Act 3, Scene I

Scene: Before the Palace.

Enter MAXIMINIAN.

Maximinian.
What powerful star shined at this man's nativity,
And bless'd his homely cradle with full glory?
What throngs of people press and buz about him,
And with their humming flatteries sing him Cæsar?
Sing him aloud, and grow hoarse with saluting him?
How the fierce-minded soldier steals in to him,
Adores and courts his bonour? at his devotion
Their lives, their virtues, and their fortunes laying?
Charinus sues, the emperor entreats him,
And, as a brighter flame, takes his beams from him;
The bless'd and bright Aurelia, she dotes on him;
And, as the god of love, burns incense to him;
All eyes live on him: Yet I am still Maximinian,
Still the same poor and wretched thing, his servant.
What have I got by this? where lies my glory?
How am I raised and honour'd? I have gone as far
To woo this purblind honour, and have pass'd
As many dangerous expeditions.
As noble, and as high; nay, in his destiny,
Whilst 'twas unknown, have run as many hazards,
And done as much, sweat through as many perils
Only the hangman of Volutius Aper,
Which I mistook, has made him emperor,
And me his slave.

Enter DELPHIA and DRUSILLA.

Delphia.
Stand still! he cannot see us,
Till I please. Mark him well; this discontentment
I have forced into him, for thy cause, Drusilla.
Maximinian.
Can the gods see this,
See it with justice, and confer their blessings
On him, that never flung one grain of incense
Upon their altars? never bow'd his knee yet?
And I that have march'd foot by foot, struck equally,
And, whilst he was a-gleaning, have, been praying,
Contemning his base, covetous——
Delphia.
Now we'll be'open.
[They come forward.
Maximinian.
Bless me! and with all reverence——
[Kneels.
Delphia.
Stand up, son,
And wonder not at thy ungrateful uncle:
I know thy thoughts, and I appear to ease 'em.
Maximinian.
Oh, mother, did I stand the tenth part to you
Engaged and fetter'd, as mine uncle does,
How would I serve, how would I fall before you!
The poorer powers we worship——
Delphia.
Peace, and flatter not;
Necessity and anger draw this from you,
Of both which I will quit you. For your uncle
I spoke this honour, and it fell upon him,
Fell to his full content: He has forgot me,
For all my care, forgot me, and his vow too;
As if a dream had vanish'd, so he has lost me,
And I him; let him now stand fast! Come hither;
My care is now on you.
Maximinian.
Oh, blessed mother!
Delphia.
Stand still, and let me work.—So!—Now, Maximinian,
Go, and appear in court, and eye Aurelia;
Believe what I have done concerns you highly.
Stand in her view, make your addresses to her
She is the stair of honour. I'll say no more,
But Fortune is your servant: Go.
Maximinian.
With reverence,
All this as holy truths——
[Exit.
Delphia.
Believe, and prosper.
Drusilla.
Yet all this cures not me! But as much credit,
As much belief from Dioclesian——
Delphia.
Be not dejected; I have warn'd you often,
The proudest thoughts he has I'll humble.—Who's this?

Enter GETA, Lictors, and Suitors, with petitions.

Oh, 'tis the fool and knave grown a grave officer.
Here's hot and high preferment.

Geta.  
What's your bill?
For gravel for the Appian way, and pills?
Is the way rheumatic?
1 Suitor.
'Tis piles, an't please you.
Geta.  
Remove me those piles to Port Esquiline,
Fitter the place, my friend: you shall be paid.
1 Suitor.
I thank your worship.
Geta.  
Thank me when you have it,
Thank me another way, you are an ass else
I know my office. You are for the streets, sir.
Lord, how ye throng! That knave has eaten garlick;
Whip him, and bring him back.
3 Suitor.
I beseech your worship;
Here's an old reckoning for the dung and dirt, sir.
Geta.  
It stinks like thee; away! Yet let him tarry;
His bill shall quit his breath. Give your petitions
In seemly sort, and keep your hats off, decently.
[Reads.
"For scouring the watercourses through the cities;"
A fine periphrasis of a kennel-raker!
Did you scour all, my friend? You had some business;
Who shall scour you? You are to be paid I take it,
When surgeons swear you have perform'd your office.
4 Suitor.
Your worship's merry.
Geta.  
We must be sometimes witty,
To knick a knave; 'tis as useful as our gravity.
I'll take no more petitions: I am pester'd!
Give me some rest.
4 Suitor.
I have brought the gold, an't please you,
About the place you promised.
Geta.  
See him enter'd.
How does your daughter?
4 Suitor.
Better your worship thinks of her.
Geta.  
This is with the least. But let me see your daughter:
'Tis a good forward maid; I'll join her with you.—
I do beseech ye leave me!
Lictor.
Ye see the edile's busy.
Geta.  
And look to your places, or I'll make ye smoke else!—
Sirrah, I drank a cup of wine at your house yesterday,
A good smart wine.
Lictor.
Send him the piece; he likes it.
Geta.  
Aid eat the best wild boar at that same farmer's.
2 Suitor.
I have half left yet; your worship shall command it.
Geta.  
A bit will serve. Give me some rest! Gods help me?
How shall I labour when I am a senator!
Delphia.
'Tis a fit place indeed.—'Save your mastership!
Do you know us, sir?
Geta.  
These women are still troublesome.
There be houses providing for such wretched women,
And some small rents to set ye a-spinning.
Drusilla.
Sir,
We are no spinsters; nor, if you look upon us,
So wretched as you take us.
Delphia.
Does your mightiness,
That is a great destroyer of your memory,
Yet understand our faces?
Geta.  
Pr'ythee keep off, woman!
It is not fit I should know every creature.
Although I have been familiar with thee heretofore,
I must not know thee now; my place neglects thee.
Yet, because I deign a glimpse of your remembrances,
Give me your suits, and wait me a month hence.
Delphia.
Our suits are, sir, to see the emperor,
The emperor Dioclesian, to speak to him,
And not to wait on you. We have told you all, sir.
Geta.  
I laugh at your simplicity, poor women.
See the emperor? Why, you are deceived; now
The emperor appears but once in seven years,
And then he shines not on such weeds as you are.—
Forward, and keep your state: and keep beggars from me.
Drusilla.
Here is a pretty youth.
[Exeunt GETA, Lictors, and Suitors.
Delphia.
He shall be pretty,
Or I will want my will. Since you are so high, sir,
I'll raise you higher, or my art shall fail me.—

Enter DIOCLIESIAN.

Stand close; he comes.

Dioclesian.
How am I cross'd and tortured!
My most-wish'd happiness, my lovely mistress,
That must make good my hopes, and link my greatness,
Yet severed from mine arms! Tell me, high Heaven,
How have I sinn'd, that you should speak in thunder,
In horrid thunder, when my heart was ready
To leap into her breast? the priest was ready?
The joyful virgins and the young men ready?
When Hymen stood, with all his flames about him,
Blessing the bed? the house with full joy sweating?
And Expectation, like the Roman eagle,
Took stand, and call'd all eyes? It was your honour;
And, ere you give it full, do you destroy it?
Or was there some dire star, some devil, that did it?
Some sad malignant angel to mine honour?
With you I dare not rage.
Delphia.
With me thou canst not,
Though it was I. Nay, look not pale and frighted
I'll flight thee more: With me thou canst not quarrel.
I raised the thunder to rebuke thy falsehood,
(Look here) to her thy falsehood. Now be angry,
And be as great in evil as in empire.
Dioclesian.
Bless me, ye powers!
Delphia.
Thou hast full need of blessing.
'Twas I that, at thy great inauguration,
Hung in the air unseen; 'twas I that honour'd thee
With various musics, and sweet-sounding airs;
'Twas I inspired the soldier's heart with wonder,
And made him throw himself with love and duty,
Low at thy feet; 'twas I that fix'd him to thee.
But why did I all this? To keep thy honesty,
Thy vow, and faith: That once forgot and slighted,
Aurelia in regard, the marriage ready,
The priest and all the ceremonies present
'Twas I that thunder'd loud,'twas I that threatened,
'Twas I that cast a dark face over Heaven,
And smote ye all with terror.
Drusilla.
Yet consider,
As you are noble, as I have deserved you
For yet you are free: If neither faith nor promise,
The deeds of elder times, may be remembered,
Let these new-dropping tears, (for I still love you)
These hands held up to Heaven——
Dioclesian.
I must not pity you;
'Tis not wise in me.
Delphia.
How! not wise?
Dioclesian.
Nor honourable.
A princess is my love, and dotes upon me;
A fair and lovely princess is my mistress
I am an emperor. Consider, Prophetess,
Now my embraces are for queens and princesses,
For ladies of high mark, for divine beauties:
To look so low as this cheap common sweetness
Would speak me base, my names and glories nothing.
I grant I made a vow; what was I then?
As she is now 'of no sort, (hope made me promise)
But [as] now I am, to keep this vow were monstrous,
A madness, and a low inglorious fondness.
Delphia.
Take heed, proud man!
Drusilla.
Princes may love with titles,
But I with truth.
Delphia.
Take heed! Here stands thy destiny;
Thy fate here follows.
Dioclesian.
Thou doting sorceress,
Wouldst have me love this thing, that is not worthy
To kneel unto my saint, to kiss her shadow?
Great princes are her slaves; selected beauties
Bow at her beck; the mighty Persian's daughter
(Bright as the breaking East, as mid-day glorious)
Waits her commands, and grows proud in her pleasures.
I'll see her honour'd; some watch I shall think of,
That shall advance ye both; mean time, I'll favour ye.
[Exit.
Delphia.
Meantime, I'll haunt thee!—Cry not, wench; be confident,
Ere long, thou shalt more pity him (observe me)
And pity him in truth, than now thou seek'st him
My art and I are yet companions. Come, girl.
[Exeunt.