The Birth of Merlin, or, the Childe Hath Found His Father
ACT II SCENE II
Loud musick. Enter two with the sword and mace, Cador, Edwin, two Bishops, Aurelius, Ostorius, leading Artesia crown'd, Constancia, Modestia, Octa, Proximus a Magician, Donobert, Gloster, Oswold, Toclio; all pass over the stage. Manet Donobert, Gloster, Edwin, Cador.
Come, Gloster, I do not like this hasty marriage.
She was quickly wooed and won: not six days since
Arrived an enemy to sue for peace,
And now crown'd Queen of Brittain; this is strange.
Her brother too made as quick speed in coming,
Leaving his Saxons and his starved troops,
To take the advantage, whilst 'twas offer'd.
'Fore heaven I fear the king's too credulous;
Our Army is discharg'd too.
Yes, and our general commanded home.
Son Edwin, have you seen him since?
He's come to court, but will not view the presence,
Nor speak unto the king; he's so discontent
At this so strange aliance with the Saxon,
As nothing can perswade his patience.
You know his humor will indure no check,
No, if the king oppose it:
All crosses feeds both his spleen and his impatience;
Those affections are in him like powder,
Apt to inflame with every little spark,
And blow up all his reason.
Edol of Chester is a noble soldier.
So is he, by the Rood, ever most faithful
To the king and kingdom, how e're his passions guide him.
Enter Edol with Captains.
See where he comes, my lord.
Welcome to court, brave earl.
Do not deceive me by your flatteries:
Is not the Saxon here? the league confirm'd?
The marriage ratifi'd? the court divided
With pagan infidels, the least part Christians,
At least in their commands? Oh, the gods!
It is a thought that takes away my sleep,
And dulls my senses so I scarcely know you:
Prepare my horses, Ile away to Chester.
What shall we do with our companies, my lord?
Keep them at home to increase cuckolds,
And get some cases for your captainships;
Smooth up your brows, the wars has spoil'd your faces,
And few will now regard you.
Preserve your patience, sir.
Preserve your honors, lords, your countries safety,
Your lives and lands from strangers. What black devil
Could so bewitch the king, so to discharge
A royal army in the height of conquest,
Nay, even already made victorious,
To give such credit to an enemy,
A starved foe, a stragling fugitive,
Beaten beneath our feet, so low dejected,
So servile, and so base, as hope of life
Had won them all to leave the land for ever?
It was the kings will.
It was your want of wisdom,
that should have laid before his tender youth
The dangers of a state, where forain powers
Bandy for soveraignty with lawful kings;
Who being setled once, to assure themselves,
Will never fail to seek the blood and life
Of all competitors.
Your words sound well, my lord, and point at safety,
Both for the realm and us; but why did you,
Within whose power it lay, as general,
With full commission to dispose the war,
Lend ear to parly with the weakned foe?
Oh the good gods!
And on that parly came this embassie.
You will hear me?
Your letters did declare it to the king,
Both of the peace, and all conditions
Brought by this Saxon lady, whose fond love
Has thus bewitched him.
I will curse you all as black as hell,
Unless you hear me; your gross mistake would make
Wisdom her self run madding through the streets,
And quarrel with her shadow. Death!
Why kill'd ye not that woman?
DONOBERT. GLOSTER. Oh, my lord!
The great devil take me quick, had I been by,
And all the women of the world were barren,
She should have died, e're he had married her
On these conditions.
It is not reason that directs you thus.
Then have I none, for all I have directs me.
Never was man so palpably abus'd,
So basely marted, bought and sold to scorn.
My honor, fame, and hopeful victories,
The loss of time, expences, blood, and fortunes,
All vanisht into nothing.
This rage is vain, my lord:
What the king does nor they nor you can help.
My sword must fail me then.
'Gainst whom will you expose it?
What's that to you? 'gainst all the devils in hell,
To guard my country.
EDWIN. These are airy words.
Sir, you tread too hard upon my patience.
I speak the duty of a subjects faith,
And say agen, had you been here in presence,
What the king did, you had not dar'd to cross it.
EDOL. I will trample on his life and soul that says it.
CADOR. My lord!
EDWIN. Come, come.
EDOL. Now, before heaven--
CADOR. Dear sir!
Not dare? thou liest beneath thy lungs.
No more, son Edwin.
I have done, sir; I take my leave.
But thou shalt not, you shall take no leave of me, sir.
For wisdoms sake, my lord--
Sir, I'le leave him, and you, and all of you,
The court and king, and let my sword and friends
Shuffle for Edols safety: stay you here,
And hug the Saxons, till they cut your throats,
Or bring the land to servile slavery.
Such yokes of baseness Chester must not suffer.
Go, and repent betimes these foul misdeeds,
For in this league all our whole kingdom bleeds,
Which Ile prevent, or perish. (Exit Edol, Captains.
See how his rage transports him!
These passions set apart, a braver soldier
Breathes not i'th' world this day.
I wish his own worth do not court his ruine.
The king must rule, and we must learn to obay,
True vertue still directs the noble way.
On to Scene III
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