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THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER by THOMAS DEKKER

ACT 1

[Introduction] [Act 2] [Act 1] [Act 3] [Act 4] [Act 5] [Endnotes]
     
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THE PRINTER TO THE READER

 

Understanding reader, I present this to your view, which has received applause in action. The poet might conceive a complete satisfaction upon the stage’s approbation; but the printer rests not there, knowing that that which was acted and approved upon the stage, might be no less acceptable in print. It is now communicated to you, whose leisure and knowledge admits of reading and reason. Your judgment now this Posthumous <1> assures himself will well attest his predecessor’s endeavours to give content to men of the ablest quality, such as intelligent readers are here conceived to be. I could have troubled you with a longer epistle, but I fear to stay you from the book, which affords better words and matter than I can. So the work modestly depending in the scale of your judgment, the printer for his part craves your pardon, hoping by his promptness to do you greater service, as convenience shall enable him to give you more or better testimony of his entireness towards you.  

 

N.V.  

 

CHARACTERS

 

King of Spain

Cardinal, advisor to the King

Count Malateste of Florence, confidant of the Queen

Roderigo, Don of Spain, supporter of the King

Valasco, Don of Spain, supporter of the King

Lopez, Don of Spain, supporter of the King

Duke of Medina, leader of the Faction

Marquis Daenia, member of the Faction

Alba, Don of Spain, member of the Faction

Carlo, Don of Spain, member of the Faction

Alanzo, Captain of the Guard, member of the Faction

Sebastian, illegitimate son of the King

Balthazar, a Spanish soldier

Cornego, servant to Onaelia

Cockadillio, a courtier

Signor No

A Poet

 

Queen of Spain, Paulina, daughter of Duke of Florence

Onaelia, niece to the Duke of Medina, mother of Sebastian

Juanna, maid to Onaelia

Ladies in waiting

 

Attendants, guards

  

ACT 1 SCENE 1

 

Enter in magnificent state to the sound of loud music, the King and Queen, as from church, attended by the Cardinal, Count Malateste, Marquis Daenia, Roderigo, Valasco, Alba, Carlo, and ladies-in waiting. The King and Queen with courtly compliments salute and part. She [exits] with one half attending her. King, Cardinal and the other half stay, the King seeming angry and desirous to be rid of them. King, Cardinal, Daenia and others [remain].

 

KING

Give us what no man here is master of:

Breath. Leave us pray, my father Cardinal

Can by the physic of philosophy

Set all again in order. Leave us pray.

 

Exeunt [King and Cardinal remain].

 

CARDINAL

How is it with you, sir?

 

KING

As with a ship

Now beat with storms, now safe. The storms are vanished

And having you my Pilot, I not only

See shore, but harbour; I to you will open

The book of a black sin, deep printed in me.

Oh father, my disease lies in my soul.

 

CARDINAL

The old wound sir?

 

KING

Yes that, it festers inwards.

For though I have a beauty to my bed

That even creation envies at, as wanting

Stuff to make such another, yet on her pillow

I lie by her, but an adulterer,

And she as an adulteress. She is my queen

And wife, yet but my strumpet though the church

Set on the seal of marriage. Good Onaelia,

Niece to our Lord High Constable of Spain

Was precontracted mine.

 

CARDINAL

Yet when I stung

Your conscience with remembrance of the act

Your ears were deaf to counsel.

 

KING

I confess it.

 

CARDINAL

Now to untie the knot with your new Queen

Would shake your crown half from your head.

 

KING

Even Troy, though she has wept her eyes out,

Would find tears to wail my kingdom’s ruins.

     

CARDINAL

What will you do then?

 

KING

She has that contract written, sealed by you,

And other churchmen witnesses unto it.

A kingdom should be given for that paper.

 

CARDINAL

I would not, for what lies beneath the moon,

Be made a wicked engine to break in pieces

That holy contract.

 

KING

‘Tis my soul’s aim

To tie it upon a faster knot.

 

CARDINAL

I do not see

How you can with safe conscience get it from her.

 

KING

Oh I know

I wrestle with a lioness. To imprison her

And force her to it, I dare not. Death! What King

Did ever say ‘I dare not’? I must have it;

A bastard have I by her, and that cock

Will have, I fear, sharp spurs, if he crow after

Him that trod for him. Something must be done

Both to the hen and the chicken. Haste you therefore

To sad Onaelia, tell her I’m resolved

To give my new hawk bells, and let her fly.

My Queen, I’m weary of, and her will marry.

To this, our text, add you what gloss you please;

The secret drifts of kings are depthless seas.

     

Exeunt.

 

ACT 1 SCENE 2

 

A table set out covered with black. Two waxen tapers. The King’s [defaced] picture at one end and a crucifix at the other. Onaelia [dressed in black] walking discontentedly weeping to the crucifix.

 

[Unspecified characters perform] a song.

 

QUESTION

Oh sorrow, sorrow, say where do'st thou dwell?

     

ANSWER

In the lowest room of hell.

 

QUESTION

Art thou born of human race?

 

ANSWER

No, no. I have a fury’s <2> face.

 

QUESTION

Art thou in city, town or court?

 

ANSWER

I to every place resort.

 

QUESTION

O why into the world is sorrow sent?

     

ANSWER

Men afflicted best repent.

 

QUESTION

What do'st thou feed on?

 

ANSWER

Broken sleep.

 

QUESTION

What takest thou take pleasure in?

 

ANSWER

To weep,

To sigh, to sob, to pine, to groan,

To wring my hands, to sit alone.

 

QUESTION

Oh when, oh when, shall sorrow quiet have?

 

ANSWER

Never, never, never, never,

Never till she finds a grave.

 

Enter Cornego.

 

CORNEGO

No lesson Madam but Lacrymae’s? <3> If you had buried nine husbands, so much water as you might squeeze out of an onion had been tears enough to cast away upon fellows that cannot thank you. Come, be jovial.

 

ONAELIA

Sorrow becomes me best.

 

CORNEGO

A suit of laugh and lie down would wear better.

 

ONAELIA

What should I do to be merry, Cornego?

 

CORNEGO

Be not sad.

 

ONAELIA

But what’s the best mirth in the world?

 

CORNEGO

Marry this, to see much, say little, do little, get little, spend little and want nothing.

 

ONAELIA

Oh, but there is a mirth beyond all these;

This picture has so vexed me, I’m half mad,

To spite it therefore, I’ll sing any song

Thyself shall tune. Say then, what mirth is best?

 

CORNEGO

Why then Madam, what I knock out now is the very marrowbone of mirth and this it is.

 

ONAELIA

Say on.

 

CORNEGO

The best mirth for a lawyer is to have fools to his clients; for citizens to have noblemen pay for their debts; for tailors to have store of satin brought in, for then how little soever their houses are, they will be sure to have large yards. The best mirth for bawds is to have fresh handsome whores, and for whores to have rich gulls come aboard their pinnaces <4>, for then they are sure to build galleasses <5>.

 

ONAELIA

These to such souls are mirth, but to mine, none.

Away.

 

Exit Cornego, Enter Cardinal.

 

CARDINAL

Peace to you, Lady.

 

ONAELIA

I will not sin so much as to hope for peace

And ‘tis a mock ill suits your gravity.

 

CARDINAL

I come to knit the nerves of your lost strength,

To build your ruins up, to set you free

From this your voluntary banishment,

And give new being to your murdered fame.

 

ONAELIA

What Aesculapius <6> can do this?

 

CARDINAL

‘Tis from the King I come.

     

ONAELIA

A name I hate.

Oh, I am deaf now to your embassy.

 

CARDINAL

Hear what I speak.

 

ONAELIA

Your language breathed from him

Is death’s sad doom upon a wretch condemned.

 

CARDINAL

Is it such poison?

 

ONAELIA

Yes, and were you crystal,

What the King fills you with would make you break.

You should my Lord, be like these robes you wear,

Pure as the dye, and like that reverend shape  

Nurse thoughts as full of honour, zeal and purity.

You should be the court-dial, and direct

The King with constant motion, be ever beating,

Like to clock-hammers, on his iron heart

To make it sound clear and to feel remorse.

You should unlock his soul, wake his dead conscience

Which, like a drowsy sentinel, gives leave

For sin’s vast armies to beleaguer him.

His ruins will be asked for at your hands.

 

CARDINAL

I have raised up a scaffolding to save

Both him and you from falling. Do but hear me.

 

ONAELIA

Be dumb for ever.

 

CARDINAL

Let your fears thus die:

By all the sacred relics of the church

And by my holy orders, what I minister

Is even the spirit of health.

 

ONAELIA

I’ll drink it down into my soul at once.

 

CARDINAL

You shall.

 

ONAELIA

But swear.

 

CARDINAL

What conjurations can more bind my oath?

 

ONAELIA

But did you swear in earnest?

 

CARDINAL

Come, you trifle.

 

ONAELIA

No marvel, for my hopes have been so drowned

I still despair, say on.

 

CARDINAL

The King repents.

 

ONAELIA

Pray, that again my Lord.

 

CARDINAL

The King repents.

 

ONAELIA

His wrongs to me?

 

CARDINAL

His wrongs to you. The sense of sin

Has pierced his soul.

 

ONAELIA

Blessed penitence!

 

CARDINAL

Has turned his eyes <7> into his leprous bosom

And like a king vows execution

On all his traitorous passions.

 

ONAELIA

God-like justice!

 

CARDINAL

Intends in person presently to beg

Forgiveness for his acts from heaven and you.

 

ONAELIA

Heaven pardon him. I shall.

 

CARDINAL

Will marry you.

 

ONAELIA

Umh! Marry me? Will he turn bigamist?

When? When?

 

CARDINAL

Before the morrow sun hath rode

Half his day’s journey, will send home his Queen

As one that stains his bed, and can produce

Nothing but bastard issue to his crown.

Why, how now? Lost in wonder and amazement?

 

ONAELIA

I am so stored with joy that I can now

Strongly wear out more years of misery

Than I have lived.

 

Enter King.

 

CARDINAL

You need not: here is the King.

 

KING

Leave us.

     

Exit Cardinal.

 

ONAELIA

With pardon sir, I will prevent you

And charge upon you first.

 

KING

‘Tis granted, do.

But stay, what mean these emblems of distress?

My picture so defaced, opposed against

A holy cross! Room hung in black, and you

Dressed like chief mourner at a funeral?

 

ONAELIA

Look back upon your guilt, dear Sir, and then

The cause that now seems strange explains itself.

This and the image of my living wrongs

Is still confronted by me to beget

Grief like my shame, whose length may outlive time.

This cross, the object of my wounded soul

To which I pray to keep me from despair;

That ever as the sight of one throws up

Mountains of sorrow on my accursed head.

Turning to that, mercy may check despair

And bind my hands from willful violence.

 

KING

But who has played the tyrant with me thus,

And with such dangerous spite abused my picture?

 

ONAELIA

The guilt of that lays claim sir, to yourself

For being, by you, ransacked of all my fame,

Robbed of mine honour and dear chastity,

Made, by your act, the shame of all my house,

The hate of good men and the scorn of bad,

The song of broom-men and the murdering vulgar,

And left alone to bear up all these ills

By you begun, my breast was filled with fire

And wrapped in just disdain, and like a woman

On that dumb picture wreaked I my passions.

 

KING

And wished it had been I.

 

ONAELIA

Pardon me Sir,

My wrongs were great, and my revenge swelled high.

 

KING

I will descend and cease to be a King,

To leave my judging part, freely confessing

Thou canst not give thy wrongs too ill a name.

And here to make thy apprehension full,

And seat thy reason in a sound belief

I vow tomorrow, ere the rising sun

Begins his journey, with all ceremonies

Due to the Church, to seal our nuptials,

To prive <8> thy son with full consent of state,

Spain ’s heir apparent, born in wedlock’s vows.

 

ONAELIA

And will you swear to this?

 

KING

By this I swear.

 

[Takes up Bible.]

 

ONAELIA

Oh, you have sworn false oaths upon that book!

 

KING

Why then, by this.

 

[Takes up crucifix.]

 

ONAELIA

Take heed you print it deeply:

How for your concubine, bride I cannot say,

She stains your bed with black adultery,

And though her fame masks in a fairer shape

Than <9> mine to the world’s eye, yet King, you know

Mine honour is less strumpeted than hers,

However butchered in opinion.

 

KING

This way for her, the contract which thou hast,

By best advice of all our Cardinals,

Today shall be enlarged till it be made

Past all dissolving. Then to our council table

Shall she be called, that read aloud, she told

The church commands her quick return for Florence

With such a dower as Spain received with her,

And that they will not hazard heaven’s dire curse

To yield to a match unlawful, which shall taint

The issue of the King with bastardy.

This done, in state majestic come you forth,

Our new crowned Queen in sight of all our peers.

Are you resolved?

 

ONAELIA

To doubt of this were treason

Because the King has sworn it.

 

KING

And will keep it.

Deliver up the contract then, that I

May make this day end with thy misery.

 

ONAELIA

Here as the dearest Jewel of my fame

Locked I this parchment from all viewing eyes.

This your indenture, held alone the life

Of my supposed dead honour; yet behold,

Into your hands I redeliver it.

Oh keep it Sir, as you should keep that vow,

To which, being signed by heaven, even angels bow.

 

[Onaelia passes the document to the King.]

 

KING

‘Tis in the lion’s paw, and who dares snatch it?

Now to your beads and crucifix again.

 

ONAELIA

Defend me heaven!

 

KING

Pray there may come Embassadors from France

Their followers are good customers.

 

ONAELIA

Save me from madness!

 

KING

‘Twill raise the price, being the King’s mistress.

 

ONAELIA

You do but counterfeit to mock my joys.

 

KING

Away bold strumpet!

 

ONAELIA

Are there eyes in heaven to see this?

 

KING

Call and try, here’s a whore’s curse

To fall in that belief, which her sins nurse.

 

Exit King, Enter Cornego.

 

CORNEGO

How now? What quarter of the moon has she cut out now? My Lord puts me into a wise office to be a mad-woman’s keeper. Why, Madam!

 

ONAELIA

Ha! Where is the King, thou slave?

 

[Clutches Cornego.]

 

CORNEGO

Let go your hold, or I’ll fall upon you as I am a man.

 

ONAELIA

Thou treacherous caitiff <10>, where is the King?

 

CORNEGO

He’s gone, but not so far as you are.

 

ONAELIA

Crack all in sunder, oh you battlements,

And grind me into powder

 

CORNEGO

What powder? Come, what powder? When did you ever see a woman grinded into powder? I am sure some of your sex powder men, and pepper them too.

 

ONAELIA

Is there a vengeance yet lacking to my ruin?

Let it fall, now let it fall upon me!

 

CORNEGO

No, there has been too much fallen upon you already.

 

ONAELIA

Thou villain, leave thy hold, I’ll follow him

Like a raised ghost, I’ll haunt him, break his sleep,

Fright him as he is embracing his new leman <11>,

Til want of rest bids him run mad and die,

For making oaths bawds to his perjury.

 

CORNEGO

Pray be more seasoned, if he make any bawds, he did ill, for there is enough of that fly-blown flesh already.

 

ONAELIA

I’m left quite naked now; all gone, all, all.

 

CORNEGO

No Madam, not all, for you cannot be rid of me.

Here comes your Uncle.

 

Enter Medina.

 

ONAELIA

Attired in robes of vengeance, are you uncle?

 

MEDINA

More horrors yet?

 

ONAELIA

‘Twas never full till now,

And in this torrent all my hopes lie drowned.

 

MEDINA

Instruct me in the cause.

 

ONAELIA

The King, the contract!

 

Exit Onaelia.

 

CORNEGO

That’s cud enough for you to chew upon.

 

Exit Cornego.

 

MEDINA

What’s this? A riddle. How? The King, the contract.

The mischief I divine which proving true,

Shall kindle fires in Spain to melt his crown

Even from his head. Here’s the decree of fate:

A black deed must a black deed expiate.

 

Exit Medina.