Act 4, Scene II

Scene: The Presence Chamber.

Banquet—Enter KING and CALIANAX—Hautboys play within.

King.
I cannot tell how I should credit this
From you, that are his enemy.
Calianax.
I am sure
He said it to me; and I'll justify it
What way he dares oppose—but with my sword.
King.
But did he break, without all circumstance,
To you, his foe, that he would have the fort,
To kill me, and then 'scape?
Calianax.
If he deny it,
I'll make him blush.
King.
It sounds incredibly.
Calianax.
Ay, so does everything I say of late.
King.
Not so, Calianax.
Calianax.
Yes, I should sit
Mute, whilst a rogue with strong arms cuts your throat.
King.
Well, I will try him; and, if this be true,
I'll pawn my life I'll find it. If't be false,
And that you clothe your hate in such a lie,
You shall hereafter dote in your own house,
Not in the court.
Calianax.
Why, if it be a lie,
Mine ears are false; for, I'll be sworn, I heard it.
Old men are good for nothing: You were best
Put me to death for hearing, and free him
For meaning it. You would have trusted me
Once, but the time is alter'd.
King.
And will still,
Where I may do with justice to the world:
You have no witness?
Calianax.
Yes, myself.
King.
No more,
I mean, there were that heard it.
Calianax.
How! no more?
Would you have more? why, am not I enough
To hang a thousand rogues?
King.
But, so, you may
Hang honest men too, if you please.
Calianax.
I may!
'Tis like I will do so: There are a hundred
Will swear it for a need too, if I say it——
King.
Such witnesses we need not.
Calianax.
And 'tis hard
If my word cannot hang a boisterous knave.
King.
Enough.—Where's Strato?

Enter STRATO.

Strato.
Sir!
King.
Why, where's all the company? Call Amintor in;
Evadne. Where's my brother, and Melantius?
Bid him come too; and Diphilus. Call all
That are without there.
[Exit Strato.
If he should desire
The combat of you, tis not in the power
Of all our laws to hinder it, unless
We mean to quit 'em.
Calianax.
Why, if you do think
'Tis fit an old man, and a counsellor,
Do fight for what he says, then you may grant it.

Enter AMINTOR, EVADNE, MELANTIUS, DIPHILUS, LYSIPPUS, CLEON, STRATO, DIAGORAS.

King.
Come, sirs!—Amintor, thou art yet a bridegroom,
And I will use thee so: Thou shalt sit down.—
Evadne, sit; and you, Amintor, too:
This banquet is for you, sir.—Who has brought
A merry tale about him, to raise laughter
Amongst our wine? Why, Strato, where art thou?
Thou wilt chop out with them unseasonably,
When I desire them not.
Strato.
'Tis my ill luck, sir, so to spend them then.
King.
Reach me a bowl of wine.—Melantius, thou
Art sad.
Melantus.
I should be, sir, the merriest here,
But I have ne'er a story of my own
Worth telling at this time.
King.
Give me the wine.
Melantius I am now considering
How easy 'twere, for any man we trust,
To poison one of us in such a bowl.
Melantus.
I think it were not hard, sir, for a knave.
Calianax.
Such as you are.
[Aside.
King.
I'faith, 'twere easy: It becomes us well
To get plain-dealing men about ourselves;
Such as you all are here.—Amintor, to thee;
And to thy fair Evadne.
Melantius.
Have you thought
Of this, Calianax?
[Apart to him.
Calianax.
Yes, marry, have I.
Melantus.
And what's your resolution?
Calianax.
You shall have it,—
Soundly, I warrant you.
King.
Reach to Amintor, Strato.
Amintor.
Here, my love,
This wine will do thee wrong, for it will set
Blushes upon thy cheeks; and, till thou dost
A fault, 'twere pity.
King.
Yet, I wonder much
At the strange desperation of these men,
That dare attempt such acts here in our state:
He could not 'scape, that did it.
Melantius.
Were he known,
Impossible.
King.
It would be known, Melantius.
Melantus.
It ought to be: If he got then away,
He must wear all our lives upon his sword.
He need not fly the island; he must leave
No one alive.
King.
No; I should think no man
Could kill me, and 'scape clear, but that old man.
Calianax.
But I! heaven bless me! I! should I, my liege?
King.
I do not think thou would'st; but yet thou might'st;
For thou hast in thy hands the means to 'scape,
By keeping of the fort.—He has, Melantius,
And he has kept it well.
Melantus.
From cobwebs, sir,
'Tis clean swept: I can find no other art
In keeping of it now: 'Twas ne'er besieged
Since he commanded it.
Calianax.
I shall be sure
Of your good word: But I have kept it safe
From such as you.
Melantus.
Keep your ill temper in:
I speak no malice. Had my brother kept it,
I should have said as much.
King.
You are not merry.
Brother, drink wine. Sit you all still:—Calianax,
[Apart to him.
I cannot trust thus: I have thrown out words,
That would have fetch'd warm blood upon the cheeks
Of guilty men, and he is never moved:
He knows no such thing.
Calianax.
Impudence may 'scape,
When feeble virtue is accused.
King.
He must,
If he were guilty, feel an alteration
At this our whisper, whilst we point at him:
You see he does not.
Calianax.
Let him hang himself:
What care I what he does? This he did say.
King.
Melantius, you can easily conceive
What I have meant; for men that are in fault
Can subtly apprehend, when others aim
At what they do amiss: But I forgive
Freely, before this man. Heaven do so too!
I will not touch thee, so much as with shame
Of telling it. Let it be so no more.
Calianax.
Why, this is very fine.
Melantius.
I cannot tell
What 'tis you mean; but I am apt enough
Rudely to thrust into an ignorant fault.
But let me know it: Happily, 'tis nought
But misconstruction; and, where I am clear,
I will not take forgiveness of the gods,
Much less of you.
King.
Nay, if you stand so stiff
I shall call back my mercy.
Melantius.
I want smoothness
To thank a man for pardoning of a crime
I never knew.
King.
Not to instruct your knowledge, but to show you
My ears are everywhere, you meant to kill me,
And get the fort to 'scape.
Melantus.
Pardon me, sir;
My bluntness will be pardoned: You preserve
A race of idle people here about you,
Facers and talkers, to defame the worth
Of those that do things worthy. The man that utter'd this
Had perish'd without food, be't who it will,
But for this arm, that fenced him from the foe.
And if I thought you gave a faith to this,
The plainness of my nature would speak more.
Give me a pardon (for you ought to do't)
To kill him that spake this.
Calianax.
Ay, that will be
The end of all: Then I am fairly paid
For all my care and service.
Melantus.
That old man,
Who calls me enemy, and of whom I
(Though I will never match my hate so low)
Have no good thought, would yet, I think, excuse me,
And swear he thought me wrong'd in this.
Calianax.
Who—I?
Thou shameless fellow! Didst thou not speak to me
Of it thyself?
Melantius.
Oh, then it came from him?
Calianax.
From me I who should it come from, but from me?
Melantus.
Nay, I believe your malice is enough:
But I have lost my anger.—Sir, I hope
You are well satisfied.
King.
Lysippus, cheer
Amintor and his lady; there's no sound
Comes from you; I will come and do't myself.
Amintor.
You have done already, sir, for me,
I thank you.
[Apart.
King.
Melantius, I do credit this from him,
How slight soe'er you make't.
Melantus.
'Tis strange you should.
Calianax.
'Tis strange he should believe an old man's word
That never lied in's life.
Melantus.
I talk not to thee!—
Shall the wild words of this distemper'd man,
Frantic with age and sorrow, make a breach
Betwixt your majesty and me? 'Twas wrong
To hearken to him; but to credit him,
As much, at least, as I have power to bear.
But pardon me—whilst I speak only truth,
I may commend myself—I have bestow'd
My careless blood with you, and should be loth
To think an action that would make me lose
That, and my thanks too. When I was a boy,
I thrust myself into my country's cause,
And did a deed that pluck'd five years from time,
And styled me man then. And for you, my king,
Your subjects all have fed by virtue of
My arm. This sword of mine hath plough'd the ground,
And reapt the fruit in peace;
And you yourself have lived at home in ease.
So terrible I grew, that, without swords,
My name hath fetch'd you conquest: And my heart
And limbs are still the same: my will as great
To do you service. Let me not be paid
With such a strange distrust.
King.
Melantius,
I held it great injustice to believe
Thine enemy, and did not; if I did,
I do not; let that satisfy.—What, struck
With sadness all? More wine!
Calianax.
A few fine words
Have overthrown my truth. Ah, thou'rt a villain!
Melantus.
Why, thou wert better let me have the fort,
[Apart to him.
Dotard! I will disgrace thee thus for ever:
There shall no credit lie upon thy words.
Think better, and deliver it.
Calianax.
My liege,
He's at me now again to do it.—Speak;
Deny it, if thou canst.—Examine him
While he is hot; for if he cool again,
He will forswear it.
King.
This is lunacy,
I hope, Melantius.
Melantus.
He hath lost himself
Much, since his daughter miss'd the happiness
My sister gain'd; and, though he call me foe,
I pity him.
Calianax.
Pity? a pox upon you!
Melantus.
Mark his disordered words! And, at the masque,
Diagoras knows, he raged, and rail'd at me,
And call'd a lady whore, so innocent
She understood him not. But it becomes
Both you and me too to forgive distraction:
Pardon him, as I do.
Calianax.
I'll not speak for thee,
For all thy cunning.—If you will be safe,
Chop off his head; for there was never known
So impudent a rascal.
King.
Some, that love him
Get him to bed. Why, pity should not let
Age make itself contemptible; we must be
All old; have him away.
Melantus.
Calianax,
[Apart to him.
The king believes you; come, you shall go home,
And rest; you have done well. You'll give it up
When I have used you thus a month, I hope.
Calianax.
Now, now, tis plain, sir; he does move me still.
he says, he knows I'll give him up the fort,
When he has used me thus a month. I am mad,
Am I not, still?
All.      
Ha, ha, ha!
Calianax.
I shall be mad indeed, if you do thus!
Why should you trust a sturdy fellow there
(That has no virtue in him; all's in his sword)
Before me? Do but take his weapons from him,
And he's an ass; and I'm a very fool,
Both with him, and without him, as you use me.
All.      
Ha, ha, ha!
King.
'Tis well, Calianax. But if you use
This once again, I shall entreat some other
To see your offices be well discharged.
Be merry, gentlemen; it grows somewhat late.—
Amintor, thou wouldst be a-bed again.
Amintor.
Yes, sir.
King.
And you, Evadne.—Let me take
Thee in my arms, Melantius, and believe
Thou art, as thou deserv'st to be, my friend
Still, and for ever.—Good Calianax,
Sleep soundly; it will bring thee to thyself.
[Exeunt all but Melantius and Calianax.
Calianax.
Sleep soundly! I sleep soundly now, I hope;
I could not be thus else.—How darest thou stay
Alone with me, knowing how thou hast used me?
Melantus.
You cannot blast me with your tongue, and that's
The strongest part you have about you.
Calianax.
I
Do look for some great punishment for this;
For I begin to forget all my hate,
And take't unkindly that mine enemy
Should use me so extraordinarily scurvily.
Melantus.
I shall melt too, if you begin to take
Unkindnesses: I never meant you hurt.
Calianax.
Thou'lt anger me again. Thou wretched rogue,
Meant me no hurt! Disgrace me, with the king;
Lose all my offices! This is no hurt,
Is it? I pr'ythee, what dost thou call hurt?
Melantus.
To poison men, because they love me not;
To call the credit of men's wives in question;
To murder children betwixt me and land;
This is all hurt.
Calianax.
All this thou think'st is sport;
For mine is worse: But use thy will with me;
For, betwixt grief and anger, I could cry.
Melantus.
Be wise then, and be safe; thou may'st revenge.
Calianax.
Ay, o' the king? I would revenge o' thee.
Melantus.
That you must plot yourself.
Calianax.
I'm a fine plotter.
Melantus.
The short is, I will hold thee with the king
In this perplexity, till peevishness
And thy disgrace have laid thee in thy grave.
But if thou wilt deliver up the fort,
I'll take thy trembling body in my arms,
And bear thee over dangers: Thou shalt hold
Thy wonted state.
Calianax.
If I should tell the king,
Canst thou deny't again?
Melantus.
Try, and believe.
Calianax.
Nay, then, thou canst bring anything about.
Thou shalt have the fort.
Melantus.
Why, well;
Here let our hate be buried; and this hand
Shall right us both. Give me thy aged breast
To compass.
Calianax.
Nay, I do not love thee yet;
I cannot well endure to look on thee:
And, if I thought it were a courtesy,
Thou should'st not have it. But I am disgraced;
My offices are to be ta'en away;
And, if I did but hold this fort a day,
I do believe, the king would take it from me,
And give it thee, things are so strangely carried.
Ne'er thank me for't; but yet the king shall know
There was some such thing in't I told him of;
And that I was an honest man.
Melantus.
He'll buy
That knowledge very dearly.—Diphilus,

Enter DIPHILUS.

What news with thee?

Diphilus.
This were a night indeed
To do it in: The king hath sent for her.
Melantus.
She shall perform it then.—Go, Diphilus,
And take from this good man, my worthy friend,
The fort; he'll give it thee.
Diphilus.
Have you got that?
Calianax.
Art thou of the same breed? Canst thou deny
This to the king too?
Diphilus.
With a confidence
As great as his.
Calianax.
'Faith, like enough.
Melantus.
Away, and use him kindly.
Calianax.
Touch not me;
I hate the whole strain. If thou follow me,
A great way off, I'll give thee up the fort;
And hang yourselves.
Melantus.
Be gone.
Diphilus.
He's finely wrought.
[Exeunt Calianax and Diphilus.
Melantus.
This is a night, 'spite of astronomers,
To do the deed in. I will wash the stain,
That rests upon our house, off with his blood.

Enter AMINTOR.

Amintor.
Melantius, now assist me: If thou be'st
That which thou say'st, assist me. I have lost
All my distempers, and have found a rage
So pleasing! Help me.
Melantus.
Who can see him thus,
And not swear vengeance?—What's the matter, friend?
Amintor.
Out with thy sword; and, hand in hand with me,
Rush to the chamber of this hated king:
And sink him, with the weight of all his sins,
To hell for ever.
Melantus.
'Twere a rash attempt,
Not to be done with safety. Let your reason
Plot your revenge, and not your passion.
Amintor.
If thou refusest me in these extremes,
Thou art no friend: He sent for her to me;
By Heaven, to me, myself! And, I must tell you,
I love her, as a stranger; there is worth
In that vile woman, worthy things, Melantius;
And she repents. I'll do't myself alone,
Though I be slain. Farewell.
Melantius.
He'll overthrow
My whole design with madness.—Amintor,
Think what thou dost: I dare as much as Valour;
But 'tis the king, the king, the king, Amintor,
With whom thou fightest!—I know he's honest,
And this will work with him.
[Aside.
Amintor.
I cannot tell
What thou hast said; but thou hast charm'd my sword
Out of my hand, and left me shaking here,
Defenceless.
Melantus.
I will take it up for thee.
Amintor.
What a wild beast is uncollected man!
The thing, that we call honour, bears us all
Headlong to sin, and yet itself is nothing.
Melantus.
Alas, how variable are thy thoughts!
Amintor.
Just like my fortunes: I was run to that
I purposed to have chid thee for. Some plot,
I did distrust, thou hadst against the king,
By that old fellow's carriage. But take heed;
There's not the least limb growing to a king,
But carries thunder in it.
Melantus.
I have none
Against him.
Amintor.
Why, come then; and still remember,
We may not think revenge.
Melantus.
I will remember.
[Exeunt.