prophilus.  The gods preserve him ever! Yet, dear beauty,
I find some alteration in him lately,
Since his return to Sparta. — My good lord,
I pray, use no delay.

Bassanes.  We had not needed
An invitation, if his sister’s health
Had not fallen into question. — Haste, Penthea,
Slack not a minute. — Lead the way, good Prophilus;
I’ll follow step by step.

Prophilus.  Your arm, fair madam.

Exeunt all but Bassanes and Grausis.

Bassanes.  One word with your old bawdship: th’ hadst been better
Rail’d at the sins 3 thou worshipp’st than have thwarted
My will: I’ll use thee cursedly.

Grausis.  You dote,
You are beside yourself. A politician
In jealousy? No, y’ are too gross, too vulgar.
Pish, teach not me my trade; I know my cue.
My crossing you sinks me into her trust,
By which I shall know all; my trade’s a sure one.

Bassanes.  Forgive me, Grausis, ’t was consideration
I relish’d not; 4 but have a care now.

Grausis.  Fear not.
I am no new-come-to ’t.

Bassanes.  Thy life’s upon it,
And so is mine. My agonies are infinite.


1 At once.

2 Agent.

3 Youth.

4 Embrace.

5 Cuckolded: the inevitable jest on the cuckold’s horns.

6 Direction.

7 Moulted.

1 Coaches.

2 Swelling.

3 Gifford emend. saints.

4 I did not see the point of.


The palace. Ithocles’ apartment.

Enter Ithocles, alone.

Ithocles.  Ambition! ’t is of vipers’ breed: it gnaws
A passage through the womb that gave it motion.
Ambition, like a seeled 6 dove, mounts upward,
Higher and higher still, to perch on clouds,
But tumbles headlong down with heavier ruin. So squibs and crackers fly into the air,
Then, only breaking with a noise, they vanish
In stench and smoke. Morality, appli’d
To timely practice, keeps the soul in tune,
At whose sweet music all our actions dance:
But this is form of books and school-tradition;
It physics not the sickness of a mind
Broken with griefs: strong fevers are not eas’d
With counsel, but with best receipts and means;
Means, speedy means and certain; that’s the cure.

Enter Armostes and Crotolon.

Armostes.  You stick, Lord Crotolon, upon a point
Too nice and too unnecessary; Prophilus
Is every way desertful. I am confident
Your wisdom is too ripe to need instruction
From your son’s tutelage.

Crotolon.  Yet not so ripe,
My Lord Armostes, that it dares to dote
Upon the painted meat 1 of smooth persuasion,
Which tempts me to a breach of faith.

Ithocles.  Not yet
Resolv’d, my lord? Why, if your son’s consent
Be so available, we’ll write to Athens
For his repair to Sparta. The king’s hand
Will join with our desires; he has been mov’d to ’t.

Armostes.  Yes, and the king himself impórtun’d Crotolon
For a dispatch.

Crotolon.  Kings may command; their wills
Are laws not to be questioned.

Ithocles.  By this marriage
You knit an union so devout, so hearty,
Between your loves to me and mine to yours,
As if mine own blood had an interest in it;
For Prophilus is mine, and I am his.

Crotolon.  My lord, my lord! —

Ithocles.  What, good sir? Speak your thought.

Crotolon.  Had this sincerity been real once,
My Orgilus had not been now unwiv’d,
Nor your lost sister buried in a bride-bed.
Your uncle here, Armostes knows this truth;
For had your father Thrasus liv’d, — but peace
Dwell in his grave! I have done.

Armostes.  Y’ are bold and bitter.

Ithocles.  [Aside.] ’A presses home the injury; it smarts. —
No reprehensions, uncle; I deserve ’em.
Yet, gentle sir, consider what the heat
Of an unsteady youth, a giddy brain,
Green indiscretion, flattery of greatness,
Rawness of judgment, wilfulness in folly,
Thoughts vagrant as the wind and as uncertain,
Might lead a boy in years to:— ’t was a fault,
A capital fault; for then I could not dive
Into the secrets of commanding love;
Since when, experience, by the extremes 2 (in others),
Hath forc’d me collect. 3 And, trust me, Crotolon,
I will redeem those wrongs with any service
Your satisfaction can require for current.

Armostes.  The 4 acknowledgment is satisfaction:
What would you more?

Crotolon.  I’m conquer’d: if Euphranea
Herself admit the motion, let it be so;
I doubt not my son’s liking.

Ithocles.  Use my fortunes,
Life, power, sword, and heart, — all are your own.

Armostes.  The princess, with your sister.

Enter Calantha, Penthea, Euphranea,
Christalla, Philema, Grausis, Bassanes, and Prophilus.

Calantha.  I present ye
A stranger here in court, my lord; for did not
Desire of seeing you draw her abroad,
We had not been made happy in her company.

Ithocles.  You are a gracious princess. — Sister, wedlock
Holds too severe a passion in your nature,
Which can engross all duty to your husband,
Without attendance on so dear a mistress. —
[To Bassanes.] ’T is not my brother’s pleasure, I presume,
T’ immure her in a chamber.

Bassanes.  ’T is her will;
She governs her own hours. Noble Ithocles,
We thank the gods for your success and welfare:
Our lady has of late been indispos’d,
Else we had waited on you with the first.

Ithocles.  How does Penthea now?

Penthea.  You best know, brother,
From whom my health and comforts are deriv’d.

Bassanes.  [Aside.] I like the answer well; ’t is sad and modest.
There may be tricks yet, tricks. — Have an eye, Grausis!

Calantha.  Now, Crotolon, the suit we join’d in must not
Fall by too long demur.

Crotolon.  ’T is granted, princess,
For my part.

Armostes.  With condition, that his son
Favour the contract.

Calantha.  Such delay is easy. —
The joys of marriage make thee, Prophilus,
A proud deserver of Euphranea’s love,
And her of thy desert!

Prophilus.  Most sweetly gracious!

Bassanes.  The joys of marriage are the heaven on earth,
Life’s paradise, great princess, the soul’s quiet,
Sinews of concord, earthly immortality,
Eternity of pleasures; — no restoratives
Like to a constant woman! — [Aside.] But where is she?
’T would puzzle all the gods but to create
Such a new monster. — I can speak by proof,
For I rest in Elysium; ’t is my happiness.

Crotolon.  Euphranea, how are you resolv’d, speak freely,
In your affections to this gentleman?

Euphranea.  Nor more nor less than as his love assures me;
Which — if your liking with my brother’s warrants —
I cannot but approve in all points worthy.

Crotolon.  So, so! — [To Prophilus.] I know your answer.

Ithocles.  ’T had been pity
To sunder hearts so equally consented.

Enter Hemophil.

Hemophil.  The king, Lord Ithocles, commands your presence; —
And, fairest princess, yours.

Calantha.  We will attend him.

Enter Groneas.

Groneas.  Where are the lords? All must unto the king
Without delay: the Prince of Argos —

Calantha.  Well, sir?

Groneas.  Is coming to the court, sweet lady.

Calantha.  How!
The Prince of Argos?

Groneas.  ’T was my fortune, madam,
T’ enjoy the honour of these happy tidings.

Ithocles.  Penthea! —

Penthea.  Brother?

Ithocles.  Let me an hour hence
Meet you alone within the palace-grove;
I have some secret with you. — Prithee, friend,
Conduct her thither, and have special care
The walks be clear’d of any to disturb us.

Prophilus.  I shall.

Bassanes.  [Aside.] How’s that?

Ithocles.  Alone, pray be alone. —
I am your creature, princess. — On, my lords!

Exeunt all but Bassanes.

Bassanes.  Alone! alone! What means that word “alone”?
Why might not I be there? — hum! — he’s her brother.
Brothers and sisters are but flesh and blood,
And this same whoreson court-ease is temptation
To a rebellion in the veins; — besides,
His fine friend Prophilus must be her guardian:
Why may not he dispatch a business nimbly
Before the other come? — or — pand’ring, pand’ring
For one another, — be ’t to sister, mother
Wife, cousin, anything, — ’mongst youths of mettle
Is in request; it is so — stubborn fate!
But if I be a cuckold, and can know it,
I will be fell, and fell.

Re-enter Groneas.

Groneas.  My lord, y ’are call’d for.

Bassanes.  Most heartily I thank ye. Where’s my wife, pray?

Groneas.  Retir’d amongst the ladies.

Bassanes.  Still I thank ye.
There ’s an old waiter with her; saw you her too?

Groneas.  She sits i ’th’ presence-lobby fast asleep, sir.

Bassanes.  Asleep! asleep, sir!

Groneas.  Is your lordship troubled?
You will not to the king?

Bassanes.  Your humblest vassal.

Groneas.  Your servant, my good lord.

Bassanes.  I wait your footsteps.Exeunt.

6 Blinded by sewing up the eye-lids.

1 Gifford suggests bait.

2 Q. extremities.

3 Infer, understand.

4 Q. Thu.


The gardens of the palace. A grove.

Enter Prophilus and Penthea.

Prophilus.  In this walk, lady, will your brother find you:
And, with your favour, give me leave a little
To work a preparation. In his fashion
I have observ’d of late some kind of slackness
To such alacrity as nature [once]
And custom took delight in; sadness grows
Upon his recreations, which he hoards
In such a willing silence, that to question
The grounds will argue little skill in friendship,
And less good manners.

Penthea.  Sir, I’m not inquisitive
Of secrecies without an invitation.

Prophilus.  With pardon, lady, not a syllable
Of mine implies so rude a sense; the drift —

Enter Orgilus, [disguised as before.]

[To ORG.] Do thy best
To make this lady merry for an hour. [Exit.]

Orgilus.  Your will shall be a law, sir.

Penthea.  Prithee, leave me;
I have some private thoughts I would account with;
Use thou thine own.

Orgilus.  Speak on, fair nymph; our souls
Can dance as well to music of the spheres
As any’s who have feasted with the gods.

Penthea.  Your school-terms are too troublesome.

Orgilus.  What Heaven
Refines mortality from dross of earth
But such as uncompounded beauty hallows
With glorified perfection?

Penthea.  Set thy wits
In a less wild proportion.

Orgilus.  Time can never
On the white table of unguilty faith
Write counterfeit dishonour; turn those eyes,
The arrows of pure love, upon that fire,
Which once rose to a flame, perfum’d with vows
As sweetly scented as the incense smoking
On Vesta’s altars, . . .  . . . . 2
. . . the holiest odours, virgin’s tears,
. . . . sprinkled, like dews, to feed ’em
And to increase their fervour.

Penthea.  Be not frantic.

Orgilus.  All pleasures are but mere imagination,
Feeding the hungry appetite with steam
And sight of banquet, whilst the body pines,
Not relishing the real taste of food:
Such is the leanness of a heart divided
From intercourse of troth-contracted loves;
No horror should deface that precious figure
Seal’d with the lively stamp of equal souls.

Penthea.  Away! some Fury hath bewitch’d thy tongue.
The breath of ignorance, that flies from thence,
Ripens a knowledge in me of afflictions
Above all suff’rance. — Thing of talk, begone!
Begone, without reply!

Orgilus.  Be just, Penthea,
In thy commands; when thou send’st forth a doom
Of banishment, know first on whom it lights.
Thus I take off the shroud, in which my cares
Are folded up from view of common eyes. [Throws of his Scholar’s dress.]
What is thy sentence next?

Penthea.  Rash man! thou layest
A blemish on mine honour, with the hazard
Of thy too-desperate life: yet I profess,
By all the laws of ceremonious wedlock,
I have not given admittance to one thought
Of female change since cruelty enforc’d
Divorce betwixt my body and my heart.
Why would you fall from goodness thus?

Orgilus.  O, rather
Examine me, how I could live to say
I have been much, much wrong’d. ’T is for thy sake
I put on this imposture: dear Penthea,
If thy soft bosom be not turn’d to marble,
Thou ’lt pity our calamities; my interest
Confirms me thou art mine still.

Penthea.  Lend your hand;
With both of mine I clasp it thus, thus kiss it,
Thus kneel before ye.

Orgilus.  You instruct my duty.

Penthea.  We may stand up. — Have you aught else to urge
Of new demand? As for the old, forget it;
’T is buried in an everlasting silence,
And shall be, shall be ever. What more would ye?

Orgilus.  I would possess my wife; the equity
Of very reason bids me.

Penthea.  Is that all?

Orgilus.  Why, ’t is the all of me, myself.

Penthea.  Remove
Your steps some distance from me:— at this space
A few words I dare change; but first put on
Your borrowed shape.

Orgilus.  You are obey’d; ’t is done. [He resumes his disguise.]

Penthea.  How, Orgilus, by promise I was thine
The heavens do witness: they can witness too
A rape done on my truth: how I do love thee
Yet, Orgilus, and yet, must best appear
In tendering thy freedom; for I find
The constant preservation of thy merit,
By thy not daring to attempt my fame
With injury of any loose conceit,
Which might give deeper wounds to discontents.
Continue this fair race: 1 then, though I cannot
Add to thy comfort, yet I shall more often
Remember from what fortune I am fallen,
And pity mine own ruin. — Live, live happy, —
Happy in thy next choice, that thou mayst people
This barren age with virtues in thy issue!
And O, when thou art married, think on me
With mercy, not contempt! I hope thy wife,
Hearing my story, will not scorn my fall. —
Now let us part.

Orgilus.  Part! yet advise thee better:
Penthea is the wife to Orgilus,
And ever shall be.

Penthea.  Never shall nor will.

Orgilus.  How!

Penthea.  Hear me; in a word I’ll tell thee why. The virgin-dowry which my birth bestow’d
Is ravish’d by another; my true love
Abhors to think that Orgilus deserv’d
No better favours than a second bed.

Orgilus.  I must not take this reason.

Penthea.  To confirm it
Should I outlive my bondage, let me meet
Another worse than this and less desir’d,
If, of all men alive, thou shouldst but touch
My lip or hand again!

Orgilus.  Penthea, now
I tell ye, you grow wanton in my sufferance:
Come, sweet, th’ art mine.

Penthea.  Uncivil sir, forbear!
Or I can turn affection into vengeance;
Your reputation, if you value any,
Lies bleeding at my feet. Unworthy man,
If ever henceforth thou appear in language,
Message, or letter, to betray my frailty,
I’ll call thy former protestations lust,
And curse my stars for forfeit of my judgment.
Go thou, fit only for disguise, and walks, 2
To hide thy shame: this once I spare thy life.
I laugh at mine own confidence; my sorrows
By thee are made inferior to my fortunes.
If ever thou didst harbour worthy love,
Dare not to answer. My good genius guide me,
That I may never see thee more! — Go from me!

Orgilus.  I’ll tear my veil of politic French off,
And stand up like a man resolv’d to do:
Action, not words, shall show me. — O Penthea! [Exit.]

Penthea.  ’A sighed my name, sure, as he parted from me:
I fear I was too rough. Alas, poor gentleman
’A look’d not like the ruins of his youth,
But like the ruins of those ruins. Honour,
How much we fight with weakness to preserve thee! [Walks aside.]

Enter Bassanes and Grausis.

Bassanes.  Fie on thee! damn thee, rotten maggot, damn thee!
Sleep? sleep at court? and now? Aches, 3 convulsions,
Imposthumes, rheums, gouts, palsies, clog thy bones
A dozen years more yet!

Grausis.  Now y’ are in humours.

Bassanes.  She’s by herself, there’s hope of that; she’s sad too;
She’s in strong contemplation; yes, and fixt:
The signs are wholesome.

Grausis.  Very wholesome, truly.

Bassanes.  Hold your chops, 1 nightmare! — Lady, come; your brother
Is carried to his closet; you must thither.

Penthea.  Not well, my lord?

Bassanes.  A sudden fit; ’t will off!
Some surfeit or disorder. — How dost, dearest?

Penthea.  Your news is none o’ the best.

Re-enter Prophilus.

Prophilus.  The chief of men,
The excellentest Ithocles, desires
Your presence, madam.

Bassanes.  We are hasting to him.

Penthea.  In vain we labour in this course of life
To piece our journey out at length, or crave
Respite of breath: our home is in the grave.

Bassanes.  Perfect philosophy!

Penthea.  Then let us care
To live so, that our reckonings may fall even
When we ’re to make account.

Prophilus.  He cannot fear
Who builds on noble grounds: sickness or pain
Is the deserver’s exercise; 2 and such
Your virtuous brother to the world is known.
Speak comfort to him, lady; be all gentle:
Stars fall but in the grossness of our sight;
A good man dying, th’ earth doth lose a light.

Exeunt omnes.

2 Gifford’s emend. Q. reads as the incense smoking
The holiest altars, virgin tears (like
On Vesta’s odours) sprinkled dews to feed ’em
And to increase.

1 Course.

2 Apparently corrupt.

3 The word was pronounced aitches.

1 Jaws.

2 Discipline.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54