Part 2 out of 7
_Seneca_. _O Rome_, the envy late
But now the pitie of the world! the _Getes_?
The men of _Cholcos_ at thy sufferings grive;
The shaggy dweller in the _Scithian_ Rockes,
The _Mosch_ condemned to perpetual snowes,
That never wept at kindreds burials
Suffers with thee and feeles his heart to soften.
O should the _Parthyan_ heare these miseries
He would (his low and native hate apart)
Sit downe with us and lend an Enemies teare
To grace the funerall fires of ending Rome.
_Soft Musique. Enter Nero above alone with a Timbrell_.
I, now my _Troy_ lookes beautious in her flames;
The _Tyrrhene_ Seas are bright with _Roman_ fires
Whilst the amazed Mariner afarre,
Gazing on th'unknowne light, wonders what starre
Heaven hath begot to ease the aged Moone.
When _Pirrhus_, stryding ore the cynders, stood
On ground where _Troy_ late was, and with his Eye
Measur'd the height of what he had throwne downe,--
A Citie great in people and in power,
Walls built with hands of God--he now forgive[s]
The ten yeares length and thinkes his wounds well heald,
Bath'd in the blood of _Priams_ fifty sonnes.
Yet am not I appeas'd; I must see more
Then Towers and Collomns tumble to the ground;
'Twas not the high built walls and guiltlesse stones
That _Nero_ did provoke: themselves must be the wood
To feed this fire or quench it with their blood.
_Enter a Woman with a burnt Child_.
_Wom_. O my deare Infant, O my Child, my Child,
Unhappy comfort of my nine moneths paines;
And did I beare thee only for the fire,
Was I to that end made a mother?
_Nero_. I, now begins the sceane that I would have.
_Enter a Man bearing another dead_.
_Man_. O Father, speake yet; no, the mercilesse blowe
Hath all bereft speech, motion, sense and life.
_Wom_. O beauteous innocence, whitenes ill blackt,
How to be made a coale didst thou deserve?
_Man_. O reverend wrinckles, well becoming palenesse,
Why hath death now lifes colours given thee
And mockes thee with the beauties of fresh youth?
_Wom_. Why wert thou given me to be tane away
So soone, or could not Heaven tell how to punish
But first by blessing mee?
_Man_. Why where thy years
Lengthened so long to be cut off untimely?
_Nero_. Play on, play on, and fill the golden skies
With cryes and pitie, with your blood; Mens Eyes--
_Wom_. Where are thy flattering smiles, thy pretty kisses,
And armes that wont to writhe about my necke?
_Man_. Where are thy counsels? where thy good example,
And that kind roughnes of a Father's anger?
_Wom_. Whom have I now to leane my old age on?
_Man_. Who shall I now have to set right my youth?
Gods, if yee be not fled from Heaven, helpe us.
_Nero_. I like this Musique well; they like not mine.
Now in the teare[s] of all men let me sing,
And make it doubtfull to the Gods above
Whether the Earth be pleas'd or doe complaine.
_Man_. But may the man that all this blood hath shed
Never bequeath to th'earth an old gray head;
Let him untimely be cut off before.
And leave a course like this, all wounds and gore;
Be there no friends at hand, no standers by
In love or pittie mov'd to close that Eye:
O let him die, the wish and hate of all,
And not a teare to grace his Funerall.
_Wom_. Heaven, you will heare (that which the world doth scorn)
The prayers of misery and soules forlorne.
Your anger waxeth by delaying stronger,
O now for mercy be despis'd no longer;
Let him that makes so many Mothers childlesse
Make his unhappy in her fruitfulnesse.
Let him no issue leave to beare his name
Or sonne to right a Fathers wronged fame;
Our flames to quit be righteous in your yre,
And when he dies let him want funerall fire.
_Nero_. Let Heaven do what it will, this I have done.
Already doe you feel my furies waight:
Rome is become a grave of her late greatnes;
Her clowdes of smoke have tane away the day,
Her flames the night.
Now, unbeleaving Eyes, what crave you more?
_Enter Neophilus to him_.
_Neoph_. O save your selfe, my Lord: your Pallace burnes.
_Nero_. My Pallace? how? what traiterous hand?
_Enter Tigellinus to them_.
_Tigell_. O flie, my Lord, and save your selfe betimes.
The winde doth beate the fire upon your house,
The eating flame devoures your double gates;
Your pillars fall, your golden roofes doe melt;
Your antique Tables and Greeke Imagery
The fire besets; and the smoake, you see,
Doth choake my speech: O flie and save your life.
_Nero_. Heaven thou dost strive, I see, for victory.
_Enter Nimphidius solus_.
See how Fate workes unto their purpos'd end
And without all selfe-Industry will raise
Whom they determine to make great and happy.
_Nero_ throwes down himselfe, I stirre him not;
He runnes unto destruction, studies wayes
To compasse danger and attaine the hate
Of all. Bee his owne wishis on his head,
Nor _Rome_ with fire more then revenges burne.
Let me stand still or lye or sleepe, I rise.
_Poppea_ some new favour will seeke out
My wakings to salute; I cannot stirre
But messages of new preferment meet me.
Now she hath made me Captaine of the Guard
So well I beare me in these night Alarmes
That she imagin'd I was made for Armes.
I now command the Souldier, he the Citie:
If any chance doe turne the Prince aside
(As many hatreds, mischiefes threaten him)
Ours is his wife; his seat and throwne is ours:
He's next in right that hath the strongest powers.
_Enter Scevinus, Milichus_.
_Scevin_. O _Troy_ and O yee soules of our forefathers
Which in your countreys fires were offered up,
How neere your Nephews to your fortunes come.
Yet they were _Grecian_ hands began your flame;
But that our Temples and our houses smoake,
Our Marble buildings turne to be our Tombes,
Burnt bones and spurnt at Courses fill the streets,
Not _Pirrhus_ nor thou, _Hanniball_, art Author:
Sad _Rome_ is ruin'd by a _Romane_ hand.
But if to _Neroes_ end this onely way
Heavens Justice hath chose out, and peoples love
Could not but by these feebling ills be mov'd,
We doe not then at all complaine; our harmes
On this condition please us; let us die
And cloy the _Parthian_ with revenge and pitie.
_Mili_. My Master hath seald up his Testament;
Those bond-men which he liketh best set free;
Given money, and more liberally then he us'd.
And now, as if a farewell to the world
Were meant, a sumpteous banquet hath he made;
Yet not with countenance that feasters use,
But cheeres his friends the whilest himselfe lookes sad.
_Scevin_. I have from Fortunes Temple tane this sword;
May it be fortunate and now at least,
Since it could not prevent, punish the Evill.
To _Rome_ it had bin better done before,
But though lesse helping now they'le praise it more.
Great Soveraigne of all mortall actions.
Whom only wretched men and Poets blame,
Speed thou the weapon which I have from thee.
'Twas not amid thy Temple Monuments
In vaine repos'd; somewhat I know't hath done:
O with new honours let it be laid up.
Strike bouldly, arme; so many powerful prayers
Of dead and living hover over thee.
_Mili_. And though sometimes with talk impertinent
And idle fances he would fame a mirth,
Yet is it easie seene somewhat is heere
The which he dares not let his face make shew of.
_Scevin_. Long want of use hath made it dull and blunt.--
See, _Milichus_, this weapon better edg'd.
_Mili_. Sharpning of swords? When must wee then have blowes?
Or meanes my Master, _Cato_-like, to exempt
Himselfe from power of Fates and, cloy'd with life,
Give the Gods backe their unregarded gift?
But he hath neither _Catoes_ mind nor cause;
A man given ore to pleasures and soft ease.
Which makes me still to doubt how in affaires
Of Princes he dares meddle or desires.
_Scevin_. We shall have blowes on both sides.--_Milichus_,
Provide me store of cloathes to bind up wounds.--
What an't be heart for heart; Death is the worst.
The Gods sure keepe it, hide from us that live.
How sweet death is because we should goe on
And be their bailes.--There are about the house
Some stones that will stanch blood; see them set up.--
This world I see hath no felicitie:
Ile trie the other.
_Mili_. _Neroes_ life is sought;
The sword's prepar'd against anothers breast,
The helpe for his. It can be no private foe,
For then 'twere best to make it knowne and call
His troupes of bond and freed men to his aide.
Besides his Counsellors, _Seneca_
And _Lucan_, are no Managers of quarrels.
_Scevin_. Me thinkes I see him struggling on the ground,
Heare his unmanly outcries and lost prayers
Made to the Gods which turne their heads away.
_Nero_, this day must end the worlds desires
And head-long send thee to unquenched fires. [_Exit_.
_Mili_. Why doe I further idly stand debating?
My proofes are but too many and too frequent,
And Princes Eares still to suspitions open.
Who ever, being but accus'd, was quit?
For States are wise and cut of ylls that may be.
Meane men must die that t'other may sleepe sound.
Chiefely that rule whose weaknes, apt to feares,
And bad deserts of all men makes them know
There's none but is in heart what hee's accused.
_Finis Actus Tertii_.
Enter Nero, Poppaea, Nimphidius, Tigellinus, Neophilus,
_Nero_. This kisse, sweete love Ile force from thee, and this;
And of such spoiles and victories be prowder
Than if I had the fierce _Pannonian_
Or gray-eyed _German_ ten times overcome.
Let _Iulius_ goe and fight at end oth' world
And conquer from the wilde inhabitants
Their cold and poverty, whilst _Nero_ here
Makes other warres, warres where the conquerd gaines,
Where to orecome is to be prisoner.
O willingly I give my freedome up
And put on my owne chaines,
And am in love with my captivitie.
Such _Venus_ is when on the sandy shore
Of _Xanthus_ or on _Idas_ pleasant greene
She leades the dance; her the Nymphes all a-rowe
And smyling graces do accompany.
If _Bacchus_ could his stragling Mynion
Grace with a glorious wreath of shining Starres,
Why should not Heaven my _Poppaea_ Crowne?
The Northerne teeme shall move into a round,
New constellations rise to honour thee;
The earth shall wooe thy favours and the Sea
Lay his rich shells and treasure at thy feete.
For thee _Hidaspis_ shall throw up his gold,
_Panchaia_ breath the rich delightful smells;
The _Seres_ and the feather'd man of _Inde_
Shall their fine arts and curious labours bring;
And where the Sunn's not knowne _Poppaeas_ name
Shall midst their feasts and barbarous pompe be sung.
_Poppea_. I, now I am worthy to be Queene oth' world,
Fairer then _Venus_ or the _Bacchus_ love;
But you'le anon unto your cutt-boy _Sporus_,
Your new made woman; to whom now, I heare,
You are wedded too.
_Nero_. I wedded?
_Poppaea_. I, you wedded.
Did you not heare the words oth' _Auspyces_?
Was not the boy in bride-like garments drest?
Marriage bookes seald as 'twere for yssue to
Be had betweene you? solemne feasts prepar'd,
While all the Court with _God-give-you-Ioy_ sounds?
It had bin good _Domitius_ your Father
Had nere had other wife.
_Nero_. Your froward, foole; y'are still so bitter.
_Enter Milichus to them_.
_Nimph_. One that it seemes, my Lord, doth come in hast.
_Nero_. Yet in his face he sends his tale before him.
Bad newes thou tellest?
_Mili_. 'Tis bad I tell, but good that I can tell it
Therefore your Maiestie will pardon me
If I offend your eares to save your life.
_Nero_. Why? is my life indangerd?
How ends the circumstance? thou wrackst my thoughts.
_Mili_. My Lord, your life is conspir'd against.
_Nero_. By whom?
_Mili_. I must be of the world excus'd in this,
If the great dutie to your Maiestie,
Makes me all other lesser to neglect.
_Nero_. Th'art a tedious fellow. Speake: by whom?
_Mili_. By my Master.
_Nero_. Who's thy Master?
_Poppea_. _Scevinus_? why should he conspire?--
Unlesse he thinke that likenesse in conditions
May make him, too, worthy oth' Empire thought.
_Nero_. Who are else in it?
[_Mili_]. I thinke _Natalis, Subrius, Flavus_,
_Lucan, Seneca, and Lucius Piso,
Asper_ and _Quintilianus_.
_Nero_. Ha done,
Thou'ilt reckon all Rome anone; and so thou maist,
Th'are villaines all, Ile not trust one of them.
O that the _Romanes_ had all but one necke!
_Poppea_. _Pisoes_ slie creeping into mens affections
And popular arts have given long cause of doubt;
And th'others late observed discontents,
Risen from misinterpreted disgraces,
May make us credit this relation.
_Nero_. Where are they? come they not upon us yet?
See the Guard doubled, see the Gates shut up.
Why, they'le surprise us in our Court anon.
_Mili_. Not so, my Lord; they are at _Pisoes_ house
And thinke themselves yet safe and undiscry'd.
_Nero_. Lets thither then,
And take them in this false security.
_Tigell_. 'Twere better first to publish them traytors.
_Nimph_. That were to make them so
And force them all upon their Enemies.
Now without stirre or hazard theyle be tane
And boldly triall dare and law demaund;
Besides, this accusation may be forg'd
By mallice or mistaking.
_Poppea_. What likes you doe, _Nimphidius_, out of hand:
Two waies distract when either would prevaile.
If they, suspecting but this fellowes absence,
Should try the Citie and attempt their friends
How dangerous might _Pisoes_ favour be?
_Nimph_. I to himselfe would make the matter cleare
Which now upon one servants credit stands.
The Cities favour keepes within the bonds
Of profit, they'le love none to hurt themselves;
Honour and friendship they heare others name,
Themselves doe neither feele nor know the same.
To put them yet (though needlesse) in some feare
Weele keepe their streets with armed companies;
Then, if they stirre, they see their wives and houses
Prepar'd a pray to th'greedy Souldier.
_Poppea_. Let us be quicke then, you to _Pisoes_ house,
While I and _Tigellinus_ further sift
This fellowes knowledge.
[_Ex. omnes praeter Nero_.
_Nero_. Looke to the gates and walles oth' Citie; looke
The river be well kept; have watches set
In every passage and in every way.--
But who shall watch these watches? What if they,
Begin and play the Traitors first? O where shall I
Seeke faith or them that I may wisely trust?
The Citie favours the conspirators;
The Senate in disgrace and feare hath liv'd;
The Camp--why? most are souldiers that he named;
Besides, he knowes not all, and like a foole
I interrupted him, else had he named
Those that stood by me. O securitie,
Which we so much seeke after, yet art still
To Courts a stranger and dost rather choose
The smoaky reedes and sedgy cottages
Then the proud roofes and wanton cost of kings.
O sweet dispised ioyes of poverty,
A happines unknowne unto the Gods!
Would I had rather in poore _Gabii_ bin
Or _Ulubrae_ a ragged Magistrate,
Sat as a Iudge of measures and of corne
Then the adored Monarke of the world.
Mother, thou didst deservedly in this,
That from a private and sure state didst raise
My fortunes to this slippery hill of greatnesse
Where I can neither stand nor fall with life.
_Enter Piso, Lucan, Scevinus, Flavius_.
_Flav_. But, since we are discover'd, what remaines
But put our lives upon our hands? these swords
Shall try us Traitors or true Citizens.
_Scevin_. And what should make this hazard doubt successe?
Stout men are oft with sudden onsets danted:
What shall this Stage-player be?
_Lucan_. It is not now
_Augustus_ gravitie nor _Tiberius_ craft,
But _Tigellinus_ and _Chrisogonus_,
Eunuckes and women that we goe against.
_Scevin_. This for thy owne sake, this for ours we begg,
That thou wilt suffer him to be orecome;
Why shouldst thou keepe so many vowed swords
From such a hated throate?
_Flav_. Or shall we feare
To trust unto the Gods so good a cause?
_Lucan_. By this we may ourselves Heavens favour promise
Because all noblenesse and worth on earth
We see's on our side. Here the _Fabys_ sonne,
Here the _Corvini_ are and take that part
There noble Fathers would, if now they liv'd.
There's not a soule that claimes Nobilitie,
Either by his or his forefathers merit,
But is with us; with us the gallant youth
Whom passed dangers or hote bloud makes bould;
Staid men suspect their wisdome or their faith
To whom our counsels we have not reveald;
And while (our party seeking to disgrace)
They traitors call us, each man treason praiseth
And hateth faith when _Piso_ is a traitor.
_Scevin_. And, at adventure, what by stoutnesse can
Befall us worse than will by cowardise?
If both the people and the souldier failde us
Yet shall we die at least worthy our selves,
Worthy our ancestors. O _Piso_ thinke,
Thinke on that day when in the _Parthian_ fields
Thou cryedst to th'flying Legions to turne
And looke Death in the face; he was not grim
But faire and lovely when he came in armes.
O why there di'd we not on _Syrian_ swords?
Were we reserv'd to prisons and to chaines?
Behold the Galley-asses in every street;
And even now they come to clap on yrons.
Must _Pisoes_ head be shewed upon a pole?
Those members torne, rather then _Roman_-like
And _Piso_-like with weapons in our hands
Fighting in throng of enemies to die?
And that it shall not be a civill warre
_Nero_ prevents, whose cruelty hath left
Few Citizens; we are not Romans now
But Moores, and Jewes, and utmost Spaniards,
And _Asiaes_ refuse that doe fill the Citie.
_Piso_. Part of us are already tak'n; the rest
Amaz'd and seeking holes. Our hidden ends
You see laid open; Court and Citie arm'd
And for feare ioyning to the part they feare.
Why should we move desperate and hopelesse armes
And vainely spill that noble bloud that should
Christall _Rubes_ and the _Median_ fields,
Not _Tiber_ colour? And the more your show be,
Your loves and readinesse to loose your lives,
The lother I am to adventure them.
Yet am I proud you would for me have dy'd;
But live, and keepe your selves to worthier ends.
No Mother but my owne shall weepe my death
Nor will I make, by overthrowing us,
Heaven guiltie of more faults yet; from the hopes
Your owne good wishes rather then the thing
Doe make you see, this comfort I receive
Of death unforst. O friends I would not die
When I can live no longer; 'tis my glory
That free and willing I give up this breath,
Leaving such courages as yours untri'd.
But to be long in talk of dying would
Shew a relenting and a doubtfull mind:
By this you shall my quiet thoughts intend;
I blame not Earth nor Heaven for my end.
_Lucan_. O that this noble courage had bin shewne
Rather on enemies breasts then on thy owne.
_Scevin_. But sacred and inviolate be thy will,
And let it lead and teach us.
This sword I could more willingly have thrust
Through _Neroes_ breast; that fortune deni'd me,
It now shall through _Scevinus_.
_Enter Tigellinus solus_.
What multitudes of villaines are here gotten
In a conspiracy, which _Hydra_ like
Still in the cutting off increaseth more.
The more we take the more are still appeach[t],
And every man brings in new company.
I wonder what we shall doe with them all!
The prisons cannot hold more then they have,
The Iayles are full, the holes with Gallants stincke;
Strawe and gold lace together live, I thinke.
'Twere best even shut the gates oth' Citie up
And make it all one Iayle; for this I am sure,
There's not an honest man within the walles.
And, though the guilty doth exceed the free,
Yet through a base and fatall cowardise
They all assist in taking one another
And by their owne hands are to prison led.
There's no condition nor degree of men
But here are met; men of the sword and gowne,
_Plebeians, Senators_, and women too;
Ladies that might have slaine him with their eye
Would use their hands; Philosophers
And Polititians. Polititians?
Their plot was laid too short. Poets would now
Not only write but be the arguments
Of Tragedies. The Emperour's much pleased:
But some have named _Seneca_; and I
Will have _Petronius_. One promise of pardon
Or feare of torture will accusers find.
_Enter Nimphidius, Lucan, Scevinus, with a guard_.
_Nimph_. Though _Pisoes_ suddennesse and guilty hand
Prevented hath the death he should have had,
Yet you abide it must.
_Lucan_. O may the earth lye lightly on his Course,
Sprinckle his ashes with your flowers and teares;
The love and dainties of mankind is gone.
_Scevin_. What onely now we can, we'le follow thee
That way thou lead'st and waite on thee in death;
Which we had done had not these hindred us.
_Nimph_. Nay, other ends your grievous crimes awaite,
Ends which the law and your deserts exact.
_Scevin_. What have we deserved?
_Nimph_. That punishment that traitors unto Princes,
And enemies to the State they live, in merit.
_Scevin_. If by the State this government you meane
I iustly am an enemy unto it.
That's but to _Nero_, you and _Tigellinus_.
That glorious world that even beguiles the wise,
Being lookt into, includes but three or foure
Corrupted men, which were they all remov'd
'Twould for the common State much better be.
_Nimph_. Why, what can you ith' government mislike,
Unlesse it grieve you that the world's in peace
Or that our arm[i]es conquer without blood?
Hath not his power with forraine visitations
And strangers honour more acknowlldg'd bin
Then any was afore him? Hath not hee
Dispos'd of frontier kingdomes with successe?
Given away Crownes, whom he set up availing?
The rivall seat of the _Arsacidae_,
That thought their brightnesse equall unto ours,
Is't crown'd by him, by him doth raigne?
If we have any warre it's beyond _Rhene_
And _Euphrates_, and such whose different chances
Have rather serv'd for pleasure and discourse
Then troubled us. At home the Citie hath
Increast in wealth, with building bin adorn'd,
The arts have flourisht and the Muses sung;
And that his Iustice and well tempered raigne
Have the best Iudges pleas'd, the powers divine,
Their blessings and so long prosperitie
Of th'Empire under him enough declare.
_Scevin_. You freed the State from warres abroad, but 'twas
To spoile at home more safely and divert
The _Parthian_ enmitie on us; and yet
The glory rather and the spoyles of warre
Have wanting bin, the losse and charge we have.
Your peace is full of cruelty and wrong;
Lawes taught to speake to present purposes;
Wealth and faire houses dangerous faults become;
Much blood ith' Citie and no common deaths,
But Gentlemen and Consulary houses.
On _Caesars_ owne house looke: hath that bin free?
Hath he not shed the blood he calls divine?
Hath not that neerenes which should love beget
Always on him bin cause of hate and feare?
Vertue and power suspected and kept downe?
They, whose great ancestors this Empire made,
Distrusted in the government thereof?
A happy state where _Decius_ is a traytor,
_Narcissus_ true! nor onley wast unsafe
T'offend the Prince; his freed men worse were feard,
Whose wrongs with such insulting pride were heard
That even the faultie it made innocent
If we complain'd that was it selfe a crime,
I, though it were to _Caesars_ benefit:
Our writings pry'd into, falce guiltines
Thinking each taxing pointed out it selfe;
Our private whisperings listned after; nay,
Our thoughts were forced out of us and punisht;
And had it bin in you to have taken away
Our understanding as you did our speech,
You would have made us thought this honest too.
_Nimph_. Can malice narrow eyes
See anything yet more it can traduce?
_Scevin_. His long continued taxes I forbeare,
In which he chiefely showed him to be Prince;
His robbing Alters, sale of Holy things,
The Antique Goblets of adored rust
And sacred gifts of kings and people sold.
Nor was the spoile more odious than the use
They were imployd on; spent on shame and lust,
Which still have bin so endless in their change
And made us know a divers servitude.
But that he hath bin suffered so long
And prospered, as you say; for that to thee,
O Heaven, I turne my selfe and cry, "No God
Hath care of us." Yet have we our revenge,
As much as Earth may be reveng'd on Heaven:
Their divine honour _Nero_ shall usurpe,
And prayers and feasts and adoration have
As well as _Iupiter_.
_Nimph_. Away, blaspheming tongue,
Be ever silent for thy bitternesse.
_Enter Nero, Poppaea, Tigellinus, Flavius, Neophilus,
Epaphroditus, and a yong man_.
_Nero_. What could cause thee,
Forgetfull of my benefits and thy oath,
To seeke my life?
_Flav_. _Nero_, I hated thee:
Nor was there any of thy souldiers
More faithful, while thou faith deserv'dst, then I.
Together did I leave to be a subject,
And thou a Prince. Caesar was now become
A Player on the Stage, a Waggoner,
A burner of our houses and of us,
A Paracide of Wife and Mother.
_Tigell_. Villaine, dost know where and of whom thou speakst?
_Nero_. Have you but one death for him? Let it bee
A feeling one; _Tigellinus_, bee't
Thy charge, and let me see thee witty in't.
_Tigell_. Come, sirrah;
Weele see how stoutly you'le stretch out your necke.
_Flav_. Wold thou durst strike as stoutly.
[_Exit Tigell. and Flav_.
_Nero_. And what's hee there?
_Epaphr_. One that in whispering oreheard
What pitie 'twas, my Lord, that _Pisoe_ died.
_Nero_. And why was't pitie, sirrah, _Pisoe_ died?
_Yong_. My Lord, 'twas pitie he deserv'd to die.
_Poppaea_. How much this youth my _Otho_ doth resemble; (_aside_.)
_Otho_ my first, my best love who is now
(Under pretext of governing) exyl'd
To _Lucitania_, honourably banish't.
_Nero_. Well, if you be so passionate,
Ile make you spend your pitie on your Prince
And good men, not on traytors.
_Yong_. The Gods forbid my Prince should pitie need.
Somewhat the sad remembrance did me stirre
Oth' fraile and weake condition of our kind,
Somewhat his greatnesse; then whom yesterday
The world but _Caesar_ could shew nothing higher.
Besides, some vertues and some worth he had,
That might excuse my pitie to an end
So cruell and unripe.
_Poppaea_. I know not how this stranger moves my mind. (_Aside_.)
His face me thinkes is not like other mens,
Nor do they speake thus. Oh, his words invade
My weakned senses and overcome my heart.
_Nero_. Your pitie shewes your favour and your will,
Which side you are inclinde too, had you power:
You can but pitie, else should _Caesar_ feare.
Your ill affection then shall punisht bee.
Take him to execution; he shall die
That the death pities of mine enemie.
_Yong_. This benefit at least
Sad death shall give, to free me from the power
Of such a government; and if I die
For pitying humane chance and _Pisoes_ end
There will be some too that will pitie mine.
_Poppaea_. O what a dauntlesse looke, what sparkling eyes, (_aside.)_
Threating in suffering! sure some noble blood
Is hid in ragges; feares argues a base spirit;
In him what courage and contempt of death!
And shall I suffer one I love to die?
He shall not die.--Hands of this man! Away!
_Nero_, thou shalt not kill this guiltlesse man.
_Nero_. He guiltlesse? Strumpet!
(_Spurns her, and Poppaea falls_.)
She is in love with the smooth face of the boy.
_Neoph_. Alas, my Lord, you have slaine her.
_Epaphr_. Helpe, she dies.
_Nero_. _Poppaea, Poppaea_, speake, I am not angry;
I did not meane to hurt thee; speake, sweet love.
_Neoph_. She's dead, my Lord.
_Nero_. Fetch her againe, she shall not die:
Ile ope the Iron gates of hell
And breake the imprison'd shaddowes of the deepe,
And force from death this farre too worthy pray.
She is not dead:
The crimson red that like the morning shone,
When from her windowes (all with Roses strewde)
She peepeth forth, forsakes not yet her cheekes;
Her breath, that like a hony-suckle smelt,
Twining about the prickled Eglintine,
Yet moves her lips; those quicke and piercing eyes,
That did in beautie challenge heaven's eyes,
Yet shine as they were wont. O no, they doe not;
See how they grow obscure. O see, they close
And cease to take or give light to the world.
What starres so ere you are assur'd to grace
The firmament (for, loe, the twinkling fires
Together throng and that cleare milky space,
Of stormes and _Phiades_ and thunder void,
Prepares your roome) do not with wry aspect
Looke on your _Nero_, who in blood shall mourne
Your lucklesse fate, and many a breathing soule
Send after you to waite upon their Queene.
This shall begin; the rest shall follow after,
And fill the streets with outcryes and with slaughter.
_Enter Seneca with two of his friends_.
_Seneca_. What meanes your mourning, this ungrateful sorrow?
Where are your precepts of _Philosophie_,
Where our prepared resolution
So many yeeres fore-studied against danger?
To whom is _Neroes_ cruelty unknowne,
Or what remained after mothers blood
But his instructors death? Leave, leave these teares;
Death from me nothing takes but what's a burthen,
A clog to that free sparke of Heavenly fire.
But that in _Seneca_ the which you lov'd,
Which you admir'd, doth and shall still remaine,
Secure of death, untouched of the grave.
1 _Friend_. Weele not belie our teares; we waile not thee,
It is our selves and our owne losse we grieve:
To thee what losse in such a change can bee?
Vertue is paid her due by death alone.
To our owne losses do we give these teares,
That loose thy love, thy boundlesse knowledge loose,
Loose the unpatternd sample of thy vertue,
Loose whatsoev'r may praise or sorrow move.
In all these losses yet of this we glory,
That 'tis thy happinesse that makes us sorry.
2 _Friend_. If there be any place for Ghosts of good men,
If (as we have bin long taught) great mens soules
Consume not with their bodies, thou shalt see
(Looking from out the dwellings of the ayre)
True duties to thy memorie perform'd;
Not in the outward pompe of funerall,
But in remembrance of thy deeds and words,
The oft recalling of thy many vertues.
The Tombe that shall th'eternall relickes keepe
Of _Seneca_ shall be his hearers hearts.
_Seneca_. Be not afraid, my soule; goe cheerefully
To thy owne Heaven, from whence it first let downe.
Thou loathly this imprisoning flesh putst on;
Now, lifted up, thou ravisht shalt behold
The truth of things at which we wonder here,
And foolishly doe wrangle on beneath;
And like a God shalt walk the spacious ayre,
And see what even to conceit's deni'd.
Great soule oth' world, that through the parts defus'd
Of this vast All, guid'st what thou dost informe;
You blessed mindes that from the _[S]pheares_ you move,
Looke on mens actions not with idle eyes,
And Gods we goe to, aid me in this strife
And combat of my flesh that, ending, I
May still shew _Seneca_ and my selfe die.
_Enter Antonius, Enanthe_.
_Anton_. Sure this message of the Princes,
So grievous and unlookt for, will appall
_Enan_. Will not death any man?
_Anton_. It will; but him so much the more
That, having liv'd to his pleasure, shall forgoe
So delicate a life. I doe not marvell
That _Seneca_ and such sowre fellowes can
Leave that they never tasted, but when we
That have the _Nectar_ of thy kisses felt,
That drinkes away the troubles of this life,
And but one banquet make[s] of forty yeeres,
Must come to leave this;--but, soft, here he is.
_Enter Petronius and a Centurion_.
_Petron_. Leave me a while, _Centurion_, to my friends;
Let me my farewell take, and thou shalt see
_Neroes_ commandement quickly obaid in mee. [_Ex. Centur_.
--Come, let us drinke and dash the posts with wine!
Here throw your flowers; fill me a swelling bowle
Such as _Mecenas_ or my _Lucan_ dranke
On _Virgills_ birth day.
_Enan_. What meanes, _Petronius_, this unseasonable
And causelesse mirth? Why, comes not from the Prince
This man to you a messenger of death?
_Petron_. Here, faire _Enanthe_, whose plumpe, ruddy cheeke
Exceeds the grape!--It makes this--here, my geyrle. (_He drinks_.)
--And thinkst thou death a matter of such harme?
Why, he must have this pretty dimpling chin,
And will pecke out those eyes that now so wound.
_Enan_. Why, is it not th'extreamest of all ills?
_Petron_. It is indeed the last and end of ills.
The Gods, before th'would let us tast deaths Ioyes,
Plact us ith' toyle and sorrowes of this world,
Because we should perceive th'amends and thanke them;
Death, the grim knave, but leades you to the doore
Where, entred once, all curious pleasures come
To meete and welcome you.
A troope of beauteous Ladies, from whose eyes
Love thousand arrows, thousand graces shootes,
Puts forth theire fair hands to you and invites
To their greene arbours and close shadowed walkes,
Whence banisht is the roughness of our yeeres!
Onely the west wind blowes, its ever Spring
And ever Sommer. There the laden bowes
Offer their tempting burdens to your hand,
Doubtful your eye or tast inviting more.
There every man his owne desires enioyes;
Fair _Lucrese_ lies by lusty _Tarquins_ side,
And woes him now againe to ravish her.
Nor us, though _Romane, Lais_ will refuse;
To _Corinth_ any man may goe; no maske,
No envious garment doth those beauties hide,
Which Nature made so moving to be spide.
But in bright Christall, which doth supply all,
And white transparent vailes they are attyr'd,
Through which the pure snow underneath doth shine;
(Can it be snowe from whence such flames arise?)
Mingled with that faire company shall we
On bankes of _Violets_ and of _Hiacinths_,
Of loves devising, sit and gently sport;
And all the while melodious Musique heare,
And Poets songs that Musique farre exceed,
The old _Anaiccan_ crown'd with smiling flowers,
And amorous _Sapho_ on her Lesbian Lute
Beauties sweet Scarres and Cupids godhead sing.
_Anton_. What? be not ravisht with thy fancies; doe not
Court nothing, nor make love unto our feares.
_Petron_. Is't nothing that I say?
_Anton_. But empty words.
_Petron_. Why, thou requir'st some instance of the eye.
Wilt thou goe with me, then, and see that world
Which either will returne thy old delights,
Or square thy appetite anew to theirs?
_Anton_. Nay, I had rather farre believe thee here;
Others ambition such discoveries seeke.
Faith, I am satisfied with the base delights
Of common men. A wench, a house I have,
And of my own a garden: Ile not change
For all your walkes and ladies and rare fruits.
_Petron_. Your pleasures must of force resign to these:
In vaine you shun the sword, in vaine the sea,
In vaine is _Nero_ fear'd or flattered.
Hether you must and leave your purchast houses,
Your new made garden and your black browd wife,
And of the trees thou hast so quaintly set,
Not one but the displeasant Cipresse shall
Goe with thee.
_Anton_. Faith 'tis true, we must at length;
But yet, _Petronius_, while we may awhile
We would enjoy them; those we have w'are sure of,
When that thou talke of's doubtful and to come.
_Petron_. Perhaps thou thinkst to live yet twenty yeeres,
Which may unlookt for be cut off, as mine;
If not, to endlesse time compar'd is nothing.
What you endure must ever, endure now;
Nor stay not to be last at table set.
Each best day of our life at first doth goe,
To them succeeds diseased age and woe;
Now die your pleasures, and the dayes you pray
Your rimes and loves and jests will take away.
Therefore, my sweet, yet thou wilt goe with mee,
And not live here to what thou wouldst not see.
_Enan_. Would y'have me then [to] kill my selfe, and die,
And goe I know not to what places there?
_Petron_. What places dost thou feare?
Th'ill-favoured lake they tell thee thou must passe,
And the blacke frogs that croake about the brim?
_Enan_. O, pardon, Sir, though death affrights a woman,
Whose pleasures though you timely here divine,
The paines we know and see.
_Petron_. The paine is lifes; death rids that paine away.
Come boldly, there's no danger in this foord;
Children passe through it. If it be a paine
You have this comfort that you past it are.
_Enan_. Yet all, as well as I, are loath to die.
_Petron_. Judge them by deed, you see them doe't apace.
_Enan_. I, but 'tis loathly and against their wils.
_Petron_. Yet know you not that any being dead
Repented them and would have liv'd againe.
They then there errors saw and foolish prayers,
But you are blinded in the love of life;
Death is but sweet to them that doe approach it.
To me, as one that tak'n with _Delphick_ rage,
When the divining God his breast doth fill,
He sees what others cannot standing by,
It seemes a beauteous and pleasant thing.--
Where is my deaths Phisitian?
_Phisi_. Here, my Lord.
_Petron_. Art ready?
_Phisi_. I, my Lord.
_Petron_. And I for thee:
Nero, my end shall mocke thy tyranny.
_Finis Actus Quarti_.
_Enter Nero, Nimphidius, Tigellinus, Neophilus,
Epaphroditus and other attendants_.
_Nero_. Enough is wept, _Poppaea_, for thy death,
Enough is bled: so many teares of others
Wailing their losses have wipt mine away.
Who in the common funerall of the world
Can mourne on[e] death?
_Tigell_. Besides, Your Maiestie this benefit
In their diserved punishment shall reape,
From all attempts hereafter to be freed.
Conspiracy is how for ever dasht,
Tumult supprest, rebellion out of heart;
In _Pisoes_ death danger it selfe did die.
_Nimph_. _Piso_ that thought to climbe by bowing downe,
By giving a way to thrive, and raising others
To become great himselfe, hath now by death
Given quiet to your thoughts and feare to theirs
That shall from treason their advancement plot;
Those dangerous heads that his ambition leand on;
And they by it crept up and from their meannesse
Thought in this stirre to rise aloft, are off.
Now peace and safetie waite upon your throne;
Securitie hath wall'd your seat about;
There is no place for feare left.
_Nero_. Why, I never feard them.
_Nimph_. That was your fault:
Your Maiestie might give us leave to blame
Your dangerous courage and that noble soule
To prodigall of it selfe.
_Nero_. A Princes mind knowes neither feare nor hope:
The beames of royall Maiestie are such
As all eyes are with it amaz'd and weakened,
But it with nothing. I at first contemn'd
Their weak devises and faint enterprise.
Why, thought they against him to have prevail'd
Whose childhood was from _Messalinas_ spight
By Dragons (that the earth gave up), preserv'd?
Such guard my cradle had, for fate had then
Pointed me out to be what now I am.
Should all the Legions and the provinces,
In one united, against me conspire
I could disperce them with one angry eye;
My brow's an host of men. Come, _Tigellinus_,
Let turne this bloody banquet _Piso_ meant us
Into a merry feast; weele drink and challenge
Fortune.--Whose that _Neophilus_?
_Enter a Roman_.
_Neoph_. A Currier from beyond the Alpes, my Lord.
_Nero_. Newes of some German victory, belike,
Or Britton overthrow.
_Neoph_. The letters come from France.
_Nimph_. Why smiles your Maiestie?
_Nero_. So, I smile? I should be afraid; there's one
In Armes, _Nimphidius_.
_Nimph_. What, arm'd against your Maiestie?
_Nero_. Our lieutenant of the Province, _Julius Vindex_.
_Tigell_. Who? that guiddy French-man?
_Nimph_. His Province is disarm'd, my Lord; he hath
No legion nor a souldier under him.
_Epaphr_. One that by blood and rapine would repaire
His state consum'd in vanities and lust.
_Enter another Roman_.
_Tigell_. He would not find out three to follow him.
_A Mess_. More newes, my Lord.
_Nero_. Is it of _Vindex_ that thou hast to say?
_Mess_. _Vindex_ is up and with him France in Armes;
The Noblemen and people throng to th'cause;
Money and Armour Cities doe conferre;
The countrey doth send in provision;
Young men bring bodies, old men lead them forth;
Ladies doe coine their Iewels into pay;
The sickle now is fram'd into a sword
And drawing horses are to manage taught;
France nothing doth but warre and fury breath.
_Nero_. All this fierce talk's but "Vindex doth rebell";
And I will hang him.
_Tigell_. How long came you forth after the other messenger?
_Mess_. Foure dayes, but by the benefit of sea and
Weather am arrivd with him.
_Nimph_. How strong was _Vindex_ at your setting forth?
_Mess_. He was esteem'd a hundred thousand.
_Tigell_. Men enough.
_Nimph_. And souldiers few enough;
Tumultuary troops, undisciplin'd,
Untrain'd in service; to wast victuals good,
But when they come to look on warres black wounds,
And but afarre off see the face of death--
_Nero_. It falles out for my empty coffers well,
The spoyle of such a large and goodly Province
Enricht with trade and long enioyed peace.
_Tigell_. What order will your Maiestie have taken
For levying forces to suppresse this stirre?
_Nero_. What order should we take? weele laugh and drinke.
Thinkst thou it fit my pleasures be disturb'd
When any French-man list to breake his necke!
They have not heard of _Pisoes_ fortune yet;
Let that Tale fight with them.
_Nimph_. What order needs? Your Maiestie shal finde
This French heat quickly of it selfe grow cold.
_Nero_. Come away:
Nothing shall come that this nights sport shall stay.
[_Ex. Ner. Nimph. Tig. and attendants_.
_Mane[n]t Neophilus, Epaphroditus_.
_Neoph_. I wonder what makes him so confident
In this revolt now growne unto a warre,
And ensignes in the field; when in the other,
Being but a plot of a conspiracie,
He shew'd himselfe so wretchedly dismaid?
_Epaphr_. Faith, the right nature of a coward to set light
Dangers that seeme farre off. _Piso_ was here,
Ready to enter at the Presence doore
And dragge him out of his abused chaire;
And then he trembled. _Vindex_ is in France,
And many woods and seas and hills betweene.
_Neoph_. 'Twas strange that _Piso_ was so soone supprest.
_Epaphr_. Strange? strange indeed; for had he but come up
And taken the Court in that affright and stirre
While unresolv'd for whom or what to doe,
Each on [of?] the other had in iealousie
(While as apaled Maiestie not yet
Had time to set the countenance), he would
Have hazarded the royall seat.
_Neoph_. Nay, had it without hazard; all the Court
Had for him bin and those disclos'd their love
And favour in the cause, which now to hide
And colour their good meanings ready were
To shew their forwardnesse against it most.
_Epaphr_. But for a stranger with a naked province,
Without allies or friends ith' state, to challenge
A Prince upheld with thirty Legions,
Rooted in foure discents of Ancestors
And foureteene yeares continuance of raigne,
Why it is--
_Enter Nero, Nimphidius, Tigellinus to them_.
_Nero_. Galba and Spaine? What? Spaine and Gal[b]a too?
[_Ex. Ner. Nimph_.
_Epaph_. I pray thee, _Tigellinus_, what furie's this?
What strange event, what accident hath thus
Orecast your countenances?
_Tigell_. Downe we were set at table and began
With sparckling bowles to chase our feares away,
And mirth and pleasure lookt out of our eyes;
When, loe, a breathless messenger arrives
And tells how _Vindex_ and the powers of France
Have _Sergius Galba_ chosen Emperor;
With what applause the Legions him receive;
That Spaines revolted, Portingale hath ioyn'd;
As much suspected is of Germany.
But _Nero_, not abiding out the end,
Orethrew the tables, dasht against the ground
The cuppe which he so much, you know, esteem'd;
Teareth his haire and with incensed rage
Curseth false men and Gods the lookers on.
_Neoph_. His rage, we saw, was wild and desperate.
_Epaph_. O you unsearched wisedomes which doe laugh
At our securitie and feares alike,
And plaine to shew our weaknesse and your power
Make us contemne the harmes which surest strike;
When you our glories and our pride undoe
Our overthrow you make ridiculous too.
_Enter Nimphidius solus_.
Slow making counsels and the sliding yeere
Have brought me to the long foreseene destruction
Of this misled young man. His State is shaken
And I will push it on; revolted France
Nor the coniured Provinces of Spaine
Nor his owne guilt shall like to me oppresse him.
I to his easie yeelding feares proclaime
New German mutenys and all the world
Rowsing it selfe in hate of _Neroes_ name;
I his distracted counsels doe disperce
With fresh despaires; I animate the Senate
And the people, to ingage them past recall
In preiudice of _Nero_: and in briefe
Perish he must,--the fates and I resolve it.
Which to effect I presently will goe
Proclaime a _Donative_ in _Galbaes_ name.
_Enter Antoneus to him_.
_Anton_. Yonders _Nimphidius_, our Commander, now.
I with respect must speake and smooth my brow.
--Captaine, all haile.
_Nimph_. _Antoneus_, well met.
Your place of _Tribune_ in this Anarchi.
_Anton_. This Anarchy, my Lord? is _Nero_ dead?
_Nimph_. This Anarchy, this yet unstiled time
While Galba is unseased of the Empire
Which _Nero_ hath forsooke.
_Anton_. Hath _Nero_ then resign'd the Empire?
_Nimph_. In effect he hath for he's fled to _Egypt_.
_Anton_. My Lord, you tell strange newes to me.
_Nimph_. But nothing strange to mee,
Who every moment knew of his despaires.
The Curriers came so fast with fresh alarmes
Of new revolts that he, unable quite
To beare his feares which he had long conceal'd,
Is now revolted from himselfe and fled.
_Anton_. Thrust with report and rumours from his seat!
My Lord, you know the Campe depends on you
As you determine.
_Nimph_. There it lies _Antonius_.
What should we doe? it boots not to relie
On Neroes stinking fortunes; and to sit
Securely looking on were to receive
An Emperor from Spaine: which how disgracefull
It were to us who, if we waigh our selves,
The most materiall accessions are
Of all the Roman Empire. Which disgrace
To cover we must ioyne ourselves betimes,
And therefore seeme to have created _Galba_.
Therefore He straight proclaime a _Donative_
Of thirty thousand sesterces a man.
_Anton_. I thinke so great a gift was never heard of.
_Galba_, they say, is frugally inclinde:
Will he avow so great a gift as this?
_Nimph_. Howere he like of it he must avow it,
If by our promise he be once ingaged;
And since the souldiers care belongs to mee,
I will have care of them and of their good.
Let them thank me if I through this occasion
Procure for them so great a donative.
_Anton_. So you be thankt it skils not who prevaile,
_Galba_ or _Nero_,--traitor to them both.
You give it out that _Neroes_ fled to _Egypt_,
Who, with the frights of your reports amaz'd,
By our device doth lurke for better newes,
Whilst you inevitably doe betray him.
Workes he all this for _Galba_ then? Not so:
I have long seene his climbing to the Empire
By secret practises of gracious women.
And other instruments of the late Court.
That was his love to her that me refus'd;
And now by this he would [gain?] give the souldiers favour.
Now is the time to quit _Poppaeas_ scorne
And his rivallity. Ile straight reveale
His treacheries to _Galbaes_ agents here.
_Enter Tigellinus with the Guard_.
_Tigell_. You see what issue things doe sort unto;
Yet may we hope not only impunitie
But with our fellowes part oth' guift proclaim'd.
_Nero meets them_.
_Nero_. Whether goe you? stay, my friends;
'Tis Caesar calls you; stay, my loving friends.
_Tigell_. We were his slaves, his footstooles, and must crouch
But now with such observance to his feet;
It is his misery that calles us friends.
_Nero_. And moves you not the misery of a Prince?
O stay, my friends, stay, harken to the voyce
Which once yee knew.
_Tigell_. Harke to the peoples cryes,
Harke to the streets that _Galba, Galba_, ring.
_Nero_. The people may forsake me without blame,
I did them wrong to make you rich and great,
I tooke their houses to bestow on you;
Treason in them hath name of libertie:
Your fault hath no excuse, you are my fault
And the excuse of others treachery.
_Tigell_. Shall we with staying seeme his tyrannies
T'uphold, as if we were in love with them?
We are excus'd (unlesse we stay too long)
As forced Ministers and a part of wrong.
[_Ex. praeter Nero_.
_Nero_. O now I see the vizard from my face,
So lovely and so fearefull, is fall'n off,
That vizard, shadow, nothing, Maiestie,
Which, like a child acquainted with his feares,
But now men trembled at and now contemne.
_Nero_ forsaken is of all the world,
The world of truth. O fall some vengeance downe
Equall unto their falsehoods and my wrongs!
Might I accept the Chariot of the Sunne
And like another _Phaeton_ consume
In flames of all the world, a pile of Death
Worthy the state and greatnesse I have lost!
Or were I now but Lord of my owne fires
Wherein false Rome yet once againe might smoake
And perish, all unpitied of her Gods,
That all things in their last destruction might
Performe a funerall honour to their Lord!
O _Iove_ dissolve with _Caesar Caesars_ world;
Or you whom _Nero_ rather should invoke,
Blacke _Chaos_ and you fearefull shapes beneath,
That with a long and not vaine envy have
Sought to destroy this worke of th'other Gods;
Now let your darknesse cease the spoyles of day,
And the worlds first contention end your strife.
_Enter two Romanes to him_.
1 _Rom_. Though others, bound with greater benefits,
Have left your changed fortunes and doe runne
Whither new hopes doe call them, yet come we.
_Nero_. O welcome come you to adversitie;
Welcome, true friends. Why, there is faith on earth;
Of thousand servants, friends and followers,
Yet two are left. Your countenance, me thinks,
Gives comfort and new hopes.
2 _Rom_. Doe not deceive your thoughts:
My Lord, we bring no comfort,--would we could,--
But the last duty to performe and best
We ever shall, a free death to persuade,
To cut off hopes of fearcer cruelty
And scorne, more cruell to a worthy soule.
1 _Rom_. The Senate have decreed you're punishable
After the fashion of our ancestors,
Which is, your necke being locked in a forke,
You must be naked whipt and scourg'd to death.
_Nero_. The Senate thus decreed? they that so oft
My vertues flattered have and guifts of mine,
My government preferr'd to ancient times,
And challenge[d] _Numa_ to compare with me,--
Have they so horrible an end sought out?
No, here I beare which shall prevent such shame;
This hand shall yet from that deliver me,
And faithfull be alone unto his Lord.
Alasse, how sharp and terrible is death!
O must I die, must now my senses close?
For ever die, and nere returne againe,
Never more see the Sunne, nor Heaven, nor Earth?
Whither goe I? What shall I be anone?
What horred iourney wandrest thou, my soule,
Under th'earth in darke, dampe, duskie vaults?
Or shall I now to nothing be resolv'd?
My feares become my hopes; O would I might.
Me thinkes I see the boyling _Phlegeton_
And the dull poole feared of them we feare,
The dread and terror of the Gods themselves;
The furies arm'd with linkes, with whippes, with snakes,
And my owne furies farre more mad then they,
My mother and those troopes of slaughtred friends.
And now the Iudge is brought unto the throne,
That will not leave unto Authoritie
Nor favour the oppressions of the great!
1 _Rom_. These are the idle terrors of the night,
Which wise men (though they teach) doe not beleeve,
To curbe our pleasures faine[d] and aide the weake.
2 _Rom_. Deaths wrongfull defamation, which would make
Us shunne this happy haven of our rest,
This end of evils, as some fearefull harme.
1 _Rom_. Shadowes and fond imaginations,
Which now (you see) on earth but children feare.
2 _Rom_. Why should our faults feare punishment from them?
What doe the actions of this life concerne
The tother world, with which is no commerce?
1 _Rom_. Would Heaven and Starres necessitie compell
Us to doe that which after it would punish?
2 _Rom_. Let us not after our lives end beleeve
More then you felt before it.
_Nero_. If any words had made me confident
And boldly doe for hearing others speake
Boldly, this might. But will you by example
Teach me the truth of your opinion
And make me see that you beleeve yourselves?
Will you by dying teach me to beare death
1 _Rom_. No necessitie of death
Hangs ore our heads, no dangers threaten us
Nor Senates sharpe decree nor _Galbaes_ arms.
2 _Rom_. Is this the thankes, then, thou dost pay our love?
Die basely as such a life deserv'd;
Reserve thy selfe to punishment, and scorne
Of Rome and of thy laughing enemies.
_Nero_. They hate me cause I would but live. What was't
You lov'd, kind friends, and came to see my death?
Let me endure all torture and reproach
That earth or _Galbaes_ anger can inflict;
Yet hell and _Rodamanth_ are more pittilesse.
_The first Romane to him_.
_Rom_. Though not deserv'd, yet once agen I come
To warne thee to take pitie on thy selfe.
The troopes by the Senate sent descend the hill
_Nero_. To take me and to whip me unto death!
O whither shall I flye?
_Rom_. Thou hast no choice.
_Nero_. O hither must I flye: hard is his happe
Who from death onely must by death escape.
Where are they yet? O may not I a little
Bethinke my selfe?
_Rom_. They are at hand; harke, thou maist heare the noise.
_Nero_. O _Rome_, farewell! farewell, you Theaters
Where I so oft with popular applause
In song and action--O they come, I die.
(_He falls on his sword_.)
_Rom_. So base an end all iust commiseration
Doth take away: yet what we doe now spurne
The morning Sunne saw fearefull to the world.
_Enter some of Galbaes friends, Antoneus and others,
with Nimphidius bound_.
_Gal_. You both shall die together, Traitors both
He to the common wealth and thou to him
And worse to a good Prince.--What? is he dead?
Hath feare encourag'd him and made him thus
Prevent our punishment? Then die with him:
Fall thy aspiring at thy Master's feete.
(_He kils Nimph_).
_Anton_. Who, though he iustly perisht, yet by thee
Deserv'd it not; nor ended there thy treason,
But even thought oth' Empire thou conceiv'st.
_Galbaes_ disgrace[d] in receiving that
Which the sonne of _Nimphidia_ could hope.
_Rom_. Thus great bad men above them find a rod:
People, depart and say there is a God.
INTRODUCTION TO THE MAYDES METAMORPHOSIS.
The anonymous comedy of the _Maydes Metamorphosis_ (1600), usually
attributed to Lilly, shews few traces of the mannerisms of the graceful
but insipid Euphuist. It is just such a play as George Wither or William
Browne might have written in very early youth. The writer was evidently
an admirer of Spenser, and has succeeded in reproducing on his Pan-pipe
some thin, but not unpleasing, echoes of his master's music. Mr. Edmund
W. Gosse has suggested that the _Maydes Metamorphosis_ may be an early
work of John Day; and no one is better able to pronounce on such a point
than Mr. Gosse. The scene at the beginning of Act ii., and the gossip of
the pages in Acts ii. and iii., are certainly very much in Day's manner.
The merciless harrying of the word "kind" at the beginning of Act v.
reminds one of similar elaborate trifling in _Humour out of Breath_;
and the amoebaean rhymes in the contention between Gemulo and Silvio
(Act i.) are, in their sportive quaintness, as like Day's handiwork as
they are unlike Lilly's. In reading the pretty echo-scene, in Act iv.,
the reader will recall a similar scene in _Law Trickes_ (Act v., Sc. I).
On the other hand, the delightful songs of the fairies (in Act iii.),
if not written by Lilly, were at least suggested by the fairies' song in
_Endymion_. It would be hard to say what Lilly might not have achieved
if he had not stultified himself by his detestable pedantry: his songs
(_O si sic omnia_) are hardly to be matched for silvery sweetness.
Mr. Gosse thinks that the rhymed heroics, in which the _Maydes
Metamorphosis_ is mainly written, bear strong traces of Day's style; and
as Mr. Gosse, who is at once a poet and a critic, judges by his ear and
not by his thumb, his opinion carries weight. Day's capital work, the
_Parliament of Bees_, is incomparably more workmanlike than the _Maydes
Metamorphosis_; but the latter, it should be remembered, is beyond all
doubt a very juvenile performance. Turning over some old numbers of a
magazine, I found a reviewer of Mr. Tennyson's _Princess_ complaining
"that we could have borne rather more polish!" How the fledgling poet
of the _Maydes Metamorphosis_ would have fared at the reviewer's hands
I tremble to think. But though his rhymes are occasionally slipshod,
and the general texture is undeniably thin, still there is something
attractive in the young writer's shy tentativeness. The reader who
comes to a perusal with the expectation of getting some substantial
diet, will be grievously mistaken; but those who are content if they
can catch and hold fast a fleeting flavour will not regret the
half-hour spent in listening to the songs of the elves and the prattle
of the pages in this quaint old pastoral.
THE MAYDES METAMORPHOSIS.
_As it hath bene sundrie times Acted by the Children of Powles_.
LONDON: Printed by _Thomas Creede_, for _Richard Oliue_, dwelling
in long Lane. 1600.
The manifold, great favours we have found,
By you to us poore weaklings still extended;
Whereof your vertues have been only ground,
And no desert in us to be so friended;
Bindes us some way or other to expresse,
Though all our all be else defeated quite
Of any meanes save duteous thankefulnes,
Which is the utmost measure of our might:
Then, to the boundlesse ocean of your woorth
This little drop of water we present;
Where though it never can be singled foorth,
Let zeale be pleader for our good intent.
Drops not diminish but encrease great floods,
And mites impaire not but augment our goods_.
The Maydes Metamorphosis.
_Enter Phylander, Orestes, Eurymine_.
_Eurymine_. _Phylander_ and _Orestes_, what conceyt
Troubles your silent mindes? Let me intreat,
Since we are come thus farre, as we do walke
You would deuise some prettie pleasant talke;
The aire is coole, the euening high and faire:
Why should your cloudie lookes then shew dispaire?
_Phy_. Beleeue me, faire _Eurimine_, my skill
Is simple in discourse, and vtterance ill;
_Orestes_, if he we were disposde to trie,
Can better manage such affaires than I.
_Eu_. Why then, _Orestes_, let me crave of you
Some olde or late done story to renew:
Another time you shall request of me
As good, if not a greater, curtesie.
_Or_. Trust me, as now (nor can I shew a reason)
All mirth vnto my mind comes out of season;
For inward I am troubled in such sort
As all vnfit I am to make report
Of any thing may breed the least delight;
Rather in teares I wish the day were night,
For neither can myself be merry now
Nor treat of ought that may be likte of you.
_Eu_. Thats but your melancholike old disease,
That neuer are disposde but when ye please.
_Phy_. Nay, mistresse, then, since he denies the taske,
My selfe will strait complish what ye aske;
And, though the pleasure of my tale be small,
Yet may it serue to passe the time withall.
_Eu_. Thanks, good _Phylander_; when you please, say on:
Better I deeme a bad discourse then none.
_Phy_. Sometime there liu'd a Duke not far from hence,
Mightie in fame and vertues excellence;
Subiects he had as readie to obey
As he to rule, beloued eueryway;
But that which most of all he gloried in
(Hope of his age and comfort of his kin)
Was the fruition of one onely sonne,
A gallant youth, inferior vnto none
For vertue shape or excellence of wit,
That after him vpon his throne might sit.
This youth, when once he came to perfect age,
The Duke would faine have linckt in marriage
With diuers dames of honourable blood
But stil his fathers purpose he withstood.
_Eu_. How? was he not of mettal apt to loue?
_Phy_. Yes, apt enough as wil the sequel proue;
But so the streame of his affection lay
As he did leane a quite contrary way,
Disprouing still the choice his father made,
And oftentimes the matter had delaid;
Now giuing hope he would at length consent,
And then again excusing his intent.
_Eu_. What made him so repugnant in his deeds?
_Phy_. Another loue, which this disorder breeds;
For euen at home, within his father's Court,
The Saint was shrinde whom he did honor most;
A louely dame, a virgin pure and chaste,
And worthy of a Prince to be embrac'te,
Had but her birth (which was obscure, they said)
Answerd her beautie; this their opinion staid.
Yet did this wilful youth affect her still
And none but she was mistres of his will:
Full often did his father him disswade
From liking such a mean and low-born mayde;
The more his father stroue to change his minde
The more the sonne became with fancy blinde.
_Eu_. Alas, how sped the silly Louers then?
_Phy_. As might euen grieue the rude vnciuilst men:
When here vpon to weane his fixed heart
From such dishonour to his high desert
The Duke had labourd but in vaine did striue,
Thus he began his purpose to contriue:
Two of his seruants, of vndoubted trvth,
He bound by vertue of a solemne oath
To traine the silly damzel out of sight
And there in secret to bereaue her quite--
_Eu_. Of what? her life?
_Phy_. Yes, Madame, of her life,
Which was the cause of all the former strife.
_Eu_. And did they kill her?
_Phy_. You shall heare anon;
The question first must be discided on
In your opinion: whats your iudgement? say.
Who were most cruell, those that did obay
Or he who gaue commandment for the fact?
_Eu_. In each of them it was a bloody act,
Yet they deserue (to speake my minde of both)
Most pardon that were bound thereto by oath.
_Phy_. It is enough; we do accept your doome
To passe vnblam'd what ere of you become.
_Eu_. To passe vnblam'de what ere become of me!
What may the meaning of these speeches be?
_Phy_. _Eurymine_, my trembling tongue doth faile,
My conscience yrkes, my fainting sences quaile,
My faltring speech bewraies my guiltie thought
And stammers at the message we haue brought.
_Eu_. Ay me! what horror doth inuade my brest!
_Or_. Nay then, _Phylander_, I will tell the rest:
Damzell, thus fares thy case; demand not why,
You must forthwith prepare your selfe to dye;
Therefore dispatch and set your mind at rest.
_Eu_. _Phylander_, is it true or doth he iest?
_Phy_. There is no remedie but you must dye:
By you I framde my tragicke history.
The Duke my maister is the man I meant,
His sonne the Prince, the mayde of meane discent
Your selfe, on whom _Ascanio_ so doth doate
As for no reason may remoue his thought
Your death the Duke determines by vs two,
To end the loue betwixt his sonne and you;
And for this cause we trainde you to this wood,
Where you must sacrifice your dearest blood.
_Eu_. Respect my teares.
_Orest_. We must regard our oath.
_Eu_. My tender yeares.
_Or_. They are but trifles both.
_Eu_. Mine innocency.
_Or_. That would our promise breake;
Dispatch forthwith, we may not heare you speake.
_Eu_. If neither teares nor innocency moue,
Yet thinke there is a heavenly power aboue.
_Orest_. A done, and stand not preaching here all day.
_Eu_. Then, since there is no remedie, I pray
Yet, good my masters, do but stay so long
Till I haue tane my farewell with a song
Of him whom I shall neuer see againe.
_Phy_. We will affoord that respit to your paine.
_Eu_. But least the feare of death appall my mind,
Sweet gentlemen, let me this fauour find,
That you wil vale mine eyesight with this scarfe;
That, when the fatall stroke is aymde at me,
I may not start but suffer patiently.
_Orest_. Agreed, giue me; Ile shadow ye from feare,
If this may do it.
_Eu_. Oh, I would it might,
But shadowes want the power to do that right.
Ye sacred Fyres and powers aboue,
Forge of desires, working loue,
Cast downe your eye, cast downe your eye,
Vpon a Mayde in miserie.
My sacrifice is louers blood,
And from eyes salt teares a flood;
All which I spend, all which I spend,
For thee, _Ascanio_, my deare friend:
And though this houre I must feele
The bitter power of pricking steele,
Yet ill or well, yet ill or well,
To thee, _Ascanio_, still farewell.
_Orestes offers to strike her with his Rapier,
and is stayed by Phylander_.
_Orest_. What meanes, _Phylander_?
_Phy_. Oh, forbeare thy stroke;
Her pitious mone and gesture might prouoke
Hard flint to ruthe.
_Orest_. Hast thou forgot thy oath?
_Phy_. Forgot it? no!
_Or_. Then wherefore doest thou interrupt me so?
_Phy_. A sudden terror ouercomes my thought.
_Or_. Then suffer me that stands in feare of nought.
_Phy_. Oh, hold, _Orestes_; heare my reason first.
_Or_. Is all religion of thy vowe forgot?
Do as thou wilt, but I forget it not.
_Phy_. _Orestes_, if thou standest vpon thine oath,
Let me alone to answere for vs both.
_Or_. What answer canst thou giue? I wil not stay.
_Phy_. Nay, villain; then my sword shall make me way.
_Or_. Wilt thou in this against thy conscience striue?
_Phy_. I will defend a woman while I liue,
A virgin and an innocent beside;
Therefore put vp or else thy chaunce abide.
_Or_. Ile neuer sheath my sword vnles thou show,
Our oath reserued, we may let her go.
_Phy_. That will I do, if truth may be of force.
_Or_. And then will I be pleasd to graunt remorse.
_Eu_. Litle thought I, when out of doore I went,
That thus my life should stand on argument.
_Phy_. A lawfull oath in an vnlawfull cause
Is first dispenc't withall by reasons lawes;
Then, next, respect must to the end be had,
Because th'intent doth make it good or bad.
Now here th'intent is murder as thou seest,
Which to perform thou on thy oath reliest;
But, since the cause is wicked and vniust,
Th'effect must likewise be held odious:
We swore to kill, and God forbids to kill;
Shall we be rulde by him or by man's will?
Beside it is a woman is condemde;
And what is he, that is a man indeed,
That can endure to see a woman bleed?
_Or_. Thou hast preuaild; _Eurymine_, stand vp;
I will not touch thee for a world of gold.
_Phy_. Why now thou seemst to be of humane mould;
But, on our graunt, faire mayd, that you shall liue,
Will you to vs your faithfull promise giue
Henceforth t'abandon this your Country quite,
And neuer more returne into the sight
Of fierce _Telemachus_, the angry Duke,
Where by we may be voyd of all rebuke?
_Eur_. Here do I plight my chaste vnspotted hand,
I will abiure this most accursed land:
And vow henceforth, what fortune ere betide,
Within these woods and desarts to abide.
_Phy_. Now wants there nothing but a fit excuse
To sooth the Duke in his concern'd abuse;
That he may be perswaded she is slaine,
And we our wonted fauour still maintaine.
_Orest_. It shall be thus: within a lawne hard by,
Obscure with bushes, where no humane eye
Can any way discouer our deceit,
There feeds a heard of Goates and country neate.
Some Kidde or other youngling will we take
And with our swords dispatch it for her sake;
And, hauing slaine it, rip his panting breast
And take the heart of the vnguiltie beast,
Which, to th'intent our counterfeit report
May seeme more likely, we will beare to court
And there protest, with bloody weapons drawne,
It was her heart.
_Phy_. Then likewise take this Lawne,
Which well _Telemachus_ did know she wore,
And let it be all spotted too with gore.
How say you, mistresse? will you spare the vale?
_Eur_. That and what else, to verifie your tale.
And thankes, _Phylander_ and _Orestes_ both,
That you preserue me from a Tyrants wroth.
_Phy_. I would it were within my power, I wis,
To do you greater curtesie than this;
But what we cannot by our deeds expresse
In heart we wish, to ease your heauinesse.
_Eur_. A double debt: yet one word ere ye go,
Commend me to my deare _Ascanio_.
Whose loyall loue and presence to forgoe
Doth gall me more than all my other woe.
_Orest_. Our liues shall neuer want to do him good.
_Phy_. Nor yet our death if he in daunger stood:
_Or_. And, mistresse, so good fortune be your guide,
And ought that may be fortunate beside.