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A VERY WOMAN; OR, THE PRINCE OF TARENT. A TRAGI-COMEDY, BY PHILIP MASSINGER.
Don John Antonio, Prince of Tarent, in the disguise of a
slave, recounts to the Lady Almira, she not knowing him in that disguise, the story of his own passion for her, and of the unworthy treatment which he found from her.
John. Not far from where my father lives, a lady, A neighbour by, blest with as great a beauty As Nature durst bestow without undoing, Dwelt, and most happily, as I thought then, And bless'd the house a thousand times she dwelt in. This beauty, in the blossom of my youth, When my first fire knew no adulterate incense, Nor I no way to flatter but my fondness, In all the bravery my friends could shew me, In all the faith my innocence could give me, In the best language my true tongue could tell me, And all the broken sighs my sick heart lend me, I sued, and serv'd: Long did I love this lady, Long was my travail, long my trade, to win her; With all the duty of my soul I serv'd her. Alm. How feelingly he speaks! And she loved you
too? It must be so.
John. I would it had, dear lady.
This story had been needless; and this place,
I think, unknown to me.
Alm. Were your bloods equal?
John. Yes; and, I thought, our hearts too.
Alm. Then she must love.
John. She did; but never me; she could not love me;
She would not love; she hated; more, she scorn'd me:
And in so poor and base a way abused me,
For all my services, for all my bounties,
So bold neglects flung on me
Alm. An ill woman!
Belike you found some rival in your love then ?
John. How perfectly she points me to my story!
Madam, I did ; and one whose pride and anger,
Ill manners, and worse mein, she doated on;
Doated, to my undoing and my ruin.
And, but for hononr to your sacred beauty,
And reverence to the noble sex, though she fall,
(As she must fall, that durst be so unnoble)
I should say something unbeseeming me,
What out of love, and worthy love, I gave her,
(Shame to her most unworthy mind) to fools,
To girls, and fidlers, to her boys she flung,
And in disdain of me.
Last, to blot me
From all remembr’ance, what I have been to her,
And how, how honestly, how nobly serv'd her,
Twas thought she set her gallant to dispatch me.
Tis true, he quarrell’d, without place, or reason;
We fought, I kill'd him; heaven's strong hand was with :
For which I lost my country, friends, acquaintance,
And put myself to sea, where a pirate took me,
And sold me here.
THE PARLIAMENT OF LOVE. A COMEDY. BY
Cleremond takes an oath to perform his mistress Leonora's plea
sure. She enjoins him to kill his best friend. He invites
Montrose to the field, under pretence of wanting him for,
a second : then shews, that he must fight with him.
Cler. This is the place.
Mont. An even piece of ground,
Without advantage; but be jocund, friend :
The honour to have enter'd first the field,
However we come off, is ours.
Cler. I need not,
So well I am acquainted with your valour,
To dare, in a good cause, as much as man,
Lend you encouragement; and should I add,
Your power to do, which Fortune, howe'er blind,
Hath ever seconded, I cannot doubt
But victory still sits upon your sword,
And must not now forsake you..
Mont. You shall see me
Come boldly up; nor will I shame your cause,
By parting with an inch of ground not bought
With blood on my part.
Cler. 'Tis not to be question'd:
That which I would entreat, (and pray you grant it,) ,
Is, that you would forget your usual softness,
Your foe being at your mercy; it hath been
A custom in you, which I dare not praise,
Having disarm’d your enemy of his sword,
To tempt your fate, by yielding it again;
Then run a second hazard.
Mont. When we encounter
A noble foe, we cannot be too noble.
Cler. That I confess ; but he that's now to oppose you,
I know for an arch villain ; one that hath lost
All feeling of humanity, one that hates
Goodness in others, 'cause he's ill himself;
A most ungrateful wretch, (the name's too gentle,
All attributes of wickedness cannot reach him),
Of whom to have deserved, beyond example,
Or precedent of friendship, is a wrong
Which only death can satisfy.
Mont. You describe
A monster to me.
Cler. True, Montrose, he is so.
Africk, though fertile of strange prodigies,
Never produced his equal; be wise, therefore,
And if he fall into your hands, dispatch him :
Pity to him is cruelty. The sad father,
That sees his son stung by a snake to death,
May, with more justice, stay his vengeful hand,
And let the worm escape, than you vouchsafe him
A minute to repent : for 'tis a slave
So sold to hell and mischief, that a traitor
To his most lawful prince, a church-robber,
A parricide, who, when his garners are
Cramm’d with the purest grain, suffers his parents,
Being old, and weak, to starve for want of bread,
Compared to him are innocent.
Mont. I ne'er heard ,
Of such a cursed nature; if long-lived,
He would infect mankind : rest you assured,
He finds from me small courtesy.
Cler. And expect
As little from him; blood is that he thirsts for,
Not honourable wounds.
Mont. I would I had him
Within my sword's length!
Cler. Have thy wish : Thou hast !
(Cleremond draws his sword.)
Nay draw thy sword, and suddenly; I am
That monster, temple-robber, parricide,
Ingrateful wretch, friend-hater, or what else
Makes up the perfect figure of the devil,
Should he appear like man. Banish amazement,
And call thy ablest spirits up to guard thee
From him that's turn'd a fury. I am made
Her minister, whose cruelty but named
Would with more horror strike the pale-cheek'd stars,
Than all those dreadful words which conjurors use
To fright their damn'd familiars. Look not on me
As I am Cleremond; I have parted with
The essence that was his, and entertain'd
The soul of some fierce tigress, or a wolf's
New-hang?d for human slaughter, and ’tis fit:
I could not else be an apt instrument
To bloody Leonora.
Mont. To my knowledge
I never wrong'd her.
Cler. Yes in being a friend To me, she hated my best friend, her malice Would look no lower :-and for being such, By her commands, Montrose, I am to kill thee. Oh, that thou hadst, like others, been all words, And no performance! or that thou hadst made Some little stop in thy career of kindness! Why wouldst thou, to confirm the name of friend, Snatch at this fatal office of a second, Which others fled from? 'Tis in vain to mourn
now, When there's no help; and therefore, good Montrose, Rouse thy most manly parts, and think thou stand'st
A champion for more than king or country;
Since in thy fall, goodness itself must suffer.
Remember too, the baseness of the wrong
Offer'd to friendship'; let it edge thy sword,
And kill compassion in thee: and forget not