Act 4, Scene VI

Scene: Before the Tent of Dioclesian.

Enter (in triumph, with Roman ensigns) Guard, DIOCLESIAN, CHARINUS, AURELIA, MAXIMINIAN, NIGER, GETA; COSROE, CASSANA, Persians, as Prisoners; DELPHIA and DRUSILLA, privately.

I am rewarded in the act; your freedom
To me's ten thousand triumphs: You, sir, share
In all my glories. And, unkind Aurelia,
From being a captive, still command the victor.
Nephew, remember by whose gift you are free.
You I afford my pity; baser minds
Insult on the afflicted: You shall know,
Virtue and courage are admired and loved
In enemies; but more of that hereafter.—
Thanks to your valour; to your swords I owe
This wreath triumphant. Nor be thou forgot,
My first poor bondman! Geta, I am glad
Thou art turn'd a fighter.
'Twas against my will;
But now I am content with't.
But imagine
What honours can be done to you beyond these,
Transcending all example; 'tis in you
To will, in us to serve it.
We will have
His statue of pure gold set in the Capitol,
And he that bows not to it as a god,
Makes forfeit of his head.
I burst with envy!
And yet these honours, which, conferr'd on me,
Would make me pace on air, scene not to move him.
Suppose this done, or were it possible
I could rise higher still, I am a man;
And all these glories, empires heap'd upon me,
Confirm'd by constant friends, and faithful guards,
Cannot defend me from a shaking fever,
Or bribe the uncorrupted dart of Death
To spare me one short minute. Thus adorn'd
In these triumphant robes, my body yields not
A greater shadow than it did when I
Lived both poor and obscure; a sword's sharp point
Enters my flesh as far; dreams break my sleep,
As when I was a private man; my passions
Are stronger tyrants on me; nor is greatness
A serving antidote to keep me from
A traitor's poison. Shall I praise my fortune,
Or raise the building of my happiness
On her uncertain favour? or presume
She is my own, and sure, that yet was never
Constant to any? Should my reason fail me,
(As flattery oft corrupts it) here's an example
To speak, how far her smiles are to be trusted:
The rising sun, this morning, saw this man
The Persian monarch, and those subjects proud
That had the honour but to kiss his feet;
And yet, ere his diurnal progress ends,
He is the scorn of Fortune. But you'll say,
That she forsook him for his want of courage,
But never leaves the bold: Now, by my hopes
Of peace and quiet here, I never met
A braver enemy! And, to make it good,
Cosroe, Cassana, and the rest, be free,
And ransomless return!
To see this virtue
Is more to me than empire; and to be
O'ercome by you, a glorious victory.
What a devil means he next!
I know that glory
Is like Alcides' shirt, if it stay on us
Till pride hath mix'd it with our blood; nor can we
Part with it at pleasure; when we would unease,
It brings along with it both flesh and sinews,
And leaves us living monsters.
'Would 'twere come
To my turn to put it on! I'd run the hazard.
No; I will not be pluck'd out by the ears
Out of this gloxious castle; uncompell'd,
I will surrender rather. Let, it suffice,
I have touch'd the height of human happiness,
And here I fix nil ultra. Hitherto
I have lived a servant to ambitious thoughts,
And fading glories; what remains of life,
I dedicate to Virtue; and, to keep
My faith untainted, farewell, pride and pomp!
And circumstance of glorious majesty,
Farewell for ever!—Nephew, I have noted;
That you have long with sore eyes look'd upon
My flourishing fortune; you shall have possession
Of my felicity; I deliver up
My empire, and this gem I prized above it,
And all things else that made me worth your envy,
Freely unto you.—Gentle sir, your suffrage,
To strengthen this. The soldier's love I doubt not:
His valour, gentlemen, will deserve your favours,
Which let my prayers further. All is yours.—
But I have been too liberal, and given that
I must beg back again.
What am I fallen from!
Nay, start not: It is only the poor grange,
The patrimony which my father left me,
I would be tenant to.
Sir, I am yours:
I will attend you there.
No; keep the court
Seek you in Rome for honour. I will labour
To find content elsewhere. Dissuade me not
By Heaven, I am resolved!—And now, Drusilla,
Being as poor as when I vow'd to make thee
My wife, if thy love since hath felt no change,
I am ready to perform it.
I still loved
Your person, not your fortunes; in a cottage,
Being yours, I am an empress.
And I'll make
The change most happy.
Do me then the honour,
To see my vow perform'd. You but attend
My glories to the urn; where be it ashes,
Welcome my mean estate! and, as a due,
Wish rest to me, I honour unto you.