Enter Tecnicus, and Orgilus in his own shape.
Tecnicus. Be well advis’d; let not a resolution
Of giddy rashness choke the breath of reason.
Orgilus. It shall not, most sage master.
Tecnicus. I am jealous; 4
For if the borrowed, shape so late put on
Inferr’d a consequence, we must conclude
Some violent design of sudden nature
Hath shook that shadow off, to fly upon
A new-hatch’d execution. Orgilus,
Take heed thou hast not, under our integrity,
Shrouded unlawful plots; our mortal eyes
Pierce not the secrets of your heart, the gods
Are only privy to them.
Orgilus. Learned Tecnicus
Such doubts are causeless; and, to clear the truth
From misconceit, the present state commands me. The Prince of Argos comes himself in person
In quest of great Calantha for his bride,
Our kingdom’s heir; besides, mine only sister,
Euphranea, is dispos’d to Prophilus;
Lastly, the king is sending letters for me
To Athens, for my quick repair to court:
Please to accept these reasons.
Tecnicus. Just ones, Orgilus,
Not to be contradicted: yet beware
Of an unsure foundation; no fair colours
Can fortify a building faintly jointed.
I have observ’d a growth in thy aspéct
Of dangerous extent, sudden, and — look to ’t —
I might add, certain —
Orgilus. My aspéct! Could art
Run through mine inmost thoughts, it should not sift
An inclination there more than what suited
With justice of mine honour.
Tecnicus. I believe it.
But know then, Orgilus, what honour is.
Honour consists not in a bare opinion
By doing any act that feeds content,
Brave in appearance, ’cause we think it brave;
Such honour comes by accident, not nature,
Proceeding from the vices of our passion,
Which makes our reason drunk: but real honour
Is the reward of virtue, and acquir’d
By justice, or by valour which for basis
Hath justice to uphold it. He then fails
In honour, who for lucre [or] revenge
Commits thefts, murders, treasons, and adulteries,
With suchlike, by intrenching on just laws,
Whose sovereignty is best preserv’d by justice.
Thus, as you see how honour must be grounded
On knowledge, not opinion, — for opinion
Relies on probability and accident,
But knowledge on necessity and truth, —
I leave thee to the fit consideration
Of what becomes the grace of real honour,
Wishing success to all thy virtuous meanings.
Orgilus. The gods increase thy wisdom, reverend oracle,
And in thy precepts make me ever thrifty! 5
Tecnicus. I thank thy wish. [Exit.]
Much mystery of fate
Lies hid in that man’s fortunes; curiosity
May lead his actions into rare attempts:—
But let the gods be moderators still;
No human power can prevent their will.
Enter Armostes [with a casket].
From whence come ye?
Armostes. From King Amyclas, — pardon
My interruption of your studies. — Here,
In this seal’d box, he sends a treasure [to you,]
Dear to him as his crown. ’A prays your gravity
You would examine, ponder, sift, and bolt
The pith and circumstance of every tittle
The scroll within contains.
Tecnicus. What is ’t, Armostes?
Armostes. It is the health of Sparta, the king’s life,
Sinews and safety of the commonwealth;
The sum of what the oracle deliver’d
When last he visited the prophetic temple
At Delphos: what his reasons are, for which,
After so long a silence, he requires
Your counsel now, grave man, his majesty
Will soon himself acquaint you with.
Tecnicus. [Takes the casket.] Apollo
Inspire my intellect! — The Prince of Argos
Armostes. He is; and has demanded
Our princess for his wife; which I conceive
One special cause the king importunes you
For resolution of the oracle.
Tecnicus. My duty to the king, good peace to Sparta,
And fair day to Armostes!
Armostes. Like to Tecnicus!
Soft music, during which time enter Prophilus, Bassanes, Penthea, Grausis, passing over the stage. Bassanes and Grausis enter again softly, stealing to several stands, and listen.
Can you paint a thought? or number
Every fancy in a slumber?
Can you count soft minutes roving
From a dial’s point by moving?
Can you grasp a sigh? or, lastly,
Rob a virgin’s honour chastely?
No, O, no! yet you may
Sooner do both that and this,
This and that, and never miss,
Than by any praise display
Beauty ’s beauty; such a glory,
As beyond all fate, all story,
All arms, all arts,
All loves, all hearts,
Greater than those or they,
Do, shall, and must obey.
Bassanes. All silent, calm, secure. — Grausis, no creaking?
No noise? Dost hear nothing?
Grausis. Not a mouse,
Or whisper of the wind.
Bassanes. The floor is matted;
The bedposts sure are steel or marble. — Soldiers
Should not affect, methinks, strains so effeminate:
Sounds of such delicacy are but fawnings
Upon the sloth of luxury, they heighten
Cinders of covert lust up to a flame.
Grausis. What do you mean, my lord? — speak low; that gabbling
Of yours will but undo us.
Are felt, not heard.
Prophilus. [within.] ’A wakes.
Bassanes. What’s that?
Ithocles. [within.] Who’s there?
Sister? — All quit the room else.
Bassanes. ’T is consented!
Prophilus. Lord Bassanes, your brother would be private,
We must forbear; his sleep hath newly left him.
Please ye withdraw.
Bassanes. By any means; ’t is fit.
Prophilus. Pray, gentlewoman, walk too.
Grausis. Yes, I will, sir. [Exeunt omnes.]
Ithocles discovered in a chair, and Penthea beside him.
Ithocles. Sit nearer, sister to me; nearer yet.
We had one father, in one womb took life,
Were brought up twins together, yet have liv’d
At distance, like two strangers. I could wish
That the first pillow whereon I was cradled
Had prov’d to me a grave.
Penthea. You had been happy:
Then had you never known that sin of life
Which blots all following glories with a vengeance,
For forfeiting the last will of the dead,
From whom you had your being.
Ithocles. Sad Penthea,
Thou canst not be too cruel; my rash spleen
Hath with a violent hand pluck’d from thy bosom
A love-blest 2 heart, to grind it into dust;
For which mine ’s now a-breaking.
Penthea. Not yet, Heaven,
I do beseech thee! First let some wild fires
Scorch, not consume it! may the heat be cherisht
With desires infinite, but hopes impossible!
Ithocles. Wrong’d soul, thy prayers are heard.
Penthea. Here, lo, I breathe,
A miserable creature, led to ruin
By an unnatural brother!
Ithocles. I consume
In languishing affections for that trespass;
Yet cannot die.
Penthea. The handmaid to the wages
Of country toil drinks the untroubled streams
With leaping kids and with the bleating lambs,
And so allays her thirst secure; whiles I
Quench my hot sighs with fleetings 3 of my tears.
Ithocles. The labourer doth eat his coarsest bread,
Earn’d with his sweat, and lies him down to sleep;
While 4 every bit I touch turns in digestion
To gall as bitter as Penthea’s curse.
Put me to any penance for my tyranny,
And I will call thee merciful.
Penthea. Pray kill me,
Rid me from living with a jealous husband;
Then we will join in friendship, be again
Brother and sister. — Kill me, pray; nay, will ye?
Ithocles. How does thy lord esteem thee?
Penthea. Such an one
As only you have made me; a faith-breaker,
A spotted whore:— forgive me, I am one
In act, not in desires, the gods must witness.
Ithocles. Thou dost belie thy friend.
Penthea. I do not, Ithocles; For she that’s wife to Orgilus, and lives
In known adultery with Bassanes,
Is at the best a whore. Wilt kill me now?
The ashes of our parents will assume
Some dreadful figure, and appear to charge
Thy bloody guilt, that hast betray’d their name
To infamy in this reproachful match.
Ithocles. After my victories abroad, at home
I meet despair; ingratitude of nature
Hath made my actions monstrous. Thou shalt stand
A deity, my sister, and be worshipp’d
For thy resolved martyrdom; wrong’d maids
And married wives shall to thy hallowed shrine
Offer their orisons, and sacrifice
Pure turtles, crown’d with myrtle; if thy pity
Unto a yielding brother’s pressure lend
One finger but to ease it.
Penthea. O, no more!
Ithocles. Death waits to waft me to the Stygian banks,
And free me from this chaos of my bondage;
And till thou wilt forgive, I must endure.
Penthea. Who is the saint you serve?
Penthea. Let me,
By your new protestations I conjure ye,
Partake her name.
Ithocles. Her name? — ’t is — ’t is — I dare not.
Penthea. All your respects are forg’d.3
Ithocles. They are not. — Peace!
Calantha is — the princess — the king’s daughter —
Sole heir of Sparta. — Me, most miserable
Do I now love thee? For my injuries
Revenge thyself with bravery, and gossip
My treasons to the king’s ears, do:— Calantha
Knows it not yet, nor Prophilus, ray nearest.
Penthea. Suppose you were contracted to her, would it not
Split even your very soul to see her father
Snatch her out of your arms against her will,
And force her on the Prince of Argos?
Ithocles. Trouble not
The fountains of mine eyes with thine own story;
I sweat in blood for’t.
Penthea. We are reconcil’d.
Alas, sir, being children, but two branches
Of one stock, ’t is not fit we should divide:
Have comfort, you may find it.
Ithocles. Yes, in thee;
Only in thee, Penthea mine.
Penthea. If sorrows
Have not too much dull’d my infected brain,
I’ll cheer invention for an active strain.4
Ithocles. Mad man! why have I wrong’d a maid so excellent!
Enter Bassanes with a poniard; Prophilus, Groneas, Hemophil, and Grausis.
Bassanes. I can forbear no longer; more, I will not.
Keep off your hands, or fall upon my point. —
Patience is tir’d; for, like a slow-pac’d ass,
Ye ride my easy nature, and proclaim
My sloth to vengeance a reproach and property.5
Ithocles. The meaning of this rudeness?
Prophilus. He ’s distracted.
Penthea. O, my griev’d lord! —
Grausis. Sweet lady, come not near him;
He holds his perilous weapon in his hand
To prick ’a cares not whom nor where, — see, see, see!
Bassanes. My birth is noble: though the popular blast
Of vanity, as giddy as thy youth,
Hath rear’d thy name up to bestride a cloud,
Or progress in the chariot of the sun,
I am no clod of trade, to lackey pride,
Nor, like your slave of expectation,6 wait
The bawdy hinges of your doors, or whistle
For mystical conveyance to your bed-sports.
Groneas. Fine humours! they become him.
Hemophil. How ’a stares,
Struts, puffs, and sweats! Most admirable 7 lunacy!
Ithocles. But that I may conceive the spirit of wine
Has took possession of your soberer custom,
I’d say you were unmannerly.
Penthea. Dear brother! —
Bassanes. Unmannerly! — mew, kitling! — smooth Formality
Is usher to the rankness of the blood,
But Impudence bears up the train. Indeed, sir,
Your fiery mettle, or your springal 8 blaze
Of huge renown, is no sufficient royalty
To print upon my forehead the scorn, “cuckold.”
Ithocles. His jealousy has robb’d him of his wits;
’A talks ’a knows not what.
Bassanes. Yes, and ’a knows
To whom ’a talks; to one that franks 9 his lust
In swine-security of bestial incest.
Ithocles. Ha, devil!
Bassanes. I will haloo ’t; 10
though I blush more
To name the filthiness than thou to act it.
Ithocles. Monster! [Draws his sword.]
Prophilus. Sir, by our friendship —
Penthea. By our bloods —
Will you quite both undo us, brother?
Grausis. Out on him!
These are his megrims, firks,11 and melancholies.
Hemophil. Well said, old touch-hole.
Groneas. Kick him out of doors.
Penthea. With favour, let me speak. — My lord, what slackness
In my obedience hath deserv’d this rage?
Except humility and silent duty
Have drawn on your unquiet, my simplicity
Ne’er studied your vexation.
Bassanes. Light of beauty,
Deal not ungently with a desperate wound!
No breach of reason dares make war with her
Whose looks are sovereignty, whose breath is balm.
O, that I could preserve thee in fruition
As in devotion!
Penthea. Sir, may every evil
Lock’d in Pandora’s box shower, in your presence,
On my unhappy head, if, since you made me
A partner in your bed, I have been faulty
In one unseemly thought against your honour!
Ithocles. Purge not his griefs, Penthea.
Bassanes. Yes, say on,
Excellent creature! — [To Ithocles.] Good, be not a hindrance
To peace and praise of virtue. — O, my senses
Are charm’d with sounds celestial! — On, dear, on:
I never gave you one ill word; say, did I?
Indeed I did not.
Penthea. Nor, by Juno’s forehead,
Was I o’er guilty of a wanton error.
Bassanes. A goddess! let me kneel.
Grausis. Alas, kind animal!
Ithocles. No; but for penance.
Bassanes. Noble sir, what is it?
With gladness I embrace it; yet, pray let not
My rashness teach you to be too unmerciful.
Ithocles. When you shall show good proof that manly wisdom,
Not oversway’d by passion or opinion,
Knows how to lead [your] judgment, then this lady,
Your wife, my sister, shall return in safety
Home, to be guided by you; but, till first
I can out of clear evidence approve it,
She shall be my care.
Bassanes. Rip my bosom up,
I’ll stand the execution with a constancy;
This torture is unsufferable.
Ithocles. Well, sir,
I dare not trust her to your fury.
Penthea says not so.
Penthea. She needs no tongue
To plead excuse who never purpos’d wrong.
Hemophil. Virgin of reverence and antiquity,
Stay you behind.
Groneas. [to Grausis.] The court wants not your diligence.
Exeunt all but BASS. and GRAU.
Grausis. What will you do, my lord? My lady’s gone;
I am deni’d to follow.
Bassanes. I may see her,
Or speak to her once more?
Grausis. And feel her too, man;
Be of good cheer, she ’s your own flesh and bone.
Bassanes. Diseases desperate must find cures alike.
She swore she has been true.
Grausis. True, on my modesty.
Bassanes. Let him want truth who credits not her vows!
Much wrong I did her, but her brother infinite;
Rumour will voice me the contempt of manhood
Should I run on thus. Some way I must try
To outdo art, and [jealousy decry.] 1
2 Q. lover-blest.
4 Q. Which.
1 Q. omits.
2 ’Tis, Dyce emend. Q. as.
3 I. e. You do not care for me as you say.
4 I will attempt to devise something.
5 Personal characteristics.
6 Attendant slave.
9 Feeds; fattens, as one fattens swine.
1 Q. cry a Iealousie.
Flourish. Enter Amyclas. Nearchus, leading
Calantha, Armostes, Crotolon, Euphranea, Christalla, Philema, and Amelus.
Amyclas. Cousin of Argos, what the heavens have pleas’d,
In their unchanging counsels to conclude
For both our kingdoms’ weal, we must submit to:
Nor can we be unthankful to their bounties,
Who, when we were even creeping to our grave,
Sent us a daughter, in whose birth our hope
Continues of succession. As you are
In title next, being grandchild to our aunt,
So we in heart desire you may sit nearest
Calantha’s love; since we have ever vow’d
Not to enforce affection by our will,
But by her own choice to confirm it gladly.
Nearchus. You speak the nature of a right just father.
I come not hither roughly to demand
My cousin’s thraldom, but to free mine own.
Report of great Calantha’s beauty, virtue,
Sweetness, and singular perfections, courted
All ears to credit what I find was publish’d
By constant truth; from which, if any service
Of my desert can purchase fair construction,
This lady must command it.
Calantha. Princely sir,
So well you know how to profess observance, 3
That you instruct your hearers to become
Practitioners in duty; of which number
I’ll study to be chief.
Nearchus. Chief, glorious virgin,
In my devotions, as in all men’s wonder.
Amyclas. Excellent cousin, we deny no liberty;
Use thine own opportunities. — Armostes,
We must consult with the philosophers;
The business is of weight.
Armostes. Sir, at your pleasure.
Amyclas. You, told me, Crotolon, your son’s return’d
From Athens: wherefore comes he not to court
As we commanded?
Crotolon. He shall soon attend
Your royal will, great sir.
Amyclas. The marriage
Between young Prophilus and Euphranea
Tastes of too much delay.
Crotolon. My lord, —
Amyclas. Some pleasures
At celebration of it would give life
To th’ entertainment of the prince our kinsman;
Our court wears gravity more than we relish.
Armostes. Yet the heavens smile on all your high attempts,
Without a cloud.
Crotolon. So may the gods protect us.
Calantha. A prince a subject?
Nearchus. Yes, to beauty’s sceptre;
As all hearts kneel, so mine.
Calantha. You are too courtly.
Enter Ithocles, Orgilus, and Prophilus.
Ithocles. Your safe return to Sparta is most; welcome:
I joy to meet you here, and, as occasion
Shall grant us privacy, will yield you reasons
Why I should covet to deserve the title
Of your respected friend; for, without compliment,
Believe it, Orgilus, ’t is my ambition.
Orgilus. Your lordship may command me, your poor servant.
Ithocles. [Aside.] So amourously close! — so
— my heart!
Prophilus. What sudden change is next?
Ithocles. Life to the king!
To whom I here present this noble: gentleman,
New come from Athens: royal sir, vouchsafe
Your gracious hand in favour of his merit.
[The King gives Orgilus his hand to kiss.]
Crotolon. [Aside.] My son preferr’d by Ithocles!
Amyclas. Our bounties
Shall open to thee, Orgilus; for instance, —
Hark in thine ear, — if, out of those inventions
Which flow in Athens, thou hast there engrost 1
Some rarity of wit, to grace the nuptials
Of thy fair sister, and renown our court
In th’ eyes of this young prince, we shall be debtor
To thy conceit: think on ’t.
Orgilus. Your highness honours me.
Nearchus. My tongue and heart are twins.
Calantha. A noble birth,
Becoming such a father. — Worthy Orgilus,
You are a guest most wish’d for.
Orgilus. May my duty
Still rise in your opinion, sacred princess!
Ithocles. Euphranea’s brother, sir; a gentleman
Well worthy of your knowledge.
Nearchus. We embrace him,
Proud of so dear acquaintance.
Amyclas. All prepare
For revels and disport; the joys of Hymen,
Like Phoebus in his lustre, put to flight
All mists of dulness, crown the hours with gladness:
No sounds but music, no discourse but mirth!
Calantha. Thine arm, I prithee, Ithocles. — Nay, good
My lord, keep on your way; I am provided.
Nearchus. I dare not disobey.
Ithocles. Most heavenly lady!
Enter Crotolon and Orgilus.
Crotolon. The king hath spoke his mind.
Orgilus. His will he hath;
But were it lawful to hold plea against
The power of greatness, not the reason, haply
Such undershrubs as subjects sometimes might
Borrow of nature justice, to inform
That license sovereignty holds without check
Over a meek obedience.
Crotolon. How resolve you
Touching your sister’s marriage? Prophilus
Is a deserving and a hopeful youth.
Orgilus. I envy not his merit, but applaud it;
Could wish him thrift 3 in all his best desires,
And with a willingness inleague our blood
With his, for purchase of full growth in friendship.
He never touch’d on any wrong that malic’d
The honour of our house nor stirr’d our peace:
Yet, with your favour, let me not forget
Under whose wing he gathers warmth and comfort,
Whose creature he is bound, made, and must live so.
Crotolon. Son, son, I find in thee a harsh condition; 4
No courtesy can win it; ’t is too rancorous.
Orgilus. Good sir, be not severe in your construction;
I am no stranger to such easy calms
As sit in tender bosoms: lordly Ithocles
Hath grac’d my entertainment in abundance,
Too humbly hath descended from that height
Of arrogance and spleen which wrought the rape
On griev’d Penthea’s purity; his scorn
Of my untoward fortunes is reclaim’d
Unto a courtship, almost to a fawning:—
I ’ll kiss his foot, since you will have it so.
Crotolon. Since I will have it so! Friend, I will have it so,
Without our ruin by your politic plots,
Or wolf of hatred snarling in your breast.
You have a spirit, sir, have ye? A familiar
That posts i’ th’ air for your intelligence?
Some such hobgoblin hurried you from Athens,
For yet you come unsent for.
Orgilus. If unwelcome,
I might have found a grave there.
Crotolon. Sure, your business
Was soon dispatch’d, or your mind alter’d quickly.
Orgilus. ’T was care, sir, of my health cut short my journey;
For there a general infection
Threatens a desolation.
Crotolon. And I fear
Thou hast brought back a worse infection with thee, —
Infection of thy mind; which, as thou say’st,
Threatens the desolation of our family.
Orgilus. Forbid it, our dear genius! I will rather
Be made a sacrifice on Thrasus’ monument,
Or kneel to Ithocles, his son, in dust,
Than woo a father’s curse. My sister’s marriage
With Prophilus is from my heart confirm’d;
May I live hated, may I die despis’d,
If I omit to further it in all
That can concern me!
Crotolon. I have been too rough.
My duty to my king made me so earnest;
Excuse it, Orgilus.
Orgilus. Dear sir! —
Crotolon. Here comes
Euphranea with Prophilus and Ithocles.
Enter Prophilus, Euphranea, Ithocles, Groneas, and Hemophil.
Orgilus. Most honoured! — ever famous!
Ithocles. Your true friend;
On earth not any truer. — With smooth eyes
Look on this worthy couple; your consent
Can only make them one.
Orgilus. They have it. — Sister,
Thou pawn’dst to me an oath, of which engagement
I never will release thee, if thou aim’st
At any other choice than this.
Euphranea. Dear brother,
At him, or none.
Crotolon. To which my blessing ’s added.
Orgilus. Which, till a greater ceremony perfect, —
Euphranea, lend thy hand, — here, take her, Prophilus;
Live long a happy man and wife; and further,
That these in presence may conclude an omen,
Thus for a bridal song I close my wishes:
Comforts lasting, loves increasing,
Like soft hours never ceasing:
Plenty’s pleasure, peace complying,
Without jars, or tongues envying;
Hearts by holy union wedded,
More than theirs by custom bedded;
Fruitful issues; life so graced,
Not by age to be defaced,
Budding, as the year ensu’th,
Every spring another youth:
All what thought can add beside
Crown this bridegroom and this bride!
Prophilus. You have seal’d joy close to my soul. —
Now I may call thee mine.
Ithocles. I but exchange
One good friend for another.
Orgilus. If these gallants
Will please to grace a poor invention
By joining with me in some slight device,
I’ll venture on a strain my younger days
Have studied for delight.
Hemophil. With thankful willingness
I offer my attendance.
Groneas. No endeavour
Of mine shall fail to show itself.
Ithocles. We will
All join to wait on thy directions, Orgilus.
Orgilus. O, my good lord, your favours flow towards
A too unworthy worm; — but as you please;
I am what you will shape me.
Ithocles. A fast friend.
Crotolon. I thank thee, son, for this acknowledgment;
It is a sight of gladness.
Orgilus. But my duty.
Enter Calantha, Penthea, Christalla, and Philema.
Calantha. Whoe’er would speak with us, deny his entrance;
Be careful of our charge.
Christalla. We shall, madam.
Calantha. Except the king himself, give none admittance;
Philema. Madam, it shall be our care.
Exeunt [Christalla and Philema].
Calantha. Being alone, Penthea, you have granted
The opportunity you sought, and might
At all times have commanded.
Penthea. ’T is a benefit
Which I shall owe your goodness even in death
My glass of life, sweet princess, hath few minutes
Remaining to run down; the sands are spent;
For by an inward messenger I feel
The summons of departure short and certain.
Calantha. You feel too much your melancholy.
Of human greatness are but pleasing dreams
And shadows soon decaying: on the stage
Of my mortality my youth hath acted
Some scenes of vanity, drawn out at length
By varied pleasures, sweet’ned in the mixture,
But tragical in issue: beauty, pomp,
With every sensuality our giddiness
Doth frame an idol, are unconstant friends,
When any troubled passion makes assault
On the unguarded castle of the mind.
Calantha. Contemn not your condition for the proof
Of bare opinion only: to what end
Reach all these moral texts?
Penthea. To place before ye
A perfect mirror, wherein you may see
How weary I am of a ling’ring life,
Who count the best a misery.
You have no little cause; yet none so great
As to distrust a remedy.
Penthea. That remedy
Must be a winding-sheet, a fold of lead,
And some untrod-on corner in the earth. —
Not to detain your expectation, princess,
I have an humble suit.
Calantha. Speak; I enjoy 2 it.
Penthea. Vouchsafe, then, to be my executrix,
And take that trouble on ye to dispose
Such legacies as I bequeath, impartially.
I have not much to give, the pains are easy;
Heaven will reward your piety, and thank it
When I am dead; for sure I must not live;
I hope I cannot.
Calantha. Now, beshrew thy sadness,
Thou turn’st me too much woman. [Weeps.]
Penthea. [Aside.] Her fair eyes
Melt into passion. — Then I have assurance
Encouraging my boldness. In this paper
My will was character’d; which you, with pardon,
Shall now know from mine own mouth.
Calantha. Talk on, prithee;
It is a pretty earnest.
Penthea. I have left me
But three poor jewels to bequeath. The first is
My youth; for though I am much old in griefs,
In years I am a child.
Calantha. To whom that [jewel]?
Penthea. To virgin-wives, such as abuse not wedlock
By freedom of desires, but covet chiefly
The pledges of chaste beds for ties of love,
Rather than ranging of their blood; and next
To married maids, such as prefer the number
Of honourable issue in their virtues
Before the flattery of delights by marriage:
May those be ever young!
Calantha. A second jewel.
You mean to part with?
Penthea. ’T is my fame, I trust
By scandal yet untouch’d: this I bequeath
To Memory, and Time’s old daughter, Truth.
If ever my unhappy name find mention
When I am fall’n to dust, may it deserve
Beseeming charity without dishonour!
Calantha. How handsomely thou play’st with harmless sport
Of mere imagination! Speak the last.
I strangely like thy will.
Penthea. This jewel, madam,
Is dearly precious to me; you must use
The best of your discretion to employ
This gift as intend it.
Calantha. Do not doubt me.
Penthea. ’T is long agone since first I lost my heart:
Long I have liv’d without it, else for certain
I should have given that too; but instead
Of it, to great Calantha, Sparta’s heir,
By service bound and by affection vow’d,
I do bequeath, in holiest rites of love,
Mine only brother, Ithocles.
Calantha. What saidst thou?
Penthea. Impute not, heaven-blest lady, to ambition
A faith as humbly perfect as the prayers
Of a devoted suppliant can endow it.
Look on him, princess, with an eye of pity;
How like the ghost of what he late appear’d
’A moves before you.
Calantha. Shall I answer here,
Or lend my ear too grossly?
Penthea. First his heart
Shall fall in cinders, scorch’d by your disdain,
Ere he will dare, poor man, to ope an eye
On these divine looks, but with low-bent
Accusing such presumption; as for words,
’A dares not utter any but of service:
Yet this lost creature loves ye. — Be a princess
In sweetness as in blood; give him his doom,
Or raise him up to comfort.
Calantha. What new change
Appears in my behaviour, that thou dar’st
Tempt my displeasure?
Penthea. I must leave the world
To revel in Elysium, and ’t is just
To wish my brother some advantage here;
Yet, by my best hopes, Ithocles is ignorant
Of this pursuit. But if you please to kill him,
Lend him one angry look or one harsh word,
And you shall soon conclude how strong a
Your absolute authority holds over
His life and end.
Calantha. You have forgot, Penthea,
How still I have a father.
Penthea. But remember
I am a sister, though to me this brother
Hath been, you know, unkind, O, most unkind!
Calantha. Christalla, Philema, where are ye? — Lady,
Your check lies in my silence.
Re-enter Christalla and Philema.
Christalla and Philema. Madam, here.
Calantha. I think ye sleep, ye drones: wait on
Unto her lodging. — [Aside.] Ithocles? Wrong’d lady!
Penthea. My reckonings are made even; death or fate
Can now nor strike too soon, nor force too late.
2 So Q. Dyce suggests enjoin.
Last updated Thursday, December 25, 2014 at 10:38