The Whore of Babylon – Act One, Scene two

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Enter TITANIA, FIDELI, FLORIMELL, ELFIRON and Petitioners.

TITANIA
We thought the fates would have clos’d up our eyes,
That we should ne’er have seen this day-star rise.
How many plots were laid to bar us hence,
Even from our cradle?  But our innocence,
Your wisdom, Fairy peers, and above all,
That arm, that cannot let a white soul fall
Hath held us up, and lifted us thus high.
Even when the arrows did most thickly fly
Of that bad woman, Babylon’s proud queen,
Who yet, we hear, swells with envenomed spleen.

FIDELI
Whose poison shall, like arrows shot upright,
When forth it bursts, to her own downfall light.

TITANIA
Truth be my witness, whom we have employ’d
To purge our air that has with plagues destroyed
Great numbers, shutting them in darksome shades,
I seek no fall of hers, my spirit wades,
In clearer streams; her blood I would not shed
To gain that triple wreath that binds her head,
Though mine she would let forth, I know not why,
Only through rank lust after sovereignty.

FLORIMELL
Enough it is for me if with a hand,
Unstain’d and unambitious, Fairy Land
I crown with olive-branches.  All those wounds,
Whose gory mouths but lately stain’d our rounds,
Bleed yet in me.  For when great Elfiline,
Your grandsire fill’d this throne, your bowers did shine
With fine-red steel, and not with Fairies’ eyes,
You heard no music then, but shrieks and cries,
Then arm’d urchins, and stern household elves,
Their fatal pointed swords turn’d on themselves.
But when the royal Elfiline sat crowned,
These civil woes in their own depth lay drowned.
He to immortal shades being gone,
Fame’s minion, great King Oberon,
Titania’s royal father, lively springs
Whose court was like a camp of none but kings.
From this great conquering monarch’s glorious stem,
Three, in direct line, whore his diadem:
A king first, then a pair of queens, of whom
She that was held a downcast by fate’s doom,
Sits now above their hopes; her maiden hand
Shall with a silken thread guide Fairy Land.

OMNES
And may she guide it—

FIDELI
Even till stooping time
Cut for her down long years that she may climb,
With ease, the highest hill old age goes o’er,
Or till her Fairy subjects, that adore
Her birthday as their being, shall complain
They are weary of a peaceful golden reign.

TITANIA
Which that they never shall; your stately towers
Shall keep their ancient beauty and your bowers,
Which late like prophan’d temples empty stood,
The tops defac’d by fire, the floors by blood,
Shall be fill’d full of choristers to sing
Sweet heavenly songs, like birds before the spring.
The flowers we set, and the fruits by us sown,
Shall cheer as well the stranger as our won.
We may to strange shores once ourselves be driven,
For who can tell under what point of heaven
His grave shall open?  Neither shall our oaks,
Trophies of reverend age, fall by our strokes,
Nor shall the brier, or hawthorn, growing under,
Fear them, but fly to them, to get from thunder,
And to be safe from foreign wildfire balls,
We’ll build about our water’s wooden walls.

OMNES
On which we’ll spend for you our latest lives.

Enter PARTHENOPHIL.

TITANIA
Fairies, I thank you all.  Stay, who comes here?

FLORIMELL
Parthenophil, a Fairy peer.

TITANIA
Parthenophil.

PARTHENOPHILL
Bright Empress, Queen of maids,
To us your lords, amidst your Fairy shades
Three princes, so themselves they style, as brightly
As here at hand, hither them draws, pretesting
All faith and service to you, and requesting
That they the tribute of their loves may pay,
At your most sacred feet.

TITANIA
Allow them entrance.

PARTHENOPHILL
They in a Fairy mask, the argument
Of this their duty, gladly would present.

TITANIA
As best them please.

The hautboys sounding, TITANIA in dumb show sends her Lords to fetch them in, who enter bare-headed, the THREE KINGS quaintly attired like Masquers following them, who doing honour to her, entreat to dance with her maids, and do so.  This done, they discover.

TITANIA
Your painted cheeks being off, your own discovers
You are no Fairies.

ALL THREE
No, but wounded lovers.

TITANIA
How!  Lovers!  What!  Would you deflower my bed
And strike off a poor maidenhead?
We know you not.  What are you, and from whence?

THIRD KING
The land of whom the sun so enamor’d is.
He lends them his complexion, gives me birth.
The Indian and his gold are both my slaves,
Upon my sword, as on the axil tree,
A world of kingdoms move, and yet I write
Non sufficit.  That lusty son of Jove
That twelve times showed himself more than a man,
Rear’d up two pillars for me, on whose capitals
I stand, Colossus-like, striding o’er seas,
And with my head knock at the roof of heaven.
Hence come I, this I am, O most divine!
All that I am is yours, be you but mine.

FIRST KING
The country at whose breast, hundreds of kings
Have royally been fed, is nurse to me.
The god of grapes is mine, whose bounteous hand
In clusters deals his gifts to every land.
My empire bears for greatness, policy,
State, skill in arts and arms, sole sovereignty
Of this globe universal.  All her princes
Are warriors born, whose battles to be told
Would make the hearers soldiers.  ‘Tis a land
Of breath so sweet, and of aspect so fair,
That to behold her, and to conquer her,
In amorous combats, great king Oberon,
Your awful father, oft has thither come,
Like to a bridegroom or a reveller,
And gone again in goodly triumphs home.
From hence I spring, fairest and most divine,
All that this is, is yours, be you but mine.

SECOND KING
Be you but mine, and doubly will I treble
Their glories and their greatness; like to thunder,
My voice far off shakes kingdoms; whilst mine own
Stands on seven hills, whose towers and pinnacles
And reverend monuments hold in them such worth
And are so sacred, emperors and kings,
Like barefoot pilgrims at her feed do fall,
Bowing to her treble corn imperial.
The language which she speaks goes through the world,
To prove that all the world should stoop to her,
And, save yourself, they do.  You think you leave
A rich inheritance, if to your sons
Our fluent tongue you leave, nor need they more,
Who speak and append it well, cannot be poor.
On many nations neck, a foot to set
If it be glorious, then may you be great.

FIRST KING
We are all pleas’d, so please you be the bride,
Of three, we care not which two be deni’d.

SECOND KING
For we are brethren, and those sacred breasts
From whence we draw out nourishment would run
Nectar to you, sweet as the food of life.
Our aged mother twenty times an hour
Would breath her wholesome kisses on your cheek
And from her own cup you should drink that wine
Which none but princes taste, to make you look
With cheerful countenance.

THIRD KING
You have a son,
Rebellious, wild, ingrateful, poor, and yet
Apollo from’s own head cuts golden locks
To have them grow on his.  His harp is his;
The darts he shots are his; the winged messenger
That runs on all the errands of the gods,
Teaches him swiftness; he’ll outstrip the winds.
This child of yours is, by adoption,
Our mother’s now, her blessing he receives,
And though, as men did in the golden age,
He live i’th’open fields, hiding his head
In dampish caves and woods, sometimes for fear,
Yet do we succour him.  This your lost sheep
We home again will bring, to your own fold,
Humbly to graze upon your Fairy plains,
Provided that you sow them with such seed
On which your whole land wholesomely may feed.

TITANIA
We know you now.  Oh, what a deal of pains
Would you, as others of this wing have taken,
To be in Fairy Land call’d sovereigns?
Thanks for it; rashly nothing must we do.
When kingdoms marry, heaven itself stands by
To give the bride.  Princes in tying such bands
Should use a thousand heads, ten thousand hands;
For that one act gives like an enginous wheel
Motion to all, sets all the state a-going,
And winds it up to height, or hurls it down;
The least blast turns the scale, where lies a crown.
We’ll therefore take advice.  If these think fit
We should be yours, you ours, we sign to it.
Your counsel, Fairy lords.  Fideli speak.

FIDELI
Would you, my royal mistress, have those crystal
Fair, double-leaved doors, where light comes forth
To cheer the world, never to open more?
Would you have all your slumbers turn’d to dreams,
Frightful and broken?  Would you see your lords,
Instead of sitting at your counsel boards,
Locking their grave, white, reverend heads in steel?
If so, you cannot for all Fairy Land
Find men to fit you better.

TITANIA
Florimell,
Breathes there in you Fideli’s spirit?

FLORIMELL
No, lady.

THIRD KING
No, nor in any breast that’s sound.  True counsellor,
Already you speak music.  You are stung
With golden chords.  Angels guide on your tongue.

FLORIMELL
These potent, politic and twin-born states
Would to their mitred fortunes tie our fates.
Our Fairy groves are green, our temples stand
Like goodly watchtowers, wafting passengers
From rocks, t’arrive them in the Holy Land.
Peace, here, eats fruits, which her own hand hath sown
Your lambs with lion’s play.  About your throne,
The palm, the laurel, and the abundant vine
Grow up, and with your roses do entwine.
But if these gripe your sceptre once—

TITANIA
What then?

FLORIMELL
Vultures are not more ravenous than these men;
Confusion, tyranny, uproars will shake all;
Tigers and wolves and bears will fill your seat
In nothing, but in misery, you’ll be great.
Those black and poisonous waters that bore down
In their rough torrent, Fairy towns and towers,
And drown’d our fields in Mariana’s days,
Will, in a merciless inundation,
Cover all again.  Red seas will flow again.
The devil will roar again.  If these you love,
Be, as the serpent, wise then, though a dove.

SECOND KING
This he that speaks in music?

TITANIA
Are you all
Of this opinion, lords?

OMNES
All, all.

ALL THREE KINGS
Let’s hence.

THIRD KING
When close plots fail, use open violence.

TITANIA
Stay; princes are free-born and have free wills.
These are to us as valleys are to hills.
We may be councell’d by them, not controll’d.
Our word’s our law.

ELFIRON
Bright sovereign.

TITANIA
Y’are too bold.

THIRD KING
I knew the fort would yield.

FIRST KING
Attend.

SECOND KING
She’s ours.

TITANIA
You would combine a league whish these would break.

FIRST KING
A league!

SECOND KING
Holy.

THIRD KING
Honourable.

TITANIA
Nay, hear me speak.
You court me for my love; you I embrace
As maids to suitors, with a smiling face
As you do me.  Receive our answer then:
I cannot love you.  What!  Such hardy men
And fly for one repulse?  I mean as yet;
As yet I’m not at leisure.  But I swear
Even by my birthday, by the crown I wear,
By those sweet waters, which into us power
Health, that no sickness taints, by that blest flower
Upon whose roseal stalk our peace does grow,
I swear I will my love on your bestow
When one day comes, which now to you I’ll name.

FIRST KING
The time!  O blessed time!

SECOND KING
Balm to our sorrow!

THIRD KING
Name that most happy hour.

TITANIA
Maybe tomorrow.
Mark else and judge whether it may be or no.
When lambs of ours are kill’d by wolves of yours,
Yet no blood suck’d; when heaven two suns endures;
When souls that rest in undergrounds
Hear anthems sung and praise the sounds;
When drops of water are so spilt
That they can wash out murder’s guilt;
When surgeons long since dead and gone
Can cure our wounds, being call’d upon;
When from yon towers I hear one cry,
You may kill princes lawfully;
When a court has no parasite;
When truth speaks false, and falsehood right;
When conscience goes in cloth of gold;
When offices are given, not sold;
When merchants’ wives hate costly clothes;
When there’s no lies in trademen’s oaths;
When farmers by dear years to leeze,
And lawyers swear to take no fees,
And that, I hope, will never, never be,
But then, and not till then, I swear
Shall your bewitching charms sleep in mine ear.
Away.                         [Exeunt Fairies.  Manent the THREE KINGS.

FIRST KING
Derided to our faces!

SECOND KING
Baffled!

THIRD KING
Made fools!

FIRST KING
This must not be.

OMNES
It shall not be!

THIRD KING
Revenge!
Fly to our empire’s bosom; there suck treason,
Sedition, heresies, confederacies,
The violation of all sacred leagues,
The combination of all league’s unjust;
The dispensation for sacramental oaths,
And when y’are swol’n with theirs, return again,
And let their poison rain down here in showers.
Whole herds of bulls loaden with hallowed curses,
With interdictions, excommunications,
And with unbinding subjects’ fealties,
And with large patents to kill kings and queens
Drive roaring hither, that upon their horns
This empire may be toss’d.

SECOND KING
She shall be torn
Even joint from joint; to have her baited well,
If we cannot, we will unkennel hell.

FIRST KING
Will you not home with us?

THIRD KING
No; here I’ll lurk,
And in a dove-like shape raven upon doves.
I’ll suck allegiance from the common breast,
Poison the courtier with ambitious drugs,
Throw bane into the cups where learning drinks.
I’ll be a saint, a fury, angel, devil,
O’er seas, on this side seas; devils foreigners,
With devils within hell’s freedom, devils in vaults,
And with church devils, be it your soul’s health
To drink down Babylonian stratagems
And to forge three-fork’d thunderbolts at home
Whilst I melt sulphur here.  If the sweet bane
I lay be swallow’d, oh!  A kingdom bursts,
But if the poison’d hook be spied, then levy
Eighty-eight legions and take open arms.
The guiden shall be mine; I’ll bear the standard.

OMNES
‘Twill be a glorious war!

FIRST KING
Farewell.

THIRD KING
Be gone.
Who cleaves a realm’s head needs more swords than one.                           [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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