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To read thy poem in; refuse it not ;
Virtue, without presumption, place may take
Above best kings, whom only she should make.

Vir. It will be thought a thing ridiculous
To present eyes, and to all future times
A gross untruth, that any poet (void
Of birth, or wealth, or temporal dignity)
Should, with decorum, transcend Cæsar's chair.
Poor virtue raised, high birth and wealth set under,
Crosseth Heaven's courses, and makes worldlings wonder.

Cæs. The course of Heaven, and Fate itself, in this Will Cæsar cross; much more all worldly custom.

Hor. Custom in course of honour ever errs : And they are best, whom Fortune least prefers.

Cas. Horace hath (but more strictly) spoke our thoughts.
The vast rude swinge of general confluence
Is, in particular ends, exempt from sense :
And therefore reason (which in right should be
The special rector of all harmony)
Shall show we are a man, distinct by it
From those whom Custom rapteth in her press.
Ascend, then, Virgil ; and where first by chance
We here have turned thy book, do thou first read.

Vir. Great Cæsar hath his will : I will ascend.
"Twere simple injury to his free hand,
That sweeps the cobwebs from unused Virtue,
And makes her shine proportioned to her worth,
To be more nice to entertain his grace,
Than he is choice and liberal to afford it.

Cæs. Gentlemen of our chamber, guard the doors,
And let none enter.—Peace !--Begin, good Virgil.

(Virgil reads part of his fourth Æneid. Thomas Decker.



The King exacts an Oath from Sir Walter Terill to send his Bride

CÆLESTINA to Court on the Marriage Night. Her Father, to save her Honour, gives her a poisonous Mixture, which she swallows.

Terill, CÆLESTINA, Father.
Cæl. Why didst thou swear?

Ter. The King
Sat heavy on my resolution,
Till (out of breath) it panted out an oath.

Cæl. An oath! why, what's an oath ? 'tis but the smoke
Of Aame and blood; the blister of the spirit
Which riseth from the steam of rage; the bubble
That shoots up to the tongue, and scalds the voice
(For oaths are burning words). Thou swor’st but one,
'Tis frozen long ago: if one be numbered,
What countrymen are they, where do they dwell,
That speak naught else but oaths ?

Ter. They're men of hell.
An oath! why, 'tis the traffic of the soul,
'Tis law within a man; the seal of faith,
The bond of every conscience; unto whom
We set our thoughts like hands; yea, such a one
I swore, and to the King; a king contains
A thousand thousand; when I swore to him,
I swore to them; the very hairs that guard
His head will rise


like sharp witnesses Against my faith and loyalty: his eye

Would straight condemn me : argue oaths no more ;
My oath is high, for to the King I swore.

Cal. Must I betray my chastity, so long
Clean from the treason of rebelling lust ?
O husband, O my father, if poor I
Must not live chaste, then let me chastely die.
Fath. Ay, here's a charm shall keep thee chaste; come,

Old Time hath left us but an hour to play
Our parts ; begin the scene. Who shall speak first ?
Oh, I-I play the King, and kings speak first :
Daughter, stand thou here, thou son Terill there;
We need no prologue, the King entering first
He's a most gracious prologue: marry, then
For the catastrophe, or epilogue,
There's one in cloth of silver, which no doubt
Will please the hearers well when he steps out;
His mouth is filled with words: see where he stands :
He'll make them clap their eyes besides their hands.
But to my part: suppose who enters now,
A king whose eyes are set in silver; one
That blusheth gold, speaks music, dancing walks,
Now gathers nearer, takes thee by the hand,
When straight thou think’st the very orb of heaven
Moves round about thy fingers; then he speaks,
Thus thus—I know not how.

Cæl. Nor I to answer him.

Fath. No, girl, know'st thou not how to answer him? Why, then, the field is lost, and he rides home Like a great conqueror : not answer him! Out of thy part already! foiled the scene ! Disranked the lines ! disarmed the action!

Ter. Yes, yes, true chastity is tongued so weak, 'Tis overcome ere it know how to speak.

Fath. Come, come, thou happy close of every wrong, 'Tis thou that canst dissolve the hardest doubt; 'Tis time for thee to speak, we all are out. Daughter, and


the man whom I call son,
I must confess I made a deed of gift
To Heaven and

gave my

child to both;
When on my blessing I did charm her soul
In the white circle of true chastity,
Still to run true till death: now, sir, if not,
She forfeits my rich blessing, and is fined
With an eternal curse; then I tell you,
She shall die now, now whilst her soul is true.

Ter. Die ?
Cæl. Ay, I am Death's echo.

Fath. O my son!
I am her father ; every tear I shed
Is threescore ten years old; I weep and smile
Two kinds of tears ; I


that she must die,
I smile that she must die a virgin : thus
We joyful men mock tears, and tears mock us.

Ter. What speaks that cup?
Fath. White wine and poison.

Ter. Oh!
That very name of poison poisons me.
Thou winter of a man, thou walking grave,
Whose life is like a dying taper, how
Canst thou define a lover's labouring thoughts ?
What scent hast thou but death? what taste but earth?
The breath that purls from thee is like the steam
Of a new-opened vault: I know thy drift;

Because thou’rt travelling to the land of graves,
Thou covet’st company, and hither bring'st
A health of poison to pledge Death: a poison
For this sweet spring; this element is mine,
Ti... is the air I breathe ; corrupt it not ;
This heaven is mine—I bought it with my soul
Of him that sells a heaven to buy a soul.

Fath. Well, let her go; she's thine, thou call'st her thine,
Thy element, the air thou breath’st ; thou know'st
The air thou breath’st is common; make her so.
Perhaps thou'lt say none but the King shall wear
Thy night-gown, she that laps thee warm with love;
And that kings are not common: then to show
By consequence he cannot make her so.
Indeed, she may promote her shame and thine,
And with your shames speak a good word for mine.
The King shining so clear, and we so dim,
Our dark disgraces will be seen through him.
Imagine her the cup of thy moist life,
What man would pledge a king in his own wife?

Ter. She dies ! that sentence poisons her: O life!
What slave would pledge a king in his own wife ?

Cal. Welcome, O poison ! physic against lust,
Thou wholesome medicine to a constant blood;
Thou rare apothecary that canst keep
My chastity preserved within this box
Of tempting dust, this painted earthen pot
That stands upon the stall of the white soul,
To set the shop out like a flatterer,
To draw the customers of sin : come, come,
Thou art no poison, but a diet-drink
To moderate my blood. White-innocent Wine,

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