Gril. Sound wind and limb! 'fore God, a gallant girl! [Aside.
King. What shall I answer to thee, O thou balm To heal a broken, yet a kingly heart! For, so I swear I will be to my last. Come to my arms, and be thy Harry's angel, Shine through my cares, and make my crown sit easy.
Mar. O never, sir.
King. What said you, Marmoutiere? Why dost thou turn thy beauties into frowns?
Mar. You know, sir, 'tis impossible; no more.
King. No more?—and with that stern resolved behaviour? By heaven! were I a dying, and the priest Should urge my last confession, I'd cry out, Oh Marmoutiere! and yet thou say'st,—No more!
Mar. 'Tis well, sir; I have lost my aim, farewell.
King. Come back! O stay, my life flows after you.
Mar. No, sir, I find I am a trouble to you; You will not hear my suit.
King. You cannot go, You shall not.—O your suit, I kneel to grant it; I beg you take whatever you demand.
Mar. Then, sir, thus low, or prostrate if you please, Let me intreat for Guise.
King. Ha, madam, what! For Guise; for Guise! that stubborn arrogant rebel, That laughs at proffered mercy, slights his pardon, Mocks royal grace, and plots upon my life? Ha! and do you protect him? then the world Is sworn to Henry's death: Does beauty too, And innocence itself conspire against me? Then let me tamely yield my glories up, Which once I vowed with my drawn sword to wear To my last drop of blood.—Come Guise, come cardinal, All you loved traitors, come—I strip to meet you; Sheathe all your daggers in curst Henry's heart.
Mar. This I expected; but when you have heard How far I would intreat your majesty, Perhaps you'll be more calm.
King. See, I am hushed; Speak then; how far, madam, would you command?
Mar. Not to proceed to last extremities, Before the wound is desperate. Think alone, For no man judges like your majesty: Take your own methods; all the heads of France Cannot so well advise you, as yourself. Therefore resume, my lord, your god-like temper, Yet do not bear more than a monarch should; Believe it, sir, the more your majesty Draws back your arm, the more of fate it carries.
King. Thou genius of my state, thou perfect model Of heaven itself, and abstract of the angels, Forgive the late disturbance of my soul! I'm clear by nature, as a rockless stream; But they dig through the gravel of my heart, And raise the mud of passions up to cloud me; Therefore let me conjure you, do not go; 'Tis said, the Guise will come in spite of me; Suppose it possible, and stay to advise me.
Mar. I will; but, on your royal word, no more.
King. I will be easy, To my last gasp, as your own virgin thoughts, And never dare to breathe my passion more; Yet you'll allow me now and then to sigh As we discourse, and court you with my eyes?
Why do you wave your hand, and warn me hence? So looks the poor condemned, When justice beckons, there's no hope of pardon. Sternly, like you, the judge the victim eyes, And thus, like me, the wretch, despairing, dies. [Exit with ALPHONSO.
Gril. O rare, rare creature! By the power that made me, Wer't possible we could be damned again By some new Eve, such virtue might redeem us. Oh I could clasp thee, but that my arms are rough, Till all thy sweets were broke with my embraces, And kiss thy beauties to a dissolution!
Mar. Ah father, uncle, brother, all the kin, The precious blood that's left me in the world, Believe, dear sir, whate'er my actions seem, I will not lose my virtue, for a throne.
Gril. Why, I will carve thee out a throne myself; I'll hew down all the kings in Christendom, And seat thee on their necks, as high as heaven.
Enter Abbot DELBENE.
Abb. Colonel, your ear.
Mar. By these whispering councils, My soul presages that the Guise is coming. If he dares come, were I a man, a king, I'd sacrifice him in the city's sight.— O heavens! what was't I said? Were I a man, I know not that; but, as I am a virgin, If I would offer thee, too lovely Guise, It should be kneeling to the throne of mercy.— Ha! then thou lovest, that thou art thus concerned. Down, rising mischief, down, or I will kill thee, Even in thy cause, and strangle new-born pity!— Yet if he were not married!—ha, what then? His charms prevail;—no, let the rebel die. I faint beneath this strong oppression here; Reason and love rend my divided soul; Heaven be the judge, and still let virtue conquer. Love to his tune my jarring heart would bring, But reason over-winds, and cracks the string. [Exit.
Abb. The king dispatches order upon order, With positive command to stop his coming. Yet there is notice given to the city; Besides, Belleure brought but a half account, How that the Guise replied, he would obey His majesty in all; yet, if he might Have leave to justify himself before him, He doubted not his cause.
Gril. The axe, the axe: Rebellion's pampered to a pleurisy, And it must bleed. [Shout within.
Abb. Hark, what a shout was there! I'll to the king; it may be, 'tis reported On purpose thus. Let there be truth or lies In this mad fame, I'll bring you instant word. [Exit Abbot.
Manet GRILLON: Enter GUISE, CARDINAL, MAYENNE, MALICORN, Attendants, &c. Shouts again.
Gril. Death, and thou devil Malicorn, is that Thy master?
Gui. Yes, Grillon, 'tis the Guise; One, that would court you for a friend.
Gril. A friend! Traitor thou mean'st, and so I bid thee welcome; But since thou art so insolent, thy blood Be on thy head, and fall by me unpitied. [Exit.
Gui. The bruises of his loyalty have crazed him. [Shouts louder.
Spirit within sings.
Malicorn, Malicorn, Malicorn, ho! If the Guise resolves to go, I charge, I warn thee let him know, Perhaps his head may lie too low.
Gui. Why, Malicorn.
Mal. [Starting.] Sir, do not see the king.
Gui. I will.
Mal. 'Tis dangerous.
Gui. Therefore I will see him, And so report my danger to the people. Halt—to your judgment.—[MALICORN makes signs of Assassination.] Let him, if he dare.— But more, more, more;—why, Malicorn!—again? I thought a look, with us, had been a language; I'll talk my mind on any point but this By glances;—ha! not yet? thou mak'st me blush At thy delay; why, man, 'tis more than life, Ambition, or a crown.
Mal. What, Marmoutiere?
Gui. Ay, there a general's heart beat like a drum! Quick, quick! my reins, my back, and head and breast Ache, as I'd been a horse-back forty hours.
Mal. She has seen the king.
Gui. I thought she might. A trick upon me; well.
Mal. Passion o' both sides.
Gui. His, thou meanest.
Mal. On hers. Down on her knees.
Gui. And up again; no matter.
Mal. Now all in tears, now smiling, sad at parting.
Gui. Dissembled, for she told me this before; 'Twas all put on, that I might hear and rave.
Mal. And so, to make sure work on't, by consent Of Grillon, who is made their bawd,—
Mal. She's lodged at court.
Gui. 'Tis false, they do belie her.
Mal. But, sir, I saw the apartment.
Gui. What, at court?
Mal. At court, and near the king; 'tis true, by heaven: I never play'd you foul, why should you doubt me?
Gui. I would thou hadst, ere thus unmanned my heart! Blood, battles, fire, and death! I run, I run! With this last blow he drives me like a coward; Nay, let me never win a field again, If, with the thought of these irregular vapours, The blood ha'nt burst my lips.
Card. Peace, brother.
Gui. By heaven, I took thee for my soul's physician, And dost thou vomit me with this loathed peace? 'Tis contradiction: no, my peaceful brother, I'll meet him now, though fire-armed cherubins Should cross my way. O jealousy of love! Greater than fame! thou eldest of the passions, Or rather all in one, I here invoke thee, Where'er thou'rt throned in air, in earth, or hell, Wing me to my revenge, to blood, and ruin!
Card. Have you no temper?
Gui. Pray, sir, give me leave. A moment's thought;—ha, but I sweat and tremble, My brain runs this and that way; it will not fix On aught but vengeance.—Malicorn, call the people. [Shouts within. But hark, they shout again: I'll on and meet them; Nay, head them to his palace, as my guards. Yet more, on such exalted causes borne, I'll wait him in his cabinet alone, And look him pale; while in his courts without, The people shout him dead with their alarms, And make his mistress tremble in his arms. [Exeunt.
Enter King and Council. [Shouts without.
King. What mean these shouts?
Abb. I told your majesty, The sheriffs have puffed the populace with hopes Of their deliverer. [Shouts again.
King. Hark! there rung a peal Like thunder: see, Alphonso, what's the cause.
Gril. My lord, the Guise is come.
King. Is't possible! ha, Grillon, said'st thou, come?
Gril. Why droops the royal majesty? O sir!
King. O villain, slave, wert thou my late-born heir, Given me by heaven, even when I lay a-dying— But peace, thou festering thought, and hide thy wound;— Where is he?
Gril. With her majesty, your mother; She has taken chair, and he walks bowing by her, With thirty thousand rebels at his heels.
King. What's to be done? No pall upon my spirit; But he that loves me best, and dares the most On this nice point of empire, let him speak.
Alph. I would advise you, sir, to call him in, And kill him instantly upon the spot.
Abb. I like Alphonso's counsel, short, sure work; Cut off the head, and let the body walk.
Qu. M. Sir, the Guise waits.
King. He enters on his fate.
Qu. M. Not so,—forbear; the city is up in arms; Nor doubt, if, in their heat, you cut him off, That they will spare the royal majesty. Once, sir, let me advise, and rule your fury.
King. You shall: I'll see him, and I'll spare him now.
Qu. M. What will you say?
King. I know not;— Colonel Grillon, call the archers in, Double your guards, and strictly charge the Swiss Stand to their arms, receive him as a traitor. [Exit GRILLON. My heart has set thee down, O Guise, in blood,— Blood, mother, blood, ne'er to be blotted out.
Qu. M. Yet you'll relent, when this hot fit is over.
King. If I forgive him, may I ne'er be forgiven! No, if I tamely bear such insolence, What act of treason will the villains stop at? Seize me, they've sworn; imprison me is the next, Perhaps arraign me, and then doom me dead. But ere I suffer that, fall all together, Or rather, on their slaughtered heaps erect My throne, and then proclaim it for example. I'm born a monarch, which implies alone To wield the sceptre, and depend on none. [Exeunt.
SCENE I.—The Louvre.
A Chair of State placed; the King appears sitting in it; a Table by him, on which he leans; Attendants on each Side of him; amongst the rest, ABBOT, GRILLON, and BELLIEURE. The QUEEN-MOTHER enters, led by the Duke of GUISE, who makes his Approach with three Reverences to the King's Chair; after the third, the King rises, and coming forward, speaks.
King. I sent you word, you should not come.
Gui. Sir, that I came—
King. Why, that you came, I see. Once more, I sent you word, you should not come.
Gui. Not come to throw myself, with all submission, Beneath your royal feet! to put my cause And person in the hands of sovereign justice!
King. Now 'tis with all submission,—that's the preface,— Yet still you came against my strict command; You disobeyed me, duke, with all submission.
Gui. Sir, 'twas the last necessity that drove me, To clear myself of calumnies, and slanders, Much urged, but never proved, against my innocence; Yet had I known 'twas your express command, I should not have approached.
King. 'Twas as express, as words could signify;— Stand forth, Bellieure,—it shall be proved you knew it,— Stand forth, and to this false man's face declare Your message, word for word.
Bel. Sir, thus it was. I met him on the way, And plain as I could speak, I gave your orders, Just in these following words:—
King. Enough, I know you told him; But he has used me long to be contemned, And I can still be patient, and forgive.
Gui. And I can ask forgiveness, when I err; But let my gracious master please to know The true intent of my misconstrued faith. Should I not come to vindicate my fame From wrong constructions? And—
King. Come, duke, you were not wronged; your conscience knows You were not wronged; were you not plainly told, That, if you dared to set your foot in Paris, You should be held the cause of all commotions That should from thence ensue? and yet you came.
Gui. Sir, will you please with patience but to hear me?
King. I will; and would be glad, my lord of Guise, To clear you to myself.
Gui. I had been told, There were in agitation here at court, Things of the highest note against religion, Against the common properties of subjects, And lives of honest well-affected men; I therefore judged,—
King. Then you, it seems, are judge Betwixt the prince and people? judge for them, And champion against me?
Gui. I feared it might be represented so, And came resolved,—
King. To head the factious crowd.
Gui. To clear my innocence.
King. The means for that, Had been your absence from this hot-brained town, Where you, not I, are king!— I feel my blood kindling within my veins; The genius of the throne knocks at my heart: Come what may come, he dies.
Qu. M. [Stopping the king.] What mean you, sir? You tremble and look pale; for heaven's sake think, 'Tis your own life you venture, if you kill him.
King. Had I ten thousand lives, I'll venture all. Give me way, madam!
Qu. M. Not to your destruction. The whole Parisian herd is at your gates; A crowd's a name too small, they are a nation, Numberless, armed, enraged, one soul informs them.
King. And that one soul's the Guise. I'll rend it out, And damn the rabble all at once in him.
Gui. My fate is now in the balance; fool within, I thank thee for thy foresight. [Aside.
Qu. M. Your guards oppose them!
King. Why not? a multitude's a bulky coward.
Qu. M. By heaven, there are not limbs in all your guards, For every one a morsel.
King. Caesar quelled them, But with a look and word.
Qu. M. So Galba thought.
King. But Galba was not Caesar.
Gui. I must not give them time for resolution.— [Aside. My journey, sir, has discomposed my health, [To the king. I humbly beg your leave, I may retire, Till your commands recall me to your service. [Exit.
King. So, you have counselled well; the traitor's gone, To mock the meekness of an injured king. [To Qu. M. Why did not you, who gave me part of life, Infuse my father stronger in my veins? But when you kept me cooped within your womb, You palled his generous blood with the dull mixture Of your Italian food, and milked slow arts Of womanish tameness in my infant mouth. Why stood I stupid else, and missed a blow, Which heaven and daring folly made so fair?
Qu. M. I still maintain, 'twas wisely done to spare him.
Gril. A pox on this unseasonable wisdom! He was a fool to come; if so, then they, Who let him go, were somewhat.
King. The event, the event will shew us what we were; For, like a blazing meteor hence he shot, And drew a sweeping fiery train along.— O Paris, Paris, once my seat of triumph, But now the scene of all thy king's misfortunes; Ungrateful, perjured, and disloyal town, Which by my royal presence I have warmed So long, that now the serpent hisses out, And shakes his forked tongue at majesty, While I—
Qu. M. While you lose time in idle talk, And use no means for safety and prevention.
King. What can I do? O mother, Abbot, Grillon! All dumb! nay, then 'tis plain, my cause is desperate. Such an overwhelming ill makes grief a fool, As if redress were past.
Gril. I'll go to the next sheriff, And beg the first reversion of a rope: Dispatch is all my business; I'll hang for you.
Abb. 'Tis not so bad, as vainly you surmise; Some space there is, some little space, some steps Betwixt our fate and us: our foes are powerful, But yet not armed, nor marshalled into order; Believe it, sir, the Guise will not attempt, Till he have rolled his snow-ball to a heap.
King. So then, my lord, we're a day off from death: What shall to-morrow do?
Abb. To-morrow, sir, If hours between slide not too idly by, You may be master of their destiny, Who now dispose so loftily of yours. Not far without the suburbs there are quartered Three thousand Swiss, and two French regiments.
King. Would they were here, and I were at their head!
Qu. M. Send Mareschal Byron to lead them up.
King. It shall be so: by heaven there's life in this! The wrack of clouds is driving on the winds, And shews a break of sunshine— Go Grillon, give my orders to Byron, And see your soldiers well disposed within, For safeguard of the Louvre.
Qu. M. One thing more: The Guise (his business yet not fully ripe,) Will treat, at least, for shew of loyalty; Let him be met with the same arts he brings.
King. I know, he'll make exorbitant demands, But here your part of me will come in play; The Italian soul shall teach me how to sooth: Even Jove must flatter with an empty hand, 'Tis time to thunder, when he gripes the brand. [Exeunt.
SCENE II.—A Night Scene.
Enter MALICORN solus.
Mal. Thus far the cause of God; but God's or devil's,— I mean my master's cause, and mine,—succeed, What shall the Guise do next? [A flash of lightning.
Enter the spirit MELANAX.
Mel. First seize the king, and after murder him.
Mal. Officious fiend, thou comest uncalled to-night.
Mel. Always uncalled, and still at hand for mischief.
Mal. But why in this fanatic habit, devil? Thou look'st like one that preaches to the crowd; Gospel is in thy face, and outward garb, And treason on thy tongue.
Mel. Thou hast me right: Ten thousand devils more are in this habit; Saintship and zeal are still our best disguise: We mix unknown with the hot thoughtless crowd, And quoting scriptures, (which too well we know,) With impious glosses ban the holy text, And make it speak rebellion, schism, and murder; So turn the arms of heaven against itself.
Mal. What makes the curate of St. Eustace here?
Mel. Thou art mistaken, master; 'tis not he, But 'tis a zealous, godly, canting devil, Who has assumed the churchman's lucky shape, To talk the crowd to madness and rebellion.
Mal. O true enthusiastic devil, true,— (For lying is thy nature, even to me,) Did'st thou not tell me, if my lord, the Guise, Entered the court, his head should then lie low? That was a lie; he went, and is returned.
Mel. 'Tis false; I said, perhaps it should lie low; And, but I chilled the blood in Henry's veins, And crammed a thousand ghastly, frightful thoughts, Nay, thrust them foremost in his labouring brain, Even so it would have been.
Mal. Thou hast deserved me, And I am thine, dear devil: what do we next?
Mel. I said, first seize the king.
Mal. Suppose it done: He's clapt within a convent, shorn a saint, My master mounts the throne.
Mel. Not so fast, Malicorn; Thy master mounts not, till the king be slain.
Mal. Not when deposed?
Mel. He cannot be deposed: He may be killed, a violent fate attends him; But at his birth there shone a regal star.
Mal. My master had a stronger.
Mel. No, not a stronger, but more popular. Their births were full opposed, the Guise now strongest But if the ill influence pass o'er Harry's head, As in a year it will, France ne'er shall boast A greater king than he; now cut him off, While yet his stars are weak.
Mal. Thou talk'st of stars: Can'st thou not see more deep into events, And by a surer way?
Mel. No, Malicorn; The ways of heaven are broken since our fall, Gulph beyond gulph, and never to be shot. Once we could read our mighty Maker's mind, As in a crystal mirror, see the ideas Of things that always are, as he is always; Now, shut below in this dark sphere, By second causes dimly we may guess, And peep far off on heaven's revolving orbs, Which cast obscure reflections from the throne.
Mal. Then tell me thy surmises of the future.
Mel. I took the revolution of the year, Just when the Sun was entering in the Ham: The ascending Scorpion poisoned all the sky, A sign of deep deceit and treachery. Full on his cusp his angry master sate, Conjoined with Saturn, baleful both to man: Of secret slaughters, empires overturned, Strife, blood, and massacres, expect to hear, And all the events of an ill-omened year.
Mal. Then flourish hell, and mighty mischief reign! Mischief, to some, to others must be good. But hark! for now, though 'tis the dead of night, When silence broods upon our darkened world, Methinks I hear a murmuring hollow sound, Like the deaf chimes of bells in steeples touched.
Mel. It is truly guessed; But know, 'tis from no nightly sexton's hand. There's not a damned ghost, nor hell-born fiend, That can from limbo 'scape, but hither flies; With leathern wings they beat the dusky skies, To sacred churches all in swarms repair; Some crowd the spires, but most the hallowed bells, } And softly toll for souls departing knells: } Each chime, thou hear'st, a future death foretells, } Now there they perch to have them in their eyes, 'Till all go loaded to the nether skies.
Mal. To-morrow then.
Mel. To-morrow let it be; Or thou deceiv'st those hungry, gaping fiends, And Beelzebub will rage.
Mal. Why Beelzebub? hast thou not often said, That Lucifer's your king?
Mel. I told thee true; But Lucifer, as he who foremost fell, So now lies lowest in the abyss of hell, Chained till the dreadful doom; in place of whom Sits Beelzebub, vicegerent of the damned, Who, listening downward, hears his roaring lord, And executes his purpose.—But no more. The morning creeps behind yon eastern hill, And now the guard is mine, to drive the elves, And foolish fairies, from their moonlight play, And lash the laggers from the sight of day. [Descends. [Exit MAL.
Enter GUISE, MAYENNE, CARDINAL, and ARCHBISHOP.
May. Sullen, methinks, and slow the morning breaks, As if the sun were listless to appear, And dark designs hung heavy on the day.
Gui. You're an old man too soon, you're superstitious; I'll trust my stars, I know them now by proof; The genius of the king bends under mine: Environed with his guards, he durst not touch me; But awed and cravened, as he had been spelled, Would have pronounced, Go kill the Guise, and durst not.
Card. We have him in our power, coop'd in his court. Who leads the first attack? Now by yon heaven, That blushes at my scarlet robes, I'll doff This womanish attire of godly peace, And cry,—Lie there, Lord Cardinal of Guise.
Gui. As much too hot, as Mayenne is too cool. But 'tis the manlier fault of the two.
Arch. Have you not heard the king, preventing day, Received the guards into the city gates, The jolly Swisses marching to their fifes? The crowd stood gaping, heartless and amazed, Shrunk to their shops, and left the passage free.
Gui. I would it should be so, 'twas a good horror. First let them fear for rapes, and ransacked houses; That very fright, when I appear to head them, Will harden their soft city courages: Cold burghers must be struck, and struck like flints, Ere their hid fire will sparkle.
Arch. I'm glad the king has introduced these guards.
Card. Your reason.
Arch. They are too few for us to fear; Our numbers in old martial men are more, The city not cast in; but the pretence, That hither they are brought to bridle Paris, Will make this rising pass for just defence.
May. Suppose the city should not rise?
Gui. Suppose, as well, the sun should never rise: He may not rise, for heaven may play a trick; But he has risen from Adam's time to ours. Is nothing to be left to noble hazard? No venture made, but all dull certainty? By heaven I'll tug with Henry for a crown, Rather than have it on tame terms of yielding: I scorn to poach for power.
Enter a Servant, who whispers GUISE.
A lady, say'st thou, young and beautiful, Brought in a chair? Conduct her in.— [Exit Servant.
Card. You would be left alone?
Gui. I would; retire. [Exeunt MAY. CARD. &c.
Re-enter Servant with MARMOUTIERE, and exit.
Starting back.] Is't possible? I dare not trust my eyes! You are not Marmoutiere?
Mar. What am I then?
Gui. Why, any thing but she: What should the mistress of a king do here?
Mar. Find him, who would be master of a king.
Gui. I sent not for you, madam.
Mar. I think, my lord, the king sent not for you.
Gui. Do you not fear, your visit will be known?
Mar. Fear is for guilty men, rebels, and traitors: Where'er I go, my virtue is my guard.
Gui. What devil has sent thee here to plague my soul? O that I could detest thee now as much As ever I have loved, nay, even as much As yet, in spite of all thy crimes, I love! But 'tis a love so mixt with dark despair, The smoke and soot smother the rising flame, And make my soul a furnace. Woman, woman, What can I call thee more? if devil, 'twere less. Sure, thine's a race was never got by Adam, But Eve played false, engendering with the serpent, Her own part worse than his.
Mar. Then they got traitors.
Gui. Yes, angel-traitors, fit to shine in palaces, Forked into ills, and split into deceits; Two in their very frame. 'Twas well, 'twas well, I saw thee not at court, thou basilisk; For if I had, those eyes, without his guards, Had done the tyrant's work.
Mar. Why then it seems I was not false in all: I told you, Guise, If you left Paris, I would go to court: You see I kept my promise.
Gui. Still thy sex: Once true in all thy life, and that for mischief.
Mar. Have I said I loved you?
Gui. Stab on, stab: 'Tis plain you love the king.
Mar. Nor him, nor you, In that unlawful way you seem to mean. My eyes had once so far betrayed my heart, As to distinguish you from common men; Whate'er you said, or did, was charming all.
Gui. But yet, it seems, you found a king more charming.
Mar. I do not say more charming, but more noble, More truly royal, more a king in soul, Than you are now in wishes.
Gui. May be so: But love has oiled your tongue to run so glib,— Curse on your eloquence!
Mar. Curse not that eloquence that saved your life: For, when your wild ambition, which defied A royal mandate, hurried you to town; When over-weening pride of popular power Had thrust you headlong in the Louvre toils, Then had you died: For know, my haughty lord, Had I not been, offended majesty Had doomed you to the death you well deserved.
Gui. Then was't not Henry's fear preserved my life?
Mar. You know him better, or you ought to know him: He's born to give you fear, not to receive it.
Gui. Say this again; but add, you gave not up Your honour as the ransom of my life; For, if you did, 'twere better I had died.
Mar. And so it were.
Gui. Why said you, so it were? For though 'tis true, methinks 'tis much unkind.
Mar. My lord, we are not now to talk of kindness. If you acknowledge I have saved your life, Be grateful in return, and do an act, Your honour, though unasked by me, requires.
Gui. By heaven, and you, whom next to heaven I love, (If I said more, I fear I should not lie,) I'll do whate'er my honour will permit.
Mar. Go, throw yourself at Henry's royal feet, And rise not till approved a loyal subject.
Gui. A duteous loyal subject I was ever.
Mar. I'll put it short, my lord; depart from Paris.
Gui. I cannot leave My country, friends, religion, all at stake. Be wise, and be before-hand with your fortune; Prevent the turn, forsake the ruined court; Stay here, and make a merit of your love.
Mar. No; I'll return, and perish in those ruins. I find thee now, ambitious, faithless, Guise. Farewell, the basest and the last of men!
Gui. Stay, or—O heaven!—I'll force you: Stay—
Mar. I do believe So ill of you, so villainously ill, That, if you durst, you would: Honour you've little, honesty you've less; But conscience you have none: Yet there's a thing called fame, and men's esteem, Preserves me from your force. Once more, farewell. Look on me, Guise; thou seest me now the last; Though treason urge not thunder on thy head, This one departing glance shall flash thee dead. [Exit.
Gui. Ha, said she true? Have I so little honour? Why, then, a prize so easy and so fair Had never 'scaped my gripe: but mine she is; For that's set down as sure as Henry's fall. But my ambition, that she calls my crime;— False, false, by fate! my right was born with me. And heaven confest it in my very frame; The fires, that would have formed ten thousand angels, Were crammed together for my single soul.
Mal. My lord, you trifle precious hours away; The heavens look gaudily upon your greatness, And the crowned moments court you as they fly. Brisac and fierce Aumale have pent the Swiss, And folded them like sheep in holy ground; Where now, with ordered pikes, and colours furled, They wait the word that dooms them all to die: Come forth, and bless the triumph of the day.
Gui. So slight a victory required not me: I but sat still, and nodded, like a god, My world into creation; now 'tis time To walk abroad, and carelessly survey How the dull matter does the form obey. [Exit with MALICORN.
Enter Citizens, and MELANAX, in his fanatic Habit, at the head them.
Mel. Hold, hold, a little, fellow citizens; and you, gentlemen of the rabble, a word of godly exhortation to strengthen your hands, ere you give the onset.
1 Cit. Is this a time to make sermons? I would not hear the devil now, though he should come in God's name, to preach peace to us.
2 Cit. Look you, gentlemen, sermons are not to be despised; we have all profited by godly sermons that promote sedition: let the precious man hold forth.
Omn. Let him hold forth, let him hold forth.
Mel. To promote sedition is my business: It has been so before any of you were born, and will be so, when you are all dead and damned; I have led on the rabble in all ages.
1 Cit. That's a lie, and a loud one.
2 Cit. He has led the rabble both old and young, that's all ages: A heavenly sweet man, I warrant him; I have seen him somewhere in a pulpit.
Mel. I have sown rebellion every where.
1 Cit. How, every where? That's another lie: How far have you travelled, friend?
Mel. Over all the world.
1 Cit. Now, that's a rapper.
2 Cit. I say no: For, look you, gentlemen, if he has been a traveller, he certainly says true, for he may lie by authority.
Mel. That the rabble may depose their prince, has in all times, and in all countries, been accounted lawful.
1 Cit. That's the first true syllable he has uttered: but as how, and whereby, and when, may they depose him?
Mel. Whenever they have more power to depose, than he has to oppose; and this they may do upon the least occasion.
1 Cit. Sirrah, you mince the matter; you should say, we may do it upon no occasion, for the less the better.
Mel. [Aside.] Here's a rogue now, will out-shoot the devil in his own bow.
2 Cit. Some occasion, in my mind, were not amiss: for, look you, gentlemen, if we have no occasion, then whereby we have no occasion to depose him; and therefore, either religion or liberty, I stick to those occasions; for when they are gone, good night to godliness and freedom.
Mel. When the most are of one side, as that's our case, we are always in the right; for they, that are in power, will ever be the judges: so that if we say white is black, poor white must lose the cause, and put on mourning; for white is but a single syllable, and we are a whole sentence. Therefore, go on boldly, and lay on resolutely for your Solemn League and Covenant; and if here be any squeamish conscience who fears to fight against the king,—though I, that have known you, citizens, these thousand years, suspect not any,—let such understand that his majesty's politic capacity is to be distinguished from his natural; and though you murder him in one, you may preserve him in the other; and so much for this time, because the enemy is at hand.
2 Cit. [Looking out.] Look you, gentlemen, 'tis Grillon, the fierce colonel; he that devours our wives, and ravishes our children.
1 Cit. He looks so grum, I don't care to have to do with him; would I were safe in my shop, behind the counter.
2 Cit. And would I were under my wife's petticoats. Look you, gentlemen.
Mel. You, neighbour, behind your counter, yesterday paid a bill of exchange in glass louis d'ors; and you, friend, that cry, look you, gentlemen, this very morning was under another woman's petticoats, and not your wife's.
2 Cit. How the devil does he know this?
Mel. Therefore, fight lustily for the cause of heaven, and to make even tallies for your sins; which, that you may do with a better conscience, I absolve you both, and all the rest of you: Now, go on merrily; for those, that escape, shall avoid killing; and those, who do not escape, I will provide for in another world. [Cry within, on the other side of the stage, Vive le Roi, vive le Roi!
Enter GRILLON, and his Party.
Gril. Come on, fellow soldiers, Commilitones; that's my word, as 'twas Julius Caesar's, of pagan memory. 'Fore God, I am no speech maker; but there are the rogues, and here's bilbo, that's a word and a blow; we must either cut their throats, or they cut ours, that's pure necessity, for your comfort: Now, if any man can be so unkind to his own body,—for I meddle not with your souls,—as to stand still like a good Christian, and offer his weasand to a butcher's whittle,—I say no more, but that he may be saved, and that's the best can come on him. [Cry on both sides, Vive le Roi, vive Guise! They fight.
Mel. Hey, for the duke of Guise, and property! Up with religion and the cause, and down with those arbitrary rogues there! Stand to't, you associated cuckolds. [Citizens go back.] O rogues! O cowards!—Damn these half-strained shopkeepers, got between gentlemen and city wives; how naturally they quake, and run away from their own fathers! twenty souls a penny were a dear bargain of them. [They all run off, MELANAX with them; the 1st and 2d Citizens taken.
Gril. Possess yourselves of the place, Maubert, and hang me up those two rogues, for an example.
1 Cit. O spare me, sweet colonel; I am but a young beginner, and new set up.
Gril. I'll be your customer, and set you up a little better, sirrah;—go, hang him at the next sign-post:—What have you to say for yourself, scoundrel? why were you a rebel?
2 Cit. Look you, colonel, 'twas out of no ill meaning to the government; all that I did, was pure obedience to my wife.
Gril. Nay, if thou hast a wife that wears the breeches, thou shalt be condemned to live: Get thee home for a hen-pecked traitor.—What, are we encompassed? Nay, then, faces this way; we'll sell our skins to the fairest chapmen.
Enter AUMALE and Soldiers, on the one side, Citizens on the other. GRILLON, and his Party, are disarmed.
1 Cit. Bear away that bloody-minded colonel, and hang him up at the next sign-post: Nay, when I am in power, I can make examples too.
Omn. Tear him piece-meal; tear him piece-meal. [Pull and haul him.
Gril. Rogues, villains, rebels, traitors, cuckolds! 'Swounds, what do you make of a man? do you think legs and arms are strung upon a wire, like a jointed baby? carry me off quickly, you were best, and hang me decently, according to my first sentence.
2 Cit. Look you, colonel; you are too bulky to be carried off all at once; a leg or an arm is one man's burden: give me a little finger for a sample of him, whereby I'll carry it for a token to my sovereign lady.
Gril. 'Tis too little, in all conscience, for her; take a bigger token, cuckold. Et tu, Brute, whom I saved? O the conscience of a shopkeeper!
2 Cit. Look you, colonel, for your saving of me, I thank you heartily, whereby that debt's paid; but for speaking treason against my anointed wife, that's a new reckoning between us.
Enter GUISE, with a General's Staff in his Hand; MAYENNE, Cardinal, Archbishop, MALICORN, and Attendants.
Omn. Vive Guise!
Gui. [Bowing, and bareheaded.] I thank you, countrymen: the hand of heaven In all our safeties has appeared this day. Stand on your guard, and double every watch, But stain your triumph with no Christian blood; French we are all, and brothers of a land.
Card. What mean you, brother, by this godly talk, Of sparing Christian blood? why, these are dogs; Now, by the sword that cut off Malchus' ear, Mere dogs, that neither can be saved nor damned.
Arch. Where have you learnt to spare inveterate foes?
Gui. You know the book.
Arch. And can expound it too: But Christian faith was in the nonage then, And Roman heathens lorded o'er the world. What madness were it for the weak and few, To fight against the many and the strong? Grillon must die, so must the tyrant's guards, Lest, gathering head again, they make more work.
Mal. My lord, the people must be fleshed in blood, To teach them the true relish; dip them with you, Or they'll perhaps repent.
Gui. You are fools; to kill them, were to shew I feared them; The court, disarmed, disheartened and besieged, Are all as much within my power, as if I griped them in my fist.
May. 'Tis rightly judged: And, let me add, who heads a popular cause, Must prosecute that cause by popular ways: So, whether you are merciful or no, You must affect to be.
Gui. Dismiss those prisoners.—Grillon, you are free; I do not ask your love, be still my foe.
Gril. I will be so: but let me tell you, Guise, As this was greatly done, 'twas proudly too: I'll give you back your life when next we meet; 'Till then I am your debtor.
Gui. That's till dooms-day. [GRILLON and his Party exeunt one way, Rabble the other. Haste, brother, draw out fifteen thousand men, Surround the Louvre, lest the prey should 'scape. I know the king will send to treat; We'll set the dice on him in high demands, No less than all his offices of trust; He shall be pared, and cantoned out, and clipped So long, he shall not pass.
Card. What! do we talk Of paring, clipping, and such tedious work, Like those that hang their noses o'er a potion, And qualm, and keck, and take it down by sips!
Arch. Best make advantage of this popular rage, Let in the o'erwhelming tide on Harry's head; In that promiscuous fury, who shall know, Among a thousand swords, who killed the king?
Mal. O my dear lord, upon this only day Depends the series of your following fate: Think your good genius has assumed my shape, In this prophetic doom.
Gui. Peace, croaking raven!— I'll seize him first, then make him a led monarch; I'll be declared lieutenant-general Amidst the three estates, that represent The glorious, full, majestic face of France, Which, in his own despite, the king shall call: So let him reign my tenant during life, His brother of Navarre shut out for ever, Branded with heresy, and barred from sway; That, when Valois consumed in ashes lies, The Phoenix race of Charlemain may rise. [Exeunt.
SCENE V.—The Louvre.
Enter King, Queen-Mother, Abbot, and GRILLON.
King. Dismissed with such contempt?
Gril. Yes, 'faith, we past like beaten Romans underneath the fork.
King. Give me my arms.
Gril. For what?
King. I'll lead you on.
Gril. You are a true lion, but my men are sheep; If you run first, I'll swear they'll follow you.
King. What, all turned cowards? not a man in France Dares set his foot by mine, and perish by me?
Gril. Troth, I can't find them much inclined to perishing.
King. What can be left in danger, but to dare? No matter for my arms, I'll go barefaced, And seize the first bold rebel that I meet.
Abb. There's something of divinity in kings, That sits between their eyes, and guards their life.
Gril. True, Abbot; but the mischief is, you churchmen Can see that something further than the crowd; These musket bullets have not read much logic, Nor are they given to make your nice distinctions: [One enters, and gives the Queen a Note, she reads— One of them possibly may hit the king In some one part of him that's not divine; And so that mortal part of his majesty would draw the divinity of it into another world, sweet Abbot.
Qu. M. 'Tis equal madness to go out or stay; The reverence due to kings is all transferred To haughty Guise; and when new gods are made, The old must quit the temple; you must fly.
King. Death! had I wings, yet would I scorn to fly.
Gril. Wings, or no wings, is not the question: If you won't fly for't, you must ride for't, And that comes much to one.
King. Forsake my regal town!
Qu. M. Forsake a bedlam; This note informs me fifteen thousand men Are marching to inclose the Louvre round.
Abb. The business then admits no more dispute, You, madam, must be pleased to find the Guise; Seem easy, fearful, yielding, what you will; But still prolong the treaty all you can, To gain the king more time for his escape.
Qu. M. I'll undertake it.—Nay, no thanks, my son. My blessing shall be given in your deliverance; That once performed, their web is all unravelled, And Guise is to begin his work again. [Exit Q.M.
King. I go this minute.
Nay, then another minute must be given.— O how I blush, that thou shouldst see thy king Do this low act, that lessens all his fame: Death, must a rebel force me from my love! If it must be—
Mar. It must not, cannot be.
Gril. No, nor shall not, wench, as long as my soul wears a body.
King. Secure in that, I'll trust thee;—shall I trust thee? For conquerors have charms, and women frailty:— Farewell thou mayst behold me king again; My soul's not yet deposed:—why then farewell!— I'll say't as comfortably as I can: But O cursed Guise, for pressing on my time, And cutting off ten thousand more adieus!
Mar. The moments that retard your flight are traitors. Make haste, my royal master, to be safe, And save me with you, for I'll share your fate.
King. Wilt thou go too? Then I am reconciled to heaven again: O welcome, thou good angel of my way, Thou pledge and omen of my safe return! Not Greece, nor hostile Juno could destroy The hero that abandoned burning Troy; He 'scaped the dangers of the dreadful night, When, loaded with his gods, he took his flight. [Exuent, the King leading her.
SCENE I.—The Castle of Blois.
Enter GRILLON, and ALPHONSO CORSO.
Gril. Welcome, colonel, welcome to Blois.
Alph. Since last we parted at the barricadoes, The world's turned upside down.
Gril. No, 'faith, 'tis better now, 'tis downside up: Our part o'the wheel is rising, though but slowly.
Alph. Who looked for an assembly of the States?
Gril. When the king was escaped from Paris, and got out of the toils, 'twas time for the Guise to take them down, and pitch others: that is, to treat for the calling of a parliament, where, being sure of the major part, he might get by law what he had missed by force.
Alph. But why should the king assemble the States, to satisfy the Guise, after so many affronts?
Gril. For the same reason, that a man in a duel says he has received satisfaction, when he is first wounded, and afterwards disarmed.
Alph. But why this parliament at Blois, and not at Paris?
Gril. Because no barricadoes have been made at Blois. This Blois is a very little town, and the king can draw it after him; but Paris is a damned unwieldy bulk; and when the preachers draw against the king, a parson in a pulpit is a devilish fore-horse. Besides, I found in that insurrection what dangerous beasts these townsmen are; I tell you, colonel, a man had better deal with ten of their wives, than with one zealous citizen: O your inspired cuckold is most implacable.
Alph. Is there any seeming kindness between the king and the duke of Guise?
Gril. Yes, most wonderful: they are as dear to one another as an old usurer, and a rich young heir upon a mortgage. The king is very loyal to the Guise, and the Guise is very gracious to the king: Then the cardinal of Guise, and the archbishop of Lyons, are the two pendants that are always hanging at the royal ear; they ease his majesty of all the spiritual business, and the Guise of all the temporal; so that the king is certainly the happiest prince in Christendom, without any care upon him; so yielding up every thing to his loyal subjects, that he's infallibly in the way of being the greatest and most glorious king in all the world.
Alph. Yet I have heard he made a sharp reflecting speech upon their party at the opening of the parliament, admonished men of their duties, pardoned what was past, but seemed to threaten vengeance if they persisted for the future.
Gril. Yes; and then they all took the sacrament together: he promising to unite himself to them, and they to obey him, according to the laws; yet the very next morning they went on, in pursuance of their old commonwealth designs, as violently as ever.
Alph. Now, I am dull enough to think they have broken their oath.
Gril. Ay, but you are but one private man, and they are the three States; and if they vote that they have not broken their oaths, who is to be judge?
Alph. There's one above.
Gril. I hope you mean in heaven; or else you are a bolder man than I am in parliament time; but here comes the master and my niece.
Alph. Heaven preserve him! if a man may pray for him without treason.
Gril. O yes, you may pray for him; the preachers of the Guise's side do that most formally; nay, you may be suffered civilly to drink his health; be of the court, and keep a place of profit under him: for, in short, 'tis a judged case of conscience, to make your best of the king, and to side against him.
Enter KING and MARMOUTIERE.
King. Grillon, be near me, There's something for my service to be done, Your orders will be sudden; now, withdraw.
Gril. [Aside.] Well, I dare trust my niece, even though she comes of my own family; but if she cuckolds my good opinion of her honesty, there's a whole sex fallen under a general rule, without one exception. [Exeunt GRIL. and ALPH.
Mar. You bid my uncle wait you.
Mar. This hour?
King. I think it was.
Mar. Something of moment hangs upon this hour.
King. Not more on this, than on the next, and next. My time is all ta'en up on usury; I never am beforehand with my hours, But every one has work before it comes.
Mar. "There's something for my service to be done;"— Those were your words.
King. And you desire their meaning?
Mar. I dare not ask, and yet, perhaps, may guess.
King. 'Tis searching there where heaven can only pry, Not man, who knows not man but by surmise; Nor devils, nor angels of a purer mould, Can trace the winding labyrinths of thought. I tell thee, Marmoutiere, I never speak, Not when alone, for fear some fiend should hear, And blab my secrets out.
Mar. You hate the Guise.
King. True, I did hate him.
Mar. And you hate him still.
King. I am reconciled.
Mar. Your spirit is too high, Great souls forgive not injuries, till time Has put their enemies into their power, That they may shew, forgiveness is their own; For else, 'tis fear to punish, that forgives; The coward, not the king.
King. He has submitted.
Mar. In show; for in effect he still insults.
King. Well, kings must bear sometimes.
Mar. They must, till they can shake their burden off; And that's, I think, your aim.
King. Mistaken still: All favours, all preferments, pass through them; I'm pliant, and they mould me as they please.
Mar. These are your arts, to make them more secure; Just so your brother used the admiral. Brothers may think, and act like brothers too.
King. What said you, ha! what mean you, Marmoutiere?
Mar. Nay, what mean you? that start betrayed you, sir.
King. This is no vigil of St Bartholomew, Nor is Blois Paris.
Mar. 'Tis an open town.
King. What then?
Mar. Where you are strongest.
King. Well, what then?
Mar. No more; but you have power, and are provoked.
King. O, thou hast set thy foot upon a snake! Get quickly off, or it will sting thee dead.
Mar. Can I unknow it?
King. No, but keep it secret.
Mar. Think, sir, your thoughts are still as much your own, As when you kept the key of your own breast; But since you let me in, I find it filled With death and horror: you would murder Guise.
King. Murder! what, murder! use a softer word, And call it sovereign justice.
Mar. Would I could! But justice bears the godlike shape of law, And law requires defence, and equal plea Betwixt the offender, and the righteous judge.
King. Yes, when the offender can be judged by laws: But when his greatness overturns the scales, Then kings are justice in the last appeal, And, forced by strong necessity, may strike; In which, indeed, they assert the public good, And, like sworn surgeons, lop the gangrened limb: Unpleasant, wholesome, work.
Mar. If this be needful.
King. Ha! didst not thou thyself, in fathoming The depth of my designs, drop there the plummet? Didst thou not say—Affronts so great, so public, I never could forgive?
Mar. I did; but yet—
King. What means, but yet? 'tis evidence so full, If the last trumpet sounded in my ears, Undaunted I should meet the saints half way, And in the face of heaven maintain the fact.
Mar. Maintain it then to heaven, but not to me. Do you love me?
King. Can you doubt it?
Mar. Yes, I can doubt it, if you can deny; Love begs once more this great offender's life. Can you forgive the man you justly hate, That hazards both your life and crown to spare him? One, whom you may suspect I more than pity,— For I would have you see, that what I ask, I know, is wondrous difficult to grant,— Can you be thus extravagantly good?
King. What then? for I begin to fear my firmness, And doubt the soft destruction of your tongue.
Mar. Then, in return, I swear to heaven and you, To give you all the preference of my soul; No rebel rival to disturb you there; Let him but live, that he may be my convert! [King walks awhile, then wipes his eyes, and speaks.
King. You've conquered; all that's past shall be forgiven. My lavish love has made a lavish grant; But know, this act of grace shall be my last. Let him repent, yes, let him well repent; Let him desist, and tempt revenge no further: For, by yon heaven, that's conscious of his crimes, I will no more by mercy be betrayed.
Deputies appearing at the Door.
The deputies are entering; you must leave me. Thus, tyrant business all my hours usurps, And makes me live for others.
Mar. Now heaven reward you with a prosperous reign, And grant, you never may be good in vain! [Exit.
Enter Deputies of the Three States: Cardinal of GUISE, and Archbishop of LYONS, at the head of them.
King. Well, my good lords, what matters of importance Employed the States this morning?
Arch. One high point Was warmly canvassed in the Commons House, And will be soon resolved.
King. What was't?
King. That's one high point indeed, but not to be So warmly canvassed, or so soon resolved.
Card. Things necessary must sometimes be sudden.
King. No sudden danger threatens you, my lord.
Arch. What may be sudden, must be counted so. We hope and wish your life; but yours and ours Are in the hand of heaven.
King. My lord, they are; Yet, in a natural way, I may live long, If heaven, and you my loyal subjects, please.
Arch. But since good princes, like your majesty, Take care of dangers merely possible, Which may concern their subjects, whose they are, And for whom kings are made—
King. Yes; we for them, And they for us; the benefits are mutual, And so the ties are too.
Card. To cut things short, The Commons will decree, to exclude Navarre From the succession of the realm of France.
King. Decree, my lord! What! one estate decree? Where then are the other two, and what am I? The government is cast up somewhat short, The clergy and nobility cashiered, Five hundred popular figures on a row, And I myself, that am, or should be, king, An o'ergrown cypher set before the sum: What reasons urge our sovereigns for the exclusion?
Arch. He stands suspected, sir, of heresy.
King. Has he been called to make his just defence?
Card. That needs not, for 'tis known.
King. To whom?
Card. The Commons.
King. What is't those gods, the Commons, do not know? But heresy, you churchmen teach us vulgar, Supposes obstinate, and stiff persisting In errors proved, long admonitions made, And all rejected: Has this course been used?
Arch. We grant it has not; but—
King. Nay, give me leave,— I urge, from your own grant, it has not been. If then, in process of a petty sum, Both parties having not been fully heard, No sentence can be given; Much less in the succession of a crown, Which, after my decease, by right inherent, Devolves upon my brother of Navarre.
Card. The right of souls is still to be preferred; Religion must not suffer for a claim.
King. If kings may be excluded, or deposed, Whene'er you cry religion to the crowd; That doctrine makes rebellion orthodox, And subjects must be traitors, to be saved.
Arch. Then heresy's entailed upon the throne.
King. You would entail confusion, wars, and slaughters: Those ills are certain; what you name, contingent. I know my brother's nature; 'tis sincere, Above deceit, no crookedness of thought; Says what he means, and what he says performs; Brave, but not rash; successful, but not proud; So much acknowledging, that he's uneasy, Till every petty service be o'erpaid.
Arch. Some say, revengeful.
King. Some then libel him; But that's what both of us have learned to bear. He can forgive, but you disdain forgiveness. Your chiefs are they no libel must profane; Honour's a sacred thing in all but kings; But when your rhymes assassinate our fame, You hug your nauseous, blundering ballad-wits, And pay them, as if nonsense were a merit, If it can mean but treason.
Arch. Sir, we have many arguments to urge—
King. And I have more to answer: Let them know, My royal brother of Navarre shall stand Secure by right, by merit, and my love. God, and good men, will never fail his cause, And all the bad shall be constrained by laws.
Arch. Since gentle means to exclude Navarre are vain, To-morrow, in the States, 'twill be proposed, To make the duke of Guise lieutenant-general; Which power, most graciously confirmed by you, Will stop this headlong torrent of succession, That bears religion, laws, and all before it. In hope you'll not oppose what must be done, We wish you, sir, a long and prosperous reign. [Exeunt all but the King.
King. To-morrow Guise is made lieutenant-general;— Why, then, to-morrow I no more am king. 'Tis time to push my slackened vengeance home, To be a king, or not to be at all. The vow that manacled my rage is loosed; Even heaven is wearied with repeated crimes, Till lightning flashes round, to guard the throne, And the curbed thunder grumbles to be gone.
Enter GRILLON to him.
Gril. 'Tis just the appointed hour you bid me wait.
King. So just, as if thou wert inspired to come; As if the guardian-angel of my throne, Who had o'erslept himself so many years, Just now was roused, and brought thee to my rescue.
Gril. I hear the Guise will be lieutenant-general.
King. And canst thou suffer it?
Gril. Nay, if you will suffer it, then well may I. If kings will be so civil to their subjects, to give up all things tamely, they first turn rebels to themselves, and that's a fair example for their friends. 'Slife, sir, 'tis a dangerous matter to be loyal on the wrong side, to serve my prince in spite of him; if you'll be a royalist yourself, there are millions of honest men will fight for you; but if you will not, there are few will hang for you.
King. No more: I am resolved. The course of things can be with-held no longer From breaking forth to their appointed end: My vengeance, ripened in the womb of time, Presses for birth, and longs to be disclosed. Grillon, the Guise is doomed to sudden death: The sword must end him:—has not thine an edge?
Gril. Yes, and a point too; I'll challenge him.
King. I bid thee kill him. [Walking.
Gril. So I mean to do.
King. Without thy hazard.
Gril. Now I understand you; I should murder him: I am your soldier, sir, but not your hangman.
King. Dost thou not hate him?
King. Hast thou not said, That he deserves it?
Gril. Yes; but how have I Deserved to do a murder?
King. 'Tis no murder; 'Tis sovereign justice, urged from self-defence.
Gril. 'Tis all confest, and yet I dare not do't.
King. Go; thou art a coward.
Gril. You are my king.
King. Thou say'st, thou dar'st not kill him.
Gril. Were I a coward, I had been a villain, And then I durst have done't.
King. Thou hast done worse, in thy long course of arms. Hast thou ne'er killed a man?
Gril. Yes, when a man would have killed me.
King. Hast thou not plundered from the helpless poor? Snatched from the sweating labourer his food?
Gril. Sir, I have eaten and drank in my own defence, when I was hungry and thirsty; I have plundered, when you have not paid me; I have been content with a farmer's daughter, when a better whore was not to be had. As for cutting off a traitor, I'll execute him lawfully in my own function, when I meet him in the field; but for your chamber-practice, that's not my talent.
King. Is my revenge unjust, or tyrannous? Heaven knows I love not blood.
Gril. No, for your mercy is your only vice. You may dispatch a rebel lawfully, but the mischief is, that rebel has given me my life at the barricadoes, and, till I have returned his bribe, I am not upon even terms with him.
King. Give me thy hand; I love thee not the worse: Make much of honour, 'tis a soldier's conscience. Thou shalt not do this act; thou art even too good; But keep my secret, for that's conscience too.
Gril. When I disclose it, think I am a coward.
King. No more of that, I know thou art not one. Call Lognac hither straight, and St Malin; Bid Larchant find some unsuspected means, To keep guards doubled at the council-door, That none pass in or out, but those I call: The rest I'll think on further; so farewell.
Gril. Heaven bless your majesty! Though I'll not kill him for you, I'll defend you when he's killed: For the honest part of the job let me alone. [Exeunt severally.
SCENE II.—SCENE opens, and discovers Men and Women at a Banquet, MALICORN standing by.
Mal. This is the solemn annual feast I keep, As this day twelve year, on this very hour, I signed the contract for my soul with hell. I bartered it for honours, wealth, and pleasure, Three things which mortal men do covet most; And 'faith, I over-sold it to the fiend: What, one-and-twenty years, nine yet to come! How can a soul be worth so much to devils? O how I hug myself, to out-wit these fools of hell! And yet a sudden damp, I know not why, Has seized my spirits, and, like a heavy weight, Hangs on their active springs. I want a song To rouse me; my blood freezes.—Music there.
A SONG BETWIXT A SHEPHERD AND SHEPHERDESS.
Tell me, Thyrsis, tell your anguish, Why you sigh, and why you languish; When the nymph whom you adore, Grants the blessing Of possessing, What can love and I do more?
Think it's love beyond all measure, Makes me faint away with pleasure; Strength of cordial may destroy. And the blessing Of possessing, Kills me with excess of joy.
Thyrsis, how can I believe you! But confess, and I'll forgive you; Men are false, and so are you, Never nature Framed a creature To enjoy, and yet be true.
Mine's a flame beyond expiring, Still possessing, still desiring, Fit for love's imperial crown; Ever shining, And refining, Still the more 'tis melted down.
Mine's a flame beyond expiring. Still possessing, still desiring, Fit for love's imperial crown; Ever shining, And refining, Still the more 'tis melted down.
After a Song and Dance, loud knocking at the Door,
Enter a Servant.
Mal. What noise is that?
Serv. An ill-looked surly man, With a hoarse voice, says he must speak with you.
Mal. Tell him I dedicate this day to pleasure. I neither have, nor will have, business with him. [Exit SERV. What, louder yet? what saucy slave is this? [Knock louder.
Serv. He says you have, and must have, business with him. Come out, or he'll come in, and spoil your mirth.
Mal. I will not.
Serv. Sir, I dare not tell him so; [Knocking again more fiercely. My hair stands up in bristles when I see him; The dogs run into corners; the spay'd bitch Bays at his back, and howls.
Mal. Bid him enter, and go off thyself. [Exit Serv.
SCENE closes upon the company.
Enter MELANAX, an hour-glass in his hand, almost empty.
How dar'st thou interrupt my softer hours? By heaven, I'll ram thee in some knotted oak, Where thou shalt sigh, and groan to whistling winds, Upon the lonely plain. Or I'll confine thee deep in the red sea, groveling on the sands, Ten thousand billows rolling o'er thy head.
Mel. Hoh, hoh, hoh!
Mal. Laughest thou, malicious fiend? I'll ope my book of bloody characters, Shall rumple up thy tender airy limbs, Like parchment in a flame.
Mel. Thou can'st not do it. Behold this hour-glass.
Mal. Well, and what of that?
Mel. Seest thou these ebbing sands? They run for thee, and when their race is run, Thy lungs, the bellows of thy mortal breath, Shall sink for ever down, and heave no more.
Mal. What, resty, fiend? Nine years thou hast to serve.
Mel. Not full nine minutes.
Mal. Thou liest; look on thy bond, and view the date.
Mel. Then, wilt thou stand to that without appeal?
Mal.. I will, so help me heaven!
Mel. So take thee hell. [Gives him the bond. There, fool; behold who lies, the devil, or thou?
Mal. Ha! one-and-twenty years are shrunk to twelve! Do my eyes dazzle?
Mel. No, they see too true: They dazzled once, I cast a mist before them, So what was figured twelve, to thy dull sight Appeared full twenty-one.
Mal. There's equity in heaven for this, a cheat.
Mel. Fool, thou hast quitted thy appeal to heaven, To stand to this.
Mal. Then I am lost for ever!
Mel. Thou art.
Mal. O why was I not warned before?
Mel. Yes, to repent; then thou hadst cheated me.
Mal. Add but a day, but half a day, an hour: For sixty minutes, I'll forgive nine years.
Mel. No, not a moment's thought beyond my time. Dispatch; 'tis much below me to attend For one poor single fare.
Mal. So pitiless? But yet I may command thee, and I will: I love the Guise, even with my latest breath, Beyond my soul, and my lost hopes of heaven: I charge thee, by my short-lived power, disclose What fate attends my master.
Mel. If he goes To council when he next is called, he dies.
Mal. Who waits?
Go, give my lord my last adieu; Say, I shall never see his eyes again; But if he goes, when next he's called, to council, Bid him believe my latest breath, he dies.— [Exit Serv. The sands run yet.—O do not shake the glass!— [Devil shakes the glass. I shall be thine too soon!—Could I repent!— Heaven's not confined to moments.—Mercy, mercy!
Mel. I see thy prayers dispersed into the winds, And heaven has past them by. I was an angel once of foremost rank, Stood next the shining throne, and winked but half; So almost gazed I glory in the face, That I could bear it, and stared farther in; 'Twas but a moment's pride, and yet I fell, For ever fell; but man, base earth-born man, Sins past a sum, and might be pardoned more: And yet 'tis just; for we were perfect light, And saw our crimes; man, in his body's mire, Half soul, half clod, sinks blindfold into sin, Betrayed by frauds without, and lusts within.
Mel. Then I have hope.
Mal. Not so; I preached on purpose To make thee lose this moment of thy prayer. Thy sand creeps low; despair, despair, despair!
Mal. Where am I now? upon the brink of life, The gulph before me, devils to push me on, And heaven behind me closing all its doors. A thousand years for every hour I've past, O could I 'scape so cheap! but ever, ever! Still to begin an endless round of woes, To be renewed for pains, and last for hell! Yet can pains last, when bodies cannot last? Can earthy substance endless flames endure? Or, when one body wears and flits away, Do souls thrust forth another crust of clay, To fence and guard their tender forms from fire? I feel my heart-strings rend!—I'm here,—I'm gone! Thus men, too careless of their future state, Dispute, know nothing, and believe too late. [A flash of lightning, they sink together.
SCENE III.—Enter Duke of GUISE; Cardinal, and AUMALE.
Card. A dreadful message from a dying man, A prophesy indeed! For souls, just quitting earth, peep into heaven, Make swift acquaintance with their kindred forms, And partners of immortal secrets grow.
Aum. 'Tis good to lean on the securer side: When life depends, the mighty stake is such, Fools fear too little, and they dare too much.
Gui. You have prevailed, I will not go to council. I have provoked my sovereign past a pardon, It but remains to doubt if he dare kill me: Then if he dares but to be just, I die. 'Tis too much odds against me; I'll depart, And finish greatness at some safer time.
Arch. By heaven, 'tis Harry's plot to fright you hence, That, coward-like, you might forsake your friends.
Gui. The devil foretold it dying Malicorn.
Arch. Yes, some court-devil, no doubt: If you depart, consider, good my lord, You are the master-spring that moves our fabric, Which once removed, our motion is no more. Without your presence, which buoys up our hearts, The League will sink beneath a royal name; The inevitable yoke prepared for kings Will soon be shaken off; things done, repealed; And things undone, past future means to do.
Card. I know not; I begin to taste his reasons.
Arch. Nay, were the danger certain of your stay, An act so mean would lose you all your friends, And leave you single to the tyrant's rage: Then better 'tis to hazard life alone, Than life, and friends, and reputation too.
Gui. Since more I am confirmed, I'll stand the shock. Where'er he dares to call, I dare to go. My friends are many, faithful, and united; He will not venture on so rash a deed: And now, I wonder I should fear that force, Which I have used to conquer and contemn.
Arch. Your tempter comes, perhaps, to turn the scale, And warn you not to go.
Gui. O fear her not, I will be there. [Exeunt Arch-Bishop and Cardinal. What can she mean?—repent? Or is it cast betwixt the king and her To sound me? come what will, it warms my heart With secret joy, which these my ominous statesmen Left dead within me;—ha! she turns away.
Mar. Do you not wonder at this visit, sir?
Gui. No, madam, I at last have gained the point Of mightiest minds, to wonder now at nothing.
Mar. Believe me, Guise, 'twere gallantly resolved, If you could carry it on the inside too. Why came that sigh uncalled? For love of me, Partly, perhaps; but more for thirst of glory, Which now again dilates itself in smiles, As if you scorned that I should know your purpose.
Gui. I change, 'tis true, because I love you still; Love you, O heaven, even in my own despite; I tell you all, even at that very moment, I know you straight betray me to the king.
Mar. O Guise, I never did; but, sir, I come To tell you, I must never see you more.
Gui. The king's at Blois, and you have reason for it; Therefore, what am I to expect from pity,— From yours, I mean,—when you behold me slain?
Mar. First answer me, and then I'll speak my heart. Have you, O Guise, since your last solemn oath, Stood firm to what you swore? Be plain, my lord, Or run it o'er a while, because again I tell you, I must never see you more.
Gui. Never!—She's set on by the king to sift me. Why, by that never then, all I have sworn Is true, as that the king designs to end me.
Mar. Keep your obedience,—by the saints, you live.
Gui. Then mark; 'tis judged by heads grown white in council, This very day he means to cut me off.
Mar. By heaven, then you're forsworn; you've broke your vows.
Gui. By you, the justice of the earth, I have not.
Mar. By you, dissembler of the world, you have. I know the king.
Gui. I do believe you, madam.
Mar. I have tried you both.
Gui. Not me, the king you mean.
Mar. Do these o'erboiling answers suit the Guise? But go to council, sir, there shew your truth; If you are innocent, you're safe; but O, If I should chance to see you stretched along, Your love, O Guise, and your ambition gone, That venerable aspect pale with death, I must conclude you merited your end.
Gui. You must, you will, and smile upon my murder.
Mar. Therefore, if you are conscious of a breach, Confess it to me. Lead me to the king; He has promised me to conquer his revenge, And place you next him; therefore, if you're right, Make me not fear it by asseverations, But speak your heart, and O resolve me truly!
Gui. Madam, I've thought, and trust you with my soul. You saw but now my parting with my brother, The prelate too of Lyons; it was debated Warmly against me, that I should go on.
Mar. Did I not tell you, sir?
Gui. True; but in spite Of those imperial arguments they urged, I was not to be worked from second thought: There we broke off; and mark me, if I live, You are the saint that makes a convert of me.
Mar. Go then:—O heaven! Why must I still suspect you? Why heaves my heart, and overflow my eyes? Yet if you live, O Guise,—there, there's the cause,— I never shall converse, nor see you more.
Gui. O say not so, for once again I'll see you. Were you this very night to lodge with angels, Yet say not never; for I hope by virtue To merit heaven, and wed you late in glory.
Mar. This night, my lord, I'm a recluse for ever.
Gui. Ha! stay till morning: tapers are too dim; Stay till the sun rises to salute you; Stay till I lead you to that dismal den Of virgins buried quick, and stay for ever.
Mar. Alas! your suit is vain, for I have vowed it: Nor was there any other way to clear The imputed stains of my suspected honour.
Gui. Hear me a word!—one sigh, one tear, at parting, And one last look; for, O my earthly saint, I see your face pale as the cherubins' At Adam's fall.
Mar. O heaven! I now confess, My heart bleeds for thee, Guise.
Gui. Why, madam, why?
Mar. Because by this disorder, And that sad fate that bodes upon your brow, I do believe you love me more than glory.
Gui. Without an oath I do; therefore have mercy, And think not death could make me tremble thus; Be pitiful to those infirmities Which thus unman me; stay till the council's over; If you are pleased to grant an hour or two To my last prayer, I'll thank you as my saint: If you refuse me, madam, I'll not murmur.
Mar. Alas, my Guise!—O heaven, what did I say? But take it, take it; if it be too kind, Honour may pardon it, since 'tis my last.
Gui. O let me crawl, vile as I am, and kiss Your sacred robe.—Is't possible! your hand! [She gives him her hand. O that it were my last expiring moment, For I shall never taste the like again.
Mar. Farewell, my proselyte! your better genius Watch your ambition.
Gui. I have none but you: Must I ne'er see you more?
Mar. I have sworn you must not: Which thought thus roots me here, melts my resolves, [Weeps. And makes me loiter when the angels call me.
Gui. O ye celestial dews! O paradise! O heaven! O joys, ne'er to be tasted more!
Mar. Nay, take a little more: cold Marmoutiere, The temperate, devoted Marmoutiere Is gone,—a last embrace I must bequeath you.
Gui. And O let me return it with another!
Mar. Farewell for ever; ah, Guise, though now we part, In the bright orbs, prepared us by our fates, Our souls shall meet,—farewell!—and Io's sing above, Where no ambition, nor state-crime, the happier spirits prove, But all are blest, and all enjoy an everlasting love. [Exit MARMOUTIERE.
Gui. Glory, where art thou? fame, revenge, ambition, Where are you fled? there's ice upon my nerves; My salt, my metal, and my spirits gone, Palled as a slave, that's bed-rid with an ague, I wish my flesh were off. [Blood falls from his nose. What now! thou bleed'st:— Three, and no more!—what then? and why, what then? But just three drops! and why not just three drops, As well as four or five, or five and twenty?
Enter a Page.
Page. My lord, your brother and the arch-bishop wait you.
Gui. I come;—down, devil!—ha! must I stumble too? Away, ye dreams! what if it thundered now, Or if a raven crossed me in my way? Or now it comes, because last night I dreamt The council-hall was hung with crimson round, And all the ceiling plaistered o'er with black. No more!—Blue fires, and ye dull rolling lakes, Fathomless caves, ye dungeons of old night, Phantoms, be gone! if I must die, I'll fall True politician, and defy you all. [Exit.
SCENE II.—The Court before the Council-hall.
GRILLON, LARCHANT, Soldiers placed, People crowding
Gril. Are your guards doubled, captain?
Larch. Sir, they are.
Gril. When the Guise comes, remember your petition.— Make way there for his eminence; give back.— Your eminence comes late.
Enter two Cardinals, Counsellors, the Cardinal of GUISE, Arch-bishop of Lyons, last the GUISE.
Gui. Well, colonel, are we friends?
Gril. 'Faith, I think not.
Gui. Give me your hand.
Gril. No, for that gives a heart.
Gui. Yet we shall clasp in heaven.
Gril. By heaven, we shall not, Unless it be with gripes.
Gui. True Grillon still.
Larch. My lord.
Gui. Ha! captain, you are well attended: If I mistake not, sir, your number's doubled.
Larch. All these have served against the heretics; And therefore beg your grace you would remember Their wounds and lost arrears.
Gui. It shall be done.— Again, my heart! there is a weight upon thee, But I will sigh it off.—Captain, farewell. [Exeunt Cardinal, GUISE, &c.
Gril. Shut the hall-door, and bar the castle-gates: March, march there closer yet, captain, to the door. [Exeunt.
SCENE III.—The Council-hall.
Gui. I do not like myself to-day.
Arch. A qualm! he dares not.
Card. That's one man's thought; he dares, and that's another's.
Gui. O Marmoutiere! ha, never see thee more? Peace, my tumultuous heart! why jolt my spirits In this unequal circling of my blood? I'll stand it while I may. O mighty nature! Why this alarm? why dost thou call me on To fight, yet rob my limbs of all their use? [Swoons.
Card. Ha! he's fallen, chafe him. He comes again.
Gui. I beg your pardons; vapours, no more.
Gril. The effect Of last night's lechery with some working whore.
Rev. My lord of Guise, the king would speak with you.
Gui. O cardinal, O Lyons!—but no more; Yes, one word more: thou hast a privilege [To the Cardinal. To speak with a recluse; O therefore tell her, If never thou behold'st me breathe again, Tell her I sighed it last.—O Marmoutiere! [Exit bowing.
Card. You will have all things your own way, my lord. By heaven, I have strange horror on my soul.
Arch. I say again, that Henry dares not do it.
Card. Beware, your grace, of minds that bear like him. I know he scorns to stoop to mean revenge; But when some mightier mischief shocks his toure, He shoots at once with thunder on his wings, And makes it air.—but hark, my lord, 'tis doing!
Guise within.] Murderers, villains!
Arch. I hear your brother's voice; run to the door.
CARD. and ARCH. run to the door.
Card. Help, help, the Guise is murdered!
Arch. Help, help!
Gril. Cease your vain cries, you are the king's prisoners;— Take them, Dugast, into your custody.
Card. We must obey, my lord, for heaven calls us. [Exeunt.
The SCENE draws, behind it a Traverse.
The GUISE is assaulted by eight. They stab him in all parts, but most in the head.
Gui. O villains! hell-hounds! hold. [Half draws his sword, is held. Murdered, O basely, and not draw my sword!— Dog, Lognac,—but my own blood choaks me. Down, villain, down!—I'm gone,—O Marmoutiere! [Flings himself upon him, dies.
The Traverse is drawn.
The King rises from his Chair, comes forward with his Cabinet-council.
King. Open the closet, and let in the council; Bid Dugast execute the cardinal; Seize all the factious leaders, as I ordered, And every one be answered, on your lives.
Enter Queen-Mother followed by the Counsellors.
O, madam, you are welcome; how goes your health?
Qu. M. A little mended, sir.—What have you done?
King. That which has made me king of France; for there The king of Paris at your feet lies dead.
Qu. M. You have cut out dangerous work, but make it up With speed and resolution.
King. Yes, I'll wear The fox no longer, but put on the lion; And since I could resolve to take the heads Of this great insurrection, you, the members, Look to it; beware, turn from your stubbornness, And learn to know me, for I will be king.
Gril. 'Sdeath, how the traitors lower, and quake, and droop, And gather to the wing of his protection, As if they were his friends, and fought his cause!
King. [Looking upon GUISE.] Be witness, heaven, I gave him treble warning! He's gone—no more.—Disperse, and think upon it. Beware my sword, which, if I once unsheath, By all the reverence due to thrones and crowns, Nought shall atone the vows of speedy justice, Till fate to ruin every traitor brings, That dares the vengeance of indulgent kings. [Exuent.
Footnotes: 1. The Council of Sixteen certainly offered to place twenty thousand disciplined citizens of Paris at the devotion of the Duke of Guise; and here the intended parallel came close: for Shaftesbury used to boast, that he could raise the like number of brisk boys in the city of London, by merely holding up his finger.
2. During the cabals of the Council of Sixteen, the Duke of Aumale approached Paris with five hundred veteran horse, levied in the disaffected province of Picardy. Jean Conti, one of the sheriffs (Echevins) of Paris, was tampered with to admit them by St Martin's gate; but as he refused, the leaguers stigmatised him as a heretic and favourer of Navarre. Another of these officers consented to open to Aumale the gate of St Denis, of which the keys were intrusted to him.
The conspirators had determined, as is here expressed, to seize the person of the king, when he should attend the procession of the Flagellants, as he was wont to do in time of Lent. But he was apprised of their purpose by Poltrot, one of their number, and used the pretext of indisposition to excuse his absence from the penitential procession. Davila, lib. viii.
3. In the year 1565, an interview took place at Bayonne between Catharine of Medicis, her son Charles IX., and the Queen of Spain, attended by the famous Duke of Alva, and the Count of Benevento. Many political discussions took place; and the opinion of Alva, as expressed in the text, is almost literally versified from Davila's account of the conference. "Il Duca D'Alva, uomo di veemente natura risolutamente diceva, che per distruggere la novita della fede, e le sollevazioni di stato, bisognava levare le teste de' papaveri, pescare i pesci grossi e non si curare di prendere le ranocchie: erano questi i concetti proferiti da lui; perche cessati i venti, l'onde della plebe facilmente si sarebbono da se stesse composte e acquietate: aggiugneva, che un prencipe non puo far cosa piu vituperosa ne piu dannosa a se stesso, quanto il permettere al popolo il vivere secondo la loro coscienza, ponendo tanta varieta di religioni in uno stato, quanto sono i capricci degli huomini e le fantasie delle persone inquiete, aprendo la porta alla discordia e alla confusione: e dimostrava con lunga commemorazione di segnalati esempj, che la diversita della fede aveva sempre messo l'arme in mano ai sudditi, e sempre sollevate atroci perfidie e funeste rebellioni contra i superiori: onde conchiudeva nel fine, che siccome le controversie della fede avevan sempre servito di pretesto e di argumento alle sollevazioni de' mal contenti, cosi era necessario rimovere a primo tratto questa coperta, e poi con severi rimedj, e senza riguardo di ferro, ne di fuoco, purgare le radici di quel male, il quale colla dolcezza e con la sofferenza perniciosamente germogliando si dilatava sempre, e si accresceva."—Delle Guerre Civili di Francia, lib. iii.
4. The popular arts of the Duke of Monmouth are here alluded to, which his fine person and courteous manners rendered so eminently, and for himself so unfortunately, successful. The lady, in whose mouth these remonstrances are placed, may be supposed to be the duchess, by whose prayers and tears he was more than once induced to suspend his career.
5. Francis II. of France, a prince of delicate health and mean talents, died of an imposthume in the head.
6. When Poltrot had discovered the intentions of the Council of Sixteen against the king's person, it was warmly debated in the council of Henry, whether the persons of the conspirators ought not to be seized at their next meeting. But, upon considering the numbers of the citizens, and their zeal for the League, together with the small number of the king's guards and adherents, this advice was rejected as too hazardous. It was upon this occasion that Catherine quoted the Tuscan proverb in the text,—"Bisogna copriersi bene il viso inanzi che struzzicare il vespaio;" Davila, lib. IX.
7. Margaret of Navarre, sister of Henry II., was suspected of an intrigue with the Duke of Guise.
8. Henry II., when Duke of Anjou, defeated the Huguenots, commanded by the famous Admiral Coligni, with very great loss, taking all his artillery and baggage, with two hundred standards and colours, 1569.
9. Alluding to a celebrated battle fought near Montargis, in 1587, when Guise, with very disproportioned forces, surprised and cut to pieces a large army of German auxiliaries, who had advanced into France to join the king of Navarre, afterwards Henry IV. Upon that occasion, the Duke of Guise kept his resolution to fight a profound secret till the very day of the attack, when, after having dined, and remained thoughtful and silent for a few minutes, he suddenly ordered the trumpets to sound to horse, and, to the astonishment of the Duke of Mayenne, and his other generals, who had never suspected his intention, instantly moved forward against the enemy.—Davila, lib. viii.