The Broken Heart

John Ford

Text derived from The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists, Excluding Shakespeare, William Allan Neilson, Ed. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1911.

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Last updated Thursday, December 25, 2014 at 10:33.

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Table of Contents

The Speakers’ Names Fitted to their Qualities



  1. A room in Crotolon’s house.
  2. A room in the palace.
  3. The gardens of the palace. A grove.


  1. A room in Bassanes’ house.
  2. The palace. Ithocles’ apartment.
  3. The gardens of the palace. A grove.


  1. The study of Tecnicus.
  2. The palace. Ithocles’ apartment.
  3. A room in the palace.
  4. A room in the house of Crotolon.
  5. Calantha’s apartment in the palace.


  1. The palace. Ithocles’ apartment.
  2. A room in Bassanes’ house.
  3. An apartment in the palace.
  4. Penthea’s apartment in the palace.


  1. A room in Bassanes’ house.
  2. A state-room in the palace.
  3. A temple.

The Epilogue

The Speakers’ Names Fitted to their Qualities

Amyclas, Common to the Kings of Laconia.

Ithocles, Honour of loveliness, a Favourite.

Orgilus, Angry, son to Crotolon.

Bassanes, Vexation, a jealous Nobleman.

Armostes, an Appeaser, a Councillor of State.

Crotolon, Noise, another Councillor.

Prophilus, Dear, Friend to Ithocles.

Nearchus, Young Prince, Prince of Argos.

Tecnicus, Artist, a Philosopher.

Hemophil, Glutton, Groneas, Tavern-haunter, two Courtiers.

Amelus, Trusty, Friend to Nearchus.

Phulas, Watchful, Servant to Bassanes.

Calantha, Flower of beauty, the King’s Daughter.

Penthea, Complaint, Sister to Ithocles [and Wife to Bassanes].

Euphranea, Joy, a Maid of honour [Daughter to Crotolon].

Christalla, Christal, and Philema, A Kiss, Maids of honour.

Grausis, Old Beldam, Overseer of Penthea.

Persons included:

Theasus, Fierceness, Father of Ithocles.

Aplotes, Simplicity, Orgilus so disguised.

Lords, Courtiers, Officers, Attendants, etc.

SCENE— Sparta.


OUR scene is Sparta. He whose best of art
hath drawn this piece calls it THE BROKEN HEART.
The title lends no expectation here
Of apish laughter, or of some lame jeer
At place or persons; no pretended clause
Of jests fit for a brothel courts applause
From vulgar admiration: such low songs,
Tun’d to unchaste ears, suit not modest tongues.
The Virgin Sisters then deserv’d fresh bays
When Innocence and Sweetness crown’d their lays;
Then vices gasp’d for breath, whose whole commerce
Was whipp’d to exile by unblushing verse.
This law we keep in our presentment now,
Not to take freedom more than we allow;
What may be here thought fiction, 2 when time’s youth
Wanted some riper years, was known a truth:
In which, if words have cloth’d the subject right,
You may partake a pity with delight.

2 Q. a fiction.



A room in Crotolon’s house.

Enter Crotolon and Orgilus.

Crotolon.  Dally not further; I will know the reason
That speeds thee to this journey.

Orgilus.  Reason! good sir,
I can yield many.

Crotolon.  Give me one, a good one;
Such I expect, and ere we part must have.
Athens! Pray, why to Athens? You intend not
To kick against the world, turn cynic, stoic,
Or read the logic lecture, or become
An Areopagite, 4 and judge in cases
Touching the commonwealth; for, as I take it,
The budding of your chin cannot prognosticate
So grave an honour.

Orgilus.  All this I acknowledge.

Crotolon.  You do! Then, son, if books and love of knowledge
Inflame you to this travel, here in Sparta
You may as freely study.

Orgilus.  ’T is not that, sir.

Crotolon.  Not that, sir! As a father, I command thee
To acquaint me with the truth.

Orgilus.  Thus I obey ye.
After so many quarrels as dissension,
Fury, and rage had broacht in blood, and sometimes
With death to such confederates as sided
With now-dead Thrasus and yourself, my lord;
Our present king, Amyclas, reconcil’d
Your eager swords and seal’d a gentle peace:
Friends you profest yourselves; which to confirm,
A resolution for a lasting league
Betwixt your families was entertain’d,
By joining in a Hymenean bond
Me and the fair Penthea, only daughter
To Thrasus.

Crotolon.  What of this?

Orgilus.  Much, much, dear sir.
A freedom of converse, an interchange
Of holy and chaste love, so fixt our souls
In a firm growth of union, that no time
Can eat into the pledge: we had enjoy’d
The sweets our vows expected, had not cruelty
Prevented all those triumphs we prepar’d for,
By Thrasus his untimely death.

Crotolon.  Most certain.

Orgilus.  From this time sprouted up that poisonous stalk
Of aconite, whose ripened fruit hath ravisht
All health, all comfort of a happy life;
For Ithocles, her brother, proud of youth,
And prouder in his power, nourisht closely
The memory of former discontents,
To glory in revenge. By cunning partly,
Partly by threats, ’a woos at once and forces
His virtuous sister to admit a marriage
With Bassanes, a nobleman, in honour
And riches, I confess, beyond my fortunes.

Crotolon.  All this is no sound reason to importune
My leave for thy departure.

Orgilus.  Now it follows.
Beauteous Penthea, wedded to this torture
By an insulting brother, being secretly
Compell’d to yield her virgin freedom up
To him who never can usurp her heart,
Before contracted mine, is now so yok’d
To a most barbarous thraldrom, misery,
Affliction, that he savours not humanity,
Whose sorrow melts not into more than pity
In hearing but her name.

Crotolon.  As how, pray?

Orgilus.  Bassanes,
The man that calls her wife, considers truly
What heaven of perfections he is lord of
By thinking fair Penthea his: this thought
Begets a kind of monster-love, which love
Is nurse unto a fear so strong and servile
As brands all dotage with a jealousy:
All eyes who gaze upon that shrine of beauty
He doth resolve 1 do homage to the miracle;
Some one, he is assur’d, may now or then,
If opportunity but sort, 2 prevail.
So much, out of a self-unworthiness,
His fears transport him; not that he finds cause
In her obedience, but his own distrust.

Crotolon.  You spin out your discourse.

Orgilus.  My griefs are violent:
For knowing how the maid was heretofore
Courted by me, his jealousies grow wild
That I should steal again into her favours,
And undermine her virtues; which the gods
Know I nor dare nor dream of. Hence, from hence
I undertake a voluntary exile;
First, by my absence to take off the cares
Of jealous Bassanes; but chiefly, sir,
To free Penthea from a hell on earth;
Lastly, to lose the memory of something
Her presence makes to live in me afresh.

Crotolon.  Enough, my Orgilus, enough. To Athens,
I give a full consent. — Alas, good lady! —
We shall hear from thee often?

Orgilus.  Often.

Crotolon.  See,
Thy sister comes to give a farewell.

Enter Euphranea.

Euphranea.  Brother!

Orgilus.  Euphranea, thus upon thy cheeks I print
A brother’s kiss; more careful of thine honour,
Thy health, and thy well-doing, than my life.
Before we part, in presence of our father,
I must prefer a suit t’ ye.

Euphranea.  You may style it,
My brother, a command.

Orgilus.  That you will promise
To pass never to any man, however
Worthy, your faith, till, with our father’s leave,
I give a free consent.

Crotolon.  An easy motion!
I’ll promise for her, Orgilus.

Orgilus.  Your pardon;
Euphranea’s oath must yield me satisfaction.

Euphranea.  By Vesta’s sacred fires I swear.

Crotolon.  And I,
By Great Apollo’s beams, join in the vow,
Not without thy allowance to bestow her
On any living.

Orgilus.  Dear Euphranea,
Mistake me not: far, far ’t is from my thought,
As far from any wish of mine, to hinder
Preferment to an honourable bed
Or fitting fortune; thou art young and handsome;
And ’t were injustice, — more, a tyranny, —
Not to advance thy merit. Trust me, sister,
It shall be my first care to see thee match’d
As may become thy choice and our contents.
I have your oath.

Euphranea.  You have. But mean you, brother,
To leave us, as you say?

Crotolon.  Ay, ay, Euphranea; He has just grounds direct him. I will prove
A father and a brother to thee.

Euphranea.  Heaven
Does look into the secrets of all hearts:
Gods, you have mercy with ye, else —

Crotolon.  Doubt nothing;
Thy brother will return in safety to us.

Orgilus.  Souls sunk in sorrows never are without ’em.
They change fresh airs, but bear their griefs about ’em.

Exeunt omnes.

4 A member of the Areopagus, the highest judicial court in Athens.

1 Decide

2 Agree.


A room in the palace.

Flourish. Enter Amyclas the King, Armostes, Prophilus, [Courtiers,] and Attendants.

Amyclas.  The Spartan gods are gracious; our humility
Shall bend before their altars, and perfume
Their temples with abundant sacrifice.
See, lords, Amyclas, your old king, is ent’ring
Into his youth again! I shall shake off
This silver badge of age, and change this snow
For hairs as gay as are Apollo’s locks;
Our heart leaps in new vigour.

Armostes.  May old time
Run back to double your long life, great sir!

Amyclas.  It will, it must, Armostes: thy bold nephew,
Death-braving Ithocles, brings to our gates
Triumphs and peace upon his conquering sword.
Laconia is a monarchy at length;
Hath in this latter war trod under foot
Messene’s pride; Messene bows her neck
To Lacedaemon’s royalty. O, ’t was
A glorious victory, and doth deserve
More than a chronicle — a temple, lords,
A temple to the name of Ithocles. —
Where didst thou leave him, Prophilus?

Prophilus.  At Pephon,
Most gracious sovereign; twenty of the noblest
Of the Messenians there attend your pleasure,
For such conditions as you shall propose
In settling peace, and liberty of life.

Amyclas.  When comes your friend, the general?

Prophilus.  He promis’d
To follow with all speed convenient.

Enter Calantha, Euphranea; Christalla and Philema [with a garland]; and Crotolon.

Amyclas.  Our daughter! — Dear Calantha, the happy news,
The conquest of Messene, hath already
Enrich’d thy knowledge.

Calantha.  With the circumstance
And manner of the fight, related faithfully
By Prophilus himself:— But, pray, sir, tell me
How doth the youthful general demean
His actions in these fortunes?

Prophilus.  Excellent princess,
Your own fair eyes may soon report a truth
Unto your judgment, with what moderation,
Calmness of nature, measure, bounds, and limits
Of thankfulness and joy, ’a doth digest
Such amplitude of his success as would
In others, moulded of a spirit less clear,
Advance ’em to comparison with heaven:
But Ithocles —

Calantha.  Your friend —

Prophilus.  He is so, madam,
In which the period of my fate consists:
He, in this firmament of honour, stands
Like a star fixt, not mov’d with any thunder
Of popular applause or sudden lightning
Of self-opinion; he hath serv’d his country,
And thinks ’t was but his duty.

Crotolon.  You describe
A miracle of man.

Amyclas.  Such, Crotolon,
On forfeit of a king’s word, thou wilt find him. — [Flourish.]
Hark, warning of his coming! All attend him.

Enter Ithocles, Hemophil, and Groneas; the rest of the Lords ushering him in.

Return into these arms, thy home, thy sanctuary,
Delight of Sparta, treasure of my bosom,
Mine own, own Ithocles!

Ithocles.  Your humblest subject.

Armostes.  Proud of the blood I claim an interest in.
As brother to thy mother, I embrace thee,
Right noble nephew.

Ithocles.  Sir, your love’s too partial.

Crotolon.  Our country speaks by me, who by thy valour,
Wisdom, and service, shares in this great action;
Returning thee, in part of thy due merits,
A general welcome.

Ithocles.  You exceed in bounty.

Calantha.  Christalla, Philema, the chaplet. [Takes the chaplet from them.] — Ithocles,
Upon the wings of Fame the singular
And chosen fortune of an high attempt
Is borne so past the view of common sight,
That I myself with mine own hands have wrought,
To crown thy temples, this provincial garland: 2
Accept, wear, and enjoy it as our gift
Deserv’d, not purchas’d.

Ithocles.  Y’ are a royal maid.

Amyclas.  She is in all our daughter.

Ithocles.  Let me blush,
Acknowledging how poorly I have serv’d,
What nothings I have done, compar’d with th’ honours
Heap’d on the issue of a willing mind;
In that lay mine ability, that only:
For who is he so sluggish from his birth,
So little worthy of a name or country,
That owes not out of gratitude for life
A debt of service, in what kind soever
Safety or counsel of the commonwealth
Requires, for payment?

Calantha.  ’A speaks truth.

Ithocles.  Whom heaven
Is pleas’d to style victorious, there to such
Applause runs madding, like the drunken priests
In Bacchus’ sacrifices, without reason,
Voicing the leader-on a demi-god;
Whenas, indeed, each common soldier’s blood
Drops down as current coin in that hard purchase
As his whose much more delicate condition
Hath suckt the milk of ease: judgment; commands,
But resolution executes. I use not,
Before this royal presence, these fit slights 1
As in contempt of such as can direct;
My speech hath other end; not to attribute
All praise to one man’s fortune, which is strengthen’d
By many hands. For instance, here is Prophilus,
A gentleman — I cannot flatter truth —
Of much desert; and, though in other rank,
Both Hemophil and Groneas were not missing
To wish their country’s peace; for, in a word,
All there did strive their best, and ’t was our duty.

Amyclas.  Courtiers turn soldiers! — We vouchsafe our hand.
[Hemophil and Groneas kiss his hand.] Observe your great example.

Hemophil.  With all diligence.

Groneas.  Obsequiously and hourly.

Amyclas.  Some repose
After these toils is 2 needful. We must think on
Conditions for the conquered; they expect 3 ’em.
On! — Come, my Ithocles.

Euphranea.  Sir, with your favour,
I need not a supporter.

Prophilus.  Fate instructs me.

Exeunt. Hemophil stays Christalla; Groneas, Philema.

Christalla.  With me?

Philema.  Indeed, I dare not stay.

Hemophil.  Sweet lady.
Soldiers are blunt, — your lip.

Christalla.  Fie, this is rudeness:
You went not hence such creatures.

Groneas.  Spirit of valour
Is of a mounting nature.

Philema.  It appears so. —
Pray, in earnest, how many men apiece
Have you two been the death of?

Groneas.  ’Faith, not many;
We were compos’d of mercy.

Hemophil.  For our daring,
You heard the general’s approbation
Before the king.

Christalla.  You “wish’d your country’s peace;”
That show’d your charity: where are your spoils,
Such as the soldier fights for?

Philema.  They are coming.

Christalla.  By the next carrier, are they not?

Groneas.  Sweet Philema,
When I was in the thickest of mine enemies,
Slashing off one man’s head, another’s nose,
Another’s arms and legs, —

Philema.  And all together.

Groneas.  Then would I with a sigh remember thee,
And cry “Dear Philema, ’t is for thy sake
I do these deeds of wonder!” — Dost not love me
With all thy heart now?

Philema.  Now as heretofore.

I have not put my love to use; the principal
Will hardly yield an interest.

Groneas.  By Mars,
I’ll marry thee!

Philema.  By Vulcan, you ’re forsworn,
Except my mind do alter strangely.

Groneas.  One word.

Christalla.  You lie beyond all modesty:— forbear me.

Hemophil.  I’ll make thee mistress of a city; ’t is
Mine own by conquest.

Christalla.  By petition; sue for ’t
In forma pauperis. — City! kennel. — Gallants,
Off with your feathers, put on aprons, gallants;
Learn to reel, thrum, 4 or trim a lady’s dog,
And be good quiet souls of peace, hobgoblins!

Hemophil.  Christalla!

Christalla.  Practise to drill hogs, in hope
To share in the acorns. — Soldiers! corncutters,
But not so valiant; they ofttimes draw blood,
Which you durst never do. When you have practis’d

More wit or more civility, we’ll rank ye
I’ th’ list of men: till then, brave things-at-arms,
Dare not to speak to us, — most potent Groneas! —

Philema.  And Hemophil the hardy! — at your services.

Exeunt Christalla and Philema.

Groneas.  They scorn us as they did before we went.

Hemophil.  Hang ’em! let us scorn them, and be reveng’d.

Groneas.  Shall we?

Hemophil.  We will: and when we slight them thus,
Instead of following them, they’ll follow us;
It is a woman’s nature,

Groneas.  ’T is a scurvy one.


2 The laurel wreath . . . conferred on those who added a province to the empire. (Gifford.)

1 Appropriately belittling terms.

2 Q. are.

3 Await.

4 Weave.


The gardens of the palace. A grove.

Enter Tecnicus, a philosopher, and Orgilus
disguised like a Scholar of his.

Tecnicus.  Tempt not the stars; young man, thou canst not play
With the severity of fate: this change
Of habit and disguise in outward view
Hides not the secrets of thy soul within thee
From their quick-piercing eyes, which dive at all times
Down to thy thoughts: in thy aspect I note
A consequence of danger.

Orgilus.  Give me leave,
Grave Tecnicus, without foredooming destiny,
Under thy roof to ease my silent griefs,
By applying to my hidden wounds the balm
Of thy oraculous lectures. If my fortune
Run such a crooked by-way as to wrest
My steps to ruin, yet thy learned precepts
Shall call me back and set my footings straight.
I will not court the world.

Tecnicus.  Ah, Orgilus,
Neglects in young men of delights and life
Run often to extremities; they care not
For harms to others who contemn their own.

Orgilus.  But I, most learned artist, am not so much
At odds with nature that I grudge the thrift
Of any true deserver; nor doth malice
Of present hopes so check them with despair
As that I yield to thought of more affliction
Than what is incident to frailty: wherefore
Impute not this retired course of living
Some little time to any other cause
Than what I justly render, — the information
Of an unsettled mind; as the effect
Must clearly witness.

Tecnicus.  Spirit of truth inspire thee!
On these conditions I conceal thy change,
And willingly admit thee for an auditor. —
I’ll to my study.

Orgilus.  I to contemplations
In these delightful walks. [Exit Tecnicus.]
Thus metamorphos’d
I may without suspicion hearken after
Penthea’s usage and Euphranea’s faith.
Love, thou art full of mystery! The deities
Themselves are not secure 1 in searching out
The secrets of those flames, which, hidden, waste
A breast made tributary to the laws
Of beauty: physic yet hath never found
A remedy to cure a lover’s wound. —
Ha! who are those that cross yon private walk
Into the shadowing grove in amorous foldings?

Prophilus passeth over, supporting 2 Euphranea, and whispering.

My sister! O, my sister! ’t is Euphranea
With Prophilus: supported too! I Would
It were an apparition! Prophilus
Is Ithocles his friend: it strangely puzzles me.
Again! help me, my book; this scholar’s habit
Must stand my privilege: my mind is busy,
Mine eyes and ears are open.

Walks by, reading.

Re-enter Prophilus and Euphranea.

Prophilus.  Do not waste
The span of this stol’n time, lent by the gods
For precious use, in niceness. 3 Bright Euphranea,
Should I repeat old vows, or study new,
For purchase of belief to my desires, —

Orgilus.  [Aside.] Desires!

Prophilus.  My service, my integrity, —

Orgilus.  [Aside.] That’s better.

Prophilus.  I should but repeat a lesson
Oft conn’d without a prompter but thine eyes.
My love is honourable.

Orgilus.  [Aside] So was mine
To my Penthea, chastely honourable.

Prophilus.  Nor wants there more addition to my wish
Of happiness than having thee a wife;
Already sure of Ithocles, a friend
Firm and unalterable.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] But a brother
More cruel than the grave.

Euphranea.  What Can you look for,
In answer to your noble protestations,
From an unskilful maid, but language suited
To a divided mind?

Orgilus.  [Aside.] Hold out, Euphranea!

Euphranea.  Know, Prophilus, I never undervalu’d,
From the first time you mentioned worthy love,
Your merit, means, or person: it had been
A fault of judgment in me, and a dulness
In my affections, not to weigh and thank
My better stars that offered me the grace
Of so much blissfulness. For, to speak truth,
The law of my desires kept equal pace
With yours; nor have I left that resolution:
But only, in a word, whatever choice
Lives nearest in my heart must first procure
Consent both from my father and my brother,
Ere he can own me his.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] She is forsworn else.

Prophilus.  Leave me that task.

Euphranea.  My brother, ere he parted
To Athens, had my oath.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] Yes, yes, ’a had, sure.

Prophilus.  I doubt not, with the means the court supplies,
But to prevail at pleasure.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] Very likely!

Prophilus.  Meantime, best, dearest, I may build my hopes
On the foundation of thy constant suff’rance
In any opposition.

Euphranea.  Death shall sooner
Divorce life and the joys I have in living
Than my chaste vows from truth.

Prophilus.  On thy fair hand
I seal the like.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] There is no faith in woman.
Passion, O, be contain’d! My very heart-strings
Are on the tenters.4

Euphranea.  Sir, we are overheard.
Cupid protect us! ’T was a stirring, sir,
Of some one near.

Prophilus.  Your fears are needless, lady;
None have access into these private pleasures
Except some near in court, or bosom-student
From Tecnicus his oratory, granted
By special favour lately from the king
Unto the grave philosopher.

Euphranea.  Methinks
I hear one talking to himself, — I see him.

Prophilus.  ’T is a poor scholar, as I told you, lady.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] I am discovered. — [Half aloud to himself, as if studying.] Say it; is it possible,
With a smooth tongue, a leering countenance,
Flattery, or force of reason — I come t’ ye, sir —
To turn or to appease the raging sea?
Answer to that. — Your art! what art to catch
And hold fast in a net the sun’s small atoms?
No, no; they’ll out, they’ll out: ye may as easily
Outrun a cloud driven by a northern blast
As fiddle-faddle so! Peace, or speak sense,

Euphranea.  Call you this thing a scholar? ’Las, he’s lunatic.

Prophilus.  Observe him, sweet; ’t is but his recreation.

Orgilus.  But will you hear a little? You’re so tetchy,
You keep no rule in argument. Philosophy
Works not upon impossibilities,
But natural conclusions. — Mew! — absurd!
The metaphysics are but speculations
Of the celestial bodies, or such accidents
As not mixt perfectly, in the air engend’red
Appear to us unnatural; that’s all.
Prove it; yet, with a reverence to your gravity,
I’ll balk illiterate sauciness, submitting
My sole opinion to the touch of writers.

Prophilus.  Now let us fall in with him.

[They come forward.]

Orgilus.  Ha, ha, ha!
These apish boys, when they but taste the grammates 1
And principles of theory, imagine
They can oppose their teachers. Confidence
Leads many into errors.

Prophilus.  By your leave, sir.

Euphranea.  Are you a scholar, friend?

Orgilus.  I am, gay creature,
With pardon of your deities, a mushroom
On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then;
The sun shines on me too, I thank his beams!
Sometime I feel their warmth; and eat and sleep.

Prophilus.  Does Tecnicus read to thee?

Orgilus.  Yes, forsooth.
He is my master surely; yonder door
Opens upon his study.

Prophilus.  Happy creatures!
Such people toil not, sweet, in heats of state,
Nor sink in thaws of greatness; their affections
Keep order with the limits of their modesty;
Their love is love of virtue. — What’s thy name?

Orgilus.  Aplotes, sumptuous master, a poor wretch.

Euphranea.  Dost thou want anything?

Orgilus.  Books, Venus, books.

Prophilus.  Lady, a new conceit; comes in my thought,
And most available for both our comforts.

Euphranea.  My lord, —

Prophilus.  Whiles I endeavour to deserve
Your father’s blessing to our loves, this scholar
May daily at some certain hours attend 2
What notice I can write of my success,
Here in this grove, and give it to your hands
The like from you to me: so can we never
Barr’d of our mutual speech, want sure intelligence,
And thus our hearts may talk when our tongues cannot.

Euphranea.  Occasion is most favourable; use it.

Prophilus.  Aplotes, wilt thou wait us twice a day,
At nine i’ the morning and at four at night,
Here in this bower, to convey such letters
As each shall send to other? Do it willingly,
Safely, and secretly, and I will furnish
Thy study, or what else thou canst desire.

Orgilus.  Jove, make me thankful, thankful, I beseech thee
Propitious Jove! I will prove sure and trusty.
You will not fail me books?

Prophilus.  Nor aught besides
Thy heart can wish. This lady’s name’s Euphranea,
Mine Prophilus.

Orgilus.  I have a pretty memory;
It must prove my best friend. I will not miss
One minute of the hours appointed.

Prophilus.  Write
The books thou wouldst have bought thee in a note,
Or take thyself some money.

Orgilus.  No, no money;
Money to scholars is a spirit invisible,
We dare not finger it: or books, or nothing.

Prophilus.  Books of what sort thou wilt: do not forget
Our names.

Orgilus.  I warrant ye, I warrant ye.

Prophilus.  Smile, Hymen, on the growth of our desires;
We’ll feed thy torches with eternal fires!

Exeunt Prophilus and Euphranea.

Orgilus.  Put out thy torches, Hymen, or their light
Shall meet a darkness of eternal night!
Inspire me, Mercury, with swift deceits.
Ingenious Fate has leapt into mine arms,
Beyond the compass of my brain. 3 Mortality
Creeps on the dung of earth, and cannot reach
The riddles which are purpos’d by the gods.
Great arts best write themselves in their own stories;
They die too basely who outlive their glories.

1 Certain.

2 With his arm round her waist. (Dyce.)

3 Coyness; over-particular scruples.

4 Hooks for stretching cloth; on the rack.

1 Rudiments.

2 Wait for.

3 Beyond what I could have planned.



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.



The study of Tecnicus.

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
Is entertain’d?

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!


4 Suspicious.

5 Make me ever avail myself of thy precepts.


The palace. Ithocles’ apartment.

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.

Bassanes.  Chamber-combats
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!

Re-enter Prophilus.

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?

Ithocles.  Friendship, or [nearness] 1
Of birth to any but my sister, durst not
Have mov’d that question; [’t is] 2 a secret, sister,
I dare not murmur to myself.

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.

Bassanes.  But
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.

3 Streams.

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.

7 Wonderful.

8 Youthful.

9 Feeds; fattens, as one fattens swine.

10 Proclaim.

11 Freaks.

1 Q. cry a Iealousie.


A room in the palace.

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 soon!
  — 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!


3 Worship, courtship.

1 Acquired.


A room in the house of Crotolon.

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.


3 Prosperity.

4 Disposition.


Calantha’s apartment in the palace.

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;
Not any.

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.

Penthea.  Glories
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.

Calantha.  Indeed
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.



The palace. Ithocles’ apartment.

Enter Ithocles and Armostes.

Ithocles.  Forbear your inquisition: curiosity
Is of too subtle and too searching nature,
In fears of love too quick, too slow of credit. —
I am not what you doubt me.

Armostes.  Nephew, be, then,
As I would wish; — all is not right. — Good heaven
Confirm your resolutions for dependence
On worthy ends, which may advance your quiet!

Ithocles.  I did the noble Orgilus much injury,
But griev’d Penthea more: I now repent it, —
Now, uncle, now; this “now” is now too late.
So provident is folly in sad issue,
That after-wit, like bankrupts’ debts, stands tallied,
Without all possibilities of payment.
Sure, he’s an honest, very honest gentleman;
A man of single 2 meaning.

Armostes.  I believe it:
Yet, nephew, ’t is the tongue informs our ears;
Our eyes can never pierce into the thoughts,
For they are lodg’d too inward:— but I question
No truth in Orgilus, — The princess, sir.

Ithocles.  The princess! ha!

Armostes.  With her the Prince of Argos.

Enter Nearchus, leading Calantha; Amelus, Christalla, Philema.

Nearchus.  Great fair one, grace my hopes with any instance
Of livery,1 from the allowance of your favour;
This little spark — [Attempts to take a ring from her finger.]

Calantha.  A toy!

Nearchus.  Love feasts on toys,
For Cupid is a child; — vouchsafe this bounty:
It cannot be deni’d.

Calantha.  You shall not value,
Sweet cousin, at a price, what I count cheap;
So cheap, that let him take it who dares stoop for ’t,
And give it at next meeting to a mistress:
She ’ll thank him for ’t, perhaps.

[Casts the ring to Ithocles.]

Amelus.  The ring, sir, is
The princess’s; I could have took it up.

Ithocles.  Learn manners, prithee. — To the blessed owner,
Upon my knees —

Kneels and offers it to Calantha.

Nearchus.  Y’ are saucy.

Calantha.  This is pretty!
I am, belike, “a mistress” — wondrous pretty!
Let the man keep his fortune, since he found it;
He’s worthy on ’t. — On, cousin!

Ithocles.  [to Amelus.] Follow, spaniel;
I ’ll force ye to a fawning else.

Amelus.  You dare not.

Exeunt. Manent ITH. and ARM.

Armostes.  My lord, you were too forward.

Ithocles.  Look ye, uncle,
Some such there are whose liberal contents
Swarm without care in every sort of plenty;
Who after full repasts can lay them down
To sleep; and they sleep, uncle: in which silence
Their very dreams present ’em choice of pleasures,
Pleasures — observe me, uncle — of rare object;
Here heaps of gold, there increments of honours,
Now change of garments, then the votes of people;
Anon varieties of beauties, courting,
In flatteries of the night, exchange of dalliance:
Yet these are still but dreams. Give me felicity
Of which my senses waking are partakers,
A real, visible, material happiness;
And then, too, when I stagger in expectance
Of the least comfort that can cherish life. —
I saw it, sir, I saw it; for it came
From her own hand.

Armostes.  The princess threw it t’ ye.

Ithocles.  True; and she said — well I remember what —
Her cousin prince would beg it.

Armostes.  Yes, and parted
In anger at your taking on ’t.

Ithocles.  Panthea,
O, thou hast pleaded with a powerful language!
I want a fee to gratify thy merit;
But I will do —

Armostes.  What is ’t you say?

Ithocles.  In anger!
In anger let him part; for could his breath,
Like whirlwinds, toss such servile slaves as lick
The dust his footsteps print into a vapour,
It durst not stir a hair of mine, it should not;
I’d rend it up by th’ roots first. To be anything
Calantha smiles on, is to be a blessing
More sacred than a petty prince of Argos
Can wish to equal, or in worth or title.

Armostes.  Contain yourself, my lord: Ixion, aiming
To embrace Juno, bosom’d but a cloud,
And begat Centaurs; ’t is an useful moral.
Ambition hatch’d in clouds of mere opinion
Proves but in birth a prodigy.

Ithocles.  I thank ye;
Yet, with your licence, I should seem uncharitable
To gentler fate, if, relishing the dainties
Of a soul’s settled peace, I were so feeble
Not to digest it.

Armostes.  He deserves small trust
Who is not privy-counsellor to himself.

Re-enter Nearchus and Amelus, with Orgilus.

Nearchus.  Brave me!

Orgilus.  Your excellence mistakes his temper;
For Ithocles in fashion of his mind
Is beautiful, soft, gentle, the clear mirror
Of absolute perfection.

Amelus.  Was ’t your modesty
Term’d any of the prince’s servants “spaniel”?
Your nurse, sure, taught you other language.

Ithocles.  Language!

Nearchus.  A gallant man-at-arms is here, a doctor
In feats of chivalry, blunt and rough-spoken,
Vouchsafing not the fustian of civility,
Which [less] 2 rash spirits style good manners!

Ithocles.  Manners!

Orgilus.  No more, illustrious sir; ’t is matchless Ithocles.

Nearchus.  You might have understood who I am.

Ithocles.  Yes.
I did; else — but the presence calm’d th’ affront —
Y’ are cousin to the princess.

Nearchus.  To the king, too;
A certain instrument that lent supportance
To you colossic greatness — to that king too,
You might have added.

Ithocles.  There is more divinity
In beauty than in majesty.

Armostes.  O fie, fie!

Nearchus.  This odd youth’s pride turns heretic in loyalty.
Sirrah! low mushrooms never rival cedars.

Exeunt Nearchus and Amelus.

Ithocles.  Come back! — What pitiful dull thing am I
So to be tamely scolded at! come back! —
Let him come back, and echo once again
That scornful sound of mushroom! painted colts —
Like heralds’ coats gilt o’er with, crowns and
sceptres —
May bait a muzzled lion.

Armostes.  Cousin, cousin,
Thy tongue is not thy friend.

Orgilus.  In point of honour
Discretion knows no bounds. Amelus told me
’T was all about a little ring.

Ithocles.  A ring
The princess threw away, and I took up.
Admit she threw ’t to me, what arm of brass
Can snatch it hence? No; could he grind the hoop
To powder, ’a might sooner reach my heart
Than steal and wear one dust on ’t. — Orgilus,
I am extremely wrong’d.

Orgilus.  A lady’s favour
Is not to be so slighted.

Ithocles.  Slighted!

Armostes.  Quiet
These vain unruly passions, which will render
Into a madness.

Orgilus.  Griefs will have their vent.

Enter Tecnicus [with a scroll].

Armostes.  Welcome; thou com’st in season, reverend man,
To pour the balsam of a suppling 1 patience
Into the festering wound of ill-spent fury.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] What makes he here?

Tecnicus.  The hurts are yet but 2 mortal,
Which shortly will prove deadly. To the king,
Armostes, see in safety then deliver
This seal’d-up counsel; bid him with a constancy
Peruse the secrets of the gods. — O Sparta,
O Lacedaemon! double-nam’d, but one
In fate: when kingdoms reel, — mark well my saw, —
Their heads must needs be giddy. Tell the king
That henceforth he no more mast inquire after
My aged head; Apollo wills it so:
I am for Delphos.

Armostes.  Not without some conference
With our great master?

Tecnicus.  Never more to see him:
A greater prince commands me. — Ithocles,
When youth is ripe, and age from time doth part,
The lifeless trunk shall wed the broken heart.

Ithocles.  What’s this, if understood?

Tecnicus.  List, Orgilus;
Remember what I told thee long before,
These tears shall be my witness.

Armostes.  ’Las, good man!

Tecnicus.  Let craft with courtesy a while confer,
Revenge proves its own executioner.

Orgilus.  Dark sentences are for Apollo’s priests;
I am not Oedipus.

Tecnicus.  My hour is come;
Cheer up the king; farewell to all. — O Sparta,
O Lacedaemon! [Exit.]

Armostes.  If prophetic fire
Have warm’d this old man’s bosom, we might
His words to fatal sense.

Ithocles.  Leave to the powers
Above us the effects of their decrees;
My burthen lies within me: servile fears
Prevent no great effects. — Divine Calantha!

Armostes.  The gods be still propitious!

Exeunt Ithocles and Armostes.

Orgilus.  Something oddly
The book-man prated, yet ’a talk’d it weeping;
Let craft with courtesy a while confer,
Revenge proves its own executioner.
Con it again; — for what? It shall not puzzle me;
’T is dotage of a withered brain. — Penthea
Forbade me not her presence; I may see her,
And gaze my fill. Why see her, then, I may,
When, if I faint to speak — I must be silent. [Exit.]

2 Sincere.

1 Badge of a retainer.

2 Q. omits.

1 Q. supplying.

2 Gifford suggests not.


A room in Bassanes’ house.

Enter Bassanes, Grausis, and Phulas.

Bassanes.  Pray, use your recreations, all the service
I will expect is quietness amongst ye;
Take liberty at home, abroad, at all times,
And in your charities appease the gods,
Whom I, with my distractions, have offended.

Grausis.  Fair blessings on thy heart!

Phulas.  [Aside.] Here ’s a rare change!
My lord, to cure the itch, is surely gelded;
The cuckold in conceit hath cast his horns.

Bassanes.  Betake ye to your several occasions;
And wherein I have heretofore been faulty,
Let your constructions mildly pass it over.
Henceforth I’ll study reformation, — more
I have not for employment.

Grausis.  O, sweet man!
Thou art the very “Honeycomb of Honesty.” 4

Phulas.  The “Garland of Good-will.” — Old lady, hold up
Thy reverend snout, and trot behind me softly,
As it becomes a moil 5 of ancient carriage.

Exeunt Grausis and Phulas.

Bassanes.  Beasts, only capable of sense, enjoy
The benefit of food and ease with thankfulness;
Such silly creatures, with a grudging, kick not
Against the portion nature hath bestow’d:
But men, endow’d with reason and the use
Of reason, to distinguish from the chaff
Of abject scarcity the quintessence,
Soul, and elixir of the earth’s abundance,
The treasures of the sea, the air, nay, heaven,
Repining at these glories of creation
Are verier beasts than beasts; and of those beasts
The worst am I : I, who was made a monarch
Of what a heart could wish for, — a chaste wife, —
Endeavour’d what in me lay to pull down
That temple built for adoration only,
And level ’t in the dust of causeless scandal.
But, to redeem a sacrilege so impious,
Humility shall pour, before the deities
I have incenst, a largess of more patience
Than their displeased altars can require:
No tempests of commotion shall disquiet
The calms of my composure.

Enter Orgilus.

Orgilus.  I have found thee,
Thou patron of more horrors than the bulk
Of manhood, hoop’d about with ribs of iron,
Can cram within thy breast: Penthea, Bassanes
Curst by thy jealousies, — more, by thy dotage, —
Is left a prey to words.

Bassanes.  Exercise
Your trials for addition to my penánce;
I am resolv’d.

Orgilus.  Play not with misery
Past cure: some angry minister of fate hath
Depos’d the empress of her soul, her reason,
From its most proper throne; but, what’s the miracle
More new, I, I have seen it, and yet live!

Bassanes.  You may delude my senses, not my judgment;
’T is anchor’d into a firm resolution;
Dalliance of mirth or wit can ne’er unfix it:
Practise 1 yet further.

Orgilus.  May thy death of love to her
Damn all thy comforts to a lasting fast
From every joy of life! Thou barren rock,
By thee we have been split in ken 2 of harbour.

Enter Ithocles, Penthea her hair about her ears, [Armostes,] Philema, and Christalla.

Ithocles.  Sister, look up; your Ithocles, your brother,
Speaks t’ ye; why do you weep? Dear, turn not from me. —
Here is a killing sight; lo, Bassanes,
A lamentable object!

Orgilus.  Man, dost see’t?
Sports are more gamesome; am I yet in merriment?
Why dost not laugh?

Bassanes.  Divine and best of ladies,
Please to forget my outrage; mercy ever
Cannot but lodge under a roof so excellent.
I have cast off that cruelty of frenzy
Which once appear’d imposture, 3 and then juggled
To cheat my sleeps of rest.

Orgilus.  Was I in earnest?

Penthea.  Sure, if we were all Sirens, we should sing pitifully.
And’t were a comely music, when in parts
One sung another’s knell. The turtle sighs
When he hath lost his mate; and yet some say
He must be dead first. ’T is a fine deceit
To pass away in a dream; indeed, I ’ve slept
With mine eyes open a great while. No falsehood
Equals a broken faith; there’s not a hair
Sticks on my head but, like a leaden plummet,
It sinks me to the grave. I must creep thither;
The journey is not long.

Ithocles.  &nbsp: But, thou, Penthea,
Hast many years, I hope, to number yet,
Ere thou canst travel that way.

Bassanes.  Let the sun first
Be wrapp’d up in an everlasting darkness,
Before the light of nature, chiefly form’d
For the whole world’s delight, feel an eclipse
So universal!

Orgilus.  Wisdom, look ye, begins
To rave! — Art thou mad too, antiquity?

Penthea.  Since I was first a wife, I might have been
Mother to many pretty prattling babes;
They would have smil’d when I smil’d, and for certain
I should have cri’d when they cri’d:— truly, brother,
My father would have pick’d me out a husband,
And then my little ones had been no bastards;
But ’t is too late for me to marry now,
I am past child-bearing; ’t is not my fault.

Bassanes.  Fall on me, if there be a burning

And bury me in flames! Sweats hot as sulphur
Boil through my pores! Affliction hath in store
No torture like to this.

Orgilus.  Behold a patience!
Lay by thy whining gray dissimulation,
Do something worth a chronicle; show justice
Upon the author of this mischief; dig out
The jealousies that hatch’d this thraldom first
With thine own poniard. Every antic rapture
Can roar as thine does.

Ithocles.  Orgilus, forbear.

Bassanes.  Disturb him not; it is a talking motion 4
Provided for my torment. What a fool am I
To bandy 5 passion! Ere I’ll speak a word,
I will look on and burst.

Penthea.  I lov’d you once. [To Orgilus.]

Orgilus.  Thou didst, wrong’d creature: in despite of malice,
For it I love thee ever.

Penthea.  Spare your hand;
Believe me, I’ll not hurt it.

Orgilus.  My 6 heart too.

Penthea.  Complain not though I wring it hard. I ’ll kiss it;
O, ’t is a fine soft palm! — hark, in thine ear;
Like whom do I look, prithee? — Nay, no whispering.
Goodness! we had been happy; too much happiness
Will make folk proud, they say — but that is
he — [Points at Ithocles.]
And yet he paid for ’t home; alas, his heart
Is crept into the cabinet of the princess;
We shall have points 1 and bride-laces. Remember,
When we last gather’d roses in the garden,
I found my wits; but truly you lost yours.
That ’s he, and still ’t is he.
  [Again pointing at Ithocles.]

Ithocles.  Poor soul, how idly
Her fancies guide her tongue!

Bassanes.  [Aside.] Keep in, vexation,
And break not into clamour.

Orgilus.  [Aside.] She has tutor’d me:
Some powerful inspiration checks my laziness. —
Now let me kiss your hand, griev’d beauty.

Penthea.  Kiss it. —
Alack, alack, his lips be wondrous cold.
Dear soul, h’as lost his colour: have ye seen
A straying heart? All crannies! every drop
Of blood is turned to an amethyst,
Which married bachelors hang in their ears.

Orgilus.  Peace usher her into Elysium! —
If this be madness, madness is an oracle. [Exit.]

Ithocles.  Christalla, Philema, when slept my sister,
Her ravings are so wild?

Christalla.  Sir, not these ten days.

Philema.  We watch by her continually; besides,
We can not any way pray her to eat.

Bassanes.  O, misery of miseries!

Penthea.  Take comfort;
You may live well, and die a good old man.
By yea and nay, an oath not to be broken,
If you had join’d our hands once in the temple, —
’T was since my father died, for had he liv’d
He would have done ’t, — I must have call’d you father. —
O, my wrack’d honour! ruin’d by those tyrants,
A cruel brother and a desperate dotage!
There is no peace left for a ravish’d wife
Widow’d by lawless marriage; to all memory
Penthea’s, poor Penthea’s name is strumpeted:
But since her blood was season’d by the forfeit
Of noble shame with mixtures of pollution,
Her blood — ’t is just — be henceforth never height’ned
With taste of sustenance! Starve; let that fulness
Whose plurisy 2 hath fever’d faith and modesty —
Forgive me; O, I faint!
  [Falls into the arms of her Attendants.]

Armostes.  Be not so wilful,
Sweet niece, to work thine own destruction.

Ithocles.  Nature
Will call her daughter monster! — What! not eat?
Refuse the only ordinary means
Which are ordain’d for life? Be not, my sister,
A murderess to thyself. — Hear’st thou this,

Bassanes.  Foh! I am busy; for I have not thoughts
Enow to think: all shall be well anon.
’T is tumbling in my head; there is a mastery
In art to fatten and keep smooth the outside;
Yes, and to comfort up the vital spirits
Without the help of food, fumes or perfumes,
Perfumes or fumes. Let her alone; I ’ll search out
The trick on ’t.

Penthea.  Lead me gently; heavens reward ye.
Griefs are sure friends; they leave without control
Nor cure nor comforts for a leprous soul.

Exeunt the maids supporting Penthea.

Bassanes.  I grant ye; and will put in practice instantly
What you shall still admire: ’t is wonderful,
’T is super-singular, not to be match’d;
Yet, when, I ’ve done ’t, I ’ve done ’t:— ye shall
all thank me. [Exit.]

Armostes.  The sight is full of terror.

Ithocles.  On my soul
Lies such an infinite clog of massy dulness,
As that I have not sense enough to feel it. —
See, uncle, th’ angry 3 thing returns again;
Shall ’s welcome him with thunder? We are haunted,
And must use exorcism to conjure down
This spirit of malevolence.

Armostes.  Mildly, nephew.

Enter Nearchus and Amelus.

Nearchus.  I come not, sir, to chide your late disorder,
Admitting that th’ inurement to a roughness
In soldiers of your years and fortunes, chiefly,
So lately prosperous, hath not yet shook off
The custom of the war in hours of leisure;
Nor shall you need excuse, since y’ are to render
Account to that fair excellence, the princess,
Who in her private gallery expects it
From your own mouth alone: I am a messenger
But to her pleasure.

Ithocles.  Excellent Nearchus,
Be prince still of my services, and conquer
Without the combat of dispute; I honour ye.

Nearchus.  The king is on a sudden indispos’d,
Physicians are call’d for; ’t were fit, Armostes,
You should be near him.

Armostes.  Sir, I kiss your hands.

Exeunt Ithocles and Armostes.

Nearchus.  Amelus, I perceive Calantha’s bosom
Is warm’d with other fires than such as can
Take strength from any fuel of the love
I might address to her. Young Ithocles,
Or ever I mistake, is lord ascendant
Of her devotions; one, to speak him truly,
In every disposition nobly fashioned.

Amelus.  But can your highness brook to be so rivall’d,
Considering the inequality of the persons?

Nearchus.  I can, Amelus; for affections injur’d
By tyranny or rigour of compulsion,
Like tempest-threat’ned trees unfirmly rooted,
Ne’er spring to timely growth: observe, for instance,
Life-spent Penthea and unhappy Orgilus.

Amelus.  How does your grace determine?

Nearchus.  To be jealous
In public of what privately I’ll further;
And though they shall not know, yet they shall find it.


4 The Honeycomb of Honesty, like the Garland of Goodwill, was probably one of the popular miscellanies of the day. ( Gifford.) See Additional Notes.

5 Mule.

1 Test me.

2 Sight.

3 Q. appear’d, Impostors.

4 Puppet.

5 Q. baudy.

6 Q. Paine my, and omits [Pen.] in next line.

1 Tagged laces.

2 Excess.

3 Q. augury.


An apartment in the palace.

Enter Hemophil and Groneas leading Amyclas, and placing him in a chair; followed by Armostes [with a box], Crotolon, and Prophilus.

Amyclas.  Our daughter is not near?

Armostes.  She is retir’d, sir.
Into her gallery.

Amyclas.  Where’s the prince our cousin?

Prophilus.  New walk’d into the grove, my lord.

Amyclas.  All leave us
Except Armostes, and you, Crotolon;
We would be private.

Prophilus.  Health unto your majesty!

Exeunt Prophilus, Hemophil, and Groneas.

Amyclas.  What! Tecnicus is gone?

Armostes.  He is to Delphos;
And to your royal hands presents this box.

Amyclas.  Unseal it, good Armostes; therein lie
The secrets of the oracle; out with it:
[Armostes takes out the scroll.]
Apollo live our patron! Read, Armostes.

Armostes.  [reads.] The plot in which the vine takes root
Begins to dry from head to foot;
The stock soon withering, want of sap
Doth cause to quail the budding grape;
But from the neighbouring elm a dew
Shall drop, and feed the plot anew.

Amyclas.  That is the oracle: what exposition
Makes the philosopher?

Armostes.  This brief one only.
[Reads.] The plot is Sparta, the dri’d vine the king;
The quailing grape his daughter; but the thing
Of most importance, not to be reveal’d
Is a near prince, the elm: the rest conceal’d.

Amyclas.  Enough; although the opening of this riddle
Be but itself a riddle, yet we construe
How near our labouring age draws to a rest.
But must Calantha quail too? that young grape
Untimely budded! I could mourn for her;
Her tenderness hath yet deserve’d no rigour
So to be crost by fate.

Armostes.  You misapply, sir, —
With favour let me speak it, — what Apollo
Hath clouded in hid sense. I here conjecture
Her marriage with some neighb’ring prince, the dew
Of which befriending elm shall ever strengthen
Your subjects with a sovereignty of power.

Crotolon.  Besides, most gracious lord, the pith of oracles
Is to be then digested when th’ events
Expound their truth, not brought as soon to light
As utter’d. Truth is child of Time; and herein
I find no scruple, rather cause of comfort,
With unity of kingdoms.

Amyclas.  May it prove so,
For weal of this dear nation! — Where is Ithocles? —
Armostes, Crotolon, when this wither’d vine
Of my frail carcass, on the funeral pile
Is fir’d into its ashes, let that young man
Be hedg’d about still with your cares and loves.
Much owe I to his worth, much to his service. —
Let such as wait come in now.

Armostes.  All attend here!

Enter Calantha, Ithocles, Prophilus,
Orgilus, Euphranea, Hemophil, and

Calantha.  Dear sir! king! father!

Ithocles.  O my royal master!

Amyclas.  Cleave not my heart, sweet twins of my life’s solace,
With your forejudging fears; there is no physic
So cunningly restorative to cherish
The fall of age, or call back youth and vigour,
As your consents in duty. I will shake off
This languishing disease of time, to quicken
Fresh pleasures in these drooping hours of sadness.
Is fair Euphranea married yet to Prophilus?

Crotolon.  This morning, gracious lord.

Orgilus.  This very morning;
Which, with your highness’ leave, you may observe too.
Our sister looks, methinks, mirthful and sprightly,
As if her chaster fancy could already
Expound the riddle of her gain in losing
A trifle maids know only that they know not.
Pish! prithee, blush not; ’tis but honest change
Of fashion in the garment, loose for strait,
And so the modest maid is made a wife.
Shrewd business — is ’t not, sister?

Euphranea.  You are pleasant.

Amyclas.  We thank thee, Orgilus; this mirth becomes thee.
But wherefore sits the court in such a silence?
A wedding without revels is not seemly.

Calantha.  Your late indisposition, Sir, forbade it.

Amyclas.  Be it thy charge, Calantha, to set forward
The bridal sports, to which I will be present;
If not, at least consenting. — Mine own Ithocles,
I have done little for thee yet.

Ithocles.  Y’ have built me
To the full height I stand in.

Calantha.  [Aside.] Now or never! —
May I propose a suit?

Amyclas.  Demand, and have it.

Calantha.  Pray, sir, give me this young man, and no further
Account him yours than he deserves in all things
To be thought worth mine: I will esteem him
According to his merit.

Amyclas.  Still thou ’rt my daughter,
Still grow’st upon my heart. — [To Ithocles.]
Give me thine hand; —
Calantha, take thine own: in noble actions
Thou ’lt find him firm and absolute. — I would not
Have parted with thee, Ithocles, to any
But to a mistress who is all what I am.

Ithocles.  A change, great king, most wisht for, ’cause the same.

Calantha.  [Aside to Ithocles.] Th’ art mine. Have
I now kept my word?

Ithocles.  [Aside to Calantha.] Divinely.

Orgilus.  Rich fortunes guard, [the] 1 favour of a princess
Rock thee, brave man, in ever-crowned plenty!
Y’ are minion of the time; be thankful for it. —
[Aside.] Ho! here ’s a swing in destiny — apparent!
The youth is up on tiptoe, yet may stumble.

Amyclas.  On to your recreations. — Now convey me
Unto my bed-chamber: none on his forehead
Wear a distempered look.

All.  The gods preserve ye!

Calantha.  [Aside to Ithocles.] Sweet, be not from my sight.

Ithocles.  [Aside to Calantha.] My whole felicity!

Exeunt carrying out the king. Orgilus stays Ithocles.

Orgilus.  Shall I be bold, my lord?

Ithocles.  Thou canst not, Orgilus.
Call me thine own; for Prophilus must henceforth
Be all thy sister’s: friendship, though it cease not
In marriage, yet is oft at less command
Than when a single freedom can dispose it.

Orgilus.  Most right, my most good lord, my most great lord,
My gracious princely lord, I might add, royal.

Ithocles.  Royal! A subject royal?

Orgilus.  Why not, pray, sir?
The sovereignty of kingdoms in their nonage
Stoop’d to desert, not birth; there ’s as much merit
In clearness of affection as in puddle
Of generation: you have conquer’d love
Even in the loveliest; if I greatly err not,
The son of Venus hath bequeath’d his quiver
To Ithocles his manage,2 by whose arrows
Calantha’s breast is open’d.

Ithocles.  Can’t be possible?

Orgilus.  I was myself a piece of suitor once
And forward in preferment too; so forward
That, speaking truth, I may without offence, sir,
Presume to whisper that my hopes, and — hark ye —
My certainty of marriage stood assured
With as firm footing — by your leave — as any’s
Now at this very instant — but —

Ithocles.  ’T is granted:
And for a league of privacy between us,
Read o’er my bosom and partake a secret;
The princess is contracted mine.

Orgilus.  Still, why not?
I now applaud her wisdom: when your kingdom
Stands seated in your will, secure and settled,
I dare pronounce you will be a just monarch;
Greece must admire and tremble.

Ithocles.  Then the sweetness
Of so imparadis’d a comfort, Orgilus!
It is to banquet with the gods.

Orgilus.  The glory
Of numerous children, potency of nobles,
Bent knees, hearts pav’d to tread on!

Ithocles.  With a friendship
So dear, so fast as thine.

Orgilus.  I am unfitting
For office; but for service —

Ithocles.  We ’ll distinguish
Our fortunes merely in the title; partners
In all respects else but the bed.

Orgilus.  The bed!
Forfend it Jove’s own jealousy! — till lastly
We slip down in the common earth together,
And there our beds are equal; save some monument
To show this was the king, and this the subject. — Soft sad music.
List, what sad sounds are these, — extremely sad ones?

Ithocles.  Sure, from Penthea’s lodgings.

Orgilus.  Hark! a voice too.

A SONG [within]

O, no more, no more, too late

Sighs are spent; the burning tapers

  Of a life as chaste as fate,

Pure as are unwritten papers,

  Are burnt out: no heat, no light

  Now remains; ’t is ever night.

Love is dead; let lovers’ eyes,

Lock’d in endless dreams,

Th’ extremes of all extremes,

  Ope no more, for now Love dies,

Now Love dies, — implying

  Love’s martyrs must be ever, ever dying.

Ithocles.  O, my misgiving heart!

Orgilus.  A horrid stillness
Succeeds this deathful air; let ’s know tho reason:
Tread softly; there is mystery in mourning.


1 Q. to.

2 To the control of Ithocles.


Penthea’s apartment in the palace.

Enter Christalla and Philema, bringing in Penthea in a chair, veiled: two other Servants placing two chairs, one on the one side, and the other, with an engine 2 on the other. The Maids sit down at her feet, mourning. The Servants go out: meet them Ithocles and Orgilus.

1st Servant.  [Aside to Orgilus.] ’T is done; that on her right hand.

Orgilus.  Good: begone. [Exeunt Servants.]

Ithocles.  Soft peace enrich this room!

Orgilus.  How fares the lady?

Philema.  Dead!

Christalla.  Dead!

Philema.  Starv’d!

Christalla.  Starv’d!

Ithocles.  Me miserable!

Orgilus.  Tell us
How parted she from life.

Philema.  She call’d for music,
And begg’d some gentle voice to tune a farewell
To life and griefs: Christalla touch’d the lute;
I wept the funeral song.

Christalla.  Which scarce was ended
But her last breath seal’d up these hollow sounds
“O, cruel Ithocles and injur’d Orgilus!”
So down she drew her veil, so died.

Ithocles.  So died!

Orgilus.  Up! you are messengers of death; go from us;
Here ’s woe enough to court without a prompter:
Away: and — hark ye — till you see us next,
No syllable that she is dead. — Away,
Keep a smooth brow. [Exeunt Christalla and Philema.]
My lord, —

Ithocles.  Mine only sister!

Another is not left me.

Orgilus.  Take that chair;
I ’ll seat me here in this: between us sits
The object of our sorrows; some few tears
We ’ll part among us: I perhaps can mix
One lamentable story to prepare ’em. —
There, there; sit there, my lord.

Ithocles.  Yes, as you please.
[Ithocles sits down, and is catcht in the engine.]
What means this treachery?

Orgilus.  Caught! you are caught,
Young master; ’t is thy throne of coronation,
Thou fool of greatness! See, I take this veil off;
Survey a beauty wither’d by the flames
Of an insulting Phaëton, her brother.

Ithocles.  Thou mean’st to kill me basely?

Orgilus.  I foreknew
The last act of her life, and train’d thee hither
To sacrifice a tyrant to a turtle.
You dreamt of kingdoms, did ye? How to bosom
The delicacies of a youngling princess;
How with this nod to grace that subtle courtier,
How with that frown to make this noble tremble,
And so forth; whiles Penthea’s groans and tortures,
Her agonies, her miseries, afflictions,
Ne’er toucht upon your thought: as for my injuries,
Alas, they were beneath your royal pity;
But yet they liv’d, thou proud man, to confound thee.
Behold thy fate; this steel! [Draws a dagger.]

Ithocles.  Strike home! A courage
As keen as thy revenge shall give it welcome:
But prithee faint not; if the wound close up,
Tent 3 it with double force, and search it deeply.
Thou look’st that I should whine and beg compassion,
As loth to leave the vainness of my glories.
A statelier resolution arms my confidence,
To cozen thee of honour; neither could I
With equal trial of unequal fortune
By hazard of a duel; ’t were a bravery
Too mighty for a slave intending murder.
On to the execution, and inherit
A conflict with thy horrors.

Orgilus.  By Apollo,
Thou talk’st a goodly language! for requital
I will report thee to thy mistress richly.
And take this peace along: some few short minutes
Determin’d, my resolves shall quickly follow
Thy wrathful ghost; then, if we tug for mastery,
Penthea’s sacred eyes shall lend new courage.
Give me thy hand: be healthful in thy parting
From lost mortality! thus, thus I free it. [Kills him.]

Ithocles.  Yet, yet, I scorn to shrink.

Orgilus.  Keep up thy spirit:
I will be gentle even in blood; to linger
Pain, which I strive to cure, were to be cruel. [Stabs him again.]

Ithocles.  Nimble in vengeance, I forgive thee. Follow
Safety, with best success: O, may it prosper! —
Penthea, by thy side thy brother bleeds;
The earnest of his wrongs to thy forc’d faith.
Thoughts of ambition, or delicious banquet
With beauty, youth, and love, together perish
In my last breath, which on the sacred altar
Of a long-look’d-for peace — now — moves — to heaven. Dies.

Orgilus.  Farewell, fair spring of manhood! Henceforth welcome
Best expectation of a noble suff’rance.
I ’ll lock the bodies safe, till what must follow
Shall be approv’d. — Sweet twins, shine stars for ever! —
In vain they build their hopes whose life is shame:
No monument lasts but a happy name. [Exit.]

2 A piece of mechanism.

3 Probe.



A room in Bassanes’ house.

Enter Bassanes, alone.

Bassanes.  Athens — to Athens I have sent, the nursery
Of Greece for learning and the fount of knowledge;
For here in Sparta there ’s not left amongst us
One wise man to direct; we ’re all turn’d madcaps.
’T is said Apollo is the god of herbs,
Then certainly he knows the virtue of ’em:
To Delphos I have sent too. If there can be
A help for nature, we are sure yet.

Enter Orgilus.

Orgilus.  Honour
Attend thy counsels ever!

Bassanes.  I beseech thee
With all my heart, let me go from thee quietly;
I will not aught to do with thee, of all men.
The doubles 2 of a hare, — or, in a morning,
Salutes from a splay-footed witch, — to drop
Three drops of blood at th’ nose just and no more, —
Croaking of ravens, or the screech of owls,
Are not so boding mischief as thy crossing
My private meditations. Shun me, prithee;
And if I cannot love thee heartily,
I’ll love thee as well as I can.

Orgilus.  Noble Bassanes,
Mistake me not.

Bassanes.  Phew! then we shall be troubled.
Thou wert ordain’d my plague — heaven make me thankful,
And give me patience too, heaven, I beseech thee.

Orgilus.  Accept a league of amity; for henceforth,
I vow, by my best genius, in a syllable,
Never to speak vexation. I will study
Service and friendship, with a zealous sorrow
For my past incivility towards ye.

Bassanes.  Hey-day, good words, good words! I must believe ’em,
And be a coxcomb for my labour.

Orgilus.  Use not
So hard a language; your misdoubt is causeless.
For instance, if you promise to put on
A constancy of patience, such a patience,
As chronicle or history ne’er mentioned,
As follows not example, but shall stand
A wonder and a theme for imitation,
The first, the index 3 pointing to a second,
I will acquaint ye with an unmatch’d secret,
Whose knowledge to your griefs shall set a period.

Bassanes.  Thou canst not, Orgilus; ’t is in the power
Of the gods only: yet, for satisfaction,
Because I note an earnest in thine utterance,
Unforc’d and naturally free, be resolute 4
The virgin-bays shall not withstand the lightning
With a more careless danger than my constancy
The full of thy relation. Could it move
Distraction in a senseless marble statue,
It should find me a rock: I do expect now
Some truth of unheard moment.

Orgilus.  To your patience
You must add privacy, as strong in silence
As mysteries lock’d-up in Jove’s own bosom.

Bassanes.  A skull hid in the earth a treble age
Shall sooner prate.

Orgilus.  Lastly, to such direction
As the severity of a glorious action
Deserves to lead your wisdom and your judgment,
You ought to yield obedience.

Bassanes.  With assurance
Of will and thankfulness.

Orgilus.  With manly courage
Please, then, to follow me.

Bassanes.  Where’er, I fear not.

Exeunt omnes.


A state-room in the palace.

Loud music. Enter Groneas and Hemophil, leading Euphranea; Christalla and Philema, leading Prophilus; Nearchus supporting Calantha; Crotolon and Amelus.
Cease loud music; all make a stand.

Calantha.  We miss our servant Ithocles and Orgilus;
On whom attend they?

Crotolon.  My son, gracious princess,
Whisper’d some new device, to which these revels
Should be but usher: wherein I conceive
Lord Ithocles and himself are actors.

Calantha.  A fair excuse for absence: as for Bassanes,
Delights to him are troublesome: Armostes
Is with the king?

Crotolon.  He is.

Calantha.  On to the dance! —
Dear cousin, hand you the bride; the bridegroom must be
Intrusted to my courtship, Be not jealous,
Euphranea; I shall scarcely prove a temptress. —
Fall to our dance.


Nearchus dances with Euphranea, Prophilus with Calantha, Christalla with Hemophil, Philema with Groneas.

They dance the first change; during which Armostes enters.

Armostes.  [in Calantha’S ear.] The king your father’s dead.

Calantha.  To the other change.

Armostes.  Is’t possible? [They dance again.]

Enter Bassanes.

Bassanes.  [whispers Calantha.] O, madam!
Penthea, poor Penthea’s starved.

Calantha.  Beshrew thee! —
Lead to the next.

Bassanes.  Amazement dulls my senses.
  [They dance again.]

[Enter Orgilus.]

Orgilus.  [whispers Calantha.] Brave Ithocles is murder’d, murder’d cruelly.

Calantha.  How dull this music sounds! Strike up more sprightly;
Our footings are not active like our heart,
Which treads the nimbler measure.

Orgilus.  I am thunderstruck.
[The last change. Cease music.]

Calantha.  So! let us breathe awhile. — Hath not this motion,
Rais’d fresher colour on your cheeks?

Nearchus.  Sweet princess,
A perfect purity of blood enamels
The beauty of your white.

Calantha.  We all look cheerfully;
And, cousin, ’t is, methinks, a rare presumption
In any who prefer our lawful pleasures
Before their own sour censure, t’ interrupt
The custom of this ceremony bluntly.

Nearchus.  None dares, lady.

Calantha.  Yes, yes; some hollow voice deliver’d to me
How that the king was dead.

Armostes.  The king is dead:
That fatal news was mine; for in mine arms
He breath’d his last, and with his crown bequeath’d ye
Your mother’s wedding ring; which here I tender.

Crotolon.  Most strange!

Calantha.  Peace crown his ashes! We are queen, then.

Nearchus.  Long live Calantha! Sparta’s sovereign queen!

All.  Long live the queen!

Calantha.  What whispered Bassanes?

Bassanes.  That my Penthea, miserable soul,
Was starv’d to death.

Calantha.  She’s happy; she hath finish’d
A long and painful progress. — A third murmur
Pierc’d mine unwilling ears.

Orgilus.  That Ithocles
Was murder’d; — rather butcher’d, had not bravery
Of an undaunted spirit, conquering terror,
Proclaim’d his last act triumph over ruin.

Armostes.  How! murder’d!

Calantha.  By whose hand?

Orgilus.  By mine; this weapon
Was instrument to my revenge: the reasons
Are just, and known; quit him of these, and then
Never liv’d gentleman of greater merit,
Hope or abiliment 1 to steer a kingdom.

Crotolon.  Fie, Orgilus!

Euphranea.  Fie, brother!

Calantha.  You have done it?

Bassanes.  How it was done let him report, the forfeit
Of whose allegiance to our laws doth covet
Rigour of justice; but that done it is,
Mine eyes have been an evidence of credit
Too sure to be convinc’d. 2 Armostes, rent not
Thine arteries with hearing the bare circumstances
Of these calamities; thou ’st lost a nephew,
A niece, and I a wife: continue man still;
Make me the pattern of digesting evils
Who can outlive my mighty ones, not shrinking
At such a pressure as would sink a soul
Into what’s most of death, the worst of horrors.
But I have seal’d a covenant with sadness,
And enter’d into bonds without condition,
To stand these tempests calmly; mark me, nobles,
I do not shed a tear, not for Penthea!
Excellent misery!

Calantha.  We begin our reign
With a first act of justice: thy confession,
Unhappy Orgilus, dooms thee a sentence;
But yet thy father’s or thy sister’s presence
Shall be excus’d. — Give, Crotolon, a blessing
To thy lost son; — Euphranea, take a farewell; —
And both be gone.

Crotolon.  [to Orgilus.] Confirm thee, noble sorrow
In worthy resolution!

Euphranea.  Could my tears speak,
My griefs were slight.

Orgilus.  All goodness dwell amongst ye!
Enjoy my sister, Prophilus: my vengeance
Aim’d never at thy prejudice.

Calantha.  Now withdraw.

Exeunt Crotolon, Prophilus, and Euphranea.

Bloody relater of thy stains in blood,
For that thou hast reported him, whose fortunes
And life by thee are both at once snatch’d from him,
With honourable mention, make thy choice
Of what death likes thee best; there’s all our bounty. —
But to excuse delays, let me, dear cousin,
Intreat you and these lords see execution
Instant before ye part.

Nearchus.  Your will commands us.

Orgilus.  One suit, just queen, my last: vouchsafe your clemency,
That by no common hand I be divided
From this my humble frailty.

Calantha.  To their wisdoms
Who are to be spectators of thine end
I make the reference. Those that are dead
Are dead; had they not now died, of necessity
They must have paid the debt they ow’d to nature
One time or other. — Use dispatch, my lords;
We’ll suddenly prepare our coronation.

Exeunt Calantha, Philema, and Christalla.

Armostes.  ’T is strange these tragedies should never touch on
Her female pity.

Bassanes.  She has a masculine spirit;
And wherefore should I pule, and, like a girl,
Put finger in the eye? Let’s be all toughness,
Without distinction betwixt sex and sex.

Nearchus.  Now, Orgilus, thy choice?

Orgilus.  To bleed to death.

Armostes.  The executioner?

Orgilus.  Myself, no surgeon;
I am well skill’d in letting blood. Bind fast
This arm, that so the pipes may from their conduits
Convey a full stream; here’s a skilful instrument. [Shows his dagger.]
Only I am a beggar to some charity
To speed me in this execution
By lending th’ other prick to th’ tother arm,
When this is bubbling life out.

Bassanes.  I am for ye;
It most concerns my art, my care, my credit. —
Quick, fillet both his arms.

Orgilus.  Gramercy, friendship!
Such courtesies are real which flow cheerfully
Without an expectation of requital.
Reach me a staff in this hand.
[They give him a staff.]
  — If a proneness
Or custom in my nature from my cradle
Had been inclin’d to fierce and eager bloodshed,
A coward guilt, hid in a coward quaking,
Would have betray’d fame to ignoble flight
And vagabond pursuit of dreadful safety:
But look upon my steadiness, and scorn not
The sickness of my fortune, which, since Bassanes
Was husband to Penthea, had lain bed-rid.
We trifle time in words:— thus I show cunning
In opening of a vein too full, too lively.
  [Pierces the vein with his dagger.]

Armostes.  Desperate courage!

Nearchus.  1 Honourable infamy!

Hemophil.  I tremble at the sight.

Groneas.  Would I were loose!

Bassanes.  It sparkles like a lusty wine new broacht;
The vessel must be sound from which it issues. —
Grasp hard this other stick — I’ll be as nimble —
But prithee, look not pale — have at ye! stretch out
Thine arm with vigour and [with] 2 unshook virtue. [Opens the vein.]
Good! O, I envy not a rival, fitted
To conquer in extremities. This pastime
Appears majestical; some high-tun’d poem
Hereafter shall deliver to posterity
The writer’s glory and his subject’s triumph.
How is ’t, man? Droop not yet.

Orgilus.  I feel no palsies.
On a pair-royal do I wait in death;
My sovereign, as his liegeman; on my mistress,
As a devoted servant; and on Ithocles,
As if no brave, yet no unworthy enemy.
Nor did I use an engine to entrap
His life, out of a slavish fear to combat
Youth, strength, or cunning; 3 but for that I durst not
Engage the goodness of a cause on fortune,
By which his name might have outfac’d my vengeance.
O, Tecnicus, inspir’d with Phoebus’ fire!
I call to mind thy augury, ’t was perfect;
Revenge proves its own executioner.
When feeble man is bending to his mother,
The dust ’a was first fram’d on, thus he totters.

Bassanes.  Life’s fountain is dri’d up.

Orgilus.  So falls the standard
Of my prerogative in being a creature!
A mist hangs o’er mine eyes, the sun’s bright splendour
Is clouded in an everlasting shadow;
Welcome, thou ice, that sitt’st about my heart
No heat can ever thaw thee. [Dies.]

Nearchus.  Speech hath left him.

Bassanes.  ’A has shook hands with time; his funeral urn
Shall be my charge: remove the bloodless body.
The coronation must require attendance;
That past, my few days can be but one mourn —


2 Q. doublers.

3 The index-hand.

4 Satisfied.

1 Capacity.

2 Confuted.

1 Q. Org.

2 Dyce’s suggestion. Q. omits.

3 Skill.


A temple.

An altar covered with white; two lights of virgin wax, during which music of recorders; enter four bearing Ithocles on a hearse, or in a chair, in a rich robe, with a crown on his head: place him on one side of the altar. After him enter Calantha in a white robe and crown’d; Euphranea, Philema, and Christalla, in white; Nearchus, Armostes, Crotolon, Prophilus, Amelus, Bassanes, Hemophil, and Groneas.

Calantha goes and kneels before the altar, the rest stand off, the women kneeling behind, the recorders cease during her devotions. Soft music. Calantha and the rest rise, doing obeisance to the altar.

Calantha.  Our orisons are heard; the gods are merciful. —
Now tell me, you whose loyalties pay tribute
To us your lawful sovereign, how unskilful
Your duties or obedience is to render
Subjection to the sceptre of a virgin,
Who have been ever fortunate in princes
Of masculine and stirring composition.
A woman has enough to govern wisely.
Her own demeanours, passions, and divisions.
A nation warlike and inur’d to practice
Of policy and labour cannot brook
A feminate authority: we therefore
Command your counsel, how you may advise us
In choosing of a husband whose abilities
Can better guide this kingdom.

Nearchus.  Royal lady,
Your law is in your will.

Armostes.  We have seen tokens
Of constancy too lately to mistrust it.

Crotolon.  Yet, if your highness settle on a choice
By your own judgment both allow’d and lik’d of,
Sparta may grow in power, and proceed
To an increasing height.

Calantha.  Hold you the same mind?

Bassanes.  Alas, great mistress, reason is so clouded
With the thick darkness of my infinite woes,
That I forecast nor dangers, hopes, or safety.
Give me some corner of the world to wear out
The remnant of the minutes I must number,
Where I may hear no sounds but sad complaints
Of virgins who have lost contracting partners;
Of husbands howling that their wives were ravisht
By some untimely fate; of friends divided
By churlish opposition; or of fathers
Weeping upon their children’s slaughtered carcases;
Or daughters groaning o’er their fathers’ hearses;
And I can dwell there, and with these keep consort
As musical as theirs. What can you look for
From an old, foolish, peevish, doting man
But craziness of age?

Calantha.  Cousin of Argos, —

Nearchus.  Madam?

Calantha.  Were I presently
To choose you for my lord, I’ll open freely
What articles I would propose to treat on
Before our marriage.

Nearchus.  Name them, virtuous lady.

Calantha.  I would presume you would retain the royalty
Of Sparta in her own bounds; then in Argos
Armostes might be viceroy; in Messene
Might Crotolon bear sway; and Bassanes —

Bassanes.  I, queen! alas, what I?

Calantha.  Be Sparta’s marshal.
The multitudes of high employments could not
But set a peace to private griefs. These gentlemen,
Groneas and Hemophil, with worthy pensions,
Should wait upon your person in your chamber. —
I would bestow Christalla on Amelus.
She’ll prove a constant wife; and Philema
Should into Vesta’s Temple.

Bassanes.  This is a testament!
It sounds not like conditions on a marriage.

Nearchus.  All this should be perform’d.

Calantha.  Lastly, for Prophilus,
He should be, cousin, solemnly invested
In all those honours, titles, and preferments
Which his dear friend and my neglected husband
Too short a time enjoy’d.

Prophilus.  I am unworthy
To live in your remembrance.

Euphranea.  Excellent lady!

Nearchus.  Madam, what means that word, “neglected husband”?

Calantha.  Forgive me:— now I turn to thee, thou shadow
Of my contracted lord! Bear witness all,
I put my mother’s wedding-ring upon
His finger; ’t was my father’s last bequest.
[Places a ring on the finger of Ithocles.]
Thus I new-marry him whose wife I am;
Death shall not separate us. O, my lords,
I but deceiv’d your eyes with antic gesture,
When one news straight came huddling on another
Of death! and death! and death! still I danced forward;
But it struck home, and here, and in an instant.
Be such mere women, who with shrieks and outcries
Can vow a present end to all their sorrows,
Yet live to [court] 1 new pleasures, and outlive them.
They are the silent griefs which cut the heartstrings;
Let me die smiling.

Nearchus.  ’T is a truth too ominous.

Calantha.  One kiss on these cold lips, my last!
  [Kisses Ithocles.] — Crack, crack! —
Argos now ’s Sparta’s king. — Command the voices
Which wait at th’ altar now to sing the song
I fitted for my end.

Nearchus.  Sirs, the song!


All.  Glories, pleasures, pomps, delights, and ease,
  Can but please
  Outward senses when the mind
  Is [or] 2 untroubled or by peace refin’d.
[1st Voice.] Crowns may flourish and decay,
  Beauties shine, but fade away.
[2nd Voice.] Youth may revel, yet it must
  Lie down in a bed of dust.
[3rd Voice.] Earthly honours flow and waste,
  Time alone doth change and last.
All. Sorrows mingled with contents prepare
  Rest for care;
  Love only reigns in death; though art
  Can find no comfort for a broken heart.

[Calantha dies.]

Armostes.  Look to the queen!

Bassanes.  Her heart is broke, indeed.
O, royal maid, would thou hadst mist this part!
Yet ’t was a brave one. I must weep to see
Her smile in death.

Armostes.  Wise Tecnicus! thus said he;
When youth is ripe, and age from time doth part,
The Lifeless Trunk shall wed the Broken Heart

Is here fulfill’d.

Nearchus.  I am your king.

All.  Long live
Nearchus, King of Sparta!

Nearchus.  Her last will
Shall never be digrest from: wait in order
Upon these faithful lovers, as becomes us. —
The counsels of the gods are never known
Till men can call th’ effects of them their own.


1 Q. vow.

2 Q. not.


WHERE noble judgments and clear eyes are fix’d
To grace endeavour, there sits truth, not mix’d
With ignorance; those censures may command
Belief which talk not till they understand.
Let some say, “This was flat;” some, “Here the scene
Fell from its height;” another, that the mean
Was “ill observ’d” in such a growing passion
As it transcended either state or fashion:
Some few may cry, “’T was pretty well,” or so,
“But —” and there shrug in silence; yet we know
Our writer’s aim was in the whole addrest
Well to deserve of all, but please the best;
Which granted, by th’ allowance of this strain
The BROKEN HEART may be piec’d up again.

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005