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The king [Vortiger] and his train met by Hengist and
Horsus; they salute and exeunt. While the banquet is
brought forth, music plays. Enter Vortiger, [Hengist,]
Horsus, Devonshire, Stafford, Castiza, Roxena, and two
A welcome, mighty lord, may appear costlier,
More full of talk and toil, show and conceit,
But one more stor'd with thankful love and truth
I forbid all the sons of men to boast of.
Why, here's a fabric that implies eternity,
The building plain, but [most] substantial;
Methinks it looks as if it mock'd all [ruin],
Save that great masterpiece of consumation,
The end of time, which must consume even [ruin]
And eat that into cinders.
There's no brass
Would last your praise, my lord; 'twould last beyond it
And shame our durablest metal.
[Taking him aside] Horsus.
This is the time I have chosen; here's [a full] meeting,
And here will I disgrace her.
'Twill be sharp, my lord.
Oh, 'twill be best, sir.
Why, here's the earl her father.
Ay, and the lord her uncle, that's the height on't,
Invited both a' purpose to rise sick
Full of shame's surfeit.
And that's shrewd, byrlady;
It ever sticks close to the ribs of honour.
Great men are never sound men after it;
It leaves some ache or other in their names still,
Which their posterity feels at every weather.
Mark but the least presentment of occasion;
As such times yields enough, and then mark me.
My observance is all yours, you know't, my lord.
[Aside] What careful ways some take t'abuse
But as there be assurers of men's goods
'Gainst storm or pirate, which gives [venturers] courage,
So such there must be to make up man's theft,
Or there would be no woman [venturer] left.
See, now the[y] find their seats. What a false knot
Of amity he ties about her arm,
Which rage must part! In marriage 'tis no wonder
Knots knit with kisses are oft broke with thunder.
Music? Then I have done,
I always learn
To give my betters place.
Where's Captain Horsus?
Sit, sit, we'll have a health anon
To all good services.
Th'are poor in these days;
They had rather have the cup than the health, my lord.
[Aside] I sit wrong now; he hears me not, and most
Great men are deaf on that side.
If in music were a power
To breath a welcome to thy worth,
This should be the ravishing hour
To vent her spirit's treasure forth.
Welcome, oh, welcome; in that word alone
She'ld choose to dwell and draw all parts to one.
My Lord of Kent, I thank you for this welcome;
It came unthought of in the sweetest language
That ever my soul relish'd.
You are pleas'd, my lord,
To raise my happiness from slight deservings,
To show what power's in princes; not in us
Aught worthy, 'tis in you that makes us thus.
I'm chiefly sad, my lord, your queen's not merry.
[Aside] So honour bless me, he has found the way
To my grief strangely.--Is there no delight?
My lord, I wish not any, nor is't needful;
I am as I was ever.
That's not so.
[Aside] How? Oh, my fears!
[When] she writ maid, my lord,
You knew her otherwise.
To speak but truth,
I never knew her a great friend to mirth,
Nor taken much with any one delight,
Though there be many seemly and honourable
To give content to ladies without taxing.
My Lord of Kent, this to thy full desert,
Which [intimates] thy higher flow to honour. [Drinks.]
Which, like a river, shall return [service]
To the great master-fountain.
[To First Lady] Where's your lord?
I miss'd him not till now. Lady, and yours?
No marvel then we were so out o' th' way
Of all pleasant discourse: they are the keys
Of human music; sure at their nativities
Great nature sign'd a general patent to 'em
To take up all the mirth in a whole kingdom.
What's their employment now?
May't please your grace,
We never are so far acquainted with 'em,
Nothing we know but what they cannot keep;
That['s] even the fashion of 'em all, my lord.
It seems you have great faith though in their constancy,
And they in yours, you dare so trust each other.
Hope well we do, my lord; we have reason for't,
Because they say brown men are honestest,
But she's a fool will swear for any colour.
They would for yours.
Troth, 'tis a doubtful question,
And I'd be loath to put mine to't, my lord.
Faith, dare you swear for yourselves? It's a plain motion.
You cannot deny that with honour,
And since 'tis urg'd, I'll put you to't in troth.
May't please your grace--
'Twill please me wondrous well,
And here's a book; mine never goes without one:
She's an example to you all for purity.
Come, swear, I have sworn you shall, that you never knew
The will of any man besides your husband's.
I'll swear, my lord, as far as my remembrance.
How! Your remembrance! That were strange.
Hearing our just excuses will not say so.
Well, what's your just excuse? Y'are ne'er without some.
I'm often taken with a sleep, my lord,
The loudest thunder cannot waken me,
Not if a cannon's burthen be discharg'd
Close by mine ear; the more may be my wrong:
There can be no infirmity, my lord,
That's more excusable in any woman.
And I'm so troubled with the mother too
I have often call'd in help, I know not whom;
Three at once has been too weak to keep me down.
I perceive there's no fastening: well fare one then
That ne'er deceives faith's [anchor]of her hold,
Come at all seasons. [To Castiza] Here, be thou
To guide those erring women, show the way
Which I will make 'em follow. Why dost start,
Draw back, and look so pale?
Nothing but take that oath; thou'lt take a thousand.
A thousand? Poor! A million, nay, as many
As there be angels' registers of oaths!
Why, look thee, over-holy, fearful chastity,
That sins in nothing but in too much niceness,
I'll begin first and swear for thee myself:
I know thee a perfection so unstain'd,
So sure, so absolute, I will not pant on't
But catch time greedily. By all these blessings
That blows truth into fruitfulness, and those curses
That with their barren breaths blast perjury,
Thou art as pure as sanctity's best shrine
From all man's mixture but what's lawful, mine.
[Aside] Oh, heaven forgive him, h'as forsworn
'Tis but going now my way.
[Aside] That's bad enough.
I have clear'd all doubts, you see.
Good my lord,
How! It grows later now, then so
For modesty's sake make more speed this way.
Pardon me, my lord, I cannot.
I dare not.
Fail all confidence
In thy weak kind forever!
Here's a storm
Able to [wake] all of our name [inhumed]
And raise 'em from their sleeps of peace and fame
To set the honour of their bloods right here
Hundred years after; a perpetual motion
Has their true glory been from seed to seed,
And cannot be chok'd now with a poor grain
Of dust and earth. We that remain, my lord,
Her uncle and myself, [wood] in this tempest,
As ever robb'd man's peace, will undertake
Upon life's deprivation, lands and honour,
[She shall accept this oath.
You do but call me then
Into a world of more despair and horror;
Yet since so wilfully you stand engag'd
In high scorn to be touch'd, with expedition
Perfect your undertakings with your fames,
Or by the issues of abus'd belief
I'll take the forfeit of lives, lands and honours,]
And make one ruin serve our joys and yours.
[Aside] Why, here's a height of misery never
I lose myself and others.
You may see
How much we lay in balance with your goodness--
And had we more, it went--for we presume
You cannot be religious and so vild.
As to forswear myself, 'tis true, my lord,
I will not add a voluntary sin
To a constrain'd one. I confess, great sir,
The honour of your bed has been abus'd--
Oh, beyond patience!
Give me hearing, sir:
But far from my consent, I was surpris'd
By villains, and so ravish'd.
Hear you that, sirs?
Oh, cunning texture to enclose adultery!
Mark but what subtle veil her sin puts on:
Religion brings her to confession first,
Then steps in art to sanctify that lust.
'Tis likely you could be surpris'd.
I'll hear no more! Our guard, seize on those [lords].
We cannot perish now too fast. Make speed
To swift destruction; he breathes most accursed
That lives so long to see his name die first.
Devonshire and Stafford, guarded.]
[Aside] Ha, ha, here's no dear villainy!
Let him entreat, sir,
That falls in [saddest] grief for this event,
Which ill begins the fortune of this building,
[Taking Horsus aside] What if he should cause me
to swear too, captain?
You know, sir, I'm as far to seek in honesty
As the [worst] here can be; I should be sham'd too.
Why, fool, they swear by that we worship not,
So you may swear your heart out and ne'er hurt yourself.
That was well thought on; I'd quite lost myself.
You shall prevail in noble suits, my lord,
But this, this shames the speaker.
[Aside] I'll step in now,
Though it shall be to no purpose.--Good my lord,
Think on your noble and most hopeful issue,
Lord [Vortimer] the prince.
A bastard, sir!
Oh, that his life were in my fury now!
That injury stirs my soul to speak the truth
Of his conception. Here I take the book, my lord:
By all the glorified rewards of virtue
And prepared punishments for consents in sin,
A queen's hard sorrow never supply'd a kingdom
With issue more legitimate than [Vortimer].
Pish, this takes not out the stain of present shame
To be once good is nothing when it ceases:
Continuance crowns desert; she ne'er can go
For perfect-honest that's not always so.
Beshrew this needless urging of this oath;
'T has justified her somewhat.
To small purpose, sir.
Amongst so many women not one here
Dare swear a simple chastity? Here's an age
To propagate virtue in! Since I have began't,
I'll shame you all together and so leave you.
My Lord of Kent.
That's your daughter?
Yes, my good lord.
Though I'm your guest today,
And should be less austere to you or yours,
In this [case] pardon me: I will not spare her.
Then her own goodness friend her; here she comes, my
[To Roxena] The tender reputation of a maid
Makes up your honour, or else nothing can;
The oath you take is not for truth to man,
But to your own white soul, a mighty task.
What dare you do in this?
My lord, as much
As chastity can put a woman to,
I ask no favour; and t' approve the purity
Of what my habit and my time professes,
As also to requite all courteous censure,
Here I take oath I am as free from man
As truth from death, or sanctity from stain.
Oh, thou treasure that ravishes the possessor!
I know not where to speed so well again;
I'll keep thee while I have thee. Here's a fountain
To spring forth princes and the seeds of kingdoms.
Away with that infection of great honour,
And those her leprous pledges, by her poison
Blemish'd and spotted in their fames forever!
Here [we'll] restore succession with true peace,
And of pure virgins' grace the poor increase.
Exeunt [all but Horsus].
Ha ha! He's well provided now; here [struck] my fortune.
With what an impudent confidence she swore honest,
Having the advantage of the oath! The mischiefs
That peoples a lost honour! Oh, they're infinite,
For as at a small breach in town or castle
When one has entrance, a whole army follows,
In woman, so abusively once known,
Thousands of sins has passage made with one:
Vice comes with troops, and they that entertain
A mighty potentate must receive his train.
Methinks I should not hear from fortune next
Under an earldom now. She cannot spend
A night so idly but to make a lord
With ease, methinks, and play. The Earl [of] Kent
Is calm and smooth, like a deep, dangerous water.
He has some secret way; I know his blood:
The grave's not greedier, nor hell's lord more proud.
Somewhat will hap, for this astonishing choice
[Strikes] pale the kingdom, at which I rejoice.
 consumation: "Not to be confused with
'consummation' but a formation from 'consume'"
 brown men are honestest: i.e., men with
brown hair, as opposed to red and blond, which were
associated with licentiousness.
 motion: proposal, specifically a formal
 will: sexual consummation; cf.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 135.
 mother: a form of hysteria, thought to arise
from the womb.
 faith's [anchor]: faithes Achor
(L); "It is usually the anchor of hope--ancora
 mixture: sexual intercourse (obs.).
 She shall accept this oath...lands and honours:
(Q); om. (L,P). At the end of Devonshire's speech, the
transcriber's eye seems to have caught the similar words
at the end of Vortiger's speech and continued from there,
omitting these lines.
 touch'd: tested (the fineness of gold
was tested by rubbing it on a touchstone).
 fames: reputations.
 vild: vile
 texture: fabrication, scheming.
 dear: "An epithet denoting excessive
goodness or baseness" (Bullen); Horsus is being
 [Vortimer]: That Vortimer and
Castiza were recently betrothed in the first scene
illustrates the swift passage of time in this play.
 desert: merit.
 habit: "An allusion to the difference
between the costumes of married and unmarried women in
the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries"
 censure: judgment.
home l personae l act 1 l act 2 l act 3 l act 4 l act 5
1 l scene 2 l dumb show 3 l chorus 4 l scene 3