Charlemagne – Act Four, Scene One

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Enter RICHARD, reading a letter.

  RICHARD
[Reads.] Mine enemies have labour’d much, but my worst affliction is thy lamented absence, which may endanger us alike; thee by wanting my directions, me by despairing of thy welfare.  There is no means to prevent all evils but the enjoying of my sister Gabriella, therefore force in thyself an affection she may otherwise grow discontent and trouble us with her malice.  Therefore, preserve thyself and me together who am thy best on earth.  Ganelon.
This letter sent me by my dearest friend
Like spells and witchcraft doth amaze my brain.
He urges me to love where a’ doth know
I can by no means fancy, yet ‘tis so;
Our safeties do compel it., and to that
I must of force bow, teaching my hand and heart
To seem most soft when ‘tis most harden’d.

Enter BISHOP TURPIN.

 BISHOP TURPIN
Where is princely Richard?

RICHARD
Here, reverend lord.

BISHOP TURPIN
The king commands your presence.  Oh, dear sir,
I am o’erjoy’d in your most brave advancements.
Why, you are now the fairest star in France.

RICHARD
I do not understand your reverence.

BISHOP TURPIN
The emperor will make my meaning plain.
<…>s day, Constable of France.
County Poictiers, Marquis of Salucca,
And grand le seignior of the ordinance.

RICHARD
These are the dignities of noble Ganelon.

BISHOP TURPIN
But these shall all be Richard’s.

RICHARD
Heaven forbid!
I will not wear the garments of my friend.

BISHOP TURPIN
Oh, do not say so.  They are forfeit robes
And never did become his policy.

RICHARD
Good sir, be charitable.

BISHOP TURPIN
Indeed, I am,
But this doth least concern me.  Sir, I know
The emperor expects you.

RICHARD

Enter LA FUE.

O, y’are happily met.
My urgent business makes my language short.
Commend me to thy master; give him this,   [Gives letters and money.
This to my fairest Gabriella, this yourself
May drink at your best leisure.                                                                    [Exit.

LA FUE
Why, so this gold has made my choler as cold as snow water.  I had thought to have whistled him a brawl for making me dance attendance.  Waiting on courtiers is like knocking at great men’s gates at dinner-time; well may a man make a noise, but hunger and hard fare keeps the porter deaf still.  ‘Tis scurvy, passing scurvy in good sadness.

BISHOP TURPIN
Now, Monsieur La Fue, you are of the retir’d family.

LA FUE
Tired family?  No, we are not tired, and yet we may be weary, and yet he that spurs me for a tired jade, I may chance kick him i’th’dirt.

BISHOP TURPIN
Come, your anger mistakes.  I said retired.

LA FUE
I hate words I understand not.  He that either tires or retires me, may chance curse his journey!

BISHOP TURPIN
Still so angry.  Didst ne’er take physic?

LA FUE
Peradventure I have; peradventure I have not.

BISHOP TURPIN
By all means do.  Choler will kill thee else.  But to my purpose, here’s gold.  [Gives a ring.] Commend me to thy master and give him this token from me.  You see how things run.  His friend has all his honours.

LA FUE
And you had talk’d thus before y’ad never tir’d me.

Enter CHARLEMAGNE, RICHARD, and DIDIER.

BISHOP TURPIN
Stay, go no more.  Here comes the emperor.

LA FUE
Mass, I’ll have a sight on him.

CHARLEMAGNE
Do not persuade me, cousin.  You shall wear
The honours I have given.  What was Ganelon’s
Only belongs to Richard.  He shall wear them.

RICHARD
But without ease or comfort, good my lord.
You have a power to interpret; pray you, beg
His grace will ease this burden.

CHARLEMAGNE
Nor  he nor any creature on the earth
Hath power in my beyond the rule of wisdom.

BISHOP TURPIN
Not now, I know, that charm is altered.
Sweet lord, I dare not limit king’s affections.
You have no honours but you merit them.

CHARLEMAGNE
Ha!  Wonder how dost thou hold me!  Noble sense
Do not forsake my reason.  Good sweet lords,
What excellent thing is that, that, that, that thing
That is beyond description?  Know you him?

LA FUE
Hath spied me and commends me.  I may mount.

BISHOP TURPIN
‘Tis a despised groom, the drudge of Ganelon.

CHARLEMAGNE
‘Tis the best form of man that ere I saw.
Let me admire him.

BISHOP TURPIN
The ring doth hold his virtue everywhere
In women, men and monsters.

RICHARD
Whence goes this?
Madness to it is wisdom.

CHARLEMAGNE
Why, ‘tis a body made by symmetry
And knit together with more art and care
Than mathematic circles.  Durer’s rules
Are perfitted in him.  Why, there’s a face
Figur’d with all proportions; brown and eye,
Round cheek and lip; a nose empirical
And every feature else of excellence.

LA FUE
Alas, I am but a gross servingman; yet virtue will sparkle.

CHARLEMAGNE
Why, there’s a hand that answers to his foot.

LA FUE
Ay, and a true one too or bourn it else.

CHARLEMAGNE
A leg and neck of no bigger than his thigh,
And all parts else of strong proportion.
I am enchanted with this vision.

DIDIER
In Hell’s name, what beholds his majesty?
To dote upon this rascal?

LA FUE
[Aside.] It was a scurvy thing in Nature that she did not turn’s man’s eyes inward.  Why had I seen as much as the emperor, I might have been a monarch by this time.  I will grow proud.

CHARLEMAGNE
O, then the only sweetness of my soul
Give me but leave to touch thee; let my hand,
Chaste love’s more bashful messenger, presume
<To st>roke these flowers <that> in th<y> lovely <che>eks
Flourishes like summer garlands.  In sooth, my soul
Loves thee beyond relation; faith, I dote
And die in thine affection.  Come, I’ll make
Thee greater than all France, above the peers,
The proudest he that breathes, shall think him bless’d
To do thee service and esteem it heaven
To be thine ape in imitation.

LA FUE
[Aside.] Now must I be coy by all means.  [Aloud.] Truly for mine own part I must love by discretion, and discretion tells me I ought not to love an old man, for old men must needs be ingrateful

CHARLEMAGNE
Why, dear sweet?

LA FUE
Because they can never life to reward benefits.

BISHOP TURPIN
Bitter knave.

CHARLEMAGNE
O, do not fear.  My bounty shall exceed
The power of thine asking.  Thou shalt tread
Upon the head of princes.  Bow you, lords
And fall before this saint I reverence.

BISHOP TURPIN, RICHARD & DIDIER
Honours to him the emperor doth honour.

LA FUE
Arise, my good subjects.  Only for that rogue there the first act of my chronicle shall be his hanging.

DIDIER
O, be not angry with your humble servant.
I ever did adore you.

LA FUE
Yes, like thy meals that thou hast devour’d half chaw’d for greediness, but revenge comes now galloping.

CHARLEMAGNE
Who hath displeas’d my dearest, name his name.
The very breath shall blast him; only sweet,
Love me and have thy wishes.

LA FUE
Well, I am contented to love you; and why?  For nothing but because you are an old man.

CHARLEMAGNE
Why, ‘tis the only tie of faithfulness.
Age is the only object of the heart
And by’s experience only hath aspir’d
To’th’height of all perfection.

LA FUE
True, for I’ll stand to’t an old man is able to see more, do more, and command more than any young man in Christendom.

CHARLEMAGNE
Prove it, my sweet, thou art mind advocate.

LA FUE
Why, a’ sees more through spectacles which makes everything appear bigger than it is, does more, for a never lights from his horse, but he’s ready to pull the saddle after him; and for commandment, he may call twenty times to his servant ere he have his will once performed.

RICHARD
‘Sfoot, the knave doth abuse his highness grossly.

BISHOP TURPIN
Tut, not at all, when’t cannot be discerned.

CHARLEMAGNE
Why, I do now dote on thine excellence.
This wit’s unparalleled.

DIDIER
True, except a man search the idiot hospital.

CHARLEMAGNE
Thou never shalt go from me.

LA FUE
O, yes by all means.  Shall my master say I ran away like a rascal.  No, you shall give me leave to take my leave.  That ceremony performed, I’m yours till doomsday.

CHARLEMAGNE
I cannot live without thee.

LA FUE
I’ll not stay a day at furthest.

CHARLEMAGNE
I dare deny thee nothing.  Kiss and go.
Think how I languish for thee.

LA FUE
And I will condole in reciprocal kindness.

CHARLEMAGNE
Bishop, attend my dearest.

BISHOP TURPIN
Great sir, I was too impudent even now
To trouble  you with my token.  Good sir, please
To give it me again.  A meaner man
Shall serve mine humble message.

LA FUE
Bishop, I do vouchsafe it.  There’s thy ring.                   [Gives him the ring.

BISHOP TURPIN
[Aside.] And you again a base most scurvy thing.

[Exeunt BISHOP TURPIN and LA FUE.

Enter LA BUSSE.

CHARLEMAGNE
How now, La Busse.  What news from Ganelon?

LA BUSSE
Such as can come from sorrow:  he is all
Wretchedness and misfortune, and in me
Speaks to your sacred goodness to be pleas’d
Not to let base disgraces swallow him.
Vouchsafe to call your fair dove to your fist,
Mercy I mean, that may abate the stroke
Of your sharp eagle justice, and you will
Be writ the best of princes.

CHARLEMAGNE
Come, no more.
Your father’s sentence is irrevocable.

LA BUSSE
Yet, gracious sir, send him his honours back
And for those few poor hours he hath to breathe
Let him enjoy those dear companions.

CHARLEMAGNE
You are the good son of an evil man
And I commend your virtue, but this suit
Is past all restitution.  To this prince
I’ve given all your father goverened.

RICHARD
Which, royal sir?

CHARLEMAGNE
Cousin, mo more.  I know your modesty
<…>ent your language; he’s <m>y foe
That next solicits me for Ganelon.

LA BUSSE
Oh, do not make me, sir, be impious,
For should your breath crush me to atomies,
Yet whilst my memory can call him father,
I must invoke you for him.

CHARLEMAGNE
Which to prevent,
Take my last resolution, and from it
Swear not on thine allegiance when thou shalt
Meet me upon a way was never us’d
By horse nor man; and thou thyself dost ride
On neither horse, mare, ass and yet thy beast,
An usual thing for burthen, thou thyself
Neither uncloth’d nor naked, and shalt bring
Thy greatest friend and greatest enemy,
Coupled for thy companions, then I vow
To do thy father honour, but till then
My malice hangs about him.  Come, coz, attend us.

[Exeunt CHARLEMAGNE and RICHARD.

LA BUSSE
Then die, poor Ganelon.  Begin cut by reviser> When I shall meet
The king on no highway, when I shall ride
Upon no beast and yet a beast of burthen,
Be neither naked nor cloth’d.  In my hand
My greatest friend and greatest enemy
And but then get his favour.  <End cut –  There is no sphinx
Yet can absolve this riddle; well, ‘tis decreed.
I’ll break my brain but I’ll perform the deed.

DIDIER
Sir, would it were in me to help your fortune.

LA BUSSE
It was in you to bring us to this fortune,
But I am charm’d from anger; only thus
My father bade me tell you that he hath
Not many hours to live and dot desire
To part in peace with all men, even with you
Whom he hath now forgiven heartily,
And if you please to visit him you may
Find love without capitulation.                                                                       [Exit.

DIDIER
Sir, I’ll attend him, yet I’ve heard a tale
Of a fierce snake that wounded by a swan
Remember’d it for twenty years together
And at the last reveng’d it; so may he.
Ay, but another tale tells of an ass
Which, having thrown his cruel rider, went
In pity to the surgeon who recur’d
The sickly man and reconcil’d the ass.
Why may not Ganelon be like the ass
And this fair message, like the curing surgeon?
I’ll try it; since Orlando is unsure,
‘Tis Ganelon from whence may come my cure.                                           [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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