Act 1, Scene III

Scene: The Street before the same.

Enter DIOCLES, MAXIMINIAN, and GETA carrying a Boar.

Diocles.
Lay down the boar.
Geta.  
With all my heart; I am weary on't:
I shall turn Jew, if I carry many such burdens.
Do you think, master, to be emperor
With killing swine? You may be an honest butcher,
Or allied to a seemly family of souse-wives.
Can you be such an ass, my reverend master,
To think these springs of pork will shoot up Cæsars?
Maximinian.
The fool says true.
Diocles.
Come, leave your fooling, sirrah,
And think of what thou shalt be when I am emperor.
Geta.  
'Would it would come with thinking! for then o' my conscience
I should be at least a senator.
Maximinian.
A sowter;
For that's a place more fitted to thy nature,
If there could be such an expectation.
Or, say the devil could perform this wonder,
Can such a rascal as thou art hope for honour?
Such a log-carrying lout?
Geta.  
Yes; and bear it too,
And bear it swimmingly. I am not the first ass, sir,
Has borne good office, and perform'd it reverently.
Diocles.
Thou being the son of a tiler, canst thou hope
To be a senator?
Geta.  
Thou being the son of a tanner, canst thou hope
To be an emperor?
Diocles.
Thou say'st true, Geta; there's a stop indeed:
But yet the bold and virtuous——
Geta.  
You are right, master,
Right as a gun! For we, the virtuous,
Though we be kennel-rakers, scabs, and scoundrels,
We, the discreet and bold—And yet, now I remember it,
We tilers may deserve to be senators,
(And there we step before you thick-skinn'd tanners)
For we are born three stories high; no base ones,
None of your groundlings, master.
Diocles.
I like thee well;
Thou hast a good mind, as I have, to this bonour.
Geta.  
As good a mind, sir, of a simple plaisterer:
And, when I come to execute my office,
Then you shall see——
Maximinian.
What?
Geta.  
An officer in fury,
An officer as he ought to be. Do you laugh at it?
Is a senator, in hope, worth no more reverence?
By these hands, I'll clap you by the heels the first hour of it!
Maximinian.
O' my conscience, the fellow believes!
Diocles.
Ay, do, do, Geta;
For if I once be emperor——
Geta.  
Then will I
(For wise men must be had to prop the republic)
Not bate you a single ace of a sound senator.
Diocles.
But what shall we do the whilst?
Geta.  
Kill swine, and souse 'em,
And eat 'em when we have bread.
Maximinian.
Why didst thou run away
When the boar made toward thee? art thou not valiant?
Geta.  
No, indeed am I not; and 'tis for mine honour too:
I took a tree, 'tis true, gave way to the monster;
Hark what Discretion says: "Let fury pass;
From the tooth of a mad beast, and the tongue of a slanderer,
Preserve thine honour."
Diocles.
He talks like a full senator.
Go, take it up, and carry it in. 'Tis a huge one;
We never kill'd so large a swine; so fierce too,
I never met with yet.
Maximinian.
Take heed! it stirs again.—
How nimbly the rogue runs up! he climbs like a squirrel.
Diocles.
Come down, you dunce! Is it not dead?
Geta.  
I know not.
Diocles.
His throat is cut, and his bowels out.
Geta.  
That's all one.
I am sure his teeth are in; and, for anything I know,
He may have pigs of his own nature in's belly.
Diocles.
Come, take him up, I say, and see him dress'd;
He is fat, and will be lusty meat; away with him,
And get some of him ready for our dinner.
Geta.  
Shall he be roasted whole,
And served up in a souse-tub? a portly service:
l'Il run i' th' wheel myself.
Maximinian.
Sirrah, leave your prating,
And get some piece of him ready presently;
We are weary both, and hungry.
Geta.  
I'll about it.
What an inundation of brewis shall I swim in!
[Exit into the house with the boar.
Diocles.
Thou art ever dull and melancholy, cousin,
Distrustful of my hopes.
Maximinian.
Why, can you blame me?
Do men give credit to a juggler?
Diocles.
Thou know'st she is a prophetess.
Maximinian.
A small one,
And as small profit to be hoped for by her.
Diocles.
Thou art the strangest man!—How does thy hurt?
The boar came near you, sir.
Maximinian.
A scratch, a scratch.
Diocles.
It aches and troubles thee, and that makes thee angry.
Maximinian.
Not at the pain, but at the practice, uncle,
The butcherly base custom of our lives now:
Had a brave enemy's sword drawn so much from me,
Or danger met me in the head o' th' army,
To have blush'd thus in my blood had been mine honour;
But to live base, like swine-berds, and believe too!
To be fool'd out with tales, and old wives' dreams,
Dreams when they are drunk!
Diocles.
Certain, you much mistake her.
Maximinian.
Mistake her? hang her! To be made her purveyors,
To feed her old chaps, to provide her daily,
And bring in feasts, whilst she sits farting at us,
And blowing out her prophecies at both ends!
Diocles.
Pr'ythee be wise: Dost thou think, Maximinian,
So great a reverence, and so staid a knowledge—
Maximinian.
Sur-reverence, you would say! What truth? what knowledge?
What anything, but eating, is good in her?
'Twould make a fool prophesy, to be fed continually.
What do you get? Your labour and your danger,
Whilst she sits bathing in her larded fury.
Inspired with full deep cups, who cannot prophesy?
A tinker, out of ale, will give predictions;
But who believes?
Diocles.
She is a holy druid,
A woman noted for that faith, that piety,
Beloved of Heaven.
Maximinian.
Heaven knows, I do not believe it.
Indeed, I must confess, they are excellent jugglers;
Their age upon some fools too flings a confidence:
But what grounds have they, what elements to work on?
Shew me but that! the sieve and sheers? a learned one.
I have no patience to dispute this question,
'Tis so ridiculous! I think the devil does help 'em;
Or rather, mark me well, abuse 'em, uncle:
For they are as fit to deal with him, these old women,
They are as jump and squared out to his nature—
Diocles.
Thou hast a perfect malice.
Maximinian.
So I would have
Against these purblind prophets; for, look ye, sir,
Old women will lie monstrously, so will the devil,
Or else he has had much wrong; upon my knowledge
Old women are malicious, so is he;
They are proud, and covetous, revengeful, lecherous,
All which are excellent attributes o' th' devil:
They would at least seem holy, so would be;
And, to veil o'er these villainies, they would prophesy;
He gives them leave now and then to use their cunnings,
Which is to kill a cow, or blast a harvest,
Make young pigs pipe themselves to death, choke poultry,
And chafe a dairy-wench into a fever
With pumping for her butter:
But when he makes these agents to raise emperors,
When he disposes fortune as his servant,
And ties her to old wives' tails——
Diocles.
Go thy ways;
Thou art a learned scholar, against credit.
You hear the prophecy.
Maximinian.
Yes; and I laugh at it,
And so will any man can tell but twenty,
That is not blind as you are, blind and ignorant.
Do you think she knows your fortune?
Diocles.
I do think it.
Maximinian.
I know she has the name of a rare sooth-sayer;
But do you in your conscience believe her holy?
Inspired with such prophetic fire?
Diocles.
Yes, in my conscience.
Maximinian.
And that you must, upon necessity,
From her words, be a Cæsar?
Diocles.
If I live——
Maximinian.
There's one stop yet.
Diocles.
And follow her directions.
Maximinian.
But do not juggle with me.
Diocles.
In faith, cousin,
So full a truth hangs ever on her prophecies,
That how I should think otherwiss——
Maximinian.
Very well, sir;
You then believe (for methinks 'tis most necessary)
She knows her own fate?
Diocles.
I believe it certain.
Maximinian.
Dare you but be so wise to let me try it?
For I stand doubtful.
Diocles.
How.
Maximinian.
Come nearer to me,
Because her cunning devil shall not prevent me;
Close, close, and hear.—If she can turn this destiny,
I'll be of your faith too.
[Whispers Diocles.
Diocles.
Forward, I fear not;
For if she knows not this, sure she knows nothing.

Enter DELPHIA.

I am so confident——

Maximinian.
'Faith, so am I too,
That I shall make her devil's sides hum.
Diocles.
She comes here;
Go take your stand.
Maximinian.
Now holy, or you howl for't!
[Retires.
Diocles.
'Tis pity this young man should be so stubborn:
Valiant he is, and to his valour temperate,
Only distrustful of delays in fortune;
I love him dearly well.
Delphia.
Now, my son Diocles,
Are you not weary of your game to-day?
And are you well?
Diocles.
Yes, mother, well and lusty;
Only you make me hunt for empty shadows.
Delphia.
You must have patience: Rome was not built in one day;
And he that hopes, must give his hopes their currents.
You have kill'd a mighty boar.
Diocles.
But I'm no emperor.
Why do you fool me thus, and make me follow
Your flattering expectation hour by hour?
Rise early, and sleep late? to feed your appetites,
Forget my trade, my arms? forsake mine honour?
Labour and sweat to arrive at a base memory?
Oppose myself to hazards of all sorts,
Only to win the barbarous name of butcher?
Delphia.
Son, you are wise.
Diocles.
But you are cunning, mother;
And with that cunning, and the faith I give you,
You lead me blindly to no end, no honour.
You find you are daily fed, you take no labour,
Your family at ease, they know no market;
And therefore, to maintain this, you speak darkly,
As darkly still you nourish it; whilst I
(Being a credulous and obsequious coxcomb)
Hunt daily, and sweat hourly; to find out,
To clear your mystery, kill boar on boar,
And make your spits and pots bow with my bounties:
Yet I still poorer, further still——
Delphia.
Be provident,
And tempt not the gods' dooms; stop not the glory
They are ready to fix on you; you are a fool then:
Cheerful and grateful takers the gods love,
And such as wait their pleasures with full hopes;
The doubtful and distrustful man Heaven frowns at.
What I have told you by my inspiration,
I tell you once again, must and shall find you.
Diocles.
But when? or how?
Delphia.
Cum Aprum interfereris.
Diocles.
I have kill'd many.
Delphia.
Not the boar they point you;
Nor must I reveal further, till you clear it:
The lots of glorious men are wrapt in mysteries,
And so deliver'd; common and slight creatures,
That have their ends as open as their actions,
Easy and open fortunes follow.
Maximinian. [Coming silently forward with his bow bent.]
I shall try
How deep your inspiration lies hid in you,
And whether your brave spirit have a buckler
To keep this arrow off; I'll make you smoke else.
Diocles.
Knowing my fortune so precisely, punctually,
And that it must fall without contradiction,
Being a stranger, of no tie unto you,
Methinks you should be studied in your own;
In your own destiny, methinks, most perfect:
And every hour, and every minute, mother,
(So great a care should Heaven have of her ministers)
Methinks your fortunes both ways should appear to you,
Both to avoid, and take. Can the stars now,
And all those influences you receive into you,
Or secret inspirations you make show of,
If an hard fortune hung, and were now ready
To pour itself upon your life, deliver you?
Can they now say, "Take heed?"
Delphia.
Ha? Pray you come hither.
Maximinian.
I would know that: I fear your devil will cozen you;
[Apart.
And, stand as close as you can, I shall be with you.
Delphia.
I find a present ill.
Diocles.
How?
Delphia.
But I scorn it.
Maximinian.
Do you so? do you so?
[Apart.
Delphia.
Yes, and laugh at it, Diocles.
Is it not strange, these wild and foolish men
Should dare to oppose the power of destiny?
That power the gods shake at? Look yonder, son.
Maximinian.
Have you spied me? then have at you.
Delphia.
Do; shoot boldly;
Hit me, and spare not, if thou can'st.
Diocles.
Shoot. cousin.
Maximinian.
I cannot; mine arm's dead; I have no feeling!
Or, if I could shoot, so strong is her arm'd virtue,
She would catch the arrow flying.
Delphia.
Poor doubtful people!
I pity your weak faiths.
Diocles.
Your mercy, mother!
And, from this hour, a deity I crown you.
Delphia.
No more of that.
Maximinian.
Oh, let my prayers prevail too
Here, like a tree I dwell else: Free me, mother,
And, greater than great Fortune, I'll adore thee!
Delphia.
Be free again, and have more pure thoughts in you.
Diocles.
Now I believe your words most constantly;
And when I have that power you have promised to me—
Delphia.
Remember then your vow: My niece Drusilla,
I mean to marry her, and then you prosper.
Diocles.
I shall forget my life else.
Delphia.
I am a poor weak woman; to me no worship.

Enter NIGER, GETA, and Soldiers.

Geta.  
And shall he have as you say, that kills this Aper—
Delphia.
Now mark, and understand.
Niger.  
The proscription's up,
I' th' market-place 'tis up; there you may read it:
He shall have half the empire.
Geta.  
A pretty farm, i'faith.
Niger.  
And the emperor's sister, bright Aurelia,
Her to his wife.
Geta.  
You say well, friend: But hark you;
Who shall do this?
Niger.  
You, if you dare.
Geta.  
I think so:
Yet I could poison him in a pot of perry;
He loves that vengeancely. But when I have done this
May I lie with the gentlewoman?
Niger.  
Lie with her?
What else, man?
Geta.  
Yes, man; I have known
A man married that never lay with his wife:
Those dancing days are done.
Niger.  
These are old soldiers,
And poor, it seems. I'll try their appetites.—
'Save ye, brave soldiers!
Maximinian.
Sir, you talk'd of proscriptions?
Niger.  
'Tis true; there is one set up from the emperor,
Against Volutius Aper.
Diocles.
Aper?
Delphia.
Now!
Now have you found the boar?
Diocles.
I have the meaning;
And, blessed mother——
Niger.  
He has scorned his master,
And bloodily cut off by treachery
The noble brother to him.
Diocles.
He lives here, sir,
Sickly and weak.
Niger.  
Did you see him?
Maximinian.
No.
Niger.  
He is murder'd;
So you shall find it mention'd from the emperor,
And, honest faithful soldiers, but believe it;
For, by the gods, you'll find it so; he's murder'd!
The manner how, read in the large proscription.
Delphia.
It is most true, son, and he cozens you;
Aper's a villain false.
Diocles.
I thank you, mother,
And dare believe you.—Hark you, sir! the recompense
As you related——
Niger.  
Is as firm as faith, sir,
Bring him alive or dead.
Maximinian.
You took a fit time,
The general being out o' the town; for though we love him not,
Yet, had he known this first, you had paid for't dearly.
Diocles.
'Tis Niger; now I know him, honest Niger,
A true sound man: and I believe him constantly.
Your business may be done, make no great hurry
For your own safety.
Niger.  
No; I am gone, I thank you.
[Exit.
Diocles.
Pray, Maximinian, pray.
Maximinian.
I'll pray and work too.
Diocles.
I'll to the market-place, and read the offer;
And, now I have found the boar——
Delphia.
Find your own faith too,
And remember what you have vow'd.
Diocles.
Oh, mother!——
Delphia.
Prosper.
Geta.  
If my master and I do do this, there's two emperors,
And what a show will that make! how we shall bounce it!
[Exeunt.