Act 3, Scene III

Scene: An Apartment in the Palace.

Enter CHARINUS, AURELIA, CASSANA, Ambassadors, and Attendants.

Aurelia.
Never dispute with me; you cannot have her.
Nor name the greatness of your king; I scorn him.
Your knees to me are nothing; should he bow too,
It were his duty, and my power to slight him.
Charinus.
She is her woman, (never sue to me)
And in her power to render her or keep her;
And she, my sister, not to be compell'd,
Nor have her own snatch'd from her.
Ambassador.
We desire not,
But for what ransom she shall please to think of,
Jewels, or towns, or provinces.
Aurelia.
No ransom;
No, not your king's own head, his crown upon it,
And all the low subjections of his people.
Ambassador.
Fair princes should have tender thoughts.
Aurelia.
Is she too good
To wait upon the mighty emperor's sister?
What princess of that sweetness, or that excellence,
Sprung from the proudest and the mightiest monarchs,
But may be highly blest to be my servant?
Cassana.
'Tis most true, mighty lady.
Aurelia.
Has my fair usage
Made you so much despise me and your fortune,
That you grow weary of my entertainments?
Henceforward, as you are, I will command you,
And as you were ordain'd, my prisoner,
My slave, and one I may dispose of any way;
No more my fair companion. Tell your king so;
And if he had more sisters, I would have 'em,
And use 'em as I please. You have your answer.
Ambassador.
We must take some other way: Force must compel it.
[Exeunt Ambassadors.

Enter MAXIMINIAN.

Maximinian. [Apart.]
Now, if thou be'st a prophetess, and canst do
Things of that wonder that thy tongue delivers,
Canst raise me too, I shall be bound to speak thee:
I half believe; confirm the other to me,
And monuments to all succeeding ages,
Of thee, and of thy piety——Now she eyes me.
Now work, great power of art! She moves unto me:
How sweet, how fair, and lovely her aspècts are!
Her eyes, like bright Eoan flames, shoot through me,
Aurelia.
Oh, my fair friend, where have you been?
Maximinian.
What am I
What does she take me for? Work still, work strongly!
Aurelia.
Where have you fled my loves and my embraces?
Maximinian.
I am beyond my wits!
Aurelia.
Can one poor thunder,
Whose causes are as common as his noises,
Make you defer your lawful and free pleasures?
Strike terror to a soldier's heart, a monarch's?
Through all the fires of angry Heaven, through tempests
That sing of nothing but destruction,
Even underneath the bolt of Jove, then ready,
And aiming dreadfully, I would seek you,
And fly into your arms.
Maximinian.
I shall be mighty,
And (which I never knew yet) I am goodly;
For certain, a most handsome man.
Charinus.
Fy, sister!
What a forgetful weakness is this in you!
What a light presence! These are words and offers
Due only to your husband, Dioclesian;
This free behaviour only his.
Aurelia.
'Tis strange,
That only empty names compel affections:
This man you see, give him what name or title,
Let it be ne'er so poor, ne'er so despised, brother,
This lovely man——
Maximinian.
Though I be hang'd, I'll forward!
For, certain, I am excellent, and knew not.
Aurelia.
This rare and sweet young man—See how he looks, sir.
Maximinian.
I'll justle hard, dear uncle.
Aurelia.
This thing, I say,
Let him be what he will, or bear what fortune,
This most unequall'd man, this spring of beauty,
Deserves the bed of Juno.
Charinus.
You are not mad?
Maximinian.
I hope she be; I am sure I am little better.
Aurelia.
Oh, fair, sweet man!
Charinus.
For shame, refrain this impudence!
Maximinian.
Would I had her alone, that I might seal this blessing!
Sure, sure she should not beg. If this continue,
As I hope Heaven it will, uncle, I'll nick you,
I'll nick you, by this life! Some would fear killing
In the pursuit now of so rare a venture:
I am covetous to die for such a beauty.

Enter DIOCLESIAN.

Mine uncle comes; now, if she stand, I am happy.

Charinus.
Be right again, for honour's sake!
Dioclesian.
Fair mistress——
Aurelia.
What man is this? Away! what saucy fellow?
Dare any such base groom press to salute me?
Dioclesian.
Have you forgot me, fair? or do you jest with me?
I'll tell you what I am. Come, pray you look lovely.
Nothing but frowns and scorns?
Aurelia.
Who is this fellow?
Dioclesian.
I'll tell you who I am; I am your husband.
Aurelia.
Husband to me?
Dioclesian.
To you. I am Dioclesian.
Maximinian.
More of this sport, and I am made, old mother!
Effect but this thou bast begun——
Dioclesian.
I am he, lady,
Revenged your brother's death, slew cruel Aper;
I am he the soldier courts, the empire honours,
Your brother loves; am he, my lovely mistress,
Will make you empress of the world.
Maximinian.
Still excellent!
Now I see too, mine uncle may be cozen'd
An emperor may suffer like another.
Well said, old mother! hold but up this miracle—
Aurelia.
Thou liest! thou art not he; thou a brave fellow?
Charinus.
Is there no shame, no modesty, in women?
Aurelia.
Thou one of high and full mark?
Dioclesian.
Gods, what ails she?
Aurelia.
Generous and noble? Fy! thou liest most basely.
Thy face, and all aspect upon thee, tells me
Thou art a poor Dalmatian slave, a low thing,
Not worth the name of Roman: Stand off further!
Dioclesian.
What may this mean?
Aurelia.
Come hither, my Endymion;
Come, shew thyself, and all eyes be bless'd in thee!
Dioclesian.
Ha! what is this?
Aurelia.
Thou, fair star that I live by,
Look lovely on me, break into full brightness!
Look; here's a face now of another making,
Another mould; here's a divine proportion;
Eyes fit for Phoebus' self, to gild the world with;
And there's a brow arch'd like the state of Heaven:
Look how it bends, and with what radiance,
As if the synod of the gods sat under:
Look there, and wonder! Now behold that fellow,
That admirable thing, cut with an axe out.
Maximinian.
Old woman, though I cannot give thee recompence,
[Aside.
Yet, certainly, I'll make thy name as glorious—
Dioclesian.
Is this in truth?
Charinus.
She is mad, and you must pardon her.
Dioclesian.
She hangs upon him; see!
Charinus.
Her fit is strong now.
Be not you passionate.
Dioclesian.
She kisses!
Charinus.
Let her;
'Tis but the fondness of her fit.
Dioclesian.
I am fool'd
And if I suffer this——
Charinus.
Pray you, friend, be pacified;
This will be off anon. She goes in.
[Exit AURELIA.
Dioclesian.
Sirrah!
Maximinian.
What say you, sir?
Dioclesian.
How dare thy lips, thy base lips——
Maximinian.
I am your kinsman, sir, and no such base one
I sought no kisses, nor I had no reason
To kick the princess from me; 'twas no manners:
I never yet compell'd her; of her courtesy
What she bestows, sir, I am thankful for.
Dioclesian.
Be gone, villain!
Maximinian.
I will, and I will go off with that glory,
And magnify my fate.
[Exit.
Dioclesian.
Good brother, leave me:
I am to myself a trouble now.
Charinus.
I am sorry for't.
You'll find it but a woman-fit to try you.
Dioclesian.
It may be so; I hope so.
Charinus.
I am ashamed, and what I think I blush at.
[Exit.
Dioclesian.
What misery hath my great fortune bred me!
And how far must I suffer! Poor and low states,
Though they know wants and hungers, know not these,
Know not these killing fates: Little contents them,
And with that little they live kings, commanding
And ordering both their ends and loves. Oh, Honour!
How greedily men seek thee, and, once purchased,
How many enemies to man's peace bring'st thou
How many griefs and sorrows, that like sheers,
Like fatal sheers, are sneering off our lives still!
How many sad eclipses do we shine through!
When I presumed I was bless'd in this fair woman—

Enter DELPHIA and DRUSILLA veiled, and stand apart.

Delphia.
Behold him now, and tell me how thou likest him.
Dioclesian.
When all my hopes were up, and Fortune dealt me
Even for the greatest and the happiest monarch,
Then to be cozen'd, to be cheated basely!
By mine own kinsman cross'd! Oh, villain kinsman!
Curse of my blood! because a little younger,
A little smoother-faced! Oh, false, false woman,
False and forgetful of thy faith! I'll kill him.
But can I kill her hate too? No. He wooes not,
Nor worthy is of death; because she follows him,
Because she courts him, shall I kill an innocent?
Oh, Diocles! 'Would thou hadst never known this,
Nor surfeited upon this sweet ambition,
That now lies bitter at thy heart! Oh, Fortune,
That thou hast none to fool and blow like bubbles,
But kings, and their contents!
Delphia.
What think you now, girl?
Drusilla.
Upon my life, I pity his misfortune.
See how he weeps! I cannot hold.
Delphia.
Away, fool!
He must weep bloody tears before thou hast him.—
How fare you now, brave Dioclesian?
[Comes forward.
What! lazy in your loves? Has too much pleasure
Dull'd your most mighty faculties?
Dioclesian.
Art thou there,
More to torment me? Dost thou come to mock me?
Delphia.
I do! and I do laugh at all thy sufferings:
I, that have wrought 'em, come to scorn thy wailings.
I told thee once, "This is thy fate, this woman;
And as thou usest her, so thou shalt prosper."
It is not in thy power to turn this destiny,
Nor stop the torrent of those miseries
(If thou neglect'st her still) shall fall upon thee.
Sigh that thou art dishonest, false of faith,
Proud, and dost think no power can cross thy pleasures;
Thou wilt find a fate above thee.
Drusilla.
Good aunt, speak mildly:
See how he looks and suffers.
Dioclesian.
I find and feel, woman,
That I am miserable.
Delphia.
Thou art most miserable.
Dioclesian.
That as I am the most, I am most miserable.
But didst thou work this?
Delphia.
Yes, and will pursue it.
Dioclesian.
Stay there, and have some pity. Fair Drusilla,
Let me persuade thy mercy, (thou hast loved me)
Although I know my suit will sound unjustly,
To make thy love the means to lose itself,
Have pity on me!
Drusilla.
I will do.
Delphia.
Peace, niece
Although this softness may become your love,
Your care must scorn it. Let him still contemn thee,
And still I'll work; the same affection
He ever shews to thee, be it sweet or bitter,
The same Aurelia shall shew him; no further:
Nor shall the wealth of all his empire free this.
Dioclesian.
I must speak fair.—Lovely young maid, forgive me,
Look gently on my sorrows! You that grieve too,
I see it in your eyes, and thus I meet it.
[Kisses her.
Drusilla.
Oh, aunt, I am bless'd!
Dioclesian.
Be not both young and cruel;
Again I beg it, thus.

Enter AURELIA.

Drusilla.
Thus, Sir, I grant it.
He's mine own now, aunt.
Delphia.
Not yet, girl; thou art cozen'd.
Aurelia.
Oh, my dear lord, how have I wrong'd your patience!
How wander'd from the truth of my affections!
How, like a wanton fool, shunn'd that I loved most!
But you are full of goodness to forgive, sir,
As I of grief to beg, and shame to take it:
Sure I was not myself! some strange illusion,
Or what you please to pardon——
Dioclesian.
All, my dearest;
All, my delight! and with more pleasure take thee,
Than if there had been no such dream; for, certain,
It was no more.
Aurelia.
Now you have seal'd forgiveness
I take my leave; and the gods keep your goodness!
[Exit.
Delphia.
You see how kindness prospers: Be but so kind
To marry her, and see then what new fortunes,
New joys and pleasures, far beyond this lady,
Beyond her greatness too——
Dioclesian.
I'll die a dog first!
Now I am reconciled, I will enjoy her
In spite of all thy spirits, and thy witchcrafts.
Delphia.
Thou shalt not, fool!
Dioclesian.
I will, old doting devil!
And wert thou any thing but air and spirit,
My sword should tell thee——
Delphia.
I contemn thy threatenings;
And thou shalt know I hold a power above thee.—
We must remove Aurelia. Come.—Farewell, fool!
When thou shalt see me next, thou shalt bow to me.
Dioclesian.
Look thou appear no more to cross my pleasures!
[Exeunt.