The Whore of Babylon – Act Two, Scene one

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Enter FIDELI, FLORMELL, PARTHENOPHILL, ELFIRON, and Footmen.

 FLORIMELL
These evil spirits are vex’d, and though they vanish’d
Like hideous dreams, yet have they left behind them
Throbs and heart-achings in the general bosom,
As ominous bodings.  Fairy lackies—

FOUR FOOTMEN
Here.

FLORIMELL
Fly, sirrah, through the air and never rest,
On pain to be into an urchin turn’d,
Till thou hast fix’d upon the highest gates
Of our great’st cities.  There’s a warning piece.  Away.       [Exit First Footman.

FIDELI
These to the spirits that our waters keep.
Charge them that none roast there, but those whose nets
Are cast out of our Fairy gundolets.  Away.                  [Exit Second Footman.

ELFIRON
These to the keepers of those royal woods
Where lions, panthers, and the kingly herds
Feed in one company; that if wild boars,
Mad bulls, or raving bears break in for prey,
Hoping to make our groves their wilderness,
Ours may like soldiers big them battle.  Fly.                    [Exit Third Footman.

PARTHENOPHILL
These to the shepherds on our Fairy downs
To warn them not to sleep, but with sweet lays
And jolly pipings drive into fat pastures
Their goodly flocks.  Wolves are abroad, say.  Fly.              [Exit Fourth Footman.

FIDELI
Place Providence, because she has quick eye
And is the best at kenning, in our navy;
Courage shall wait on her.

Enter TITANIA and her Maids, AURA, PHILÆMA, AGATHE, CASTINA, standing aloof.

FLORIMELL
No, she’s most fit
To go with us.

OMNES
Let her in counsel sit.

FIDELI
‘Tis said, and lest they break into our walls
And kill our Fairy deer, or change themselves
Into the shape of fawns, being indeed foxes,
Range all the forest, danger to prevent.
Foresight, beats storms back, when most imminent.

OMNES
Away then.                   [Exeunt.  Manent TITANIA, and her Maids.

TITANIA
Wise pilots!  Firmest pillars!  How it agrees
When princes’ heads sleep on their counsel’s knees.
Deep rooted is a state and grows up high
When providence, zeal, and integrity
Husband it well.  These fathers twill be said,
One day, make me a granddame of a maid.
Meantime my farewell to such gaudy lures
As here were thrown up t’have me quite o’erthrown.
I charge you, maids, entertain no desires
So irreligious and unsanctified.
Oh, they ha snakes’ sleeky tongues, but hearts more rugged
Then is the Russian bear.  Our Fairy bowers
Would turn to Arabian deserts if such flowers,
Mortal as killing hemlock, here should grow;
Which to prevent, I’ll have you vow.

AURA
We vow,
By the white balls in bright Titania’s eyes,
We their enchantments scorn.

TITANIA
It does suffice
To bind it, sure.  Strew all your meads with charms,
Which if they do no good, shall do no harm.

AURA
Here comes your new sworn servant.

Enter PLAIN DEALING.

TITANIA
Now, sirrah, where have you been?

PLAIN DEALING
Where have I been?  I have been in the bravest prison.

TITANIA
What prison?  A brave prison?  Can there be a brave prison?

PLAIN DEALING
All your fine men live and die there; it’s the knight’s ward, and therefore must needs be brave.  Some call it an ordinary, but I say ‘tis a prison, for most of our gallants that are served every day with woodcocks there, lie there in a manner upon execution.  They dare not peep out of doors for fear of sergeants.

TITANIA
What are these sergeants?

PLAIN DEALING
Do not you know, mistress, what sergeants are?  A number of your courtiers are dear in their acquaintance.  Why, they are certain men-midwives that never ring people to bed, but when they are sore in labour, that nobody else can deliver them.

TITANIA
Are there such places in our kingdom as ordinaries?  What is the true fashion of them?  What’s their order?

PLAIN DEALING
They are out of all true fashion.  They keep no order.

TITANIA
Where about in Fairy Land stand they?

PLAIN DEALING
In your great city, and here’s the picture of your ordinary.

TITANIA
When Master Painter please, we shall have it.  Come, sir.

PLAIN DEALING
Your gallants drink here right worshipfully, eat most impudently, dice most swearingly, swear most damnably, quarrel most desperately, and put up most cowardly.  Suppose I were a young country gentleman, and that I were to come in, like an ass, among ‘em, new cast into the bonds of satin.

TITANIA
What then?

PLAIN DEALING
Marry, then do all the gilt rapiers turn their tobacco faces like so many stale oysters at a full tide; then is there no salt to throw upon them, and to make them leave gaping, but this; to cast off his cloak, having good clothes underneath, single out some in the room worse accoutred than himself, with him to walk boldly up and down strutting, laugh aloud at anything, talk aloud of nothing, so they make a noise, it is no matter.

TITANIA
You are grown, sirrah, an observer since you came out of Babylon.

PLAIN DEALING
Troth, mistress, I left villains and knaves there and find knaves and fools here; for your ordinary is your Isle of Gulls, your ship of fools, your hospital of incurable madmen; it is the field where your captain and brave man is call’d to the last reckoning, and is overthrown horse and foot.  It is the only school to make an honest man a knave, for intelligencers may hear enough there to set twenty a-begging of lands.  It is the strangest chessboard in the world.

TITANIA
Why?

PLAIN DEALING
Because in some games at chess, knights are better than pawns, but here a good pawn is better than a knight.

TITANIA
Afford our shores such wonders?

PLAIN DEALING
Wonders?  Why, this one little cockpit, for none come into it, but those that have spurs, is able to show all the follies of your kingdom in a few apes of the kingdom.

TITANIA
Have we not in our land physicians
To purge these red impostumes?

PLAIN DEALING
Troth, yes, mistress, but I am Plain Dealing, and must speak truth.  Thou hast many physicians, some of them sound men, but a number of them more sick at heart than a whole parish full of patients.  Let them cure themselves first, and then they may better now how to heal others; then have you other fellows that take upon them to be surgeons and by letting out the corruption of a state, and they let it out, I’ll be sworn; for some of them in places as big as this, and before a thousand people, rip up the bowels of vice in such a beastly manner that, like women at an execution that can endure to see men quartered alive, the beholders learn more villainy than they knew before; other likewise there be of this consort last named that are like beadles bribed; they whip, but draw no blood, and of these I have made a rhyme.

TITANIA
Let’s hear it.

PLAIN DEALING
Those that do jerk these times, are but like fleas;
They bite the skin, but leap from the disease.

TITANIA
I’ll have you, sir, because you have an eye so sharply pointed, to look through and through that our great city and like death, to spare the lives of none whose conscience you find sickly and going.

PLAIN DEALING
If I give you the copy of the city’s countenance, I’ll not flatter the face, as painters do, but show all the wrinkles of it.

TITANIA
Do so.  You shall no more to Babylon,
But live with us, and be our officer.

PLAIN DEALING
Have I any kinred in your court?  Is there any one of my name an officer?  If there be, part us, because it will not be good to have two of the Plain Dealings in one office; they’ll be beggars if they do.

TITANIA
No, sirrah, we’ll provide you shall not want
Whilst us you serve.  Go learn where Truth doth lie.

PLAIN DEALING
Nay, nay; I have heard of her.  She dwells, they say, at the sign of the Holy Lamb.

TITANIA
We built her up a lodging at our cose
To have her labour in our vineyards;
For till she came, no vines could please our taste
But of her finding.  Set your hand to hers,
Live with her in one house, fetch from our court
Maintenance to serve you all; ‘twill be to her
A comfort to have you still by her side.
She has such pretty and delightful songs
That you will count your sorest labour light,
And time well spent only to hear her sing.
Away; lose no more minutes.

PLAIN DEALING
Not a minute.  I’ll set more watches than a clockmaker.        [Exit.

Enter ELFIRON and PARIDEL.

TITANIA
What’s yonder man that kneels?

ELFIRON
‘Tis Paridel.

TITANIA
Our doctor?

PARIDEL
The most wretched in your land.
The most in soul dejected; the most base,
And most unserviceable weed, unless
You by your heavenly influence change his vileness
Into a virtual habit fit for use.

TITANIA
Oh, we remember it.  You are condemn’d?

ELFIRON
To death.

PARIDEL
Deservedly.

TITANIA
You had your hand
Not coloured with his blood.

ELFIRON
No, dearest lady,
Upon my vowed loyalty.

PARIDEL
The law
Hath fastened on my only for attempt.
It was no actual nor commenced violence
That brought death with it, but intent of ill.

TITANIA
We would not save them, that delight to kill,
For so we wound ourselves.  Blood wrongly spilt
Who pardons, hath a share in half the guilt.
You struck.  Our law’s not hard, yet what the edge
Of justice could take from you, mercy gives you,
Your life.  You have it signed.  Rise.

PARIMEL
May yon clouds
Muster themselves in arms, to confound
Him that shall wish you dead, hurt, or uncrown’d

Enter PARTHENOPHILL with CAMPEIUS.

[Aside.] To run in debt thus basely for a life,
To spend which, had been glory!  O, most vile!
The good I reap from this superfluous grace
Is but to make myself like Cæsar’s horse,
To kneel whilst he gets up.  My back must bear
Till the chine crack, yet still a servile fear
Must lay more loads on me, and press me down.
When princes give life, they so bind men to ‘em
That trusting them with too much, they undo ’em.
Who then but I, from steps so low would rise?
Great fortunes, earn’d thus, are great slaveries.
Snatch’d from the common hangman’s hands for this?
To have my mind feel torture!  Now I see
When good days come, the gods so seldom give them,
That though we have them, yet we scarce believe them.
Heart, how art thou confin’d and barr’d of room;
Th’art quick enough, yet livest within a tomb.

TITANIA
His name?

PARTHENOPHILL
Campeius.  Deely learn’d.

TITANIA
We hear so.
But with it hear, from some whom we have weighed
For judgement and experience, that he caries
A soul within him fram’d of a thousand wheels.
Yet not one steady.

PARTHENOPHILL
It may be the rumour
That this spreads over him, flows out of hate.

TITANIA
Believe us, no.  Of his and t’other’s fate
The threads are too unlike, to have that woven.

CAMPEIUS
[Aside.] To gain her crown I’ll not kneel thus.

TITANIA
Besides,
The harvest which he seeks is reap’d already;
We have bestowed it.

PARTHENOPHILL
Here then dies our suit.

TITANIA
Now shall you try with what impatience
That bay tree will endure a little fire.
My lord, my lord,
Such swelling spirits hid with humble looks
Are kingdoms poisons, hung on golden hooks.

PARTHENOPHILL
I hope he’ll prove none such.

TITANIA
Such men oft prove
Valleys that let in rivers to confound
The kills above them, though themselves lie drown’d.
My lord, I like not calm and cunning seas,
That to have great ships taken or distress’d,
Suffer base galleys to creep o’er their breast
Let coarse hearts wear course skins.  You know out will.

PARTHENOPHILL
Which, as a doom divine, I shall fulfil.

CAMPEIUS
Thrown down, or rais’d?

PARTHENOPHILL
All hopes for this are gone;
Some planet stands in opposition.

CAMPEIUS
Umh!  So.                  [Exeunt PARTHENOPHILL and CAMPEIUS.

TITANIA
Now, Doctor Paridel.

PARIDEL
An humble suit;
I am grown bold finding so free a giver;
Where beggars once take alms, they look for’t ever.

TITANIA
You ha’ been sworn our servant long.

PARIDEL
Ten years.

TITANIA
And we should wrong you, since you take us giving,
To let you go with life that should want living.
What is it we can grant you?

PARIDEL
I ha’ been by two great Fairies in your land,
Oppres’d, I dare not say, but so beaten down
And sunk so low now with my last disgrace
That all my happy thoughts lie in the dust,
Asham’d to look up yet.  Most humbly therefore
Beg I your gracious leave that I may vary
This native air for foreign.

TITANIA
Oh, you would travel.
You may, you have our leave.  Challenge our hand.

PARIDEL
Storms are at sea, when it is calm at land.

Enter FIDELI and FLORIMLL.

FIDELI
The sea-god hath upon your maiden shores,
On dolphins’ backs that pity men distress’d,
In safety set a people that implores
The sovereign mercy flowing from your breast.

TITANIA
What people are they?

FIDELI
Neighbours, ‘tis the nation,
With whom our Fairies interchange commerce,
And by negotiation grown so like us,
That half of them are Fairies; th’other half
Are harmful spirits, that with sulphurous breath
Blast their cornfields, deface their temples, clothe
Their towns in mourning, poison hallowed founts,
And make their goodliest cities stand, like tombs
Full of dead bodies, or, like palaces
From whence the lords are gone, all desolate.
They have but seventeen daughters young and fair,
Vow’d to live vestals, and not to know the touch
Of any forced or unreverend hand.
Yet lust and avarice, to get their dowers,
Lay barbarous siege against their chastity,
Threaten to ravish them, to make their bodies
The temples of pollution or their beds,
Graves where their honours shall lie buried.
They pray to have their virgins wait on you
That you would be their mother, and their nurse.
Their guardian and their governor; when princes
Have their lives given ‘em, fine and golden threads
Are drawn and spun, for them, by the good fates
That they may life up others in low states.

TITANIA
Else let ourself decline; give them our presence.
In misery all nations should be kin
And lend a brother’s hand.  Usher them in. [Exeunt FIDELI and FLORIMELL.
Stood here my foes distress’d, thus would I grieve them.
Not how they ha’ been, but how I might relieve them.

Enter PARTHENOPHILL.

PARTHENOPHILL
Your good deeds, matchless Fairy, like the sun,
Rising but only in this point of heaven,
Spread through the world, so that a prince, made wretched
By his unhappy father that lies slain
By barbarous swords, and in his gory wounds,
Drowns all the hopes of his posterity,
Heather is like an orphan come from far
To get relief and remedy ‘gainst those,
That would defeat him of his portion.

TITANIA
Pity and we had talk before you came.
She hath not taken yet her hand from ours,
Nor shall she part until those higher powers
Behold that prince.  Good works are theirs, not ours.
Go; bit hi trust his misery in our hands.
Great trees I see do fall when the shrub stands.

[Exeunt PARTHENOPHILL and ELFIRON.

Enter FIDELI, FLORIMELL, the States of the Countries, PARTHENOPHILL, ELFIRON, the Prince of PORTUGAL.

[To the States.] Auxilio tutos dimittam, opibusque iuvabo.
[To the PRINCE OF POURTUGAL.] Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.                                                                       [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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