Old Fortunatus – Act One, Scene Three

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Music sounds.  Enter VICE with a gilded face, and horns on her head; her garments long, painted before with silver half-moons, increasing by little and little, till they come to the full;  in the midst of them in capital letters this written: CRESCIT EVNDO; her garment painted behind with fool’s faces and devil’s heads, and underneath it in the midst this written, “Ha, ha, he;” she and others wearing gilded vizards, and attitude like devils, bring out a fair tree of gold with apples on it; after comes VIRTUE a coxcomb on her head, all in white before, and this written about the middle: SII SAPIT: her attire behind painted with crowns and laurel garlands, stuck full of stars, held out by hands, thrust out of bright clouds, and among them this written: DOMINABITVR ASTRIS; she and other nymphs all in white with coxcombs on their heads, bring a tree with green and withered leaves mingled together, and little fruit on it; after her FORTUNE, one bearing her wheel, another her globe; and last the Priest.

FORTUNE
You ministers of Virtue, Vice and Fortune,
Tear off this upper garment of the earth,
And in her naked bosom stick these trees.

VIRTUE
How many kinddoms have I measured
Only to find a climate apt to cherish
These withering branches?  But no ground can prove
So happy.  Ay me!  None do virtue love.
I’ll try this soil.  If here I likewise fade,
To heaven I’ll fly from whence I took my birth,
And tell the gods I am banish’d from the earth.

VICE
Virtue, I am sworn thy foe.  If there thou plant
Here opposite to thee, my tree shall flourish,
And, as the running wood-bind, spread her arms,
To choke thy withering boughs in their embrace.
I’ll drive thee from this world.  Were Virtue fled,
Vice as an angel should be honoured.

FORTUNE
Servants of this bright devil and that poor saint,
Apply your task; whilst you are labouring
To make your pains seem short our priest shall sing.

The song: whilst he sings, the rest set the trees into the earth.

PRIEST
Virtue’s branches wither, Virtue pines.
Oh, pity, pity, and alack the time.
Vice doth flourish, Vice in glory shines,
Her gilded boughs above the cedar climb.
Vice hath golden cheeks, oh pity, pity!
She in every land doth monarchize.
Virtue is a fool, Vice only wise.
Oh, pity, pity!  Virtue weeping dies.
Vice laughs to see her faint, alack the time!
This sinks.  With painted wings the other flies.
Alack that best should fall, and bad should climb!
Oh, pity, pity, pity, mourn, not sing.
Vice is a saint, Virtue an underling.
Vice doth flourish, Vice in glory shines.
Virtue’s branches wither, Virtue pines.

FORTUNE
Flourish or wither, Fortune cares not which.
In either’s fall or height our eminence
Shines equal to the sun.  The queen of chance,
Both virtuous souls and vicious doth advance.
These shadows of yourselves shall, like yourselves,
Strive to make men enamoured of their beauties.
This grove shall be our temple, and henceforth
Be consecrated to our deities.

VIRTUE
How few will come and kneel at Virtue’s shrine?

VICE
This contents Virtue, that she is call’d divine.

FORTUNE
Poor Virtue.  Fortune grieves to see thy looks
Want cunning to entice.  Why hang these leaves
As loose at autumn’s hair, which every wind
In mockery blows from his rotten brows.
Why, like a drunkard, art thou pointed at?
Why is this motley scorn set on thy head?
Why stands thy court wide open, but none in it?
Why are the crystal pavements of thy temple
Not worn, not trod upon?  All is for this,
Because thy pride is to wear base attire.
Because thine eyes flame not with amorous fire.

VIRTUE
Virtue is fairest in a poor array.

FORTUNE
Poor fool, ‘tis not this badge of purity,
Not Sibi sapit, painted on thy breast,
Allures mortality to seek thy love.
No; now the great wheel of thy globe hath run
And met his first point of creation.
On crutches went this world but yesterday,
Not it lies bed-rid, and is grown so old
That it’s grown young, for ‘tis a child again;
A childish soul it hath; ‘tis a mere fool,
And fools and children are well pleas’d with toys.
So must this world, with shows it must be pleased.
Then Virtue, buy a golden face like Vice
And hang thy bosom full of silver moons
To tell the credulous world.  As those increase,
As he bright moon swells in her pearled sphere,
So wealth and pleasures them to heaven shall rear.

VIRTUE
Virtue abhors to wear a borrowed face.

VICE
Why, hast thou borrowed then that idiot’s hood?

VIRTUE
Fools plac’d it on my head that knew me not,
And I am proud to wear the scorn of fools.

FORTUNE
Mourn in that pride and die; all the world hate’s thee.

VIRTUE
Not all.  I’ll wander once more through the world.
Wisdom I know hath with her blessed wings
Fled to some bosom.  If I meet that breast,
There to erect my temple, and there rest.
Fortune, not Vice, shall then ere have the power,
By their loose eyes, to entice my paramour;
Then I will cast off this deformity
And shine in glory and triumph to see
You conquered at my feet that tread on me.

FORTUNE
Virtue begins to quarrel.  Vice, farewell.

VICE
Stay, Fortune.  Whilst within this grove we dwell,
If my angelical and saint-like form
Can win some amorous fool to wanton here
And taste the fruit of this alluring tree,
Thus shall his saucy brows adorned be                                                  [Makes horns.
To make us laugh.

FORTUNE
It will be rare.  Adieu.

VIRTUE
Foul hell-bred fiend, virtue shall strive with you.
If any be enamoured of thine eyes,
Their love must needs beget deformities.
Men are transformed to beasts, feasting with sin.
But if, in spite of thee, their souls I win,
To taste this fruit, though thou disguise their head,
Their shapes shall be re-metamorphosed.

VICE
I dare thee do thy worst.

VIRTUE
My best I’ll try.

FORTUNE
Fortune shall udge who wins the sovereignty.                                              [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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