Satiromastix – Act Five, Scene One

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Enter at several doors TERILL and CÆLESTINE sadly, SIR QUINTILLIAN stirring and mingling a cup of wine.  CÆLESTINE and TERILL stay aloof.

And like a cloth of clouds dost stretch thy limbs
Upon the winder tenters of the air.
O thou that hangst upon the back of day
Like a long mourning gown; thou that art made
Without an eye because thou shouldst not see
A lover’s revels; nor participate
The bridegroom’s heaven.  O heaven, to me a hell.
I have a hell in heaven, a blessed curse.
All other bridegrooms long for night and tax
The day of lazy sloth, call time a cripple,
And say the hours limp after him; but I
Wish night forever banish’d from the sky,
Or that the day would never sleep, or time
Were in a swound; and all his little hours
Could never lift him up with their poor powers.


But backward runs the course of my delight.
The day hath turn’d his back, and it is night.
This night will make us odd; day made us even.
All else are damn’d in hell, but I in heaven.

Let loose thy oath, so shall we still be even.

Then am I damn’d in hell, and not in heaven.

Must I then go?  ‘Tis easy to say “no.”
“Must” is the king himself, and I must go.
Shall I then go?  That word is thine.  I “shall,”
Is they command.  I go because I “shall.”
Will I then go?  I ask myself, O ill
King, says I “must;” you, I “shall;” I, I “will.”

Had I not sworn.

Why didst thou swear?

The king
Sat heavy on my resolution,
Till, out of breath, it panted out an oath.

An oath?  Why, what’s an oath?  ‘Tis but the smoke
Of flame and blood, the blister of the spirit
Which riseth from the steam of rage, the bubble
That shoots up to the tongue and scalds the voice,
For oaths are burning words, thou sworst but one,
‘Tis frozen long ago.  If one be number’d
What countrymen are they?  Where do they dwell
That speak naught else but oaths?

They’re men of hell.
An oath?  Why ‘tis the traffic of the soul;
‘Tis law within a man; the seal of faith;
The bond of every conscience unto whom
We set our thoughts like hands; yea, such a one
I swore, and to the king;  a king contains
A thousand thousand.  When I swore to him
I swore to them; the very hairs that guard
His head will rise up like sharp witnesses
Against my faith and loyalty.   His eye
Would straight condemn me.  Argue oaths no more.
My oath is high for to the king I swore.

Enter SIR QUINTILIAN with the cup.

Must I betray my chastity, so long
Clean from the treason of rebelling lust?
Oh, husband!  Oh, my father!  If poor I
Must not live chaste, then let me chastely die.

Ay, here’s a charm shall keep thee chaste.  Come, come;
Old time hath left us but an hour to play
Our parts.  Begin the scene; who shall speak first?
Oh, I; I play the king, and kings speak first.
Daughter, stand thou here, and son Terill there.
Oh, thou standst well, thou leanst against a post,
For thou’t be posted off, I warrant thee.
The king will hang a horn about thy neck
And make a post of thee.  You stand well both.
We need no Prologue, the king entering first;
He’s a most gracious Prologue.  Marry then,
For the catastrophy, or Epilogue.
There one in cloth of silver, which no doubt
Will please the hearers well when he steps out.
His mouth is fill’d with words; see where he stands;
He’ll make them clap their eyes besides their hands.
But to my part:  suppose who enters now,
A king, whose eyes are set in silver; one
That blusheth gold, speaks music, dancing walkers,
Now gathers nearer, takes thee by the hand
When straight thou thinkst, the very orb of heaven
Mooves round about thy fingers, then he speaks,
Thus—thus—I know not how.

Nor I to answer him.

No, girl?  Knowst thou not how to answer him?
Why then the field is lost, and he rides home
Like a great conqueror.  Not answer him?
Out of thy part already? Fold the scene?
Disrank’d the lines?  Disarm’d the action?

Yes, yes, true chastity is tongue’d so weak,
‘Tis ever overcome ere it know how to speak.

Come, come thou happy close of every wrong,
‘Tis thou that canst dissolve the hardest doubt;
‘Tis time for thee to speak, we are all out.
Daughter, and you the man whom I call son,
I must confess I made a deed of gift
To heaven and you and gave my child to both;
When on my blessing I did charm her soul
In the white circle of true chastity,
Still to run true, till death.  Now, sir, if not
She forfeits my rich blessing and is fin’d
With an eternal curse.  Then I tell you
She shall die now, now whilst her soul is true.


Ay, I am death’s echo.

O, my son,
I am her father; every tear I shed
Is threescore ten year old.  I weep and smile
Two kind of tears:  I weep that she must die,
I smile that she must die a virgin.  This
We joyful men mock tears, and tears mock us.

What speaks that cup?

White wine and poison.

That very name of poison poisons me.
Thou winter of a man, thou walking grave
Whose life is like a dying taper, how
Canst thou define a lover’s labouring thoughts?
What scent hast thou but death?  What taste but earth?
The breath that purls from thee is like the steam
Of a new-open’d vault.  I know thy drift,
Because thou art travelling to the land of graves,
Thou covetst company, and hither bringst
A health of poison to pledge death.  A poison
For this sweet spring; this element is mine;
This is the air I breath.  Corrupt it not.
This heaven is mine, I bought it with my soul
Of him that sells a heaven, to buy a soul.

Well, let her go.  She’s thine; thou callst her thine.
Thy element, the air thou breathst; thou knowst
The air thou breathst si common, make her so.
Perhaps thou’t day none but the king shall wear
Thy night gown; she that laps thee warm with love
And that kings are not common.  Then to show
By consequences he cannot make her so,
Indeed, she may promote her shame and thine,
And with your shames, speak a good word for mine.
The king shining so clear, and we so dim,
Our dark disgraces will be seen through him.
Imagine her the cup of thy moist life;
What man would pledge a king in his own wife?

She dies.  That sentence poisons her.  O life!
What slave would pledge a king in his own wife?

Welcome, O poison, physic against lust;
Thou wholesome medicine to a constant blood;
Thou rare apothecary that canst keep
My chastity preserv’d within this box
Of tempting dust, this painted earthen pot
That stands upon the stall of the white soul
To set the shop out like a flatterer,
To draw the customers of sin.  Come, come,
Thou art no poison, but a diet-drink
To moderate my blood.  White innocent wine,
Art thou made guilty of my death?  Oh no,
For thou thyself art poinson’d; take me hence
For innocence shall murder innocence.                                                  [Drinks.

Hold, hold, thou shalt not die, my bride, my wife.
O stop that speedy messenger of death;
O let him not run down that narrow path
Which leads unto they heart, nor carry news
To thy removing soul, that thou must die.

‘Tis done already; the spiritual court
Is breaking up; all offices discharg’d;
My soul removes from this weak standing bouse
Of frail mortality.  Dear father, bless
Me now and ever.  Dearer man, farewell.
I jointly take my leave of thee and life.
Go, tell the king thou hast a constant wife.

I had a constant wife I’ll tell the king,
Until the king—What, dost thou smile?  Art thou
A father?

Yea, smiles on my cheeks arise
To see how sweetly a true virgin dies.


Sir Walter Terill, gallants, are all ready?

All ready.

Well said.  Come, come, where’s the bride?

She’s going to forbid the banns again.
She’ll die a maid; and see, she keeps her oath.

Fair Cælestine!

The bride!

She that was fair,
Whom I call’d fair and Cælestine.


Dead; she’s Death’s bride; he hath her maidenhead.

Sir Walter Terill.

Tell us how.

All cease;
The subject that we treat of now is peace.
If you demand how, I can tell; if why,
Ask the king that; he was the cause, not I.
Let it suffice, she’d dead, she’s kept her vow.
Ask the king why, and then I’ll tell you how.
Nay, give your revels life, though she be gone
To court with all your preparation.
Lead on, and lead her on; if any ask
The mystery, say death presents a masque.
Ring peals of music; you are London’s bells.
The loss of one heaven brings a thousand hells.                     [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene


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