Fiction > Harvard Classics > Beaumont and Fletcher > Philaster
Beaumont and Fletcher.  Philaster.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act the Third
Scene II
Enter Arethusa 1

  ARE.  I marvel my boy comes not back again:
But that I know my love will question him
Over and over,—how I slept, wak’d, talk’d,
How I rememb’red him when his dear name        4
Was last spoke, and how when I sigh’d, wept, sung,
And ten thousand such,—I should be angry at his stay.
Enter KING

  KING.  What, at your meditations! Who attends you?
  ARE.  None but my single self. I need no guard;        8
I do no wrong, nor fear none.
  KING.  Tell me, have you not a boy?
  ARE.        Yes, sir.
  KING.  What kind of boy?        12
  ARE.        A page, a waiting-boy.
  KING.  A handsome boy?
  ARE.        I think he be not ugly:
Well qualified and dutiful I know him;        16
I took him not for beauty.
  KING.  He speaks and sings and plays?
  ARE.        Yes, sir.
  KING.  About eighteen?        20
  ARE.        I never ask’d his age.
  KING.  Is he full of service?
  ARE.  By your pardon, why do you ask?
  KING.  Put him away.        24
  ARE.        Sir!
  KING.  Put him away, I say.
H’as done you that good service shames me to speak of.
  ARE.  Good sir, let me understand you.        28
  KING.        If you fear me,
Show it in duty; put away that boy.
  ARE.  Let me have reason for it, sir, and then
Your will is my command.        32
  KING.  Do not you blush to ask it? Cast him off,
Or I shall do the same to you. You’re one
Shame with me, and so near unto myself,
That, by my life, I dare not tell myself        36
What you, myself, have done.
  ARE.  What have I done, my lord?
  KING.  ’Tis a new language, that all love to learn:
The common people speak it well already;        40
They need no grammar. Understand me well;
There be foul whispers stirring. Cast him off,
And suddenly. Do it! Farewell.  Exit.
  ARE.  Where may a maiden live securely free,        44
Keeping her honour fair? Not with the living.
They feed upon opinions, errors, dreams,
And make ’em truths; they draw a nourishment
Out of defamings, grow upon disgraces,        48
And, when they see a virtue fortified
Strongly above the battery of their tongues,
Oh, how they cast to sink it! and, defeated,
(Soul-sick with poison) strike the monuments        52
Where noble names lie sleeping, till they sweat,
And the cold marble melt.

  PHI.  Peace to your fairest thoughts, dearest mistress!
  ARE.  Oh, my dearest servant, 2 I have a war within me!        56
  PHI.  He must be more than man that makes these crystals
Run into rivers. Sweetest fair, the cause?
And, as I am you slave, tied to your goodness,
Your creature, made again from what I was        60
And newly-spirited, I’ll right your honour.
  ARE.  Oh, my best love, that boy!
  PHI.        What boy?
  ARE.  The pretty boy you gave me——        64
  PHI.        What of him?
  ARE.  Must be no more mine.
  PHI.        Why?
  ARE.        They are jealous of him.        68
  PHI.  Jealous! Who?
  ARE.        The King.
  PHI.        [Aside.]  Oh, my misfortune!
Then ’tis no idle jealousy.—Let him go.        72
  ARE.  Oh, cruel!
Are you hard-hearted too? Who shall now tell you
How much I lov’d you? Who shall swear it to you,
And weep the tears I send? Who shall now bring you        76
Letters, rings, bracelets? Lose his health in service?
Wake tedious nights in stories of your praise?
Who shall now sing your crying elegies,
And strike a sad soul into senseless pictures,        80
And make them mourn? Who shall take up his lute,
And touch it till he crown a silent sleep
Upon my eye-lids, making me dream, and cry,
“Oh, my dear, dear Philaster!”        84
  PHI.        [Aside.]  Oh, my heart!
Would he had broken thee, that made me know
This lady was not loyal!—Mistress,
Forget the boy; I’ll get thee a far better.        88
  ARE.  Oh, never, never such a boy again
As my Bellario!
  PHI.        ’Tis but your fond affection.
  ARE.  With thee, my boy, farewell for ever        92
All secrecy in servants! Farewell faith,
And all desire to do well for itself!
Let all that shall succeed thee for thy wrongs
Sell and betray chaste love!        96
  PHI.  And all this passion for a boy?
  ARE.  He was your boy, and you put him to me,
And the loss of such must have a mourning for.
  PHI.  Oh, thou forgetful woman!        100
  ARE.        How, my lord?
  PHI.  False Arethusa!
Hast thou a medicine to restore my wits,
When I have lost ’em? If not, leave to talk,        104
And do thus.
  ARE.        Do what, sir? Would you sleep?
  PHI.  For ever, Arethusa. Oh, you gods,
Give me a worthy patience! Have I stood        108
Naked, alone, the shock of many fortunes?
Have I seen mischiefs numberless and mighty
Grow like a sea upon me? Have I taken
Danger as stern as death into my bosom,        112
And laugh’d upon it, made it but a mirth,
And flung it by? Do I live now like him,
Under this tyrant King, that languishing
Hears his sad bell and sees his mourners? Do I        116
Bear all this bravely, and must sink at length
Under a woman’s falsehood? Oh, that boy,
That cursed boy! None but a villain boy
To ease your lust?        120
  ARE.        Nay, then, I am betrayed:
I feel the plot cast for my overthrow.
Oh, I am wretched!
  PHI.  Now you may take that little right I have        124
To this poor kingdom. Give it to your joy;
For I have no joy in it. Some far place,
Where never womankind durst set her foot
For 3 bursting with her poisons, must I seek,        128
And live to curse you;
There dig a cave, and preach to birds and beasts
What woman is, and help to save them from you;
How heaven is in your eyes, but in your hearts        132
More hell than hell has; how your tongues, like scorpions,
Both heal and poison; 4 how your thoughts are woven
With thousand changes in one subtle web,
And worn so by you; how that foolish man,        136
That reads the story of a woman’s face
And dies believing it, is lost for ever;
How all the good you have is but a shadow,
I’ the morning with you, and at night behind you,        140
Past and forgotten; how your vows are frosts,
Fast for a night, and with the next sun gone;
How you are, being taken all together,
A mere confusion, and so dead a chaos,        144
That love cannot distinguish. These sad texts,
Till my last hour, I am bound to utter of you.
So, farewell all my woe, all my delight!  Exit.
  ARE.  Be merciful, ye gods, and strike me dead!        148
What way have I deserv’d this? Make my breast
Transparent as pure crystal, that the world,
Jealous of me, may see the foulest thought
My heart holds. Where shall a woman turn her eyes,        152
To find out constancy?

        Save me, how black
And guiltily, methinks, that boy looks now!
Oh, thou dissembler, that, before thou spak’st,        156
Wert in thy cradle false, sent to make lies
And betray innocents! Thy lord and thou
May glory in the ashes of a maid
Fool’d by her passion; but the conquest is        160
Nothing so great as wicked. Fly away!
Let my command force thee to that which shame
Would do without it. If thou understood’st
The loathed office thou hast undergone,        164
Why, thou wouldst hide thee under heaps of hills,
Lest men should dig and find thee.
  BEL.        Oh, what god,
Angry with men, hath sent this strange disease        168
Into the noblest minds! Madam, this grief
You add unto me is no more than drops
To seas, for which they are not seen to swell.
My lord hath struck his anger through my heart,        172
And let out all the hope of future joys.
You need not bid me fly; I came to part,
To take my latest leave. Farewell for ever!
I durst not run away in honesty        176
From such a lady, like a boy that stole
Or made some grievous fault. The power of gods
Assist you in your sufferings! Hasty time
Reveal the truth to your abused lord        180
And mine, that he may know your worth; whilst I
Go seek out some forgotten place to die!  Exit.
  ARE.  Peace guide thee! Thou hast overthrown me once;
Yet, if I had another Troy to lose,        184
Thou, or another villain with thy looks,
Might talk me out of it, and send me naked,
My hair dishevell’d, through the fiery streets.
Enter a Lady

  LADY.  Madam, the King would hunt, and calls for you
With earnestness.
  ARE.        I am in tune to hunt!
Diana, if thou canst rage with a maid
As with a man, 5 let me discover thee        192
Bathing, and turn me to a fearful hind,
That I may die pursued by cruel hounds,
And have my story written in my wounds!  Exeunt.
Note 1. Arethusa’s apartment in the palace. [back]
Note 2. Lover. [back]
Note 3. For fear of. [back]
Note 4. It was believed that scorpions, applied to the wound they made, cured it. [back]
Note 5. Actæon. [back]


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