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THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER by THOMAS DEKKER

ACT 3

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

 

Enter Malateste and the Queen.

 

MALATESTE

When first you came from Florence, would the world

Had with a universal dire eclipse

Been overwhelmed, no more to gaze on day,

That you to Spain had never found the way,

Here to be lost forever.

 

QUEEN

We from one climate

Drew suspiration <28>. As thou then hast eyes

To read my wrongs, so be thy head an engine

To raise up ponderous mischief to the height,

And then thy hands, the executioners.

A true Italian spirit is a ball

Of wild-fire, hurting most when it seems spent.

Great ships on small rocks, beating oft are rent.

And so, let Spain by us. But Malateste,

Why from the presence did you single me

Into this gallery?

 

MALATESTE

To show you Madam,

The picture of yourself, but so defaced,

And mangled by proud Spaniards, it would whet

A sword to arm the poorest Florentine

In your just wrongs.

 

QUEEN

As how? Letís see that picture.

 

MALATESTE

Here Ďtis then: time is not scarce four days old,

Since I, and certain Dons, sharp-witted fellows,

And of good rank, were with two Jesuits

Grave profound scholars, in deep argument

Of various propositions. At the last,

Question was moved touching your marriage

And the Kingís pre-contract.

 

QUEEN

So, and what followed?

 

MALATESTE

Whether it were a question moved by chance,

Or spitefully of purpose, I being there,

And your own Countryman, I cannot tell.

But when much tossing had bandied both the King

And you, as pleased those that took up the racquets.

In conclusion, the Father Jesuits,

To whose subtle music every ear there

Was tied, stood with their lives in stiff defence

Of this opinion - oh pardon me

If I must speak their language.

 

QUEEN

Say on.

 

MALATESTE

That the most Catholic king in marrying you,

Keeps you but as his whore.

 

QUEEN

Are we their themes?

 

MALATESTE

And that Medinaís niece, Onaelia,

Is his true wife. Her bastard son they said

The King being dead, should claim and wear the crown,

And whatsoever children you shall bear,

To be but bastards in the highest degree,

As being begotten in adultery.

 

QUEEN

We will not grieve at this, but with hot vengeance

Beat down this armed mischief. Malateste!

What whirlwinds can we raise to blow this storm

Back in their faces who thus shoot at me?

 

MALATESTE

If I were fit to be your councillor,

Thus would I speak - feign that you are with child.

The mother of the maids, and some worn ladies

Who oft have guilty being to court great bellies,

May though it not be so, get you with child

With swearing that Ďtis true.

 

QUEEN

Say Ďtis believed,

Or that it so doth prove?

 

MALATESTE

The joy thereof,

Together with these earthquakes, which will shake

All Spain, if they their Prince do disinherit,

So borne, of such a Queen, being only daughter

To such a brave spirit as Duke of Florence.

All this buzzed into the King, he cannot choose

But charge that all the bells in Spain echo up

This joy to heaven, that bonfires change the night

To a high noon, with beams of sparkling flames;

And that in Churches, organs, charmed with prayers,

Speak loud for your most safe delivery.

 

QUEEN

What fruits grow out of these?

 

MALATESTE

These; you must stick,

As here and there spring weeds in banks of flowers,

Spies amongst the people, who shall lay their ears

To every mouth, and seal to you their whispering.

 

QUEEN

So.

 

MALATESTE

ĎTis a plummet to sound Spanish hearts

How deeply they are yours. Besides a guesse <29>

Is hereby made of any faction

That shall combine against you, which the King seeing,

If then he will not rouse him like a dragon

To guard his golden fleece, and rid his harlot

And her base bastard hence, either by death,

Or in some traps of state ensnare them both,

Let his own ruins crush him.

 

QUEEN

This goes to trial.

Be thou my magic book, which reading oíer

Their counterspells weíll break; or if the King

Will not by strong hand fix me in his Throne,

But that I must be held Spainís blazing star,

Be it an ominous charm to call up war.

 

ACT 3 SCENE 2

 

Enter Cornego and Onaelia.

 

CORNEGO

Hereís a parcel of manís flesh has been hanging up and down all this morning to speak with you.

 

ONAELIA

Isít not some executioner?

 

CORNEGO

I see nothing about him to hang in but his garters.

 

ONAELIA

Sent from the King to warn me of my death:

I prithee bid him welcome.

 

CORNEGO

He says he is a poet.

 

ONAELIA

Then bid him better welcome.

Belike heís come to write my epitaph,

Some scurvy thing Iíll warrant. Welcome Sir.

 

Enter Poet.

 

POET

Madam, my love presents this book unto you.

 

ONAELIA

To me? I am not worthy of a line,

Unless at that Line hang some hook to choke me:

 

[Onaelia reads book.]

 

To the Most Honoured Lady - Onaelia.

Fellow thou liest, Iím most dishonoured:

Thou shouldíst have writ to the most wronged Lady.

The title of this book is not to me,

I tear it therefore as mine honourís torn.

 

CORNEGO

Your verses are lamed in some of their feet, Master poet.

 

ONAELIA

What does it treat of?

 

POET

Of the solemn triumphs

Set forth at coronation of the Queen.

 

ONAELIA

Hissing, the poetís whirlwind, blast thy lines!

Comíst thou to mock my tortures with her triumphs?

 

POET

ĎLas Madam!

 

ONAELIA

When her funerals are past,

Crown thou a dedication to my joys,

And thou shalt swear each line a golden verse.

Cornego, burn this idol.

 

CORNGO

Your book shall come to light, Sir.

 

Exit Cornego [with book.]

 

ONAELIA

I have read legends of disastrous dames;

Will none set pen to paper for poor me?

Canst write a bitter satire? Brainless people

Do call them libels. Darest thou write a libel?

 

POET

I dare mix gall and poison with my ink.

 

ONAELIA

Do it then for me.

 

POET

And every line must be

A whip to draw blood.

 

ONAELIA

Better.

 

POET

And to dare

The stab from him it touches. He that writes

Such libels, as you call them, must launch wide

The sores of menís corruptions, and even search

To the quick for dead flesh, or for rotten cores:

A poetís ink can better cure some sores

Than surgeonís balsam.

 

ONAELIA

Undertake that cure

And crown thy verse with bays.

 

POET

Madam, Iíll do it,

But I must have the partyís character.

 

ONAELIA

The King.

 

POET

I do not love to pluck the quills,

With which I make pens, out of a lionís claw.

The King! Should I be bitter Ďgainst the King,

I shall have scurvy ballads made of me,

Sung to the hanging tune. I dare not, Madam.

 

ONAELIA

This baseness follows your profession.

You are like common beadles, apt to lash

Almost to death poor wretches not worth striking,

But fawn with slavish flattery on damned vices

So great men act them. You clap hands at those,

Where the true poet indeed doth scorn to guild

A gaudy tomb with glory of his verse,

Which coffins stinking carrion. No, his lines

Are free as his invention. No base fear

Can shake his pen to temporise even with kings,

The blacker are their crimes, he louder sings.

Go, go, thou canst not write: Ďtis but my calling

The muses help, that I may be inspired.

Canst a woman be a poet, Sir?

 

POET

Yes, Madam, best of all. For poesie

Is but feigning, feigning is to lie,

And women practice lying more than men.

 

ONAELIA

Nay, but if I should write, I would tell truth.

How might I reach a lofty strain?

 

POET

Thus Madam:

Books, music, wine, brave company and good cheer

Make poets to soar high and sing most clear.

 

ONAELIA

Are they born poets?

 

POET

Yes.

 

ONAELIA

Die they?

 

POET

Oh, never die.

 

ONAELIA

My misery is then a poet sure,

For time has given it an eternity.

What sort of poets are there?

 

POET

Two sorts lady:

The great poets and the small poets.

 

ONAELIA

Great and small!

Which do you call the great? The fat ones?

 

POET

No:

But such as have great heads, which emptied forth,

Fill all the world with wonder at their lines;

Fellows which swell big with the wind of praise.

The small ones are but shrimps of poesie.

 

ONAELIA

Which in the kingdom now is the best poet?

 

POET

Emulation.

 

ONAELIA

Which the next?

 

POET

Necessity.

 

ONAELIA

And which the worst?

 

POET

Self-love.

 

ONAELIA

Say I turn poet, what should I get?

 

POET

Opinion.

 

ONAELIA

Alas, I have got too much of that already,

Opinion is my evidence, judge and jury.

Mine own guilt and opinion now condemn me.

Iíll therefore be no poet, no nor make

Ten muses of your nine. Iíll swear for this;

Verses, though freely born, like slaves are sold,

I crown thy lines with bays, thy love with gold:

So fare thou well.

 

POET

Our pen shall honour thee.

 

Exit Poet, enter Cornego.

 

CORNEGO

The poetís book Madam, has got the inflammation of the liver, it died of a burning fever.

 

ONAELIA

What shall I do, Cornego? For this poet

Has filled me with a fury. I could write

Strange satires now against adulterers,

And marriage-breakers.

 

CORNEGO

I believe you Madam - but here comes your uncle.

 

Enter Medina, Alanzo, Carlo, Alba, Sebastian, Daenia.

 

MEDINA

Whereís our niece?

Turn your brains round, and recollect your spirits,

And see your noble friends and kinsmen ready

To pay revenge his due.

 

ONAELIA

That word revenge,

Startles my sleepy soul, now thoroughly wakened

By the fresh object of my hapless child

Whose wrongs reach beyond mine.

 

SEBASTIAN

How doth my sweet mother?

 

ONAELIA

How doth my prettiest boy?

 

ALANZO

Wrongs, like great whirlwinds,

Shake highest battlements. Few for heaven would care,

Should they be ever happy. They are half gods

Who both in good days, and good fortune share.

 

ONAELIA

I have no part in either.

 

CARLO

You shall in both,

Can swords but cut the way.

 

ONAELIA

I care not much, so you but gently strike him,

And that my child escape the lightening.

 

MEDINA

For that our nerves are knit; is there not here

A promising face of manly princely virtues,

And shall so sweet a plant be rooted out

By him that ought to fix it fast in the ground?

Sebastian, what will you do to him

That hurts your mother?

 

SEBASTIAN

The King my father shall kill him I trow.

 

DAENIA

But sweet cousin, the King loves not your mother.

 

SEBASTIAN

Iíll make him love her when I am a King.

 

MEDINA

La you, thereís in him a kingís heart already.

As therefore we before together vowed,

Lay all your warlike hands upon my sword,

And swear.

 

SEBASTIAN

Will you swear to kill me, Uncle?

 

MEDINA

Oh not for twenty worlds.

 

SEBASTIAN

Nay then draw and spare not, for I love fighting.

 

MEDINA

Stand in the midst, sweet coz, we are your guard.

These hammers shall for thee beat out a crown

If all hit right. Swear therefore, noble friends,

By your high bloods, by true nobility,

By what you owe religion, owe to your country,

Owe to the raising your posterity,

By love you bear to virtue, and to arms,

The shield of innocence, swear not to sheath

Your swords, when once drawn forth.

 

ONAELIA

Oh not to kill him

For twenty thousand worlds.

 

MEDINA

Will you be quiet?

Your swords when once drawn forth, till they have forced

Yon godless, perjurous, perfidious man...

 

ONAELIA

Pray rail not at him so.

 

MEDINA

Art mad? Youíre idle

Till they have forced him

To cancel his late lawless bond he sealed

At the high altar to his Florentine strumpet,

And in his bed lay this his troth-plight wife.

 

ONAELIA

I, I thatís well. Pray swear.

 

ALL

To this we swear.

 

SEBASTIAN

Uncle, I swear too.

 

MEDINA

Our forces letís unite, be bold and secret,

And lion-like with open eyes letís sleep,

Streams smooth and slowly running are most deep.

 

Exeunt.

 

ACT 3 SCENE 3

 

Enter King, Queen, Malateste, Valasco, Lopez, [Roderigo and guards].

 

KING

The presence door be guarded, let none enter

On forfeit of your lives, without our knowledge.

Oh you are false physicians all unto me,

You bring me poison, but no antidotes.

 

QUEEN

Yourself that poison brews.

 

KING

Prithee, no more.

 

QUEEN

I will, I must speak more.

 

KING

Thunder aloud.

 

QUEEN

My child, yet newly quickened in my womb,

Is blasted with the fires of bastardy.

 

KING

Who! Who dares once but think so in his dream?

 

MALATESTE

Medinaís faction preached it openly.

 

KING

Be cursed he and his faction. Oh how I labour

For these preventions! But so cross is fate

My ills are neír hid from me, but their cures.

Whatís to be done?

 

QUEEN

That which being left undone,

Your life lies at the stake. Let them be breathless

Both brat and mother.

 

KING

Ha!

 

MALATESTE

She plays true music Sir.

The mischiefs you are drenched in are so full,

You need not fear to add to them. Since now

No way is left to guard thy rest secure,

But by a means like this.

 

LOPEZ

All Spain rings forth

Medinaís name, and his confederates.

 

RODRIGO

All his allies and friends rush into troops

Like raging torrents.

 

VALESCO

And loud trumpet forth

Your perjuries. Seducing the wild people,

And with rebellious faces threatening all.

 

KING

I shall be massacred in this their spleen,

Ere I have time to guard myself. I feel

The fire already falling. Whereís our guard?

 

MALATESTE

Planted at guarded gate, with a strict charge

That none shall enter but by your command.

 

KING

Let them be doubled. I am full of thoughts,

A thousand wheels toss my incertain fears,

There is a storm in my hot boiling brains,

Which rises without wind. A horrid one.

What clamourís that?

 

QUEEN

Some treason. Guard the King.

 

Enter Balthazar drawn, [he strikes] one of the guards who falls.

 

BALTHAZAR

Not in?

 

MALATESTE

One of the guards is slain, keep off the murderer.

 

BALTHAZAR

I am none, sir.

 

VALASCO

Thereís a man dropped down by thee.

 

KING

Thou desperate fellow, thus press in upon us!

Is murder all the story we shall read?

What King can stand, when thus his subjects bleed?

What has thou done?

 

BALTHAZAR

No hurt.

 

KING

Played even the wolf,

And from a fold committed to my charge,

Stolen and devoured one of the flock.

 

BALTHAZAR

You have sheep enough for all that, Sir. I have killed none though. Or if I have, mine <30> own blood, shed in your quarrels, may beg my pardon. My business was in haste to you.

 

KING

I would not have thy sin scored on my head

For all the Indian Treasury. I prithee tell me,

Suppose thou had'st our pardon, oh can that cure

Thy wounded conscience, can there my pardon help thee?

Yet having deserved well both of Spain and us,

We will not pay thy worth with loss of life,

But banish thee for ever.

 

BALTHAZAR

For a groomís death?

 

KING

No more. We banish thee our court and Kingdom.

A King that fosters men so dipped in blood,

May be called merciful, but never good.

Be gone upon thy life.

 

BALTHAZAR

Well, farewell.

 

Exit Balthazar.

 

VALASCO

The fellow is not dead, but wounded sir.

 

QUEEN

After him Malateste. In our lodging

Stay that rough fellow, heís the man shall doít.

Haste or my hopes are lost.

 

Exit Malateste.

 

Why are you sad, sir?

 

KING

For thee, Paulina, swell my troubled thoughts

Like billows beaten by two warring winds.

 

QUEEN

Be you ruled but ruled by me, Iíll make a calm

Smooth as the breast of heaven.

 

KING

Instruct me how.

 

QUEEN

You, as your fortunes tie you, are inclined

To have the blow given.

 

KING

Whereís the instrument?

 

QUEEN

ĎTis found in Balthazar.

 

KING

Heís banished.

 

QUEEN

True

But stayed by me for this.

 

KING

His spirit is hot

And rugged, but so honest that his soul

Will never turn devil to do it.

 

QUEEN

Put it to trial.

Retire a little, hither Iíll send for him,

Offer repeal and favours if he do it.

But if he deny, you have no finger inít,

And then his doom of banishment stands good.

 

KING

Be happy in thy workings, I obey.

 

Exit King.

 

QUEEN

Stay Lopez.

 

LOPEZ

Madam.

 

QUEEN

Step to our lodging, Lopez

And instantly bid Malateste bring

The banished Balthazar to us.

 

LOPEZ

I shall.

 

Exit Lopez.

 

QUEEN

Thrive my black plots, the mischiefs I have set

Must not so die. Ills must new ills beget.

 

Enter Malateste and Balthazar.

 

BALTHAZAR

Now! What hot poisoned custard must I put my spoon into now?

 

QUEEN

None, for mine honour is now thy protection.

 

MALATESTE

Which, noble soldier, she will pawn for thee

But never forfeit.

 

BALTHAZAR

ĎTis a fair gage <31>, keep it.

 

QUEEN

Oh Balthazar! I am thy friend, and marked thee.

When the King sentenced thee to banishment

Fire sparkled from thine eyes of rage and grief.

Rage to be doomed so for a groom so base,

And grief to lose thy Country. Thou hast killed none,

The milk-sop is but wounded, thou are not banished.

 

BALTHAZAR

If I were, I lose nothing, I can make any country mine. I have a private coat for Italian Stilettos, I can be treacherous with the Walloon, drunk with the Dutch, a chimney-sweeper with the Irish, a gentleman with the Welsh and true arrant thief with the English. What then is my country to me?

 

QUEEN

The King, who rapíd with fury, banished thee,

Shall give thee favours, yield but to destroy

What him distempers.

 

BALTHAZAR

So. And what is the dish I must dress?

 

QUEEN

Only the cutting off a pair of lives.

 

BALTHAZAR

I love no red-wine healths.

 

QUEEN

The King commands it, you are but executioner.

 

BALTHAZAR

The hang-man? An office that will hold so long as hemp lasts. Why do not you beg the office, Sir?

 

QUEEN

Thy victories in field never did crown thee

As this one Act shall.

 

BALTHAZAR

Prove but that, Ďtis done.

 

QUEEN

Follow him close, heís yielding.

 

MALATESTE

Thou shalt be called thy Countryís Patriot,

For quenching out a fire now newly kindling

In factious bosoms, and shalt thereby save

More Noble Spaniards lives, than thou slew Moors.

 

QUEEN

Art thou yet converted?

 

BALTHAZAR

No point.

 

QUEEN

Read me then:

Medinaís niece, by a contract from the King,

Lays claim to all thatís mine, my crown, my bed.

A son she has by him must fill the throne,

If her great faction can but work that wonder.

Now hear me...

 

BALTHAZAR

I do with gaping ears.

 

QUEEN

I swell with hopeful issue to the King.

 

BALTHAZAR

A brave Don call you mother.

 

MALATESTE

Of this danger the fear afflicts the King.

 

BALATAZAR

Cannot much blame him.

 

QUEEN
If therefore by the riddance of this Dame ...

 

BALTHAZAR

Riddance? Oh! The meaning onít is murder.

 

MALATESTE

Stab her, or so, thatís all.

 

QUEEN

That Spain be free from frights, the King from fears,

And I, now held his infamy, be called Queen,

The treasure of the Kingdom shall lie open

To pay thy noble darings.

 

BALTHAZAR

Come. Iíll do it, provided I hear Jove call to me, though he roars. I must have the Kingís hand to this warrant, else I dare not serve it upon my conscience.

 

QUEEN

Be firm then. Behold the King is come.

 

Enter King.

 

BALTHAZAR

Acquaint him.

 

QUEEN

I found the metal hard, but with oft beating

Heís now so softened, he shall take impression

From any seal you give him.

 

KING

Balthazar,

Come hither, listen. Whatsoeíer our Queen

Has importuned thee to touching Onaelia

Niece to the Constable, and her young son,

My voice shall second it, and sign her promise.

 

BALTHAZAR

Their riddance?

 

KING

That.

 

BALTHAZAR

What way? By poison?

 

KING

So.

 

BALTHAZAR

Starving? Or strangling, stabbing, smothering?

 

QUEEN

Good.

 

KING

Any way, so Ďtis done.

 

BALTHAZAR

But I will have, Sir,

This under your own hand, that you desire it,

You plot it, set me on toít.

 

KING

Pen, ink and paper.

 

[King writes and signs document.]

 

BALTHAZAR

And then as large a pardon as law and wit can engross for me.

 

KING

Thou shalt have my pardon.

 

BALTHAZAR

A word more, Sir, pray will you tell me one thing?

 

KING

Yes, any thing dear Balthazar.

 

BALTHAZAR

Suppose I have your strongest pardon, can that cure my wounded conscience? Can there your pardon help me? You not only knock the ewe on the head, but cut the innocent lambís throat too, yet you are no butcher.

 

QUEEN

Is this thy promised yielding to an act

So wholesome for thy country?

 

KING

Chide him not.

 

BALTHAZAR

I would not have this sin scored on my head

For all the Indian Treasury.

 

KING

That song no more.

Do this and I will make thee a great man.

 

BALTHAZAR

Is there no farther trick inít but my blow, your purse and my pardon?

 

MALTATESTE

No nets upon my life to entrap thee.

 

BALTHAZAR

Then trust me. These knuckles work it.

 

KING

Farewell. Be confident and sudden.

 

BALTHAZAR

Yes.

Subjects may stumble, when kings walk astray.

Thine Acts shall be a new Apocrypha.

 

Exeunt.