Act 1, Scene I

Scene: Rome. An Apartment in the Palace.


You buz into my head strange likelihoods,
And fill me full of doubts: But what proofs, Niger,
What certainties, that my most noble brother
Came to his end by murder? Tell me that
Assure me by some circumstance.
I will, sit;
And as I tell you truth, so the gods prosper me!
I have often named this Aper.
True, you have done;
And in mysterious senses I have heard you
Break out o' th' sudden, and abruptly.
True, sir;
Fear of your unbelief, and the time's giddiness,
Made me I durst not then go further. So your grace please,
Out of your wonted goodness, to give credit,
I shall unfold the wonder.
Do it boldly:
You shall have both our hearty loves and bearings.
This Aper then, this too-much-honour'd villain,
(For he deserves no mention of a good man)—
Great sir, give ear—this most ungrateful, spiteful,
Above the memory of mankind mischievous,
With his own bloody hands——
Take heed!
I am in, sir;
And, if I make not good my story——
I see a truth would break out: Be not fearful.
I say, this Aper, and his damn'd ambition,
Cut off your brother's hopes, his life, and fortunes;
The honour'd Numerianus fell by him,
Fell basely, most untimely, and most treacherously;
For, in his litter, as he bore him company,
Most privately and cunningly he kill'd him.
Yet still he fills the faithful soldiers' ears
With stories of his weakness; of his life;
That he dare not venture to appear in open,
And shew his warlike face among the soldiers,
The tenderness and weariness of his eyes,
Being not able to endure the sun yet:
Slave that he is, he gives out this infirmity
(Because he would dispatch his honour too)
To arise from wantonness, and love of women;
And thus he juggles still.
Oh, most pernicious,
Most bloody, and most base! Alas, dear brother,
Art thou accused, and after death thy memory
Loaden with shames and lies? those pious tears
Thou daily shower'dst upon my father's monument,
(When in the Persian expedition
He fell unfortunately by a stroke of thunder)
Made thy defame and sins? those wept-out eyes,
The fair examples of a noble nature,
Those holy drops of love, turn'd by depravers
(Malicious poison'd tongues) to thy abuses?
We must not suffer this.
It shews a truth now:
And sure this Aper is not right nor honest,
He will not now come near me.
No; he dare not:
Be has an inmate here, that's call'd a conscience,
Bids him keep off.
My brother honour'd him,
Made him, first, captain of his guard, his next friend;
Then to my mother (to assure him nearer)
He made him husband.
And withal ambitious;
For when he trod so nigh, his false feet itch'd, sir,
To step into the state.
If you believe, brother,
Aper a bloody knave, as 'tis apparent,
Let's leave disputing, and do something noble.
Sister, be ruled. I am not yet so powerful
To meet him in the field: He has under him
The flower of all the empire, and the strength,
The Britain and the German cohorts; pray you be patient.—
Niger, how stands the soldier to him?
In fear more, sir,
Than love or honour: He has lost their fair affections,
By his most covetous and greedy grilling.
Are you desirous to do something on him,
That all the world may know you loved your brother
And do it safely too, without an army?
Most willingly.
Then send out a proscription,
Send suddenly; and to that man that executes it,
(I mean that brings his head) add a fair payment,
No common sum: Then you shall see, I fear not,
Even from his own camp, from those men that follow him,
Follow and flatter him, we shall find one,
And, if he miss, one hundred, that will venture it.
For his reward, (it shall be so, dear brother
So far I'll bonour him that kills the villain;
For so far runs my love to my dead brother)
Let him be what he will, base, old, or crooked,
He shall have me: Nay, which is more, I'll love him.
I will not be denied.
You shall not, sister:
But you shall know, my love shall go along too.—
See a proscription drawn; and for his recompense,
My sister, and half partner in the empire;
And I will keep my word.
Now you do bravely.
And, though it cost my life, I'll see it publish'd.
Away then, for the business.
I am gone, sir:
You shall have all dispatched to-night.
Be prosperous.
And let the villain fall.
Fear nothing, madam.