Swetnam the Woman Hater – Act Five, scene three

 

Return to previous scene

Enter ATTICUS, SFORZA, NICANOR, and one or two Lords more.

ATTICUS
Why do you thus pursue me? Can no place
Shelter a king from being baited thus
With acclamations beyond sufferance
Of majesty, or mortal strength to bear?
We will endure’t no longer. Where’s our guard?
Where is Aurelia? Where’s Iago gone?
To study new invectives? If again
They dare but utter the least syllable
Or smallest title of inveteracy,
They shall not breathe a minute. Must a prince
Be check’d and schooled, pursued and scolded at
For executing justice?

NICANOR
Royal sir,
Be pleas’d to cast sway these discontents.
Iago’s sorry for his bold offence.
The queen repents her too, and all the court
Is clouded o’er with grief. Your sadness, sir,
Fills every subject’s heart with heaviness.
Will’t please your highness to behold some pastime?
There is a masque and other sports prepar’d’
Prepar’d to solace you,
To steal away your sorrows.

ATTICUS
Who’s that spoke?
Nicanor, is’t here? I thought as much.
I knew no other would be half so kind,
Nor carefull of our health. Do what thou wilt,
We will deny nothing that thou demandest.
My dearest comforter, stay to my age,
The hope of Sicily lies now in thee.
Come, sit by us, we’ll see what new device
Thy diligence—

NICANOR
My duty.

ATTICUS
No, thy love
Hath studied to delight thy sovereign.
Come sit, Nicanor.

NICANOR
Pardon, sir, awhile.
I’ll give command to see it straight perform’d,
And instantly return.

ATTICUS
Make no delay.
We have no joy but in thy company.

NICANOR
[Aside.] Nor I no hell, but thy continuance.
I’ll present that will shorten it, I hope.                                                 [Exit.

ATTICUS
Sforza, thou lovest me too. Come nearer us.
But old Iago is a froward lord,
Honest, but lenitive, o’er-sway’d too much
With piny against justice; that’s not good.
Indeed, it is not in a counsellor.
And he has too much of woman, otherwise
He might be ruler of a monarchy,
For policy and wisdom. Sforza, sit,
Take you your places to behold this masque.

Enter NICANOR.

NICANOR
Now they are ready.

ATTICUS
Let ‘em enter then.
Come, sit by us, Nicanor, and describe
The meaning, as they enter.

Enter IAGO and the Queen.

IAGO
Here your grace
May undiscovered sit, and view the masque,
And see how ‘tis affected by the king.
I know, ‘twill nip him to the very soul.

Enter Musicians, and Dancers.  The Masquers.

NICANOR
He that leads the dance
Is called Wilful Ignorance.

SFORZA
The next that pries on every side,
As if fear his feet did guide,
Is held a wretch of base condition.
He is titled False Suspicion.

NICANOR
The third is of a bolder faction,
But more deadly; ‘tis Detraction.
The last is Cruelty, a king that long,
In seeming good, did sacred justice wrong.

ATTICUS
This moral’s meant by me. By heaven it is,
By heaven indeed; for nothing else had power
To make me see my follies. I confess,
‘Twas Wilful Ignorance and self-conceit,
Sooth’d with hypocrisy that drew me first
Into suspicion of my daughter’s love,
And call’d it disobedience. False suspect,
‘Twas thou possess’d me that Leonida
Was spotted and unchaste.

NICANOR
[Aside.] So now it works.

ATTICUS
And then Detraction prov’d a deadly foe.

IAGO
I knew ‘twould take effect.

AURELIA
Most happily.

ATTICUS
I am that kind did sacred justice wrong,
Under a show of justice. Now ‘tis plain,
It was my cruelty, not her desert,
That sacrific’d my child to pallid death.
Lisandro slew himself, but I, not he,
Must answer for that guiltless blood was spilt;
For I was author on’t; my cruelty,
Divorcing two such lovers, was the cause
That drew him to despair. How they all gaze,
Whisper together, and then point at me,
As if they here had being! Yes, they have.
But it shall prove a restless bed for them.
Why do they not begin?

Enter REPENTANCE.

NICANOR
Belike they want some of their company.

ATTICUS
But stay, who’s that descends to prosperously
With such sweet sounding music? All observe.                     [Music and dance.
See how the splendour of that majesty
That came from heaven, hath dispers’d away
Suspicion, Ignorance, and Cruelty,
And instantly o’ercome Detraction too;
Those enemies to virtue, foes to man,
Are vanish’d from my sight, and from my heart.
But let Repentance stay. Ha, shallow fool,
Do I so slightly bid her? On my knees
She must be follow’d, call’d and sued unto.
And by continual prayers, woo’d and won,
Which I will ever cease, if not too late.
I do repent me, let this sacrifice
Made satisfaction for those fore-past crimes
My ignorant soul committed.

REPENTANCE
‘Tis accepted.
Embrace em freely. Rise; never too late
To call upon Repentance.

NICANOR
[Aside.] I am trapp’d.
Oh, the great devil! Whose device was this?
Now all will be reveal’d. I never dreamt
Upon Repentance, I; but now I see,
Truth will discover all men’s treachery.

ATTICUS
Live ever in my bosom. What means this?

Enter LORENZO as an old Shepherd, LISANDRO, and LEONIDA as a Silvan Nymph.

LORENZO
If a Silvan’s rude behaviour
May not here despair of favour,
Then to thee this news I bring:
Thou art call’d the righteous king,
And as fame does make report,
Here lives justice in thy court.
Know, that all the happiness
I did in this world possess,
Was my only daughter, who
Pan did on my age bestow.
She was named Claribel,
Whom Palemon lov’d well;
And she lov’d him as well again;
So that nothing did remain,
But the tying Hymen’s knot.
But it chanc’d so, God wot,
That an old decrepit man
Most preposterously began,
With flatt’ring words to woo my daughter;
But being still deni’d, he after
Turn’d his love to mortal hate
Claribel to ruinate,
Striving to o’er press her fame
With Lust, Contempt, Reproach, and Shame.

ATTICUS
What wouldst thou have us do? Good father, speak.

LORENZO
This fellow hath subborn’d a rout
Of some base villains hereabout,
To take away my daughter’s life,
Or else to ravish her. To end this strife
Be pleas’d to join these lovers’ hands
Into sacred nuptial bands.

SFORZA
Nothing but put ‘em both together, sir.
The good old shepherd would fain ha’t a match.

ATTICUS
We are content. Come, give us both your hands.

LORENZO
You are a king; yet they are loth
To take your word without an oath.

ATTICUS
As we are king of Sicil, ‘tis confirm’d
Firm, to be revoked never,
Until death their lives dissever.

LORENZO
Princes, discover. Here are witnesses
Now to testify this royal match.

  [LISANDRO and LEONIDA throw off disguises.

ATTICUS
My daughter and Lisandro living?

LORENZO
Nay, wonder not, my liege. Your oath is past.

ATTICUS
Which thus, and thus, and thus I ratify.
There is but one step more, and farewell all.

AURELIA
Oh, I am made immortal with this sight.
My daughter, and Lisandro, both alive?

IAGO
This is no news to me, yet tears of joy
O’erflow mine eyes to see this unity.

ATTICUS
Oh, daughter, I have done thee too much wrong.
And noble prince, we now confess our error.
But heaven be prais’d that you have both escap’d
The tyranny of our unjust decree!

AURELIA
What happy accident preserv’d your lives?
Whose was the project? Was it thine, old man?

LORENZO
Madam, ‘twas mine. Those that I could not save  [Throws off Sylvan disguise.
By eloquence, by policy I have.

ATTICUS
Worthy Atlanta, thou hast merited
Beyond all imitation. We are made
Too poor to gratify thy high deserts.

LORENZO
Dread sovereign,
All my deserts, myself, and what I have
Thus I throw down before your highness’ feet.   [Throws off Amazon disguise.

ATTICUS
My son Lorenzo! Oh, assist, my lords.
The current of my joy’s so violent,
It does o’ercome my spirits. Worthy son,
Welcome from death, from bands, captivity!

AURELIA
Welcome into my bosom as my soul!

LEONIDA
My princely brother, could I add a love
Unto that duty that I owe for life,
I am engag’d unto’t. You are my life’s protector,
And my brother.

LISANDRO
And for a life I stand indebted too,
Which I’ll detain only to honour you.

OMNES
And on our knees we must this duty tender,
To you our patron, and our fame’s defender!

REPENTENCE
Behold the joys Repentance brings with her.
Thy blessings are made full in heaven and earth.

ATTICUS
Was ever father happier in a son,
Or ever kingdom had more hopeful prince?
But in a loyal subject, never king
More blest than we are; and the grace we owe,
Though far too poor to quittance, shall make known,
Thy love and merit. How we can discern
Our friends from flatt’rers. Nicanor, as for you,
But that this hour is sacred unto joy,
Thy life should pay the ransom of thy guilt.

NICANOR
Your grace’s pardon. ‘Twas not pride of state,
But her disdain; the first inspir’d in me
This hope of sovereignty.

ATTICUS
Well, we forgive.
Learn to live honest now. Come, beauteous queen,
We hope that all are pleas’d, and now you see
In vain we strive to cross what heavens decree.                           [Exeunt.

Proceed to the Epilogue

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