The Virgin Martyr – Act 4, Scene 1

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A bed thrust out; ANTONINUS upon it sick, with physicians about him; SAPRTIUS and MACRINUS and guards.

O, you that are half gods, lengthen that life
Their deities lend us; turn o’er all the volumes
Of your mysterious Æsculapian science,
T’increase the number of this young man’s days,
And for each minute of his time prolong’d,
Your fee shall be a piece of Roman gold
With Cæsar’s stamp, such as he sends his captains
When in the wars they earn well; do but save him,
And as he is half myself, be you all mine.

What art can do, we promise; physic’s hand
As apt is to destroy as to preserve,
If heaven make not the medicine; all this while
Our skill hath combat held with his disease,
But ‘tis so arm’d, and a deep melancholy
To be such in part with death, we are in fear
The grave must mock our labours.

I have been
His keeper in this sickness, with such eyes
As I have seen my mother watch o’er me,
And from that observation, sure I find
It is a midwife must deliver him.

Is he with child? A midwife!

Yes, with child,
And will, I fear, lose life if by a woman
He is not brought to bed.  Stand by his pillow
Some little while, and in his broken slumbers
Him shall you hear cry out on Dorothea;
And when his arms fly open to catch her,
Closing together, he falls fast asleep,
Pleas’d with embracings of her airy form.
Physicians but torment him; his disease
Laughs at their gibberish language; let him hear
The voice of Dorothea—nay, but the name,
He starts up with high colour in his face.
She or none cures him, and how that can be,
The princess strict command barring that happiness,
To me impossible seems.

To me it shall not!
I’ll be no subject to the greatest Cæsar
Was ever crown’d with laurel, rather then cease
To be a father.                                                                                  [Exit.

Silence.  He wakes.

Thou killst me, Dorothea, oh, Dorothea!

She’s here; enjoy her.

Where?  Why do you mock me?
Age on my head hath stuck no white hairs yet;
Yet I’m an old man; a fond doting fool
Upon a woman.  I, to buy her beauty,
Truth I am bewitch’d, offer my life,
And she for my acquaintance hazards hers;
Yet for our equal sufferings, none holds out
A hand of pity.

Let him have some music.

Hell on your fiddling!

Take again your bed, sir;
Sleep is a sovereign physic.

Take an ass’s head, sir;
Confusion on your fooleries, your charms,
Thou stinking glister-pipe!  Where’s the god of rest,
Thy pills, and base apothecary drugs
Threaten’d to bring unto me?  Out, you impostors,
Quacksalving, cheating mountebanks, your skill
Is to make sound men sick, and sick men kill.

O, be yourself, dear friend!

Myself, Macrinus!
How can I be myself, when I am mangled
Into a thousand pieces? Here moves my head,
But where’s my heart?  Wherever, that lies dead.

Enter SAPRITIUS, dragging in DOROTHEA by the hair; ANGELO attending.

Follow me, thou damn’d sorceress!  Call up thy spirits,
And if they can, now let ‘em from my hand
Untwine these witching hairs!

I am that spirit,
Or if I be not, were you not my father,
One made of iron should hew that hand in pieces
That so defaces this sweet monument
Of my love’s beauty.

Art thou sick?

To death.

Wouldst thou recover?

Would I live in bliss?

And do thine eyes shoot daggers at that man
That brings thee health?

It is not in the world!

Is’t here?

Oh, treasure, by enchantment lock’d
In caves as deep as hell; am I as near?

Break that enchanted cave, enter, and rifle
The spoils thy lust hunts after; I descend
To a base office, and become thy pander
In bringing thee this proud thing; make her thy whore!
Thy health lies here; if she deny to give it,
Force it!  Imagine thou assaultst a town,
Weak wall, to’t; ‘tis thine own, beat but this down.
[Aside to the others] Come, and unseen, be witness to this batt’ry.
How the coy strumpet yields!

Shall the boy stay, sir?

No matter for the boy; pages are us’d
To these odd bawdy shufflings, and indeed
Are those little young snakes in a Fury’s head
Will sting worse then the great ones.  Let the pimp stay.

 [Exeunt SAPRITIUS, MACRINUS, and Doctor.

Oh, guard me, angels!
What tragedy must begin now?

When a tiger
Leaps into a timorous herd, with ravenous jaws
Being hunger-starv’d, what tragedy then begins?

Death!  I am happy so; you hitherto
Have still had goodness spher’d within your eyes;
Let not that orb be broken.

Fear not, mistress;
If he dare offer violence, we two
Are strong enough for such a sickly man.

What is your horrid purpose, sir?  Your eye
Bears danger in it.

I must.


[Within.]                                                Speak it out.

Climb that sweet virgin tree.

[Within.]                                 Plague a’ your trees!

And pluck that fruit which none I think ever tasted.

[Within.] A soldier, and stand fumbling so.

O, kill me                                                        [Kneels.
And heaven will take it as a sacrifice,
But if you play the ravisher, there is
A hell to swallow you.

[Within.]                         Let her swallow thee!

Rise!  For the Roman empire, Dorothea,
I would not wound thine honour.  Pleasure forc’d
Are unripe apples, sour, not worth the plucking;
Yet, let me tell you, ‘tis my father’s will
That I should seize upon you as my prey.
Which I abhor as mush as the blackest sin
The villainy of man did ever act.

SAPRITIUS breaks in with MACRINUS.

Die happy for this language.

Die a slave;
A blockish idiot!

Dear sir, vex him not.

Yes, and vex thee too; both I think are geldings.
Cold phlegmatic bastard, thou’rt no brat of mine;
One spark of me, when I had heat like thine,
By this hand, made a bonfire; a tempting whore,
For whom thou’rt mad, thrust even into thine arms
And standst there puling!  Had a tailor seen her
At this advantage, he, with his cross-capers,
Had ruffl’d her by this:  but thou shalt curse
Thy dalliance, and here before her eyes,
Tear thy own flesh in pieces, when a slave
In hot lust bathes himself, and gluts those pleasures
Thy niceness durst not touch.  Call out a slave;
You, captain of our guard, fetch a slave hither.                 [Exit Attendant.

What will you do, sir?

Teach her a trade,
Which many would learn in less than half an hour,
To play the whore.

Enter a Slave.

A slave is come; what now?

Thou hast bones and flesh
Enough to ply thy labour.  From what country
Wert thou ta’en prisoner, here to be our slave?

From Britain.

From the west ocean?


An island?


I’m fitted.  Of all nations
Our Roman swords ever conquer’d, none come near
The Briton for whoring.  Sirrah fellow,
What wouldst thou do to gain thy liberty?

Do!  Liberty!  Fight naked with a lion,
Venture to pluck a standard from the heart
Of an arm’d legion.  Liberty!  I’d thus
Bestride a rampire, and defiance spit
I’th face of death; then, when the batt’ring ram
Were fetching his career backward to pash
Me with his horns in pieces, to shake my chains off;
And that I could not do’t but by thy death,
Stoodst thou on this dry shore, I on a rock
Tan pyramids high, down would I leap to kill thee,
Or die myself.  What is for man to do
I’ll venture on, to be no more a slave.

Then shalt then be no slave, for I will set thee
Upon a piece of work is fit for man,
Brave for a Briton; drag this thing aside
And ravish her.

And ravish her!  Is this your manly service?
A devil scorns to do’t; ‘tis for a beast;
A villain, not a man; I am as yet
But half a slave, but when that work is past,
A damned whole one, a black ugly slave,
The slave of all base slaves.  Do’t thyself, Roman;
‘Tis drudgery fit for thee!

He’s bewitch’d too!
Bind him, and with a bastinado give him,
Upon his naked belly, two hundred blows.

Thou art more slave than I.                                               [Exit, carried in.

That power supernal, on whom waits my soul,
Is captain o’er my chastity.

Good, sir, give o’er;
The more you wrong her, yourselves vex’d the more.

Plagues light on her and thee!  This down I throw
Thy harlot, thus by th’hair, nail her to earth.
Call in ten slaves; let every one discover
What lust desires, and surfeit here his fill.
Call in ten slaves.

They are come, sir, at your call.

Ooh!                                                                                      [Falls down.


Where is the governor?

There’s my wretched father.

My Lord Sapritius!  He’s not dead!  My lord,
That witch there—

‘Tis no Roman god can strike
These fearful terrors! O, thou happy maid,
Forgive this wicked purpose of my father!

I do.

Gone, gone, he’s pepper’d.  ‘This thou
Hast done this deed infernal!

Heaven pardon you,
And if my wrongs from thence pull vengeance down,
I can no miracles work, yet from my soul
Pray to those powers I serve, he may recover.

He stirs.  Help!  Raise him up, my lord.

Where am I?

One cheek is blasted.

Blasted!  Where’s the Lamia?
That tears my entrails?  I’m bewitch’d! Seize on her!

I’m here.  Do what you please.

Spurn her to th’bar!

Come, boy, being there, more near to heaven we are.   [Exeunt all but ANTONINUS.

O bloody hangmen!  Thine own gods give thee breath!
Each of thy tortures is my several death!                                          [Exit.


Proceed to the next scene


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