Charlemagne – Act Five, Scene Three

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Enter DIDIER with a letter.

My cares and fears are past, but Ganelon’s
This letter would review if ‘twere reveal’d,
Begin cut by reviser>
Nay, beget new ones to him of such weight
That he must sink beneath them.  This I found,
‘mongst other things,    <End cut
in hapless Richard’s pocket
When I interr’d him, subscrib’d by Ganelon
Whereby’s own hand would lead him to the block
Should I discover it, for here’s contain’d
The king’s abuse and Gabriella’s whoring.
But I am now before hand.  To himself
I’ll give this letter; so beget in him
A firm belief of mine integrity
Which now goes upright, does not halt between
Preferment and disgrace; for come what will,
I am all Ganelon’s and will be still.


And see, he comes.  My lord.

Oh, Didier,
Resolve me where and how thou hast dispos’d
The most false body of my falsest friend.

The ravenous earth that eats what it hath fed
Succours the living and devours the dead,
Hath swallow’d it.

But where?  What piece of earth
Couldst thou find bad enough to hide his bones?
If in some flowery mead th’ast him interr’d,
The poison of his sins would choke the spring,
And if thou has not laid him deep enough,
Corrupt the air and cause a general plague.

Both those are, sir, prevented.  By the ditch
Whose deep banks seem to be half bottomless
Where he is laid a rotting.

Without all help?  Counsel in this were dangerous.

Sir, I was friar and clerk and all myself;
None mourn’d but night, nor funeral tapers bore
But erring stars.

And they did ere indeed
To show their lights at his curse funeral.
Did not a dog bewray thee?

Baw, waw, waw!  Sir, trouble not yourself
With any doubt o’th’secrecy was us’d
In acting your command, and, sir, because
I will not have it rest within my power
At any time to wrong or to traduce
Your honour by a probable suspicion,
Receive this letter which at burial                             [Gives the letter to GANELON.
I found in’s pocket.  Sir, it might concern you,
And deeply too, if it should be reveal’d.
[Aside.] It calls up all his blood into his face
And much distempers him.

[Aside.] Death!  I am lost in treason.  My forg’d hand
Hath whored my living sister and displays
All my bass plots against the emperor.
[Aloud.] By heaven, ‘tis false, forg’d, false as heresy!

How?  A forg’d hand?

Yes, Didier.  When was it dated, trow?
Torment!  Since my restraint of liberty!
Good gentle, patience manage me awhile.
Let me collect.  Certainly, Richard’s heart
Could not but doubt this character, and in
The strength of doubt, he came to me last night
To be resolv’d, or else why should he bear
Such danger in his pocket, admitting this?
What follows then?  Why, if that were the end
Of’s visitation, than it needs must follow
That this prevail’d not with him.  And what then?
Why, then my sister, as all women else,
Seeing herself neglected in her lust,
Thought any ill way to obtain it just.

A strong presumption.

Yet a little further.
It is resolv’d that my sister’s only end
Was to enjoy Richard unlawfully;
How might a falling out twixt him and me
Assist that end, for such a thing she caus’d?
How?  What a dull slave am I?  Why, ‘twas as much
As the untying of his codpiece point,
Almost the rem in re.  For while he stood
Constant to my directions, all was well,
But those abandon’d, then—Heart, I am mad.
I pray thee, Didier,  help me to curse
Me and my rashness that so curb’d my reason
I would not hear him speak but put him straight
To my everlasting silence.

Begin cut by reviser>
No, my lord, let’s curse the lust of women.

Well remember’d.

And yet there is a heavy one prepar’d
To meet them where they act it in the dark.

True, Didier.  There is so; and from that
May penitence want power to rescue them.

Be there a dearth of art to help complexion,
And for them many houses of correction.

And if it be possible, oh let the beadle
Not with their money but his own whip meddle
And lash them soundly.

No, that’s not so good.
May all their soundness turn to’t’pox’s food.

May constables to cadges still commend them
And their known foes, age and ill clothes attend them.

May they want skill to banish their breath’s stink
And only barbers potions be their drink.
May their sore waste their linen into lint
For meddling with other stone than flint.
<End cut.

And to conclude this heartily breath’d curse,
Their lives being monstrous, let their ends be worse.



Amen to what?

Faith, madam, a’ was praying for his sister.

Oh, you are welcome.  Worthy friend, withdraw.                                   [Exit DIDIER.
Now, my rare politic sister, what will please you?

My rare ingenious brother, why do you ask?

I’ll tell thee, woman, and observe it well:
Thou shalt remain the poorest wretch alive,
The  most forsaken of delight and pleasure
That ever breath’d a miserable life,
If I may know what pleases you.  Beware,
And answer wisely.  You are leaving now
All that hath tickl’d your insatiate blood
When you resolve my question.  I will strip
Your sweet contents of to the naked soul
Before you part.  Do you laugh?  By heaven, I will!

What brave exploit you’ll do upon the sudden?

If you account them so, ‘tis well, ‘tis well.

Fie, fie, what moves you to this froward welcome?

Callst it already froward?  Shallow fool!
I should salute thee with my dagger’s point
And never make this parley, but I’m kind,
And you’ll confess it when you read that letter.                   [Gives her the letter.
You know the character and the whole scope
Ere you peruse one work, I make no question.
But read it, do, that while you seem to read,
You may make ready for another world.
Why do you study?  Flatter not yourself
With hope of an excuse.

You are not mad!

Yes, forsooth.  I will confess myself empty of sense
Dealing with such a witty spark as you.
There’s no comparison.  A spark, said I?
I meant a bonifier made of win and lust;
One nourishes another.  Have you done?
Does anything you read allay your boldness?

You think this letter’s mine?

I do indeed, and will with horror to why wanton thoughts
Make thee confess it, that thy soul being eas’d
May fly away the sooner.

What you—

Fond woman, do not trust me.  There is dearth
And undissembl’d ruin in my words.
Make your prayers quickly.

I protest unto you,
As I have conscience and a soul to save—

That’s a fantastic oath.  Proceed, proceed.

I did not write this letter, nor have seen
Richard since it was written.  What was done,
He and my mother wrought it.

Shall I believe you?  Are you virtuous?

Examine but the end and then adjudge me.

Then my suspicion proves a false conceit
And I am wondrous glad to have it so
Because it proves you honest.  I am now
Again resolv’d that Richard was a villain
And therefore am I glad again, because
He hath what he deserv’d and has no more.

He did deserve your serious contempt
And is rewarded with it.

And with death.

Ha!  Oh, is he murder’d then?

Does that amaze you?
Yes, he is I have murder’d him and it becomes
The glorious part of conquering myself,
To say hereafter when I would relate
A story worth attention, that this hand,
This constant right hand, did deliver me
In spight of dotage and my natural pity.

Oh, you are fall’n into the bloodiest ruin
That ever tyrant threatened.

Idle fear.

Come, y’are a villain and most bloody slave,
One that your spotted sins make odious,
For Richard was all good and virtuous.
Despair now makes me honest, and I’ll speak
Truth with true testimony, for here it comes.


We two contriv’d and writ these characters.
By heaven, we did!  ‘Twas only we that spread
The poison of debate and strife betwixt you.
On us, base man, turn thy most bloody edge,
For thou hast slain the noblest innocent.

Thine own invok’d curse seize thee!

[He runs at GABRIELLA, and ELDEGRAD steps between, and he kills both.

This should have seiz’d me sooner.  Let me die.
Thy pardon, Richard.  Love that’s too violent
Is evermore with some strange mischief spent.                                     [Dies.

Foul desperation seize thee and what’s worse
Die with thy mother’s last breath’d heavy curse.                                   [Dies.

They have left a darkness so extreme behind
I cannot find a prayer to bless their souls.
See here then, politic creature, subtle man,
Here see thy mischief.  Irreligious fool!
Yet madst it conscience only when thou leavest
Sins of preferment unaccomplished,
Thou that repinst against the stars and luck,
When heaven prevents the bassbess of thy gain.
Little thinkst thou wherefore thy gayness will serve,
Nor wherefore thy close policy should fail
Till thou forsakst it, and then, wretched clay,
Thou findst a horse and dog thy betters.  They
Die unperplex’d with sense of dying; thou
Seest what thy sense abhors thy fates allow.
I feel the coming; my distracted change
Like an ill-favour’d hangman.  Pray thee, strike,
Approach and do thine office.


What art thou?

One that will prove your Richard is a coward.

Good daring tongue, be not too desperate.
He was your dear friend, was he not?

Yes, had he not been precious unto you,
But his much faith to you did make me hate him
And he had felt it had he dar’d th’encounter.

Pray, no more, and worthy sir, be bold
To say here stand the most affected soul
That ever felt the mysteries of birth.
Make me believe my plagues are infinite
That I may so desire to leave my flesh
And be deliver’d from them.  Wherefore look you?
It is my mother and my sister dead.
I was their murderer.  Go tell the world.
That paper will give satisfaction.                   [OLIVER takes the paper and reads.


Oh, you are welcome.  Are you an officer?
The captain of the guard, I think.  Come on,
Be not afraid.  Arrest me.  I’ll submit
Nor do reproach my valour.  I have dar’d
As much as he that durst affront the gods,
But grief hath stain’d me.

What mean you, sir?  Why, I am Didier.

That buried Richard?  Oh, Didier,
I was a barbarous wretch in killing him.
Dig up his body; bring it hither.  Go.
His wounds will fall a bleeding and that sight
Will soften my congealed blood.  For now
Methinks I am not passionate.  But stay,
Let all sweet rest preserve him.  I will think
How reeling in the anguish of his wounds
I would not hear him.  When a’ was about
To teach repentance an that only though
Shall melt me into cinders.  I am like
The speedy needy spendthrift now that am enforc’d
To make my wants known, where I must not hope
To get relief.  Relief?  ‘Tis a vain hope
And I will banish the conceit.  Come hither,
Look upon this and wonder yet a little.
It was my handiwork, yet nothing near
The sin of killing Richard.

Have you slain the noblest worthy Richard?

Yes, by the false illusions of these two.

A guard within there!

Enter a Guard and apprehends GANELON and DIDIER.

Faith, it will not need.
I know my end of journey.  For his death
I murder’d these.  This temporizing knave,
Burying him last night; all I can allege
Against him is concealment of the murder.

‘Tis come about.  ‘Twas always in my mind.
Nothing should hang me, being naught but kind.

Bring them away.  Treason so great as this
Was never seen since man had power to wish.    [Exeunt with the dead bodies.

Proceed to the next scene


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