The Whore of Babylon – Act Three, Scene one

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Enter the EMPRESS, Cardinals, First and Second KINGS, &c.

 EMPRESS
Who sets those tunes to mock us?  Stay them!

OMNES
Peace.

FIRST KING
Peace there.

FIRST CARDINAL
No more; your music must be dumb.

EMPRESS
When those celestial bodies that do move
Within the sacred spheres of prince’s bosoms
Go out of order, ‘tis as if yon regiment
Were all in uproar.  Heaven should then be vex’d.
Methinks such indignation should resemble
Dreadful eclipses, that portend dire plagues
To nations, fall to empires, death to kings,
To cities devastation, to the world,
That universal hot calamity
Of the last horror.  But our royal blood
Beats in our veins like seas struggling for bounds.
Ætna burns in us.  Bearded comets shoot
Their vengeance through our eyes.  Our breath is lightning,
Thunder our voice; yet, as the idle cannon,
Strikes at the air’s invulnerable breast,
Our darts are phillip’d back in mockery
Wanting the points to wound.

FIRST KING
Too near the heart,
Most royal Empress, these distempers sit.
So please you, we’ll again assail her beauty
In varied shapes, and work on subtler charms.
Again love’s poisoned arrows we’ll let fly.

EMPRESS
No.  Proud spirits once denying, still deny.

FIRST CARDINAL
Then be yourself, a woman.  Change those overtures
You made to her of an unusual peace,
To an unused defiance; give your revenge
A full and swelling sail, as from your greatness
You took, in veiling to her; you have been
Too cold in punishment, too soft in chiding,
And like a mother, cause her years are green,
Have wink’d at errors, hoping time, or councel,
Or her own guilt, seeing how she goes awry,
Would straighten all.  You find the contrary.

EMPRESS
What follows?

FIRST CARDINAL
Sharp chastisement; leave the mother
And be the stepdame.  Wanton her no more
On you indulgent knee.  Sing no more pardons
To her off-fallings, and her flyings out.
But let it be a meritorious act;
Make it a ladder for the soul to climb;
Lift from the hinges all the gates of heaven
To make way for him that shall kill her.

OMNES
Good.

FIRST CARDINAL
Give him an office in yon star-chamber,
Or else a saint’s place, and canonize him.
So sanctify the arm that takes her life,
That silly souls may go on pilgrimage,
Only to kiss the instrument that strikes,
As a most reverent relic.

EMPRESS
Be it so.

FIRST KING
In that one word she expires.

EMPRESS
Her Fairy lords,
That play the pilots now and steer her kingdom
In foulest weather, as white bearded corn
Bows his proud head before th’imperial winds,
Shall so lie groveling here when that day comes.

FIRST KING
And that it shall come, Fates themselves prepare.

EMPRESS
True, but old lions hardly fall into the snare.

FIRST KING
Is not the good and politic Satyran,
Our leagued brother and your vassal sworn,
Even now, this very minute, sucking close
Their fairest bosoms?  If his trains take well,
They have strange workings, downwards, into hell.

EMPRESS
That Satyran is this hand; his brains a forge
Still working for us; he’s the true set clock
By which we go, and of our hours doth keep
The numbered strokes, when we lie bound in sleep.

FIRST CARDINAL
Besides such voluntaries as will serve
Under your holy colours and forsake
The Fairy standard; all such fugitives
Whose hearts are Babylonized; all the mutineers;
All the damn’d crew that would for gold tear off
The devil’s beard; all scholars that do eat
The bread of sorrow, want and discontent,
Wise Satyran takes up, presses apparels
Their backs like innocent lambs, their minds like wolves,
Rubs o’er their tongues with poison which they spet
Against their own anointed, their own country,
Their very parent.  And thus ships ‘em hither
To make ‘em yours.

EMPRESS
To use.

FIRST CARDINAL
Only to employ them
As bees, whilst they have stings, and bring thighs laden
With honey, hive them when they are drones, destroy them.

FIRST KING
The earnest which he give you, adored Empress,
Are two fit engines for us.

EMPRESS
Are they wrought?

SECOND KING
They are, and wait in court your utmost pleasure.
Out of your cup made we them drink with wines
To sound their hearts, which they with such devotion
Received down, that even whilst Bacchus swum
From lip to lip in midst of taking healths,
They took their own damnation if their blood,
As those grapes, stream’d not forth to effect your good.

EMPRESS
Let us behold these fireworks that mustrun
Upon short lines of life, yet will we use them
Like instruments of music, play on them
A while for pleasure, and then hang them by;
Who princes can upbraid, ‘tis good they die.
For as in building sumptuous palaces,
We climb by base and slender scaffoldings
Till we have raised the frame; and that being done,
To grace the work, we take the scaffolds down;
So must we these.  We know they love us not,
But swallow-like when their own summer’s past,
Here seek for heat, or like slight travellers,
Swoll’n with vainglory or with lust to see,
They come to observe fashions and not me.

FIRST KING
As travellers use them then, till they be gone,
Look cheerfully, backs turn’d, n more throught upon.

EMPRESS
What are they that fly hither, to our bosom,
But such as hang the wing, such as want nests;
Such as have no sound feathers; birds so poor
They scarce are worth the killing; with the lark,
The morning’s falconer, so they may mount high,
Care not how base and low their risings be?
What are they but lean hungry crows that tire
Upon the mangled quarters of a realm?
And on the housetops of nobility,
If there they can but sir, like fatal ravens,
Or screech-owls, croak their falls and hoarsely bode
Nothing but scaffolds and unhallowed graves?

FIRST KING
Fitter for us, yet sit they here like doves.

EMPRESS
True; like corrupted churchmen they are doves
That have eat carrion.  Home we’ll therefore send
Those busy-working spiders to the walls
Of their own country, when their venomous bags,
Which they shall stuff with scandals, libels, treasons,
Are full and upon bursting.  Let them there
Weave in their politic looms nets to catch flies.
To us they are put pothecary drugs,
Which we will take as physical pills, not food.
Use them as lancets to let others blood,
That have foul bodies; care not whom you wound,
Not what parts you cut off to keep this sound.

OMNES
Here come they.

Enter CAMPEIUS and ROPUS.

 EMPRESS
Welcome.  Rise, and rise up high
In honours and our favour.  You have thrust
Your arms into our coffers, have you not?

BOTH
Yes, sacred Empress.

CAMPEIUS
And into our own
Have rained down showers of gold.

EMPRESS
You shall deserve it.
You see what ocean can replenish you,
Be you but duteous tributary streams.
But is your temper right?  Are not the edges
Of your sharp spirits rebated?  Are you ours?
Do not your hearts sink down yet?  Will you on?

BOTH
Stood death i’th’way.

ROPUS
Stood hell.

EMPRESS
Nobly resolv’d.
But listen to us, and observe our counsen:
Back must we sent you to the Fairy Land.
Danger goes with you.  Here’s your safety; listen.
Choose winds to sail by; if the wayward seas
Grow stormy, hover, keep aloof; if fears,
Shipwracks, and death lie tumbling on the waves,
And will not off, then on, be venturous.
Conquests hard got are sweet and glorious.
Being landed, if suspicion cast on you
Her narrow eyes, turn yourselves then to moles,
Work underground, and undermine your country,
Though you cast earth up but a handful high,
To make her stumble; if that bloodhound hunt you,
That long-ear’d Inquisition, take the thickets,
Climb the haymows, live like birds, and eat
The underflowered corn; in hollow trees
Take such provision as the ant can make.
Fly with the bat under the eves of night,
And shift your nests; or like to ancresses,
Close up yourselves in artificial walls.
Or if you walk abroad, be wrap’d in clouds,
Have change of hairs, or eyebrows; halt with soldiers,
Be shaven and be old women, take all shapes
To escape taking.  But if the air be clear,
Fly to the court and underneath the wings
Of the eagle, falcon, or some great bird, hover;
Oaks and large beech trees many beasts to cover.
He that first sings a dirge tun’d to the death
Of that my only foe, the Fairy Queen,
Shall be my love and, clad in purple, ride
Upon that scarlet-coloured beast that bears
Seven kingdoms on seven heads.

CAMPEIUS
If all the spells
That wit, or eloquence, or arts can set;
If all the sleights that bookmen use in schools
Be powerful in such happiness, ‘tis mine.

ROPUS
What physic can, i dare, only to grow,
But as I merit shall, up in your eye.

EMPRESS
We’ll erect ladders for you strong and high
That you shall climb to starry dignity.

BOTH
We take our leave, dread Empress.                         [Exeunt CAMPEIUS and ROPUS.

EMPRESS
Fare you well.
Our benediction go along with you.
Our malediction and your souls’ confusion,
Like shiver’d towers fall on your luckless heads
And wedge you into earth low as the deep
Where are the damned, if our world you fire,
Since desperately you’ll ride and dare aspire.

FIRST KING
But is this all?  Shall we thus bend our sinews
Only to empty quivers and to shoot
Whole sheaves of forked arrows at the sun,
Yet never hit him?

SECOND CARDINAL
And the mark so fair!

FIRST CARDINAL
Nay, which is more, suppose that all these torrents
Which from your sea of greatness, you, for your part,
And all those straggling floods which we have driven
With full and stiff winds to the Fairy strands
Should all break in at once, and in a deluge
Of innovation, rough rebellion, factions,
Of massacres, and pale destruction
Swallow the kingdom up, and that the blood
Even of Titania’s heart should in deep crimson
Dye all these waters; what of this?  What share
Is yours?  What land shall you recover?

FIRST KING
All.

FIRST CARDINAL
All!

FIRST KING
Ay, all.
Between the transversaries that do run
Upon this cross-staff, a dull eye may find
In what degree we are, and of what height
Yourself, our brightest Ariadne, is,
Being underneath that tropic, as those jewels
Of night and day are by alternate course
Worn in heaven’s forehead, so when death’s winter comes,
And shortens all, those beams of majesty,
Which in this oblique and zodiacal sphere
Move with Titania now, shall lose their heat,
Where must the next sun rise but here?  From whence
Shall Fairy Land get warmth?   Merely from hence.
Let but the taper of her life burn out,
We have such torches ready in her land
To catch fire from each other, that the flames
Shall make the frighted people think earth burns,
And being dazzled with our copes of stars,
We shall their tempels hallow with such ease,
As ‘twere in solemn gay procession.

FIRST CARDINAL
Some line sea cards, that know not the seas taste
Nor scarce the colour.  By your charms I gather
You ahve seen Fairy Land.  But in a map,
Can tell how’t stands.  But if you give’t a fall,
You must get bigger bones, for let me whisper
This to your ear:  though you bait hooks with gold,
Ten thousand may be nibbling when none bites,
And those you take for angels, you’ll find sprites.
Say that Titania were now drawing short breath,
As that’s the cone and button that together
Clasps all our hopes, our of her ashes may
A second Phœnix rise, of larger wing,
Of stronger talent, of more dreadful beak,
Who swooping through the air may with his beating
So well command the winds that all those trees
Where sit birds of our hatching, now fled thither,
Will tremble, and, through fear struck dead, to earth,
Throw those that sit and sing there, or in flocks
Drive them from thence, yea, and perhaps his talent
May be so bony and so large of grip
That it may shake all Babylon.

EMPRESS
All Babylon!

FIRST CARDINAL
Your pardon.  But who’ll swear
This may not be?

EMPRESS
How the prevention?

FIRST CARDINAL
Thus:  to fell down their queen is but one stroke;
Our axe must cleave the kingdom, that’s the oak.

EMPRESS
The manner?

FIRST CARDINAL
Easy:  whilst our thunderbolts
Are anviling broad, call Satyron home.
He in his fathom metes vast argosies,
Huge galleasses, and such wooden castles
As by enchantment on the waters move.
To his, marry yours and ours; and of them all
Create a brave armado, such a fleet
That may break Neptune’s back to carry it.
Such for variety, number, and puissance
As may fetch all the Fairy Land in turfs,
To make a green for you to walk upon
In Babylon.

FIRST KING
Invincible!  Go on.

FIRST CARDINAL
Now when the volley of those murd’ring shot
That are to play first on Titania’s breast,
And, yet, lean on their rests, go off and kill her,
So that the very Alverado given
Sounds the least hope of conquest, then, then show
Your warlike pageants dancing on the waves;
Yours is the land, the nation are your slaves.

OMNES
Counsel from heaven!

EMPRESS
None this shall overwhelm.
Brave voyage!  Rig out ships, and fetch a realm.           [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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