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You can imagine, without greater proofs,
To sever your eternal bonds and hearts ;
Much less to touch her with a bloody hand :
Nor is it manly, much less husbandly,
To expiate any frailty in your wife
With churlish strokes or beastly odds of strength-
The stony birth of clouds * will touch no laurel,
Nor any sleeper. Your wife is your laurel,
And sweetest sleeper; do not touch her then :
Be not more rude than the wild seed of vapour
To her that is more gentle than it rude.
EDWARD THE THIRD : AN HISTORICAL PLAY.
AUTHOR UNKNOWN, 1597.
The King, having relieved the Castle of the heroic Countris
of Salisbury, besieged by the Scots, and being entertained by her, loves her. Edward (solus). She is grown more fairer far since
I came hither : Her voice more silver every word than other, Her wit more fluent. What a strange discourse Unfolded she of David, and his Scots ! Even thus, quoth she, he spake, and then spake broad With epithets and accents of the Scot; But somewhat better than the Scot could speak: And thus, quoth she, and answer'd then herself; For who could speak like her ? but she herself Breathes from the wall an angel note from heaven Of sweet defiance to her barbarous foes.
When she would talk of peace, methinks her tongue
Commanded war to prison : when of war,
It waken'd Cæsar from his Roman grave,
To hear war beautified by her discourse.
Wisdom is foolishness, but in her tongue;
Beauty a slander, but in her fair face;
There is no summer, but in her cheerful looks:
Nor frosty winter, but in her disdain.
I cannot blame the Scots that did besiege her,
For she is all the treasure of our land :
But call them cowards, that they ran away;
Having so rich and fair a cause to stay.
The Countess repels the King's unlawful suit.
Countess. Sorry I am to see my liege so sad :
What may thy subject do to drive from thee
This gloomy consort, sullome Melancholy ?
King. Ah Lady! I am blunt, and cannot strew
The flowers of solace in a ground of shame.
Since I came hither Countess, I am wrong'd.
Coun. Now God forbid that any in my house Should think my sovereign wrong! thrice-gentle king Acquaint me with your cause of discontent.
King. How near then shall I be to remedy ?
Coun. As near, my liege, as all my woman's power, Can pawn itself to buy thy remedy.
King. If thou speak'st true, then have I my redress.
Engage thy power to redeem my joys,
And I am joyful, Countess ; else I die.
Coun. I will, my liege.
King. Swear, Countess, that thou wilt.
Coun. By heaven I will.
King. Then take thyself a little way aside,
And tell thyself, a king doth dote on thee.
Say that within thy power it doth lie
To make him happy, and that thou hast sworn
To give him all the joy within thy power.
Do this; and tell him, when I shall be happy.
Coun. All this is done, my thrice-dread sovereign.
power of love, that I have power to give, Thou hast, with all devout obedience. Employ me how thou wilt in proof thereof.
King. Thou hear'st me say that I do dote on thee.
Coun. If on my beauty, take it if thou canst ;
Though little, I do prize it ten times less :
If on my virtue, take it if thou canst;
For virtue's store by giving doth augment.
Be it on what it will, that I can give,
And thou canst take away, inherit it.
King. It is thy beauty that I would enjoy.
Coun. O were it painted, I would wipe it off,
And dispossess myself to give it thee;
But, sovereign, it is soulder'd to my life:
Take one, and both ; for, like an humble shadow,
It haunts the sunshine of my summer's life.
King. But thou may'st lend it me to sport withal.
Coun. As easy may my intellectual soul Be lent away, and yet my body live, As lend my body (palace to my soul) Away from her, and yet retain my soul. My body is her bower, her court, her abbey, And she an angel pure, divine, unspotted ; If I should lend her house, my lord, to thee, I kill my poor soul, and my poor soul me. King. Didst thou not swear to give me what I
would ? Coun. I did, my liege, so what you would, I could.
King. I wish no more of thee, than thou may'st give; Nor beg I do not, but I rather buy; That is thy love; and for that love of thine
In rich exchange, I tender to thee mine.
Coun. But that your lips were sacred, my Lord,
You would profane the holy name of love.
That love, you offer me, you cannot give;
For Cæsar owes that tribute to his Queen.
That love, you beg of me, I cannot give ;
For Sara owes that duty to her Lord.
He, that doth clip or counterfeit your stamp,
Shall die, my Lord : and shall your sacred self
Commit high treason 'gainst the King of Heaven,
To stamp his image in forbidden metal,
Forgetting your allegiance and your oath ?
In violating marriage sacred law,
You break a greater Honour than yourself.
To be a King, is of a younger house
Than To be married : your progenitor,
Sole-reigning Adam on the universe,
By God was honour'd for a married Man
But not by him anointed for a King.
It is a penalty to break your statutes,
Tho' not enacted with your Highness' hand;
How much more to infringe the holy act,
Made by the mouth of God, seal’d with his hand
I know my Sovereign, in my Husband's love,
Doth but to try the Wife of Salisbury,
Whether she will hear a wanton's tale or no:
Lest being guilty therein by my stay,
From that, not from my liege, I turn away.
King. Whether is her beauty by her words divine ? Or are her words sweet chaplains to her beauty ? Like as the wind doth beautify a sail, And as a sail becomes the unseen wind, So do her words her beauties, beauty words.
Coun. He hath sworn me by the name of God To break a vow made in the name of God. What if I swear by this right hand of mine To cut this right hand off? the better way Were to profane the idol, than confound it.
-O thou World, great nurse of Aattery,
Why dost thou tip men's tongues with golden words,
And poise their deeds with weight of heavy lead,
That fair performance cannot follow promise ?
O that a man might hold the heart's close book
And choke the lavish tongue, when it doth utter
The breath of falsehood, not character'd there !
Sin, worst in High Place.
An honourable grave is more esteemed,
Than the polluted closet of a king;
The greater man, the greater is the thing,
Be it good or bad, that he shall undertake.
An unreputed mote, flying in the sun,
Presents a greater substance than it is ;
The freshest summer's day doth soonest taint
The loathed carrion, that it seems to kiss ;
Deep are the blows made with a mighty axe;
That sin does ten times aggravate itself,
That is committed in a holy place;
An evil deed done by authority
Is sin, and subornation ; deck an ape
In tissue, and the beauty of the robe
Adds but the greater scorn unto the beast;
The poison shews worst in a golden cup ;
Dark night seems darker by the lightning flash;
Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.
And every Glory, that inclines to Sin,
The shame is treble by the opposite.