The Two Noble Kinsmen

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Original text
Act I, Scene I
Enter Hymen with a Torch burning: a Boy, in
a white Robe before singing, and strewing Flowres:
After Hymen, a Nimph, encompast in her Tresses,
bearing a wheaten Garland. Then Theseus betweene two
other Nimphs with wheaten Chaplets on their heades.
Then Hipolita the Bride, lead by Theseus, and another
holding a Garland over her head (her Tresses likewise
hanging.) After her Emilia holding up her Traine.
The Song,
Musike.
ROses their sharpe spines being gon,
Not royall in their smels alone,
But in their hew.
Maiden Pinckes, of odour faint,
Dazies smel-lesse, yet most quaint
And sweet Time true.
Prim-rose first borne, child of Ver,
Merry Spring times Herbinger,
With her bels dimme.
Oxlips, in their Cradles growing,
Mary-golds, on death beds blowing,
Larkes-heeles trymme.
All deere natures children: sweete-
Ly fore Bride and Bridegroomes feete
Blessing their sence.
Strew Flowers.
Not an angle of the aire,
Bird melodious, or bird faire,
Is absent hence.
The Crow, the slaundrous Cuckoe, nor
The boding Raven, nor Clough hee
Nor chattring Pie,
May on our Bridehouse pearch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring
But from it fly.
Enter 3. Queenes in Blacke, with vailes staind, with
imperiall Crownes. The 1. Queene fals downe at the
foote of Theseus; The 2. fals downe at the foote of
Hypolita. The 3. before Emilia.

1. Qu.
For pitties sake and true gentilities,
Heare, and respect me.

2. Qu.
For your Mothers sake,
And as you wish your womb may thrive with faire ones,
Heare and respect me,

3. Qu.
Now for the love of him whom Iove hath markd
The honour of your Bed, and for the sake
Of cleere virginity, be Advocate
For us, and our distresses: This good deede
Shall raze you out o'th Booke of Trespasses
All you are set downe there.

Theseus.
Sad Lady rise.

Hypol.
Stand up.

Emil.
No knees to me.
What woman I may steed that is distrest,
Does bind me to her.

Thes.
What's your request? Deliver you for all.

1. Qu.
We are 3. Queenes, whose Soveraignes fel before
The wrath of cruell Creon; who endured
The Beakes of Ravens, Tallents of the Kights,
And pecks of Crowes, in the fowle feilds of Thebs.
He will not suffer us to burne their bones,
To urne their ashes, nor to take th' offence
Of mortall loathsomenes from the blest eye
Of holy Phaebus, but infects the windes
With stench of our slaine Lords. O pitty Duke,
Thou purger of the earth, draw thy feard Sword
That does good turnes to'th world; give us the Bones
Of our dead Kings, that we may Chappell them;
And of thy boundles goodnes take some note
That for our crowned heades we have no roofe,
Save this which is the Lyons, and the Beares,
And vault to every thing.

Thes.
Pray you kneele not,
I was transported with your Speech, and suffer'd
Your knees to wrong themselves; I have heard the fortunes
Of your dead Lords, which gives me such lamenting
As wakes my vengeance, and revenge for 'em.
King Capaneus, was your Lord the day
That he should marry you, at such a season,
As now it is with me, I met your Groome,
By Marsis Altar, you were that time faire;
Not Iunos Mantle fairer then your Tresses,
Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreathe
Was then nor threashd, nor blasted; Fortune at you
Dimpled her Cheeke with smiles: Hercules our kinesman
(Then weaker than your eies) laide by his Club,
He tumbled downe upon his Nenuan hide
And swore his sinews thawd: O greife, and time,
Fearefull consumers, you will all devoure.

1, Qu.
O I hope some God,
Some God hath put his mercy in your manhood
Whereto heel infuse powre, and presse you forth
Our undertaker.

Thes.
O no knees, none Widdow,
Vnto the Helmeted-Belona use them,
And pray for me your Souldier. Troubled I am.
turnes away.

2. Qu.
Honoured Hypolita
Most dreaded Amazonian, that ha'st slaine
The Sith-tuskd-Bore; that with thy Arme as strong
As it is white, wast neere to make the male
To thy Sex captive; but that this thy Lord
Borne to uphold Creation, in that honour
First nature stilde it in, shrunke thee into
The bownd thou wast ore-flowing; at once subduing
Thy force, and thy affection: Soldiresse
That equally canst poize sternenes with pitty,
Whom now I know hast much more power on him
Then ever he had on thee, who ow'st his strength,
And his, Love too: who is a Servant for
The Tenour of the Speech. Deere Glasse of Ladies
Bid him that we whom flaming war doth scortch,
Vnder the shaddow of his Sword, may coole us:
Require him he advance it ore our heades;
Speak't in a womans key: like such a woman
As any of us three; weepe ere you faile;
lend us a knee;
But touch the ground for us no longer time
Then a Doves motion, when the head's pluckt off:
Tell him if he i'th blood cizd field, lay swolne
Showing the Sun his Teeth; grinning at the Moone
What you would doe.

Hip.
Poore Lady, say no more:
I had as leife trace this good action with you
As that whereto I am going, and never yet
Went I so willing, way. My Lord is taken
Hart deepe with your distresse: Let him consider:
Ile speake anon.

3. Qu.
kneele to Emilia.
O my petition was
Set downe in yce, which by hot greefe uncandied
Melts into drops, so sorrow wanting forme
Is prest with deeper matter.

Emilia.
Pray stand up,
Your greefe is written in your cheeke.

3. Qu.
O woe,
You cannot reade it there; there through my teares,
Like wrinckled peobles in a glasse streame
You may behold 'em (Lady, Lady, alacke)
He that will all the Treasure know o'th earth
Must know the Center too; he that will fish
For my least minnow, let him lead his line
To catch one at my heart. O pardon me,
Extremity that sharpens sundry wits
Makes me a Foole.

Emili.
Pray you say nothing, pray you,
Who cannot feele, nor see the raine being in't,
Knowes neither wet, nor dry, if that you were
The ground-peece of some Painter, I would buy you
T'instruct me gainst a Capitall greefe indeed
Such heart peirc'd demonstration; but alas
Being a naturall Sister of our Sex
Your sorrow beates so ardently upon me,
That it shall make a counter reflect gainst
My Brothers heart, and warme it to some pitty
Though it were made of stone: pray have good comfort.

Thes.
Forward to'th Temple, leave not out a Iot
O'th sacred Ceremony.

1. Qu.
O This Celebration
Will long last, and be more costly then,
Your Suppliants war: Remember that your Fame
Knowles in the eare, o'th world: what you doe quickly,
Is not done rashly; your first thought is more.
Then others laboured meditance: your premeditating
More then their actions: But oh Iove, your actions
Soone as they mooves as Asprayes doe the fish,
Subdue before they touch, thinke, deere Duke thinke
What beds our slaine Kings have.

2. Qu.
What greifes our beds
That our deere Lords have none.

3, Qu.
None fit for'th dead:
Those that with Cordes, Knives, drams precipitance,
Weary of this worlds light, have to themselves
Beene deathes most horrid Agents, humaine grace
Affords them dust and shaddow.

1. Qu.
But our Lords
Ly blistring fore the visitating Sunne,
And were good Kings, when living.

Thes.
It is true.
and I will give you comfort,
To give your dead Lords graves: / The which to doe,
must make some worke with Creou;

1. Qu.
And that worke
presents it selfe to'th doing:
Now twill take forme, the heates are gone to morrow.
Then, booteles toyle must recompence it selfe,
With it's owne sweat; Now he's secure,
Not dreames, we stand before your puissance
Wrinching our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition cleere.

2. Qu.
Now you may take him,
Drunke with his victory.

3. Qu.
And his Army full
Of Bread, and sloth.

Thes.
Artesuis that best knowest
How to draw out fit to this enterpise,
The prim'st for this proceeding, and the number
To carry such a businesse, forth and levy
Our worthiest Instruments, whilst we despatch
This grand act of our life, this daring deede
Of Fate in wedlocke.

1. Qu.
Dowagers, take hands
Let us be Widdowes to our woes, delay
Commends us to a famishing hope.

All.
Farewell.

2. Qu.
We come unseasonably: But when could greefe
Cull forth as unpanged judgement can, fit'st time
For best solicitation.

Thes.
Why good Ladies,
This is a service, whereto I am going,
Greater then any was; it more imports me
Then all the actions that I have foregone,
Or futurely can cope.

1. Qu.
The more proclaiming
Our suit shall be neglected, when her Armes
Able to locke Iove from a Synod, shall
By warranting Moone-light corslet thee, oh when
Her twyning Cherries shall their sweetnes fall
Vpon thy tastefull lips, what wilt thou thinke
Of rotten Kings or blubberd Queenes, what care
For what thou feelst not? what thou feelst being able
To make Mars spurne his Drom. O if thou couch
But one night with her, every howre in't will
Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
Thou shalt remember nothing more, then what
That Banket bids thee too.

Hip.

Though much unlike
You should be so transported, as much sorry
I should be such a Suitour; yet I thinke
Did I not by th'abstayning of my joy
Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
That craves a present medcine, I should plucke
All Ladies scandall on me. Therefore Sir
As I shall here make tryall of my prayres,
Either presuming them to have some force,
Or sentencing for ay their vigour dombe,
Prorogue this busines, we are going about, and hang
Your Sheild afore your Heart, about that necke
Which is my ffee, and which I freely lend
To doe these poore Queenes service.

All Queens.
Oh helpe now
Our Cause cries for your knee.

Emil.
If you grant not
My Sister her petition in that force,
With that Celerity, and nature which
Shee makes it in: from henceforth ile not dare
To aske you any thing, nor be so hardy
Ever to take a Husband.

Thes.
Pray stand up.
I am entreating of my selfe to doe
That which you kneele to have me;
Pyrithous
Leade on the Bride; get you and pray the Gods
For successe, and returne, omit not any thing
In the pretended Celebration: Queenes
Follow your Soldier (as before) hence you
And at the banckes of Anly meete us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall finde
The moytie of a number, for a busines,
More bigger look't; since that our Theame is haste
I stamp this kisse upon thy currant lippe,
Sweete keepe it as my Token; Set you forward
For I will see you gone.
Exeunt towards the Temple.
Farewell my beauteous Sister: Pyrithous
Keepe the feast full, bate not an howre on't.

Pirithous.
Sir
Ile follow you at heeles; The Feasts solempnity
Shall want till your returne.

Thes.
Cosen I charge you
Boudge not from Athens; We shall be returning
Ere you can end this Feast; of which I pray you
Make no abatement; once more farewell all.

1. Qu.
Thus do'st thou still make good the tongue o'th world.

2. Qu.
And earnst a Deity equal with Mars,

3. Qu.
If not above him, for
Thou being but mortall makest affections bend
To Godlike honours; they themselves some say
Grone under such a Mastry.

Thes.
As we are men
Thus should we doe, being sensually subdude
We loose our humane tytle; good cheere Ladies.
Now turne we towards your Comforts.
Florish. Exeunt.
Original text
Act I, Scene II
Enter Palamon, and Arcite.

Arcite.
Deere Palamon, deerer in love then Blood
And our prime Cosen, yet unhardned in
The Crimes of nature; Let us leave the Citty
Thebs, and the temptings in't, before we further
Sully our glosse of youth,
And here to keepe in abstinence we shame
As in Incontinence; for not to swim
I'th aide o'th Current, were almost to sincke,
At least to frustrate striving, and to follow
The common Streame, twold bring us to an Edy
Where we should turne or drowne; if labour through,
Our gaine but life, and weakenes.

Pal.
Your advice
Is cride up with example: what strange ruins
Since first we went to Schoole, may we perceive
Walking in Thebs? Skars, and bare weedes
The gaine o'th Martialist, who did propound
To his bold ends, honour, and golden Ingots,
Which though he won, he had not, and now flurted
By peace for whom he fought, who then shall offer
To Marsis so scornd Altar? I doe bleede
When such I meete, and wish great Iuno would
Resume her ancient fit of Ielouzie
To get the Soldier worke, that peace might purge
For her repletion, and retaine anew
Her charitable heart now hard, and harsher
Then strife, or war could be.

Arcite,
Are you not out?
Meete you no ruine, but the Soldier in
The Cranckes, and turnes of Thebs? you did begin
As if you met decaies of many kindes:
Perceive you none, that doe arowse your pitty
But th'un-considerd Soldier?

Pal.
Yes, I pitty
Decaies where ere I finde them, but such most
That sweating in an honourable Toyle
Are paide with yce to coole 'em.

Arcite,
Tis not this
I did begin to speake of: This is vertue
Of no respect in Thebs, I spake of Thebs
How dangerous if we will keepe our Honours,
It is for our resyding, where every evill
Hath a good cullor; where eve'ry seeming good's
A certaine evill, where not to be ev'n Iumpe
As they are, here were to be strangers, and
Such things to be meere Monsters.

Pal.
Tis in our power,
(Vnlesse we feare that Apes can Tutor's) to
Be Masters of our manners: what neede I
Affect anothers gate, which is not catching
Where there is faith, or to be fond upon
Anothers way of speech, when by mine owne
I may be reasonably conceiv'd; sav'd too,
Speaking it truly; why am I bound
By any generous bond to follow him
Followes his Taylor, haply so long untill
The follow'd, make pursuit? or let me know,
Why mine owne Barber is unblest, with him
My poore Chinne too, for tis not Cizard iust
To such a Favorites glasse: What Cannon is there
That does command my Rapier from my hip
To dangle't in my hand, or to go tip toe
Before the streete be foule? Either I am
The fore-horse in the Teame, or I am none
That draw i'th sequent trace: these poore sleight sores,
Neede not a plantin; That which rips my bosome
Almost to'th heart's,

Arcite.
Our Vncle Creon.

Pal.
He,
A most unbounded Tyrant, whose successes
Makes heaven unfeard, and villany assured
Beyond its power: there's nothing, almost puts
Faith in a feavour, and deifies alone
Voluble chance, who onely attributes
The faculties of other Instruments
To his owne Nerves and act; Commands men service,
And what they winne in't, boot and glory on;
That feares not to do harm; good, dares not; Let
The blood of mine that's sibbe to him, be suckt
From me with Leeches, Let them breake and fall
Off me with that corruption.

Arc.
Cleere spirited Cozen
Lets leave his Court, that we may nothing share,
Of his lowd infamy: for our milke,
Will relish of the pasture, and we must
Be vile, or disobedient, not his kinesmen
In blood, unlesse in quality.

Pal.
Nothing truer:
I thinke the Ecchoes of his shames have dea'ft
The eares of heav'nly Iustice: widdows cryes
Descend againe into their throates, and have not:
Due audience of the Gods:
Enter Valerius.
Valerius

Val.
The King cals for you; yet be leaden footed
Till his great rage be off him. Phebus when
He broke his whipstocke and exclaimd against
The Horses of the Sun, but whisperd too
The lowdenesse of his Fury.

Pal.
Small windes shake him,
But whats the matter?

Val.
Theseus (who where he threates appals,) hath sent
Deadly defyance to him, and pronounces
Ruine to Thebs, who is at hand to seale
The promise of his wrath.

Arc.
Let him approach;
But that we feare the Gods in him, he brings not
A jot of terrour to us; Yet what man
Thirds his owne worth (the case is each of ours)
When that his actions dregd, with minde assurd
Tis bad he goes about.

Pal.
Leave that unreasond.
Our services stand now for Thebs, not Creon,
Yet to be neutrall to him, were dishonour;
Rebellious to oppose: therefore we must
With him stand to the mercy of our Fate,
Who hath bounded our last minute.

Arc.
So we must;
Ist sed this warres afoote? or it shall be
On faile of some condition.

Val.
Tis in motion
The intelligence of state came in the instant
With the defier.

Pal.
Lets to the king, who, were he
A quarter carrier of that honour, which
His Enemy come in, the blood we venture
Should be as for our health, which were not spent,
Rather laide out for purchase: but alas
Our hands advanc'd before our hearts, what will
The fall o'th stroke doe damage?

Arci.
Let th'event,
That never erring Arbitratour, tell us
When we know all our selves, and let us follow
The becking of our chance.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act I, Scene III
Enter Pirithous, Hipolita, Emilia.

Pir.
No further.

Hip.
Sir farewell; repeat my wishes
To our great Lord, of whose succes I dare not
Make any timerous question, yet I wish him
Exces, and overflow of power, and't might be
To dure ill-dealing fortune; speede to him,
Store never hurtes good Gouernours.

Pir.
Though I know
His Ocean needes not my poore drops, yet they
Must yeild their tribute there: My precious Maide,
Those best affections, that the heavens infuse
In their best temperd peices, keepe enthroand
In your deare heart.

Emil.
Thanckes Sir; Remember me
To our all royall Brother, for whose speede
The great Bellona ile sollicite; and
Since in our terrene State petitions are not
Without giftes understood: Ile offer to her
What I shall be advised she likes; our hearts
Are in his Army, in his Tent.

Hip.
In's bosome:
We have bin Soldiers, and wee cannot weepe
When our Friends don their helmes, or put to sea,
Or tell of Babes broachd on the Launce, or women
That have sod their Infants in (and after eate them)
The brine, they wept at killing 'em; Then if
You stay to see of us such Spincsters, we
Should hold you here for ever.

Pir.
Peace be to you
As I pursue this war, which shall be then
Beyond further requiring.
Exit Pir.

Emil.
How his longing
Followes his Friend; since his depart, his sportes
Though craving seriousnes, and skill, past slightly
His careles execution, where nor gaine
Made him regard, or losse consider, but
Playing ore busines in his hand, another
Directing in his head, his minde, nurse equall
To these so diffring Twyns; have you observ'd him,
Since our great Lord departed?

Hip.
With much labour:
And I did love him fort, they two have Cabind
In many as dangerous, as poore a Corner,
Perill and want contending, they have skift
Torrents whose roring tyranny and power
I'th least of these was dreadfull, and they have
Fought out together, where Deaths-selfe was lodgd,
Yet fate hath brought them off: Their knot of love
Tide, weau'd, intangled, with so true, so long,
And with a finger of so deepe a cunning
May be out worne, never undone. I thinke
Theseus cannot be umpire to himselfe
Cleaving his conscience into twaine, and doing
Each side like Iustice, which he loves best.

Emil.
Doubtlesse
There is a best, and reason has no manners
To say it is not you: I was acquainted
Once with a time, when I enjoyd a Play-fellow;
You were at wars, when she the grave enrichd,
Who made too proud the Bed, tooke leave o'th Moone
(which then lookt pale at parting) when our count
Was each a eleven.

Hip.
Twas Flauia.

Emil.
Yes
You talke of Pirithous and Theseus love;
Theirs has more ground, is more maturely seasond,
More buckled with strong Iudgement. and their needes
The one of th'other may be said to water
Their intertangled rootes of love, but I
And shee (I sigh and spoke of) were things innocent,
Lou'd for we did, and like the Elements
That know not what, nor why, yet doe effect
Rare issues by their operance; our soules
Did so to one another; what she lik'd,
Was then of me approov'd, what not condemd
No more arraignement, the flowre that I would plncke
And put betweene my breasts, oh (then but beginning
To swell about the blossome) she would long
Till shee had such another, and commit it
To the like innocent Cradle, where Phenix like
They dide in perfume: on my head no toy
But was her patterne, her affections (pretty
Though happely, her careles, were, I followed
For my most serious decking, had mine eare
Stolne some new aire, or at adventure humd on
From misicall Coynadge; why it was a note
Whereon her spirits would sojourne (rather dwell on)
And sing it in her slumbers; This rehearsall
(Which fury-innocent wots well) comes in
Like old importments bastard, has this end,
That the true love tweene Mayde, and mayde, may be
More then in sex individuall.

Hip.
Y'are ont of breath
And this high speeded-pace, is but to say
That you shall never (like the Maide Flavina)
Love any that's calld Man.

Emil.
I am sure I shall not.

Hip.
Now alacke weake Sister,
I must no more beleeve thee in this point
(Though, in't I know thou dost beleeve thy selfe,)
Then I will trust a sickely appetite,
That loathes even as it longs; but sure my Sister
If I were ripe for your perswasion, you
Have saide enough to shake me from the Arme
Of the all noble Theseus, for whose fortunes,
I will now in, and kneele with great assurance,
That we, more then his Pirothous, possesse
The high throne in his heart.

Emil.
I am not
against your faith, / Yet I continew mine.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act I, Scene IV
Cornets. A Battaile strooke withim: Then a Retrait:
Florish. Then Enter Theseus (victor) the three Queenes meete him,
and fall on their faces before him.
[printed in the margin earlier] Hearses ready with Palamon and Arcite:
the 3. Queenes. Theseus: and his Lordes ready.

1. Qu.
To thee no starre be darke.

2. Qu.
Both heaven and earth
Friend thee for ever.

3. Qu.
All the good that may
Be wishd upon thy head, I cry Amen too't.

Thes.
Th'imparciall Gods, who from the mounted heavens
View us their mortall Heard, behold who erre,
And in their time chastice: goe and finde out
The bones of your dead Lords, and honour them
With treble Ceremonie, rather then a gap
Should be in their deere rights, we would suppl'it.
But those we will depute, which shall invest
You in your dignities, and even each thing
Our hast does leave imperfect; So adiew
And heavens good eyes looke on you,
Exeunt Queenes.
what are those?

Herald.
Men of great quality, as may be judgd
By their appointment; Some of Thebs have told's
They are Sisters children, Nephewes to the King.

Thes.
By'th Helme of Mars, I saw them in the war,
Like to a paire of Lions, smeard with prey,
Make lanes in troopes agast. I fixt my note
Constantly on them; for they were a marke
Worth a god's view: what prisoner was't that told me
When I enquired their names?

Herald.
We leave, they'r called
Arcite and Palamon,

Thes.
Tis right, those, those
They are not dead?

Her.
Nor in a state of life, had they bin taken
When their last hurts were given, twas possible
They might have bin recovered; Yet they breathe
And haue the name of men.

Thes.
Then like men use'em
The very lees of such (millions of rates)
Exceede the wine of others: all our Surgions
Convent in their behoofe, our richest balmes
Rather then niggard wast, their lives concerne us,
Much more then Thebs is worth, rather then have 'em
Freed of this plight, and in their morning state
(Sound and at liberty) I would 'em dead,
But forty thousand fold, we had rather have 'em
Prisoners to us, then death; Beare 'em speedily
From our kinde aire, to them unkinde, and minister
What man to man may doe for our sake more,
Since I have knowne frights, fury, friends, beheastes,
Loves, provocations, zeale, a mistris Taske,
Desire of liberty, a feavour, madnes,
Hath set a marke which nature could not reach too
Without some imposition, sicknes in will
Or wrastling strength in reason, for our Love
And great Appollos mercy, all our best,
Their best skill tender. Leade into the Citty,
Where having bound things scatterd, we will post
To Athens for our Army.
Florish. Exeunt.
Original text
Act I, Scene V
Enter the Queenes with the Hearses of their
Knightes, in a Funerall Solempnity, &c.
Vrnes, aud odours, bring away,
Vapours, sighes, darken the day;
Our dole more deadly lookes than dying
Balmes, and Gummes, and heavy cheeres,
Sacred vials fill'd with teares,
And clamors through the wild ayre flying.
Come all sad, and solempne Showes,
That are quick-eyd pleasures foes;
We convent nought else but woes.
We convent, &c.

3. Qu.
This funeral path, brings to your housholds grave:
Ioy ceaze on you againe: peace sleepe with him.

2. Qu.
And this to yours.

1. Qu.
Yours this way: Heavens lend
A thousand differing waies, to one sure end.

3. Qu.
This world's a Citty full of straying Streetes,
And Death's the market place, where each one meetes.
Exeunt severally.
Modern text
Act I, Scene I
Music. Enter Hymen with a torch burning; a boy in
a white robe before, singing and strewing flowers;
after Hymen, a nymph, encompassed in her tresses,
bearing a wheaten garland; then Theseus between two
other nymphs with wheaten chaplets on their heads;
then Hippolyta the bride, led by Pirithous, and another
holding a garland over her head, her tresses likewise
hanging; after her, Emilia holding up her train;
then Artesius and attendants

BOY
(sings)
Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
Not royal in their smells alone,
But in their hue,
Maiden pinks, of odour faint,
Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint,
And sweet thyme true,
Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Merry springtime's harbinger,
With harebells dim,
Oxlips, in their cradles growing,
Marigolds, on death-beds blowing,
Lark's-heels trim,
All dear Nature's children sweet,
Lie 'fore bride and bridegroom's feet,
Blessing their sense.
He strews flowers
Not an angel of the air,
Bird melodious or bird fair,
Is absent hence;
The crow, the slanderous cuckoo, nor
The boding raven, nor chough hoar,
Nor chattering pie,
May on our bridehouse perch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly.
Enter three Queens in black, with veils stained, with
imperial crowns. The First Queen falls down at the
foot of Theseus; the Second falls down at the foot of
Hippolyta; the Third before Emilia

FIRST QUEEN
For pity's sake and true gentility's,
Hear and respect me!

SECOND QUEEN
For your mother's sake,
And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair ones,
Hear and respect me!

THIRD QUEEN
Now for the love of him whom Jove hath marked
The honour of your bed, and for the sake
Of clear virginity, be advocate
For us and our distresses! This good deed
Shall raze you out o'th' book of trespasses
All you are set down there

THESEUS
Sad lady, rise.

HIPPOLYTA
Stand up.

EMILIA
No knees to me.
What woman I may stead that is distressed
Does bind me to her.

THESEUS
What's your request? Deliver you for all.

FIRST QUEEN
We are three queens, whose sovereigns fell before
The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured
The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,
And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.
He will not suffer us to burn their bones,
To urn their ashes, nor to take th' offence
Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye
Of holy Phoebus, but infects the winds
With stench of our slain lords. O, pity, Duke!
Thou purger of the earth, draw thy feared sword
That does good turns to th' world; give us the bones
Of our dead kings, that we may chapel them;
And of thy boundless goodness take some note
That for our crowned heads we have no roof,
Save this which is the lion's and the bear's,
And vault to everything.

THESEUS
Pray you kneel not;
I was transported with your speech, and suffered
Your knees to wrong themselves. I have heard the fortunes
Of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting
As wakes my vengeance and revenge for 'em.
King Capaneus was your lord; the day
That he should marry you, at such a season
As now it is with me, I met your groom.
By Mars's altar, you were that time fair;
Not Juno's mantle fairer then your tresses,
Nor in more bounty spread her; your wheaten wreath
Was then nor threshed nor blasted; Fortune at you
Dimpled her cheeks with smiles. Hercules our kinsman –
Then weaker than your eyes – laid by his club;
He tumbled down upon his Nemean hide
And swore his sinews thawed. O grief and time,
Fearful consumers, you will all devour!

FIRST QUEEN
O, I hope some god,
Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
Whereto he'll infuse power, and press you forth
Our undertaker.

THESEUS
O, no knees, none, widow;
Unto the helmeted Bellona use them,
And pray for me, your soldier; troubled I am.
He turns away

SECOND QUEEN
Honoured Hippolyta,
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
The scythe-tusked boar, that with thy arm as strong
As it is white wast near to make the male
To thy sex captive, but that this thy lord,
Born to uphold creation in that honour
First Nature styled it in, shrunk thee into
The bound thou wast o'erflowing, at once subduing
Thy force and thy affection; soldieress,
That equally canst poise sternness with pity,
Whom now I know hast much more power on him
Then ever he had on thee, who owest his strength
And his love too, who is a servant for
The tenor of thy speech; dear glass of ladies,
Bid him that we whom flaming war doth scorch
Under the shadow of his sword may cool us;
Require him he advance it o'er our heads;
Speak't in a woman's key, like such a woman
As any of us three; weep ere you fail.
Lend us a knee;
But touch the ground for us no longer time
Then a dove's motion when the head's plucked off;
Tell him, if he i'th' blood-sized field lay swollen,
Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,
What you would do.

HIPPOLYTA
Poor lady, say no more;
I had as lief trace this good action with you
As that whereto I am going, and never yet
Went I so willing way. My lord is taken
Heart-deep with your distress; let him consider.
I'll speak anon.

THIRD QUEEN
(to Emilia)
O, my petition was
Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
Melts into drops; so sorrow wanting form
Is pressed with deeper matter.

EMILIA
Pray stand up;
Your grief is written in your cheek.

THIRD QUEEN
O woe,
You cannot read it there; there through my tears,
Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
You may behold 'em. Lady, lady, alack,
He that will all the treasure know o'th' earth
Must know the centre too; he that will fish
For my least minnow, let him lead his line
To catch one at my heart. O, pardon me!
Extremity that sharpens sundry wits
Makes me a fool.

EMILIA
Pray you say nothing, pray you;
Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in't,
Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were
The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you
T' instruct me 'gainst a capital grief, indeed
Such heart-pierced demonstration; but alas,
Being a natural sister of our sex,
Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me
That it shall make a counter-reflect 'gainst
My brother's heart, and warm it to some pity
Though it were made of stone. Pray have good comfort.

THESEUS
Forward to th' temple! Leave not out a jot
O'th' sacred ceremony.

FIRST QUEEN
O, this celebration
Will longer last and be more costly than
Your suppliants' war. Remember that your fame
Knolls in the ear o'th' world; what you do quickly
Is not done rashly; your first thought is more
Than others' laboured meditance, your premeditating
More than their actions. But O Jove, your actions,
Soon as they move, as ospreys do the fish,
Subdue before they touch. Think, dear Duke, think
What beds our slain kings have.

SECOND QUEEN
What griefs our beds,
That our dear lords have none.

THIRD QUEEN
None fit for th' dead.
Those that with cords, knives, drams, precipitance,
Weary of this world's light, have to themselves
Been death's most horrid agents, human grace
Affords them dust and shadow.

FIRST QUEEN
But our lords
Lie blistering 'fore the visiting sun,
And were good kings when living.

THESEUS
It is true,
And I will give you comfort,
To give your dead lords graves; the which to do
Must make some work with Creon.

FIRST QUEEN
And that work
Presents itself to th' doing.
Now 'twill take form; the heats are gone tomorrow.
Then, bootless toil must recompense itself
With its own sweat; now, he's secure,
Not dreams we stand before your puissance,
Rinsing our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition clear.

SECOND QUEEN
Now you may take him,
Drunk with his victory.

THIRD QUEEN
And his army full
Of bread and sloth.

THESEUS
Artesius, that best knowest
How to draw out fit to this enterprise
The primest for this proceeding, and the number
To carry such a business, forth and levy
Our worthiest instruments, whilst we dispatch
This grand act of our life, this daring deed
Of fate in wedlock.

FIRST QUEEN
Dowagers, take hands.
Let us be widows to our woes; delay
Commends us to a famishing hope.

ALL QUEENS
Farewell.

SECOND QUEEN
We come unseasonably; but when could grief
Cull forth, as unpanged judgement can, fittest time
For best solicitation?

THESEUS
Why, good ladies,
This is a service, whereto I am going,
Greater than any war; it more imports me
Than all the actions that I have foregone
Or futurely can cope.

FIRST QUEEN
The more proclaiming
Our suit shall be neglected, when her arms,
Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
By warranting moonlight corslet thee; O, when
Her twinning cherries shall their sweetness fall
Upon thy tasteful lips, what wilt thou think
Of rotten kings or blubbered queens, what care
For what thou feelest not, what thou feelest being able
To make Mars spurn his drum? O, if thou couch
But one night with her, every hour in't will
Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
Thou shalt remember nothing more than what
That banquet bids thee too.

HIPPOLYTA
(kneels)
Though much unlike
You should be so transported, as much sorry
I should be such a suitor; yet I think
Did I not by th' abstaining of my joy,
Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
That craves a present medicine, I should pluck
All ladies' scandal on me. Therefore, sir,
As I shall here make trial of my prayers,
Either presuming them to have some force
Or sentencing for aye their vigour dumb,
Prorogue this business we are going about, and hang
Your shield afore your heart, about that neck
Which is my fee, and which I freely lend
To do these poor queens service.

ALL QUEENS
(to Emilia)
O, help now!
Our cause cries for your knee.

EMILIA
(kneels)
If you grant not
My sister her petition in that force,
With that celerity and nature which
She makes it in, from henceforth I'll not dare
To ask you anything, nor be so hardy
Ever to take a husband.

THESEUS
Pray stand up.
I am entreating of myself to do
That which you kneel to have me.
All the ladies rise
Pirithous,
Lead on the bride; get you and pray the gods
For success and return; omit not anything
In the pretended celebration. Queens,
Follow your soldier. (To Artesius) As before, hence you,
And at the banks of Aulis meet us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall find
The moiety of a number for a business
More bigger-looked. (To Hippolyta) Since that our theme is haste,
I stamp this kiss upon thy current lip;
(he kisses her)
Sweet, keep it as my token. – Set you forward,
For I will see you gone.
The marriage procession moves towards the temple
Farewell, my beauteous sister. Pirithous,
Keep the feast full, bate not an hour on't.

PIRITHOUS
Sir,
I'll follow you at heels; the feast's solemnity
Shall want till your return.

THESEUS
Cousin, I charge you,
Budge not from Athens. We shall be returning
Ere you can end this feast, of which I pray you
Make no abatement. Once more, farewell all.
The procession goes out

FIRST QUEEN
Thus dost thou still make good the tongue o'th' world.

SECOND QUEEN
And earn'st a deity equal with Mars.

THIRD QUEEN
If not above him, for
Thou being but mortal makest affections bend
To godlike honours; they themselves, some say,
Groan under such a mastery.

THESEUS
As we are men,
Thus should we do; being sensually subdued,
We lose our human title. Good cheer, ladies;
Now turn we towards your comforts.
Flourish. Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene II
Enter Palamon and Arcite

ARCITE
Dear Palamon, dearer in love than blood
And our prime cousin, yet unhardened in
The crimes of nature, let us leave the city
Thebes, and the temptings in't, before we further
Sully our gloss of youth;
And here to keep in abstinence we shame
As in incontinence; for not to swim
I'th' aid o'th' current were almost to sink,
At least to frustrate striving; and to follow
The common stream, 'twould bring us to an eddy
Where we should turn or drown; if labour through,
Our gain but life and weakness.

PALAMON
Your advice
Is cried up with example. What strange ruins,
Since first we went to school, may we perceive
Walking in Thebes? Scars and bare weeds
The gain o'th' martialist, who did propound
To his bold ends honour and golden ingots,
Which though he won he had not, and now flirted
By peace for whom he fought; who then shall offer
To Mars's so scorned altar? I do bleed
When such I meet, and wish great Juno would
Resume her ancient fit of jealousy
To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
For her repletion, and retain anew
Her charitable heart, now hard and harsher
Than strife or war could be.

ARCITE
Are you not out?
Meet you no ruin but the soldier in
The cranks and turns of Thebes? You did begin
As if you met decays of many kinds;
Perceive you none that do arouse your pity
But th' unconsidered soldier?

PALAMON
Yes, I pity
Decays where'er I find them, but such most
That sweating in an honourable toil
Are paid with ice to cool 'em.

ARCITE
'Tis not this
I did begin to speak of; this is virtue,
Of no respect in Thebes. I spake of Thebes,
How dangerous, if we will keep our honours,
It is for our residing, where every evil
Hath a good colour; where every seeming good's
A certain evil; where not to be even jump
As they are, here were to be strangers, and
Such things to be, mere monsters.

PALAMON
'Tis in our power –
Unless we fear that apes can tutor's – to
Be masters of our manners. What need I
Affect another's gait, which is not catching
Where there is faith, or to be fond upon
Another's way of speech, when by mine own
I may be reasonably conceived – saved too,
Speaking it truly? Why am I bound
By any generous bond to follow him
Follows his tailor, haply so long until
The followed make pursuit? Or let me know
Why mine own barber is unblest, with him
My poor chin too, for 'tis not scissored just
To such a favourite's glass? What canon is there
That does command my rapier from my hip
To dangle't in my hand, or to go tiptoe
Before the street be foul? Either I am
The fore-horse in the team, or I am none
That draw i'th' sequent trace. These poor slight sores
Need not a plantain; that which rips my bosom
Almost to th' heart's –

ARCITE
Our uncle Creon.

PALAMON
He;
A most unbounded tyrant, whose successes
Makes heaven unfeared, and villainy assured
Beyond its power there's nothing; almost puts
Faith in a fever, and deifies alone
Voluble chance; who only attributes
The faculties of other instruments
To his own nerves and act; commands men service,
And what they win in't, boot and glory; one
That fears not to do harm; good, dares not. Let
The blood of mine that's sib to him be sucked
From me with leeches! Let them break and fall
Off me with that corruption.

ARCITE
Clear-spirited cousin,
Let's leave his court, that we may nothing share
Of his loud infamy; for our milk
Will relish of the pasture, and we must
Be vile or disobedient, not his kinsmen
In blood unless in quality.

PALAMON
Nothing truer.
I think the echoes of his shames have deafed
The ears of heavenly justice; widows' cries
Descend again into their throats, and have not
Due audience of the gods.
Enter Valerius
Valerius!

VALERIUS
The King calls for you; yet be leaden-footed
Till his great rage be off him. Phoebus, when
He broke his whipstock and exclaimed against
The horses of the sun, but whispered to
The loudness of his fury.

PALAMON
Small winds shake him.
But what's the matter?

VALERIUS
Theseus, who where he threats appals, hath sent
Deadly defiance to him and pronounces
Ruin to Thebes; who is at hand to seal
The promise of his wrath.

ARCITE
Let him approach;
But that we fear the gods in him, he brings not
A jot of terror to us. Yet what man
Thirds his own worth – the case is each of ours –
When that his action's dregged with mind assured
'Tis bad he goes about.

PALAMON
Leave that unreasoned;
Our services stand now for Thebes, not Creon.
Yet to be neutral to him were dishonour,
Rebellious to oppose; therefore we must
With him stand to the mercy of our fate,
Who hath bounded our last minute.

ARCITE
So we must.
Is't said this war's afoot, or it shall be
On fail of some condition?

VALERIUS
'Tis in motion;
The intelligence of state came in the instant
With the defier.

PALAMON
Let's to the King, who were he
A quarter carrier of that honour which
His enemy come in, the blood we venture
Should be as for our health, which were not spent,
Rather laid out for purchase. But alas,
Our hands advanced before our hearts, what will
The fall o'th' stroke do damage?

ARCITE
Let th' event,
That never-erring arbitrator, tell us
When we know all ourselves, and let us follow
The becking of our chance.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene III
Enter Pirithous, Hippolyta, and Emilia

PIRITHOUS
No further.

HIPPOLYTA
Sir, farewell. Repeat my wishes
To our great lord, of whose success I dare not
Make any timorous question; yet I wish him
Excess and overflow of power, an't might be,
To dure ill-dealing fortune. Speed to him;
Store never hurts good governors.

PIRITHOUS
Though I know
His ocean needs not my poor drops, yet they
Must yield their tribute there. (To Emilia) My precious maid,
Those best affections that the heavens infuse
In their best-tempered pieces keep enthroned
In your dear heart.

EMILIA
Thanks, sir. Remember me
To our all-royal brother, for whose speed
The great Bellona I'll solicit; and
Since in our terrene state petitions are not
Without gifts understood, I'll offer to her
What I shall be advised she likes. Our hearts
Are in his army, in his tent.

HIPPOLYTA
In's bosom.
We have been soldiers, and we cannot weep
When our friends don their helms, or put to sea,
Or tell of babes broached on the lance, or women
That have sod their infants in – and after ate them –
The brine they wept at killing 'em; then if
You stay to see of us such spinsters, we
Should hold you here for ever.

PIRITHOUS
Peace be to you
As I pursue this war, which shall be then
Beyond further requiring.
Exit

EMILIA
How his longing
Follows his friend! Since his depart, his sports,
Though craving seriousness and skill, passed slightly
His careless execution, where nor gain
Made him regard or loss consider, but
Playing one business in his hand, another
Directing in his head – his mind nurse equal
To these so differing twins. Have you observed him
Since our great lord departed?

HIPPOLYTA
With much labour;
And I did love him for't. They two have cabined
In many as dangerous as poor a corner,
Peril and want contending; they have skiffed
Torrents whose roaring tyranny and power
I'th' least of these was dreadful; and they have
Fought out together where death's self was lodged;
Yet fate hath brought them off. Their knot of love,
Tied, weaved, entangled, with so true, so long,
And with a finger of so deep a cunning,
May be outworn, never undone. I think
Theseus cannot be umpire to himself,
Cleaving his conscience into twain and doing
Each side like justice, which he loves best.

EMILIA
Doubtless
There is a best, and reason has no manners
To say it is not you. I was acquainted
Once with a time when I enjoyed a playfellow.
You were at wars when she the grave enriched
Who made too proud the bed; took leave o'th' moon –
Which then looked pale at parting – when our count
Was each eleven.

HIPPOLYTA
'Twas Flavina.

EMILIA
Yes.
You talk of Pirithous' and Theseus' love;
Theirs has more ground, is more maturely seasoned,
More buckled with strong judgement, and their needs
The one of th' other may be said to water
Their intertangled roots of love. But I
And she I sigh and spoke of were things innocent,
Loved for we did, and like the elements
That know not what, nor why, yet do effect
Rare issues by their operance, our souls
Did so to one another. What she liked
Was then of me approved, what not, condemned,
No more arraignment; the flower that I would pluck
And put between my breasts – O, then but beginning
To swell about the blossom – she would long
Till she had such another, and commit it
To the like innocent cradle, where phoenix-like
They died in perfume; on my head no toy
But was her pattern; her affections – pretty,
Though happily her careless wear – I followed
For my most serious decking; had mine ear
Stolen some new air, or at adventure hummed one
From musical coinage, why, it was a note
Whereon her spirits would sojourn – rather dwell on –
And sing it in her slumbers. This rehearsal –
Which every innocent wots well comes in
Like old emportment's bastard – has this end,
That the true love 'tween maid and maid may be
More than in sex dividual.

HIPPOLYTA
You're out of breath,
And this high-speeded pace is but to say
That you shall never – like the maid Flavina –
Love any that's called man.

EMILIA
I am sure I shall not.

HIPPOLYTA
Now alack, weak sister,
I must no more believe thee in this point,
Though in't I know thou dost believe thyself,
Than I will trust a sickly appetite
That loathes even as it longs. But sure, my sister,
If I were ripe for your persuasion, you
Have said enough to shake me from the arm
Of the all-noble Theseus, for whose fortunes
I will now in and kneel, with great assurance
That we, more than his Pirithous, possess
The high throne in his heart.

EMILIA
I am not
Against your faith, yet I continue mine.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene IV
Cornets. A battle struck within; then a retreat.
Flourish. Then enter Theseus, victor, with Herald and
attendants, and Palamon and Arcite brought in on
hearses. The three Queens meet him, and fall on their
faces before him

FIRST QUEEN
To thee no star be dark.

SECOND QUEEN
Both heaven and earth
Friend thee for ever.

THIRD QUEEN
All the good that may
Be wished upon thy head, I cry amen to't.

THESEUS
Th' impartial gods, who from the mounted heavens
View us their mortal herd, behold who err,
And in their time chastise. Go and find out
The bones of your dead lords, and honour them
With treble ceremony; rather than a gap
Should be in their dear rights, we would supply't.
But those we will depute which shall invest
You in your dignities, and even each thing
Our haste does leave imperfect. So adieu,
And heaven's good eyes look on you.
Exeunt Queens with attendants
What are those?

HERALD
Men of great quality, as may be judged
By their appointment; some of Thebes have told's
They are sisters' children, nephews to the King.

THESEUS
By th' helm of Mars, I saw them in the war,
Like to a pair of lions, smeared with prey,
Make lanes in troops aghast. I fixed my note
Constantly on them, for they were a mark
Worth a god's view. What prisoner was't that told me
When I inquired their names?

HERALD
Wi' leave, they're called
Arcite and Palamon.

THESEUS
'Tis right; those, those.
They are not dead?

HERALD
Nor in a state of life; had they been taken
When their last hurts were given, 'twas possible
They might have been recovered. Yet they breathe,
And have the name of men.

THESEUS
Then like men use 'em.
The very lees of such, millions of rates,
Exceed the wine of others. All our surgeons
Convent in their behoof; our richest balms,
Rather than niggard, waste; their lives concern us
Much more than Thebes is worth. Rather than have 'em
Freed of this plight and in their morning state,
Sound and at liberty, I would 'em dead;
But forty-thousandfold we had rather have 'em
Prisoners to us then death. Bear 'em speedily
From our kind air, to them unkind, and minister
What man to man may do – for our sake, more,
Since I have known frights, fury, friends' behests,
Love's provocations, zeal, a mistress' task,
Desire of liberty, a fever, madness,
Hath set a mark which nature could not reach to
Without some imposition, sickness in will
O'er-wrestling strength in reason. For our love
And great Apollo's mercy, all our best
Their best skill tender. Lead into the city,
Where having bound things scattered, we will post
To Athens 'fore our army.
Flourish. Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene V
Music. Enter the Queens with the hearses of their
knights, in a funeral solemnity, with attendants
SONG
Urns and odours bring away;
Vapours, sighs, darken the day;
Our dole more deadly looks than dying;
Balms and gums and heavy cheers,
Sacred vials filled with tears,
And clamours through the wild air flying.
Come all sad and solemn shows
That are quick-eyed pleasure's foes;
We convent naught else but woes,
We convent naught else but woes.

THIRD QUEEN
This funeral path brings to your houshold's grave.
Joy seize on you again; peace sleep with him.

SECOND QUEEN
And this to yours.

FIRST QUEEN
Yours this way. Heavens lend
A thousand differing ways to one sure end.

THIRD QUEEN
This world's a city full of straying streets,
And death's the market-place, where each one meets.
Exeunt severally
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