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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > Art & Literature > Play 2 > Act 3, scene 1

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home l personae l act 1 l act 2 l act 3 l act 4 l act 5
scene 1 l
scene 2 l scene 3 l scene 4

Scene 3.1 A room in the palace

Enter Horsus, Roxena.

ROXENA
I have no conceit
[1] now that you ever lov'd me,
But as lust held you for the time.

HORSUS
So, so.

ROXENA
Do you pine at my advancement, sir?

HORSUS
Oh, barrenness
Of understanding! What a right love is this!
'Tis you that fall, I that am reprehended!
What height of honours, eminence and fortune
Should ravish me from you?

ROXENA
Who can tell that, sir? What's he can judge
Of a man's appetite before he sees him eat?
Who knows the strength of any's constancy
That never yet was tempted? We can call
Nothing our own if they be deeds to come;
They are only ours when they are pass'd and done.
How bless'd are you above your apprehension
If your desire would lend you so much patience
To examine the adventurous condition
Of our affections, which are full of hazard,
And draw in the time's goodness to defend us!
First, this bold course of ours can't last long,
Or never does in any without shame,
And that, you know, brings danger; and the greater
My father is in blood, as he's well risen,
The greater will the storm of his rage be
'Gainst his blood['s] wronging; I have cast
[2] for this.
'Tis not advancement that I love alone,
'Tis love of shelter, to keep shame unknown.

HORSUS
Oh, were I sure of thee, as 'tis impossible
There to be ever sure where there's no hold,
Your pregnant hopes should not be long arising!

ROXENA
By what assurance have you held me thus far
Which you found firm, despair you [not] in that.

HORSUS
True, that was good security for the time,
But admit a change of state. When y'are advanc'd
You women have a French
[3] toy[4] in your pride;
You make your friend
[5] come crouching, or perhaps,
To bow i' th' hams
[6] the better, he is put
To complement three hours with your chief gentlewoman,
Then perhaps not admitted, nay, nor never:
That's the more noble fashion. Forgetfulness:
'Tis the pleasing'st virtue anyone can have
That rises up from nothing, for by the same
Forgetting all they forget from whence they came,
An excellent property for oblivion.
[7]

ROXENA
I pity all the fortunes of poor women
Now in mine own unhappiness. When we have given
All that we have to men, what's our requital?
An ill-[fac'd] jealousy, which resembles much
The mistrustfulness of an insatiate thief
That scarce believes he has all, though he has stripp'd
The true man
[8] naked and [left] nothing on him
But the hard cord that binds him: so are we
First robb'd and then left bound by jealousy.
Sure he that finds us now has a great purchase,
[9]
And well he [gains] that builds another's ruins,
Yet man--the only seed that's sown in envy,
Whom little would suffice as any creature
Either in food or pleasure--yet 'tis known
What would give ten enough contents not one.
A strong diseas'd conceit
[10] may tell strange tales to you
And so abuse us both: take but th' opinion
Of common reason, and you'll find 't impossible
That you should lose me in this king's advancement,
Who here's a usurper. As he has the kingdom,
So shall he have my love by usurpation;
The right shall be in thee still: my ascension
To dignity is but to waft thee upward,
And all usurpers have a falling-sickness,
[11]
They cannot keep up long.

HORSUS
May credulous man
Put all his confidence in so weak a bottom
[12]
And make a saving voyage?

ROXENA
Nay, as gainful
As ever man yet made.

HORSUS
Go, take thy fortune,
Aspire with my consent, so thy ambition
Will be sure to prosper. Speak the fair certainty
Of Britain's queen home to thy wishes.

ROXENA
Speak
In hope I may, but not in certainty.

HORSUS
I say in both: hope and be sure I'll quickly
Remove her that stands between [thee and] thy glory.

ROXENA
Life is love!
If lost virginity can win such a day,
I'll have no daughter but shall learn my way.

Exit Roxena.

HORSUS
'Twill be good work for him that first instructs 'em,
Maybe some son of mine, got by this woman too.
Man's scattered lust brings forth most strange events,
An' 'twere but strictly thought on. How many brothers
Wantonly got through ignorance of their births
May match with their own sisters!

Enter Vortiger.

[Aside] Peace, 'tis he.
Invention fail me not; 'tis a gallant's credit
To marry his whore bravely.

VORTIGER
[Aside] Have I power
Of life and death, and cannot command ease
In mine own blood? After I was a king
I thought I never should have felt pain more,
That there had been a ceasing of all passions
And common stings, which subjects use to feel,
That were created with a [patience] fit
For all extremities: but such as we
Know not the way to suffer; then to do't,
How most prepost'rous 'tis! What's all our greatness
If we that prescribe bounds to meaner men
Must not pass these ourselves? Oh, most ridiculous!
This makes the vulgar merry to endure,
Knowing our state is strict and less secure.
I'll break through custom. Why should not the mind,
The nobler part that's of us, be allow'd
Change of affections, as our bodies are
Still change of food and raiment? I'll have't so.
All fashions appear strange at first production,
But this would be well followed.--Oh, captain!

HORSUS
My lord, I grieve for you; [you] scarce fetch breath
But a sigh hangs at end on't: this is no way
If you'll give way to counsel.

VORTIGER
Set me right then,
And quickly, sir, or I shall curse thy charity
For lifting up my understanding to me
To show that I was wrong: ignorance is safe;
I slept happily. If knowledge mend me not
Thou hast committed a most cruel sin,
To [wake] me into judgment and then leave me.

HORSUS
I will not leave you so, sir, that were rudely [done].
First y'have a flame
[13] too open and too violent,
Which like blood-guiltiness in an offender
Betrays him when none can: out with it, sir,
Or let some cunning coverture be made
Before our practice
[14] enters, 'twill spoil all else.

VORTIGER
Why, look you, sir, I can be as calm as silence
All the whiles music plays; strike on, sweet friend,
As mild and merry as the heart of [innocence].
I prithee take my temper. Has a virgin
A heat more modest?

HORSUS
[Aside] He does well to ask me;
I [could] have told that once.--Why, here's a government!
There's not a sweeter amity in friendship
Than in this friendly league 'twixt you and health.

VORTIGER
Then since thou find'st me capable of happiness,
Instruct me with the practice.

HORSUS
What would you say, my lord,
If I ensnare her in an act of lust?

VORTIGER
Oh, there were art to the life! But that's impossible;
I prithee flatter me no further with't.
[Fie], so much sin as goes to make up that
Will ne'er prevail with her: why, I tell thee, sir,
She's so sin-killing modest, that if only
To move the question
[15] were enough adultery
To cause a separation, there's no gallant
So brassy-impudent durst undertake
The words that should belong to't.

HORSUS
Say you so, sir?
There's nothing made i' th' world but has a way to't,
Though some be harder than the rest to find,
Yet one there is, that's certain, and I think
I have took the course to light on't.

VORTIGER
Oh, I pray for't!

HORSUS
I heard you lately say, from whence, my lord,
My practice receiv'd life first, that your queen
Still consecrates her time to contemplation,
Takes solitary walks.

VORTIGER
Nay, late and early, sir,
Commands her weak guard from her, which are but women
When 'tis at [strongest].

HORSUS
I like all this well, my lord.
And now your grace shall know what net is us'd
In many places to catch modest women,
Such as will never yield by prayers or gifts.
Now there be some will catch up men as fast,
But those she-fowlers nothing concerns us:
Their birding is at windows, ours abroad,
Where ring-doves
[16] should be caught, that's married wives
Or chaste maids, what the appetite has a mind to.
'Tis practis'd often, therefore worth discovery
And may well fit the purpose.

VORTIGER
Make no pause then.

HORSUS
The honest gentlewoman, where'er she be,
When nothing will prevail, I pity her now;
Poor soul, she's entic'd forth by her own sex
To be betray'd to man, who in some garden-house
[17]
[Or] remote walk, taking his lustful time,
Binds darkness on her eyes, surprises her,
And having a coach
18] ready, turns her in,
Hurrying her where he list for the sin's safety,
Making a rape of honour without words,
And at the low ebbs of his lust, perhaps
Some three days after, sends her coach again
To the same place, and, which would make most mad,
She's spoil'd of all, yet knows not where she was robb'd:
Wise, dear, precious mischief.

VORTIGER
Is this practis'd?

HORSUS
Too much, my lord, to be so little known;
A springe to catch a maidenhead after sunset,
Clip
[19] it, and send it home again to th' city:
There 'twill be ne'er perceiv'd.

VORTIGER
My raptures want expression! I conceit
[20]
Enough to make me fortunate and thee great.

HORSUS
Ay, [practise] it then, my lord. [Aside] I knew 'twould take.

Exeunt.

NOTES

[1] conceit: idea
[2] cast: planned
[3] French: Affectation in the French court was supposedly worse than in that of James.
[4] toy: whim
[5] friend: lover.
[6] bow i' th' hams: i.e., deeply; there is a possible pun on "to copulate" as in The Changeling IV.iii.
[7] Forgetfulness...oblivion: For forgetfulness as a virtue..)
[8] true man: also slang for a thief. .
[9] purchase: profit, plunder.
[10] strong diseas'd conceit: i.e., his jealousy.
[11] falling-sickness: 1) epilepsy, 2) falling from the power they have usurped.
[12] bottom: the hull of a ship .
[13] flame: an image foreshadowing the fire that destroys his castle and which symbolizes their lusts and ambitions.
[14] practice: scheme, plot.
[15] move the question: raise the issue, i.e., mere attempts to seduce.
[16] ring-doves: true lovers (said ironically).
[17] garden-house: summer-house.
[18] coach: Coaches were popular places for love-making.
[19] Clip: 1) embrace sexually, and thus 2) rob of chastity; for puns and various shades of meanings.
[20] conceit: conceive.

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