Fiction > Harvard Classics > Beaumont and Fletcher > Philaster
Beaumont and Fletcher.  Philaster.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act the Second
Scene IV

  DION.  Come, ladies, shall we talk a round? As men
Do walk a mile, women should talk an hour
After supper: ’tis their exercise.
  GAL.  ’Tis late.        4
  MEG.  ’Tis all
My eyes will do to lead me to my bed.
  GAL.  I fear, they are so heavy, you’ll scarce find
The way to your own lodging with ’em to-night.        8

  THRA.  The prince!
  PHA.  Not a-bed, ladies? You’re good sitters-up.
What think you of a pleasant dream, to last
Till morning?        12
  MEG.  I should choose, my lord, a pleasing wake before it.

  ARE.  ’Tis well, my lord; you’re courting of these ladies.—
Is’t not late, gentlemen?
  CLE.  Yes, madam.        16
  ARE.  Wait you there.  Exit.
  MEG.  [Aside.]  She’s jealous, as I live.—Look you, my lord,
The princess has a Hylas, an Adonis.
  PHA.  His form is angel-like.        20
  MEG.  Why, this is he that must, when you are wed,
Sit by your pillow, like young Apollo, with
His hand and voice binding your thoughts in sleep;
The princess does provide him for you and for herself.        24
  PHA.  I find no music in these boys.
  MEG.        Nor I:
They can do little, and that small they do,
They have not wit to hide.        28
  DION.        Serves he the princess?
  THRA.  Yes.
  DION.        ’Tis a sweet boy: how brave 2 she keeps him!
  PHA.  Ladies all, good rest; I mean to kill a buck        32
To-morrow morning ere you’ve done your dreams.
  MEG.  All happiness attend your grace!  [Exit PHARAMOND.]  Gentlemen, good rest.—Come, shall we go to bed?
  GAL.  Yes.—All good night.
  DION.  May your dreams be true to you!—  Exeunt GALATEA and MEGRA.        36
What shall we do, gallants? ’tis late. The King
Is up still: see, he comes; a guard along
With him.
Enter KING, ARETHUSA, and Guard

  KING.        Look your intelligence be true.
  ARE.  Upon my life, it is; and I do hope
Your highness will not tie me to a man
That in the heat of wooing throws me off,
And takes another.        44
  DION.        What should this mean?
  KING.  If it be true,
That lady had been better have embrac’d
Cureless diseases. Get you to your rest:        48
You shall be righted.  Exeunt ARETHUSA and BELLARIO.
        —Gentlemen, draw near;
We shall employ you. Is young Pharamond
Come to his lodging?        52
  DION.        I saw him enter there.
  KING.  Haste, some of you, and cunningly discover
If Megra be in her lodging.  [Exit DION.]
  CLE.  Sir,        56
She parted hence but now, with other ladies.
  KING.  If she be there, we shall not need to make
A vain discovery of our suspicion.
[Aside.]  You gods, I see that who unrighteously        60
Holds wealth or state from others shall be curs’d
In that which meaner men are blest withal:
Ages to come shall know no make of him
Left to inherit, and his name shall be        64
Blotted from earth; if he have any child,
It shall be crossly match’d; the gods themselves
Shall sow wild strife betwixt her lord and her.
Yet, if it be your wills, forgive the sin        68
I have committed; let it not fall
Upon this understanding child of mine!
She has not broke your laws. But how can I
Look to be heard of gods that must be just,        72
Praying upon the ground I hold by wrong?
Re-enter DION

  DION.  Sir, I have asked, and her women swear she is within; but they, I think, are bawds. I told ’em, I must speak with her; they laugh’d, and said, their lady lay speechless. I said, my business was important; they said, their lady was about it. I grew hot, and cried, my business was a matter that concern’d life and death; they answered, so was sleeping, at which their lady was. I urg’d again, she had scarce time to be so since last I saw her: they smil’d again, and seem’d to instruct me that sleeping was nothing but lying down and winking. 3 Answers more direct I could not get: in short, sir, I think she is not there.
  KING.  ’Tis then no time to dally.—You o’ the guard,
Wait at the back door of the prince’s lodging,        76
And see that none pass thence, upon your lives.  [Exeunt Guards.]
Knock, gentlemen; knock loud; louder yet.  [DION, CLER., &c. knock at the door of PHARAMOND’S Lodging.]
What, has their pleasure taken off their hearing?—
I’ll break your meditations.—Knock again.—        80
Not yet? I do not think he sleeps, having this
Larum by him.—Once more.—Pharamond! prince!  PHARAMOND [appears] above.
  PHA.  What saucy groom knocks at this dead of night?
Where be our waiters? By my vexed soul,        84
He meets his death that meets me, for this boldness.
  KING.  Prince, prince, you wrong your thoughts; we are your friends: Come down.
  PHA.        The King!
  KING.        The same, sir. Come down, sir:        88
We have cause of present counsel with you.
  PHA.  If your grace please
To use me, I’ll attend you to your chamber.
Enter PHARAMOND below

  KING.  No, ’tis too late, prince; I’ll make bold with yours.
  PHA.  I have some private reasons to myself
Make me unmannerly, and say you cannot.—  They press to come in.
Nay, press not forward, gentlemen; he must
Come through my life that comes here.        96
  KING.  Sir, be resolv’d 4 I must and will come.—Enter.
  PHA.  I will not be dishonour’d.
He that enters, enters upon his death.
Sir, ’tis a sign you make no stranger of me,        100
To bring these renegadoes to my chamber
At these unseasoned hours.
  KING.        Why do you
Chafe yourself so? You are not wronged nor shall be;        104
Only I’ll search your lodging, for some cause
To ourself known.—Enter, I say.
  PHA.        I say, no.
Enter MEGRA above

  MEG.  Let ’em enter, prince, let ’em enter;
I am up and ready: 5 I know their business;
’Tis the poor breaking of a lady’s honour
They hunt so hotly after; let ’em enjoy it.—
You have your business, gentlemen; I lay here.        112
Oh, my lord the King, this is not noble in you
To make public the weakness of a woman!
  KING.  Come down.
  MEG.  I dare, my lord. Your hootings and your clamours,        116
Your private whispers and your broad fleerings,
Can no more vex my soul than this base carriage.
But I have vengeance yet in store for some
Shall, in the most contempt you can have of me,        120
Be joy and nourishment.
  KING.        Will you come down?
  MEG.  Yes, to laugh at your worst; but I shall wring you,
If my skill fail me not.  [Exit above.]        124
  KING.  Sir, I must dearly chide you for this looseness;
You have wrong’d a worthy lady; but, no more.—
Conduct him to my lodging and to bed.  [Exeunt PHARAMOND and Attendants.]
  CLE.  Get him another wench, and you bring him to bed indeed.        128
  DION.  ’Tis strange a man cannot ride a stage
Or two, to breathe himself, without a warrant.
If his gear hold, that lodgings be search’d thus,
Pray God we may lie with our own wives in safety,        132
That they be not by some trick of state mistaken!
Enter [Attendants] with MEGRA [below]

  KING.  Now, lady of honour, where’s your honour now?
No man can fit your palate but the prince.
Thou most ill-shrouded rottenness, thou piece        136
Made by a painter and a ’pothecary,
Thou troubled sea of lust, thou wilderness
Inhabited by wild thoughts, thou swoln cloud
Of infection, thou ripe mine of all diseases,        140
Thou all-sin, all-hell, and last all-devils, tell me,
Had you none to pull on with your courtesies
But he that must be mine, and wrong my daughter?
By all the gods, all these, and all the pages,        144
And all the court, shall hoot thee through the court,
Fling rotten oranges, make ribald rhymes,
And sear thy name with candles upon walls!
Do you laugh, Lady Venus?        148
  MEG.  Faith, sir, you must pardon me;
I cannot choose but laugh to see you merry.
If you do this, O King! nay, if you dare do it,
By all those gods you swore by, and as many        152
More of my own, I will have fellows, and such
Fellows in it, as shall make noble mirth!
The princess, your dear daughter, shall stand by me
On walls, and sung in ballads, any thing.        156
Urge me no more; I know her and her haunts,
Her lays, leaps, and outlays, and will discover all;
Nay, will dishonour her. I know the boy
She keeps; a handsome boy, about eighteen;        160
Know what she does with him, where, and when.
Come, sir, you put me to a woman’s madness,
The glory of a fury; and if I do not
Do’t to the height——        164
  KING.        What boy is this she raves at?
  MEG.  Alas! good-minded prince, you know not these things!
I am loath to reveal ’em. Keep this fault,
As you would keep your health from the hot air        168
Of the corrupted people, or, by Heaven,
I will not fall alone. What I have known
Shall be as public as a print; all tongues
Shall speak it as they do the language they        172
Are born in, as free and commonly; I’ll set it,
Like a prodigious 6 star, for all to gaze at,
And so high and glowing, that other kingdoms far and foreign
Shall read it there, nay, travel with it, till they find        176
No tongue to make it more, nor no more people;
And then behold the fall of your fair princess!
  KING.  Has she a boy?
  CLE.  So please your grace, I have seen a boy wait        180
On her, a fair boy.
  KING.        Go, get you to your quarter:
For this time I will study to forget you.
  MEG.  Do you study to forget me, and I’ll study        184
To forget you.  Exeunt KING, MEGRA, and Guard.
  CLE.  Why, here’s a male spirit fit for Hercules. If ever there be Nine Worthies of women, this wench shall ride astride and be their captain.
  DION.  Sure, she has a garrison of devils in her tongue, she uttered such balls of wild-fire. She has so nettled the King, that all the doctors in the country will scarce cure him. That boy was a strange-found-out antidote to cure her infection; that boy, that princess’ boy; that brave, chaste, virtuous lady’s boy; and a fair boy, a well-spoken boy! All these considered, can make nothing else—but there I leave you, gentlemen.
  THRA.  Nay, we’ll go wander with you.  Exeunt.        188
Note 1. Before Pharamond’s lodging in the court of the palace. [back]
Note 2. Finely dressed. [back]
Note 3. Closing the eyes. [back]
Note 4. Convinced. [back]
Note 5. Dressed. [back]
Note 6. Portentous, ominous. [back]


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