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THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER by THOMAS DEKKER

ACT 2

[Introduction] [Act 2] [Act 1] [Act 3] [Act 4] [Act 5] [Endnotes]
     
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ACT 2 SCENE 1

 

Enter Balthazar, [having been] slighted by the Dons.

 

BALTHAZAR

Thou god of good apparel, what strange fellows are bound to do thee honour. Mercer’s <12> books show men’s devotions to thee. Heaven cannot hold a saint so stately. Do not my dons know me because I’m poor in clothes? Stood my beaten tailor plaiting my rich hose, my silk stocking man drawing upon my Lordship’s courtly calf pairs of imbroidered things, whose golden clocks strike deeper to the faithful shop-keeper’s heart, than into mine to pay him. Had my barber perfumed my lousy thatch here and poked out me tusks more stiff than are a cats muschatoes <13>, these pied-winged butterflies had known me then. Another fly-boat! <14> Save thee illustrious Don.

 

Enter Don Rodrigo.

 

Sir, is the King at leisure to speak Spanish with a poor Soldier?

 

RODRIGO

No

 

BALTHAZAR

No, Sirah, you, no! You Don with the ochre face, I wish to have thee but on a breach, stifling with smoke and fire. And for thy no, but whiffing gunpowder out of an iron pipe, I would but ask thee if thou would’st on, and if thou did’st cry no, thou should’st read Canon Law. I’d make thee roar, and wear cut-beaten-satin. I would pay thee though thou payest not thy mercer. Mere Spanish jennets! <15>

 

Enter Cockadillio.

 

Signor, is the King at leisure?

 

COCKADILLO

To do what?

 

BALTHAZAR

To hear a soldier speak.

 

COCKADILLO

I am no ear picker

To sound his hearing that way.

 

BALTHAZAR

Are you of court sir?

 

COCKADILLO

Yes, the King’s barber.

 

BALTHAZAR

That’s his ear picker. Your name, I pray.

 

COCKADILLO

Don Cockadillio

If, soldier, thou hast suits to beg at court,

I shall descend so low as to betray

Thy paper to the hand Royal.

 

BALTHAZAR

I beg, you whorson muscod <16>! My petition is written on my bosom in red wounds.

 

COCKADILLO

I am no barber-surgeon.

 

Exit Cockadillio.

 

BALTHAZAR

You yellowhammer, why, shaver: that such poor things as these, only made up of tailor's shreds and merchant's silken rags and 'pothecary drugs to lend their breath sophisticated smells, when their rank guts stink worse than cowards in the heat of battle. Such whaleboned-doublet rascals, that owe more to laundresses and seamsters for laced linen than all their race from their great grand-father to this their reign, in clothes were ever worth. These excrements of silk worms! Oh that such flies do buzz about the beams of Majesty, like earwigs tickling a King’s yielding ear with that court-organ, flattery, when a soldier must not come near the court gates twenty score, but stand for want of clothes, though he win towns, amongst the almsbasket-men! His best reward being scorned to be a fellow to the blackguard. Why should a soldier, being the world’s right arm, be cut thus by the left, a courtier? Is the world all ruff and feather and nothing else? Shall I never see a tailor give his coat with a difference from a gentleman?

 

Enter King, Alanzo, Carlo, Cockadillio.

 

KING
My Balthazar!

Let us make haste to meet thee. How art thou altered?

Do you not know him?

 

ALANZO
Yes Sir, the brave soldier

Employed against the Moors

 

KING

Half turned Moor!

I’ll honour thee, reach him a chair, that table

And now, Aeneas-like, let thine own trumpet

Sound forth thy battle with those slavish Moors.

 

BALTHAZAR

My music is a Cannon, a pitched field my stage, Furies the actors, blood and vengeance the scene, death the story, a sword imbrued with blood, the pen that writes, and the poet a terrible buskined <17> tragical fellow, with a wreath about his head of burning match instead of bays.

 

KING

On to the battle.

 

BALTHAZAR

‘Tis here without bloodshed. This our main battalia, that the van, this the vaw <18>, these the wings, here we fight, there they fly, here they insconce <19>, and here our sconces <20> lay seventeen moons on the cold earth.

 

KING
This satisfies my eye, but now my ear

Must have his music too. Describe the battle.

 

BALTHAZAR

The battle? Am I come from doing to talking? The hardest part for a soldier to play is to prate well. Our tongues are fifes, drums, petronels <21>, muskets, culverin <22> and cannon. These are our roarers, the clocks which we go by are our hands. Thus we reckon ten, our swords strike eleven and when steel targets of proof clatter one against another, then ‘tis noon that’s the height and the heat of the day of battle.

 

KING

So.

 

BALTHAZAR

 

To that heat we came, our drums beat, pikes were shaken and shivered, swords and targets clashed and clattered, muskets rattled cannons roared, men died groaning, brave laced jerkings and feathers looked pale, tottered rascals fought pell mell. Here fell a wing, there heads were tossed like footballs, legs and arms quarrelled in the air and yet lay quietly on the earth. Horses trampled upon heaps of carcasses, troops of carbines tumbled wounded from their horses, we besiege Moors and famine us, mutinies bluster and are calm. I vowed not to doff mine armour though my flesh were frozen to it and turn into iron, nor to cut head nor beard till they yielded. My hairs and oath are of one length for, with Caesar, thus write I mine own story: veni, vidi, vici.

 

KING

A pitched field, quickly fought. Our hand is thine,

And because thou shalt not murmur that thy blood

Was lavished forth for an ungrateful man,

Demand what we can give thee and ‘tis thine.

 

BALTHAZAR

Only your love.

 

KING

‘Tis thine, rise soldier’s best accord

When wounds of wrong are healed up by the sword.

 

Onaelia knocks loudly at the door.

 

ONAELIA

Let me come in, I’ll kill the treacherous King,

The murderer of mine honour, let me come in.

 

KING

What woman’s voice is that?

 

ALL

Medina’s niece.

 

KING

Bar out that fiend.

 

ONAELIA

I’ll tear him with my nails,

Let me come in, let me come in, help, help me.

 

KING

Keep her from following me. A guard.

 

ALANZO

They are ready, sir.

 

KING

Let a quick summons call our Lords together,

This disease kills me.

 

BALTHAZAR

Sir, I would be private with you.

 

KING

Forebear us, but see the doors are well guarded.

 

Exeunt [King and Balthazar remain].

 

BALTHAZAR

Will you, Sir, promise to give me freedom of speech?

 

KING

Yes, I will, take it, speak any thing, ‘tis pardoned.

 

BALTHAZAR

You are a whoremaster. Do you send me to win towns for you abroad and you lose a kingdom at home?

 

KING

What kingdom?

 

BALTHAZAR

The fairest in the world, the kingdom of your fame, your honour.

 

KING

Wherein?

 

BALTHAZAR

I’ll be plain with you. Much mischief is done by the mouth of a cannon, but the fire begins at a little touch-hole. You heard what nightingale sung to you even now.

 

KING

Ha, ha, ha!

 

BALTHAZAR

Angels erred but once and fell, but you Sir, spit in heaven’s face every minute and laugh at it. Laugh still, follow your courses, do. Let your vices run like your kennels of hounds, yelping after you till they pluck down the fairest head in the herd, everlasting bliss.

 

KING

Any more?

 

BALTHAZAR

Take sin as the English snuff tobacco, and scornfully blow the smoke in the eyes of heaven, the vapour flies up in clouds of bravery. But when ‘tis out, the coal is black, your conscience, and the pipe stinks. A sea of rosewater cannot sweeten your corrupted bosom.

 

KING

Nay, spit thy venom.

 

BALTHAZAR

‘Tis Aqua Coelestis <23>, no venom. For when you shall clasp up these two books, never to be opened again, when by letting fall that anchor which can never more be weighed up, your mortal navigation ends. Then there’s no playing at spurn-point <24> with thunderbolts. A vintner then for unconscionable reckoning or a tailor for unmeasurable items shall not answer in half that fear you must.

 

KING

No more.

 

BALTHAZAR

I will follow truth at the heels, though her foot beat my gums in pieces.

 

KING

The barber that draws out a lion’s tooth

Curseth his trade; and so shalt thou.

 

BALTHAZAR

I care not.

 

KING

Because you have beaten a few base-born moors,

Me think’st thou to chastise? What is past I pardon,

Because I made the key to unlock thy railing;

But if thou dar’st once more be so untuned

I’ll sent thee to the galleys. Who are without there,

How now?

 

Enter [guards and attendants] drawn.

 

ALL

In danger, Sir?

 

KING

Yes, yes, I am, but ‘tis no point of weapon

Can rescue me. Go presently and summon

All our chief Grandees, Cardinals, and Lords

Of Spain to meet in Council instantly.

We called you forth to execute a business

Of another strain - but ‘tis no matter now.

Thou diest when next thou furrowest up our brow.

 

BALTHAZAR

So, die!

 

Exit Balthazar, enter Cardinal, Rodrigo, Alba, Daenia, Valasco.

 

KING

I find my sceptre shaken by enchantments

Charactered in this parchment, which to unloose,

I’ll practice only counter-charms of fire,

And blow the spells of lightening into smoke:

Fetch burning tapers.

 

[Exit attendant who returns with light.]

 

CARDINAL

Give me audience, Sir.

My apprehension opens me a way

To a close fatal mischief, worse than this

You strive to murder. Oh, this act of yours

Alone shall give your dangers life, which else

Can never grow to height. Do, Sir, but read

A book here closed up, which too late you opened,

Now blotted by you with foul marginal notes.

 

KING

Art frantic?

 

CARDINAL

You are so, Sir.

 

KING

If I be,

Then here’s my first mad fit.

 

CARDINAL

For honour’s sake,

For love you bear to conscience -

 

KING

Reach the flames:

Grandees and Lords of Spain be witness all

What here I cancel. Read, do you know this bond?

 

ALL

Our hands are to it.

 

DAENIA

‘Tis your confirmed contract

With my sad kinswoman: but wherefore Sir,

Now is your rage on fire, in such a presence

To have it mourn in ashes?

 

KING

Marquis Daenia

We’ll lend that tongue, when this no more can speak.

 

CARDINAL

Dear Sir!

 

KING

I am deaf,

Played the full concert of the spheres unto me

Upon their loudest strings - so burn that witch

Who would dry up the tree of all Spain ’s glories,

But that I purge her sorceries by fire.

 

[Burns contract.]

 

Troy lies in cinders. Let your Oracles

Now laugh at me if I have been deceived

By their ridiculous riddles. Why, good father,

Now you may freely chide, why was your zeal

Ready to burst in showers to quench our fury?

 

CARDINAL

Fury indeed, you give it proper name.

What have you done? Closed up a festering wound

Which rots the heart. Like a bad surgeon,

Labouring to pluck out from your eye a mote,

You thrust the eye clean out.

 

KING

Th’art mad ex tempore:

What eye? Which is that wound?

 

CARDINAL

That scroll, which now

You make the black indenture of your lust

Although eat up in flames, is printed here,

In me, in him, in these, in all that saw it,

In all that ever did but hear ‘twas yours.

The scold of the whole world, fame, will anon

Rail with her thousand tongues at this poor shift

Which gives your sin a flame greater than that

You lend the paper. You to quench a wild fire,

Cast Oil upon it.

 

KING

Oil to blood shall turn,

I’ll lose a limb before the heart shall mourn.

 

Exeunt, Daenia and Alba remain.

 

DAENIA

He’s mad with rage or joy.

 

ALBA

With both; with rage

To see his follies checked, with fruitless joy

Because he hopes his contract is cut off,

Which divine justice more exemplifies.

 

Enter Medina.

 

MEDINA

Where’s the King?

 

DAENIA

Wrapped up in clouds of lightning.

 

MEDINA

What has he done? Saw you the contract torn?

As I did here a minion swear he threatened.

 

ALBA

He tore it not, but burned it.

 

MEDINA

Openly!

 

DAENIA

And heaven with us to witness.

 

MEDINA

Well, that fire

Will prove a catching flame to burn his kingdom.

 

ALBA

Meet and consult.

 

MEDINA

No more, trust not the air

With our projections, let us all revenge

Wrongs done to our most noble kinswoman.

Action is honours language, swords are tongues,

Which both speak best, and best do right our wrongs.

 

Exeunt.

 

ACT 2 SCENE 2

 

Enter Onaelia from one way, Cornego another.

 

CORNEGO

Madam, there’s a bear without to speak with you

 

ONAELIA

A bear?

 

CORNEGO

It’s a man all hair, and that’s as bad.

 

ONAELIA

Who is it?

 

CORNEGO

‘Tis one Master Captain Balthazar.

 

ONAELIA

I do not know that Balthazar.

 

CORNEGO

He desires to see you: and if you love a water-spaniel before he be shorn, see him.

 

ONAELIA

Let him come in.

 

Enter Balthazar.

 

CORNEGO

Hist; a duck, a duck. There she is, Sir.

 

BALTHAZAR

A soldier’s good wish bless you lady.

 

ONAELIA

Good wishes are most welcome Sir, to me,

So many bad ones blast me.

 

BALTHAZAR

Do you not know me?

 

ONAELIA

I scarce know myself.

 

BALTHAZAR

I have been at tennis Madam, with the king. I gave him fifteen and all his faults, which is much, and now I come to toss a ball with you.

 

ONAELIA

I am bandied too much up and down already.

 

CORNEGO

Yes, she has been struck under line, master soldier.

 

BALTHAZAR

I conceit you, dare you trust yourself alone with me?

 

ONAELIA

I have been laden with such weights of wrong

That heavier cannot press me. Hence Cornego.

 

CORNEGO

Hence Cornego? Stay Captain? When man and woman are put together, Some egg of villainy is sure to be sat upon.

 

Exit Cornego.

 

BALTHAZAR

What would you say to him should kill this man that hath you so dishonoured?

 

ONAELIA

Oh, I would Crown him

With thanks, praise, gold and tender of my life.

 

BALTHAZAR

Shall I be that German fencer, and beat all the knocking boys before me? Shall I kill him?

 

ONAELIA

There’s music in the tongue that dares but speak it.

 

BALTHAZAR

That fiddle then is in me, this arm can do it, by poniard, poison or pistol: but shall I do it indeed?

 

ONAELIA

One step to human bliss is sweet revenge.

 

BALTHAZAR

Stay. What made you love him?

 

ONAELIA

His most goodly shape

Married to royal virtues of his mind.

 

BALTHAZAR

Yet now you would divorce all that goodness; and why? For a little lechery of revenge? It’s a lie. The burr that sticks in your throat is a throne. Let him out of his mess of kingdoms cut out but one, and lay Sicily, Aragon or Naples or any else upon your trencher <25>, and you will praise bastard <26> for the sweetest wine in the world, and call for another quart of it. ‘Tis not because the man has left you, but because you are not the woman you would be that mads you. A she-cuckold is an untameable monster.

 

ONAELIA

Monster of men thou are, thou bloody villain,

Traitor to him who never injured thee.

Dost thou profess arms, and art bound in honour

To stand up like a brazen wall to guard

Thy king and country, and would’st thou ruin both?

 

BALTHAZAR

You spur me on to it.

 

ONAELIA

True;

Worse am I then the horridest fiend in hell

To murder him who I once loved too well:

For thou I could run mad, and tear my hair,

And kill that godless man that turned me vile,

Though I am cheated by a purjurious Prince

Who has done wickedness, at which even heaven

Shakes when the sun beholds it, O yet I’d rather

Ten thousand poisoned poniards stab my breast

Than one should touch his. Bloody slave! I’ll play

Myself the hangman, and will butcher thee

If thou but prickest his finger.

 

BALTHAZAR

Sayest thou me so! Give me thy goll <27>, thou are a noble girl. I did play the Devil’s part, and roar in a feigned voice, but I am the honestest Devil that ever spat fire. I would not drink that infernal draft of a King’s blood, to go reeling to damnation, for the weight of the world in diamonds.

 

ONAELIA

Art thou not counterfeit?

 

BALTHAZAR

Now by my scars I am not.

 

ONAELIA

I’ll call thee honest soldier then, and woo thee

To be an often visitant.

 

BALTHAZAR

Your servant,

Yet must I be a stone upon a hill,

For thou I do no good, I’ll not lie still.

 

Exeunt.