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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > Art & Literature > Play 3 > Act 1, scene 4

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SCENE IV. - A CHAMBER IN CONSTANTIUS' PALACE.

Enter CONSTANTIUS with a Groom.

Con. Place here the light Now hasten to the hall,
And unto Vortigeni present tins ring,
Pledge of my sacred friendship, and alliance.
Tell him, I fain would see him in the morning.
So, fair thee well; we now would be alone.
.............[Exit Page.
0 sleep, sweet nourisher of man and babe:
Soother of every sorrow, that canst bury
The care distracted mind in sweet oblivion,
To thee, 0 gentle pow'r! I plight my soul!
Here, then, on my bended knee, great God,
Let me implore thy grace, and look for mercy!
" Though thou hast plac'd me sovereign over men,
" And on my temples bound the diadem;
" Yet am I subject still to human frailty,
" And nought can boast more than my meanest vassal."
How wisely fram'd is Nature's glorious work:
The smallest reptile doth its instinct boast;
Ay, is as nicely form'd as man himself.
Both doom'd to die, to rot, and come to dust.
Yet man hath one great property besides,
A never fading, an immortal soul!
Upon that thought rest I my happiness.

[Lies on the couch.

Enter two Murderers.

1st Mur. " Oh! if one spot did sully his pure soul,
" In heaven hath he wip'd it clean away,
" With this his sweet, unfeigned oraison.

2nd Mur. " Tis true.
" The King to us hath ever been most kind:
" 'Twould have disgrac'd the name of murderer
" Had we to death despatch'd him unprepar'd

1st Mur. " Why, how now?
" Hast thou forgot thine errand?
" Wast sent here to prate thus,
" Or to fulfil thy promise ?
" I'll do't; nor this my dagger will I sheath
" Till reeking with his blood.

2nd Mur. " Yet, one moment, I pray thee, comrade!

1st Mur. " I tell thee, I will not:
"For, as I am a man and soldier,
" So will I scorn to break my promis'd vow.

2nd Mur."Thou shall not yet;
"For, statue like, here will I fix myself,
" Till thou dost hear me out.
" Oh! is't not most manlike, that we stain
" Our hands with blood that ne'er did us offend?
" Is't not most serpent-like, to sting sweet sleep,
" Which even from the giant takes all strength,
" And makes man taste of that which is to come?
" Let us, I pray thee, friend, turn from the deed!
" I cannot, dare not, nay! I will not do't.

1st Mur. "Coward! take hence that poor, unmanly frame,
" Or this my steel shall work a double end.

2nd Mur. " Lay on, then! for I will defend the King,
" And may the gods aid this my good design."

[They fight: 2nd Murderer dies behind the Scenes.

The King awakes.

Con. " Vassal, I say! what means this bloody deed?
" This bold intrusion on our royal presence ?
" Can majesty command no more respect;
" But, that our very sleep must be disturb'd
" With murder, rude and most licentious?

Mur. " Why, plainly then, I do not fear thy presence;
" And to be brief with thee, thine hour is come!

King. " Traitor and villain, what wouldst thou?

Mur. " Nay then, an thou dost speak so rudely,
" Take thy reward.
..........[Stabs him.

King. " Oh! I die, sweet heaven receive my soul!
" Forgive, oh! pardon this his crime!
" I come! Bliss! bliss! is my reward for ever. [Dies.

Mur. " Farewell, good King! and thou my comrade too!"
Hence on time's wing will I to Vortigern,
And this my two-edg'd work to him unfold. [Exit.

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