Act 1, Scene I

Scene: Night. A Street.


'Tis now the sweetest time for sleep; the night is
Scarce spent: Arrigo, what's o'clock?
Past four.
Is it so much, and yet the morn not up?
See yonder, where the shamefaced maiden comes:
Into our sight how gently doth she slide,
Hiding her chaste cheeks, like a modest bride,
With a red veil of blushes: as is she,
Even such all modest virtuous women be!
Why thinks your lordship I am up so soon?
About some weighty state-plot.
And what thinks
Your knighthood of it?
I do think, to cure
Some strange corruptions in the commonwealth.
You are well conceited of yourselves, to think
I chuse you out to bear me company
In such affairs and business of state!
But am not I a pattern for all princes,
That break my soft sleep for my subjects' good?
Am I not careful? very provident?
Your grace is careful.
Very provident.
Ney, knew you how my serious working plots
Concern the whole estates of all my subjects,
Ay, and their lives: then, Lucio, thou wouldst swear,
I were a loving prince.
I think your grace
Intends to walk the public streets disguised,
To see the streets' disorders.
'Tis not so.
You secretly will cross some other states,
That do conspire against you.
Weightier far:
You are my friends, and you shall have the cause;
I break my sleeps thus soon to see a wench.
You are wond'rous careful for your subjects' good!
You are a very loving prince indeed!
This care I take for them, when their dull eyes
Are closed with heavy slumbers.
Then you rise
To see your wenches.
What Milan beauty hath the power
To charm her sovereign's eyes, and break his sleeps?
Sister to Count Valore! She is a maid
Would make a prince forget his throne and state,
And lowly kneel to her: The general fate
Of all mortality, is hers to give;
As she disposeth, so we die and live.
My lord, the day grows clear; the court will rise.
We stay too long.—Is the umbrana's head,
As we commanded, sent to the sad Gondarino,
Our general
'Tis sent.
But stay! where shines
That light?
'Tis in the chamber of Lazarillo.
Lazarillo? what is he?
A courtier, my lord; and one that I wonder your grace knows not, for he hath followed your court, and your last predecessor's, from place to place, any time this seven year, as faithfully as your spits and your dripping-pans have done, and almost as greasily.
Oh, we know him: As we have heard, he keeps
A calendar of all the famous dishes
Of meat, that have been in the court, ever since
Our great-grandfather's time; and when he can thrust
In at no table, he makes his meat of that.
The very same, my lord.
A courtier call'st thou him?
Believe me, Lucio, there be many such
About our court, respected, as they think,
Even by ourself. With thee I will be plain:
We princes do use to prefer many for nothing, and to take particular and free knowledge, almost in the nature of acquaintance, of many whom we do use only for our pleasures; and do give largely to numbers, more out of policy to be thought liberal, and by that means to make the people strive to deserve our love, than to reward any particular desert of theirs to whom we give; and do suffer ourselves to hear flatterers, more for recreation than for love of it, though we seldom hate it:
And yet we know all these; and when we please,
Can touch the wheel, and turn their names about.
I wonder they that know their states so well,
Should fancy such base slaves.
Thou wond'rest, Lucio?
Dost not thou think if thou wert Duke of Milan,
Thou shouldst be flatter'd?
I know, my lord, I would not.
Why, so I thought till I was a duke; I thought I should have left me no more flatterers than there are now plain-dealers; and yet, for all this my resolution, I am most palpably flatter'd: The poor man may loath covetousness and flattery, but fortune will alter the mind when the wind turns; there may be well a little conflict, but it will drive the billows before it. Arrigo, it grows late;
For see, fair Tethys hath undone the bars
To Phoebus' team and his unrivalled light
Hath chased the morning's modest blush away:
Now must we to our love.—Bright Paphian queen,
Thou Cytherean goddess, that delights
In stirring glances, and art still thyself
More toying than thy team of sparrows be;
Thou laughing Erecina, oh, inspire,
Her heart with love, or lessen my desire!