If This Be Not a Good Play – Act 3, Scene 1

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Enter the KING, NARCISSO, BRISCO, SPENDOLA,
JOVINELLI, RUFFMAN, followed by ASTOLFO.

 ASTOLFO
I do beseech your Highness, yet turn back
And comfort the sad lady whose fair eyes
Are worn away with weeping.

JOVINELLI
If her eyes be worn away, what should a man do with a blind wife?  Kill her with flies?

KING
I cannot abide a woman that’s fond of me.

SPENDOLA
Nor I.

NARCISSO
I would love a woman, but as I love a walnut, to crack it and peel it, eat the meat, and then throw away the shell.

JOVINELLI
Or as noblemen use their great horses, when they are past service, sell ‘em to brewers and make ‘em drey-horses.  So use a woman.

ASTOLFO
So, so.

RUFFMAN
The Indians are warm without clothes and a man is best at ease without a woman; or if your Highness must needs have one,
Have factors to but the fairest, dote not any,
But like the Turk, regard none, yet keep many.

KING
You hear the jury’s verdict.

ASTOLFO
Whose foreman’s the devil!
These council thee to thy destruction.

KING
Destruction?  Why?  Though Heaven can abide but one sun, I hope we on earth may love many men’s daughters.  Tell Erminhilda so; send her home to the duke her father and tell him too, because the disease of marriage brings the stone with it.  I hate a woman; I love not to be cut; enclos’d grounds are too rank.

RUFFMAN
Best feeding on the commons.

ASTOLFO
Will you not marry this chaste lady then?

KING
No, sir, and will you now my reason have?
A woman is an insatiate grave
Wherein he’s damn’d that lies buried.

OMNES
On, on, away!

RUFFMAN
[Aside.] Brave battles!  Fight you, but I’ll win the day. [Exeunt.  Manet ASTOLFO.

Enter OCTAVIO and ERMINHILDA

 ERMINHILDA
I heard the story; tell’t not o’er again.
‘Twere cruelty to wound men being half slain.

OCTAVIO
‘Tis cruelty too much, and too much shame
That one of your high birth, youth, beauty, name,
And virtues shining bright, should hence be sent,
Like some offender into banishment,
Abus’d by a king and his luxurious train
Of parasites, knaves, and fools, a kingdom’s bane.
For them, by him not car’d for, you came not so,
But as his bride, his queen, and bedfellow.

ERMINHILDA
And yet am neither.  From my father’s court
Came I, being sued by princes too, for this?
To see him, his subjects scorn and myself his?
Once thought I that his love had been, as fate,
Unmoveable, and is’t now turn’d to hate?
Yes, yes, he’s wavering as the running stream,
And far more idle than a madman’s dream.

ASTOLFO
Send to the duke your father; let him enforce
Your plighted marriage.

ERMINHILDA
Worse than a divorce.
No, to his eyes since hateful I am grown;
I’ll leave his court and him, and die unknown.                                       [Exit.

ASTOLFO
All runs I see to ruin.

OCTAVIO
If he pursue
These godless courses, best we leave him too;
That land to itself must a quick downfall bring
Whose king has lost all but the name of king.                                      [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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