The Noble Spanish Soldier – Act 1, Scene 2

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A table set out cover’d with black;  two waxen tapers; the KING’s picture at one end, a dagger stuck in it; a crucifix at the other; ONÆLIA walking discontentedly to the crucifix, her Maid with her; to them CORNEGO.


 QUESTION  Oh, sorrow, sorow, say where dost thou dwell?
ANSWER  In the lowest room of Hell.
QUESTION  Art thou born of human race?
ANSWER  No, no, I have a fury’s face.
QUESTION  Art thou in city, town or court?
ANSWER  I to every place resort.
QUESTION  Oh, why into the world is sorrow sent?
ANSWER  Men afflicted, best repent.
QUESTION  What dost thou feed on?
ANSWER  Broken sleep.
QUESTION  What tak’st thou pleasure in?
ANSWER  To weep,
    To sigh, to sob, to pine, to groan,
To wring my hands, to sit alone.
QUESTION  Oh when, oh when shall sorrow quiet have?
ANSWER Never, never, never, never,
    Never till she finds a grave.

No lesson, madam, but Lachrimae’s?  If you had buried nine husbands, so much water as you might squeeze out of an onion had been tears enow to cast away upon fellows that canot thank you.  Come, be jovial.

Sorrow becomes me best.

A suit of laugh and lie down would wear better.

What should I do to be merry, Cornego?

Be not sad.

But what’s the best mirth in the world?

Marry this:  to see much, say little, do little, get little, spend little, and want nothing.

Oh, but there is a mirth beyond all these:
This picture has so vex’d me, I’m half mad.
To spite it therefore I’ll sing any song
Thyself shalt tune; say then, what mirth is best?

Why then, madam, what I knock out not is the very marrow-bone of mirth, and this it is.

Say on.

The best mirth for a lawyer is to have fools to his clients, for citizens, to have noblemen pay their debts; for tailors to have store of satin brought in, for then how little soere their houses are, they’ll  be sure to have large yards.  the best mirth for bawds is to have fresh handsome whores, and for whores to have rich gulls come aboard their pinnaces, for then they are sure to build galley-asses.

These to such souls are mirth, but to mine, none.  Away.     [Exit CORNEGO.

Enter Cardinal.

Peace be to you, lady.

I will not sin so much as hope for peace,
And ’tis a mock ill suits your gravity.

I come to knit the nerves of your lost strength,
to build your ruins up, to set you free
From this your voluntary banishment,
And give new being to your murdered fame.

What Æsculapius can do this?

The King—
‘Tis from the King I come.

A name I hate.
Oh, I am deaf now to your embassy

Hear what I speak.

Your language, breath’d from him,
Is death’s sad doom upon a wretch condemn’d.

Is it such poison?

Yes, an you were crystal,
What the King fills you with, would make you break.
You should, my lord, be like these robes you wear:
Pure as the dye, and like that reverend shape,
Nurse thoughts as full of honour, zeal, and purity;
You should be the court dial, and direct
The King with constant motion, be ever beating,
Like to clock-hammers, on his iron heart
To make it sound clear, and to feel remorse;
You should unlock his soul, wake his dead conscience,
Which like a drowsy sentinal gives leave
For sin’s vast army to beleager him.
His ruins will be ask’d for at your hands.

I have rais’d up a scaffolding to save
Both him and you from falling.  Do but hear me.

Be dumb for ever.

Let your fears thus die.
By all the sacred relics of the church,
And by my holy orders, what I minister
Is even the spirit of health.

I’ll drink it down
Into my soul at once.

You shall.

But swear.

What conjurations can more bind my oath?

But did you swear in earnest?

Come, you trifle.

No marvel, for my hopes have  been so drown’d
I still dispair.  Say on.

The King repents.

Pray that again, my lord.

The King repents.

His wrongs to me?

His wrongs to you; the sense
Of sin has pierc’d his soul.

Blest penitence!

‘Has turn’d his eyes into his leprous bosom
And like a King vows execution
On all his traitorous passions.

God-like justice!

Intends in person presently to beg
Forgiveness for his acts of heaven and you.

Heaven pardon him!  I shall.

Will marry you.

Umh!  Marry me?  Will he turn bigamist?
When?  When?

Before the morrow sun hath rode
Half his day’s journey; will send home his Queen
As one that stains his bed, and can produce
Nothing but bastard issue to his crown.
Why, how now?  Lost in wonder and amazement?

I am so stor’d with joy that I can now
Strongly wear out more years of misery
Then I have liv’d.

Enter KING.

You need not.  Here’s the King.

Leave us.                                                                                                 [Exit Cardinal.

With pardon, sir, I will prevent you,
And charge upon you first.

‘Tis granted, do.
But stay; what mean these emblams of distress?
My picture so defac’d!  Oppos’d against
A holy cross!  Room hung in black!  And you
Dress’d like chief mourner at a funeral?

Look back upon your guilt, dear sir, and then
The cause that now seems strange explains itself.
This, and the image of my living wrongs
Is still confronted by me to beget
Grief-like my shame, whose length may outlive Time.
This cross, the object of my wounded soul,
To which I pray to keep me from despair,
That ever as the sight of one throws up
Mountains of sorrows on my accursed head.
Turning to that, mercy my cheek despair,
And bind my hands from willful violence.

But who hath play’d the tyrant with me thus,
And with such dangerous spite abus’d my picture?

The guilt of that lays claim, sir, to your self,
For being by you ransack’d of all my fame,
Robb’d of my honour, and dear chastity,
Made by your act the shame of all my house,
The hate of good men, and the scorn of bad,
The song of broom-men, and the murdering vulgar,
And left alone to bear up all these ills
By you begun, my breast was fill’d with fire,
And wrapp’d in just disdain, and like a woman
On that dumb picture wreak’d I my passions.

And wish’d it had been I.

Pardon me, sir,
My wrongs were great, and my revenge swell’d high.

I will descend, and cease to be a king,
To leave my judging part, freely confessing
Thou canst not give thy wrongs too ill a name.
And hear to make thy apprehension full,
And seat thy reson in a sound belief,
I vow to-morrow, ere the rising sun
Begin his journey, with all ceremonies
Due to the church, to seal our nuptials,
To prive thy son with full consent of state,
Spain’s heir apparent, born in wedlock’s vows.

And will you swear to this?

By this I swear.

Oh, you have sworn false oaths upon that book!

Why then, by this.

Take heed you print it deeply;
How, for your concubine, bride I cannot say,
She stains your bed with black adultary,
And though her fame masks in a fairer shape
Than mine to the world’s eye, yes, King, you know
Mine honour is less strumpeted than hers,
However butcher’d in opinion.

This way for her, the contract which thou hast,
By best advice of all our cardinals
To-day shall be enlarg’d, till it be made
Past all dissolving; then to our counsel table
Shall she be call’d, that read aloud, she told
The church commands her quick return to Florence
With such a dower as Spain received with her,
And that they will not hazard heaven’s dire curse
To yield to a match unlawfull, which shall taint
The issue of the King with bastardy.
This done, in state majestic come you forth,
Our new-crown’d queen, in sigh of all our peers.
Are you resolved?

To doubt if this were treason,
Because the King hath sworn it.

And will keep it.
Deliver up the contract then, that I
May make this day end with thy misery.

Here, as the dearest jewel of my fame,
Lock’d I this parchment from all viewing eyes,
This your indenture hald alone the life
Of my supposed dead honour; yet, behold,
Into yor hands I redeliver it.
Oh, keep it, sir, as you should keep that vow,
To which, being sign’d by heaven, even angels bow.

‘Tis in the lion’s paw, and who dares snatch it?
Now to your beads and crucifix again.

Defend me, Heaven!

Pray there may come embassadors from France.
Their followers are good customers.

Save me from madness!

‘Twill raise the price, being the King’s mistress.

You do but counterfeit to mock my joys.

Away, bold strumpet!

Are there eyes in Heaven to see this?

Call and try.  Here’s a whore’s curse
To fall in that belief which her sins nurse.                                                             [Exit.


How now?  What quarter of the moon has she cut out now?  My lord puts me into a wise office, to be a mad woman’s keeper.  Why, madam?

Ha?  Where is the King, thou slave?

Let go your hold, or I will fall upon you, as I am a man.

Thou traitorous caitiff!  Where’s the King?

He’s gone, but not so far gone as you are.

Crack all in sunder, oh you battlements,
And grind me into powder!

What powder?  Come, what powder? When did you ever see a woman grinded into powder?  I am sure some of your sex powder men and pepper ’em too.

Is there a vengeance yet lacking to my ruin?
Let it fall, now, let it fall upon me!

No, there has too much faln upon you already.

Thou villain, leave thy hold!  I’ll follow him;
Like a rais’d ghost I’ll haunt him, break his sleep,
Fright him as he’d embrading his new leman,
Till want of rest bids him run mad and die,
For making oaths bawds to his perjury.

Pray, be more season’d.  If he make any bawds, he did ill, for there is enough of that fly-blown flash already.

I’m now left naked quite.  All’s gone, all’s gone

No, madam, not all, for you cannot be rid of me.  Here comes your uncle


Attir’d in robes of vengeance, are you, uncle?

More horrors yet?

‘Twas never full till now;
And in this torrent all my hopes lie drown’d.

Instruct me in the cause.

The King, the contract!                                                                                                   [Exit.

There’s cud enough for you to chew on.                                                                 [Exit.

What’s this?  A riddle!  How? The King, the contract!
The mischief I devine, which proving true,
Shall kindle fires in Spain to melt his crown
Even from his head.  Here’s the decree of Fate:
A black deed must a black deed expiate.                                                               [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene


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