Act 5, Scene IV

Scene: A Court of Justice.

Enter EUPHANES and Marshal.

Euphanes.
Are your prisoners ready ?
Marshal.
When it shall please the queen
To call them forth, my lord.
Euphanes.
Pray you do me the favour
To tell me how they have borne themselves this night
Of their imprisonment?
Marshal.
Gladly, sir: Your brother,
With the other courtiers, willingly received
All courtesies I could offer; eat, and drank,
And were exceeding merry, so dissembling
Their guilt, or confident in their innocence,
That I much wonder'd at it. But the prince,
That, as born highest, should have graced his fall
With greatest courage, is so sunk with sorrow,
That to a common judgment he would seem
To suffer like a woman; but to me,
That from the experience I have had of many,
Look further in him, I do find the deep
Consideration of what's past, more frights him
Than any other punishment.
Euphanes.
That is indeed
True magnanimity; the other but
A desperate bastard valour.
Marshal.
I press'd to him,
And, notwithstanding the queen's strict command,
(Having your lordship's promise to secure me)
Offer'd to free him from his bonds, which he
Refused, with such a sorrow, mix'd with scorn,
That it amazed me; yet I urged his highness
To give one reason for't: He briefly answer'd,
That he had sat in judgment on himself,
And found that he deserved them; that he was
A ravisher, and so to suffer like one;
“Which is the reason of my tears,” he addeth,
“For were't not I again should break the laws
By scorning all their rigour can inflict,
I should die smiling.”
Euphanes.
I forbear to wonder
That you were moved that saw this, I am struck
With the relation so. 'Tis very well;
See all things ready. I do wish I could
Send comfort to the prince; (be ready with him)
'Tis in the queen's breast only, which for us
To search into were sauciness, to determine
What she thinks fit.
[Exit Marshal.

Enter LEONIDAS, with MERIONE in white; EUPHANES, with BELIZA in black; QUEEN, and takes her place behind the bar, AGENOR, CONON; Marshal, with THEANOR, CRATES, SOSICLES, ERATON; Lords, Ladies, and Guard.

Lord.  
Make way there for the queen!
Queen.  
Read first the law, and what our ancestors
Have in this case provided, to deter
Such-like offenders.—To you, gentle ladies,
This only: 'Would I could as well give comfort,
As bid you be secure from fear or doubt
Of our displeasure! be as confident
As if your plea were 'gainst a common man,
To have all right from us; I will not grieve
For what's not worth my pity.—Read the law.
Clerk. [Reading.]
Lycurgus the nineteenth against rapes: It is provided, and publicly enacted and confirmed, That any man of what degree soever, offering violence to the chastity of a virgin, shall, ipso facto, be liable to her accusation, and according to the said law be censured; ever provided, that it shall be in the choice of the said virgin so abused either to compel the offender to marry her without a dower, if so she will be satisfied, or demanding his head for the offence, to have that accordingly performed.
Queen.  
You hear this: What do you demand
Merione.
The benefit
The law allows me.
Beliza.  
For the injury
Done to mine honour, I require his head.
Merione.
I likewise have an eye upon mine honour;
But knowing that his death cannot restore it,
I ask him for my husband.
Beliza.  
I was ravish'd,
And will have justice.
Merione.
I was ravish'd too;
I kneel for mercy.
Beliza.  
I demand but what
The law allows me.
Merione.
That which I desire
Is by the same law warranted.
Beliza.  
The rape
On me hath made a forfeit of his life,
Which in revenge of my disgrace I plead for.
Merione.
The rape on me gives me the privilege
To be his wife, and that is all I sue for.
Agenor.
A doubtful case.
Leonidas.
Such pretty lawyers, yet
I never saw nor read of.
Euphanes.
May the queen
Favour your sweet plea, madam!
Beliza.  
Is that justice?
Shall one that is to suffer for a rape
Be by a rape defended? Look upon
The public enemy of chastity,
This lustful satyr, whose enraged desires
The ruin of one wretched virgin's honour
Would not suffice; and shall the wreck of two
Be his protection ? May-be I was ravish'd
For his lust only, thou for his defence;
Oh, fine evasion! shall with such a slight
Your justice be deluded? your laws cheated?
And be that for one fact deserved to die,
For sinning often, find impunity?
But that I know tbee, I would swear thou wert
A false impostor, and suborn'd to this:
And it may be thou art, Merione;
For hadst thou suffer'd truly what I have done,
Thou wouldst like me complain, and call for vengeance,
And, our wrongs being equal, I alone
Should not desire revenge: But be it so
If thou prevail, even he will punish it.
And foolish mercy shewed to him undo thee.
Consider, fool, before it be too late,
What joys thou const expect from such a husband,
To whom thy first, and what's more, forced embraces,
Which men say heighten pleasure, were distasteful.
Merione.
'Twas in respect that then they were unlawful,
Unbless'd by Hymen, and left stings behind them,
Which from the marriage-bed are ever banish'd.
Let this court be then the image of Jove's throne,
Upon which grace and mercy still attend,
To intercede between him and his justice;
And since the law allows as much to me
As she can challenge, let the milder sentence,
Which best becomes a mother and a queen,
Now overcome, nor let your wisdom suffer:
In doing right to her, I in my wrong
Endure a second ravishment.
Beliza.  
You can free him
Only from that which does concern yourself,
Not from the punishment that's due to me;
Your injuries you may forgive, not mine;
I plead mine own just wreak, which will right both,
Where that which you desire robs me of justice
'Tis that which I appeal to.
Merione.
Bloody woman,
Dost thou desire his punishment? Let him live then;
For any man to marry where he likes not
Is still a ling'ring torment.
Beliza.  
For one rape
One death's sufficient; that way cannot catch me.
Merione.
To you I fly then, to your mercy, madam!
Exempting not your justice, be but equal;
And since in no regard I come behind her,
Let me not so be undervalued in
Your highness' favour, that the world take notice
You so preferr'd her, that in her behalf
You kill'd that son you would not save for me
Mercy, oh, mercy, madam!
Beliza.  
Great Queen, justice!
Agenor.
With what a masculine constancy the grave lady
Hath heard them both!
Leonidas.
Yet how unmoved she sits
In that which most concerns her!
Conon.  
Now she rises;
And, having well weigh'd both their arguments,
Resolves to speak.
Euphanes.
And yet again she pauses:
Oh, Conon, such a resolution once
A Roman told me he had seen in Cato
Before he kill'd himself.
Queen.  
'Tis now determin'd.—
Merione, I could wish I were no queen,
To give you satisfaction; no mother,
Beliza, to content you; and would part
Even with my being, both might have their wishes;
But since that is impossible, in few words
I will deliver what I am resolved on.
The end for which all profitable laws
Were made looks two ways only, the reward
Of innocent good men, and the punishment
Of bad delinquents: Ours, concerning rapes,
Provided that same latter-clause of marriage
For him that had fall'n once, not then foreseeing
Mankind could prove so monstrous, to tread twice
A path so horrid. The great law-giver
Draco, that for his strange severity
Was said to write his stern decrees in blood,
Made none for parricides, presuming that
No man could be so wicked: Such might be
Lycurgus' answer (did he live) for this.
But since I find that in my son which was not
Doubted in any else, I will add to it:
He cannot marry both, but for both dying,
Both have their full revenge.—You see, Beliza,
You have your wish. With you, Merione,
I'll spend a tear or two. So, Heaven forgive thee
Theanor.
Upon my knees I do approve your judgment,
And beg that you would put it into act
With all speed possible; only that I may,
Having already made peace with myself,
Part so with all the world. Princely Agenor,
I ask your pardon. Yours, my lord Euphanes.
And, Crates, with the rest too, I forgive you;
Do you the like for me. Yours, gracious mother,
I dare not ask; and yet if that my death
Be like a son of vours, though my life was not,
Perhaps you may vouchsafe it. Lastly, that
Both these whom I have wrong'd may wish my ashes
No heavy burden, ere I suffer death,
For the restoring of Merione's honour,
Let me be married to her; and then die
For you, Beliza.
Queen.  
Thou least made in this
Part of amends to me, and to the world:
Thy suit is granted.—Call a Flamen forth
To do this holy work; with him a headsman.

Enter Flamen and Executioner.

Raise up thy weeping eyes, Merione;
With this hand I confirm thy marriage,
Wishing that now the gods would shew some miracle,
That this might not divorce it.
Crates.
To that purpose
I am their minister. Stand not amazed
To all your comforts, I will do this wonder.—
Your majesty (with your pardon I must speak it)
Allow'd once heretofore of such a contract,
Which you repenting afterwards, revoked it,
Being fully bent to match her with Agenor;
The grieved prince knowing this, and yet not daring
To cross what you determined, by an oath
Bound me and these his followers to do something
That he might once enjoy her; we, sworn to it,
And easily persuaded, being assured
She was his wife before the face of Heaven,
Although some ceremonious forms were wanting,
Committed the first rape, and brought her to him,
Which broke the marriage; but when we perceived
He purposed to abuse our ready service
In the same kind, upon the chaste Beliza,
Holding ourselves less tied to him than goodness,
I made discovery of it to my brother,
Who can relate the rest.
Euphanes.
It is most true.
Queen.  
I would it were
Euphanes.
In every circumstance
It is, upon my soul: For, this known to me,
I won Merione in my lady's habit
To be again (but willingly) surprised
But with Agenor, and her noble brother,
With my approved friend Conon, with such speed
She was pursued, that, the lewd act scarce ended,
The prince (assured he bad enjoy'd Beliza,
For all the time Merione's face was cover'd)
Was apprehended and brought to your presence,
But not till now discovered, in respect
I hoped the imminent danger of the prince,
To which his loose unqueiiehed heats had brought him,
Being pursued unto the latest trial,
Would work in him compunction, which it has done;
And these two ladies, in their feign'd contentions,
To your delight I hope have served as masquers
To their own nuptials.
Queen.  
My choice was worthy
When first I look'd on thee: As then hast order'd,
All shall be done; and not the meanest that
Play'd in this unexpected comedy,
But shall partake our bounty.—And, my lord,
[To AGENOR.
That with the rest you may seem satisfied,
If you dare venture on a queen, not yet
So far in debt to years but that she may
Bring you a lusty boy, I offer up
Myself and kingdom, during my life, to you.
Agenor.
It is a blessing which I durst not hope for.
But with all joy receive.
All.    
We all applaud it.
Queen.  
Then on unto the temple, where, the rites
Of marriage ended, we'll find new delights.
[Exeunt