Act 5, Scene III

Scene: Lombardy. Before the Farm of Dioclesian. A Well in the back-ground.

Enter three Shepherds and two Countrymen.

1 Shepherd.
Do you think this great man will continue here?
2 Shepherd.
Continue here? what else? he has bought the great farm;
A great man, with a great inheritance,
And all the ground about it, all the woods too,
And stock'd it like an emperor. Now, all our sports again,
And all our merry gambols, our May-ladies,
Our evening dances on the green, our songs,
Our holiday good cheer, our bagpipes now, boys,
Shall make the wanton lasses skip again,
Our sheep-shearings, and all our knacks.
3 Shepherd.
But hark you,
We must not call him emperor.
1 Countryman.
That's all one;
He is the king of good fellows, that's no treason
And so I'll call him still, though I be hang'd for't.
I grant you he has given his honour to another man,
He cannot give his humour; he's a brave fellow,
And will love us, and we'll love him. Come hither, Ladon;
What new songs, and what geers?
3 Shepherd.
Enough. I'll tell ye;
He comes abroad anon to view his grounds,
And with the help of Thirsis, and old Egon,
(If his whorson cold be gone) and Amaryllis,
And some few more o' th' wenches, we will meet him,
And strike him such new springs, and such free welcomes,
Shll make him scorn an empire, forget majesty,
And make him bless the hour he lived here happy.
2 Countryman.
And we will second ye, we honest carters,
We lads o' th' lash, with some blunt entertainment;
Our teams to two-pence, we'll give him some content,
Or we'll bawl fearfully!
3 Shepherd.
He cannot expect now
His courtly entertainments, and his rare musics,
And ladies to delight him with their voices;
Honest and cheerful toys from honest meanings,
And the best hearts they have. We must be neat all;
On goes my russet jerkin with blue buttons.
1 Shepherd.
And my green slops I was married in; my bonnet,
With my carnation point with silver tags, boys;
You know where I won it.
1 Countryman.
Thou wilt ne'er be old, Alexis.
1 Shepherd.
And I shall find some toys that have been favours,
And nosegays, and such knacks; for there be wenches.
3 Shepherd.
My mantle goes on too I play'd young Paris in,
And the new garters Amaryllis sent me.
1 Countryman.
Yes, yes; we'll all be handsome, and wash our faces.
Neighbour, I see a remnant of March dust
That's hatch'd into your chaps: I pray you be careful,
And mundify your muzzle.

Enter GETA.

2 Countryman.
I'll to the barber's;
It shall cost me I know what.—Who's this?
3 Shepherd.
Give room, neighbours!
A great man in our state. Gods bless your worship!
2 Countryman.
Increase your mastership!
Thanks, my good people.
Stand off, and know your duties!—As I take it,
You are the labouring people of this village,
And you that keep the sheep. Stand further off yet,
And mingle not with my authority;
I am too mighty for your company.
3 Shepherd.
We know it, sir; and we desire your worship
To reckon us amongst your humble servants;
And that our country sports, sir——
For your sports, sir,
They may be seen, when I shall think convenient,
When, out of my discretion, I shall view 'em,
And hold 'em fit for license.—Ye look upon me,
And look upon me seriously, as you knew me
'Tis true, I have been a rascal, as you are,
A fellow of no mention, nor no mark,
Just such another piece of dirt, so fashion'd
But time, that purifies all things of merit,
Has set another stamp. Come nearer now,
And be not fearful (I take off my austerity;)
And know me for the great and mighty steward
Under this man of honour; know ye for my vassals,
And at my pleasure I can dispeople ye,
Can blow you and your cattle out o' th' country:
But fear me, and have favour. Come, go along with me,
And I will hear your songs, and perhaps like 'em.
3 Shepherd.
I hope you will, sir.
'Tis not a thing impossible.
Perhaps I'll sing myself, the more to grace ye
And if I like your women——
3 Shepherd.
We'll have the best, sir,
Handsome young girls.
The handsomer the better.


'May bring your wives too; 'twill be all one charge to ye;
For I must know your families.

'Tis well said,
'Tis well said, honest friends. I know ye are hatching
Some pleasurable sports for your great landlord
Fill him with joy, and win him a friend to ye,
And make this little grange seem a large empire,
Set out with home contents: I'll work his favour,
Which daily shall be on ye.
3 Shepherd.
Then we'll sing daily,
And make him the best sports——
Instruct 'em, Geta,
And be a merry man again.
Will you lend me a devil,
That we may dance a while?
I'll lend thee two;
And bagpipes that shall blow alone.
I thank you;
But I'll know your devils of a cooler completion first.
Come, follow, follow; I'll go sit and see ye.
Do; and be ready an hour hence, and bring 'em;
For in the grove you'll find him.


Come, Drusilla,
The partner of my best contents! I hope now
You dare believe me.
Yes, and dare say to you,
I think you now most happy.
You say true, sweet:
For, by my soul, I find now by experience,
Content was never courtier.
I pray you walk on, sir;
The cool shades of the grove invite you.
Oh, my dearest!
When man has cast off his ambitious greatness,
And sunk into the sweetness of himself;
Built his foundation upon honest thoughts;
Not great, but good, desires his daily servants;
How quietly he sleeps! How joyfully
He wakes again, and looks on his possessions,
And from his willing labours feeds with pleasure!
Here hang no comets in the shapes of crowns
To shake our sweet contents; nor here, Drusilla,
Cares, like eclipses, darken our endeavours:
We love here without rivals, kiss with innocence:
Our thoughts as gentle as our lips, our children
The double heirs both of our forms and faiths.
I am glad ye make this right use of this sweetness,
This sweet retiredness.
'Tis sweet indeed, love,
And every circumstance about it shews it.
How liberal is the spring in every place here
The artificial court shews but a shadow,
A painted imitation of this glory.
Smell to this flower; here Nature has her excellence;
Let all the perfumes of the empire pass this,
The carefull'st lady's cheek shew such a colour
They are gilded and adulterate vanities.
And here in poverty dwells noble nature.
What pains we take to cool our wines, to allay us,
And bury quick the fuming god to quench us.
Methinks this crystal well— [Music below.] Ha! what strange music?
'Tis underneath, sure!—How it stirs and joys me!
How all the birds set on! the fields redouble
Their odoriferous sweets! Hark how the echoes—


See, sir, those flowers
From out the well, spring to your entertainment.

A Spirit rises front the Well.

Bless me!
Be not afraid; 'tis some good angel
That's come to welcome you.
Go near, and hear, son.
Oh, mother, thank you, thank you! this was your will.
You shall not want delights to bless your presence.
Now you are honest, all the stars shall honour you.

Enter Shepherds and Dancers.

Stay; here are country shepherds; here's some sport too.
And you must grace it, sir; 'twas meant to welcome you.
A king shall never feel your joy: Sit down, son.

A Dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses; one disguised as Pan leading the men, another as Ceres, the maids.

Hold, hold! my messenger appears. Leave off, friends,
Leave off a while, and breathe.

What news? You are pale, mother.
No; I am careful of thby safety, son.
Be not affrighted, but sit still; I am with thee.

Enter MAXIMINIAN, AURELIA, and Soldiers.

And now, dance out your dance.—Do you 'know that person?
Be not amazed, but let him shew his dreadfuliest.

How confident he sits amongst his pleasures,
And what a cheerful colour shews in's face!
And yet he sees me too, the soldiers with me.
Be speedy in your work, (you will be stopt else)
And then you are an emperor!
I'll about it.
My royal cousin, how I joy to see you,
You and your royal empress!
You are too kind, sir.
I come not to eat with you, and to surfeit
In these poor clownish pleasures! but to tell you,
I look upon you like my winding-sheet,
The coffin of my greatness, nay, my grave:
For whilst you are alive——
Alive, my cousin?
I say, alive—I am no emperor
I am nothing but my own disquiet.
Stay, sir!
I cannot stay. The soldiers dote upon you.
I would fain spare you; but mine own security
Compels me to forget you are my uncle,
Compels me to forget you made me Cæsar;
For, whilst you are remembered, I am buried.
Did not I make you emperor, dear cousin?
The free gift from my special grace?
Fear nothing.
Did not I chuse this poverty, to raise you?
That royal woman gave into your arms too?
Bless'd you with her bright beauty? Gave the soldier,
The soldier that hung to me, fix'd him on you?
Gave you the world's command?
This cannot help you.
Yet this shall ease me. Can you be so base, cousin,
So far from nobleness, so far from nature,
As to forget all this? to tread this tie out?
Ra;@e to yourself so foul a monument
That every common foot shall kick asunder?
Must my blood glue you to your peace?
It must, uncle;
I stand too loose else, and my foot too feeble:
You gone once, and their love retired, I am rooted.
And cannot this removed poor state obscure me?
I do not seek for yours, nor inquire ambitiously
After your growing fortunes. Take heed, my kinsman!
Ungratefulness and blood mingled together,
Will, like two furious tides——
I must sail through 'em;
Let 'em be tides of death, sir, I must stem up.
Hear but this last, and wisely yet consider
Place round about my grange a garrison,
That if I offer to exceed my limits,
Or ever in my common talk name emperor,
Ever converse with any greedy soldier,
Or look for adoration, nay, for courtesy,
Above the day's salute——Think who has fed you,
Think, cousin, who I am. Do you slight my misery?
Nay, then I charge thee! Nay, I meet thy cruelty.
This cannot serve; prepare. Now fall on soldiers,
And all the treasure that I have——
[Thunder and lightning.
1 Soldier.
The earth shakes;
We totter up and down; we cannot stand, sir;
Methinks the mountains tremble too.
2 Soldier.
The flashes,
How thick and hot they come! We shall be burnt all!
Fall on, soldiers!
You that sell innocent blood, fall on full bravely!
1 Soldier.
We cannot stir.
You have your liberty;
So have you, lady: One of you come do it.
[A hand with a bolt appears above.
Do ye stand amazed? Look o'er thy head, Maximinian,
Look, to thy terror, what overhangs thee;
Nay, it will nail thee dead: Look how it threatens thee!
“The bolt for vengeance on ungrateful wretches;
The bolt of innocent blood:” Read those hot characters,
And spell the will of Heaven. Nay, lovely lady,
You must take part too, as spur to Ambition.
Are you humble? Now speak; my part is ended.
Does all your glory shake?
Hear us, great uncle,
[They kneel.
Good and great sir, be pitiful unto us!
Below your feet we lay our lives; be merciful!
Begin you, Heaven will follow.
Oh, it shakes still!
And dreadfully it threatens. We acknowledge
Our base and foul intentions: Stand between us
For faults confess'd, they say, are half forgiven:
We are sorry for our sins. Take from us, sir,
That glorious weight that made us swell, that poison'd us;
That mass of majesty I labour'd under,
(Too heavy and too mighty for my manage)
That my poor innocent days may turn again,
And my mind, pure, may purge me of these curses.
By your old love, the blood that runs between us—
[The hand taken in.
By that love once you bare to me! by that, sir,
That blessed maid enjoys——
Rise up, dear cousin,
And be your words your judges! I forgive you.
Great as you are, enjoy that greatness ever,
Whilst I mine own content make mine own empire.
Once more I give you all; learn to deserve it,
And live to love your good more than your greatness.—
Now shew your loves to entertain this emperor,
My honest neighbours! Geta, see all handsome.—
Your grace must pardon us; our house is little;
But such an ample welcome as a poor man
And his true love can make you and your empress—
Madam, we have no dainties.
'Tis enough, sir;
We shall enjoy the riches of your goodness.
Long live the good and gracious Dioclesian
I thank you, soldiers; I forgive your rashness.
And, royal sir, long may they love and honour you!
[Drums beat a march afar off.
What drums are those?
Meet 'em, my honest son;
They are thy friends, Charinus and the old soldiers,
That come to rescue thee from thy hot cousin.
But all is well; and turn all into welcomes!
Two emperors you must entertain now.
Oh, dear mother,
I have will enough, but I want room and glory.
That shall be my care. Sound your pipes now merrily,
And all your handsome sports: Sing 'em full welcomes!
And let 'em know, our true love breeds more stories,
And perfect joys, than kings do, and their glories.