The Birth of Merlin, or, The Childe Hath Found His Father

You teach me language, sir, as one that knows
The debt of love I owe unto her vertues;
Wherein like a true courtier I have fed
My self with hope of fair success, and now
Attend your wisht consent to my long suit.

Believe me, youthful lord,
Time could not give an opportunity
More fitting your desires, always provided,
My daughters love be suited with my grant.

'Tis the condition, sir, her promise seal'd.

Ist so, Constantia?

I was content to give him words for oathes;
He swore so oft he lov'd me--

That thou believest him?

He is a man, I hope.

That's in the trial, girl.

However, I am a woman, sir.

The law's on thy side then: sha't have a husband,
I, and a worthy one. Take her, brave Cornwal,
And make our happiness great as our wishes.

Sir, I thank you.

Double the fortunes of the day, my lord,
And crown my wishes too: I have a son here,
Who in my absence would protest no less
Unto your other daughter.

Ha, Gloster, is it so? what says Lord Edwin?
Will she protest as much to thee?

Else must she want some of her sisters faith, sir.

Of her credulity much rather, sir:
My lord, you are a soldier, and methinks
The height of that profession should diminish
All heat of loves desires,
Being so late employ'd in blood and ruine.

The more my conscience tyes me to repair
The worlds losses in a new succession.

Necessity, it seems, ties your affections then,
And at that rate I would unwillingly
Be thrust upon you; a wife is a dish soon cloys, sir.

Weak and diseased appetites it may.

Most of your making have dull stomacks, sir.

If that be all, girl, thou shalt quicken him;
Be kinde to him, Modestia: Noble Edwin,
Let it suffice, what's mine in her speaks yours;
For her consent, let your fair suit go on,
She is a woman, sir, and will be won.

You give me comfort, sir.

Enter Toclio.

DONOBERT. Now, Toclio?

The king, my honor'd lords, requires your presence,
And calls a councel for return of answer
Unto the parling enemy, whose embassadors
Are on the way to court.

DONOBERT. So suddenly?
Chester, it seems, has ply'd them hard at war,
They sue so fast for peace, which by my advice
They ne're shall have, unless they leave the realm.
Come, noble Gloster, let's attend the king.
It lies, sir, in your son to do me pleasure,
And save the charges of a wedding dinner;
If you'l make haste to end your love affairs,
One cost may give discharge to both my cares.

Exit Donobert, Gloster.

I'le do my best.

Now, Toclio, what stirring news at court?

Oh, my lord, the court's all fill'd with rumor, the city with news, and the country with wonder, and all the bells i'th' kingdom must proclaim it, we have a new holy-day a coming.

A holy-day! for whom? for thee?

Me, madam! 'sfoot! I'de be loath that any man
Should make a holy-day for me yet:
In brief, 'tis thus: there's here arriv'd at court,
Sent by the Earl of Chester to the king,
A man of rare esteem for holyness,
A reverent hermit, that by miracle
Not onely saved our army,
But without aid of man o'rethrew
The pagan host, and with such wonder, sir,
As might confirm a kingdom to his faith.

This is strange news, indeed; where is he?

In conference with the king, that much respects him.

Trust me, I long to see him.

Faith, you will finde no great pleasure in him, for ought that I can see, lady. They say he is half a prophet too: would he could tell me any news of the lost prince; there's twenty talents offer'd to him that finds him.

Such news was breeding in the morning.

And now it has birth and life, sir. If fortune bless me, I'le once more search those woods where then we lost him; I know not yet what fate may follow me. (Exit).

Fortune go with you, sir. Come, fair mistriss,
Your sister and Lord Edwin are in game,
And all their wits at stake to win the set.

My sister has the hand yet; we had best leave them:
She will be out anon as well as I;
He wants but cunning to put in a dye.

Exit Cador, Constantia.

You are a cunning gamester, madam.

It is a desperate game, indeed, this marriage,
Where there's no winning without loss to either.

Why, what but your perfection, noble lady,
Can bar the worthiness of this my suit?
If so you please I count my happiness
From difficult obtaining, you shall see
My duty and observance.

There shall be place to neither, noble sir;
I do beseech you, let this mild reply
Give answer to your suit: for here I vow,
If e're I change my virgin name, by you
It gains or looses.

My wishes have their crown.

Let them confine you then,
As to my promise you give faith and credence.

In your command my willing absence speaks it. (Exit).

Noble and vertuous: could I dream of marriage,
I should affect thee, Edwin. Oh, my soul,
Here's something tells me that these best of creatures,
These models of the world, weak man and woman,
Should have their souls, their making, life, and being,
To some more excellent use: if what the sense
Calls pleasure were our ends, we might justly blame
Great natures wisdom, who rear'd a building
Of so much art and beauty to entertain
A guest so far incertain, so imperfect:
If onely speech distinguish us from beasts,
Who know no inequality of birth or place,
But still to fly from goodness: oh, how base
Were life at such a rate! No, no, that power
That gave to man his being, speech and wisdom,
Gave it for thankfulness. To him alone
That made me thus, may I whence truly know,
I'le pay to him, not man, the love I owe. (Exit).

On to Scene II
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