Old Fortunatus – Act Two, Scene One

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Enter the SOLDAN, his Noblemen, and FORTUNATUS.

SOLDAN
Art thou that Fortunatus, whose great name,
Being carried in the chariot of the winds,
Hast fill’d the courts of all our Asian kings
With love and envy?  Whose dear presence ties
The eyes of admiration to thinned eyes?
Art thou that Jove that in a shower of gold
Appearedst befor the Turkish emperor?

FORTUNATUS
I am that Fortunatus, mighty Soldan.

SOLDAN
Where is that purse which threw abroad such treasure?

FORTUNATUS
I gave it to the Turkish Solomon,
A second I bestowed on Prestor John,
A third the great Tartarian Cham received;
For with these monarchies have I banqueted
And rid with them in triumph through their courts
In crystal chariots drawn by unicorns.
England, France, Spain, and wealthy Belgia,
And all the rest of Europe’s blessed daughters,
Have made my covetous eye rich in th’embrace
Of their celestial beauties.  Now I come
To see the glory of fair Babylon.
Is Fortunatus welcome to the Soldan?
For I am like the sun, if Jove once chide,
My gilded brows from amorous heaven I hide.

SOLDAN
Most welcome, and most happy are mine arms
In circling such an earthly deity.
But will not Fortunatus make me blessed
By sight of such a purse?

FORTUNATUS
Ere I depart,
The Soldan shall receive one at my hands,
For I must spend some time in framing it,
And then some time to breath that virtuous spirit
Into the heart thereof; all of which is done
By a most sacred inspiration.

SOLDAN
Welcome, most welcome to the Soldan’s court.
Stay here and be the king of Babylon.
Stay here, and I will more amaze thine eyes
With wondrous sights than can all Asia.
Behold yon town:  there stand mine armoury
In which are corslets forg’d of beaten gold
To arm ten hundred thousand fighting men
Whose glittering squadrons when the sun beholds
They seem like to ten hundred thousand Joves,
When Jove on the proud back of thunder rides,
Trapp’d all in lightning flames.  There can I show thee
The ball of gold that set all Troy on fire;
There shalt thou see the scarf of Cupid’s mother
Snatch’d from the soft moist jury of her arm
To wrap about Adonis’ wounded thigh;
There shalt thou see a wheel of Titan’s car,
Which dropp’d from heaven when Phæton fir’d the world;
I’ll give thee, if thou wilt, two silver doves
Compos’d by magic to divide the air,
Who, as they fly, shall clap their silver wings
And give strange music to the elements;
I’ll give thee else the fan of Proserpine,
Which in reward, for a sweet Thracian song,
The black-brow’d Empress threw from hell.

FORTUNATUS
Hath ever mortal eye beheld these wonders?

SOLDAN
Thine shall behold them, and make choice of any,
So thou wilt give the Soldan such a purse.

FORTUNATUS
By Fortune’s blessed hand, who christened me,
The mighty Soldan shall have such a purse,
Provided I may see these prizeless wonders.

SOLDAN
Leave us alone.                                                                                             [Exit Nobles.
Never was mortal ear
Acquainted with the virtue of a jewel
Which now I’ll show, out-valuing all the rest.

FORTUNATUS
It is impossible.

SOLDAN
Behold this casket,                                                                                  [Draw a curtain.
Fettered in golden chains, the lock pure gold,
The key of solid gold, which myself keep,
And here’s the treasure that’s contained in it.                             [Takes out the hat.

FORTUNATUS
A coarse felt hat?  Is this the precious jewel?

SOLDAN
I’ll not exchange this for ten diadems.
[Calls out.] On pain of death, none listen to our talk!

FORTUNAUS
What needs this solemn conjuration?

SOLDAN
Oh, yes, for none shall understand the worth
Of this inestimable ornament
But you; and yet not you, but that you swear
By her white hand that lent you such a name
To leave a wondrous purse in Babylon.

FORTUNATUS
What I have sworn, I will not violate,
But now uncover the virtues of this hat.

SOLDAN
I think none listen.  If they do, they die.

FORTUNATUS
None listen.  Tell:  what needs this jealousy?

SOLDAN
You see ‘tis poor in show.  Did I want jewels,
Gold could beget them, but the wide world’s wealth
Buys not this hat.  This clapp’d upon my head,
I, only with a wish, am through the air
Transported in a moment overseas,
And over lands to any secret place.
By this I steal to every prince’s court,
And hear their private councels and prevent
All dangers which to Babylon are meant.
By help of this I oft see armies join
Though when the dreadful Alvarado sounds,
I am distant from the place a thousand leagues.
Oh, had I such a purse and such a hat,
The Soldan were, of all, most fortunate.

FORTUNATUS
[Aside.] Oh, had I such a hat, then were I brave.
[Aloud.] Where’s he that made it?

SOLDAN
Dead, and the whole world
Yields not a workman that can frame the like.

FORTUNATUS
No does?  [Aside.] By what trick shall make this mine?
Methinks, methinks, when you are born o’erseas
And over lands, the heaviness thereof
Should weigh you down, drown you, or break your neck.

SOLDAN
No, ‘tis more light than any hat beside.
You hand shall peise it.

FORTUNATUS
Oh, ‘tis wondrous heavy.

SOLDAN
Fie, y’are deceived.  Try it upon your head.

FORTUNATUS
Would I were now in Cyprus with my sons.                                             [Exit.

SOLDAN
Stay, Fortunatus, stay.  I am undone.
Treason, lords, treason!  Get me wings.  I’ll fly
After this damn’d traitor through the air.

Enter Nobles.

NOBLES
Who wrongs the mighty kind of Babylon?

SOLDAN
This Fortunatus, this fiend wrongs your king.

NOBLES
Lock the court gates.  Where is the devil hid?

SOLDAN
No gates, no gates of iron imprison him.
Like a magician breaks through the clouds
Bearing my soul with him, for that jewel gone,
I am dead, and all is dross in Babylon.
Fly after him; ‘tis vain, on the wind’s wings
He’ll ride through all the courts of earthly kings.

NOBLES
What is the jewel that your grace hath lost?

SOLDAN
He dies that troubles me.  Call me not king,
For I’ll consume my life in sorrowing.                                                [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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