Swetnam the Woman Hater – Act Five, scene one

 

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Enter ATTICUS, IAGO, SFORZA, and NICANOR.

ATTICUS
How took the girl her death? Did she not rave?
Exclaim upon me for the justice done
By a just father. How took Naples’ son
His exile from our land? What, no man speak?
My lords, whence springs this alteration?
Why stand you thus amaz’d? Methinks your eyes
Are fix’d in meditations, and all here
Seem like so many senseless statues,
As if your souls had suffer’d an eclipse,
Betwixt your judgements and affections.
Is it not so? I’m sure you saw
The execution of Leonida.
Not yet a syllable? If once again
We do but ask the question, death ties up
Your souls for ever. Call a headsman there.
If for our daughter this dumb grief proceed,
Why should not we lament as well as you?
I was her father, whose dear life I priz’d
Above mine own, before she did transgress;
And could the law have so been satisfied,
Mine should ha’ paid the ransom of her crime.
But that the world should know our equity,
Were she a thousand daughters she should die.

IAGO
I can forbear no longer. Then, sir, know,
It was about that time, when as the sun
Had newly clmb’d over the eastern hills
To glad the world with his diurnal heat,
When the sad ministers of justice took
Your daughter from the bosom of the queen
Whom not she had instructed to receive
Death’s cold embraces with alacrity;
Which she so well had learn’d that she did strive
Like a too forward scholar, to exceed
Her teacher’s doctrine,
So cheerfully she went unto the block,
As if she pass’d unto her nuptial bed.
And as the trembling bride when she espies
The bridegroom hastily unclothe himself,
And now beginning to approach the bed,
Then she began to quake and shrink sway,
To shun the separation of that head,
Which is imaginary only, and not real.
So, when she saw her executioner
Stand ready to strike out that fatal blow,
Nature, her frailty, and the alluring world,
Did then begin to oppose her constancy;
But she, whose mind was of a nobler frame,
Vanquish’d all oppositions, and embrac’d
The stroke with courage beyond woman’s strength;
And the last words she spoke, said, “I rejoice
That I am freed of father’s tyranny.

ATTICUS
Forbear to utter more. We are not pleas’d
With these unpleasing accents. Leave the world
So cheerfully, and speak of tyranny!
She was not guilty sure. We’ll hear no more.

IAGO
Sir, but you shall; since you enforc’d me to speak,
I will not leave a syllable untold.
You ask’d if Naples son were banish’d too?
Yes, he is banish’d ever from the sight
Of mortal eyes again, for he is dead.

NICANOR
Lisandro dead! By what occasion?

IAGO
I scorn to answer thee; the king shall know.
It was his chance upon that hapless hour,
To pass that way, conducted by his guard
Towards his banishment, where he beheld
The woeful object of the princess’ head.
There might you see love, pity, rage, despair,
Acting together in their several shapes;
That it was hard to judge, which of all those
Were most predominant. At last, despair
Became sole monarch of his passions,
Which drew him to this error: having got
Leave of his guard to celebrate his vows
Unto that precious relic of his saint,
Where having breath’d a mournful elegy
After a thousand sighs, ten thousand groans,
Still crying out, “Leonide, my love!”
Then, as his death were limited by hers,
He sacrific’d his life unto her love,
For there, unluckily, he slew himself.

SFORZA
The king’s displeas’d, my lord.

IAGO
No matter. I’m glad I touch’d his conscience
To the quick. Did you not see
How my relation chang’d his countenance,
As if my words engender’d in his breast
Some new-bred passions?

SFORZA
Yes, and did observe
How fearfully he gaz’d upon us all.
Pray heaven it prove not ominous!

Enter QUEEN.

AURELIA
Where is the king? This king? This tyrant? He
That would be called, the just and righteous king,
When in his actions he is more unjust,
Beyond example, cruel, tyrannous?
Where is my daughter? Where’s Leonida?
Where is Lusippus too, my first born hope?
And where is dear Lorenzo? Dead! All dead!
And would to God I were entomb’d with them,
Empty of substance. Curse of sovereignty,
That feedst thy fancy with deluding hopes
Of fickle shadows, promising to one
Eternity of fame, and unto all,
To be accounted wise and virtuous,
Observing but your laws and just decrees;
That under show of being merciful,
Art most unkind, and cruel. Nay, ‘tis true!          [ATTICUS withdraws.
Go where thou wilt, still will I follow thee,
And with my sad laments still beat thy ears
Till all the world of thy injustice hears.  [Exeunt AURELIA and ATTICUS.

NICANOR
This physic works too strongly, and may prove
A deadly poison. Sforza, good my lord,
If any anger be ‘twist you and I,
Let it lie buried now, and let’s devise
Some pastime to suppress this heaviness.
A melancholy kind makes a sad court.

IAGO
I never heard him speak so carefully
Of the King’s welfare. Ay, with all my heart.

SFORZA
Who’ll undertake this charge?

NICANOR
I will, my lord. Let the device be mine.

IAGO
I’ll get the Amazon to join with you.
Her rare invention and experience too
In foreign countries may avail you much
In some new quaint conceit.

NICANOR
Do, good my lord.
I’d ha’t as soon presented as I could.

IAGO
Tonight, if it be possible. Farewell.
I must go look her out.                                    [Exeunt IAGO and SFORZA.

NICANOR
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
So by this means I shall express myself
Studious and careful.                                                                                  [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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