The Noble Spanish Soldier – Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter CORNEGO and ONÆLIA.

 CORNEGO
Here’s a parcel of man’s flesh has been hanging up and down all this morning to speak with you.

ONÆLIA
Is’t not some executioner?

CORNEGO
I see nothing about him to hand in but’s garden.

ONÆLIA
Sent from the king to warn me of my death.
I prithee, bid him welcome.

CORNEGO
He says he is a poet.

ONÆLIA
Then bid him better welcome.
Belike he’s come to write my epitaph;
Some scurvy thing, I warrant.

Enter Poet.

                                                        Welcome, sir.

POET
Madam, my love presents this book unto you.

ONÆLIA
To me?  I am not worthy of a line,
Unless at that line hang some hook to choke me.
[Reads.] To the most honour’d lady, Onælia.
Fellow, thou liest.  I’m most dishonoured.
Thou shouldst have writ to the most wronged lady.
The title of this book is not to me.
I tear it therefore as mine honour’s torn.

CORNEGO
Your verses are lam’d in some of their feet, Master Poet.

ONÆLIA
What does it treat of?

POET
Of the solemn triumphs
Set forth at coronation of the Queen.

ONÆLIA
Hissing, the Poet whirlwind, blast thy lines!
Comst thou to mock my tortures with her triumph?

POET
‘Las, Madam!

ONÆLIA
When his funerals are past,
Crown thou a dedication to my joys
And thou shalt swear each line a golden verse.
Cornego, burn this idol.

CORNEGO
Your book shall come to night, sir.                                                                   [Exeunt.

ONÆLIA
I have read legends of disastrous dames;
Will none set pen to paper for poor me?
Canst write a bitter satire?  Brainless people
Do call ‘em libels; dar’st thou write a libel?

POET
I dare mix fall and poison with my ink.

ONÆLIA
Do it then for me.

POET
And every line must be
A whip to draw blood.

ONÆLIA
Better.

POET
And to dare
The stab from him it touches; he that writes
Such libels, as you call ‘em, must launce wide
The sores of men’s corruptions, and even search
To the quick for dead flesh, or for rotten cores.
A poet’s ink can better cure some sores
Then surgeon’s balsam.

ONÆLIA
Undertake that cure,
And crown my verse with bays.

POET
Madam, I’ll do’t,
But I must have the party’s character.

ONÆLIA
The king.

POET
I do not love to pluck the quills
With which I make pens, out of a lion’s claw.
The King!  Should I be bitter ‘gainst the King,
I shall have scurvy ballads made of me
Sung to the Hanging Tune.  I dare not, madam.

ONÆLIA
This baseness follows your profession;
You are like common beadles, apt to lash
Almost to death poor wretches not worth striking,
But fawn with slavish flattery on damn’d vices,
So great men act them:  you clap hands at those,
Where the true poet indeed doth scorn to guild
A gaudy tomb with glory of his verse,
Which often stinking carrion; no, his lines
Are free as his invention; no base fear
Can shake his pen to temporize even with kings;
The blacker are their crimes, he louder sings.
Go, go, thou canst not write; ‘tis but my calling
The muses help, that I may be inspir’d.
Cannot a woman be a poet, sir?

POET
Yes, madam, best of all, for poesy
Is but a feigning, feigning is to lie,
And women practise lying more than men.

ONÆLIA
Nay, but if I should write, I would tell ruth.
How might I reach a lofty strain?

POET
Thus, madam:
Books, music, wine, brave company, and good cheer
Make poets to soar high, and sing most clear.

ONÆLIA
Are they born poets?

POET
Yes.

ONÆLIA
Die they?

POET
Oh, never die.

ONÆLIA
My misery is then a poet sure,
For time has given it an eternity.
What sorts of poets are there?

POET
Two sorts, lady:
The great poets, and the small poets.

ONÆLIA
Great and small!
What do you call the great?  The fat ones?

POET
No.
But such as have geat heads, which emptied forth,
Fill all the world with wonder at their lines;
Fellows which swell big with the wind of prainse;
The small ones are but shrimps of poesy.

ONÆLIA
Which in the kingdom now is the best poet?

POET
Emulation.

ONÆLIA
Which the next?

POET
Necessity.

ONÆLIA
And which the worst?

POET
Self-love.

ONÆLIA
Say I turn poet, what should I get?

POET
Opinion.

ONÆLIA
‘Las, I have got too much of that already;
Opinion is my evidence, judge, and jury;
Mine own guilt, and opinion, now condemn me;
I’ll therefore be no poet; no, nor make
Ten muses of your nine; I swear for this;
Verses, though freely borne, like slaves are sold,
I crown thy lines with bays, thy love with gold.
So fare thou well.

POET
Our pen shall honour you.                                                       [Exit.

Enter CORNEGO.

 CORNEGO
The poet’s book, madam, has got the inflammation of the liver; it died of a burning fever.

ONÆLIA
What shall I do, Cornego?  for this poet
Has fill’d me with a fury.  I could write
Strange satires now against adulterers
And marriage-brekers.

CORNEGO
I believe you, madam.  But here comes your uncle.

Enter MEDINA, ALANZO, CARLO, ALBA, SEBASTIAN, and DÆNIA.

 MEDINA
Where’s our niece?
Turn your brains round, and recollect your spirits,
And see your noble friends and kinsmen ready
To pay revenge his due.

ONÆLIA
That word, “revenge,”
Startles my sleepy soul, now thoroughly waken’d
By the fresh object of my hapless child,
Whose wrongs reach beyond mine.

SEBASTIAN
How doth my sweet mother?

ONÆLIA
How doth my prettiest boy?

ALANZO
Wrongs, like great whirlwinds,
Shake highest battlements; few for heaven would care,
Should they be ever happy:  they are half gods
Who both in good days, and good fortune share.

ONÆLIA
I have no part in either.

CARLO
You shall in both,
Can swords but cut the way.

ONÆLIA
I care not much, so you but gently strike him,
And that my child escape the lightening.

MEDINA
For that our nerves are knit.  Is there not here
A promising face of manly princely virtues,
And shall so sweet a plant be rooted out
By him that ought to fix it fast i’ th’ ground?
Sebastian, what will you do to him
That hurts your mother?

SEBASTIAN
The king my father shall kill him I trow.

DÆNIA
But, sweet cousin, the king loves not your mother.

SEBASTIAN
I’ll make him love her when I am king.

MEDINA
La you, there’s in him a king’s heart already;
As therefore we before together vow’d,
Lay all your warlike hands upon my sword,
And swear.

SEBASTIAN
Will you swear to kill me, uncle?

MEDINA
Oh, not for twenty worlds.

SEBASTIAN
Nay, then, draw and spare not, for I love fighting.

MEDINA
Stand in the midst, sweet coz, we are your guard.
These hammers shall for thee beat out a crown
If all hit right.  Swear therefore, noble friends,
By your high bloods, by true nobility,
By what you owe religion, owe to your country,
Owe to the raising your posterity,
By love you bear to virtue, and to arms,
The shield of innocence, swear not to sheath
Your swords when once drawn forth.

ONÆLIA
Oh, not to kill him
For twenty thousand worlds.

MEDINA
Will you be quiet?
Your swords when once drawn forth, till they ha’ forc’d
Yon godless, perjurous, perfidious man—

ONÆLIA
Pray, rail not at him so!

MEDINA
Art mad?  Y’are idle.
Till they ha’ forc’d him
To cancel his late lawless bond he seal’d
At the high alter to his Florentine strumpet,
And in his bed lay this his troth-plighted wife.

ONÆLIA
Ay, ay, that’s well; pray swear.

OMNES
To this we swear.

SEBASTIAN
Uncle, I swear too.

MEDINA
Our forces let’s unite, be bolt and secret,
And lion-like with open eyes let’s sleep.
Streams smooth and slowly running, are most deep.                                        [Exeunt.

Procced to the next scene

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