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.

 SAPRITIUS
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.

DOCTOR
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.

MACRINUS
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.

SAPRITIUS
Is he with child? A midwife!

MACRINUS
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.

SAPRITIUS
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.

MACRINUS
Silence.  He wakes.

ANTONINUS
Thou killst me, Dorothea, oh, Dorothea!

MACRINUS
She’s here; enjoy her.

ANTONINUS
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.

DOCTOR
Let him have some music.

ANTONINUS
Hell on your fiddling!

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

ANTONINUS
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.

MACRINUS
O, be yourself, dear friend!

ANTONINUS
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.

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

ANTONINUS
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.

SAPRITIUS
Art thou sick?

ANTONINUS
To death.

SAPRITIUS
Wouldst thou recover?

ANTONINUS
Would I live in bliss?

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

ANTONINUS
It is not in the world!

SAPRITIUS
Is’t here?

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

SAPRITIUS
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!

DOCTOR
Shall the boy stay, sir?

SAPRITIUS
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.

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

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

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

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

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

ANTONINUS
I must.

DOROTHEA
What?

SAPRITIUS
[Within.]                                                Speak it out.

ANTONINUS
Climb that sweet virgin tree.

SAPRITIUS
[Within.]                                 Plague a’ your trees!

ANTONIUS
And pluck that fruit which none I think ever tasted.

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

DOROTHEA
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.

SAPRITIUS
[Within.]                         Let her swallow thee!

ANTONIUS
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.

 ANGELO
Die happy for this language.

SAPRITIUS
Die a slave;
A blockish idiot!

MACRINUS
Dear sir, vex him not.

SAPRITIUS
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.

ANTONINUS
What will you do, sir?

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

Enter a Slave.

 MACRINUS
A slave is come; what now?

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

SLAVE
From Britain.

SAPRITIUS
From the west ocean?

SLAVE
Yes.

SAPRITIUS
An island?

SLAVE
Yes.

SAPRITIUS
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?

SLAVE
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.

SAPRITIUS
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.

SLAVE
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!

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

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

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

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

SAPRITIUS
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.

MACRINUS
They are come, sir, at your call.

SAPRITIUS
Ooh!                                                                                      [Falls down.

Enter THEOPHILUS.

 THEOPHILUS
Where is the governor?

ANTONINUS
There’s my wretched father.

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

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

DOROTHEA
I do.

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

DOROTHEA
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.

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

SAPRITIUS
Where am I?

THEOPHILUS
One cheek is blasted.

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

DOROTHEA
I’m here.  Do what you please.

THEOPHILUS
Spurn her to th’bar!

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

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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