If This Be Not A Good Play – Act 1, Scene 2

Return to previous scene

Enter ALPHONSO, King of Naples, crown’d, wearing robes imperial, swords of state, maces, &c., being borne before him by OCTAVIO, ASTOLFO, two Uncles, NARCISSO, JOVINELI, BRISCO, counts, with others; COUNT SPENDOLA meeting them.

 SPENDOLA
One of those gallant troops went forth to meet
Your admir’d Mistress, Erminhild the fair,
Hath left your convoy with her on the way.

KING
And brings glad news of her being here this day.
Let cannons tell in thunder her arrival,
When she’s at hand, our self will meet her.

OMNES
On!                                                    [Flourish. He takes his seat; all kneel.

KING
Pray rise.  Until about our brows were thrown
These sparkling beams, such adoration
Was not bestow’d on us; whom does the knee
Thus lowly worship?  This idol, gold, or me?
Indeed, ‘tis the world’s saint.  If that you adore.
Go, pray to your coffers.  None to us shall bow.
Give gold your knees.

OCTAVIO
Whose own voice doth allow
That subjects should to those who are supreme
Bend, as to God, all kings being like to him.

ASTOLFO
Thou wonder of thy time, I’ll pray no more
To thee of duty than has been before
And ever shall be pay’d to those sit high.

KING
Pray, mock not me with such idolatry.
Kings, Gods are, I confess, but gods of clay.
Brittle as you are, you as good as they,
Only in weight they differ.  This poor dram,
Yet all but flesh and blood.  And such I am.
If such, pray let me eat, drink, sleep, and walk,
Not look’d clean through, with superstitious eyes,
Not star’d at like a comet.  As you go
Or speak or feed, unwondered at, let me so.

OCTAVIO
Not kings of ceremony.

KING
Uncle, what then?
Still they are kings.

OCTAVIO
But show like common men.

KING
Good uncle, know, no sun in this our sphere
Shall rule but we; let others shine as clear
In goodness.  None in greatness shall.

ASTOLFO
Bless’d reign!
The golden world is molding new again.

KING
All that I crave is this, and ‘tis not new:
Pray unto Cæsar, only Cæsar’s due.

OCTAVIO
We owe thee loyal hearts, and those we’ll pay
Each minute, mirror of kings.

JOVINELLI
Mark, the old lord’s promise their hearts, but no money.

OCTAVIO
Here are the names of bold conspirators,
Young Catilines, and far more desperate,
Who in your father’s days kindled the fires
Of hot rebellion.

KING
Which are now burnt out.

OCTAVIO
Who knows that?  Embers in dead ashes lie.
King, set thy hand to this, let traitors die.

ASTOLFO
‘Tis fit you should do so.

OCTAVIO
Sound policy.

KING
Men many things hold fit, that are not good.
A young beginner and set up in blood!
Butchers can do no more.  Shall records say,
Being crown’d, he play’d the tyrant the first day.
How shall the chronicler be curs’d?  Your paper.
When such a fatal book comes in my sight,
I’ll with Vespasian wish I could not write.
Their bond is cancell’d.  I forgive the debt.
See that at liberty they all be set.

OMNES
A princely act.

OCTAVIO
If wisely ‘tis well done.

SPENDOLA
That reign must boast, which mercy has begun.

KING
Bear witness all, what pace the chariot wheels
Of our new gilded sovereign shall run.

BRISCO
A main gallop, I hope.

KING
And here I vow to end as ‘tis begun.

ASTOLFO
Heaven fill thee full of days, but, being all told,
Ending no worse, their sum we’ll write in gold.

OCTAVIO
The course you’ll take, dear lord.

KING
This: pray observe it.

JOVINELLI
Call you this coronation day?  Would I were i’th’ streets where the conduits run claret wine, there’s some good fellowship.

OCTAVIO
Peace.

KING
Each week within the year shall be a book
Which each day I’ll read o’er.  I well may do’t.
The book being but six leaves, six days, the seventh
Be his that owes it.  Sacred is that and high.
And who profanes one hour in that, shall die.

SPENDOLA
How many will be left alive then, this fortnight?

OCTAVIO
First, beat all taverns down, then souls are lost,
Being drown’d in surfeits, on that seventh day most.
Stay, best of kings, mine own hand shall set sown
What laws thou mad’st first day thou wor’st a crown.

KING
Write “Monday.”

OCTAVIO

So, so—“Monday.”

JOVINELLI
They say Monday’s shoemakers’ holiday.  I’ll fall to that trade.

OCTAVIO
I have writ it down, my liege.

JOVINELLI
Peace, harken to your lesson.

KING
That day, from morn till night, I’ll execute
The office of a judge, and weigh out laws
With even scales.

JOVINELLI
That’s more than grocers do.

KING
The poor and rich man’s cause
I’ll poise alike.  It shall be my chief care
That bribes and wrangling be pitch’d o’er the bar.

JOVINELLI
We shall have old breaking of necks then.

KING
Down with that first.

OCTAVIO
O for a pen of gold!
You’ll have no bribes.

KING
None.

OCTAVIO
Yet term-time all the year.
A good strong law-suit cannot now cost dear.

KING
Have you done?

OCTAVIO
I’m at “bribes and wrangling,”—done presently.

NARCISSO
We must all turn pettifoggers, and instead of gilt rapiers, hang buckram bags at our girdles.

JOVINELLI
All my clients shall be women.

SPENDOLA
Why?

JOVINELLI
Because they are easiest fetched over.  There’s something to be gotten out of them.

OCTAVIO
Thy Monday’s task is done.  What’s next?

JOVINELLI
Sunday, if the week goes backward.

KING
Tuesdays, we’ll sit to hear the poor man’s cries,
Orphans and widows, our own princely eyes
Shall their petitions read.  Our progress then
Shall be to hospitals which good minded men
Have built to pious use, for lame, sick, and poor.
We’ll see what’s given, what spent, and what flows o’er.
Churls, with God’s money, shall not feast, swill wine,
And fat their rank guts whilst poor wretches pine.

JOVINELLI
This is a brave world for beggars, if it hold.

OCTAVIO
Poor wretches pine, so are they left.  To’th’ next.

KING
Wednesdays, we’ll spend—

JOVINELLI
In fish dinners.

KING
In th’affairs
Of foreign states, treat with embassadors,
Hear them and give them answers.  Thursday, for wars.

JOVINELLI
That’s well; better be together by th’ ears then to go halting to hospitals.

KING
Our Neapolitan youths, that day, shall try
Their skill in arms; poor scorn’d soldiers
Shall not be suffer’d beg here, as in some lands,
Nor stoop slave-like to captain’s proud commands,
Starve, and lie nasty, when the self-same pay
The soldier fights for, keeps the leaders gay.
Nor shall he through ice and fire make grey his head,
Wear out new moons, only to earn his bread,
Wade up to th’ beard in torrents, and be drown’d
All save the head; march hard to meet a wound
I’th’ very face, and even his heart-strings crack
To win a town, yet not to clothe his back;
And the black storm of troubles being gone
Shun’d like a creditor, not looked upon
But as court-pallets, when bright day draws nigh,
Roll’d up in some dark corner is thrown by.
Uncle, write that.

OCTAVIO
Fast as my pen can trot.

SPENDOLA
What a number of totter’d rogues will be turn’d into brave fellows a’ this new change of the moon.

JOVINELLI
The braver they are, the sooner are mercers undone.

OCTAVIO
Soldiers are down too.

KING
Down with learning next.
For Friday shall be spent i’th’ reverend schools,
Where we’ll sift bran from flour, hiss babbling fools
But crown the deep-brain’d disputant, none shall hold
Three or four church-livings, got by simonious gold,
In them, to fat himself as in a sty
When greater scholars languish in beggary,
And in thin threadbare cassocks wear out their age,
And bury them their worth in some by vicarage.
This we’ll see mended.

JOVINELLI
Tithe pigs, you’ll smoke for this.

KING
So set it down.

OCTAVIO
Scholars languish in beggary.  So,
Thy Friday’s law is writ.  For Saturday, what?

KING
Ay, marry, sir, all our cares now for that.
Well, to begin, and not end so were base,
The winning of the gold crowns each man’s race.

NARCISSO stepping in before the scene, enters here.

NARCISSO
Sir, there’s a stranger newly arriv’d your court,

And much importunes to behold your Highness.

KING
What is he?

NARCISSO
Of goodly presence.

KING
Let him see us.

 RUFFMAN, as BOHOR, brought in by all.

 RUFFMAN
The powers that guide me guard thee.  I have heard thy name
In regions far hence, where it does resound
Louder than here at home; to touch this ground
I ha’ passed through countries, into which none here
Would willingly sail, I think, and with me bring
My love and service, which to your grace I tender.

KING
What are you, and whence come you?

RUFFMAN
From Helvetia.

SPENDOLA
What hell, says he?

JOVINELLI
Peace!  You shall know hot hell time enough.

RUFFMAN
I am a Helvetian born; the house from which
I am descended, ancient and well known
To many princes.  Bohor is my name.

JOVINELLI
Zounds!  Bohor!  H’as struck two of my teeth out with his name.

RUFFMAN
A Shalkan Tartar being my grandfather,
Men call me Shalkan Bohor.  About the world
My travels make a girdle, perfect round,
So that, what wonder kings on earth ever found
I know, and what I know, is yours.

KING
Brave Helvetian!
We give you thanks and welcome.  Your arrival
Is fair and to our wish, of all those days
Which Time sets down, to number up a week,
Every day have we tasked, save only one.
How in these courts of kings, through which you have gone,
Do princes waste their hours?

RUFFMAN
How but in that,
For which they are born kings?  Pleasure, every man’s aim
Is to hit pleasure, only ‘tis chang’d in name,
That’s all the difference.  Are kings tyrants?  Blood
Is then their pleasure; thirst they after wars.
Ambition tickles them, that for which man most cares,
Good or bad, ‘tis his pleasure, and to gain it,
His soul must compass it, though hell restrain it;
To this mark all men’s thoughts.  Creation drew
That all might strive for a thing, that’s got by few.
Who are those few but kings?  And ‘tis fit they
Should have it, because true pleasure does some decay.

KING
How like you his council?

OMNES
Rarely.

OCTAVIO
What ruffian’s this?

KING
Bohor, th’st warm’d our young blood.  All cares of state
Shall that day sleep, to ourself we’ll Saturday have;
Pleasure, the slave of kings, shall then be our slave.
Lords, let there be a proclamation drawn,
What man soever, strange or native born,
Can feast our spleen, and heighten our delight,
He shall have gold and be our favourite.
Tilts, turnkeys, masques, plays, dancing, drinking deep,
Though ere noon all Naples lie dead drunk asleep.

OCTAVIO
How, King?

KING
We’ll have it so, uncle.

OMNES
Down with that too.

JOVINELLI
Print Saturday in great text letters.

OCTAVIO
Well, well, it shall.

Our swan turns crow, poison’d with one drop of gall.

KING
I’ll have this proclamation forthwith drawn.

NARCISSO
And publish all the days.

BRISCO
And Saturday.

JOVINELLI
Especially that at large if you can in red, like a dominical letter.

KING
Go see it done.

JOVINELLI
My task.                                                                                                      [Exit.

KING
Why sigh you?  Of six days, would you not spare me one?

OCTAVIO
Thine own laws from thine own mouth, we’ll proclaim.
If thine own words thou eatst, be’t thine own shame.

 Enter JOVINELLI, hastily.

 JOVINELLI
Your long expected happiness is arriv’d,
The princess of Calabria.

KING
Thou crown’st me again.
Dear uncle, honoured lords, with our whole court
Honour her hither.  I am rapt with joy
And lost till I behold her.  Fetch me my love.

OCTAVIO
I fear deep whirlpools though it run smooth above.

KING
To our worthy friend, your welcomes.         [Exit OCTAVIO and ASTOLFO.

JOVINELLI
But pray, sir, tell us, mean you that we indeed
Shall have but one playing day through the whole week?

KING
All, Jovinelli, we’ll be jovial all.

BRISCO

Till Saturday came, we lived in terrible fear.
Thank Bohor, who your dead spirits up did rear.

KING
Had I, as first I did begin, gone on
I, like a school-boy should have worn my crown
As if I had borrowed it.

RUFFMAN
Had been most vile.

KING
I’ll be a sea, boundless.

SPENDOLO
Thou art a sun,
And let no base clouds muffle thee.

KING
Brave kings all!
Crown, sceptre, court, city, country, are at your call.

JOVINELLI
There spake young Jove indeed.

BRISCO
The tide now turns.

NARCISSO
And now we’ll swim.

KING
And laugh, though the whole world mourns.

OMNES
Tantara, hey!

 Flourish.  Trumpets.  Enter OCTAVIO and ASTOLFO, ushering
ERMINHILD, attended by Ladies and others.

 NARCISSO
Call up your lustiest spirits.  The lady’s come.

KING
O my earthly bliss!  Embrace!  Kisses!  How sweet
Are you to parted loves when they meet?
That entertainment which the duke your father
Lent royally, late to me, I now can pay
At a king’s charge.  To our Neapolitan court,
None, brightest Erminhild, can come long’d for
More then your self.  You have stol’n upon us, lady.

ERMINHILD
You have good law against me, playing the thief,
Your grace may keep me prisoner.

KING
In these arms,
From whence not Jove shall ransom thee.  We twain
Will wed, and bed, and get a prince shall reign
In Naples bravely, when we both lie dead.
Till then, pleasure’s wings, to their full breadth be spread.             [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: