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

  CLE.  Nay, doubtless, ’tis true.
  DION.  Ay; and ’tis the gods
That rais’d this punishment, to scourge the King
With his own issue. Is it not a shame        4
For us that should write noble in the land,
For us that should be freemen, to behold
A man that is the bravery of his age,
Philaster, press’d down from his royal right        8
By this regardless King? and only look
And see the sceptre ready to be cast
Into the hands of that lascivious lady
That lives in lust with a smooth boy, now to be married        12
To yon strange prince, who, but that people please
To let him be a prince, is born a slave
In that which should be his most noble part,
His mind?        16
  THRA.        That man that would not stir with you
To aid Philaster, let the gods forget
That such a creature walks upon the earth!
  CLE.  Philaster is too backward in ’t himself.        20
The gentry do await it, and the people,
Against their nature, are all bent for him,
And like a field of standing corn, that’s moved
With a stiff gale, their heads bow all one way.        24
  DION.  The only cause that draws Philaster back
From this attempt is the fair princess’ love,
Which he admires, and we can now confute.
  THRA.  Perhaps he’ll not believe it.        28
  DION.  Why, gentlemen, ’tis without question so.
  CLE.  Ay, ’tis past speech, she lives dishonestly.
But how shall we, if he be curious, 2 work
Upon his faith?        32
  THRA.  We all are satisfied within ourselves.
  DION.  Since it is true, and tends to his own good,
I’ll make this new report to be my knowledge;
I’ll say I know it; nay, I’ll swear I saw it.        36
  CLE.  It will be best.
  THRA.        ’Twill move him.

  DION.        Here he comes.
Good morrow to your honour: we have spent        40
Some time in seeking you.
  PHI.        My worthy friends,
You that can keep your memories to know
Your friend in miseries, and cannot frown        44
On men disgrac’d for virtue, a good day
Attend you all! What service may I do
Worthy your acceptation?
  DION.        My good lord,        48
We come to urge that virtue, which we know
Lives in your breast, forth. Rise, and make a head: 3
The nobles and the people are all dulled
With this usurping king; and not a man,        52
That ever heard the word, or knew such a thing
As virtue, but will second your attempts.
  PHI.  How honourable is this love in you
To me that have deserv’d none! Know, my friends,        56
(You, that were born to shame your poor Philaster
With too much courtesy,) I could afford
To melt myself in thanks: but my designs
Are not yet ripe. Suffice it, that ere long        60
I shall employ your loves; but yet the time
Is short of what I would.
  DION.  The time is fuller, sir, than you expect;
That which hereafter will not, perhaps, be reach’d        64
By violence, may now be caught. As for the King,
You know the people have long hated him;
But now the princess, whom they lov’d——
  PHI.  Why, what of her?        68
  DION.        Is loathed as much as he.
  PHI.  By what strange means?
  DION.        She’s known a whore.
  PHI.        Thou liest.        72
  DION.  My lord——
  PHI.  Thou liest,  Offers to draw and is held.
And thou shalt feel it! I had thought thy mind
Had been of honour. Thus to rob a lady        76
Of her good name, is an infectious sin
Not to be pardon’d. Be it false as hell,
’Twill never be redeem’d, if it be sown
Amongst the people, fruitful to increase        80
All evil they shall hear. Let me alone
That I may cut off falsehood whilst it springs!
Set hills on hills betwixt me and the man
That utters this, and I will scale them all,        84
And from the utmost top fall on his neck,
Like thunder from a cloud.
  DION.        This is most strange:
Sure, he does love her.        88
  PHI.        I do love fair truth.
She is my mistress, and who injures her
Draws vengeance from me. Sirs, let go my arms.
  THRA.  Nay, good my lord, be patient.        92
  CLE.  Sir, remember this is your honour’d friend,
That comes to do his service, and will show you
Why he utter’d this.
  PHI.        I ask you pardon, sir;        96
My zeal to truth made me unmannerly:
Should I have heard dishonour spoke of you,
Behind your back, untruly, I had been
As much distemper’d and enrag’d as now.        100
  DION.  But this, my lord, is truth.
  PHI.        Oh, say not so!
Good sir, forbear to say so; ’tis then truth,
That womankind is false: urge it no more;        104
It is impossible. Why should you think
The princess light?
  DION.        Why, she was taken at it.
  PHI.  ’Tis false! by Heaven, ’tis false! It cannot be! Can it? Speak, gentlemen; for God’s love, speak! Is’t possible? Can women all be damn’d?        108
  DION.  Why, no, my lord.
  PHI.        Why, then, it cannot be.
  DION.  And she was taken with her boy.
  PHI.        What boy?        112
  DION.  A page, a boy that serves her.
  PHI.        Oh, good gods!
A little boy?
  DION.  Ay; know you him, my lord?        116
  PHI.  [Aside.]  Hell and sin know him!—Sir, you are deceiv’d;
I’ll reason it a little coldly with you.
If she were lustful, would she take a boy,
That knows not yet desire? She would have one        120
Should meet her thoughts and know the sin he acts,
Which is the great delight of wickedness.
You are abus’d, 4 and so is she, and I.
  DION.  How you, my lord?        124
  PHI.        Why, all the world’s abused
In an unjust report.
  DION.        Oh, noble sir, your virtues
Cannot look into the subtle thoughts of woman!        128
In short, my lord, I took them; I myself.
  PHI.  Now, all the devils, thou didst! Fly from my rage!
Would thou hadst ta’en devils engend’ring plagues,
When thou didst take them! Hide thee from mine eyes!        132
Would thou hadst taken thunder on thy breast,
When thou didst take them; or been strucken dumb
For ever; that this foul deed might have slept
In silence!        136
  THRA.        Have you known him so ill-tempered?
  CLE.  Never before.
  PHI.        The winds, that are let loose
From the four several corners of the earth,        140
And spread themselves all over sea and land,
Kiss not a chaste one. What friend bears a sword
To run me thorough?
  DION.        Why, my lord, are you        144
So moved at this?
  PHI.        When any fall from virtue,
I am distract; I have an interest in ’t.
  DION.  But, good my lord, recall yourself, and think        148
What’s best to be done.
  PHI.        I thank you; I will do it.
Please you to leave me; I’ll consider of it.
To-morrow I will find your lodging forth,        152
And give you answer.
  DION.        All the gods direct you
The readiest way!
  THRA.        He was extreme impatient.        156
  CLE.  It was his virtue and his noble mind.  [Exeunt DION, CLEREMONT, and THRASILINE.
  PHI.  I had forgot to ask him where he took them;
I’ll follow him, Oh, that I had a sea
Within my breast, to quench the fire I feel!        160
More circumstances will but fan this fire:
It more afflicts me now, to know by whom
This deed is done, than simply that ’tis done;
And he that tells me this is honourable,        164
As far from lies as she is far from truth.
Oh, that, like beasts, we could not grieve ourselves
With that we see not! Bulls and rams will fight
To keep their females, standing in their sight;        168
But take ’em from them, and you take at once
Their spleens away; and they will fall again
Unto their pastures, growing fresh and fat;
And taste the waters of the springs as sweet        172
As ’twas before, finding no start in sleep;
But miserable man——

        See, see, you gods,
He walks still; and the face you let him wear        176
When he was innocent is still the same,
Not blasted! Is this justice? Do you mean
To intrap mortality, that you allow
Treason so smooth a brow? I cannot now        180
Think he is guilty.
  BEL.        Health to you, my lord!
The princess doth commend her love, her life,
And this, unto you.  Gives a letter.        184
  PHI.        Oh, Bellario,
Now I perceive she loves me; she does show it
In loving thee, my boy; she has made thee brave.
  BEL.  My lord, she has attir’d me past my wish,        188
Past my desert’ more fit for her attendant,
Though far unfit for me who do attend.
  PHI.  Thou art grown courtly, boy.—Oh, let all women,
That love black deeds, learn to dissemble here,        192
Here, by this paper! She does write to me
As if her heart were mines of adamant
To all the world besides; but, unto me,
A maiden-snow that melted with my looks.—        196
Tell me, my boy, how doth the princess use thee?
For I shall guess her love to me by that.
  BEL.  Scarce like her servant, but as if I were
Something allied to her, or had preserv’d        200
Her life three times by my fidelity;
As mothers fond do use their only sons,
As I’d use one that’s left unto my trust,
For whom my life should pay if he met harm,        204
So she does use me.
  PHI.        Why, this is wondrous well:
But what kind language does she feed thee with?
  BEL.  Why, she does tell me she will trust my youth        208
With all her loving secrets, and does call me
Her pretty servant; bids me weep no more
For leaving you; she’ll see my services
Regarded: and such words of that soft strain,        212
That I am nearer weeping when she ends
Than ere she spake.
  PHI.        This is much better still.
  BEL.  Are you not ill, my lord?        216
  PHI.        Ill? No, Bellario.
  BEL.  Methinks your words
Fall not from off your tongue so evenly,
Nor is there in your looks that quietness        220
That I was wont to see.
  PHI.        Thou art deceiv’d, boy:
And she strokes thy head?
  BEL.        Yes.        224
  PHI.  And she does clap thy cheeks?
  BEL.        She does, my lord.
  PHI.  And she does kiss thee, boy? ha!
  BEL.        How, my lord?        228
  PHI.  She kisses thee?
  BEL.        Never, my lord, by heaven.
  PHI.  That’s strange; I know she does.
  BEL.        No, by my life.        232
  PHI.  Why then she does not love me. Come, she does.
I bade her do it; I charg’d her, by all charms
Of love between us, by the hope of peace
We should enjoy, to yield thee all delights        236
Naked as to her bed; I took her oath
Thou should’st enjoy her. Tell me, gentle boy,
Is she not parallelless? Is not her breath
Sweet as Arabian winds when fruits are ripe?        240
Are not her breasts two liquid ivory balls?
Is she not all a lasting mine of joy?
  BEL.  Ay, now I see why my disturbed thoughts
Were so perplex’d. When first I went to her,        244
My heart held augury. You are abus’d;
Some villain has abus’d you; I do see
Whereto you tend. Fall rocks upon his head
That put this to you! ’Tis some subtle train        248
To bring that noble frame of yours to nought.
  PHI.  Thou think’st I will be angry with thee. Come,
Thou shalt know all my drift. I hate her more
Than I love happiness, and placed thee there        252
To pry with narrow eyes into her deeds.
Hast thou discovered? Is she fallen to lust,
As I would wish her? Speak some comfort to me.
  BEL.  My lord, you did mistake the boy you sent.        256
Had she the lust of sparrows or of goats,
Had she a sin that way, hid from the world,
Beyond the name of lust, I would not aid
Her base desires; but what I came to know        260
As servant to her, I would not reveal,
To make my life last ages.
  PHI.        Oh, my heart!
This is a salve worse than the main disease.—        264
Tell me thy thoughts; for I will know the least
That dwells within thee, or will rip thy heart
To know it. I will see thy thoughts as plain
As I do now thy face.        268
  BEL.        Why, so you do.
She is (for aught I know) by all the gods,
As chaste as ice! But were she foul as hell,
And I did know it thus, the breath of kings,        272
The points of swords, tortures, nor bulls of brass,
Should draw it from me.
  PHI.        Then it is no time
To dally with thee; I will take thy life,        276
For I do hate thee. I could curse thee now.
  BEL.  If you do hate, you could not curse me worse;
The gods have not a punishment in store
Greater for me than is your hate.        280
  PHI.        Fie, fie,
So young and so dissembling! Tell me when
And where thou didst enjoy her, or let plagues
Fall on me, if I destroy thee not!  He draws his sword.        284
  BEL.  By heaven, I never did; and when I lie
To save my life, may I live long and loath’d!
Hew me asunder, and, whilst I can think,
I’ll love those pieces you have cut away        288
Better than those that grow, and kiss those limbs
Because you made ’em so.
  PHI.        Fear’st thou not death?
Can boys contemn that?        292
  BEL.        Oh, what boy is he
Can be content to live to be a man,
That sees the best of men thus passionate,
Thus without reason?        296
  PHI.  Oh, but thou dost no know
What ’tis to die.
  BEL.        Yes, I do know, my lord:
’Tis less than to be born; a lasting sleep;        300
A quiet resting from all jealousy,
A thing we all pursue. I know, besides,
It is but giving over of a game
That must be lost.        304
  PHI.        But there are pains, false boy,
For perjur’d souls. Think but on those, and then
Thy heart will melt, and thou wilt utter all.
  BEL.  May they fall upon me whilst I live,        308
If I be perjur’d, or have ever thought
Of that you charge we with! If I be false,
Send me to suffer in those punishments
You speak of; kill me!        312
  PHI.        Oh, what should I do?
Why, who can but believe him? He does swear
So earnestly, that if it were not true,
The gods would not endure him. Rise, Bellario:        316
Thy protestations are so deep, and thou
Dost look so truly when thou utter’st them,
That, though I know ’em false as were my hopes,
I cannot urge thee further. But thou wert        320
To blame to injure me, for I must love
Thy honest looks, and take no revenge upon
Thy tender youth. A love from me to thee
Is firm, whate’er thou dost; it troubles me        324
That I have call’d the blood out of thy cheeks,
That did so well become thee. But, good boy,
Let me not see thee more: something is done
That will distract me, that will make me mad,        328
If I behold thee. If thou tender’st me,
Let me not see thee.
  BEL.        I will fly as far
As there is morning, ere I give distaste        332
To that most honour’d mind. But through these tears,
Shed at my hopeless parting, I can see
A world of treason practis’d upon you,
And her, and me. Farewell for evermore!        336
If you shall hear that sorrow struck me dead,
And after find me loyal, let there be
A tear shed from you in my memory,
And I shall rest at peace.  Exit.        340
  PHI.        Blessing be with thee,
Whatever thou deserv’st! Oh, where shall I
Go bathe this body? Nature too unkind;
That made no medicine for a troubled mind!  Exit.        344
Note 1. The court of the palace. [back]
Note 2. Scrupulous. [back]
Note 3. Raise an armed force. [back]
Note 4. Deceived. [back]


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