The Whore of Babylon – Act Five, Scene two

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Enter TITANIA, ELFIRON, PARTHENOPHIL, PARIDEL, and FLORIMELL.

FLORIMELL
News, thundering news sweet, lady.  Envy, ambition,
Theft sacrilegious and base treason lay
Their heads and hands together at one pull
To heave you from your throne; that mannish woman-devil,
That lustful bloody Queen of Babylon
Hath, as we gather ripe intelligence,
Rigg’d an arm’d fleet, which even now beats the waves
Boasting to make their wombs our City’s graves.

TITANIA
Let it come on.  Our general leads above them.
Earthquakes may kingdoms move, but not remove them.

Enter FIDELI.

FIDELI
He yonder, he that plays the fiend at sea,
The little captain that’s made all of fire,
Swear’s, Fleming-like, by twenty thousand devils,
If our tongues walk thus, and our feet stand still,
So many huge ships near our coasts are come,
An oyster-boat of ours will scarce find room.
He swears the winds have go the sails with child,
With such big bellies, all the linen’s gone
To find them linen, and in Babylon
That there’s not one rag left.

TITANIA
Why swells this fleet?

FIDELI
Thus they give out, that you sent forth a drake,
Which from their rivers beat their water fowl,
Tore silver feathers from their fairest swans,
And pluck’d the halcyons wings that rove at sea,
And made their wild ducks underwater dive,
So long, that some never came up alive.
This sea-lie Babylon, her bugbear calls,
For when her bastards cry, let the nurse cry
But this “The drake comes,” they hush presently.
For him they’ll cudgel us.  Will you ha’ the troth?
That scarce-whore is thirsty and no blood,
But yours, and ours, sweet maid, can do her good.

TITANIA
That drake shall out again.  To counsel, lords.

FIDELI
Come, come, short counsel.  Better get long swords.

FLORIMELL
Good lady, dread not you, whate’er befall.

FIDELI
We’ll die first; yours is the last funeral.
Away, away, away!

OMNES
Posts, posts; call messengers post with all speed!

[Exeunt PARTHENOPHIL and FIDELI.  Manent FLORIMELL and ELFIRON.

TITANIA
How? Fear?
Why should white bosoms fear a tyrant’s arm?
Tyrants may kill us, but not do us harm.
Are we your prisoners that you guard us thus?                    [Exit ELFIRON.
[To PARIDEL and FLORIMEL.] Stay, and you too.  We are alone.  When last
We entertained your speech, as we remember,
Close trains and dangerous you did discover
To fire which you were prayed.

PARIDEL
I was.

TITANIA
And yielded
Albeit it were against our life.

PARIDEL
Most true.
My reasons—

TITANIA
We forget them not.  At that time
Here was but one, true, but one councillor
Who stood aloof, heard nothing; and though a blood
Of coarser veins than ours would have been stirr’d
Into a sea tempestuous to boil up
And drown the pilot that durst sail so far,
Yet of our princely grace, though ‘twas not fit
Nor stood with wisdom, did we silence it.
These heaped favours notwithstanding, doctor,
‘Tis in our ear the hammers lie not still,
But that new clubs of iron are forging now,
To bruise our bones, and that yourself do know
The very anvil where they work.

PARIDEL
I—

TITANIA
Hear us.
Because ‘tis thought some of those wonder spirits
And most malignant that at midnight rise
To blast our Fairy circles by the moon
Are your familiars.

PARIDEL
Madam—

TITANIA
Sir, anon.
Thee therefore I conjure, if not by faith,
Oathed allegiance, nor thy conscience,
Perhaps this rankling ulcerateth them,
Yet by thy hopes of bliss, tell, and tell true,
Who is’t mst let us blood?

PARIDEL
[Aside.]                               Oh, unhappy man!
That thou shouldst breathe thus long.  [Aloud.] Mirror or women,
I open now my breast even to the heart.
My very soul pants on my lips.  None, none,
I know of none.

TITANIA
Well, none.  Rise up and take heed,
They are no common drops when princes bleed.
What hour is it?  Does not my larum strike?
This watch goes fast.

PARIDEL
[Aside.] This watch goes true.

TITANIA
All’s naught.
What hour is this?

PARIDEL
[Aside.] Thy last hour.  Oh heavens, further
The work you have begun.  Where art thou, heart?

TITANIA
Oh, we see’t.  Doctor, wind up the wheel.  ‘Tis down.

PARIDEL
‘Tis down.  [Offers to stab her from behind.  She turns and he kneels.

TITANIA
How now?  What struck thee down?  Thy looks are wild.
Why was thine armed hand rear’d to his height?
What black work art thou doing?

PARIDEL
Of damnation upon myself.

TITANIA
How?

PARIDEL
Your words have split my heart in thousand shivers.
Here, here, that sticks which I fear will not out.
Better to die than live suspected.  Had not your bright eyes
Turn’d back upon me, I had long ere this
Lain at your feet a bloody sacrifice.

TITANIA
Stain’d altars please not us.  Why dost thou weep?
Thou makst my good thoughts of thee now decline.
Who loves not his own blood will ne’er spare mine.
Why does thou weep?

PARIDEL
When on your face I look,
Methinks I see those virtues drawn aline
Which did in Elfiline the Seventh survive,
Your father’s father, and your grandfather,
And then that you should take me for a serpent
Gnawing the branches of that glorious tree,
The grief melts even my soul.  Oh, pardon me!

TITANIA
Contract thy spirits together; be compos’d.
Take a full man into thee, for behold,
All these black clouds we clear.  Look up, ‘tis day.
The sun shines on thee still.  We’ll read; away.

PARIDEL
Oh, matchless!  I’m all poison, and yet she
Turns all to goodness by wise tempering me.             [Goes off.

TITANIA
If thou prov’st copper—well, this makes us strong
As towers of flint.  All traitors are but waves
That beat at rocks their own blows dig their graves.        [She reads.

PARIDEL
For not doing am I damn’d.  How are my spirits
Haul’d, tortured, and grown wild?  On leaves eternal
Vows have I writ so deep, so bound them up,
So texted them in characters capital,
I cannot race them but I blot my name
Out of the book of sense.  Mine oath stand fill’d
On your court roles.  Then keep it; up to heaven
Thy ladder’s but thus high.  Courage, to kill
Ten men I should not freeze thus. Yet her murder
Cannot be named bloodshed, for her Fairies
Are all of faith, and fealty assoiled,
The balm that her anointed is wash’d off,
Her crown is now not hers.  Upon the pain
Of a black curse, no more must I obey her.
I climb to heaven by this; climb then and slay her.

TITANIA
[Reads.] A tyrant’s strange but just end!
Run mad for sleep and died.  Princes that plunge
Their souls in rank and godless appetites
Must seek no rest but in the arms of sprites.

PARIDEL
Nothing to read?  That, if my nerves should shrink
And make mine arm revole, I might have colour
To usurp this walk of hers.  What’s this?  See, see,
An angel thrusts this iron into my hand;
My warrant signed from Babylon to kill her,
[Reads.] Endorsed, the last will of Paridel.
Le concede sue benediction, plenaria indulgenza,
Eo remissione di tutti li peccati—tutti li peccati—
All, all my sins are paid off, paying this.
‘Tis done, ‘tis done.  All you blest powers I charm.
Now, now, knit all your sinews to this arm.

As he offers to step to her, he stays suddenly upon the approach of FIDELI, FLORIMELL, PARTHENOPHIL, ELFIRON, the Ladies, a Guard, and the Doctor’s Cousin.

OMNES
You ha’ prov’d yourself a loyal gentleman.

FIDELI
The hand of angels guide us.  She’s not here.
The Queen’s kill’d.  Treason!  Wenches, raise the court!

OMNES
Walk several ways first.

FIDELI
Ways.  She’s murdered.  Treason!

TITANIA
Treason!  A sword.  What traitor dare?  Who?  Where?

FLORIMELL
A guard.  The damned serpent, see, lurks here.

FIDELI
Sure here’s some nest they breed in.  Paw him fast.
This wolf, this toad, mark, he swells red with poison,
This learned knave is sworn to murder thee.

PARIDEL
I defy any man that speaks it.

FIDELI
Hah!
Defy this noble, honest gentleman!
Defy him; he shall spit it on thy face,
Thy beard scald doctor.

PARIDEL
And dost thou betray me?
Sayst thou so?

COUSIN
And will seal my speech with blood.

PARIDEL
My no against his yea.  My no is as good.

FIDELI
Better, his yea’s go naked, and your no’s
Very well cloak’d.  Off, truth naked goes,
And here’s his naked truth.               [Shows his drawn dagger.

TITANIA
Again.

PARIDEL
Oh, me.
Now nothing but your mercy on me can save.

TITANIA
It must not.  Princes that would safely live
May grieve at traitor’s falls but not forgive.
Let him be summon’d to the bar of shame.

PARIDEL
‘Tis welcome.  A black life ends in black fame.        [Exit.

OMNES
Away with him.

PARTHENOPHIL
Now to the business
We have on foot.

FIDELI
Ay, ay, look to the head.
The hangman cures those members.

TITANIA
What is done?

FLORIMELL
This, sacred lady:  we with either hand
Have rais’d an army both by sea and land.
Your goodly ships bear the most royal freight
That the world owes, true hearts.  Their wombs are full
Of noble spirits, each man in his face
Shows a king’s daunting look; the soldiers stand
So thickly on the deck, so bravely plum’d,
The silken streamers waving o’er their heads,
That, seeing them, you would judge ‘twere Pentecost,
And that the jolly youngsters of your towns
Had flock’d together in gay multitudes
For May-games, and for summer merriments,
They look so cheerily.  In such little room
So many Fairies never dwelt at once,
Never so many men were born so soon
The drum that gave the call could not be heard
For jostling armours.  E’er the call was done,
It was so ring’d about with groves of pikes,
That when they break on both sides to give way
The beating of the drum was thunder’s noise,
Whilst coats of steel clash’d so on coats of steal,
Helmets on helmets that they struck out fire
From the huge Cyclops-hammer, when they sweat
To forge Jove’s thunder.  And in such a heat
With quickness rush they armed forth, captains swore,
Harness was sure the clothes they daily wore.
Men faster came to fight than to a feast.

FIDELI
Nay, women sued to us they might be press’d.

PARTHENOPHIL
Old grandams that on crutches bear up age
Full nimbly buckles armours on their sons
And when ‘twas on, she clapp’d him on his back
And spake thus, “run my boy, fight till th’art dead,
Thy blood can never be more bravely shed.”

TITANIA
How are the numbers you have levied?

FIDELI
What your sea-forces are, this brief doth speak.

ELFIRON
We have rais’d double walls to fence your land.
The one the body of a standing camp,
Whose tents by this are pitch’d in Beria,
On the shore’s point to bar the foe from footing.

TITANIA
Over that camp at Beria we create
You, Florimell, Lieutenant General.

ELFIRON
The other is to guard your royal person.

TITANIA
Whose charge is yours.  The sea, Fideli, yours.

ELFIRON
The standing camp of horsemen and of foot,
These numbers fill.
Lancers two hundred fifty-three.  Hosemen, seven hundred sixty-nine.  Footmen, twenty-two thousand.
The moving army, which attends on you,
Is thus made up:
Of horsemen and of foot, Lancers four hundred eighty-one.  Light horsemen, one thousand four hundred twenty-one.  Footmen, thirty-four thousand fifty.

TITANIA
We do not raise our hopes on points of spears.
A handful is an host in a good fight.
Lambs may beat lions in a war not right.
The general of all armies be our leader.
Be full of courage, lords, as y’are in years.
For this be sure we’ll not outlive our peers.

FIDELI
We’ll all live, but will first have them by th’ears.

TITANIA
Go on; your conduct be the prosperous hand.
Make you the sea good; we’ll not lose the land.
Your queen will to the field.  It shall be said
Once soldiers to their captain had a maid.         [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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