A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. VII (4th edition) by Various

Distributed Proofreaders A SELECT COLLECTION OF OLD ENGLISH PLAYS, VOL. VII Fourth Edition Originally published by Robert Dodsley in the Year 1744. Now first chronologically arranged, revised and enlarged with the Notes of all the Commentators, and new Notes. 1876. CONTENTS: Tancred And Gismunda The Wounds Of Civil War Mucedorus The Two Angry Women Of
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Fourth Edition

Originally published by Robert Dodsley in the Year 1744.

Now first chronologically arranged, revised and enlarged with the Notes of all the Commentators, and new Notes.



Tancred And Gismunda
The Wounds Of Civil War
The Two Angry Women Of Abington
Look About You


The Tragedie of Tancred and Gismund. Compiled by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple, and by them presented before her Maiestie. Newly reuiued and polished according to the decorum of these daies. By R.W. London, Printed by Thomas Scarlet, and are to be solde by R. Robinson, 1591, 4to.

[Some copies are dated 1592; but there was only a single edition. Of the original text, as written in 1568, there is no printed copy; but MSS. of it are in MS. Lansdowne 786, and Hargrave MS. 205, neither of which appears to present any evidence of identity with the copy mentioned by Isaac Reed below as then in private hands. Both these MSS. have now been collated with the text of 1591, and the conclusion must be, that Wilmot, though he unquestionably revived, did not do so much, as he might wish to have it inferred, in _polishing_ the play. The production was formed on a classical model, and bears marks of resemblance in tone and style to the “Jocasta” of Euripides, as paraphrased by Gascoigne in 1566. The Lansdowne MS. of “Tancred and Gismunda” was written, about 1568-70, while the Hargrave is much more modern.]


It appears from William Webbe’s Epistle prefixed to this piece, that after its first exhibition it was laid aside, and at some distance of time was new-written by R. Wilmot. The reader, therefore, may not be displeased with a specimen of it in its original dress. It is here given from the fragment of an ancient MS. taken out of a chest of papers formerly belonging to Mr Powell, father-in-law to the author of “Paradise Lost,” at Forest Hill, about four miles from Oxford, where in all probability some curiosities of the same kind may remain, the contents of these chests (for I think there are more than one) having never yet been properly examined. The following extract is from the conclusion of the piece.–_Reed_. [Reed’s extract has been collated with the two MSS. before-mentioned; where the Powell MS. may now be, the editor cannot say. The differences, on the whole, are not material; but the Lansdowne MS. 786 has supplied a few superior readings and corrections.]

But in thy brest if eny spark remaine Of thy dere love. If ever yet I coulde So moche of thee deserve, or at the least If with my last desire I may obtaine
This at thy handes, geve me this one request And let me not spend my last breath in vaine. My life desire I not, which neither is In thee to geve nor in my self to save, Althoughe I wolde. Nor yet I aske not this As mercye for myne Erle in ought to crave, Whom I to well do knowe howe thou hast slayen. No, no, father, thy hard and cruell wronge With pacience as I may I will sustaine In woefull life which now shall not be longe. But this one suite, father, if unto me Thou graunt, though I cannot the same reacquite Th’immortall goddes shall render unto thee Thy due reward and largely guerdon it, That sins it pleased thee not thus secretly I might enjoy my love, his corps and myne May nathelesse together graved be
And in one tombe our bodies both to shrine With which this small request eke do I praie That on the same graven in brasse thou place This woefull epitaphe which I shall saye, That all lovers may rue this mornefull case; Loe here within one tombe where harbor twaine Gismonda Quene and Countie Pallurine!
She loved him, he for her love was slayen, For whoes revenge eke lyes she here in shrine. [GISMONDA _dieth_

TANCRED. O me alas, nowe do the cruell paines Of cursed death my dere daughter bereave. Alas whie bide I here? the sight constraines Me woefull man this woefull place to leaue.


TANCRED _cometh out of_ GISMOND’S _Chamber_.

TANCRED. O dolorous happe, ruthefull and all of woe Alas I carefull wretche what resteth me? Shall I now live that with these eyes did soe Beholde my daughter die? what, shall I see Her death before my face that was my lyfe And I to lyve that was her lyves decay? Shall not this hand reache to this hart the knife That maye bereve bothe sight and life away, And in the shadowes darke to seke her ghoste And wander there with her? shall not, alas, This spedy death be wrought, sithe I have lost My dearest ioy of all? what, shall I passe My later dayes in paine, and spende myne age In teres and plaint! shall I now leade my life All solitarie as doeth bird in cage,
And fede my woefull yeres with waillfull grefe? No, no, so will not I my dayes prolonge To seke to live one houre sith she is gone: This brest so can not bende to suche a wronge, That she shold dye and I to live alone. No, this will I: she shall have her request And in most royall sorte her funerall
Will I performe. Within one tombe shall rest Her earle and she, her epitaph withall Graved thereon shal be. This will I doe And when these eyes some aged teres have shed The tomb my self then will I crepe into And with my blood all bayne their bodies dead. This heart there will I perce, and reve this brest The irksome life, and wreke my wrathful ire Upon my self. She shall have her request, And I by death will purchace my desyre.



If now perhappes ye either loke to see Th’unhappie lovers, or the cruell sire Here to be buried as fittes their degree Or as the dyeng ladie did require
Or as the ruthefull kinge in deepe despaire Behight of late (who nowe himself hath slayen) Or if perchaunse you stand in doutfull fere Sithe mad Megera is not returnde againe Least wandring in the world she so bestowe The snakes that crall about her furious face As they may raise new ruthes, new kindes of woe Bothe so and there, and such as you percase Wold be full lothe so great so nere to see I am come forth to do you all to wete
Through grefe wherin the lordes of Salerne be The buriall pompe is not prepared yet: And for the furie, you shall onderstand That neither doeth the litle greatest god Finde such rebelling here in Britain land Against his royall power as asketh rod Of ruth from hell to wreke his names decaie Nor Pluto heareth English ghostes complaine Our dames disteyned lyves. Therfore ye maye Be free from feare, sufficeth to maintaine The vertues which we honor in you all, So as our Britain ghostes when life is past Maie praise in heven, not plaine in Plutoes hall Our dames, but hold them vertuous and chast, Worthie to live where furie never came, Where love can see, and beares no deadly bowe, Whoes lyves eternall tromp of glorious fame With joyfull sounde to honest eares shall blowe.


The Tragedie of Gismonde of Salerne.

Such is a specimen of the play as it was originally acted before Queen Elizabeth, at the Inner Temple, in the year 1568. It was the production of five gentlemen, who were probably students of that society; and by one of them, Robert Wilmot, afterwards much altered and published in the year 1591.[1] [Wilmot had meanwhile become rector of North Okenham, in Essex];[2] and in his Dedication to the Societies of the Inner and Middle Temples, he speaks of the censure which might be cast upon him from the indecorum of publishing a dramatic work arising from his calling. When he died, or whether he left any other works, are points equally uncertain.

“Nearly a century after the date of that play,” observes Lamb, in his ‘Extracts from the Garrick Plays,’ “Dryden produced his admirable version of the same story from Boccaccio. The speech here extracted (the scene between the messengers and Gismunda) may be compared with the corresponding passage in the ‘Sigismunda and Guiscardo’ with no disadvantage to the older performance. It is quite as weighty, as pointed, and as passionate.”

To the Right Worshipful and Virtuous Ladies, the Lady MARY PETER and the Lady ANNE GRAY, long health of body, with quiet of mind, in the favour of God and men for ever.

It is most certain (right virtuous and worshipful) that of all human learning, poetry (how contemptible soever it is in these days) is the most ancient; and, in poetry, there is no argument of more antiquity and elegancy than is the matter of love; for it seems to be as old as the world, and to bear date from the first time that man and woman was: therefore in this, as in the finest metal, the freshest wits have in all ages shown their best workmanship. So amongst others these gentlemen, which with what sweetness of voice and liveliness of action they then expressed it, they which were of her Majesty’s right Honourable maidens can testify.

Which being a discourse of two lovers, perhaps it may seem a thing neither fit to be offered unto your ladyships, nor worthy me to busy myself withal: yet can I tell you, madames, it differeth so far from the ordinary amorous discourses of our days, as the manners of our time do from the modesty and innocency of that age.

And now for that weary winter is come upon us, which bringeth with him drooping days and tedious nights, if it be true, that the motions of our minds follow the temperature of the air wherein we live, then I think the perusing of some mournful matter, tending to the view of a notable example, will refresh your wits in a gloomy day, and ease your weariness of the louring night. Which if it please you, may serve ye also for a solemn revel against this festival time, for _Gismund’s_ bloody shadow, with a little cost, may be entreated in her self-like person to speak to ye.

Having therefore a desire to be known to your W., I devised this way with myself to procure the same, persuading myself, there is nothing more welcome to your wisdoms than the knowledge of wise, grave, and worthy matters, tending to the good instructions of youths, of whom you are mothers.

In this respect, therefore, I shall humbly desire ye to bestow a favourable countenance upon this little labour, which when ye have graced it withal, I must and will acknowledge myself greatly indebted unto your ladyships in this behalf: neither shall I amongst the rest, that admire your rare virtues (which are not a few in Essex), cease to commend this undeserved gentleness.

Thus desiring the king of heaven to increase his graces in ye both, granting that your ends may be as honourable as your lives are virtuous, I leave with a vain babble of many needless words to trouble you longer.

Your Worships’ most dutiful
and humble Orator,


Master R.W., look not now for the terms of an intreater: I will beg no longer; and for your promises, I will refuse them as bad payment: neither can I be satisfied with anything but a peremptory performance of an old intention of yours, the publishing I mean of those waste papers (as it pleaseth you to call them, but, as I esteem them, a most exquisite invention) of Gismund’s tragedy. Think not to shift me off with longer delays, nor allege more excuses to get further respite, lest I arrest you with my _actum est_, and commence such a suit of unkindness against you, as when the case shall be scann’d before the judges of courtesy, the court will cry out of your immoderate modesty. And thus much I tell you before: you shall not be able to wage against me in the charges growing upon this action, especially if the worshipful company of the Inner-Temple gentlemen patronise my cause, as undoubtedly they will, yea, and rather plead partially for me, than let my cause miscarry, because themselves are parties. The tragedy was by them most pithily framed, and no less curiously acted in view of her Majesty, by whom it was then as princely accepted, as of the whole honourable audience notably applauded: yea, and of all men generally desired, as a work, either in stateliness of show, depth of conceit, or true ornaments of poetical art, inferior to none of the best in that kind: no, were the Roman Seneca the censurer. The brave youths that then (to their high praises) so feelingly performed the same in action, did shortly after lay up the book unregarded, or perhaps let it run abroad (as many parents do their children once past dandling) not respecting so much what hard fortune might befall it being out of their fingers, as how their heroical wits might again be quickly conceived have been ever since wonderful fertile. But this orphan of theirs (for he wand’reth as it were fatherless) hath notwithstanding, by the rare and beautiful perfections appearing in him, hitherto never wanted great favourers and loving preservers. Among whom I cannot sufficiently commend your charitable zeal and scholarly compassion towards him, that have not only rescued and defended him from the devouring jaws of oblivion, but vouchsafed also to apparel him in a new suit at your own charges, wherein he may again more boldly come abroad, and by your permission return to his old parents, clothed perhaps not in richer or more costly furniture than it went from them, but in handsomeness and fashion more answerable to these times, wherein fashions are so often altered. Let one word suffice for your encouragement herein; namely, that your commendable pains in disrobing him of his antique curiosity, and adorning him with the approved guise of our stateliest English terms (not diminishing, but more augmenting his artificial colours of absolute poesy, derived from his first parents) cannot but be grateful to most men’s appetites, who upon our experience we know highly to esteem such lofty measures of sententiously composed tragedies.

How much you shall make me and the rest of your private friends beholden to you, I list not to discourse: and therefore grounding upon these alleged reasons; that the suppressing of this tragedy, so worthy for the press, were no other thing than wilfully to defraud yourself of an universal thank, your friends of their expectations, and sweet Gismund of a famous eternity, I will cease to doubt of any other pretence to cloak your bashfulness, hoping to read it in print (which lately lay neglected amongst your papers) at our next appointed meeting.

I bid you heartily farewell. From Pyrgo in Essex, August the eighth, 1591.

_Tuus fide & facultate_


To the Worshipful and Learned Society, the GENTLEMEN STUDENTS of the Inner Temple, with the rest of his singular good Friends, the GENTLEMEN of the Middle Temple, and to all other courteous Readers, R.W. wisheth increase of all health, worship, and learning, with the immortal glory of the graces adorning the same.

Ye may perceive (right Worshipful) in perusing the former epistle sent to me, how sore I am beset with the importunities of my friends to publish this pamphlet: truly I am and have been (if there be in me any soundness of judgment) of this opinion, that whatsoever is committed to the press is commended to eternity, and it shall stand a lively witness with our conscience, to our comfort or confusion, in the reckoning of that great day.

Advisedly, therefore, was that proverb used of our elder philosophers, _Manum a tabula_: withhold thy hand from the paper, and thy papers from the print or light of the world: for a lewd word escaped is irrevocable, but a bad or base discourse published in print is intolerable.

Hereupon I have endured some conflicts between reason and judgment, whether it were convenient for the commonwealth, with the _indecorum_ of my calling (as some think it) that the memory of Tancred’s tragedy should be again by my means revived, which the oftener I read over, and the more I considered thereon, the sooner I was won to consent thereunto: calling to mind that neither the thrice reverend and learned father, M. Beza, was ashamed in his younger years to send abroad, in his own name, his tragedy of “Abraham,”[4] nor that rare Scot (the scholar of our age) Buchanan, his most pathetical Jephtha.

Indeed I must willingly confess this work simple, and not worth comparison to any of theirs: for the writers of them were grave men; of this, young heads: in them is shown the perfection of their studies; in this, the imperfection of their wits. Nevertheless herein they all agree, commending virtue, detesting vice, and lively deciphering their overthrow that suppress not their unruly affections. These things noted herein, how simple soever the verse be, I hope the matter will be acceptable to the wise.

Wherefore I am now bold to present Gismund to your sights, and unto yours only, for therefore have I conjured her, by the love that hath been these twenty-four years betwixt us, that she wax not so proud of her fresh painting, to straggle in her plumes abroad, but to contain herself within the walls of your house; so am I sure she shall be safe from the _tragedian tyrants_ of our time, who are not ashamed to affirm that there can no amorous poem savour of any sharpness of wit, unless it be seasoned with scurrilous words.

But leaving them to their lewdness, I hope you, and all discreet readers, will thankfully receive my pains, the fruits of my first harvest: the rather, perceiving that my purpose in this tragedy tendeth only to the exaltation of virtue and suppression of vice, with pleasure to profit and help all men, but to offend or hurt no man. As for such as have neither the grace, nor the good gift, to do well themselves, nor the common honesty to speak well of others, I must (as I may) hear and bear their baitings with patience.

Yours devoted in his ability,




They which tofore thought that the heaven’s throne Is placed above the skies, and there do feign The gods and all the heavenly powers to reign, They err, and but deceive themselves alone. Heaven (unless you think mo be than one) Is here in earth, and by the pleasant side Of famous Thames at Greenwich court doth ‘bide. And as for other heaven is there none.
There are the goddesses we honour so: There Pallas sits: there shineth Venus’ face: Bright beauty there possesseth all the place: Virtue and honour there do live and grow: There reigneth she such heaven that doth deserve, Worthy whom so fair goddesses should serve.


Flowers of prime, pearls couched all in gold, Light of our days, that glads the fainting hearts Of them that shall your shining gleams behold, Salve of each sore, recure of inward smarts, In whom virtue and beauty striveth so
As neither yields: behold here, for your gain, Gismund’s unlucky love, her fault, her woe, And death; at last her cruel father slain Through his mishap; and though you do not see, Yet read and rue their woful tragedy.
So Jove, as your high virtues done deserve, Grant you such pheers[6] as may your virtues serve With like virtues; and blissful Venus send Unto your happy loves an happy end.


Gismund, that whilome liv’d her father’s joy And died his death, now dead, doth (as she may) By us pray you to pity her annoy.
And, to requite the same, doth humbly pray, Heavens to forefend[7] your loves from like decay. The faithful earl doth also make request, Wishing those worthy knights whom ye embrace, The constant truth that lodged in his breast. His hearty love, not his unhappy case,
Befall to such as triumph in your grace. The king prays pardon of his cruel hest,[8] And for amends desires it may suffice.
That by his blood he warneth all the rest Of fond fathers, that they in kinder wise Intreat the jewels where their comfort lies. We, as their messengers, beseech ye all
On their behalfs to pity all their smarts. And for ourselves (although the worth be small) We pray ye to accept our humble hearts,
Avow’d to serve with prayer and with praise Your honours, all unworthy other ways.[9]


TANCRED, _the King_.
GISMUNDA, _the King’s Daughter_.
LUCRECE, _her Aunt_.
GUISCARD, _Count Palurin_.
RENUCHIO, _Captain of the Guard_.
JULIO, _Lord Chamberlain_.


Tancred, the Prince of Salerne, overloves His only daughter (wonder of that age)
Gismund, who loves the County[13] Palurin Guiscard, who quites her likings with his love: A letter in a cane describes the means
Of their two meetings in a secret cave. Unconstant fortune leadeth forth the king To this unhappy sight, wherewith in rage The gentle earl he doometh to his death, And greets his daughter with her lover’s heart. Gismunda fills the goblet with her tears, And drinks a poison which she had distill’d, Whereof she dies, whose deadly countenance So grieves her father, that he slew himself.


Tancred, King of Naples and Prince of Salerne, gave his only daughter Gismund (whom he most dearly loved) in marriage to a foreign prince, after whose death she returned home to her father, who having felt great grief of her absence whilst her husband lived, immeasurably esteeming her, determined never to suffer any second marriage to bereave him of her. She, on the other side, waxing weary of that her father’s purpose, bent her mind to the secret love of the County Palurin: to whom (he being likewise inflamed with love of her) by a letter subtly enclosed in a cloven cane, she gave to understand a convenient way for their desired meetings, through an old ruinous vault, whose mouth opened directly under her chamber floor. Into this vault when she was one day descended (for the conveyance of her lover), her father in the mean season (whose only joy was in his daughter) came to her chamber, and not finding her there, supposing her to have been walked abroad for her[15] disport, he threw him down on her bed, and covered his head with a curtain, minding to abide and rest there till her return. She, nothing suspecting this her father’s unseasonable coming, brought up her lover out of the cave into her chamber, where her father espied their secret love: and he (not espied of them) was upon this sight stricken with marvellous grief; but either for that the sudden despite had amazed him, and taken from him all use of speech, or for that he resolved himself to a more convenient revenge, he then spake nothing, but noted their return into the vault, and secretly departed. Afterward, bewailing his mishap, he commanded the earl to be attached, imprisoned, strangled, unbowelled, and his heart in a cup of gold to be presented to his daughter:[16] she thankfully receiveth the present, filling the cup (wherein the heart was) with her tears, with a venomous potion (by her distilled for that purpose) she drank to her earl. Which her father hearing of, came too late to comfort his dying daughter, who for her last request besought him that her lover and herself might in one tomb be together buried for a perpetual memory of their faithful loves; which request he granted, adding to the burial himself, slain with his own hands, to his own reproach, and the terror of all other hard-hearted fathers.

Introductio in Actum Secundum.

Before the second act there was heard a sweet noise of still pipes, which sounding, Lucrece entered, attended by a maiden of honour with a covered goddard of gold, and, drawing the curtains, she offereth unto Gismunda to taste thereof; which when she had done, the maid returned, and Lucrece raiseth up Gismunda from her bed, and then it followeth _ut_ in act ii. sc. 1.

Introductio in Actum Tertium.

Before this act the hautboys sounded a lofty almain, and Cupid ushereth after him Guiscard and Gismunda, hand in hand; Julio and Lucrece, Renuchio and another maiden of honour. The measures trod, Gismunda gives a cane into Guiscard’s hand, and they are all led forth again by Cupid, _ut sequitur_.

Introductio in Actum Quartum.

Before this act there was heard a consort of sweet music, which playing, Tancred cometh forth, and draweth Gismunda’s curtains, and lies down upon her bed; then from under the stage ascendeth Guiscard, and he helpeth up Gismunda: they amorously embrace and depart. The king ariseth enraged. Then was heard and seen a storm of thunder and lightning, in which the furies rise up, _ut sequitur_.

Introductio in Actum Quintum.

Before this act was a dead march played, during which entered on the stage Renuchio, Captain of the Guard, attended upon by the guard. They took up Guiscard from under the stage; then after Guiscard had kindly taken leave of them all, a strangling-cord was fastened about his neck, and he haled forth by them. Renuchio bewaileth it; and then, entering in, bringeth forth a standing cup of gold, with a bloody heart reeking hot in it, and then saith, _ut sequitur_.



CUPID _cometh out of the heavens in a cradle of flowers, drawing forth upon the stage, in a blue twist of silk, from his left hand, Vain Hope, Brittle Joy: and with a carnation twist of silk from his right hand, Fair Resemblance, Late Repentance_.

CUPID. There rest my chariot on the mountaintops.[18] I, that in shape appear unto your sight[19] A naked boy, not cloth’d but with my wings, And that great God of Love, who with his might Ruleth the vast wide world and living things.[20] This left hand bears Vain Hope, short joyful state, With Fair Resemblance, lovers to allure: This right hand holds Repentance all too late, War, fire,[21] blood, and pains without recure. On sweet ambrosia is not my food,
Nectar is not my drink: as to the rest Of all the gods: I drink the lover’s blood. And feed upon the heart[22] within his breast. Well hath my power in heaven and earth been try’d, And deepest hell my piercing force hath known. The marble seas[23] my wonders hath descry’d, Which elder age throughout the world hath blown.[24] To me the king of gods and men doth yield, As witness can the Greekish maid,[25] whom I Made like a cow go glowing through[26] the field, Lest jealous Juno should the ‘scape espy. The doubled night, the sun’s restrained course, His secret stealths, the slander to eschew, In shape transform’d,[27] we[28] list not to discourse. All that and more we forced him to do.
The warlike Mars hath not subdu’d our[29] might, We fear’d him not, his fury nor disdain, That can the gods record, before whose sight He lay fast wrapp’d in Vulcan’s subtle chain. He that on earth yet hath not felt our power, Let him behold the fall and cruel spoil
Of thee, fair Troy, of Asia the flower, So foul defac’d, and levell’d[30] with the soil Who forc’d Leander with his naked breast So many nights to cut the frothy waves,
But Hero’s love, that lay inclos’d in Sest? The stoutest hearts to me shall yield them slaves. Who could have match’d the huge Alcides'[31] strength? Great Macedon[32] what force might have subdu’d? Wise Scipio who overcame at length,
But we, that are with greater force endu’d? Who could have conquered the golden fleece[33] But Jason, aided by Medea’s art?
Who durst have stol’n fair Helen out of Greece But I, with love that bold’ned Paris’ heart? What bond of nature, what restraint avails[34] Against our power? I vouch to witness truth. The myrrh tree,[35] that with shamefast tears bewails Her father’s love, still weepeth yet for ruth,[36] But now, this world not seeing in these days Such present proofs of our all-daring[37] power, Disdains our name, and seeketh sundry ways To scorn and scoff, and shame us every hour. A brat, a bastard, and an idle boy:
A[38] rod, a staff, a whip to beat him out! And to be sick of love, a childish toy:
These are mine honours now the world about, My name disgrac’d to raise again therefore, And in this age mine ancient renown
By mighty acts intending to restore, Down to the earth in wrath now am I come; And in this place such wonders shall ye hear, As these your stubborn and disdainful hearts In melting tears and humble yielding fear Shall soon relent by sight of others’ smarts. This princely palace will I enter in,
And there inflame the fair Gismunda so, Enraging all her secret veins within,
Through fiery love that she shall feel much woe.[39] Too-late-Repentance, thou shalt bend my bow; Vain Hope, take out my pale, dead, heavy shaft, Thou, Fair Resemblance, foremost forth shalt go, With Brittle Joy: myself will not be least, But after me comes Death and deadly Pain. Thus shall ye march, till we return again.[40] Meanwhile, sit still, and here I shall you show Such wonders, that at last with one accord Ye shall relent, and say that now you know Love rules the world, Love it a mighty lord.[41]

[CUPID _with his train entereth into_ KING TANCRED’S _palace_.


GISMUNDA _in purple cometh out of her chamber, attended by four maids that are the Chorus_.

GISMUNDA. “O vain, unsteadfast state of mortal things! Who trust this world, leans to a brittle stay: Such fickle fruit his flattering bloom forth brings, Ere it be ripe, it falleth to decay.”
The joy and bliss that late I did possess, In weal at will, with one I loved best,
Is turned now into so deep distress, As teacheth me to know the world’s unrest.[42] For neither wit nor princely stomachs serve Against his force, that slays without respect The noble and the wretch: ne doth reserve So much as one for worthiness elect.
Ah me, dear lord! what well of tears may serve To feed the streams of my foredulled eyes, To weep thy death, as thy death doth deserve, And wail thy want in full sufficing wise? Ye lamps of heaven, and all ye heavenly powers,[43] Wherein did he procure your high disdain? He never sought with vast huge mountain towers To reach aloft, and over-view your reign: Or what offence of mine was it unwares,
That thus your fury should on me be thrown, To plague a woman with such endless cares? I fear that envy hath the heavens this shown: The sun his glorious virtues did disdain; Mars at his manhood mightily repin’d;
Yea, all the gods no longer could sustain, Each one to be excelled in his kind.
For he my lord surpass’d them every one;[44] Such was his honour all the world throughout. But now, my love, oh! whither art thou gone? I know thy ghost doth hover hereabout,
Expecting me, thy heart, to follow thee: And I, dear love, would fain dissolve this strife. But stay awhile, I may perhaps foresee
Some means to be disburden’d of this life, “And to discharge the duty of a wife,[45] Which is, not only in this life to love, But after death her fancy not remove.”
Meanwhile accept of these our daily rites, Which with my maidens I shall do to thee, Which is in songs to cheer our dying sprites With hymns of praises of thy memory.


Quae mihi cantio nondum occurrit_.[46]


_The song ended_, TANCRED _the King cometh out of his palace with his guard_.

TANCRED. Fair daughter, I have sought thee out with grief, To ease the sorrows of thy vexed heart.
How long wilt thou torment thy father thus, Who daily dies to see thy needless tears? Such bootless plaints, that know nor mean nor end, Do but increase the floods of thy lament; And since the world knows well there was no want In thee of ought, that did to him belong, Yet all, thou seest, could not his life prolong. Why then dost thou provoke the heavens to wrath? His doom of death was dated by his stars, “And who is he that may withstand his fate?” By these complaints small good to him thou dost, Much grief to me, more hurt unto thyself, And unto nature greatest wrong of all.

GISMUNDA. Tell me not of the date of nature’s days, Then in the April of her springing age:
No, no, it was my cruel destiny,
That spited at the pleasance of my life.

TANCRED. My daughter knows the proof of nature’s course. “For as the heavens do guide the lamp of life, So can they reach no farther forth the flame, Than whilst with oil they do maintain the same.”

GISMUNDA. Curst be the stars, and vanish may they curst, Or fall from heaven, that in their dire aspect[47] Abridg’d the health and welfare of my love.

TANCRED. Gismund, my joy, set all these griefs apart; “The more thou art with hard mishap beset, The more thy patience should procure thine ease.”

GISMUNDA. What hope of hap may cheer my hapless chance? What sighs, what tears may countervail my cares? What should I do, but still his death bewail, That was the solace of my life and soul? Now, now, I want the wonted guide and stay Of my desires and of my wreakless thoughts. My lord, my love, my life, my liking gone, In whom was all the fulness of my joy,
To whom I gave the first-fruits of my love, Who with the comfort of his only sight
All care and sorrows could from me remove. But, father, now my joys forepast to tell, Do but revive the horrors of my hell.
As she that seems in darkness to behold The gladsome pleasures of the cheerful light.

TANCRED. What then avails thee fruitless thus to rue His absence, whom the heavens cannot return? Impartial death thy husband did subdue,
Yet hath he spar’d thy kingly father’s life: Who during life to thee a double stay,
As father and as husband, will remain, With double love to ease thy widow’s want, Of him whose want is cause of thy complaint. Forbear thou therefore all these needless tears, That nip the blossoms of thy beauty’s pride.

GISMUNDA. Father, these tears love challengeth of due.

TANCRED. But reason saith thou shouldst the same subdue.

GISMUNDA. His funerals are yet before my sight.

TANCRED. In endless moans princes should not delight.

GISMUNDA. The turtle pines in loss of her true mate.

TANCRED. And so continues poor and desolate.

GISMUNDA. Who can forget a jewel of such price?

TANCRED. She that hath learn’d to master her desires. “Let reason work, what time doth easily frame In meanest wits, to bear the greatest ills.”

GISMUNDA. So plenteous are the springs Of sorrows that increase my passions,
As neither reason can recure my smart, Nor can your care nor fatherly comfort
Appease the stormy combats of my thoughts; Such is the sweet remembrance of his life. Then give me leave: of pity, pity me,
And as I can, I shall allay these griefs.

TANCRED. These solitary walks thou dost frequent, Yield fresh occasions to thy secret moans: We will therefore thou keep us company,
Leaving thy maidens with their harmony. Wend[48] thou with us. Virgins, withdraw yourselves.

[TANCRED _and_ GISMUNDA, _with the guard, depart into the palace; the four maidens stay behind, as Chorus to the Tragedy_.

CHORUS 1. The diverse haps which always work our care, Our joys so far, our woes so near at hand, Have long ere this, and daily do declare The fickle foot on which our state doth stand. “Who plants his pleasures here to gather root, And hopes his happy life will still endure, Let him behold how death with stealing foot Steps in when he shall think his joys most sure.” No ransom serveth to redeem our days
If prowess could preserve, or worthy deeds, He had yet liv’d, whose twelve labours displays His endless fame, and yet his honour spreads. And that great king,[49] that with so small a power Bereft the mighty Persian of his crown,
Doth witness well our life is but a flower, Though it be deck’d with honour and renown.

CHORUS 2. “What grows to-day in favour of the heaven, Nurs’d with the sun and with the showers sweet, Pluck’d with the hand, it withereth ere even. So pass our days, even as the rivers fleet.” The valiant Greeks, that unto Troia gave The ten years’ siege, left but their names behind. And he that did so long and only save
His father’s walls,[50] found there at last his end. Proud Rome herself, that whilome laid her yoke On the wide world, and vanquish’d all with war, Yet could she not remove the fatal stroke Of death from them that stretch’d her pow’r so far.

CHORUS 3. Look, what the cruel sisters once decree’d, The Thunderer himself cannot remove:
They are the ladies of our destiny, To work beneath what is conspir’d above. But happy he that ends this mortal life
By speedy death: who is not forc’d to see The many cares, nor feel the sundry griefs, Which we sustain in woe and misery.
Here fortune rules who, when she list to play, Whirleth her wheel, and brings the high full low: To-morrow takes, what she hath given to-day, To show she can advance and overthrow.
Not Euripus'[51] (unquiet flood) so oft Ebbs in a day, and floweth to and fro,
As fortune’s change plucks down that was aloft, And mingleth joy with interchange of woe.

CHORUS 4. “Who lives below, and feeleth not the strokes, Which often-times on highest towers do fall, Nor blustering winds, wherewith the strongest oaks Are rent and torn, his life is sur’st of all:” For he may fortune scorn, that hath no power On him, that is well pleas’d with his estate: He seeketh not her sweets, nor fears her sour, But lives contented in his quiet rate,
And marking how these worldly things do vade,[52] Rejoiceth to himself, and laughs to see
The folly of men, that in their wits have made Fortune a goddess, placed in the sky.

_Exegit_ ROD. STAF.




GISMUNDA. Dear aunt, my sole companion in distress, And true copartner of my thoughtful cares: When with myself I weigh my present state, Comparing it with my forepassed days,
New heaps of cares afresh begin t’assay My pensive heart, as when the glittering rays Of bright Phoebus are suddenly o’erspread With dusky clouds, that dim his golden light: Namely, when I, laid in my widow’s bed,
Amid the silence of the quiet night, With curious thought the fleeting course observe Of gladsome youth, how soon his flower decays, “How time once past may never have recourse, No more than may the running streams revert To climb the hills, when they been rolled down The hollow vales. There is no curious art, Nor worldly power: no, not the gods can hold The sway of flying time, nor him return, When he is past: all things unto his might Must bend, and yield unto the iron teeth Of eating time.” This in the shady night When I record: how soon my youth withdraws Itself away, how swift my pleasant spring Runs out his race,–this, this, aunt, is the cause, When I advise me sadly[53] on this thing, That makes my heart in pensive dumps dismay’d. For if I should my springing years neglect, And suffer youth fruitless to fade away; Whereto live I? or whereto was I born?
Wherefore hath nature deck’d me with her grace? Why have I tasted these delights of love, And felt the sweets of Hymeneus’ bed?
But to say sooth, dear aunt, it is not I, Sole and alone, can thus content to spend My cheerful years: my father will not still Prolong my mournings, which have griev’d him, And pleased me too long. Then this I crave, To be resolved of his princely mind.
For, stood it with the pleasure of his will To marry me, my fortune is not such,
So hard, that I so long should still persist Makeless alone in woful widowhood.
And shall I tell mine aunt? Come hither then, Give me that hand: By thine own right hand, I charge thy heart my counsels to conceal. Late have I seen, and seeing took delight, And with delight, I will not say, I love A prince, an earl, a county in the court. But love and duty force me to refrain,
And drive away these fond affections, Submitting them unto my father’s hest.
But this, good aunt, this is my chiefest pain, Because I stand at such uncertain stay.
For, if my kingly father would decree His final doom, that I must lead my life Such as I do, I would content me then
To frame my fancies to his princely hest, And as I might, endure the grief thereof. But now his silence doubleth all my doubts, Whilst my suspicious thoughts ‘twixt hope and fear Distract me into sundry passions:
Therefore, good aunt, this labour must be yours, To understand my father’s will herein,
For well I know your wisdom knows the means, So shall you both allay my stormy thoughts, And bring to quiet my unquiet mind.

LUCRECE. Sufficeth this, good niece, that you have said; For I perceive what sundry passions
Strive in your breast, which oftentimes ere this Your countenance confused did bewray.
The ground whereof since I perceive to grow On just respect of this your sole estate, And skilful care of fleeting youth’s decay, Your wise foresight such sorrowing to eschew I much commend, and promise as I may
To break this matter, and impart your mind Unto your father, and to work it so,
As both your honour shall not be impeach’d, Nor he unsatisfied of your desire.
Be you no farther grieved, but return Into your chamber. I shall take this charge, And you shall shortly truly understand
What I have wrought, and what the king affirms.

GISMUNDA. I leave you to the fortune of my stars.

[GISMUNDA _departeth into her chamber_, LUCRECE _abiding on the stage_.

LUCRECE. The heavens, I hope, will favour your request. My niece shall not impute the cause to be In my default, her will should want effect: But in the king is all my doubt, lest he My suit for her new marriage should reject. Yet shall I prove him: and I heard it said, He means this evening in the park to hunt.[54] Here will I wait attending his approach.


TANCRED _cometh out of his palace with_ GUISCARD, _the_ COUNTY PALURIN, JULIO, _the Lord Chamberlain_, RENUCHIO, _captain of his guard, all ready to hunt_.

TANCRED. Uncouple all our hounds; lords, to the chase– Fair sister Lucre[ce], what’s the news with you?

LUCRECE. Sir, as I always have employ’d my power And faithful service, such as lay in me, In my best wise to honour you and yours: So now my bounden duty moveth me
Your majesty most humbly to entreat With patient ears to understand the state Of my poor niece, your daughter.

TANCRED. What of her?
Is she not well? Enjoys she not her health? Say, sister: ease me of this jealous fear?

LUCRECE. She lives, my lord, and hath her outward health; But all the danger of her sickness lies
In the disquiet of her princely mind.

TANCRED. Resolve me; what afflicts my daughter so?

LUCRECE. Since when the princess hath entomb’d her lord, Her late deceased husband of renown;
Brother, I see, and very well perceive, She hath not clos’d together in his grave All sparks of nature, kindness, nor of love: But as she lives, so living may she feel Such passions as our tender hearts oppress, Subject unto th’impressions of desire:
For well I wot my niece was never wrought Of steel, nor carved from the stony rock: Such stern hardness we ought not to expect In her, whose princely heart and springing years Yet flow’ring in the chiefest heat of youth, Is led of force to feed on such conceits, As easily befalls that age, which asketh ruth Of them, whom nature bindeth by foresight Of their grave years and careful love to reach The things that are above their feeble force: And for that cause, dread lord, although–

TANCRED. Sister, I say,
If you esteem or ought respect my life, Her honour and the welfare of our house, Forbear, and wade[55] no farther in this speech. Your words are wounds. I very well perceive The purpose of this smooth oration:
This I suspected, when you first began This fair discourse with us. Is this the end Of all our hopes, that we have promised
Unto ourself by this her widowhood? Would our dear daughter, would our only joy, Would she forsake us? would she leave us now, Before she hath clos’d up our dying eyes, And with her tears bewail’d our funeral? No other solace doth her father crave;
But, whilst the fates maintain his dying life, Her healthful presence gladsome to his soul, Which rather than he willing would forego, His heart desires the bitter taste of death. Her late marriage hath taught us to our grief, That in the fruits of her perpetual sight Consists the only comfort and relief
Of our unwieldy age: for what delight, What joy, what comfort, have we in this world; Now grown in years, and overworn with cares, Subject unto the sudden stroke of death, Already falling, like the mellowed fruit, And dropping by degrees into our grave?
But what revives us, what maintains our soul Within the prison of our wither’d breast, But our Gismunda and her cheerful sight? O daughter, daughter! what desert of mine, Wherein have I been so unkind to thee,
Thou shouldst desire to make my naked house Yet once again stand desolate by thee?
O, let such fancies vanish with their thoughts: Tell her I am her father, whose estate,
Wealth, honour, life, and all that we possess, Wholly relies upon her presence here.
Tell her, I must account her all my joy, Work as she will: but yet she were unjust To haste his death, that liveth by her sight.

LUCRECE. Her gentle heart abhors such ruthless thoughts.

TANCRED. Then let her not give place to these desires.

LUCRECE. She craves the right that nature challengeth.

TANCRED. Tell her, the king commandeth otherwise.

LUCRECE. The king’s commandment always should be just.

TANCRED. Whate’er it be, the king’s command is just.

LUCRECE. Just to command: but justly must he charge.

TANCRED. He chargeth justly that commands as king.

LUCRECE. The king’s command concerns the body best.

TANCRED. The king commands obedience of the mind.

LUCRECE. That is exempted by the law of kind.

TANCRED. That law of kind[56] to children doth belong.

LUCRECE. In due obedience to their open wrong?

TANCRED. I then, as king and father, will command.

LUCRECE. No more than may with right of reason stand.

TANCRED. Thou knowest our mind, resolve[57] her, depart– Return the chase, we have been chas’d enough.

[TANCRED _returneth into his palace, and leaveth the hunt_.

LUCRECE. He cannot hear, anger hath stopp’d his ears, And over-love his judgment hath decay’d
Ah, my poor niece! I shrewdly fear thy cause, Thy just complaint, shall never be reliev’d.


GISMUNDA _cometh alone out of her chamber_.

GISMUNDA. By this I hope my aunt hath mov’d the king, And knows his mind, and makes return to me To end at once all this perplexity.
Lo, where she stands. O, how my trembling heart In doubtful thoughts panteth within my breast. For in her message doth rely my smart,
Or the sweet quiet of my troubled mind.

LUCRECE. Niece, on the point you lately willed me To treat of with the king on your behalf, I brake even now with him so far, till he In sudden rage of grief, ere I scarce had My tale out-told, pray’d me to stint my suit, As that from which his mind abhorred most. And well I see his fancy to refute,
Is but displeasure gain’d and labour lost. So firmly fixed stands his kingly will
That, till his body shall be laid in grave, He will not part from the desired sight
Of your presence, which silder he should have, If he had once allied you again
In marriage to any prince or peer– This is his final resolution.

GISMUNDA. A resolution that resolves my blood Into the icy drops of Lethe’s flood.

LUCRECE. Therefore my counsel is, you shall not stir, Nor farther wade in such a case as this: But since his will is grounded on your love, And that it lies in you to save or spill His old forewasted age, you ought t’eschew The thing that grieves so much his crazed heart, And in the state you stand content yourself: And let this thought appease your troubled mind, That in your hands relies your father’s death Or blissful life; and since without your sight He cannot live, nor can his thoughts endure Your hope of marriage, you must then relent, And overrule these fond affections;
Lest it be said you wrought your father’s end.

GISMUNDA. Dear aunt, I have with patient ears endur’d The hearing of my father’s hard behest;
And since I see that neither I myself, Nor your request, can so prevail with him, Nor any sage advice persuade his mind
To grant me my desire, in willing wise I must submit me unto his command,
And frame my heart to serve his majesty. And (as I may) to drive away the thoughts That diversely distract my passions,
Which as I can, I’ll labour to subdue, But sore I fear I shall but toil in vain, Wherein, good aunt, I must desire your pain.

LUCRECE. What lies in me by comfort or advice, I shall discharge with all humility.

[GISMUNDA _and_ LUCRECE _depart into_ GISMUNDA’S _chamber_.

CHORUS 1. Who marks our former times and present years, What we are now, and looks what we have been, He cannot but lament with bitter tears
The great decay and change of all women. For as the world wore on, and waxed old, So virtue quail’d,[58] and vice began to grow. So that that age, that whilome was of gold, Is worse than brass, more vile than iron now. The times were such (that if we aught believe Of elder days), women examples were
Of rare virtues: Lucrece disdain’d to live Longer than chaste; and boldly without fear Took sharp revenge on her enforced heart With her own hands: for that it not withstood The wanton will, but yielded to the force Of proud Tarquin, who bought her fame with blood.

CHORUS 2. Queen Artemisia thought an heap of stones (Although they were the wonder of that age) A worthless grave, wherein to rest the bones Of her dear lord, but with bold courage
She drank his heart, and made her lovely breast His tomb, and failed not of wifely faith, Of promis’d love and of her bound behest, Until she ended had her days by death.
Ulysses’ wife (such was her steadfastness) Abode his slow return whole twenty years: And spent her youthful days in pensiveness, Bathing her widow’s bed with brinish tears.[59]

CHORUS 3. The stout daughter of Cato, Brutus’ wife, Portia, When she had heard his death, did not desire Longer to live: and lacking use of knife (A most strange thing) ended her life by fire, And ate whot-burning coals. O worthy dame! O virtues worthy of eternal praise!
The flood of Lethe cannot wash out thy fame, To others’ great reproach, shame, and dispraise.

CHORUS 4. Rare are those virtues now in women’s mind! Where shall we seek such jewels passing strange? Scarce can you now among a thousand find One woman stedfast: all delight in change. Mark but this princess, that lamented here Of late so sore her noble husband’s death, And thought to live alone without a pheer; Behold how soon she changed hath that breath! I think those ladies that have lived ‘tofore, A mirror and a glass to womenkind;
By those their virtues they did set such store, That unto us they none bequeath’d behind; Else in so many years we might have seen As virtuous as ever they have been.

CHORUS 1. Yet let not us maidens condemn our kind, Because our virtues are not all so rare: For we may freshly yet record in mind,
There lives a virgin,[60] one without compare, Who of all graces hath her heavenly share; In whose renown, and for whose happy days, Let us record this paean of her praise.




CUPID. So now they feel what lordly Love can do, That proudly practise to deface his name; In vain they wrastle with so fierce a foe; Of little sparks arise a blazing flame. “By small occasions love can kindle heat, And waste the oaken breast to cinder dust.” Gismund I have enticed to forget
Her widow’s weeds, and burn in raging lust: ‘Twas I enforc’d her father to deny
Her second marriage to any peer;
‘Twas I allur’d her once again to try The sour sweets that lovers buy too dear. The County Palurin, a man right wise,
A man of exquisite perfections,
I have like wounded with her piercing eyes, And burnt her heart with his reflections. These two shall joy in tasting of my sweet, To make them prove more feelingly the grief That bitter brings: for when their joys shall fleet, Their dole shall be increas’d without relief. Thus Love shall make worldlings to know his might; Thus Love shall force great princes to obey; Thus Love shall daunt each proud, rebelling spirit; Thus Love shall wreak his wrath on their decay. Their ghosts shall give black hell to understand, How great and wonderful a god is Love:
And this shall learn the ladies of this land With patient minds his mighty power to prove. From whence I did descend, now will I mount To Jove and all the gods in their delights: In throne of triumph there will I recount, How I by sharp revenge on mortal wights
Have taught the earth, and learned hellish sprites To yield with fear their stubborn hearts to Love, Lest their disdain his plagues and vengeance prove.
[CUPID _remounteth into the heavens_.


LUCRECE _cometh out of_ GISMUNDA’S _chamber solitary_.

LUCRECE. Pity, that moveth every gentle heart To rue their griefs, that be distress’d in pain, Enforceth me to wail my niece’s smart,
Whose tender breast no long time may sustain The restless toil, that her unquiet mind Hath caus’d her feeble body to endure;
But why it is (alack!) I must not find, Nor know the man, by whom I might procure Her remedy, as I of duty ought,
As to the law of kinship doth belong. With careful heart the secret means I sought, Though small effect is of my travail sprung: Full often as I durst I have assay’d
With humble words the princess to require To name the man which she hath so denay’d,[62] That it abash’d me further to desire,
Or ask from whence those cloudy thoughts proceed, Whose stony force, that smoky sighs forth send, Is lively witness how that careful dread And hot desire within her do contend:
Yet she denies what she confess’d of yore, And then conjoin’d me to conceal the same; She loved once, she saith, but never more, Nor ever will her fancy thereto frame.
Though daily I observed in my breast What sharp conflicts disquiet her so sore, That heavy sleep cannot procure her rest, But fearful dreams present her evermore
Most hideous sights her quiet to molest; That starting oft therewith, she doth awake, To muse upon those fancies which torment Her thoughtful heart with horror, that doth make Her cold chill sweat break forth incontinent From her weak limbs. And while the quiet night Gives others rest, she, turning to and fro, Doth wish for day: but when the day brings light, She keeps her bed, there to record her woe. As soon as when she riseth, flowing tears Stream down her cheeks, immixed with deadly groans, Whereby her inward sorrow so appears,
That as salt tears the cruel cause bemoans. In case she be constrained to abide
In prease[63] of company, she scarcely may Her trembling voice restrain it be not spy’d, From careful plaints her sorrows to bewray. By which restraint the force doth so increase, When time and place give liberty to plain, That as small streams from running never cease, Till they return into the seas again;
So her laments, we fear, will not amend, Before they bring her princely life to end. To others’ talk when as she should attend, Her heaped cares her senses so oppress,
That what they speak, or whereto their words tend, She knows not, as her answers do express. Her chief delight is still to be alone,
Her pensive thoughts within themselves debate: But whereupon this restless life is grown, Since I know not, nor how the same t’abate; I can no more but wish it as I may,
That he which knows it, would the same allay, For which the Muses with my song shall pray.


_After the song, which was by report very sweetly repeated by the Chorus_, LUCRECE _departeth into_ GISMUNDA’S _chamber, and_ GUISCARD _cometh out of the palace with_ JULIO _and_ RENUCHIO, _gentlemen, to whom he turneth, and saith_:

GUISCARD. Leave me, my friends; this solitary walk Enticeth me to break your company.
Leave me, my friends, I can endure no talk. Let me entreat this common courtesy. [_The gentlemen depart_. What grievous pain they ‘dure, which neither may Forget their loves, ne yet enjoy their love, I know by proof, and daily make assay.
Though Love hath brought my lady’s heart to love, My faithful love with like love to requite; This doth not quench, but rather cause to flame The creeping fire which, spreading in my breast With raging heat, grants me no time of rest. If they bewail their cruel destiny,
Which spend their love, where they no love can find, Well may I plain, since fortune haleth[64] me To this torment of far more grievous kind; Wherein I feel as much extremity,
As may be felt in body or in mind.
For by that sight, which should recure my pain, My sorrows are redoubled all in vain.
Now I perceive that only I alone
Am her belov’d, her looks assure me so: The thought thereof provokes me to bemoan Her heavy plight that grieveth at my woe. This intercourse of our affections–
I her to serve, she thus to honour me– Bewrays the truth of our elections,
Delighting in this mutual sympathy. Thus love for love entreat’s the queen of love, That with her help Love’s solace we may prove. I see my mistress seeks as well as I
To stay the strife of her perplexed mind: Full fain she would our secret company,
If she the wished way thereof might find. Heavens, have ye seen, or hath the age of man Recorded such a miracle as this–
In equal love two noble hearts to frame, That never spake one with another’s bliss? I am assured that she doth assent
To my relief, that I should reap the same, If she could frame the means of my content, Keeping herself from danger of defame.
In happy hour right now I did receive This cane from her; which gift though it be small, Receiving it, what joys I did conceive
Within my fainting spirits therewithal! Who knoweth love aright, may well conceive By like adventures that to them befall.
“For needs the lover must esteem that well, Which comes from her, with whom his heart doth dwell.” Assuredly it is not without cause
She gave me this; something she meant thereby: For therewithal I might perceive her pause Awhile, as though some weighty thing did lie Upon her heart, which she concealed, because The standers-by should not our loves descry: This clift bewrays that it hath been disclos’d; Perhaps herein she hath something inclos’d: [_He breaks it_. O thou great thunderer! who would not serve, Where wit with beauty chosen have their place? Who could devise more wisely to conserve Things from suspect? O Venus, for this grace That deigns me, all unworthy, to deserve So rare a love, in heaven I should thee place. This sweet letter some joyful news contains, 1 hope it brings recure to both our pains. [_He reads it_.

_Mine own, as I am yours, whose heart, I know, No less than mine, for lingering help of woe Doth long too long: love, tendering your case And mine, hath taught recure of both our pain. My chamber-floor doth hide a cave, where was An old vault’s mouth: the other in the plain Doth rise southward, a furlong from the wall. Descend you there. This shall suffice. And so I yield myself, mine honour, life, and all, To you. Use you the same, as there may grow Your bliss and mine, mine earl, and that the same Free may abide from danger of defame.
Farewell; and fare so well, as that your joy, Which only can, may comfort mine annoy.
Yours more than her own,_ GISMUND.

O blissful chance my sorrows to assuage! Wonder of nature, marvel of our age!
Comes this from Gismund? did she thus enfold This letter in the cane? may it be so?
It were too sweet a joy; I am deceiv’d. Why shall I doubt, did she not give it me? Therewith she smil’d, she joy’d, she raught[65] the cane, And with her own sweet hand she gave it me: And as we danc’d, she dallied with the cane, And sweetly whisper’d I should be her king, And with this cane, the sceptre of our rule, Command the sweets of her surprised heart. Therewith she raught from her alluring locks This golden tress, the favour of her grace, And with her own sweet hand she gave it me: O peerless queen, my joy, my heart’s decree! And, thou fair letter, how shall I welcome thee? Both hand and pen, wherewith thou written wert, Blest may ye be, such solace that impart! And blessed be this cane, and he that taught Thee to descry the hidden entry thus:
Not only through a dark and dreadful vault, But fire and sword, and through whatever be, Mistress of my desires, I come to thee.

[GISCARD _departeth in haste unto the palace_.

CHORUS 1. Right mighty is thy power, O cruel Love, High Jove himself cannot resist thy bow; Thou sent’st him down, e’en from the heavens above, In sundry shapes here to the earth below: Then how shall mortal men escape thy dart, The fervent flame and burning of thy fire; Since that thy might is such, and since thou art Both of the seas and land the lord and sire?

CHORUS 2. But why doth she that sprang from Jove’s high head, And Phoebus’s sister sheen, despise thy power, Ne fear thy bow? Why have they always led A maiden life, and kept untouch’d the flower? Why doth Aegistus love, and to obtain
His wicked will, conspire his uncle’s death? Or why doth Phaedra burn, from whom is slain Theseus’ chaste son, or Helen, false of faith? “For love assaults not but the idle heart, And such as live in pleasure and delight; He turneth oft their gladsome joys to smart, Their play to plaint, their sport into despite.”

CHORUS 3. ‘Tis true, that Dian chaseth with her bow The flying hart, the goat, and foamy boar: By hill, by dale: in heat, in frost, in snow: She recketh not, but laboureth evermore; Love seeks not her, ne knoweth where[66] to find. Whilst Paris kept his herd on Ida down,
Cupid ne’er sought him out, for he is blind; But when he left the field to live in town, He fell into his snare, and brought that brand From Greece to Troy, which after set on fire Strong Ilium, and all the Phryges land:
“Such are the fruits of love, such is his hire.”[67]

CHORUS 4. Who yieldeth unto him his captive heart, Ere he resist, and holds his open breast Withouten war to take his bloody dart,
Let him not think to shake off, when him list, His heavy yoke. “Resist his first assault; Weak is his bow, his quenched brand is cold; Cupid is but a child, and cannot daunt
The mind that bears him, or his virtues bold.” But he gives poison so to drink in gold, And hideth under pleasant baits his hook; But ye beware, it will be hard to hold
Your greedy minds, but if ye wisely look What sly snake lurks under those flowers gay. But ye mistrust some cloudy smokes, and fear A stormy shower after so fair a day:
Ye may repent, and buy your pleasure dear; For seldom-times is Cupid wont to send
“Unto an idle love a joyful end.”



_Before this act_ MEGAERA _riseth out of hell, with the other furies_, ALECTO _and_ TYSIPHONE _dancing an hellish round; which done, she saith_:

MEGAERA. Sisters, begone, bequeath the rest to me, That yet belongs unto this tragedy.
[_The two furies depart down_. Vengeance and death from forth the deepest hell I bring the cursed house, where Gismund dwells. Sent from the grisly god, that holds his reign In Tartar’s ugly realm, where Pelops’ sire (Who with his own son’s flesh, whom he had slain, Did feast the gods) with famine hath his hire; To gape and catch at flying fruits in vain, And yielding waters to his gasping throat; Where stormy Aeol’s son with endless pain Rolls up the rock; where Tytius hath his lot To feed the gripe that gnaws his growing heart;[68] Where proud Ixion, whirled on the wheel, Pursues himself; where due deserved smart The damned ghosts in burning flame do feel– From thence I mount: thither the winged god, Nephew to Atlas that upholds the sky,
Of late down from the earth with golden rod To Stygian ferry Salerne souls did guide, And made report how Love, that lordly boy, Highly disdaining his renown’s decay,
Slipp’d down from heaven, and filled with fickle joy Gismunda’s heart, and made her throw away Chasteness of life to her immortal shame: Minding to show, by proof of her foul end, Some terror unto those that scorn his name. Black Pluto (that once found Cupid his friend In winning Ceres’ daughter, queen of hells;) And Parthie, moved by the grieved ghost
Of her late husband, that in Tartar dwells, Who pray’d due pains for her, that thus hath lost All care of him and of her chastity.
The senate then of hell, by grave advice Of Minos, Aeac, and of Radamant,
Commands me draw this hateful air, and rise Above the earth, with dole and death to daunt The pride and present joys, wherewith these two Feed their disdained hearts; which now to do, Behold I come with instruments of death. This stinging snake, which is of hate and wrath, I’ll fix upon her father’s heart full fast, And into hers this other will I cast,
Whose rankling venom shall infect them so With envious wrath and with recureless woe, Each shall be other’s plague and overthrow. “Furies must aid, when men surcease to know Their gods: and hell sends forth revenging pain On those whom shame from sin cannot restrain.”


MEGAERA _entereth into the palace, and meeteth with_ TANCRED _coming out of_ GISMUNDA’S _chamber with_ RENUCHIO _and_ JULIO, _upon whom she throweth her snake_.[69]

TANCRED. Gods! are ye guides of justice and revenge? O thou great Thunderer! dost thou behold With watchful eyes the subtle ‘scapes of men Harden’d in shame, sear’d up in the desire Of their own lusts? why then dost thou withhold The blast of thy revenge? why dost thou grant Such liberty, such lewd occasion
To execute their shameless villainy? Thou, thou art cause of all this open wrong, Thou, that forbear’st thy vengeance all too long. If thou spare them, rain then upon my head The fulness of thy plagues with deadly ire, To reave this ruthful soul, who all too sore Burns in the wrathful torments of revenge. O earth, the mother of each living wight, Open thy womb, devour this wither’d corpse. And thou, O hell (if other hell there be Than that I feel), receive my soul to thee. O daughter, daughter (wherefore do I grace Her with so kind a name?) O thou fond girl, The shameful ruin of thy father’s house, Is this my hoped joy? Is this the stay
Must glad my grief-ful years that waste away? For life, which first thou didst receive from me, Ten thousand deaths shall I receive by thee. For all the joys I did repose in thee.
Which I, fond man, did settle in thy sight, Is this thy recompense–that I must see
The thing so shameful and so villanous: That would to God this earth had swallowed This worthless burthen into lowest deeps, Rather than I, accursed, had beheld
The sight that hourly massacres my life? O whither, whither fly’st thou forth, my soul? O whither wand’reth my tormented mind?
Those pains, that make the miser[70] glad of death, Have seiz’d on me, and yet I cannot have What villains may command–a speedy death. Whom shall I first accuse for this outrage? That God that guideth all, and guideth so This damned deed? Shall I blaspheme their names– The gods, the authors of this spectacle? Or shall I justly curse that cruel star, Whose influence assign’d this destiny?
But may that traitor, shall that vile wretch live, By whom I have receiv’d this injury?
Or shall I longer make account of her, That fondly prostitutes her widow’s shame?– I have bethought me what I shall request. [_He kneels_. On bended knees, with hands heav’d up to heaven, This, sacred senate of the gods, I crave: First on the traitor your consuming ire; Next on the cursed strumpet dire revenge; Last on myself, the wretched father, shame. [_He riseth_. O! could I stamp, and therewithal command Armies of furies to assist my heart,
To prosecute due vengeance on their souls! Hear me, my friends; but as ye love your lives, Reply not to me; hearken and stand amaz’d. When I, as is my wont, O fond delight!
Went forth to seek my daughter, now my death– Within her chamber, as I thought, she was; But there I found her not–I deemed then For her disport she and her maidens were Down to the garden walk’d to comfort them; And thinking thus, it came into my mind
There all alone to tarry her return: And thereupon I, weary, threw myself
Upon her widow’s bed, for so I thought, And in the curtain wrapp’d my cursed head. Thus as I lay, anon I might behold
Out of the vault, up through her chamber floor, My daughter Gismund bringing hand in hand The County Palurin. Alas! it is too true; At her bed’s feet this traitor made me see Her shame, his treason, and my deadly grief– Her princely body yielded to this thief; The high despite whereof so wounded me
That, trance-like, as a senseless stone I lay; For neither wit nor tongue could use the mean T’express the passions of my pained heart. Forceless, perforce, I sank down to this pain, As greedy famine doth constrain the hawk Piecemeal to rend and tear the yielding prey: So far’d it with me in that heavy stound. But now what shall I do? how may I seek
To ease my mind, that burneth with desire Of dire revenge? For never shall my thoughts Grant ease unto my heart, till I have found A mean of vengeance to requite his pains, That first convey’d this sight unto my soul.– Renuchio!

RENUCHIO. What is your highness’ will?

TANCRED. Call my daughter: my heart boils, till I see Her in my sight, to whom I may discharge All the unrest that thus distempereth me. [_Exit_ RENUCHIO. Should I destroy them both? O gods, ye know How near and dear our daughter is to us. And yet my rage persuades me to imbrue
My thirsty hands in both their trembling bloods, Therewith to cool my wrathful fury’s heat. But, Nature, why repin’st thou at this thought? Why should I think upon a father’s debt
To her that thought not on a daughter’s due? But still, methinks, if I should see her die, And therewithal reflex her dying eyes
Upon mine eyes, that sight would slit my heart: Not much unlike the cockatrice, that slays The object of his foul infections,
O, what a conflict doth my mind endure! Now fight my thoughts against my passions: Now strive my passions against my thoughts: Now sweats my heart, now chill cold falls it dead. Help, heavens, and succour, ye celestial powers! Infuse your secret virtue on my soul.
Shall nature win? shall justice not prevail? Shall I, a king, be proved partial?
“How shall our subjects then insult on us, When our examples, that are light to them, Shall be eclipsed with our proper deeds?” And may the arms be rented from the tree, The members from the body be dissever’d? And can the heart endure no violence?
My daughter is to me mine only heart, My life, my comfort, my continuance;
Shall I be then not only so unkind
To pass all nature’s strength, and cut her off? But therewithal so cruel to myself,
Against all law of kind to shred in twain The golden thread that doth us both maintain? But were it that my rage should so command, And I consent to her untimely death,
Were this an end to all our miseries? No, no, her ghost will still pursue our life, And from the deep her bloodless, ghastful spirit Will, as my shadow in the shining day,
Follow my footsteps, till she take revenge. I will do thus: therefore the traitor dies, Because he scorned the favour of his king, And our displeasure wilfully incurr’d:
His slaughter, with her sorrow for his blood, Shall to our rage supply delightful food. Julio–

JULIO. What is’t your majesty commands?

TANCRED. Julio, if we have not our hope in vain, Nor all the trust we do repose in thee,
Now must we try, if thou approve the same. Herein thy force and wisdom we must see, For our command requires them both of thee.

JULIO. How by your grace’s bounty I am bound Beyond the common bond, wherein each man Stands bound unto his king: how I have found Honour and wealth by favour in your sight, I do acknowledge with most thankful mind. My truth (with other means to serve your grace, Whatever you in honour shall assign)
Hath sworn her power true vassal to your hest: For proof let but your majesty command,
I shall unlock the prison of my soul; Although unkindly horror would gainsay,
Yet in obedience to your highness’ will, By whom I hold the tenor of this life,
This hand and blade will be the instruments To make pale death to grapple with my heart.

TANCRED. Well, to be short, for I am griev’d too long By wrath without revenge, I think you know Whilom there was a palace builded strong For war within our court, where dreadless peace Hath planted now a weaker entrance.
But of that palace yet one vault remains Within our court, the secret way whereof Is to our daughter Gismund’s chamber laid: There is also another mouth hereof
Without our wall, which now is overgrown; But you may find it out, for yet it lies Directly south a furlong from our palace! It may be known–hard-by an ancient stoop,[71] Where grew an oak in elder days decay’d; There will we that you watch; there shall you see A villain traitor mount out of a vault.
Bring him to us; it is th’Earl Palurin. What is his fault, neither shall you inquire, Nor list we to disclose. These cursed eyes Have seen the flame, this heart hath felt the fire That cannot else be quench’d but with his blood. This must be done: this will we have you do.

JULIO. Both this, and else whatever you think good.

[JULIO _departeth into the palace_.


RENUCHIO _bringeth_ GISMUND _out of her chamber, to whom_ TANCRED _saith_.

TANCRED. Renuchio, depart: leave us alone. [_Exit_ RENUCHIO. Gismund, if either I could cast aside
All care of thee! or if thou wouldst have had Some care of me, it would not now betide, That either thorough thy fault my joy should fade, Or by thy folly I should bear the pain
Thou hast procur’d: but now ’tis neither I Can shun the grief, whom thou hast more than slain: Nor may’st thou heal or ease the grievous wound Which thou hast given me. That unstained life, Wherein I joy’d, and thought it thy delight, Why hast thou lost it? Can it be restor’d? Where is thy widowhood, there is thy shame. Gismund, it is no man’s nor men’s report, That have by likely proofs inform’d me thus. Thou know’st how hardly I could be induc’d To vex myself, and be displeas’d with thee, With flying tales of flattering sycophants. No, no, there was in us such settled trust Of thy chaste life and uncorrupted mind
That if these eyes had not beheld thy shame. In vain ten thousand censures could have told That thou didst once unprincelike make agree With that vile traitor County Palurin:
Without regard had to thyself or me, Unshamefastly to stain thy state and mine. But I, unhappiest, have beheld the same, And, seeing it, yet feel th’exceeding grief That slays my heart with horror of that thought: Which grief commands me to obey my rage, And justice urgeth some extreme revenge, To wreak the wrongs that have been offer’d us. But nature, that hath lock’d within thy breast Two lives, the same inclineth me to spare Thy blood, and so to keep mine own unspilt. This is that overweening love I bear
To thee undutiful, and undeserved.
But for that traitor, he shall surely die; For neither right nor nature doth entreat For him, that wilfully, without all awe
Of gods or men, or of our deadly hate, Incurr’d the just displeasure of his king; And to be brief, I am content to know
What for thyself thou canst object to us, Why thou should’st not together with him die. So to assuage the griefs that overthrow
Thy father’s heart.

GISMUND. O king and father, humbly give her leave To plead for grace, that stands in your disgrace. Not that she recks this life,[72] for I confess I have deserv’d, when so it pleaseth you, To die the death, mine honour and my name, As you suppose, distained with reproach: And well contented shall I meet the stroke That must dissever this detested head
From these lewd limbs. But this I wish were known, That now I live not for myself alone.
For when I saw that neither my request, Nor the entreaty of my careful aunt,
Could win your highness’ pleasure to our will; “Then love, heat of the heart, life of the soul, Fed by desire, increasing by restraint,” Would not endure controlment any more,
But violently enforc’d my feeble heart (For who am I, alas! still to resist
Such endless conflicts?) to relent and yield: Therewith I chose him for my lord and pheer, Guiscard mine Earl, that holds my love full dear. Then if it be so settled in your mind,
He shall not live, because he dar’d to love Your daughter: thus I give your grace to know. Within his heart there is inclos’d my life. Therefore, O father, if that name may be Sweet to your ears, and that we may prevail By name of father, that you favour us:
But otherwise, if now we cannot find That which our falsed hope did promise us; Why then proceed, and rid our trembling hearts Of these suspicions; since neither in this case His good deserts in service to your grace, Which always have been just, nor my desires, May mitigate the cruel rage of grief
That strains your heart, but that mine Earl must die; Then all in vain you ask, what I can say, Why I should live. Sufficeth for my part To say I will not live, and so resolve.

TANCRED. Dar’st thou so desperate decree thy death?

GISMUND. A dreadless heart delights in such decrees.

TANCRED. Thy kind abhorreth such unkindly thoughts.

GISMUND. Unkindly thoughts they are to them that live In kindly love.

TANCRED. As I do unto thee.

GISMUND. To take his life who is my love from me?

TANCRED. Have I then lost thy love?

GISMUND. If he shall lose His life, that is my love.

Thy love? Begone.
Return into thy chamber.

I will go.

[GISMUND _departeth to her chamber_.


JULIO _with his guard bringeth in the_ COUNTY PALURIN _prisoner_.

JULIO. If it please your highness, hither have we brought This captive Earl, as you commanded us.
Whom, as we were foretold, even there we found. Where by your majesty we were enjoin’d
To watch for him. What more your highness wills. This heart and hand shall execute your best.

TANCRED. Julio, we thank your pains. Ah, Palurin! Have we deserved in such traitorous sort Thou shouldst abuse our kingly courtesies, Which we too long in favour have bestow’d Upon thy false, dissembling heart with us? What grief thou therewithal hast thrown on us, What shame upon our house, what dire distress Our soul endures, cannot be uttered.
And durst thou, villain, dare to undermine Our daughter’s chamber? durst thy shameless face Be bold to kiss her? th’rest we will conceal. Sufficeth that thou know’st I too well know All thy proceedings in thy private shames. Herein what hast thou won? thine own content, With the displeasure of thy lord and king; The thought whereof if thou hadst had in mind The least remorse of love and loyalty
Might have restrain’d thee from so foul an act. But, Palurin, what may I deem of thee,
Whom neither fear of gods, nor love of him, Whose princely favour hath been thine uprear, Could quench the fuel of thy lewd desires? Wherefore content thee, that we are resolv’d (And therefore laid to snare thee with this bait) That thy just death, with thine effused blood, Shall cool the heat and choler of our mood.

GUISCARD. My lord the king, neither do I mislike Your sentence, nor do your smoking sighs, Reach’d from the entrails of your boiling heart, Disturb the quiet of my calmed thoughts: For this I feel, and by experience prove, Such is the force and endless might of love, As never shall the dread of carrion death, That hath envy’d our joys, invade my breast. For if it may be found a fault in me,
That evermore hath lov’d your majesty,