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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > Art & Literature > Play 2 > Act 5, scene 2

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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 chorus 5

Scene 5.2 Before a castle in Wales

Enter Aurelius and Uther with soldiers.

UTHER
My lord, the castle is so fortify'd--

AURELIUS
So fortify'd? Let wildfire ruin it,
That his destruction may appear to him
I' th' figure of heaven's wrath at the last day,
That murtherer of our brother! Haste away;
I'll send my heart no peace till 't be consum'd.

Vortiger, Horsus on the walls.

UTHER
There he appears again; behold, my lord.

AURELIUS
Oh, that the zealous fire on my soul's altar,
To the high birth of virtue consecrated,
Would fit me with a [lightning] now to blast him
Even as I look upon him!

UTHER
Good my lord,
Your anger is too noble and too precious
To waste [itself] on guilt so foul as his;
Let ruin work her will.

VORTIGER
Begirt all round?

HORSUS
All, all, my lord, 'tis folly to make doubt on't;
You question things that horror long agone
Resolv'd us on.

VORTIGER
Give me leave, Horsus, though--

HORSUS
Do what you will, sir; question 'em again,
I'll tell 'em over to you.

VORTIGER
Not so, sir;
I will not have 'em told again.

HORSUS
It rests then.

VORTIGER
That's an ill word put in, when thy heart knows
There is no rest at all but torment-making.

HORSUS
True, my heart finds it, that sits weeping blood now
For poor Roxena's safety. You'll confess, my lord,
My love to you has brought me to this danger?
I could have liv'd like Hengist, King of Kent,
And London, York, Lincoln, and Winchester
[1]
Under the power of my command, the portion
Of my most [just] desert; it fell to't, enjoy'd now
By lesser deservers.

VORTIGER
Say you so, sir,
And you'll confess? Since you begin confession,
A thing I should have died before I'd thought on:
I'm out of your love's debt; i' th' [same] condition,
Y'have marred the fashion of your affection utterly
In your own wicked counsel. There you paid me;
You could not but in conscience love me afterward.
You were bound to do't, as men in honesty
That vitiate virgins to give dowries to 'em:
My faith was pure before to faithful woman.

HORSUS
My lord, my counsel--

VORTIGER
'Tis the map now spread
That shows me all my miseries and discovers
Strange newfound ruin to me; all these objects
That in a dangerous ring circle my safety
Are yours and of your fashioning.

HORSUS
Death mine!
Extremity breeds the wildness of a desert
Into your soul, and since y'have lost your thankfulness,
Which is the noblest part in king or subject:
My counsel do't!

VORTIGER
Why, I'll be judg'd by those
That knit [death] in their brows, and think me now
Not worthy the acception
[2] of a flattery;
Most of those faces smil'd when I smil'd once.
My lords!

UTHER
Reply not, brother.

VORTIGER
Seeds of scorn,
I mind you not; I speak to those alone
Whose force makes yours a power, which else were none.
Show me the main food of your hate, my lords,
Which cannot be the murder of Constantius
That crawls in [your] revenges, for your love
Was violent long since that.

GENTLEMAN
And had been still,
If from that [pagan] woman thou'dst slept free;
But when thou fledd'st from heaven, we fled from thee.

VORTIGER
[To Horsus] Was this your counsel now?

HORSUS
Mine? 'Twas the counsel
Of your own lust and blood; your appetite knows it.

VORTIGER
May thunder strike me from these walls, my lords,
And leave me many leagues off from your eyes,
If this be not the man whose Stygian soul
Breath'd forth that counsel to me, and sole plotter
Of all these false, injurious disgraces
That have abus'd the virtuous patience
Of our religious queen.

HORSUS
A devil in madness!

VORTIGER
Upon whose life, I swear, there sticks no stain
But what's most wrongful, and where now she thinks
A rape dwells on her honour, only I
Her ravisher was, and his the policy.

AURELIUS
Inhuman practice!

VORTIGER
Now you know the truth,
Will his death serve your fury?

HORSUS
Mine? My death?

VORTIGER
Will't do't?

HORSUS
What if it would?

VORTIGER
Say, will it do't?

HORSUS
Say they should say it would.

VORTIGER
Why, then it must.

HORSUS
It must?

VORTIGER
It shall; speak but the words, my lord,
He shall be yielded up.

HORSUS
I yielded up?
My lords, believe him not; he cannot do't.

VORTIGER
Cannot?

HORSUS
'Tis but a false and base insinuation
For his own life, and like his late submission.

VORTIGER
Oh, sting to honour, alive or dead thou goest
For that word's rudeness only!

[Stabs him.]

GENTLEMAN
See, sin needs
No more destruction than it breeds
In [its] own bosom.

VORTIGER
Such another brings him.

HORSUS
What, has thy wild rage stamp'd a wound upon me?
I'll send one to thy soul shall never heal for't.

VORTIGER
How, to my soul?

HORSUS
It shall be thy master torment
Both for the pain and the everlastingness.

VORTIGER
Ha, ha!

HORSUS
Dost laugh? Take leave on't; all eternity
Shall never see thee do so much again:
Know thou art a cuckold.

VORTIGER
What!

HORSUS
You change too soon, sir.
Roxena, whom th'ast rais'd to thine own ruin,
She was my whore in Germany.

VORTIGER
Burst me open,
You violence [of] whirlwinds!

HORSUS
Hear me out first:
For her embrace, which yet my flesh sits warm in,
I was thy friend and follower.

VORTIGER
Deafen me,
Thou most imperious noise that starts the world!

HORSUS
And to serve [both] our lust[s] I practis'd with thee
Against thy virtuous queen--

VORTIGER
Bane to all comforts!

HORSUS
Whose faithful sweetness, too precious for thy blood,
I made thee change for love's hypocrisy.

VORTIGER
Insufferable!

HORSUS
Only to make my way to pleasure fearless,
Free and fluent.

VORTIGER
Hell's trump
[3] is in that throat!

HORSUS
It shall sound shriller.

VORTIGER
I'll dam it up with death first.

[They stab each other.]

I am at thy heart, I hope!

HORSUS
Hold out breath
And I shall find thee quickly.

[Roxena enters in fear.]

ROXENA
Oh, for succour!
Who's near me? Help me, save [me], the flame follows me
[4]!
It's the figure of poor [Vortimer] the prince,
Whose life I took by poison.

VORTIGER
I'll tug out
Thy soul here.

HORSUS
Do, monster!

ROXENA
Vortiger!

VORTIGER
Monster!

ROXENA
My lord!

VORTIGER
Slave!

ROXENA
Horsus, Horsus!

HORSUS
Murderer!

ROXENA
My lord!

VORTIGER
Toad, pagan!

HORSUS
Viper, Christian!

ROXENA
Hear me, help me!
My love, my lord, I'm scorch'd! What, all in blood?
Oh, happy men, that ebb shows you're near falling.
Have you chose that way yourselves rather to die
By your own swords than feel fire's keener torment
And will not kill me that most needs that pity?
Captain, my lord, send me some speedier death
And one less painful; I have a woman's sufferings.
Oh, think upon't! Go not away so easily
And leave the harder conflict to my weakness.
Most wretched! I'm not worth so much destruction
As would destroy me quickly. And turn back?
I cannot. Oh, 'tis here, my lord, 'tis here!
Horsus, look up, if not to succour me,
To see me yet consum'd. Oh, what is love
When life is not regarded?

VORTIGER
What strength's left
I'll fix upon thy throat.

HORSUS
I have some force yet.

[Both stab, Horsus falls.]

ROXENA
No way to 'scape? Is this the end of glory?
Doubly beset with enemy's wrath and fire!
See, for an arm of lust, I'm now embrac'd
With one that will destroy me, where I read
The horror of dishonest actions, guile,
And dissemblance. It comes nearer now, rivers
And fountains fall; tears were now a blessing.
It sucks away my breath; I cannot give
A curse to sin and hear't out while I live.
Oh, help, help, help!

[She falls.]

VORTIGER
Burn, burn; now I can tend thee.
Take time with her in torments, call her life
Afar off to thee, dry up her strumpet blood
And hardly parch the skin; let one heat strangle her,
Another fetch her to her sense again,
And the worst pain be only her reviving!
Follow her eternally; give her not o'er
But in a bitter shape. I shall be cold
Before thy rage reach me. Oh, mystical
[5] harlot!
Thou hast thy full due, whom lust crown'd queen before
Flames crown her [now] for a triumphant whore,
And that end crowns 'em all.

Falls.

AURELIUS
Our peace is full now
In yon usurper's fall, nor have I known
A judgment meet more fearfully.
Here, take this ring, deliver the good queen
And those grave pledges of her injur'd honour,
Her worthy father and her noble uncle,
Too long, too much abus'd, whose clear-ey'd fames
I reverence with respect to holiness due,
A spotless name being sanctity now in few.

[Trumpets sound.]

How now, my lords! The meaning of these sounds?

[Enter] Devonshire, Stafford, leading Hengist prisoner.

HENGIST
The consumer has been here; she's gone, she's lost,
In glowing cinders now lie all my joys!
The headlong fortune of my rash captivity
Strikes not so fierce a wound into my hopes
As thy dear loss.

AURELIUS
Her father and her uncle!

GENTLEMAN
They are indeed, my lord.

AURELIUS
Part of my wishes.
What fortunate power has prevented
[6] me
And, ere my love came, brought 'em victory?

GENTLEMAN
My wonder sticks in Hengist, King of Kent.

DEVONSHIRE
My lord, to make that plain which now I see
Fix'd in astonishment: the only name
Of your return and being brought such gladness
To this distracted kingdom, that, to express
A thankfulness to heaven, it grew great
In charitable actions, from which goodness
We tasted liberty that lay engag'd
Upon the innocence of woman's honour,
A kindness that even threat'ned to undo us;
And having newly but enjoy'd the benefit
And fruits of our enlargement
[7], 'twas our happiness
To intercept this monster of ambition,
Bred in these times of usurpation,
The rankness of whose insolence and treason
Grew to such height, 'twas arm'd to bid you battle,
Whom, as our fames' redemption, on our knees
We present captiv'd.

AURELIUS
Had it needed reason
You rightly came provided. What is he?

GENTLEMAN
My lord, that treacherous Hengist, King of Kent.

AURELIUS
I understand not your desert till now, my lords.
Is this that German Saxon whose least thirst
Could not be satisfied under a province?

HENGIST
Had but my fate directed this bold arm
To thy life, the whole kingdom had been mine,
That was my hope's great aim; I have a thirst
Could never have been full quench'd under all:
The whole land must, or nothing.

AURELIUS
A strange drouth!
And what a little ground shall death now teach you
To be content withal!

HENGIST
Why, let it then,
For none else can; y'have nam'd the only way:
[8]
When I'm content, it must be when I'm clay.

AURELIUS
My lords, the best requital yet we give you
Is a fair inward joy. Speak to your fames
Glories unblemish'd, for the queen your daughter
Lives firm in honour, neither by consent
Or act [of] violence stain'd, as her grief judges;
'Twas her own lord abus'd her honest fear,
Whose ends sham'd him, only to make her clear.

DEVONSHIRE
Had your grace given a kingdom for a gift
[It] had not been so welcome.

Enter Castiza, a Gentleman.

AURELIUS
Here she comes
Whose virtues I must reverence.

CASTIZA
[Kneeling] Oh, my lord,
I kneel a wretched woman.

AURELIUS
[Raising her] Arise with me,
Great in true joy and honour.

HENGIST
This sight splits me;
It brings Roxena's ruin to my memory.

CASTIZA
My lord, it is too great a joy for life.

AURELIUS
'Tis truth, and that I know you ever joy'd in,
His end confess'd it.

CASTIZA
Are you return'd, soul's comforts?

AURELIUS
Nay, to approve thy pureness to posterity,
The fruitful hopes of a fair, peaceful kingdom
Here will I plant.

CASTIZA
Too worthless are my merits.

AURELIUS
There speaks thy modesty, and to the firmness
Of truth's plantation in this land forever,
Which always groans under some curse without it,
As I begin my rule with the destruction
Of this ambitious pagan, so shall all
With his adulterate faith distain'd
[9] and soil'd
Either turn Christians, die, or live exil'd.

OMNES
A blessing on those virtues!

Flourish. Exeunt.

NOTES

[1] London, York, Lincoln, and Winchester: According to Holinshed, they were among the many cities and towns the Saxons possessed.
[2] acception: acceptance.
[3] trump: trumpet.
[4] the flame follows me: "It is clear, not only from this and other speeches of Roxena...but also from the speech of Aurelius at the beginning of the scene and from Vortiger's dying speech...that one of the attractions of the play must have been the startling display of fireworks with which it concluded" (Bald). Again, symbolically, Roxena cannot escape the consequences of her own lust.
[5] mystical: secretive.
[6] prevented: anticipated.
[7] enlargement: freedom.
[8] For none else can; y'have nam'd the only way: After this line, Q concludes the play as follows:

To limit my ambition, a full cure
For all my fading hopes and sickly fears;
Nor shall it be less welcome to me now
Than a fresh acquisition would have been
Unto my new-built kingdoms. Life to me,
'Less it be glorious, is a misery.

AURELIUS
That pleasure we will do you. Lead him out,
And when we have inflicted our just doom
On his usurping head, it will become
Our pious care to see this realm secur'd
From the convulsions it hath long endur'd.

Exeunt omnes.

The significant difference is, of course, the omission of Aurelius's betrothal to Castiza, which from Bromham and Bruzzi's perspective reinforces the kingdom's allegiance to the Church of England.
[9] distain'd: colored, tinted, stained .

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