The Virgin Martyr – Act 4, Scene 3

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Enter ANTONINUS sick; MACRINUS and Servants.

 ANTONINUS
Is this the place where virtue is to suffer
And heavenly beauty leaving this base earth,
To make a glad return from whence it came?
Is it, Macrinus?

A scaffold thrust forth.

 MACRINUS
By this preparation
You well may rest assur’d that Dorothea
This hour is to die here.

ANTONINUS
Then with her dies
The abstract of all sweetness that’s in woman.
Set me down friend, that ere the iron hand
Of death close up mine eyes, they may at once
Take my last leave both of this light, and her;
For, she being gone, the glorious sun himself
To me’s Cimmerian darkness.

MACRINUS
Strange affection!
Cupid once more hath chang’d his shafts with death
And kills instead of giving life.

ANTONINUS
Nay, weep not,
Though tears of friendship be a sovereign balm,
On me they are cast away.  It is decreed
That I must die with her, our clue of life
Was spun together.

MACRINUS
Yes, sir, ‘tis my wonder
That you who hearing only what she suffers
Partake of all her tortures, yet will be
To add to you calamity an eye witness
Of her last tragic scene, which must pierce deeper
And make the wound more desperate.

ANTONINUS
Oh, Macrinus,
‘Twould linger out my torments else, not kill me,
Which is the end I aim at; being to die too,
What instrument more glorious can I wish for
Then what is made sharp by my constant love
And true affection.  It may be the duty
And loyal service with which I persuade her,
And seal’d it with my death, will me remember’d
Among her blessed actions, and what honour
Can I desire beyond it?

Enter a Guard, bringing in DOROTHEA, a Headsman before her, followed by THEOPHILUS, SAPRITIUS, and HARPAX.

                                      She, she comes!
How sweet her innocence appears, more like
To heaven itself then any sacrifice
That can be offer’d to it.  By my hopes
Of joys hereafter, the sight made me doubtful
In my belief, not can I think our gods
Are good, or to be serv’d, that take delight
In offerings of this kind; that to maintain
Their power, deface the masterpiece of nature,
Which they themselves come short of.  She ascends,
And every step raises her nearer heaven.
What god soe’er thou art that must enjoy her,
Receive in her a boundless happiness!

SAPRITIUS
You are to blame
To let him come aboard.

MACRINUS
It was his will,
And we were left to serve him, not command him.

ANTONINUS
God sir, be not offended, nor deny
My last of pleasures in this happy object
That I shall ere be blest with.

THEOPHILUS
Now, proud contemner
Of us and our gods, tremble to think
It is not in the power thou serv’st to save thee.
Not all the riches of the sea increas’d
By violent shipwracks, nor the unsearch’d mines,
Mammon’s unknown exchequer shall redeem thee
And therefore having first with horror weigh’d
What ‘tis to die, and to die young, to part with
All pleasures, and delights; lastly, to go
Where all antipathies to comfort dwell,
Furies behind, about thee, and before thee,
And to add to affliction the remembrance
Of the Elysian joys thou mightst have tasted
Hadst thou not turned apostata to those gods
That so reward their servants, let despair
Prevent the hangman’s sword, and on this scaffold
Make thy first entrance into hell.

ANTONINUS
She smiles,
Unmov’d by Mars, as if she were assur’d
Death, looking on her constancy would forget
The use of his inevitable hand.

THEOPHILUS
Derided too!  Dispatch, I say!

DOROTHEA
Thou fool,
That gloriest in having power to ravish
A trifle from me I am weary of,
What is this life to me?  Not worth a thought;
Or, if to be esteem’d, ‘tis that I lose it
To win a better; ev’n thy malice serves
To me but as a ladder to mount up
To such a height of happiness where I shall
Look down with scorn on thee, and on the world,
Where circl’d with true pleasures, plac’d above
The reach of death or time, ‘twill be my glory
To think at what an easy price I bought it.
There a perpetual spring, perpetual youth,
No joint benumbing cold, now scorching heat,
Famine nor age have any being there.
Forget for shame your Tempe; bury in
Oblivion your fain’d Hesperian orchards;
The golden fruit kept by the watchful dragon
Which did require your Hercules to get it
Compar’d with what grows in all plenty there,
Desires not to be nam’d.  The power I serve
Laughs at your happy Araby, or the
Elysian shades; for he hath made his bowers
Better indeed, than you can fancy yours.

ANTONINUS
O take me thither with you!

DOROTHEA
Trace my steps,
And be assured you shall.

SAPRITIUS
With mine own hands
I’ll rather stop little breath is left thee,
And rob thy killing fever.

THEOPHILUS
By no means;
Let him go with her.  Do, seduc’d young man,
And wait upon thy saint in death.  Do, do,
And when you come to that imagin’d place,
That place of all delights, pray you observe me,
And meet those cursed things I once call’d daughters,
Whom I have sent as harbingers before you,
If there be any truth in your religion,
In thankfulness to me that with care hasten
Your journey thither; pray, send me some
Small pittance of that curious fruit you boast of.

ANTONINUS
Grant that I may go with her, and I will.

SAPRITIUS
The gates to hell are open.

DOROTHEA
Know, thou tyrant,
Thou agent for the devil thy great master,
Though thou art most unworthy to taste of it,
I can and will.

Enter ANGELO in the angel’s habit.

 HARPAX
Oh, mountains fall upon me,
Or hide me in the bottom of the deep
Where light may never find me!

THEOPHILUS
What’s the matter?

SAPRITIUS
This is prodigious, and confirms her witchcraft.

THEOPHILUS
Harpax, my Harpax, speak.

HARPAX
I dare not stay.
Should I but hear her once more I were lost,
Some whirlwind snatch me from this cursed place
To which compared, and with what now I suffer,
Hell’s torments are sweet slumbers!                                                  [Exit.

SAPRITIUS
Follow him.

THEOPHILUS
He is distracted and I must not lose him.
Thy charms upon my servant, cursed witch,
Give thee a short reprieve, let her not die
Till my return.                                [Exeunt SAPRITIUS and THEOPHILUS.

ANTONINUS
She minds him not.  What object
Is her eye fix’d on?

MACRINUS
I see nothing.

ANTONINUS
Mark her.

DOROTHEA
Thou glorious minister of the power I serve,
For thou art more than mortal, is’t for me,
Poor sinner, thou art pleased awhile to leave
Thy heavenly habitation and vouchsafest
Though glorified, to take my servants habit,
My lovely Angelo?

ANGELO
Know, I am the same,
And still the servant to your piety.
Your zealous prayers, and pious deeds first won me,
But ‘twas by his command to whom you sent ‘em,
To guide your steps.  I tried your charity,
When in a beggar’s shape you took me up
And cloth’d my naked limbs, and after fed,
As you believ’d, my famish’d mouth.  Learn all
By your example to look on the poor
With gentle eyes, for in such habits often
Angels desire an alms.  I never left you,
Nor will I now, for I am sent to carry
Your pure and innocent soul to joys eternal.
Your martyrdom once suffer’d, and before it
Ask any thing from me, and rest assur’d
You shall obtain it.

DOROTHEA
I am largely paid
For all my torments, since I find such grace,
Grant that the love of this young man to me,
In which he languash’d to death, may be
Chang’d to the love of heaven.

ANGELO
I will perform it.
And in that instant when the sword sets free
Your happy soul, his shall have liberty.
Is there aught else?

DOROTHEA
For proof that I forgive
My persecutor, who in scorn desir’d
To taste of that most sacred fruit I go to,
After my death as sent from me, be pleas’d
To give him of it.

ANGELO
Willingly, dear mistress.

MACRINUS
I am amaz’d!

ANTONINUS
I feel a holy fire
That yields a comfortable heat within me.
I am quite alter’d from the thing I was.
See I can stand, and go alone, thus kneel
To heavenly Dorothea, touch her hand
With a religious kiss.

Enter SAPRITIUS and THEOPHILUS.

 SAPRITIUS
He is well now,
But will not be drawn back.

THEOPHILUS
It matters not.
We can discharge this work without his help.
But see, your son!

SAPRITIUS
Villain!

ANONINUS
Sir, I beseech you,
Being so near our ends divorce us not!

THEOPHILUS
I’ll quickly make a separation of ‘em.
Hast thou aught else to say?

DOROTHEA
Nothing but blame
Thy tardiness in sending me to rest.
My peace is made with heaven, to which my soul
Begins to take her flight.  Strike, O! strike quickly,
And though you are unmov’d to see my death,
Hereafter when my story shall be read,
As they were present now, the hearers shall
Say this of Dorothea with wet eyes,
“She lived a virgin, and a virgin dies.”                            [Her head struck off.

ANTONINUS
O, take my soul along to wait on thine!

MACRINUS
Your son sinks too!                                                               [ANTONINUS falls.

SAPRITIUS
Already dead!

THEOPHILUS
Die all
That are or favour this accursed sect!
I triumph in their ends and will raise up
A hill of their dead carcasses to o’erlook
The Pyrenean hills; but I’ll root out
These superstitious fools and leave the world
No name of Christian.

[Loud music; exit ANGELO having first laid his hand upon their mouths.

 SAPRITIUS
Ha!  Heavenly music!

MACRINUS
‘Tis in the air.

THEOPHILUS
Illusions of the devil
Wrought by some one of her religion
That fain would make her death a miracle.
It frights not me.  Because he is your son
Let him have burial, but let her body
Be cast forth with contempt in some highway,
And be to vultures and to dogs a prey.                                         [Exeunt.

 

Proceed to the next scene

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