Swetnam the Woman Hater – Act One, scene three

Return to the previous scene

Enter IAGO and LORENZO disguised.

You have not seen the court then?

Not as yet;
But I desire to observe the fashions there.
How do you stile your king of Sicily?

Men call him, sir, the just King Atticus;
And truly too, for with an equal scale
He weighs the offences betwixt man and man.
He is not sooth’d with adulation,
Not mov’d with tears, to wrest the course of justice
Into an unjust current, to oppress
The innocent, nor does he make the laws
Punish the man, but in the man the cause.
Shall I in brief give you his character?

A thing I covet much.

Attend me then.
His state is full of majesty and grace,
Whose basis is true piety and virtue,
Where, underneath a rich triumphant arch
That does resemble the tribunal seat,
Guarded with angels, borne upon two columns,
Justice and clemency, he sits enthron’d.
His subjects serve him freely, not perforce,
And do obey him more for love than fear;
Being a king not of themselves alone,
And their estates, but their affections.
A sovereignty that far more safety brings
Than does an army to the guard of kings.

You have described, sir, such a worth prince
That well I cannot say who is most happy;
Either the king for having so good subjects,
Or else the subjects for so good a king.
But pray, proceed.

The heaven to crown his joy
With immortality in his happy issue
Sent him two royal sons, of whom the eldest
Was the sweet Prince Lusyppus. Was! Oh, me,
That ever I should live to say he was;
He was, but is not now, for he is dead.
The youngest was Lorenzo, for his years,
The pride and glory of Sicilians,
And miracle of Nature, whose aspect,
Even like a comet, did attract all eyes
With admiration, wonder, and amazement,
And he, good prince, is lost, or worse, I fear.
But for his daughter, fair Leonida,
Her fame not able to be circumscrib’d
Within the bounds of Sicily, hath gone
Beyond the Pyrenean mountains, and brought back
The chief Italian princes, but their loves
Were quitted with contempt and cruelty;
And many of our brave Sicilian youths
Have sacrific’d their lives to her distain.
Now to prevent the like even hereafter,
‘Twas thought fit her liberty should be awhile restrain’d;
For which intent, his highness hath elected
Nicanor for her guardian,
Who, ‘tis thought, shall after his discease,
Espouse the princess, and be heir of Sicily.

You told me of a prince you said was lost
Which you pronounc’d so feelingly, as if
It had been our loss in particular.

Oh, it was mine, and every good man’s else,
That is oblig’d to virtue and desert.

See how report is subject to abuse.
I knew the Prince Lorenzo.

Did you, sir?

But never knew him in any one spark
Of worth or merit that might thus inflame
The zeal of your affection.

Traitor, thou liest,
Which I will prove e’en to thy heart! Thou liest,
I tell thee, th’ast committed such a sin
Against his dear report, that thy base life
Is far too poor to expiate that wrong.
Sir, will you draw?

Forbear, incensed man. I do applaud
Thy noble courage, and I tell you, sir,
The Prince Lorenzo was a man I lov’d
As dearly as myself. But pray, resolve me,
Does he live or not?

He lives,
In our eternal memory he lives, but otherwise
It’s the general fear of Sicily
That he is dead, or in captivity.
For when Don John, the Spanish general
Went with an army ‘gainst the cruel Turks,
In that sill memorable battle of Lepanto,
Our brave Lorenzo, too too virtuous,
There lost his life, or worse, his liberty.

Hath not time with his rude hand
Defac’d the impression of his effigies
In your memories yet?

No, nor will ever be, so long
As worth shall be admir’d and virtue loved.

You know him if you see him?                                         [Throws off disguise.

My lord Lorenzo!                                                                                            [Kneels.

Rise, my worthy friend.
I have made proof of thy unfained love.

Th’exceeding happiness to see you well
Is more than joy can utter. On my knees
I beg your pardon for th’uncivil speech
My ignorant tongue committed.

No, thus I’ll be reveng’d.                                                                 [Embraces him.
I know thou lovest me, and I must enjoin
Thy love unto an act of secrecy,
Which you must not deny.

Sir, I obey.

Then thus it is: I must conjure your faith
And privacy in my arrival yet,
For I intend awhile in some disguise
To observe the times and humours of the court.

How means your grace? Can you endure to see
The court eclips’d with clouds of discontent,
Your father mourn your absence, and all hearts
O’erwhelmed with sorrow, and you present, sir?

I’m resolv’d.
Therefore what shape or humour I assume,
Take you no notice that I am the prince.

Sir, I consent,
And vow to your concealment.

It is enough. My brother’s dead, thou say’st.
I have some tears to spend upon his tomb.
We are the next unto the diadem;
That’s the occasion I obscure myself.
Happy’s that prince that ere he rules, shall know,
Where the chief errors of his state do grow.                                              [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene


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