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THE UNNATURAL COMBAT: A TRAGEDY. BY PHILIP
Malefort senior, Admiral of Marseilles, poisons his first wife to
make way for a second. This coming to the knowledge of his son, Malefort junior; he challenges his father to fight him. This unnatural combat is performed before the Governor and Court of Marseilles. The spectators retiring to some distance, the father and son parley before the fight commences.
MALEFORT senior. MALEFORT junior.
Mal, sen. Now we are alone, sir;
And thou hast liberty to unload the burden
Which thou groan'st under. Speak thy griefs.
Mal. jun. I shall, sir;
But in a perplext form and method, which
You only can interpret : would you had not
A guilty knowledge in your bosom of
The language which you force me to deliver,
So I were nothing! As you are my father,
I bend my knee, and uncompell’d profess,
My life and all that's mine to be your gift,
And that in a son's duty I stand bound
To lay this head beneath your feet, and run
All desperate hazards for your ease and safety.
But, this confess’d on my part, I rise up;
And not as with a father (all respect,
Love, fear, and reverence, cast off) but as
A wicked man, I thus expostulate with you.
Why have you done that which I dare not speak ?
And in the action chang'd the humble shape
Of my obedience to rebellious rage
And insolent pride ? and with shut eyes constrain’d me
To run my bark of honour on a shelf,
I must not see, nor, if I saw it, shun it?
In my wrongs nature suffers, and looks backward ;
And mankind trembles to see me pursue
What beasts would fly from. For when I advance
This sword, as I must do, against your head,
Piety will weep, and filial duty mourn,
To see their altars, which you built up in me,
In a moment raz'd and ruin'd. That you could
(From my griev'd soul I wish it) but produce
To qualify, not excuse, your deed of horror,
One seeming reason : that I might fix here,
And move no further !
Mal. sen. Have I so far lost
A father's power, that I must give account
Of my actions to my son ? or must I plead
As a fearful prisoner at the bar, while he
That owes his being to me sits as judge
To censure that, which only by myself
Ought to be question d ? mountains sooner fall
Beneath their valleys, and the lofty pine
Pay homage to the bramble, or what else is
Preposterous in nature, ere my tongue
In one short syllable yields satisfaction
To any doubt of thine ; nay, though it were
A certainty, disdaining argument:
Since, though my deeds wore hell's black livery,
To thee they should appear triumphant robes,
Set off with glorious honour: thou being bound
To see with my eyes, and to hold that reason
That takes or birth or fashion from my will.
Mal. jun. This sword divides that slavish knot.
Mal. sen. It cannot, It cannot, wretch ; and thou but remember From whom thou hadst this spirit, thou dar’st not hope it, Who train'd thee up in arms, but I ? who taught thee VOL. II.
Men were men only when they durst look down
With scorn on death and danger, and contemn'd
All opposition, till plum'd victory
Had made her constant stand upon their helmets ?
Under my shield thou hast fought as securely
As the young eaglet, covered with the wings
Of her fierce dam, learns how and where to prey.
All that is manly in thee, I call mine :
But what is weak and womanish, thine own.
And what I gave (since thou art proud, ungrateful,
Presuming to contend with him, to whom
Submission is due) I will take from thee.
Look therefore for extremities, and expect not
I will correct thee as a son, but kill thee
As a serpent swoln with poison ; who surviving
A little longer, with infectious breath,
Would render all things near him, like itself,
Mal. jun. Thou incensed power,
Awhile forbear thy thunder: let me have
No aid in my revenge, if from the grave
Mal. sen. Thou shalt never name her more
(They fight, and the son is slain.)
Mal. sen. Die all my fears,
And waking jealousies, which have so long
Been my tormentors ; there's now no suspicion :
A fact, which I alone am conscious of,
Can never be discover'd, or the cause
That call'd this duel on; I being above
All perturbations; nor is it in
The power of fate again to make me wretched.
THE VIRGIN MARTYR: A TRAGEDY. BY PHILIP
MASSINGER AND THOMAS DECKER.
Angelo, an angel, attends Dorothea as a page.
Angelo. DOROTHEA. The time, midnight.
Dor. My book and taper.
Ang. Here, most holy mistress.
Dor. Thy voice sends forth such music, that I never
Was ravish'd with a more celestial sound.
Were every servant in the world like thee,
So full of goodness, angels would come down
To dwell with us: thy name is Angelo,
And like that name thou art. Get thee to rest;
Thy youth with too much watching is opprest.
Ang. No, my dear lady. I could weary stars,
And force the wakeful moon to lose her eyes,
By my late watching, but to wait on you.
When at your prayers you kneel before the altar,
Methinks I'm singing with some quire in heaven,
So blest I hold me in your company.
Therefore, my most lov'd mistress, do not bid
Your boy, so serviceable, to get hence;
For then you break his heart.
Dor. Be nigh me still, then.
In golden letters down I'll set that day,
thee to me.
Little did I hope
To meet such worlds of comfort in thyself,
This little, pretty body, when I coming
Forth of the temple, heard my beggar-boy,
My sweet-fac'd, godly beggar-boy, crave an alms,
Which with glad hand I gave, with lucky hand ;
And when I took thee home, my most chaste bosom
Methought was fill'd with no hot wanton fire,
But with a holy flame, mounting since higher,
On wings of cherubims, than it did before.
Ang. Proud am I that my lady's modest eye
So likes so poor a servant.
Dor. I have offer'd
Handfuls of gold but to behold thy parents.
I would leave kingdoms, were I queen of some,
To dwell with thy good father ; for, the son
Bewitching me so deeply with his presence,
He that begot him must do't ten times more.
I pray thee, my sweet boy, shew me thy parents ;
Be not ashamed.
Ang. I am not : I did never
Know who my mother was ; but, by yon palace,
Fill’d with bright heav'nly courtiers, I dare assure you,
eyes upon it, and this hand,
My father is in heav'n ; and, pretty mistress,
If your illustrious hour-glass spend his sand
No worse, than yet it doth, upon my life,
You and I both shall meet my father there,
And he shall bid you
welcome. Dor. A bless'd day!
[This scene has beauties of so very high an order that, with all my respect for Massinger, I do not think he had poetical enthusiasm capable of furnishing them. His associate Decker, who wrote Old Fortunatus, had poetry enough for any thing. The very impurities which obtrude themselves among the sweet pieties of this play (like Satan among the Sons of Heaven) and which the brief scope of my plan fortunately enables me to leave out, have a strength of contrast, a raciness, and a glow in them. which are above Massinger. They set off the religion of the rest, somehow as Caliban serves to shew Miranda.)