Act 1. Scene 1. The The ducal palace
Enter Jacques and Jacqueline
Jacques. How, married! Do they sprout oak-leaves around
Their pates, secure from thunder?
Jacqueline. My own ears heard the curate bless the bond.
Jacques. O, murderous! Unprecedented scenes
Of death must follow.
Jacqueline. What thoughts make you so pale?
Jacques. What else but marriage, love's most fatal word
In any lexicon?
Jacqueline. On the church porch at Denis they stole that
Most happy of unhappy hours.
Jacques. I fear for them, perhaps for us far more.
Jacqueline. How, beard a duke, to sleep in peace? It must
Not be, or ever will. Before his eyes
Will they retire and huddle, rise to fall
And rise again, as if a nobleman
Sleeps while his subjects threaten?
Jacques. Is there a difference between their sex?
Are they of flesh and blood? O, Jacqueline,
This very night the lovers jump to it.
Jacqueline. Yes, but the duke, good brother!
Jacques. But lust, fair sister!
Jacqueline. O, very fine! We'll suffer, should we not,
For all their pleasures? You will not, I pray,
Breathe one fragmented letter of this tale.
Jacques. Drowned lips are not more certain.
Jacqueline. The frailty of our sexes!
Jacques. It must come out, like pus; our nature's so.
Sementhe, my love's hope! Speak carelessly
Or not at all: should we be at it, girl?
Ha, gone already? Misery of love,
When those we cherish shun our happy face!
Jacqueline. Ha? Do you weep?
Jacques. She with whom I have often dreamt about,
Still blushing in the folds of rose-leaves, still
Each evening careless of the time, our forms
A resting place of drowsy butterflies,
The idle nest of woodland choristers,
She, ingrate, our most tender passions mock.
Jacqueline. Love's gashes always fester in her heart.
Jacques. That would-be duke! Pah!
Jacqueline. A weighty one, to press us all to death
Unless we watch and serve.
Jacques. He can kill me, no worse.
Jacqueline. Not yet, I pray.
Jacques. The embryo-duke in glories hiding mine,
Like cloths of gold on diamonds! Should he fold
My love, I will undress him: desert shrubs
Will seem far greener when this knife cleaves him.
They say that time is a physician: I
Will prove he is a gravedigger as well.
Jacqueline. I see ahead the duke arrives.
Jacques. Our place to better.
Exeunt Jacques and Jacqueline
Act 1. Scene 2. The The ducal palace
Enter Ziriff and Lenu
Ziriff. Well, is the son near?
Lenu. The duke awaits him.
Ziriff. Wayward boy! Why should I befriend Thomas, dreaming of his father's death, or any man?
Lenu. Do you not pocket silver pieces from him?
Ziriff. I do, but what of that? I hate no less.
No man is yet acquainted with his thoughts,
Or mine as yet.
Lenu. When devils pay their servants, they are worth
The price of hell.
Ziriff. I loathe his manners almost as much as
I do my own.
Lenu. When wars struck our state with open-mouthed cannons, you were proven to be a general of resource and power, mounting ranks against oppressors, lifting declining files, refreshing shooting-pieces, speaking thunder against thunder, clasping last of all the war's garland as a first apprenticeship.
Ziriff. A knave must be precocious.
Lenu. Next, like a knight of ancient gallantries,
You caught at tilting our duke's favor. Ha,
A wondrous boldness!
Ziriff. Court-parasites whisper my name as if I were vermin to be rid of from the all-sheltering bark and leaves.
Lenu. Yet how effiminately you play the court wanton, simpering for his grace's truncheon, lisping sweet examples into his enchanted ear, playing music in his bed-chamber, a nightingale in satin!
Ziriff. Incredible deformities, but well accepted by the duke!
Lenu. Lords complain that you possess the vices of both sexes: brutish, insolent, and braving on one side, plaguy tearful, wanton, and secretive on the other.
Ziriff. Behold me well: both man and woman, possessing in my large bosom deep-seated treacheries specific in either.
Lenu. I'll cry mum to that, lest my teeth be blasted.
Ziriff. Greatness, what fools you make of us!
Lenu. Or maybe fools, what greatness makes of me!
Ziriff. I, creeping shadow of a prince's dream,
What am I? Atom, or true puissance?
When first I fed on his large dishes, he,
The satin-jack, first flouted me and spurned.
O, harshness of tame manhood! It prevents
His murder. Dull and foolish-base would my
State be should present handsomeness become
No sport to royalty! In wintry nights
Have I, attending on the duke's and son's
High profligacies, caperings, and jests,
Crept into greatness' favor. Will I pine,
Drop off the ducal plant when most it needs
Some gentle watering? Three winter years,
Like busy chemists, have I blown dead coals
Till my lungs ache, and must my stinking-pot
Be the reward of effort? Never! Winds:
I will not be your thin companion, night:
I will neglect you as my minion. Force
Is my elixir, with this bowl I crown
You mine, so will this trifling buzzing court
Shrink at the very sounding of my name,
Dull prisoners of all my glassy whims.
I must possess her. Sleep, my sorrows, sleep,
No longer lie between these puffy lids.
Instead, awake in other men's eyes, you
Are not as yet my ghost.- The duke arrives,
And father held in chains! There let him rest.
Enter the duke, Aglaura, and Paul, Campastes bound in chains
Duke. I say he will not live.
Paul. Good brother, as I know you are, or else
So you may one day be, some pity here!
Duke. The man you see is dead, a traitor caught,
Nursed in our court to find revengeful fangs
Fixed at his heart. Let no one be so bold
As plead for him. Should we gloss errors, what
Would then become of France and justice? Ruth
Is murderous. It is a sin to spare
A man plucked by the elbow with his coat
Lined with state-papers. Out with him to death!
No love or pity in our government
To harm the innocent! See it well done.
Ziriff. My lord-
Duke. Although his son, lose no breath pleading here.
He dies, and quickly.
Aglaura. My lord-
Duke. No breath, Aglaura. He is now no man,
Or father, but the axeman's.
Ziriff. This wrings some tears from me.
Duke. Tears for him, too, Aglaura?
Aglaura. My graceful lord, not so. I love the state
Too well to pardon such a man of grief
And darkness from the justest doom of all.
Paul. Ha? From his daughter?
Campastes. Can any father, sparing for his child,
Behold her stainless faces with no tear?
Aglaura, have I ever stabbed to death
Your hidden lovers, made a mince-pie of
A friend long-loved, destroyed and cut your hopes
With blasting of your maiden fruit, that you
Should stamp aground the withering leaf to
His final place? My daughter- not so here-
My former daughter, do not mar my cheeks
With fire and dirt. Do not. Ah, ah, do not.
Duke. These tears will not wear out or warp your rope.
Campastes. Ah, no more words for me, your counsellor?
Duke. Pitch him away. Let him be carted, flogged,
And hanged, to our declining subjects worth
Instruction on a traitor's theater.
Aglaura. It must be done, my lords. Away with him!
Lenu. Come, this way to your rest.
Exeunt Paul, Ziriff, Lenu, and Campastes
Duke. So early and so curiously enrobed,
Nice lady? These fair patterns, cool-reserved,
So luscious, big with love, are snares for hearts
In love with beauty. To be trussed up so
Looks like a set design. Say, mistress, speak,
Is it a massacre in full resolved?
Is conquest of a duke grown tediously
Base to allurements? Is a titled crown
So little worth that you must casually
Destroy us all in whitest witchery?
Aglaura. If women did so little mischief, duke,
Large hell would not be stuffed with men, nor would
Remorseless critics rail our active sex
As often as they do.
(Sounds of whipping and cries within
Duke. Ha, what is that?
Aglaura. A father cringing underneath the lash.
Duke. A daughter dutiful, so far above
Your kind, all-loving to our ducal state!
Aglaura. In faults, I should confess.
Duke. Such gentle rapes your beauty works on love,
And with such pleasing violence force love still,
Before allured sense, that he, undone,
Pleased to be so, now hurries pantingly
To death's enshrouded house his weary self,
As if in haste to be quite overthrown.
Is such a winless loss your victory?
Must we die to obtain your promised bliss?
I will try that.- Our watchful queen and son!
Enter Orbella and Thomas
Orbella. A package for your grace!
Duke. So. What is it?
Thomas. A picture, I deduce.
Duke. Ha, beauteous, far beyond example's reach!
Aglaura. Ah, no!
Thomas. Ah, better: heaven's image!
Duke. Our tastes meet in one place. I should watch that.
Orbella. Is is so lovely? May I see at last?
Thomas. May I not keep the portal of my bliss?
Thomas. I will, nevertheless.
Duke. I see you must be tamed. (striking him
Thomas. Regret will suffer.
Orbella. What madness is this now?
Exit the duke
You are too beautiful today: such sights
Disorganize if not dismay weak man.
Aglaura. Most happy if not pleasing overmuch!
Exit Aglaura and re-enter Ziriff, kissing Orbella
Orbella. How glad I am to be of age to please!
Ziriff. No doubt you do, when beauty shines on you
With her most precious glass. A devil's hand
Could never mark so white an outside.
Orbella. Nor Persian ones.
Ziriff. I am a Persian when it pleases me
To be so, otherwise your lover and
Man's constant fear.
Orbella. You please me better than a husband, but
Some say you please my spouse in the same way.
Ziriff. More calumnies of court-tongues.
Orbella. Tonight, my Ziriff.
Ziriff. I will not fail. Ha! Ha!
Exit Orbella and enter Arnaud
Arnaud. The father being bound for stripes, do I
Hear laughter from the son?
Ziriff. Know, Arnaud, Persians do not weep unless
You tickle us.
Arnaud. Avaunt with merriment when statesmen bleed!
Exit Ziriff and enter Jacques
How odd a thing are crowds to such as I,
Though shining with some royalty, most base
And paltry! Nature meant I gape alone.
Had not that doting midwife in whose hands
My brother shrieked had hands too capable,
Tormenting me forever with his sight,
I would have been. Ah, death! To be born near,
But only near a crown!
Jacques. What grieves you here, my lord? What, fruitlessly
To sigh and groan atop a pyramid?
There is another way.
Arnaud. My brother is up, then his son comes next.
Jacques. You know his Thomas never loved you well.
Arnaud. Too well his Thomas never loved me well.
Jacques. Some say he loathes his uncle.
Arnaud. I loathe him, too.
Jacques. Hum, excellent! He lies so near the crown.
Arnaud. Too near.
Jacques. He has defied your brother.
Jacques. By marrying his mistress.
Jacques. Aglaura, watchful lord. Was that not bold?
Arnaud. O, very bold, and yet I'm glad of it.
Jacques. He is not yet a duke.
Arnaud. Not till the other dies. Does he not have
Dark thoughts, dark dreams, dark enemies of state?
Jacques. He does, I think, since who does not?
Arnaud. Bring all his enemies to me. Do it.
Jacques. My lord, I will.
Arnaud. What if I fail? Ha! Ha! I strike, they fall.
Success is promised. Not a surety?
Does the sun rise tomorrow?
Jacques. Should we be often folded thus, my lord,
The letters of our deeds would grow too big.
Arnaud. And this? The picture of the careless duke?
Jacques. The shape is quite familiar.
Jacques. Indeed, she for whom a duke starves.
Arnaud. Ha, one step higher! It is not, good friend,
With the ascending to a mighty crown
As it is with the equidistant marks
Of staircases, most evenly the same
Up to the gilded rooftop, for to crowns
Each sharp, rough-hewn degree is varied, hard,
Uneven, treacherous, and slippery.
The slightest hesitation murders. I
Will make a snare of love, Aglaura's hair
As pillow to my brother and his son,
To hide the pit beneath. Court entrances
And passage-ways, dim chambers I must rule,
To make men drop and die: so will I be,
Or else not be at all.
Exeunt Arnaud and Jacques
Act 1. Scene 3. Ziriff's house
Enter Aglaura and Jacqueline
Aglaura. Ah, tired, yet I cannot sleep. Ah, ah!
Yawns hurt my face. Is it not late as yet?
Jacqueline. Quite late.
Aglaura. I know it is, you need not have said so.
Ah, brazen face, it was the longest day.
Jacqueline. It is not every day a woman finds
Her father executed.
Aglaura. Ha! I remember now, yet let us not
Reflect on that tonight. Unless I err,
The night will be more memorable yet.
Jacqueline. Why, madam?
Aglaura. My love stalks forth.
Jacqueline. How? In a house of mourning?
Aglaura. A slave is tedious. Will a father's law,
As I have often said and you perceived,
Restrain a daughter's pleasure? Never, girl,
You need not be a slave to think so ill
Of me. Besides, he's dead, is that not so?
I have your word on that.
Jacqueline. Both dead and buried, madam.
Aglaura. So, no more on that theme.
Jacqueline. Should I prepare the bed?
Aglaura. I will prepare the bed myself. Hide, shade:
My sun approaches.
Jacqueline. I'm gone already.
Exit Jacqueline and enter Thomas
Thomas. Come, let us grapple, love. The sleeping night
Is simple, skipping off so hurriedly
With her thin blanket when the enemy,
The prying dawn, winks on her naked shame
To make the heavens blush.
Aglaura. We must not be seen, otherwise I weep.
Thomas. The stars will weep all night long, mightily
Bound to their canopies, because they
Cannot do what we do.
Aglaura. You warm me well.
Thomas. Like death I come, while grooms and courtly ants
Inside their chambers fart and snore.- A kiss!
Aglaura. Ah! Sudden pleasures overflow the brim.
How wisely do forbidding stars restrain
And season pleasures with a pinch of dread,
Which otherwise would mar our appetite
With too much sweetness! Dear love and my own!
Thomas. For such love what death-passages I may
Not pass? Here lie bright heaven's promises:
I do not care for others. Let the world
Into one compact point contract
All its known beauties- pah! compared to yours-
A form like newer white!- they shine like mud.
Here lie its riches, which I enter here,
To bore like worms into forbidden fruit.
Aglaura. You need not pierce, my love, when a wide breach
Already may be seen. Alas, alas,
On innocence a man will triumph still,
For you obtain each night no less than all.
Thomas. Undo, undo. Your starry bed is like
The center-point of bliss. Be the rewards
Of man's ambitious frettings in the world
Never so near, they cannot overarch
The radius of our loves, from whose sharp point
Our pleasures radiate.- What sounds are these?
Only a devil dares to interrupt
A lovers' scene.
Jacqueline. Your brother, madam!
Thomas. Ha, Ziriff! If I know him well, quite lost
Aglaura. Ah, love, we must part now.
Thomas. He has searched out our loves.
Aglaura. Be bold with him. What should a woman do
With brothers? Out with him!
Exeunt Aglaura and Jacqueline, enter Ziriff
Ziriff. Ha, friend, you start so, as if shaking hands
With someone in a horrid compact.
Thomas. What is your wish, half-man?
Ziriff. I can be angry. News I have for you.
Thomas. Lift up your veil.
Ziriff. The duke must have her.
Thomas. Aglaura? How?
Ziriff. I do not care how, but he must have her now.
Thomas. Death on your lips! I dreamt that she was mine.
On pale imagination's golden peak
Do weary varlets clamber till they freeze
Beside their pleasure. Then to plummet down
To the black base! Put me to sleep again,
Or let me die. May courteous hands snatch me
For what must come, for I espy below,
In contemplation's glass, not much of worth.
Ziriff. To sink in feathers of trim vanity?
Thomas. Enough! I cannot speak, my misery
To such a pitch that I am crushed in shades.
Here is my utmost reach of sail, the hulk
Against rocks splintering.
Ziriff. Yield me my sister.
Thomas. As willingly as virgins when sent off
To bridegrooms never asked for, so will she,
To nature's wayward fancy, not her own.
Ziriff. Both with such sweetly pleasant faces, too!
Thomas. In how much worse a state am I now than
If never I had of a woman known!
Teach me how to forget her in an hour,
Win me again to life. Do fathers raise
Us but to steal our women? Copulation
Done, let the green fruits drop as mush in their
Stink-pot. Can we not do at sixteen what
He does at fifty? I defy with grief
The buried tinder, old men lusting like
A sickly flamelet in December snow.
Ziriff. He'll have her, youth.
Thomas. I'll get her, sir.
Ziriff. I have not seen a man so crutchless slow
Since your obeying brother left the house
To marry gladly with his father's will.
Not done with puling yet?
Re-enter Aglaura and Jacqueline
Thomas. Take her.
Aglaura. How! To the duke?
Ziriff. Good sister, do not start on fortune's whim,
Since nicer women go the way you do,
And yet they thrive.
Aglaura. I'll follow. House affairs I must attend
Before I see my misery, to wring
One minute from my utmost proof of weal
Exeunt Thomas and Ziriff
Jacqueline. How, weeping still? Look to your face tonight.
This dream of love's a trifle.
Aglaura. You quite mistake me, slave: I weep for joy.
This paltry service to his dukedom will
Not hide my Thomas from my sensual light.
Although a duke's estate still keeps me warm,
With joyance I can live, defying all.
Exeunt Aglaura and Jacqueline