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He whose right hand carves his own epitaph,
He that upon his death-bed is a Swan,
And dead, no Crow; he is a Happy Man.
[Act i., Sc. 2.) The turn of this is the same with lago's definition of a Deserving Woman : “She that was ever fair and never proud,” etc. (“Othello,” Act ii., Sc. 1, line 149, etc.) The matter is superior.
SATIRO-MASTIX, OR THE UNTRUSSING
UNTRUSSING OF THE HUMOROUS POET (PUBLISHED 1602], BY THOMAS
DECKER 1 The King exacts an oath from Sir Walter Terill to send his
Bride Cælestina to Court on the marriage night. Her Father, to save her honour, gives her a poisonous mixture which she swallows.
Cæl. Why didst thou swear?
Ter. The King
Sat heavy on my resolution,
Till (out of breath) it panted out an oath.
Coel. An oath! why, what's an oath ? 'tis but the smoke
Of fame and blood; the blister of the spirit
Which riseth from the steam of rage, the bubble
That shoots up to the tongue and scalds the voice;
(For oaths are burning words.) Thou swor'st but one,
"Tis frozen long ago : if one be number'd,
What countrymen are they, where do they dwell,
That speak naught else but oaths ?
Ter. They're Men of Hell.
An oath! why 'tis the traffic of the soul,
'Tis law within a man; the seal of faith,
The bond of every conscience ; unto whom ;
We set our thoughts like hands : yea, such a one
I swore, and to the King: a King contains
A thousand thousand ; when I swore to him
I swore to them; the very hairs that guard,
His head will rise up like sharp witnesses
Against my faith and loyalty: his eye
Would straight condemn me: argue oaths no more
My oath is high, for to the King I swore.
?[This play is not divided. See Pearson's ed. of Decker's Works, 1873, vol. i. pp. 247-251.]
Cal. Must I betray my chastity, so long
Clean from the treason of rebelling lust ?
O husband, O my father, if poor I
Must not live chaste, then let me chastely die.
Fath. Aye, here's a charm shall keep thee chaste, come, come.
Old time hath left us but an hour to play
Our parts; begin the scene; who shall speak first ?
Oh I, I play the King, and Kings speak first :
Daughter, stand thou here, thou son Terill there :
We need no prologue, the King entering first
He's a most gracious Prologue: marry, then
For the catastrophe or Epilogue,
There's one in cloth of silver, which no doubt
Will please the hearers well when he steps out;
His mouth is filled with words: see where he stands :
He'll make them clap their eyes beside their hands.
But to my part: suppose who enters now,
A King whose eyes are set in silver ; one
That blusheth gold, speaks music, dancing walks,
Now gathers nearer, takes thee by the hand,
When straight thou thinkst the very orb of heaven
Moves round about thy fingers; then he speaks,
Thus-thus-I know not how.
Cal. Nor I to answer him.
Fath. No, girl ! know'st thou not how to answer him ?
Why, then the field is lost, and he rides home
Like a great conqueror: not answer him!
Out of thy part already! foild the scene !
Disrank'd the lines ! disarm'd the action!
Ter. Yes, yes, true chastity is tongued so weak 'Tis overcome ere it know how to speak.
Fath. Come, come, thou happy close of every wrong,
'Tis thou that canst dissolve the hardest doubt';
'Tis time for thee to speak, we all are out.
Daughter, and you the man whom I call son,
I must confess I made a deed of gift
To heaven and you, and gave my child to both;
When on my blessing I did charm her soul
In the white circle of true chastity
Still to run true till death: now, sir, if not,
She forfeits my rich blessing, and is fined
With an eternal curse ; then I tell
She shall die now, now whilst her soul is true.
Ter. Die !
Cal. Aye, I am death's echo.
Fath. O my son :
I am her father; every tear I shed
Is threescore ten years old ; I weep
Two kinds of tears : I weep that she must die,
I smile that she must die a virgin : thus
We joyful men mock tears, and tears mock us.
Ter. What speaks that cup?
Fath. White wine and poison.
That very name of poison poisons me.
Thou winter of a man, thou walking grave,
Whose life is like a dying taper : how
Canst thou define a Lover's labouring thoughts ?
What scent hast thou but death? what taste but earth?
The breath that purls from thee is like the steam
Of a new-opend vault: I know thy drift;
Because thou’rt travelling to the land of graves,
Thou covet'st company, and hither bring'st
A health of poison to pledge death: a poison
For this sweet spring; this element is mine,
This is the air I breathe ; corrupt it not :
This heaven is mine, I bought it with my soul
Of him that sells a heaven to buy a soul.
Fath. Well, let her go; she's thine, thou call'st her thine,
Thy element, the air thou breath'st; thou know'st
The air thou breath'st is common; make her so.
Perhaps thou'lt say none but the King shall wear
Thy night-gown, she that laps thee warm with love;
And that Kings are not common: then to show
By consequence he cannot make her so.
Indeed she may promote her shame and thine,
And with your shames speak a good word for mine.
The King shining so clear, and we so dim,
Our dark disgraces will be seen through him.
Imagine her the cup of thy moist life,
What man would pledge a King in his own Wife?
Ter. She dies : that sentence poisons her: O life!
What slave would pledge a King in his own Wife?
Cæl. Welcome, O poison, physic against lust,
Thou wholesome medicine to a constant blood;
Thou rare apothecary that canst keep
My chastity preserv'd within this box
Of tempting dust, this painted earthen pot
That stands upon the stall of the white soul,
To set the shop out like a flatterer,
To draw the customers of sin: come, come,
Thou art no poison, but a diet drink
To moderate my blood : White-innocent Wine,
Art thou made guilty of my death? O no,
For thou thyself art poison's : take me hence,
For Innocence shall murder Innocence.
Ter. Hold, hold, thou shalt not die, my bride, my wife,
O stop that speedy messenger of death;
O let him not run down that narrow path
Which leads unto thy heart, nor carry news
To thy removing soul that thou must die.
Cæl. 'Tis done already, the Spiritual Court
Is breaking up, all offices discharged,
My Soul removes from this weak Standing-house
Of frail mortality: Dear father, bless
Me now and ever: Dearer man, farewell ;
I jointly take my leave of thee and life;
Go tell the King thou hast a constant wife.
Fath. Smiles on my cheeks arise
To see how sweetly a true virgin dies.
The beauty and force of this scene are much diminished to the reader of the entire play, when he comes to find that this solemn preparation is but a sham contrivance of the father's, and the potion which Cælestina swallows nothing more than a sleeping draught; from the effects of which she is to awake in due time, to the surprise of her husband, and the great mirth and edification of the King and his courtiers. As Hamlet says, they do but "poison in jest" ("Hamlet,” Act iii., Sc. 2, line 244.)—The sentiments are worthy of a real 'martyrdom, and an Appian sacrifice in earnest.
WESTWARD HOE. A COMEDY (PUBLISHED 1607).
BY THOMAS DECKER AND JOHN WEBSTER
Pleasure, the general pursuit.
Sweet Pleasure !
Delicious Pleasure ! earth's supremest good,
The spring of blood, though it dry up our blood.
Rob me of that (though to be drunk with pleasure,
As rank excess ev'n in the best things is bad,
Turns man into a beast), yet, that being gone,
A horse, and this (the goodliest shape) all one.
1[For other extracts from this play see page 464,“ Serious Fragments" page 569, and Appendix page 588. For other extracts from Decker alone see pp. 590 and 595.]
We feed; wear rich attires; and strive to cleave
The stars with marble towers ; fight battles ; spend
Our blood, to buy us names; and in iron hold
Will we eat roots to imprison fugitive gold :
But to do thus what spell can us excite?
This ; the strong magic of our appetite :
To feast which richly, life itself undoes.
Who'd die thus ?
Why even those that starve in voluntary wants,
And, to advance the mind, keep the flesh poor,
The world enjoying them, they not the world ;
Would they do this, but that they are proud to suck
A sweetness from such sourness ?
[Act iv., Sc. 1.)
Charm with her excellent voice an awful silence
Through all this building, that her sphery soul
May (on the wings of air) in thousand forms
Invisibly fly, yet be enjoy’d.?
[Act iv., Sc. 1.]
THE HISTORY OF ANTONIO AND MELLIDA. THE
FIRST PART [PUBLISHED 1602]. BY JOHN MARS
TON (1575 ?-1634] Andrugio Duke of Genoa banished his country, with the loss of
a son supposed drowned, is cast upon the territory of his
mortal enemy the Duke of Venice ; with no attendants but
Lucio an old nobleman, and a page.
Andr. Is not yon gleam the shuddering Morn that flakes
With silver tincture the east verge of heaven?
Luc. I think it is, so please your Excellence.
Andr. Away, I have no Excellence to please.
Prithee observe the custom of the world ;
That only flatters greatness, states exalts.
And please my Excellence! O Lucio,
Thou hast been ever held respected, dear,
Even precious to Andrugio's inmost love:
Good, flatter not.3
?[Pearson's ed. of Decker, vol. ii. For Decker in partnership with Massinger see p. 357. For Decker in partnership with Ford and Rowley see p. 145. For Webster see p. 162.
?[This selection precedes the foregoing, ten lines intervening.) '[Line and a half and Sforza's letter omitted.]