Act 4, Scene IV

Scene: An Apartment in the Palace.

Enter ARBACES at one door, and GOBRIAS with PANTHEA at another.

Gobrias.
Sir, here's the princess.
Arbaces.
Leave us, then, alone;
For the main cause of her imprisonment
Must not be heard by any but herself.—
[Exit Gobrias.
You're welcome, sister; and I would to Heaven
I could so bid you by another name.—
If you above love not such sins as these,
Circle my heart with thoughts as cold as snow,
To quench these rising, flames that harbour here.
Panthea.
Sir, does it please you I shall speak?
Arbaces.
Please me?
Ay, more than all the art of music can,
Thy speech doth please me; for it ever sounds
As thou brought'st joyful unexpected news:
And yet it is not fit thou shouldst be heard;
I pray thee, think so.
Panthea.
Be it so; I will.
Am I the first that ever had a wrong
So far from being fit to have redress,
That 'twas unfit to hear it? I will back
To prison, rather than disquiet vou,
And wait till it be fit.
Arbaces.
No, do not go;
For I will hear thee with a serious thought:
I have collected all that's man about me
Together strongly, and I am resolved
To hear thee largely: But I do beseech thee,
Do not come nearer to me; for there is
Something in that, that will undo us both.
Panthea.
Alas, Sir, am I venom?
Arbaces.
Yes, to me;
Though, of thyself, I think thee to be in
As equal a degree of heat or cold,
As Nature can make: Yet, as unsound men
Convert the sweetness and the nourishing'st meats
Into diseases, so shall I, distemper'd,
Do thee: I pray thee, draw no nearer to me.
Panthea.
Sir, this is that I would: I am of late
Shut from the world, and why it should be thus
Is all I wish to know.
Arbaces.
Why, credit me,
Panthea, credit me, that am thy brother,
Thy loving brother, that there is a cause
Sufficient, yet unfit for thee to know,
That might undo thee everlastingly,
Only to hear. Wilt thou but credit this?
By heaven, tis true; believe it, if thou canst.
Panthea.
Children and fools are very credulous,
And I am both, I think, for I believe,
If you dissemble, be it on your head!
I'll back unto my prison. Yet, methinks,
I might be kept in some place where you are;
For in myself I find, I know not what
To call it, but it is a great desire
To see you often.
Arbaces.
Fy, you come in a step; what do you mean?
Dear sister, do not so! Alas, Panthea,
Where I am would you be? why, that's the cause
You are imprisoned, that you may not be
Where I am.
Panthea.
Then I must endure it, sir.
Heaven keep you!
Arbaces.
Nay, you shall hear the cause in short, Panthea;
And, when thou hear'st it, thou wilt blush for me,
And hang thy head down like a violet
Full of the morning's dew. There is a way
To gain thy freedom; but 'tis such a one
As puts thee in worse bondage, and I know
Thou wouldst encounter fire, and make a proof
Whether the gods have care of innocence.
Rather than follow it: Know, that I have lost,
The only difference betwixt man and beast,
Mv reason.
Panthea.
heaven forbid!
Arbaces.
Nay, it is gone;
And I am left as far without a bound
As the wild ocean that obeys the winds;
Each sudden passion throws me where it lists,
And overwhelms all that oppose my will.
I have beheld thee with a lustful eye;
My heart is set on wickedness, to act
Such sins with thee, as I have been afraid
To think of. If thou dar'st consent to this,
Which, I beseech thee, do not, thou may's gain
Thy liberty, and yield me a content;
If not, thv dwelling must be dark and close,
Where I may never see thee: For Heaven knows,
That laid this punishment upon my pride,
Thy, sight at some time will enforce my madness
To make a start e'en to thy ravishing.
Now spit upon me, and call all reproaches
Thou can'st devise together, and at once
Hurl 'em against me; for I am a sickness
As killing as the plague, ready to seize thee.
Panthea.
Far be it from me to revile the king!
But it is true, that I shall rather choose
To search out death that else would search out me.
And in a grave sleep with my innocence,
Than welcome such a sin. It is my fate;
To these cross accidents I was ordain'd,
And must have patience; and, but that my eyes
Have more of woman in 'em than my heart,
I would not weep. Peace enter you again!
Arbaces.
Farewell; and, good Panthea, pray for me,
(Thy prayers are pure) that I may find a death,
However soon, before my passions grow,
That they forget what I desire is sin;
For thither thev are tending: If that happen,
Then I shall force thee, though thou wert a virgin
By vow to Heaven, and shall pull a heap
Of strange, yet uninvented, sin upon me.
Panthea.
Sir, I will pray for you! yet you shall know
It is a sullen fate that governs us:
For I could wish, as heartily as you,
I were no sister to you; I should then
Embrace our lawful love sooner than health.
Arbaces.
Couldst thou affect me then?
Panthea.
So perfectly,
That, as it is, I ne'er shall sway my heart
To like another.
Arbaces.
Then I curse my birth!
Must this be added to my miseries,
That thou art willing too? Is there no stop
To our full happiness, but these mere sounds,
Brother and sister?
Panthea.
There is nothing else:
But these, alas! will separate us more
Than twenty worlds betwixt us.
Arbaces.
I have lived
To conquer men, and now am overthrown
Only by words, brother and sister. VVhere
Have those words dwelling? I will find 'em out,
And utterly destroy 'em; but they are
Not to be grasp'd: Let them be men or beasts,
And I will cut 'em from the earth; or towns,
And I will raze 'em, and then blow 'em up:
Let 'em be seas, and I will drink 'em off,
And yet have unquench'd fire left in my breast:
Let 'em be anything but merely voice.
Panthea.
But 'tis not in the power of any force,
Or policy, to conquer them.
Arbaces.
Panthea,
What shall we do? Shall we stand firmly here,
And gaze our eyes out?
Panthea.
'Would I could do so!
But I shall weep out mine.
Arbaces.
Accursed man,
Thou bought'st thy reason at too dear a rate;
For thou hast all thy actions bounded in
With curious rules, when every beast is free:
What is there that acknowledges a kindred,
But wretched man? Who ever saw the bull
Fearfully leave the heifer that he liked,
Because they had one dam?
Panthea.
Sir, I disturb you
And myself too; 'twere better I were gone.
Arbaces.
I will not be so foolish as I was;
Stay, we will love ust as becomes our births,
No otherwise: Brothers and sisters may
Walk hand in hand together; so shall we.
Come nearer: Is there any hurt in this?
Panthea.
I hope not.
Arbaces.
'Faith, there is none at all:
And tell me truly now, is there not one
You love above me?
Panthea.
No, by Heaven.
Arbaces.
Why, yet
You sent unto Tigranes, sister.
Panthea.
True,
But for another: For the truth——
Arbaces.
No more.
I'll credit thee; I know thou canst not lie.
Thou art all truth.
Panthea.
But is there nothing else
That we mav do, but only walk? Methinks,
Brothers and sisters lawfully may kiss.
Arbaces.
And so they may, Panthea; so will we;
And kiss again too; we were too scrupulous
And foolish , but we will be so no more.
Panthea.
If you have any mercy, let me go
To prison, to my death, to anything
I feel a sin growing upon my blood,
Worse than all these, hotter, I fear, than yours.
Arbaces.
That is impossible: what should we do?
Panthea.
Fly, sir, for Heaven's sake.
Arbaces.
So we must; away!
Sin grows upon us more by this delay.
[Exeunt several ways.