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THE NOBLE SPANISH SOLDIER by THOMAS DEKKER

ACT 4

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

 

Enter Medina, Alba, [Carlo], and Daenia, met by Balthazar with a poniard and a pistol.

 

BALTHAZAR

You met a Hydra. See, if one head fails

Another with a sulphurous beak stands yawning.

 

MEDINA

What hath raised up this devil?

 

BALTHAZAR

A great man’s vices, that can raise all hell. What would you call that man, who under-sail in a most goodly ship, wherein he ventures his life, fortunes, and honours, yet in a fury should hew the mast down, cast sails overboard, fire all the tacklings, and to crown this madness, should blow up all the decks, burn th’oaken ribs, and in that combat ‘twix two elements leap desperately, and drown himself in the seas? What were so brave a fellow?

 

ALL

A brave black villain.

 

BALTHAZAR

That’s I. All that brave black villain dwells in me, if I be that black villain. But I am not! A nobler character prints out my brow, which you may thus read, I was banished Spain for emptying a court-hogshead, but repealed so I would, ere my reeking iron was cold, promise to give it a deep crimson dye in - none hear, - stay - no, none hear.

 

MEDINA

Whom then?

 

BALTHAZAR

Basely to stab a woman, your wronged niece and her most innocent son, Sebastian.

 

ALBA

The boar now foams with wetting.

 

DAENIA

What has blunted

Thy weapons point at these?

 

BALTHAZAR

My honesty. A sign at which few dwell, pure honesty! I am a vassal to Medina’s house, He taught me first the A-B-C of war. E’er I was truncheon high, I had the stile on beardless Captain, writing then but boy, and shall I now turn slave to him that fed me with Cannon-bullets and taught me, ostrich-like to digest iron and steel! No! Yet I yielded with willow-bendings to commanding breaths.

 

MEDINA

Of whom?

 

BALTHAZAR

Of King and Queen. With supple hams and an ill-boding look, I vowed to do it. Yet, lest some choke-pear <32> of state policy should stop my throat, and spoil my drinking pipe, see, like his cloak, I hung at the King’s elbow, till I had got his hand to sign my life.

 

[Balthazar passes over the document signed by the King.]

 

DAENIA  

Shall we see this and sleep?

 

ALBA

No, whilst these wake.

 

MEDINA

‘Tis the King’s hand?

 

BALTHAZAR

Think you me a coiner <33>?

 

MEDINA

No, no,

Thou art thy self still, noble Balthazar.

I ever knew thee honest, and the mark

Stands still upon thy forehead.

 

BALTHAZAR

Else flea the skin off.

 

MEDINA

I ever knew thee valiant, and to scorn

All acts of baseness. I have seen this man

Write in the field such stories with his sword,

That our best chieftains swore there was in him

As ‘twere a new philosophy of fighting,

His deeds were so punctilious. In one battle

When death so nearly missed my ribs, he struck

Three horses stone-dead under me. This man,

Three times that day, even through the jaws of danger,

Redeemed me up and, I shall print it ever,

Stood over my body with Colossus thighs

Whilst all the thunder-bolts which war could throw,

Fell on his head. And Balthazar, thou canst not

Be now but honest still, and valiant still,

Not to kill boys and women.

 

BALTHAZAR

My biter here, eats no such meat.

 

MEDINA
Go fetch the marked-out lamb for slaughter hither,

Good fellow-soldier aid him, and stay, mark,

Give this false fire to the believing King,

That the child’s sent to heaven, but that the mother

Stands rocked so strong with friends, ten thousand billows

Cannot once shake her.

 

BALTHAZAR

This I’ll do.

 

MEDINA

Away.

Yet one word more. Your counsel, Noble friends.

Hark Balthazar, because nor eyes nor tongues,

Shall by loud larums, that the poor boy lives,

Question thy false report, the child shall, closely

Mantled in darkness, forthwith be conveyed

To the monastery of Saint Paul.

 

ALL

Good.

 

MEDINA

Despatch then, be quick.

 

BALTHAZAR

As lightning.

 

Exit Balthazar.

 

ALBA

This fellow is some angel dropped from heaven
To preserve innocence.

 

MEDINA

He is a wheel

Of swift and turbulent motion. I have trusted him,

Yet will not hang on him too many plummets,

Lest with a headlong gyre <34> he ruins all.

In these state consternations, when a kingdom

Stands tottering at the centre, out of suspicion

Safety grows often. Let us suspect this fellow,

And that albeit he show us the King’s hand,

It may be but a trick.

 

DAENIA

Your Lordship hits

A poisoned nail i’th head. This waxen fellow,

By the King’s hand so bribing him with gold,

Is set on screws, perhaps is made his creature,

To turn round every way.

 

MEDINA

Out of that fear

Will I beget truth. For myself in person

Will sound the King’s breast.

 

CARLO

How? Yourself in person?

 

ALBA

That’s half the prize he gapes for.

 

MEDINA

I’ll venture it,

And come off well I warrant you, and rip up

His very entrails, cut in two his heart,

And search each corner in’t, yet shall not he

Know who it is cut up the anatomy.

 

DAENIA

‘Tis an exploit worth wonder.

 

CARLO

Put the worst,

Say some infernal voice should roar from hell,

The infant’s cloistering up.

 

ALBA

‘Tis not our danger,

Nor the imprisoned Prince’s, for what thief

Dares by base sacrilege rob the Church of him?

 

CARLO

At worst none can be lost but this slight fellow!

 

MEDINA

All build on this as on a stable cube.

If we our footing keep, we fetch him forth,

And crown him King. If up we fly i’th air,

We for his soul’s health a broad way prepare.

 

DAENIS

They come.

 

Enter Balthazar and Sebastian.

 

MEDINA

Thou knowest where to bestow him, Balthazar.

 

BALTHAZAR

Come noble boy.

 

ALBA

Hide him from being discovered.

 

BALTHAZAR

Discovered? Would there stood a troop of Moors thrusting the paws of hungry lions forth, to seize this prey, and this but in my hand, I should do something.

 

SEBASTIAN

Must I go with this black fellow, Uncle?

 

MEDINA

Yes, pretty coz, hence with him Balthazar.

 

BALTHAZAR

Sweet child, within few minutes I’ll change thy fate

And take thee hence, but set thee at heavens gate.

 

[Exit Balthazar and Sebastian.]

 

MEDINA

Some keep aloof and watch this soldier

 

CARLO

I’ll do’t.

 

Exit Carlo.

 

DAENIA

What’s to be done now?

 

MEDINA

First to plant strong guard

About the mother, then into some snare

To hunt this spotted panther, and there kill him.

 

DAENIA

What snares have we can hold him?

 

MEDINA

Be that care mine.

Dangers, like stars, in dark attempts best shine.

 

Exeunt.

 

ACT 4 SCENE 2

 

Enter Cornego, Balthazar.

 

CORNEGO

The Lady Onaelia dresseth the stead of her commendations in the most courtly attire that words can be clothed with, from herself to you, by me.

 

BALTHAZAR

So Sir, and what disease troubles her now?

 

CORNEGO

The King’s evil. And here she hath sent something to you, wrapped up in a white sheet, you need not fear to open it, ‘tis no course.

 

BALTHAZAR

What’s here? A letter minced into five morsels? What was she doing when thou camest from her?

 

CORNEGO

At her prick-song.

 

BALTHAZAR

So me thinks, for here’s nothing but sol-re-me-fa-mi. What crotchet fills her head now, canst tell?

 

CORNEGO

No crotchets, ‘tis only the Cliff has made her mad.

 

BALTHAZAR

What instrument played she upon?

 

CORNEGO

A wind instrument, she did nothing but sigh.

 

BALTHAZAR

Sol, re, me, fa, mi.

 

CORNEGO

My wit has always a singing head, I have found out her note captain.

 

BALTHAZAR

The tune? Come.

 

CORNEGO

Sol, my soul. Re, is all rent and torn like a ragamuffin. Me, mend it good captain. Fa, fa. What’s fa Captain?

 

BALTHAZAR

Fa, why farewell and be hanged.

 

CORNEGO

Mi Captain, with all my heart. Have I tickled my Lady’s fiddle well?

 

BALTHAZAR

Oh, but you stick wants rosin <35> to make the strings sound clearly. No, this double virginal, being cunningly touched, another matter of jack leaps up then is now in mine eye. Sol, re me fa, mi, I have it now. Solus Rex me facit miseram <36>. Alas poor Lady, tell her no apothecary in Spain has any of that assa foetida <37 > she writes for.

 

CORNEGO

Assa foetida? What’s that?

 

BALTHAZARA

A thing to be taken in a glister-pipe <38>.

 

CORNEGO

Why, what ails my Lady?

 

BALTHAZAR

What ails she? Why when she cries out, Solus Rex me facit miseram, she says in the Hypocronicall <39> language, that she is so miserably tormented with the wind colic that it racks her very soul.

 

CORNEGO

I said somewhat cut her soul in pieces.

 

BALTHAZAR

But go to her, and say the oven is heating.

 

CORNEGO

And what shall be baked in’t?

 

BALTHAZAR

Carp pies.<40> And besides, tell her the hole in her coat shall be mended, and tell her if the dial of good days <41> goes true, why then bounce buckrum.<42>

 

CORNEGO

The devil lies sick of the mulligrubs.<43>

 

BALTHAZAR

Or the Cony is dub’d, and three sheepskins ...

 

CORNEGO

With the wrong side outward ...

 

BALTHAZAR

Shall make the fox a night-cap.

 

CORNEGO

So the goose talks French to the buzzard.

 

BALTHAZAR

But, Sir, if evil days jostle our prognostication to the wall, then say there’s a fire in a whore-masters cod-piece.

 

CORNEGO

And a poisoned bag-pudding in Tom Thumb’s belly.

 

BALTHAZAR

The first cut be thine. Farewell.

 

CORNEGO

Is this all?

 

BALTHAZAR

Would’st not trust an Almanac?

 

CORNEGO

Not a coranta <44> neither, though it were sealed with butter, <45> and yet I know where they both lie passing well.

 

Enter Lopez.

 

LOPEZ

The King sends round about the court to seek you.

 

BALTHAZAR

Away Otterhound.

 

CORNEGO

Dancing bear, I’m gone.

 

Exit Cornego. Enter King attended.

 

KING

A Private room,

 

Exeunt, King and Balthazar remain

 

I’st done? Hast drawn thy two-edged sword out yet?

 

BALTHAZAR

No, I was striking at the two iron bars that hinder your passage, and see Sir.

 

Draws.

 

KING

What mean'st thou?

 

BALTHAZAR

The edge abated, feel.

 

KING

No, no I see it.

 

BALTHAZAR

As blunt as ignorance.

 

KING

How? Put up - so - how?

 

BALTHAZAR

I saw by chance hanging in Cardinal Alvarez gallery, a picture of hell.

 

KING

So what of that?

 

BALTHAZAR

There lay upon burnt straw ten thousand brave fellows all stark naked, some leaning upon crowns, some on Mitres, some on bags of gold. Glory, in another corner lay, a feather beaten in the rain. Beauty was turned into a watching candle that went out stinking. Ambition went upon a huge high pair of stilts but horribly rotten. Some in another nook were killing Kings, and some having their elbows shoved forward by Kings to murder others. I was, me thought, half in hell myself whist I stood to view this piece.

 

KING

Was this all?

 

BALTHAZAR

Was’t not enough to see that a man is more healthful that eats dirty puddings, than he that feeds on a corrupted conscience?

 

KING

Conscience! What’s that? A conjuring book ne’r opened

Without the reader’s danger. ‘Tis indeed

A scarecrow set i’th world to frighten weak fools.

Hast thou seen fields paved o’er with carcasses,

Now to be tender-footed, not to tread

On a boy's mangled quarters, and a woman's!

 

BALTHAZAR

Nay, Sir, I have searched the records of the Low-Countries, and find that by your pardon I need not care a pin for goblins, and therefore I will do it Sir. I did recoil because I was double charged.

 

KING

No more. Here comes a satyr with sharp horns.

 

Enter Cardinal, and Medina like a French Doctor.

 

CARDINAL

Sir, here’s a Frenchman charged with some strange business

Which to close ear only he’ll deliver,

Or else to none.

 

KING

A Frenchman?

 

MEDINA

Oui, Monsieur.

 

KING

Cannot he speak the Spanish?

 

MEDINA

Si Signor, un Poco - Monsieur Acontez in de Corner, me come for offer to your Bon Grace mi trezhumbla service, by gar no John fidleco shall put into your near braver melody dan dis un petite pipe shall play to your great bon Grace.

 

KING

What is the tune you strike up, touch the string.

 

MEDINA

Dis - me has run up and down mine Country and learn many fine thing, and mush knavery, now more and all dis me know you’ll jumbla de fine vench and fill her belly with garsoone, her name is La Madam ...

 

KING

Onaelia.

 

MEDINA

She by gar. Now Monsieur dis Madam send for me to help her malady, being very naught of her corpus, her body, me know you no point loves dis vench. But royal Monsieur donne moye ten thousand French Crowns she shall kick up her tail by gar, and beshide lie dead as dog in de shannell.

 

KING

Speak low.

 

MEDINA

As de bag-pipe when de wind is puff, Gar beigh,

 

KING

Thou namest ten thousand Crowns, I’ll treble them

Rid me of this leprosy. Thy name?

 

MEDINA
Monsieur Doctor Devil.

 

KING

Shall I a second wheel add to this mischief

To set it faster going? If one break,

T’other may keep his motion.

 

MEDINA

Esselent fort boone.

 

KING

Balthazar.

To give thy sword an edge again, this Frenchman

Shall whet thee on, that if thy pistol fail,

Or poniard, this can send the poison home.

 

BALTHAZAR

Brother Cain we’ll shake hands.

 

MEDINA

In de bowl of de bloody busher. ‘Tis very fine wholesome.

 

KING

And more to arm your resolution,

I’ll tune this Churchman so, that he shall chime

In sounds harmonious, merit to that man

Whose hand has but a finger in that act.

 

BALTHAZAR

That music were worth hearing.

 

KING

Holy father,

You must give pardon to me in unlocking

A cave stuffed full with serpents, which my State

Threaten to poison, and it lies in you

To break their bed with thunder of your voice.

 

CARDINAL

How princely son?

 

KING

Suppose a universal

Hot pestilence beat her mortiferous wings

O’er all my kingdoms, am I not bound in soul,

To empty all our academies of doctors

And Aesculapian <46> spirits to charm this plague?

 

CARDINAL

You are.

 

KING

Or had the canon made a breach

Into our rich Escurial <47>, down to beat it

About our ears, should I stop this breach

Spare even our richest Ornaments, nay our crown,

Could it keep bullets off.

 

CARDINAL

No sir, you should not.

 

KING

This linstock <48> gives you fire. Shall then that strumpet

And bastard breathe quick vengeance in my face,

Making my Kingdom reel, my subjects stagger

In their obedience, and yet live?

 

CARDINAL

How? Live!

Shed not their bloods to gain a kingdom greater

Than ten times this.

 

MEDINA

Pish, not matter how Red-cap and his wit run.

 

KING

As I am Catholic King, I’ll have their hearts

Panting in these two hands.

 

CARDINAL

Dare you turn hangman?

Is this religion Catholic to kill

What even brute beasts abhor to do, your own!

To cut in sunder wedlock’s sacred knot

Tied by heaven’s fingers! To make Spain a bonfire

To quench which must a second deluge rain

In showers of blood, no water. If you do this

There is an arm armipotent that can fling you

Into a base grave, and your palaces

With lightening strike, and of their ruins make

A tomb for you, unpitied and abhorred,

Bear witness all you lamps celestial

I wash my hands of this.

 

KING

Rise my good angel,

Whose holy tunes beat from me that evil spirit

Which jogs mine elbow, hence thou dog of hell.

 

MEDINA

Bow wow.

 

KING

Bark out no more thou mastiff, get you all gone,

And let my soul sleep. [Aside to Balthazar] There’s gold, peace, see it done.

 

Exit King.

 

BALTHAZAR

Sirra, you salsa-perilla <49>, rascal, toads-gut, you whorson pockey French spawn of a butsten-bellyed spider. Do you hear Monsieur?

 

MEDINA

Why do you bark and snap at my Narcissus, as if I were de French dog?

 

BALTHAZAR

You cur of Cerberus litter,

 

[Strikes him]

 

You’ll poison the honest Lady? Do but once toot <50> into her chamber-pot, and I’ll make thee look worse than a witch does upon a close stool.

 

CARDINAL

You shall not dare to touch him, stood he here

Single before thee.

 

BALTHAZAR

I’ll cut the rat into anchovies.

 

CARDINAL

I’ll make thee kiss his hand, embrace him, love him

And call him ...

 

Medina [reveals his true identity].

 

BALTHAZAR

The perfection of all Spaniards, Mars in little, the best book of the art of war printed in these times. As a French doctor, I would have given you pellets for pills, but as my noblest Lord, rip my heart out in your service.

 

MEDINA

Thou are the truest Clock

That e’er to time paidst tribute, honest soldier,

I lost mine own shape, and put on a French

Only to try thy truth, and the King’s falsehood,

Both which I find. Now this great Spanish volume

Is opened to me, I read him o'er and o'er,

Oh what black characters are printed in him.

 

CARDINAL

Nothing but certain ruin threats your niece,

Without prevention. Well this plot was laid

In such disguise to sound him, they that know

How to meet dangers, are the less afraid.

Yet let me counsel you not to text down

These wrongs in red lines.

 

MEDINA

No, I will not, father.

Now that I have anatomised his thoughts,

I’ll read a lecture on them that shall save

Many men’s lives, and to the kingdom minister

Most wholesome surgery. Here’s our aphorism.

These letters from us in our niece’s name,

You know treat of a marriage.

 

CARDINAL

There’s the strong anchor

To stay all in this tempest.

 

MEDINA

Holy sir,

With these works you the King, and so prevail

That all these mischiefs hull <51> with flagging sail.

 

CARDINAL

My best in this I’ll do.

 

MEDINA

Soldier, thy breast

I must lock better things in.

 

BALTHAZAR

‘Tis your chest,

With three good keys to keep it from opening an honest heart, a daring hand, and a pocket which scorns money.

 

Exeunt.

Exeunt.