The Welsh Embassador – Act Three, Scene Three

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Enter CARINTHA at a table reading. 

 CARINTHA
A contract sign’d by his own royal hand,
The judges that were by, beside her father,
Two dukes, and all these earls, a full grand jury
To pass upon the life and death of honour.
Yet he stands laughing at the bar.  This lady
He wore as a rich jewel, on his very heart.
Now ‘tis by him defact and broke in pieces
And swept away like rubbish from his court.
Wicked man, had fate a hand to give me to him—
How fast soever in a golden charm
My finger should be bound—his wand’ring eye
Meeting new beauties, would in scorn view mine,
And then, as hers, my joys should cease to shine.
‘Tis better as it is.

Enter a Servant.

 SERVANT
Here’s a gentlewoman servant come to see you.

CARINTHA
What gentlewoman?

SERVANT
She looks like a lady of the time.

CARINTHA
Why, how looks a lady of the time?

SERVANT
She looks like a poor lady, for she has ne’er a man, but only a shrimping boy, and her cheeks are as thin as if she had not din’d.

CARINTHA
Bring her in, sir.

Enter ARMANTE and PRINCE.

SERVANT
There’s my lady.

CARINTHA
Get you gone.                                                                                              [Exit Servant.
Ha’ are you the wrong’d Armante?

ARMANTE
And you the queen
Of the ascendant now?  Love has resign’d
The glories of his reign, his troth and honour,
To a fresh bird, whilst we who are the scorn
Of his neglect and foils for your uprising
Are hurl’d down lower than the eyes of pity
Can shed a tear for.  I am the wrong’d Armante.

CARINTHA
You come arm’d in hate.
Tempests of woman’s malice and revenge
Muster upon your forehead.  Is this your son?

PRINCE
Yes, marry am I, madam.

CARINTHA
His very brow
Is bent with frowns upon me.

PRINCE
I never heard any say that I ever frown’d yet.

CARINTHA
There may be danger
For me to trust me in your companies.

PRINCE
I am no fighter, lady, and my mother—
My poor wrong’s mother—is too full of sorrow
Now to turn swaggerer.  Neither of us both
Carry a knife about us.

ARMANTE
Look, gentle lady,
On this fair branch sprung from a royal tree,
But now grown crooked; for th’unnatural root
Keeps back the vigour that should give it growth.
What think you I come for?

CARINTHA
I cannot guess.

ARMANTE
The general voice thinks you the king’s mistress.

CARINTHA
King’s mistress, so?

ARMANTE
Queen of the times, the star of England’s court,
The glorious sphere in which the king, once mine,
Moves, and there only.  Oh, as you are a woman,
The daughter of a mother, as you can
Partake the sense of passion—griefs and pity—
The torments of contempt—disgrace and ruin—
The miseries of honour—scorn and baseness—
Let me beseech you ere you tread the path—
The path that must conduct you to the monument
Of a lost name—remember by whose fall
You climb to a king’s bed; think on’t what ‘tis
To sleep in sheets forbidden; on a stol’n pillow
A royal concubine can be no more
Than a great glorious uncontrolled whore.
She who for freedom in that state will thrive
Must plead her patent by prerogative.

CARINTHA
I snatch no patent from you.

PRINCE
Lady, methinks your brow is not bent with frowns.

ARMANTE
If not for my sake,
Yet for my child’s sake, pity me.

PRINCE
Pray do,
For sure there can be none my father’s wife
But she who is my mother.

CARINTHA
What first tempted
Your blood to that impression which stamp’d on you
The seal of these deep sorrows?

ARMANTE
Kingly perjuries,
Contracted falsehood; there’s a true bond drawn
Between the king and me in a fair letter
And ‘tis enroll’d in yonder court, by time
Never to be rac’d out.

CARINTHA
Curs’d be the hand—
Should here the writing lie—would cross one line out.
I am so far from vexing you I’ll rather
Spin out a widowhood in stretched miseries
Then play the royal thief and steal from you
What’s yours, a king’s embrace and name of queen.
‘Twas never near my thought.

PRINCE
Why la’ you, mother?  This lady is a good woman.

CARINTHA
To clear your doubts, behold this very letter
I now was writing, was directed, lady,
To your own hands.  Pray, read it.

ARMANTE
Excellent goodness.                                                                                              [Reads.

CARINTHA
Sweet prince, oh, that thy father on thy cheeks
Would read the story of a hopeful issue!
He cannot be so cruel in the view
Of himself here, but to the world make known
That ruining thy life he shakes his own.

PRINCE
I would my father were so good a man
As you are a woman, madam.  If he be not,
‘Twill be the worse for me.

CARINTHA
Dear soul, a guard of angels will wait on thee.

PRINCE
Will they truly?  When shall I see them, pray?

CARINTHA
When thou shalt need them. [To ARMANTE.] You have perus’d my letter?

ARMANTE
I have and am astonish’d.  You lock this secret
Within a chest of adamant?

CARINTHA
With it lock this.
See the king’s hand which himself snatch’d away
I put again in yours.

ARMANTE
This brings new life,
And all that life I trust you with.

CARINTHA
Then with your leave
My purpose is to entertain the king
With all the fullness of his hopes; nay, urge him
To speed the height of his desires, be instant
To have him crown me queen, but let me die
In name, die in my comforts, in the thoughts
Of all that honour virtue, if my plots
Aim farther than your peace, and to awake
The king out of this dream.

PRINCE
Y’are a brave lady.  I may be a kind one day and then—

ARMANTE
Aught but my prayers I have not left to thank you.

PRINCE
Yes, and mine too.

ARMANTE
I can show to you other wheels set going
Whose motion the king dreams not of.

CARINTHA
‘Tis happy.
Shall I direct you?

ARMANTE
Gladly.

CARINTHA
Ere we then part,
We’ll join our councils by what art we can
To turn a great king to a great good man.                                                      [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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