The Whore of Babylon – Act Five, Scene six

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Enter TITANIA in the camp with ELFIRON, FIDELI, PARTHENOPHIL, Officers, and Soldiers.

  TITANIA
We never held a royal court till now.
Warriors, would it not seem most glorious
To have embassadors to greet us thus?
Our chair of state, a drum; for sumptuous robes
Ruffling about us, heads cas’d up in globes
Of bright reflecting steel; for revellers,
Treading soft measures, marching soldiers.
Trust me, I like the martial life so well
I could change courts to camps, in fields to dwell.
‘Tis a brave life.  Methinks it best becomes
A prince to march thus, between guns and drums.
My fellow soldiers, I date swear you’ll fight
To the last man, your captain being in sight.

VOLUNTEER
To the last least man’s little finger!        [They shoot.  A peal goes off.

FIDELI
What flames through all our blood your breath inspires!

TITANIA
For that we come not.  No breast here wants fires.
‘Twas kindled in their cradles, strength, courage, zeal,
Meet in each bosom like a three-fold flood,
We come with yours to venture our own blood.
For you and we are fellows; thus appears it.
The soldier keeps the crown on, the prince wears it.
Of all men you we hold the most, most dear,
But for a soldier I had not been here.

FIDELI
Do not the guns offend you?

TITANIA
How?  We are tried.
Why, I’m born a soldier by the father’s side.
The cannon, thunder’s zany, plays to us
Soft music’s tunes, and more melodious,
And we more rarely like, because all these
That now can speak the language of stern war
Could not speak swords or guns, nay, scarce could go,
Nay, were no born, but like to new-sown grain,
Lay hid i’th’mold, when we went to be crown’d,
Though now th’are tall corn fields covering the ground.

Enter PLAIN DEALING.

 PLAIN DEALING
Room, room!  News, news!  The youngest news that ever was brought forth amongst men at arms.  A woman, sweet mistress, is brought to bed of a man child i’th’camp; a boy that looks as if he would shoot off already.  The bed they have swaddl’d him in is the piece of an old torn ancient; his blankets are two soldiers’ mandilions.  His cradle is the hollow back piece of a rusty armour.  His head lies in a murren that’s quilted to keep him warm.  The first thing that ever he laid hold on was a truncheon on which a captain lean’d to look upon him.  He’ll be a warrior, I warrant.  A can of beer is set to his mouth already, yet I doubt he’ll prove but a victualler to the camp.  A notable fat double-chinn’d bulchin.

TITANIA
A child born in our camp!  Go give him fame.
Let him be Beria call’d, by the camp’s name.

PLAIN DEALING
That’s his name then.  Beria.   Instead of a midwife, a captain shall bear him to the fount, and if there by any woman to follow it, they shall either trail pikes, or shoot in calivers.  Who would sweat thus to get gossips for another man’s child?  But fathers themselves are gull’d so sometimes.  Farewell, mistress.

Enter TIME, FLORIMELL, Captains, and Soldiers.

TITANIA
With roses us your crown, yourself with palm.

FLORIMELL
Had we all wounds, your words are sovereign balm.

TITANIA
Are those clouds ‘sperst that strove to dim our light?

FLORIMELL
And driven into the gloomy caves of night.

TITANIA
Our hands be heav’d up for it.

TIME
There’s good cause.
We’re bound to do so by the higher laws.
Those roaring whales came with devouring wombs
To swallow up your kingdoms.  Foolish heirs!
When half of them scarce knew where it did stand,
Under the zenith, did they share your land!
At dice they play’d for Fairies; at each cast
A knight at least was lost.  “What do you sit?”
“This knight,” cries one, and names him.  “No, a lord,
Or none!”  He throws and sweeps the board.
His hat is full of lords up to the brim.
The sea threw next at all, won all and him!
Would you these gamesters see now?

FIDELI
See now?  Where?
They’ll scarce see us, the last fight cost so dear.

TIME
Bid you me do it, ‘tis done.  Time takes such pride
To wait on you; heal lackey by your side.
Those days of their arrival, battle, flight
And ignominious shipwreck, like lost arrows,
Are out of reach.  Of them the world receives
But what Time’s book shows turning back the leaves.
But if you’ll see this concubine of kings
In her majestic madness with her sons,
That hour is now but num’bring out in sand
For you and for your Fairies’ sweet delight,
Time shall do this.

TITANIA
‘Twill be a glorious sight.

TIME
Unseen you shall both see and hear these wonders
On the green mount of truth.  Let the army move
And meet you in the vale of Oberon.
Your captives are sent thither.  Quick as thought
You shall fly hence upon my active wings.
Time, at one instant, sees all courts of kings.             [Exeunt TIME, Soldiers, &c.

TIME descending.  Enter the EMPRESS, Three KINGS, and Four CARDINALS.

 EMPRESS
Hence.  Sting me not.  Y’are scorpions to my breast,
Diseases to my blood.  He dies that speaks.

THIRD KING
Y’are mad.

FIRST AND SECOND KINGS
Y’are mad.

FOURTH CARDINAL
Oh, falls not heaven!

EMPRESS
Be silent.
Be damn’d your speech, as y’are for act.
You are all blackand close conspirators
In our disgrace.

THIRD KING
You lie.

FOURTH CARDINAL
Oh, horrible!

THIRD KING
You rave yet know not why.

EMPRESS
Thou sayst all’s lost.

THIRD KING
Drown’d, burnt, split upon rocks, cast overboard,
Throats cut by kerns whose hairs like elf-locks hang.

SECOND KING
One of those shamrock-eaters at one breakfast
Slit fourscore weason’d-pipes of ours.

FIRST KING
Of yours.
Oquendo burnt, Piamentelli slain,
Pedro de Valdes ta’en.

FIRST CARDINAL
Could dwarfs beat giants?

THIRD KING
In one day fell five hundred.  Galleons fifteen
Drown’d at the same time, or which was worser, taken.
The same day made a thousand prisoners.
Yet not a cherry stone of theirs was sunk,
Not a man slain or ta’en, nor drown’d.

EMPRESS
Oh, damn’d!

THIRD KING
Two with two spit-frog rapiers took a galleon.

FIRST CARDINAL
Oh, pity her!

THIRD KING
Let her taste all.

EMPRESS
Fall, thunder,
And wedge me into earth, stiff as I am.
So I may be but deaf, turn me into
A speckled adder.  Oh, you mountains fall
And cover me, that of me, memory
May never more be found!

FOURTH CARDINAL
Oh, holy mother!

EMPRESS
Earth, I’ll such all thy venom to my breast.
It cannot hurt me so as do my sons,
My disobedient, desperate, dampen’d sons.
My heavy curse shall strike you.

FIRST CARDINAL
Oh, kneel down,
Kneel down and beg a pardon, lest her curse—

FIRST KING
Ay, that’s the block.  We must kneel or do worse.

FIRST CARDINAL
Lift up your sacred head.  Your children come
Upon their knees to take a mother’s doom.

EMPRESS
Oh, Syrian panthers!  You spend breath most sweet,
But you are spotted o’er from head to feet.
This neck I’ll yoke, this throat a stairs I’ll make
By which I’ll climb.  Like stubble thou shalt burn
In my hot vengeance.

SECOND KING
Vengeance I defy.
I shall fall from thee, since thou makst my breast
Thy scorn.  True kings such baseness will detest.
Electors will I call and they shall make thee
But servant of mine empire.  They shall thrust
A ring into thy nostrils.

EMPRESS
Come, let me kiss thy cheek.  I did but jest.

TITANIA
Mark:  those that most adore her, most are slav’d.
She never does grow base, but when she’s brav’d.

THIRD KING
You seem still angry.

EMPRESS
No; yes.  Lead the way.
Never was day to me thus tragical.
Great Babylon thus low did never fall.

TITANIA
Thanks, Time, for this.  Launch forth to Oberon’s vale.
We are near shore; your hands to strike the sail.                [Exeunt.

F I N I S.

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