The Noble Spanish Soldier – Act 1, Scene 1

Return to Dramatis Personæ

Enter in magnificent state, to the sound of loud music, the KING and QUEEN, as from church, attended by the Cardinal, COUNT MALATESTE, DÆNIA, RODERIGO, VALASCO, ALBA, CARLO, and some waiting Ladies.  The KING and QUEEN with courtly complements salute and part; she with one half attending her; KING, Cardinal, and th’other half stay, the KING seeming angry and desirous to be rid of them too.

 KING
Give us what no man here is master of–
Breath.  Leave us, pray.   My father Cardinal
Can by the physic of philosophy
Set all again in order.  Leave us, pray.    [Exeunt all but KING and Cardinal.

CARDINAL
How is it with you, sir?

KING
As with a ship
Now beat with storms, now safe; the storms are vanish’d,
And having you my pilot, I not only
See shore, but harbour; I to you will open
The book of a black sin deep-printed in me.
Oh father!  My disease lies in my soul.

CARDINAL
The old wound, sir?

KING
Yes, that.  It festers inward,
For though I have a beauty to my bed
That even creation envies at, as wanting
Stuff to make such another, yet on her pillow
I lie by her, but an adulterer,
And she as an adult’ress.  She’s my queen
And wife, yet but my strumpet, though the church
Set on the seal of marriage; good Onælia,
Niece to our lord high constable of Spain,
Was precontracted mine.

CARDINAL
Yet when I stung
Your conscience with remembrance of the act,
You cares were deaf to counsel.

KING
I confess it.

CARDINAL
Now to untie the knot with your new queen
Would shake your crown half from your head.

KING
Even Troy,
Though she hath wept her eyes out, would find tears
To wail my kingdom’s ruins.

CARDINAL
What will you do then?

KING
She has that contract written, seal’d by you,
And other churchmen, witnesses unto’t,
A kingdom should be given for that paper.

CARDINAL
I would not, for what lies beneath the moon,
Be made a wicked engine to break in pieces
That holy contract.

KING
‘Tis my soul’s aim to tie it
Upon a faster knot.

CARDINAL
I do not see
How you can with safe conscience get it from her.

KING
Oh, I know
I wrastle with a lioness; to imprison her
And force her to’t, I dare not.  Death!  What king
Did ever say I dare not?  I must have it.
A bastard have I by her, and that cock
Will have, I fear, sharp spurs, if he crow after
Him that trod for him.  Something must be done
Both to the hen and chicken.  Haste you therefore
To sad Onælia; tell her I’m resolv’d
To give my new hawk bells, and let her fly.
My queen I’m weary of, and her will marry.
To this our text add you what gloss you please,
The secret drifts of kings are depthless seas.                                                    [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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