Act 3, Scene I

Scene: A Temple of the Druids

Enter a Messenger

Messenger.
Prepare there for the sacrifice! the queen comes.

Music. Enter in solemnity the Druids singing: the second Daughter strewing flowers; then BONDUCA, CARATACH, NENNIUS, and others.

Bonduca.
Ye powerful gods of Britain, hear our prayers;
Hear us, ye great recengers; and this day
Take pity from our swords, doubt from our valours;
Double the sad remembrance of our wrongs
In every breasy; the vengeance due to those
Make infinite and endless! On our pikes
This day pale Terror sit, horrors and ruins
Upon our executions; claps of thunder
Hang on our armed carts; and 'fore our troops
Despair and Death; Shame beyond these attend 'em!
Rise from the dust, ye relics of the dead,
Whose noble deeds our holy Druids sing;
Oh, rise, ye valiant bones I let not base earth
Oppress your honours, whilst the pride of Rome
Treads on your stocks, and wipes out all your stories!
Nennius.
Thou great Tiranes, whom our sacred priests,
Armed with dreadful thunder, place on high
Above the rest of the immortal gods,
Send thy consuming fires and deadly bolts,
And shoot 'em home; stick in each Roman heart
A fear fit for confusion; blast their spirits,
Dwell in 'em to destruction; through their phalanx
Strike, as thou strikest a proud tree; shake their bodies
Make their strengths totter, and their topless fortunes
Unroot, and reel to ruin!
1 Daughter.
Oh, thou god,
Thou feared god, if ever to thy justice
Insulting wrongs, and ravishments of women,
(Women derived from thee) their shames, the sufferings
Of those that daily fill'd thy sacrifice
With virgin incense, have access, now hear me!
Now snatch thy thunder up, now on these Romans,
Despisers of thy power, of us defacers,
Revenge thyself; take to thy killing anger,
To make thy great work full, thy justice spoken,
An utter rooting from this blessed isle
Of what Rome is or has been!
Bonduca.
Give me more incense!
The gods are deaf and drowsy, no happy flame
Rises to raise our thoughts. Pour on.
2 Daughter.
See, Heaven,
And all you powers that guide us, see and shame,
We kneel so long for pity. O'er your altars,
Since 'tis no light oblation that you look for,
No incense-offering, will I hang mine eyes;
And as I wear these stones with hourly weeping,
So will I melt your powers into compassion.
This tear for Prosutagus my brave father;
(Ye gods, now think on Rome!) this for my mother,
And all her miseries; yet see, and save us!
But now ye must be open-eyed. See, Heaven,
Oh, see thy showers stolen from thee: our dishonours,
Oh, sister, our dishonours! Can ye be gods,
And these sins smother'd?
[A smoke from the altar.
Bonduca.
The fire takes.
Caratach.
It does so,
But no flame rises. Cease your fretful prayers,
Your whinings, and your tame petitions;
The gods love courage arm'd with confidence,
And prayers fit to pull them down: Weak tears
And troubled hearts, the dull twins of cold spirits,
They sit and smile at. Hear how I salute 'em
[Kneels.
Divine Andate, thou who hold'st the reins
Of furious battles, and disordered war,
And proudly roll'st thy swarty chariot wheels
Over the heaps of wounds ana carcasses,
Sailing through seas of blood; thou sure-steel'd sternness,
Give us this day good hearts, good enemies,
Good blows o' both sides, wounds that fear or flight
Can claim no share in; steel us both with angers
And warlike executions fit thy viewing
Let Rome put on her best strength, and thy Britain,
Thy little Britain, but as great in fortune,
Meet her as strong as she, as proud, as daring!
And then look on, thou red-eyed god; who does best
Reward with honour; who despair makes fly,
Unarm for ever, and brand with infamy!
Grant this, divine Andate! 'tis but justice;
And my first blow thus on thy holy altar
I sacrifice unto thee.
[A flame arises.
Bonduca.
It flames out.
[Music.
Caratach.
Now sing, ye Druides.
[Song.
Bonduca.
'Tis out again.
Caratach.
He has given us leave to fight yet; we ask no more;
The rest hangs in our resolutions:
Tempt him no more.
Bonduca.
I would know further, cousin.
Caratach.
His hidden meaning dwells in our endeavours,
Our valours are our best gods. Cheer the soldier,
And let him eat.
Messenger.
He's at it, sir.
Caratach.
Away then;
When he has done, let's march.—Come, fear not, lady;
This day the Roman gains no more ground here,
But what his body lies in.
Bonduca.
Now I'm confident.
[Exeunt. Recorders playing.