A King and No King by F. Beaumont and J. Fletcher - HTML preview

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Act I



Enter  Mardonius and  Bessus, Two Captains.



  Bessus, the King has made a fair hand on't, he has ended the

  Wars at a blow, would my sword had a close basket hilt to hold

  Wine, and the blade would make knives, for we shall have nothing

  but eating and drinking.



  We that are Commanders shall do well enough.



  Faith Bessus, such Commanders as thou may; I had as lieve set thee Perdue

  for a pudding i'th' dark, as Alexander  the Great.



  I love these jests exceedingly.



  I think thou lov'st 'em better than quarrelling Bessus, I'le say so much i'thy

  behalf, and yet thou 'rt valiant enough upon a retreat, I think thou wouldst kill any

  man that stopt thee if thou couldst.



  But was not this a brave Combate Mardonius?



  Why, didst thou see't?



  You stood wi'me.



  I did so, but me thought thou wink'dst every blow they strook.



  Well, I believe there are better souldiers than I, that never saw  two Princes fight

  in lists.



  By my troth I think so too Bessus, many a thousand, but certainly all that are

  worse than thou have seen as much.



  'Twas bravely done of our King.



  Yes, if he had not ended the wars: I'me glad thou dar'st talk of such dangerous




  To take a Prince prisoner in the heart of's own Country in single combat.



  See how thy blood curdles at this, I think thou couldst be contented to be

  beaten i'this passion.



  Shall I tell you truly?






  I could willingly venture for't.



  Um, no venture neither Bessus.



  Let me not live, if I do not think 'tis a braver piece of service than that I'me so

  fam'd for.



  Why, art thou fam'd for any valour?



  Fam'd! I, I warrant you.



  I'me e'en heartily glad on't, I have been with thee e're since thou cam'st to

th'wars, and this is the first word that ever I heard on't, prethee who fames thee.



  The Christian world.



  'Tis heathenishly done of'em in my conscience, thou deserv'st it not.



  Yes, I ha' don good service.



  I do not know how thou mayst wait of a man in's Chamber, or thy agility of

shifting of a Trencher, but otherwise no service good Bessus.



  You saw me do the service your self.



  Not so hasty sweet Bessus, where was it, is the place vanish'd?



  At Bessus  desp'rate redemption.



  At Bessus  desp'rate redemption, where's that?



  There where I redeem'd the day, the place bears my name.



  Pray thee, who Christened it?



  The Souldiers.



  If I were not a very merrily dispos'd man, what would become of

  thee? one that had but a grain of choler in the whole composition

  of his body, would send thee of an errand to the worms for

  putting thy name upon that field: did not I beat thee there i'th'

  head o'th' Troops with a Trunchion, because thou wouldst needs

  run away with thy company, when we should charge the enemy?



  True, but I did not run.



  Right Bessus, I beat thee out on't.



  But came I not up when the day was gone, and redeem'd




  Thou knowest, and so do I, thou meanedst to flie, and thy fear

  making thee mistake, thou ranst upon the enemy, and a hot charge

  thou gav'st, as I'le do thee right, thou art furious in running

  away, and I think, we owe thy fear for our victory; If I were the

  King, and were sure thou wouldst mistake alwaies and run away

  upon th' enemy, thou shouldst be General by this light.



  You'l never leave this till I fall foul.



  No more such words dear Bessus, for though I have ever known

  thee a coward, and therefore durst never strike thee, yet if thou

  proceedest, I will allow thee valiant, and beat thee.



  Come, our King's a brave fellow.



  He is so Bessus, I wonder how thou cam'st to know it. But if

  thou wer't a man of understanding, I would tell thee, he is

  vain-glorious, and humble, and angry, and patient, and merry and

  dull, and joyful and sorrowful in extremity in an hour: Do not

  think me thy friend for this, for if I ear'd who knew it, thou

  shouldst not hear it Bessus. Here he is with his prey in his



Enter &c. Senet Flourish.


Enter  Arbaces and  Tigranes, Two Kings and two Gentlemen.



  Thy sadness brave Tigranes  takes away

  From my full victory, am I become

  Of so small fame, that any man should grieve

  When I o'recome him? They that plac'd me here,

  Intended it an honour large enough, (though he

  For the most valiant living, but to dare oppose me single,

  Lost the day. What should afflict you, you are as free as I,

  To be my prisoner, is to be more free

  Than you were formerly, and never think

  The man I held worthy to combate me

  Shall be us'd servilely: Thy ransom is

  To take my only Sister to thy Wife.

  A heavy one Tigranes, for she is

  A Lady, that the neighbour Princes send

  Blanks to fetch home. I have been too unkind

  To her Tigranes, she but nine years old

  I left her, and ne're saw her since, your wars

  Have held me long and taught me though a youth,

  The way to victory, she was a pretty child,

  Then I was little better, but now fame

  Cries loudly on her, and my messengers

  Make me believe she is a miracle;

  She'l make you shrink, as I did, with a stroak

  But of her eye Tigranes.



  Is't the course of Iberia  to use their prisoners thus?

  Had fortune thrown my name above Arbace,

  I should not thus have talk'd Sir, in Armenia

  We hold it base, you should have kept your temper

  Till you saw home again, where 'tis the fashion

  Perhaps to brag.



  Be you my witness earth, need I to brag,

  Doth not this captive Prince speak

  Me sufficiently, and all the acts

  That I have wrought upon his suffering Land;

  Should I then boast! where lies that foot of ground

  Within his whole Realm, that I have not past,

  Fighting and conquering; Far then from me

  Be ostentation. I could tell the world

  How I have laid his Kingdom desolate

  By this sole Arm prop't by divinity,

  Stript him out of his glories, and have sent

  The pride of all his youth to people graves,

  And made his Virgins languish for their Loves,

  If I would brag, should I that have the power

  To teach the Neighbour world humility,

  Mix with vain-glory?



  Indeed this is none.



  Tigranes, Nay did I but take delight

  To stretch my deeds as others do, on words,

  I could amaze my hearers.



So you do.



  But he shall wrong his and my modesty,

  That thinks me apt to boast after any act

  Fit for a good man to do upon his foe.

  A little glory in a souldiers mouth

  Is well-becoming, be it far from vain.



  'Tis pity that valour should be thus drunk.



  I offer you my Sister, and you answer

  I do insult, a Lady that no suite

  Nor treasure, nor thy Crown could purchase thee,

  But that thou fought'st with me.



  Though this be worse

  Than that you spake before, it strikes me not;

  But that you think to overgrace me with

  The marriage of your Sister, troubles me.

  I would give worlds for ransoms were they mine,

  Rather than have her.



  See if I insult

  That am the Conquerour, and for a ransom

  Offer rich treasure to the Conquered,

  Which he refuses, and I bear his scorn:

  It cannot be self-flattery to say,

  The Daughters of your Country set by her,

  Would see their shame, run home and blush to death,

  At their own foulness; yet she is not fair,

  Nor beautiful, those words express her not,

  They say her looks have something excellent,

  That wants a name: yet were she odious,

  Her birth deserves the Empire of the world,

  Sister to such a brother, that hath ta'ne

  Victory prisoner, and throughout the earth,

  Carries her bound, and should he let her loose,

  She durst not leave him; Nature did her wrong,

  To Print continual conquest on her cheeks,

  And make no man worthy for her to taste

  But me that am too near her, and as strangely

  She did for me, but you will think I brag.



  I do I'le be sworn. Thy valour and thy passions sever'd, would

  have made two excellent fellows in their kinds: I know not

  whether I should be sorry thou art so valiant, or so passionate,

  wou'd one of 'em were away.



  Do I refuse her that I doubt her worth?

  Were she as vertuous as she would be thought,

  So perfect that no one of her own sex

  Could find a want, had she so tempting fair,

  That she could wish it off for damning souls,

  I would pay any ransom, twenty lives

  Rather than meet her married in my bed.

  Perhaps I have a love, where I have fixt

  Mine eyes not to be mov'd, and she on me,

  I am not fickle.



  Is that all the cause?

  Think you, you can so knit your self in love

  To any other, that her searching sight

  Cannot dissolve it? So before you tri'd,

  You thought your self a match for me in [f]ight,

  Trust me Tigranes, she can do as much

  In peace, as I in war, she'l conquer too,

  You shall see if you have the power to stand

  The force of her swift looks, if you dislike,

  I'le send you home with love, and name your ransom

  Some other way, but if she be your choice,

  She frees you: To Iberia  you must.



  Sir, I have learn'd a prisoners sufferance,

  And will obey, but give me leave to talk

  In private with some friends before I go.



  Some to await him forth, and see him safe,

  But let him freely send for whom he please,

  And none dare to disturb his conference,

  I will not have him know what bondage is,


                                           [Exit Tigranes.


  Till he be free from me. This Prince, Mardonius,

  Is full of wisdom, valour, all the graces

  Man can receive.



   And yet you conquer'd him.



  And yet I conquer'd him, and could have don't

  Hadst thou joyn'd with him, though thy name in Arms

  Be great; must all men that are vertuous

  Think suddenly to match themselves with me?

  I conquered him and bravely, did I not?



  And please your Majesty, I was afraid at first.



   When wert thou other?



  Of what?



  That you would not have spy'd your best advantages, for your

  Majesty in my opinion lay too high, methinks, under favour, you

  should have lain thus.



  Like a Taylor at a wake.



  And then, if please your Majesty to remember, at one time, by my

  troth I wisht my self wi'you.



  By my troth thou wouldst ha' stunk 'em both out o'th' Lists.



  What to do?



  To put your Majesty in mind of an occasion; you lay thus, and

  Tigranes  falsified a blow at your Leg, which you by doing thus

  avoided; but if you had whip'd up your Leg thus, and reach'd him

  on the ear, you had made the Blood-Royal run down his head.



  What Country Fence-school learn'st thou at?



  Pish, did not I take him nobly?




  Why you did, and you have talked enough on't.



  Talkt enough?

  Will you confine my word? by heaven and earth,

  I were much better be a King of beasts

  Than such a people: if I had not patience

  Above a God, I should be call'd a Tyrant

  Throughout the world. They will offend to death

  Each minute: Let me hear thee speak again,

  And thou art earth again: why this is like

  Tigranes  speech that needs would say I brag'd.

  Bessus, he said I brag'd.



  Ha, ha, ha.



  Why dost thou laugh?

  By all the world, I'm grown ridiculous

  To my own Subjects: Tie me in a Chair

  And jest at me, but I shall make a start,

  And punish some that others may take heed

  How they are haughty; who will answer me?

  He said I boasted, speak Mardonius,

  Did I? He will not answer, O my temper!

  I give you thanks above, that taught my heart

  Patience, I can endure his silence; what will none

  Vouchsafe to give me answer? am I grown

  To such a poor respect, or do you mean

  To break my wind? Speak, speak, some one of you,

  Or else by heaven.


1 Gent.

  So please your.




  I cannot be heard out, they cut me off,

  As if I were too saucy, I will live

  In woods, and talk to trees, they will allow me

  To end what I begin. The meanest Subject

  Can find a freedom to discharge his soul

  And not I, now it is a time to speak,

  I hearken.


1 Gent.

  May it please.



  I mean not you,

  Did not I stop you once? but I am grown

  To balk, but I defie, let another speak.


2 Gent.

  I hope your Majesty.



  Thou drawest thy words,

  That I must wait an hour, where other men

  Can hear in instants; throw your words away,

  Quick, and to purpose, I have told you this.



  And please your Majesty.



  Wilt thou devour me? this is such a rudeness

  As you never shew'd me, and I want

  Power to command too, else Mardonius

  Would speak at my request; were you my King,

  I would have answered at your word Mardonius,

  I pray you speak, and truely, did I boast?



Truth will offend you.



  You take all great care what will offend me,

  When you dare to utter such things as these.



  You told Tigranes, you had won his Land,

  With that sole arm propt by Divinity:

  Was not that bragging, and a wrong to us,

  That daily ventured lives?



  O that thy name

  Were as great, as mine, would I had paid my wealth,

  It were as great, as I might combate thee,

  I would through all the Regions habitable

  Search thee, and having found thee, wi'my Sword

  Drive thee about the world, till I had met

  Some place that yet mans curiosity

  Hath mist of; there, there would I strike thee dead:

  Forgotten of mankind, such Funeral rites

  As beasts would give thee, thou shouldst have.



  The King rages extreamly, shall we slink away? He'l strike us.


2 Gent.




  There I would make you know 'twas this sole arm.

  I grant you were my instruments, and did

  As I commanded you, but 'twas this arm

  Mov'd you like wheels, it mov'd you as it pleas'd.

  Whither slip you now? what are you too good

  To wait on me (puffe,) I had need have temper

  That rule such people; I have nothing left

  At my own choice, I would I might be private:

  Mean men enjoy themselves, but 'tis our curse,

  To have a tumult that out of their loves

  Will wait on us, whether we will or no;

  Go get you gone: Why here they stand like death,

  My words move nothing.


1 Gent.

  Must we go?



 I know not.



  I pray you leave me Sirs, I'me proud of this,

  That you will be intreated from my sight:

  Why now the[y] leave me all: Mardonius.


                      [Exeunt all but  Arb. and  Mar.






  Will you leave me quite alone? me thinks

  Civility should teach you more than this,

  If I were but your friend: Stay here and wait.



  Sir shall I speak?



  Why, you would now think much

  To be denied, but I can scar[c]e intreat

  What I would have: do, speak.



  But will you hear me out?



  With me you Article to talk thus: well,

  I will hear you out.



  Sir, that I have ever lov'd you, my sword hath spoken for me;

  that I do, if it be doubted, I dare call an oath, a great one to

  my witness; and were you not my King, from amongst men, I should

  have chose you out to love above the rest: nor can this challenge

  thanks, for my own sake I should have done it, because I would

  have lov'd the most deserving man, for so you are.



  Alas Mardonius, rise you shall not kneel,

  We all are souldiers, and all venture lives:

  And where there is no difference in mens worths,

  Titles are jests, who can outvalue thee?

  Mardonius  thou hast lov'd me, and hast wrong,

  Thy love is not rewarded, but believe

  It shall be better, more than friend in arms,

  My Father, and my Tutor, good Mardonius.



  Sir, you did promise you would hear me out.



  And so I will; speak freely, for from thee

  Nothing can come but worthy things and true.



  Though you have all this worth, you hold some qualities that do

  Eclipse your vertues.



  Eclipse my vertues?



  Yes, your passions, which are so manifold, that they appear even

  in this: when I commend you, you hug me for that truth: but when

  I speak your faults, you make a start, and flie the hearing but.



  When you commend me? O that I should live

  To need such commendations: If my deeds

  Blew not my praise themselves about the earth,

  I were most wretched: spare your idle praise:

  If thou didst mean to flatter, and shouldst utter

  Words in my praise, that thou thoughtst impudence,

  My deeds should make 'em modest: when you praise I hug

  you? 'tis so [false], that wert thou worthy thou shouldst receive

  a death, a glorious death from me: but thou shalt understand

  thy lies, for shouldst thou praise me into Heaven, and there

  leave me inthron'd, I would despise thee though as much as

  now, which is as much as dust because I see thy envie.



  However you will use me after, yet for your own promise sake,

  hear me the rest.



  I will, and after call unto the winds, for they shall lend as

  large an ear as I to what you utter: speak.



  Would you but leave these hasty tempers, which

  I do not say take from you all your worth, but darken 'em,

  then you will shine indeed.






  Yet I would have you keep some passions, lest men should take you

  for a God, your vertues are such.



  Why now you flatter.



  I never understood the word, were you no King, and free from

  these moods, should I choose a companion for wit and pleasure, it

  should be you; or for honesty to enterchange my bosom with, it

  should be you; or wisdom to give me counsel, I would pick out

  you; or valour to defend my reputation, still I should find you

  out; for you are fit to fight for all the world, if it could come

  in question: Now I have spoke, consider to your self, find out a

  use; if so, then what shall fall to me is not material.



  Is not material? more than ten such lives, as mine, Mardonius:

  it was nobly said, thou hast spoke truth, and boldly such a truth

  as might offend another. I have been too passionate and idle,

  thou shalt see a swift amendment, but I want those parts you

  praise me for: I fight for all the world? Give me a sword, and

  thou wilt go as far beyond me, as thou art beyond in years, I

  know thou dar'st and wilt; it troubles me that I should use so

  rough a phrase to thee, impute it to my folly, what thou wilt, so

  thou wilt par[d]on me: that thou and I should differ thus!



Why 'tis no matter Sir.



  Faith but it is, but thou dost ever take all things I do, thus

  patiently, for which I never can requite thee, but with love, and

  that thou shalt be sure of. Thou and I have not been merry

  lately: pray thee tell me where hadst thou that same jewel in

  thine ear?



  Why at the taking of a Town.



  A wench upon my life, a wench Mardonius  gave thee that jewel.



  Wench! they respect not me, I'm old and rough, and every limb

  about me, but that which should, grows stiffer, I'those

  businesses I may swear I am truly honest: for I pay justly for

  what I take, and would be glad to be at a certainty.



  Why, do the wenches encroach upon thee?



  I by this light do they.



  Didst thou sit at an old rent with 'em?



  Yes faith.



  And do they improve themselves?



  I ten shillings to me, every new young fellow they come

  acquainted with.



  How canst live on't?



  Why I think I must petition to you.



  Thou shalt take them up at my price.


Enter two Gentlemen and  Bessus.



  Your price?



  I at the Kings price.



  That may be more than I'me worth.


2 Gent.

  Is he not merry now?


1 Gent.

  I think not.



  He is, he is: we'l shew our selves.



  Bessus, I thought you had been in Iberia  by this, I bad you

  hast; Gobrias  will want entertainment for me.



  And please your Majesty I have a sute.



  Is't not lousie Bessus, what is't?



  I am to carry a Lady with me.



  Then thou hast two sutes.



  And if I can prefer her to the Lady Pentha  your Majesties

  Sister, to learn fashions, as her friends term it, it will be

  worth something to me.



  So many nights lodgings as 'tis thither, wilt not?



  I know not that Sir, but gold I shall be sure of.



  Why thou shalt bid her entertain her from me, so thou wilt

  resolve me one thing.



  If I can.



  Faith 'tis a very disputable question, and yet I think thou canst

  decide it.



  Your Majesty has a good opinion of my understanding.



  I have so good an opinion of it: 'tis whether thou be valiant.



  Some body has traduced me to you: do you see this sword Sir?






  If I do not make my back-biters eat it to a knife within this

  week, say I am not valiant.


Enter a Messenger.



  Health to your Majesty.



  From Gobrias?



  Yes Sir.



  How does he, is he well?



  In perfect health.



  Take that for thy good news. A trustier servant to his Prince

  there lives not, than is good Gobrias.


1 Gent.

  The King starts back.



  His blood goes back as fast.


2 Gent

 And now it comes again.



  He alters strangely.



  The hand of Heaven is on me, be it far from me to struggle, if my

  secret sins have pull'd this curse upon me, lend me tears now to

  wash me white, that I may feel a child-like innocence within my

  breast; which once perform'd, O give me leave to stand as fix'd

  as constancy her self, my eyes set here unmov'd, regardless of

  the world though thousand miseries incompass me.



  This is strange, Sir, how do you?



  Mardonius, my mother.



  Is she dead?



  Alas she's not so happy, thou dost know how she hath laboured

  since my Father died to take by treason hence this loathed life,

  that would but be to serve her, I have pardoned, and pardoned,

  and by that have made her fit to practise new sins, not repent

  the old: she now had stirr'd a slave to come from thence, and

  strike me here, whom Gobrias sifting out, took and condemn'd and

  executed there, the carefulst servant: Heaven let me but live to

  pay that man; Nature is poor to me, that will not let me have as

  many deaths as are the times that he hath say'd my life, that I

  might dye 'em over all for him.



  Sir let her bear her sins on her own head,

  Vex not your self.



  What will the world

  Conceive of me? with what unnatural sins

  Will they suppose me loaden, when my life

  Is sought by her that gave it to the world?

  But yet he writes me comfort here, my Sister,

  He saies, is grown in beauty and in grace.

  In all the innocent vertues that become

  A tender spotless maid: she stains her cheeks

  With morning tears to purge her mothers ill,

  And 'mongst that sacred dew she mingles Prayers

  Her pure Oblations for my safe return:

  If I have lost the duty of a Son,

  If any pomp or vanity of state

  Made me forget my natural offices,

  Nay farther, if I have not every night

  Expostulated with my wandring thoughts,

  If ought unto my parent they have err'd,

  And call'd 'em back: do you direct her arm

  Unto this foul dissembling heart of mine:

  But if I have been just to her, send out

  Your power to compass me, and hold me safe

  From searching treason; I will use no means

  But prayer: for rather suffer me to see

  From mine own veins issue a deadly flood,

  Than wash my danger off with mothers blood.



  I n'ere saw such suddain extremities.




Enter  Tigranes and  Spaconia.



  Why? wilt thou have me die Spaconia.

  What should I do?



  Nay let me stay alone,

  And when you see Armenia  again,

  You shall behold a Tomb more worth than I;

  Some friend that ever lov'd me or my cause,

  Will build me something to distinguish me

  From other women, many a weeping verse

  He will lay on, and much lament those maids,

  That plac'd their loves unfortunately high,

  As I have done, where they can never reach;

  But why should you go to Iberia?



  Alas, that thou wilt ask me, ask the man

  That rages in a Fever why he lies

  Distempered there, when all the other youths

  Are coursing o're the Meadows with their Loves?

  Can I resist it? am I not a slave

  To him that conquer'd me?



  That conquer'd thee Tigranes! he has won

  But half of thee, thy body, but thy mind

  May be as free as his, his will did never

  Combate thine, and take it prisoner.



  But if he by force convey my body hence,

  What helps it me or thee to be unwilling?



  O Tigranes, I know you are to see a Lady there,

  To see, and like I fear: perhaps the hope

  Of her make[s] you forget me, ere we part,

  Be happier than you know to wish; farewel.



  Spaconia, stay and hear me what I say:

  In short, destruction meet me that I may

  See it, and not avoid it, when I leave

  To be thy faithful lover: part with me

  Thou shalt not, there are none that know our love,

  And I have given gold unto a Captain

  That goes unto Iberia  from the King,

  That he will place a Lady of our Land

  With the Kings Sister that is offered me;

  Thither shall you, and being once got in

  Perswade her by what subtil means you can

  To be as backward in her love as I.



  Can you imagine that a longing maid

  When she beholds you, can be pull'd away

  With words from loving you?



  Dispraise my health, my honesty, and tell her I am jealous.



  Why, I had rather lose you: can my heart

  Consent to let my tongue throw out such words,

  And I that ever yet spoke what I thought,

  Shall find it such a thing at first to lie?



  Yet do thy best.


Enter  Bessus.



  What, is your Majesty ready?



  There is the Lady, Captain.



  Sweet Lady, by your leave, I could wish my self more full of

  Courtship for your fair sake.



  Sir I shall feel no want of that.



  Lady, you must hast, I have received new letters from the King

  that require more hast than I expected, he will follow me

  suddenly himself, and begins to call for your Majesty already.



  He shall not do so long.



  Sweet Lady, shall I call you my Charge hereafter?



  I will not take upon me to govern your tongue Sir, you shall call

  me what you please.