The Virgin Martyr – Act 3, Scene 1

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Enter SAPRITIUS, THEOPHILUS, Priest, CALISTE, and CHRISTETA.

 SAPRITIUS
Sick to the death, I fear.

THEOPHILUS
I meet your sorrow,
With my true feeling of it.

SAPRITIUS
She’s a witch,
A sorceress, Theophilus.  My son
Is charm’d by her enticing eyes, and like
An image made of wax, her beams of beauty
Melt him to nothing; all my hopes in him,
And all his gotten honours find their grave
In his strange dotage on her.  Would when first
He saw and lov’d her that the earth had open’d
And swallow’d both alive.

THEOPHILUS
There’s hope left yet.

SAPRITIUS
Not any, though the princess were appeas’d
All title in her love surrender’d up;
Yet this coy Christian is so transported
With her religion, that unless my son,
But let him perish first, drink the same potion
And be of her belief, she’ll not vouchsafe
To be his lawful wife.

PRIEST
But once remov’d
From her opinion, as I rest assured
The reason of these holy maids will win her,
You’ll find her tractable to any thing
For your content or his.

THEOPHILUS
If she refuse it,
The Stygian damps breeding infectious airs,
The mandrake’s shrieks, or basilisk’s killing eye,
The dreadful lightning that does crush the bones
And never singe the skin, shall not appear
Less fatal to her then my zeal made hot
With love unto my gods.  I have defer’d it
In hope to draw back this apostata
Which will be greater honour then her death
Unto her father’s faith, and to that end
Have brought my daughters hither.

CALISTE
And we doubt not
To do what you desire.

SAPRITIUS
Let her be sent for.
Prosper in your good work, and were I not
To attend the princess, I would see and hear
How you succeed.

THEOPHILUS
I am commanded too;
I’ll bear you company.

SAPRITIUS
Give them your ring
To lead her as in triumph if they win her
Before her highness.                                                       [Exit SAPRITIUS.

THEOPHILUS
Spare no promises,
Persuasions, or threats, I do conjure you,
If you prevail, ‘tis the most glorious work
You ever undertook.

Enter DOROTHEA and ANGELO.

 PRIEST
She comes.

THEOPHILUS
We leave you;
Be constant and be careful.                               [Exeunt THEOPHILUS and Priest.

CALISTE
We are sorry
To meet you under guard.

DOROTHEA
But I more griev’d
You are at liberty, so well I love you
That I could wish, for such a cause as mine,
You were my fellow prisoners.  Prithee, Angelo,
Reach us some chairs.  Please you sit.

CALISTE
We thank you.
Our visit is for love, love to your safety.

CRISTETA
Our conference must be private; pray you, therefore,
Command your boy to leave us.

DOROTHEA
You may trust him
With any secret that concerns my life.
Falsehood and he are strangers.  Had you, ladies,
Been blest with such a servant, you had never
Forsook that way, your journey even half ended,
That leads lascivious minds, he would have stirr’d you
To holy meditations, and so far
He is from flattery, that he would have told you,
Your pride being at the height, how miserable
And wretched things you were, that for an hour
Of pleasure here, have made a desperate sale
Of all your right in happiness hereafter.
He must not leave me; without him I fall;
In this life he is my servant, in the other
A wished companion.

ANGELO
[Aside.]                        ‘Tis not in the devil,
No all his wicked arts to shake such goodness.

DOROTHEA
But you were speaking, lady.

CALISTE
As a friend
And lover of your safety, and I pray you
So to receive it; and if you remember
How near in love our parents were, that we
Ev’n from the cradle were brought up together,
Our amity increasing with our years,
We cannot stand suspected.

DOROTHEA
To the purpose.

CALISTE
We come then as good angels, Dorothea,
To make you happy, and the means so easy,
That be not you an enemy to yourself,
Already you enjoy it.

CHRISTETA
Look on us,
Ruin’d as you are once, and brought unto it
By your persuasion.

CALISTE
But what followed, lady,
Leaving those blessings which our gods gave freely,
And shower’d upon us with a prodigal hand,
As to be nobly born, youth, beauty, wealth,
And the free use of these without control,
Check, curb, or stop, such is our law’s indulgence.
All happiness forsook us; bonds and fetters
For amorous twines; the rack and hangman’s whips
In place of choice delights; our parents’ curses
Instead of blessings; scorn, neglect, contempt
Fell thick upon us.

CHRISTETA
This consider’d wisely
We made a fair retreat, and reconcil’d
To our forsaken gods, we live again
In all prosperity.

CALISTE
By our example
Bequeathing misery to such as love it,
Learn to be happy.  The Christian yoke’s too heavy
For such a dainty neck; it was fram’d rather
To be the shrine of Venus, or a piller
More precious then crystal, to support
Our Cupid’s image, our religion lady
Is but a varied pleasure, yours a toil
Slaves would shrink under.

DOROTHEA
Have you not cloven feet?  Are you not devils?
Dare you say so much, or dare I hear it
Without a virtuous and religious anger?
Now to put on a virgin modesty,
Or maiden silence when His power is question’d
That is omnipotent, were a greater crime
Then in a bad cause to be impudent.
Your gods, your temples! brothel houses rather,
Or wicked actions of the worst of men
Pursu’d and practic’d.  Your religious rites!
Oh, call them rather juggling mysteries,
The baits and nets of hell; your souls the prey
For which the devil angles; your false pleasures
A steep descent by which you headlong fall
Into eternal torments.

CALISTE
Do not tempt
Our powerful gods!

DOROTHEA
Which of your powerful gods?
Your gold, your silver, brass, or wooden ones,
That can not do me hurt nor protect you.
Most pitied women, will you sacrifice
To such, or call them gods or goddesses;
Your parents would disdain to be the same,
Or you your selves?  O blinded ignorance!
Tell me, Caliste, by the truth, I charge you,
Or any thing you hold more dear, would you,
To have him deified to posterity,
Desire your father an adulterer,
A ravisher, almost a parricide,
A vile incestuous wretch?

CALISTE
That, piety
And duty answer for me.

DOROTHEA
Or you, Cristeta,
To be hereafter registered a goddess,
Give your chaste body up to the embraces
Of  goatish lust, have it writ on your forehead
“This is the common whore, the prostitute,
The mistress in the art of wantonness,
Knows every trick and labyrinth of desires
That are immodest?”

CRISTETA
You judge better of me
Or my affection is ill plac’d on you.
Shall I turn strumpet?

DOROTHEA
No, I think you would not,
Yet Venus, whom you worship, was a whore,
Flora, the foundress of the public stews,
And has that for her sacrifice; your great god,
Your Jupiter, a loose adulterer,
Incestuous with his sister.  Read but those
That have canoniz’d them, you’ll find them worse
Then in chaste language I can speak them to you.
Are they immortal then that did partake
Of humane weakness and had ample share
In men’s most base affections; subject to
Unchaste loves, anger, bondage, wounds, as men are
Here Jupiter, to serve his lust, turn’d bull,
The shape, indeed, in which he stole Europa.
Neptune, for gain, builds up the walls of Troy
As a day-labourer; Apollo keeps
Admetus’ sheep for bread; the Lemnian smith
Sweats at the forge for hire; Prometheus here,
With his still-growing liver, feeds the vulture;
Saturn bound fast in hell with adamant chains;
And thousands more, on whom abused error
Bestows a deity.  Will you then, dear sisters,
For I would have you such, pay your devotions
To things of less power then yourselves?

CALISTE
We worship
Their good deeds in their images.

DOROTHEA
By whom fashioned?
By sinful men?  I’ll tell you a short tale,
Nor can you confess it is a true one.
A king of Egypt, being to erect
The image of Osiris, whom they honour,
Took from the matrons’ necks the richest jewels
And purest gold, a the materials
To finish up his work, which perfected,
With all solemnity he set it up
To be ador’d, and serv’d himself his idol;
Desiring it to give him victory
Against his enemies; but being overthrown,
Enrag’d against his god—these are fine gods,
Subject to human fury—he took down
The senseless thing, and melting it again,
He made a basin, in which eunuchs wash’d
His concubine’s feet; and for this sordid use
Some months it serv’d; his mistress proving false,
As most indeed do so, and grace concluded,
Between him and the priests, of the same basin
He made his god again.  Think, think of this,
And then consider, if all worldly honours
Or pleasures that do leave sharp stings behind them,
Have power to win such as have reasonable souls
To put their trust in dross.

CALISTE
Oh, that I had been born
Without a father!

CHRISTETA
Piety to him
Hath ruin’d us for ever!

DOROTHEA
Think not so.
You may repair all yet.  The attribute
That speaks his godhead most, is merciful.
Revenge is proper to the fiends you worship,
Yet cannot strike without his leave. You weep.
Oh, ‘tis a heavenly shower!  Celestial balm
To cure your wounded conscience; let it fall,
Fall thick upon it, and when that is spent,
I’ll help it with another of my tears;
And may your true repentance prove the child
Of my true sorrow, never mother had
A birth so happy!

CALISTE
We are caught ourselves
That came to take you, and assur’d of conquest,
We are you captives.

DOROTHEA
And in that you triumph;
Your victory had been eternal loss,
And this your loss immortal gain.  Fix here,
And you shall feel yourselves inwardly arm’d
‘Gainst tortures, death, and hell; but take heed, sisters,
That, or through weakness, threats, or mild persuasion
Though of a father, you fall not into
A second and a worse apostasy.

CALISTE
Never, or never; steel’d by your example,
We dare the worst of tyranny.

CHRISTETA
Here’s our warrant,
You shall along and witness it.

DOROTHEA
Be confirm’d then
And rest assur’d, the more you suffer here,
The more your glory, you to heaven more dear.                            [Exeunt.

 

Proceed to the next scene

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