The Virgin Martyr – Act 2, Scene 3

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My trusty Angelo, with that curious eye
Of thine, which ever waits upon my business,
I prithee watch those my still-negligent servants
That they perform my will in what’s enjoined them
To th’good of others, else will you find them flies
Not lying still, yet in them no good lies.
Be careful, dear boy.

Yes, my sweetest mistress.                              [Exit.

Now, sir, you may go on.

I then must study
A new arithmetic, to sum up the virtues
Which Antoninus gracefully become.
There is in him so much man, so much goodness,
So much of honour, and of all things else
Which makes our being excellent, that from his store
He can enough lend others, yet much taken from him,
That want shall be as little as when seas
Lend from their bounty to fill up the poorness
Of needy rivers.

Sir, he is more indebted
To you for praise, then you to him that owes it.

If queens, viewing his presents paid to the whiteness
Of your chaste hand alone, should be ambitious
But to be parted in their numerous shares,
This he counts nothing; could you see main armies
Make battles in the quarrel of his valour,
That ‘tis the best, the truest, this were nothing;
The greatness of his state, his father’s voice,
And arm, awing Cæserea, he never boasts of.
The sunbeams, which the emperor throws upon him,
Shine there but as in water, and guild him
Not with one spot of pride.  No, dearest beauty,
All these heaped up together in one scale
Cannot weigh down the love he bears to you
Being put into the other.

Could gold buy you
To speak thus for your friend, you, sir, are worthy
Of more than I will number, and this your language
Hath power to win upon another woman,
Top of whose heart, the feathers of this world
Are gaily stuck, but all which first you named,
And now this last, his love to me, are nothing.

You make me a sad messenger.


                                                   But himself
Being come in person, shall, I hope, hear from you
Music more pleasing.

Has your ear, Macrinus,
Heard none then?

None I like.

But can there be
In such a noble casket, wherein lie
Beauty and chastity in their full perfections,
A rocky heart, killing with cruelty
A like that’s prostrated beneath your feet?

I am guilty of a shame I yet ne’er knew,
Thus to hold parley with you.  Pray sir, pardon.

Good sweetness, you now have it, and shall go;
But be so merciful, before your wounding me
With such a mortal weapon as Farewell,
To let me murmur to your virgin ear
What I was loath to lay on any tongue
But this mine own.

If one immodest accent
Fly out, I hate you everlastingly.

My true love dares not do it.

Hermes inspire thee!

They whispering below, enter above SAPRITIUS, father to ANTONINUS, and Governor of Cesaria, with him ARTEMIA the Princess, THEOPHILUS, SPUNGIUS, and HIRCIUS.

See you, do you see?  Our work is done; the fish you angle for is nibbling at the hook, and therefore untruss the codpiece-point of our reward, no matter if the breeches of conscience fall about our heels.

The gold you earn is here; dam up your mouths,
And no words of it.

No, nor no words from you of too much damning neither.  I know women sell themselves daily and are hackneyed out for silver.  Why may not we then betray a scurvy mistress for gold?

She saved us from the gallows, and only to keep one proverb from breaking his neck, we’ll hang her.

‘Tis well done.  Go, go; y’are fine white boys.

If your red boys, ‘tis well known more ill-favoured faces than ours are painted.

Those fellows trouble us.

Away, away!

I to my sweet placket.

And I to my full pot.                                     [Exit HIRCIUS and SPUNGIUS.

Come, let me tune you; glaze not thus your eyes
With self-love of a vowed virginity.
Make every man your glass, you see our sex
Do never murder propagation;
We all desire your sweet society,
And if you bar me from it, you do kill me,
And of my blood are guilty.

O, base villain!

Bridle your rage, sweet princess.

Could not my fortunes,
Reared higher far then yours, be worthy of you,
Methinks my dear affection makes you mine.

Sir, for your fortunes were they mines of gold,
He that I love is richer; and for worth,
You are to him lower than any slave
Is to a monarch.

So insolent, base Christian!

Can I, with wearing out my knees before him,
Get you but be his servant, you shall boast
Y’are equal to a king.

Confusion on thee
For playing thus the lying sorceress!

Your mocks are great ones, none beneath the sun
Will I be servant to.  On my knees I beg it;
Pity me wondrous maid!

I curse thy baseness!

Listen to more.

O, kneel not, sir, to me!

This knee is emblem of an humbled heart,
That heart which tortur’d is with your disdain,
Justly for scorning others; even this heart
To which for pity such a princess sues,
As in her hand offers me all the world,
Great Cæsar’s daughter.

Slave, thou liest!

Yet this
Is adamant to her, that melts to you
In drops of blood.

A very dog!

‘Tis my religion makes you knit the brow;
Yet you be mine, and ever be your own;
I ne’er will screw you conscience from that power
On which you Christians lean.

I can no longer
Fret out my life with weeping at thee, villain!  [Aloud.] Sirrah,
Would when I got thee, the high thunders hand
Had struck thee in the womb!

We are betray’d!

Is that your idol, traitor, which thou kneelst to,
Trampling upon my beauty?

Sirrah, bandog!
Wilt thou in pieces tear our Jupiter
For her? our Mars for her? our Sol for her?
A whore! a hell-hound, in this globe of brains
Where a whole world of tortures for such furies
Have fought, as in a chaos, which should exceed
These nails shall grubbing lie, from skull to skull
To find one horrider than all, for you?
You three!

Threaten not, but strike!  Quick vengeance flies
Into my bosom; caitiff! here all love dies!                            [Exeunt above.

O, I am thunderstruck!  We are both o’erwhelmed!

With one high raging billow.

You a soldier,
And sink beneath the violence of a woman!

A woman! A wrong’d princess.  From such a star
Blazing with fires of hate, what can be look’d for
But tragical  events?  My life is now
The subject of her tyranny.

That fear is base,
Of death, when that death doth but life displace
Out of her house of earth; you only dread
The stroke, and not what follows when you are dead.
There’s the great fear indeed.  Come, let your eyes
Dwell where mine do, you’ll scorn their tyrannies.

Enter below, ARTEMIA, SAPRITIUS, THEOPHILUS, a guard; ANGELO comes and stands close by DOROTHEA.

My father’s nerves put vigour in mine arm
And I his strength must use.  Because I once
Shed beams of favour on thee, and, with the lion
Play’d with thee gently when thou struckst my heart,
I’ll not insult on a base humbled prey,
By lingering out thy terrors; but, with one frown
Kill thee.  Hence with ‘hem all to execution.
Seize him, but let even death itself be weary
In torturing her.  I’ll change those smiles to shrieks.
Give the fool what she is proud of, martyrdom;
To pieces rack that bawd too.

Albeit the reverence
I owe our gods and you, are in my bosom,
Torrents so strong that pity quite lies drown’d
From saving this young man; yet when I see
What face death gives him, and that a thing within me,
Says ‘tis my son, I am forced to be a man
And grow fond of his life, which thus I beg.

And I deny.

Sir, you dishonour me
To sue for that which I disclaim to have.
I shall more glory in my sufferings gain
Then you in giving judgement, since I offer
My blood up to your anger; nor do I kneel
To keep a wretched life of mine from ruin.
Preserve this temple, builded fair as yours is,
And Cæsar never went in greater triumph
Than I shall to the scaffold.

And you so brave, sir,
Set forward to his triumph, and let those two
Go cursing along with him.

No, but pitying,
For my part, I, that you lose ten times more
By torturing me, than I that dare your tortures.
Through all the army of my sins, I have even
Labor’d to break, and cope with death to the face;
The visage of a hangman frights not me;
The sight of whips, racks, gibbets, axes, fires
Are scaffoldings, by which my soul climbs up
To an eternal habitation.

Cæsar’s imperial daughter, hear me speak.
Let not this Christian thing, in this her pageantry
Of proud deriding, both our gods and Cæsar
Build to herself a kingdom in her death
Going laughing from us.  No, her bitterest torment
Shall be, to feel her constancy beaten down;
The  bravery of her resolution lie
Batter’d, by argument, into such pieces
That she again shall, on her belly, creep
To kiss the pavements of our paynim gods.

How to be done?

I’ll send my daughters to her,
And they shall turn her rocky faith to wax,
Else spit at me, let me be made your slave,
And meet no Romans but a villain’s grave.

Thy prisoner let her be then; and Sapritius,
Your son and that be yours.  Death shall be sent
To him that suffers them by voice or letters
To greet each other.  Rifle her estate,
Christians to beggary brought grow desperate.

Still on the bread of poverty let me feed.            [Exeunt.  Manet ANGELO.

O, my admired mistress, quench not out
The holy fires within you, though temptations
Shower down upon you.  Clasp thine armour on,
Fight well, and thou shalt see, after these wars
Thy head wear sunbeam, and thy feet touch stars.


How now, Angelo, how is’t, how is’t?  What thread spins that whore Fortune upon her wheel now?

Com’ esta, com’ esta, poor knave?

Comment portez-vouz, comment portez-vouz, mon petit garçon?

Me partha whee comrade, my half-inch of man’s flesh, how run the dice of this cheating world, ha?

Too well on your sides, you are hid in gold
O’er head and ears.

We thank our fates, the sign of the gingle-boys hangs at the doors of our pockets.

Who would think that we coming forth of the arse, as it were, or fag end of the world, should yet see the golden age, when so little silver is stirring?

Nay, who can say any citizen is an ass, for loading his own back with money till his soul cracks again, only to leave his son like a gilded coxcomb behind him?  Will not any fool take me for a wise man now, seeing me draw our of the pit of my treasury, this little god with his belly full of gold?

And this, full of the same meat, out of my ambry?

That gold will melt to poison.

Poison!  Would it would!  Whole pints for healths should down my throat.

Gold, poison! There is never a she-thrasher in Cæsaria that lives on the flail of money; will call it so.

Like slaves you sold your souls for golden dross,
Bewitching her to death, who stepp’d between
You and the gallows.

‘Twas an easy matter to save us, she being so well back’d

The gallows and we fell out, so she did but part us.

The misery of that mistress is mine own;
She begger’d, I left wretched.

I can but let my nose drop in sorrow with wet eyes for her.

The petticoat of her estate is unlac’d, I confess.

Yes, and the smock of her charity is now all to pieces.

For love you bear to her, for some good turns
Done you by me, give me one piece of silver.

How! a piece of silver! If thou wert an angel of gold I would not put thee into white money, unless I weigh thee, and I weigh thee not a rush.

A piece of silver!  I have had but two calves in my life, and those my mother left me.  I’ll rather part from the fat o’them then from a mustard-token’s worth of argent.

And so, sweet nit, we crawl from thee.

Adieu, demi-dandiprat, adieu.

Stay, one word yet.  You now are full of gold.

I’d be sorry my dog were so full of the pox.

Or any sow of mine of the measles either.

Go, go, y’are beggars both; you are not worth
That leather on your feet.

Away, away, boy.

Page, you do nothing but set patches on the soles of your jests.

I’m glad I tried your love, which see I want not,
So long as this is full

And so long as this, so long as this.

Spungius, y’are a pickpocket.

Hircius, thou nimb’d—so long as—not so much money is left as will buy  louse.

Th’art a thief, and thou liest in that gut through which thy wine runs, if thou deniest it.

Thou liest deeper than the bottom of mine enraged pocket, if thou affronst it.

No blows, no bitter language.  All your gold gone?

Can the devil creep into one’s breeches?

Yes, if his horns once get into the codpiece.

Come, sigh not.  I so little am in love
With that whose loss kills you, that see ‘tis yours,
All yours.  Divide the heap in equal share,
So you will go along with me to prison,
And in our mistress’ sorrows bear a part.
Say, will you?

Will we?

If she were going to hanging, no gallows should part us.

Let‘s both be turn’d into a rope of onions, if we do not.

Follow me then; repair your bad deeds past.
Happy are men when their best days are last.

True, Master Angelo.  Pray, sir, lead the way.                     [Exit ANGELO.

Let him lead the way, but follow thou me this way.

I live in a gaol!

Away, and shift for ourselves.  She’ll do well enough there, for prisoners are more hungry after mutton, then catchpoles after prisoners.

Let her starve then, if a whole gaol will not fill her belly.               [Exeunt.


Proceed to the next scene


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