Act 5, Scene IV

Scene: A Room in the Palace.

Enter ARBACES with his sword drawn.

Arbaces.
It is resolved: I bore it whilst I could;
I can no more. Hell, open all thy gates,
And I will thorough them: If they be shut,
I'll batter 'em, but I will find the place
Where the most damn'd have dwelling! Ere I end,
Amongst them all they shall not have a sin,
But I may call it mine; I must begin
With murder of my friend, and so go on
To that incestuous ravishing, and end
My life and sins with a forbidden blow
Upon myself!

Enter MARDONIUS.

Mardonius.
What tragedy is near?
That hand was never wont to draw a sword,
But it cried "dead" to something.
Arbaces.
Mardonius,
Have you bid Gobrias come?
Mardonius.
How do you, sir?
Arbaces.
Well. Is he coming?
Mardonius.
Why, sir, are you thus?
Why do your hands proclaim a lawless war
Against yourself ?
Arbaces.
Thou answer'st me one question with another:
Is Gobrias coming?
Mardonius.
Sir, he is.
Arbaces.
'Tis well:
I can forbear your questions then. Begone!
Mardonius.
Sir, I have mark'd——
Arbaces.
Mark less! it troubles you and me.
Mardonius.
You are more variable than you were.
Arbaces.
It may be so.
Mardonius.
To-day no hermit could be humbler
Than you were to us all.
Arbaces.
And what of this?
Mardonius.
And now you take new rage into your eyes,
As you would look us all out of the land.
Arbaces.
I do confess it; will that satisfy?
I pr'ythee, get thee gone.
Mardonius.
Sir, I will speak.
Arbaces.
Will ye?
Mardonius.
It is my duty.
I fear you'll kill yourself: I am a subject,
And you shall do me wrong in't; 'tis my cause,
And I may speak.
Arbaces.
Thou art not train'd in sin,
It seems, Mardonius: kill myself! by Heaven,
I will not do it yet; and, when I will,
I'll tell thee, then I shall be such a creature
That thou wilt give me leave without a word.
There is a method in man's wickedness;
It grows up by degrees: I am not come
So high as killing of myself; there are
A hundred thousand sins 'twixt me and it,
Which I must do; and I shall come to't at last,
But, take my oath, not now. Be satisfied,
And met thee hence.
Mardonius.
I am sorry 'tis so ill.
Arbaces.
Be sorry, then:
True sorrow is alone; grieve by thyself.
Mardonius.
I pray you let me see your sword put up
Before I go: I'll leave you then.
Arbaces.
[Puts up.] Why, so.
What folly is this in thee? is it not
As apt to mischief as it was before?
Can I not reach it, think'st thou? These are toys
For children to be pleased with, and not men.
Now I am safe, you think: I would the book
Of Fate were here: my sword is not so sure
But I would get it out, and mangle that,
That all the destinies should quite forget
Their fix'd decrees, and haste to make us new,
For other fortunes; mine could not be worse.
Wilt thou now leave me?
Mardonius.
Heaven put into your bosom temperate thoughts!
I'll leave you, though I fear.
[Exit Mardonius.
Arbaces.
Go; thou art honest.
Why should the hasty errors of my youth
Be so unpardonable to draw a sin,
Helpless, upon me?

Enter GOBRIAS.

Gobrias.
There is the king;
Now it is ripe.
Arbaces.
Draw near, thou guilty man,
That art the author of the loathed'st crime
Five ages have brought forth, and hear me speak.
Curses incurable, and all the evils
Man's body or his spirit can receive,
Be with thee!
Gobrias.
Why, sir, do you curse me thus?
Arbaces.
Why do I curse thee? If there be a man
Subtle in curses, that exceeds the rest,
His worst wish on thee! Thou hast broke my heart.
Gobrias.
How, sir! Have I preserved you, from a child,
From all the arrows malice or ambition
Could shoot at you, and have I this for pay?
Arbaces.
'Tis true, thou didst preserve me, and in that
Wert crueller than hardened murderers
Of infants and their mothers! Thou didst save me,
Only till thou hadst studied out a way
How to destroy me cunningly thyself:
This was a curious way of torturing.
Gobrias.
What do you mean?
Arbaces.
Thou know'st the evils thou hast done to me!
Dost thou remember all those witching letters
Thou sent'st unto me to Armenia,
Fill'd with the praise of my beloved sister,
Where thou extol'dst her beauty? What had I
To do with that? what could her beauty be
To me? And thou didst write how well she loved me!
Dost thou remember this? so that I doted
Something before I saw her.
Gobrias.
This is true.
Arbaces.
Is it? and, when I was return'd, thou know'st,
Thou didst pursue it, till thou wound'st me in
To such a strange and unbelieved affection,
As good men cannot think on.
Gobrias.
This I grant;
I think, I was the cause.
Arbaces.
Wert thou? Nay, more.
I think, thou meant'st it.
Gobrias.
Sir, I hate a lie:
As I love Heaven and honesty, I did;
It was my meaning.
Arbaces.
Be thine own sad judge;
A further condemnation will not need:
Prepare thyself to die.
Gobrias.
Why, sir, to die?
Arbaces.
Why shouldst thou live? was ever yet offender
So impudent, that had a thought of mercy,
After confession of a crime like this?
Get out I cannot where thou hurl'st me in;
But I can take revenge; that's all the sweetness
Left for me.
Gobrias.
Now is the time.—Hear me but speak.
Arbaces.
No! Yet I will be far more merciful
Than thou wert to me; thou didst steal into me,
And never gavest me warning: So much time
As I give thee now, had prevented me
For ever. Notwithstanding all thy sins,
If thou hast hope that there is yet a prayer
To save thee, turn and speak it to thyself.
Gobrias.
Sir, you shall know your sins, before you do 'em:
If you kill me——
Arbaces.
I will not stay then.
Gobrias.
Know—
You kill your father.
Arbaces.
How?
Gobrias.
You kill your father.
Arbaces.
My father? Though I know it for a lie,
Made out of fear, to save thy stained life,
The very reverence of the word comes 'cross me,
And ties mine arm down.
Gobrias.
I will tell you that
Shall heighten you again; I am thy father;
I charge thee hear me.
Arbaces.
If it should be so,
As 'tis most false, and that I should be found
A bastard issue, the despised fruit
Of lawless lust, I should no more admire
All my wild passions! But another truth
Shall be wrung from thee: If I could come by
The spirit of pain, it should be pour'd on thee,
'Till thou allow'st thyself more full of lies
Than he that teaches thee.

Enter ARANE.

Arane.
Turn thee about;
I come to speak to thee, thou wicked man!
Hear me, thou tyrant!
Arbaces.
I will turn to thee;
Hear me, thou strumpet! I have blotted out
The name of mother, as thou hast thy shame.
Arane.
My shame! Thou hast less shame than anything!
Why dost thou keep my daughter in a prison?
Why dost thou call her sister, and do this?
Arbaces.
Cease, thou strange impudence, and answer quickly!
[Draws.
If thou contemn'st me, this will ask an answer,
And have it.
Arane.
Help me, gentle Gobrias.
Arbaces.
Guilt dare not help guilt! though they grow together
In doing ill, yet at the punishment
They sever, and each flies the noise of other.
Think not of help; answer!
Arane.
I will; to what?
Arbaces.
To such a thing, as, if it be a truth,
Think what a creature thou hast made thyself,
That didst not shame to do what I must blush
Only to ask thee. Tell me who I am,
Whose son I am, without all circumstance;
Be thou as hasty as my sword will be
If thou refusest.
Arane.
Why, you are his son.
Arbaces.
His son? Swear, swear, thou worse than woman damn'd!
Arane.
By all that's good, you are.
Arbaces.
Then art thou all
That ever was known bad! Now is the cause
Of all my strange misfortunes come to light.
What reverence expect'st thou from a child,
To bring forth which thou hast offended Heaven,
Thy husband, and the land? Adulterous witch!
I know now why thou wouldst have poison'd me:
I was thy lust, which thou wouldst have forgot!
Then, wicked mother of my sins, and me,
Show me the way to the inheritance
I have by thee, which is a spacious world
Of impious acts, that I may soon possess it.
Plagues rot thee, as thou liv'st, and such diseases
As use to pay lust, recompense thy deed!
Gobrias.
You do not know why you curse thus.
Arbaces.
Too well.
You are a pair of vipers; and behold
The serpent you have got! There is no beast,
But, if he knew it, has a pedigree
As brave as mine, for they have more descents;
And I am every way as beastly got,
As far without the compass of a law,
As they.
Arane.
You spend your rage and words in vain,
And rail upon a guess; hear us a little.
Arbaces.
No, I will never hear, but talk away
My breath, and die.
Gobrias.
Why, but you are no bastard.
Arbaces.
How's that?
Arane.
Nor child of mine.
Arbaces.
Still you go on
In wonders to me.
Gobrias.
Pray you, be more patient:
I may bring comfort to vou.
Arbaces.
I will kneel,
[Kneels.
And hear with the obedience of a child.
Good father, speak! I do acknowledge you,
So you bring comfort.
Gobrias.
First know our last king, your supposed father,
Was old and feeble when he married her,
And almost all the land, as she, past hope
Of issue from him.
Arbaces.
Therefore she took leave
To play the whore, because the king was old;
Is this the comfort?
Arane.
What will you find out
To give me satisfaction, when you find
How you have injured me? Let fire consume me
If ever I were whore!
Gobrias.
Forbear these starts,
Or I will leave you wedded to despair,
As you are now: If you can find a temper,
My breath shall be a pleasant western wind,
That cools and blasts not.
Arbaces.
Bring it out, good father.
[Lies down.
I'll lie, and listen here as reverently
As to an angel: If I breathe too loud,
Tell me; for I would be as still as night.
Gobrias.
Our king, I say, was old, and this our queen
Desired to bring an heir, but her yet husband,
She thought, was past it; and to be dishonest,
I think, she would not: If she would have been,
The truth is, she was watch'd so narrowly,
And had so slender opportunities,
She hardly could have been: But yet her cunning
Found out this way; she feign'd herself with child,
And posts were sent in haste throughout the land,
And God was humbly thank'd in every church,
That so had bless'd the queen; and prayers were made
For her safe going and delivery.
She feign'd now to grow bigger; and perceived
This hope of issue made her fear'd, and brought
A far more large respect from every man,
And saw her power increase, and was resolved,
Since she believed she could not have't indeed,
At least she would be thought to have a child.
Arbaces.
Do I not hear it well? Nay, I will make
No noise at all; but, pray you, to the point,
Quick as you can!
Gobrias.
Now when the time was full
She should be brought to bed, I had a son
Born, which was you: This, the queen hearing of,
Moved me to let her have you: and such reasons
She showed me, as she knew well would tie
My secrecy: She swore you should be king;
And, to be short, I did deliver you
Unto her, and pretended you were dead,
And in mine own house kept a funeral,
And had an empty coffin put in earth.
That night this queen feign'd hastily to labour,
And by a pair of women of her own,
Which she had charm'd, she made the world believe
She was deliver'd of you. You grew up,
As the king's son, till you were six years old;
Then did the king die, and did leave to me
Protection of the realm; and, contrary
To his own expectation, left this queen
Truly with child, indeed, of the fair princess
Panthea. Then she could have torn her hair,
And did alone to me, yet durst not speak
In public, for she knew she should be found
A traitor; and her tale would have been thought
Madness, or anything rather than truth.
This was the only cause why she did seek
To poison you, and I to keep you safe;
And this the reason why I sought to kindle
Some sparks of love in you to fair Panthea,
That she might get part of her right again.
Arbaces.
And have you made an end now? Is this all
If not, I will be still till I be aged,
Till all my hairs be silver.
Gobrias.
This is all.
Arbaces.
And is it true, say you too, madam?
Arane.
Yes.
Heaven knows, it is most true.
Arbaces.
Panthea, then, is not my sister?
Gobrias.
No.
Arbaces.
But can you prove this?
Gobrias.
If you will give consent,
Else who dares go about it?
Arbaces.
Give consent?
Why, I will have 'em all that know it rack'd
To get this from 'em.—All that wait without,
Come in, whate'er you be, come in, and be
Partakers of my joy!—Oh, you are welcome!

Enter BESSUS, Gentlemen, MARDONIUS, and other Attendants.

Mardonius, the best news! Nay, draw no nearer
They all shall hear it: I am found No King.

Mardonius.
Is that so good news?
Arbaces.
Yes, the happiest news
That e'er was heard.
Mardonius.
Indeed, 'twere well for you
If you might be a little less obey'd.
Arbaces.
One call the queen.
Mardonius.
Why she is there.
Arbaces.
The queen,
Mardonius? Panthea is the queen,
And I am plain Arbaces.—Go some one.
She is in Gobrias' house.—
[Exit a Gentleman.
Since I saw you,
There are a thousand things deliver'd to me,
You little dream of.
Mardonius.
So it should seem.—My lord,
What fury's this?
Gobrias.
Believe me, 'tis no fury;
All that he says is truth.
Mardonius.
'Tis very strange.
Arbaces.
Why do you keep your hats off, gentlemen?
Is it to me? I swear, it must not be
Nay, trust me, in good faith, it must not be!
I cannot now command you; but I pray you,
For the respect you bare me when you took
Me for your king, each man clap on his hat
At my desire.
Mardonius.
We will. You are not found
So mean a man, but that you may be cover'd
As well as we; may you not?
Arbaces.
Oh, not here!
You may, but not I, for here is my father
In presence.
Mardonius.
Where?
Arbaces.
Why, there. Oh, the whole story
Would be a wilderness, to lose thyself
For ever.—Oh, pardon me, dear father,
For all the idle and unreverend words
That I have spoke in idle moods to you!—
I am Arbaces; we all fellow subjects;
Nor is the queen Panthea now my sister.
Bessus.
Why, if you remember, fellow-subject Arbaces, I told you once she was not your sister: Ay, and she look'd nothing like you.
Arbaces.
I think you did, good captain Bessus.
Bessus.
Here will arise another question now amongst the sword-men, whether I be to call him to account for beating me, now he is proved No King.

Enter LYGONES.

Mardonius.
Sir, here's Lygones, the agent for the Armenian state.
Arbaces.
Where is he?—I know vour business, good Lygones.
Lygones.
We must have our king again, and will.
Arbaces.
I knew that was your business: You shall have
Your king again; and have him so again,
As never king was had.—Go, one of you,
And bid Bacurius bring Tigranes hither;
And bring the lady with him, that Panthea,
The queen Panthea, sent me word this morning
Was brave Tigranes' mistress.
[Exeunt two Gentlemen.
Lygones.
'Tis Spaconia.
Arbaces.
Ay, ay, Spaconia.
Lygones.
She is my daughter.
Arbaces.
She is so. I could now tell anything
I never heard. Your king shall go so home,
As never man went.
Mardonius.
Shall he go on's head?
Arbaces.
He shall have chariots easier than air,
That I will have invented; and ne'er think
He shall pay any ransom! And thyself,
That art the messenger, shall ride before him
On a horse cut out of an entire diamond,
That shall be made to go with golden wheels,
I know not how yet.
Lygones.
Why, I shall be made
For ever! They belied this king with us
And said he was unkind.
Arbaces.
And then thy daughter:
She shall have some strange thing we'll have the kingdom
Sold utterly and put into a toy,
Which she shall wear about her carelessly,
Somewhere or other.—See the virtuous queen!—

Enter PANTHEA and 1 Gentleman.

Behold the humblest subject that you have,
Kneel here before you.

[Kneels.
Panthea.
Why kneel you to me,
That am your vassal?
Arbaces.
Grant me one request.
Panthea.
Alas! what can I grant you? what I can I will.
Arbaces.
That you will please to marry me,
If I can prove it lawful.
Panthea.
Is that all?
More willingly than I would draw this air.
Arbaces.
I'll kiss this hand in earnest.
2 Gentleman.
Sir, Tigranes
Is coming; though he made it strange, at first,
To see the princess any more.

Enter TIGRANES and SPACONIA.

Arbaces.
The queen,
Thou mean'st.—Oh, my Tigranes, pardon me!
Tread on my neck: I freely offer it;
And, if thou be'st so given, take revenge,
For I have injured thee.
Tigranes.
No; I forgive,
And rejoice more that you lease found repentance,
Than I my liberty.
Arbaces.
May'st thou be happy
In thy fair choice, for thou art temperate!
You owe no ransom to the state! Know, that
I have a thousand joys to tell you of,
Which yet I dare not utter, till I pav
My thanks to Heaven for 'em. Will you go
With me, and help me? pray you, do.
Tigranes.
I will.
Arbaces.
Take then your fair one with you:—And you, queen
Of goodness and of us, oh, give me leave
To take vour arm in mine!—Come, every one
That takes delight in goodness, help to sing
Loud thanks for me, that I am proved No King.
[Exeunt.

F I N I S