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BY THOMAS SACKVILLE, LORD BUCKHURST, AFTERWARDS EARL OF DORSET ; AND THOMAS NORTON. Whilst King GORBODUC in the presence of his councillors
laments the death of his eldest son, FERREX, whom PORREX, the younger son, has slain ; MARCELLA, a court lady, enters and relates the miserable end of PORREX, stabbed by his mother in his bed.
GORBODUC, AROSTUS, EUBULUS, and others. Gorb. What cruel destiny, What froward fate hath sorted us this chance ? That even in those where we should comfort find, Where our delight now in our aged days Should rest and be, even there our only grief And deepest sorrows to abridge our life, Most pining cares and deadly thoughts do grow. Arost. Your grace should now, in these grave
years of yours, Have found ere this the price of mortal joys, How short they be, how fading here on earth, 10 How full of change, how brittle our estate, Of nothing sure, save only of the death, To whom both man and all the world doth owe
Their end at last ; neither should nature's power
Gorb. Many can yield right grave and sage advice
Gorb. Madam (alas) what means your woful tale ?
Gorb. O Eubulus, oh draw this sword of ours,
* Nature; natural affection.
With wound receiv'd but not of certain death.
Gorb. O let us then repair unto the place, And see if Porrex live, or thus be slain. (E.cit.
Marc. Alas, he liveth not, it is too true, That with these eyes, of him a peerless prince, Son to a king, and in the flower of youth, Even with a twink* a senseless stock I saw.
Arost. O damned deed !
Marc. But hear his ruthful end. The noble prince, pierced with the sudden wound, 10 Out of his wretched slumber hastely start,+ Whose strength now failing, straight he overthrew, When in the fall his eyes ev'n now unclosed, Beheld the queen, and cried to her for help ; We then, alas, the ladies which that time Did there attend, seeing that heinous deed, And hearing him oft call the wretched name Of mother, and to cry to her for aid, Whose direful hand gave him the mortal wound, Pitying, alas, (for nought else could we do) 20 His rueful end, ran to the woful bed, Despoiled straight his breast, and all we might Wiped in vain with napkins next at hand The sudden streams of blood, that flushed fast Out of the gaping wound. O what a look, O what a ruthful steadfast eye methought He fixt upon my face, which to my death Will never part from me, when with a braid A deep fetch'd sigh he gave, and therewithal Clasping his hands, to heaven he cast his sight; 30 And straight, pale death pressing within his face, The flying ghost his mortal corpse forsook.
Arost. Ñever did age bring forth so vile a fact.
Marc. O hard and cruel hap that thus assign'd Unto so worthy wight so wretched end : But most hard cruel heart, that could consent To lend the hateful destinies that hand, By which, alas, so heinous crime was wrought. o queen of adamant, О marble breast, If not the favour of his comely face,
40 If not his princely cheer and countenance, His valiant active arms, his manly breast, * Twinkling of the eye.
If not his fair and seemly personage ;
Arost. Madam, alas, in vain these plaints are shed.
29 To call to mind the wretched father's woe. [Exeunt. Chorus of aged men. When greedy lust in royal
seat to reign
When blood thus shed doth stain the heaven's face,
With serpents girt, carrying the whip of ire,
Blood asketh blood, and death must death requit;
O happy wight that suffers not the snare
[The style of this old play is stiff and cumbersome, like the dresses of its times. There may be flesh and blood underneath, but we cannot get at it. Sir Philip Sydney has praised it for its morality. One of its authors might easily furnish that. Norton was an associate to Hopkins, Sternbold, and Robert Wisdom, in the Singing Psalms. I am willing to believe that Lord Buckhurst supplied the more vital parts. The chief beauty in the extract is of a secret nature. Marcella obscurely intimates that the murdered prince Porrex and she had been lovers.]
ACTED BEFORE THE COURT BY THE GENTLEMEN OP
THE INNER TEMPLE ; BY R. WILMOT AND OTHERS. A Messenger brings to GISMUND a cup from the King her
Father, enclosing the heart of her Lord, whom she had espoused without his sanction. Mess. Thy father, O queen, here in this cup hath
sent The thing to joy and comfort thee withal, 19 Which thou lovedst best : ev'n as thou wast content To comfort him with his best joy of all.