Ralph Knevet Poems >>
Rhodon And Iris. Act V

SCEN. 1.
Acanthus, Anthophotus.
An.    Thou speak'st of things beyond beleefe, Acanthus.

Ac.    Too true it is, I shrewdly feare,
   For every circumstance makes it appeare
   That Rhodon in the mirtle grove, last night,
   Had private conference with Iris,
   From whom (it seemes) he tooke the venom'd potion,
   For now he doth, in his extremest fits,
   Exclaime on the untruth of woman kind,
   Bewailing the unlucky houre that did present
   Your sister Iris to his sight.
Enter Pan.
Pa.    Anthophotus and Acanthus, y'are well met.

Ac.    Nay, never worse, thou wouldst say, gentle Panace,
   If thou knew'st all.

Pa.    What dire disastre hath befalne you, honor'd friends?
   How fares the noble Shepheard Rhodon?

Ac.    Rhodon's mishap's the cause of all our sorrow:
   Rhodon's betray'd, poyson'd, and lies at point of death.

Pa.    Curs'd be the hand that did attempt
   A villany so impious and foule.
   But if you love your selves, and Rhodons health,
   Conduct me to him immediately"
   I have an antidote that shall cure him,
   If any breath be left within his bulke.  

An.    Oh happy comfort! come sweet Panace,
   To our sicke friend, we'll thy Conductors be.

SCEN. 2.
Martagon, Cynosbatus.
Cy.    A happy morne be this to thee (friend Mortagon),

Ma.    Nay, 'tis the happiest morn that e'r we two beheld,
   Rhodon is dead;
   And is by this time, serv'd up in a wooden dish,
   To feast the wormes upon an earthen table;
   The purple bosom'd rose whose glorious pride
   Disdain'd the beauties of all other flowers, is cropt,
   Yea the ambitious bramble is quite wither'd,
   And now is laid in the contemned dust:
   Ponerias wit hath done this noble act.

Cy.    This is good newes, I must confesse, yet could I wish
   That noble Rhodon had not so ignobly dy'd.

Ma.    Thou art too ceremonious for a politician,
   And too superstitious: our duties 'tis to judge
   Of the effect as it concernes the state of our affaires,
   And not to looke backe on the meanes by which 'twas wrought.
   He is unfit to rule a Civill state
   That knowes not how in some respects to favour
   Murther, or treason, or any other sinne
   Which that subtill animall, call'd man,
   Doth openly protest against, for this end,
   That he may more freely act it in private,  
   As his occasions shall invite him to't.
   But 'tis no disputing now; the deed is done,
   We are in a faire way to victory,
   Conquest, triumph, and renowne;
   We have a faire b[e]ginning, and what's well begun,
   (If that the proverbe speakes truth) is halfe done.

SCEN. 3.
Poneria, Agnostus.
Po.    Now Agnostus, since by the death of Rhodon
   We have endear'd our selves to Martagon,
   'Tis meet we provide for a backe winter,
   That we purchase some eminence of place,
   To make us glorious in the worlds ill-sighted eye,
   That being great we may the greater mischiefe doe:
   And since a war is newly set abroach,
   I will a suter be to Generall Martagon,
   To place thee in some military office
   Of high regard and speciall consequence,
   Where by thy ignorant conduct and base carriage,
   Thou mai'st a thousand heroicke soules send packing
   Unto the Stygian shore.

Ag.    Nay good Poneria, I finde my selfe unfitting for the warres.

Po.    What neither hart nor braines; out inglorious lozel,
   Thou most unweldy burthen of the earth:
   I could finde in my heart to kicke thy soule out  
   Of thy carkasse: art all compos'd of earth and water?
   Hast not a sparke of ayre or fire in that bulke?

Ag.    Nay sweet Poneria, I am thy slave.

Po.    I tell thee I will procure thee a Captaines place.

Ag.    But I am altogether ignorant in the words of command,
   And know not one posture neither of Musket or Pike.

Po.    Hast wit enough to swallow the dead payes,
   And to patch up thy Company in a Mustring day:
   Hast valour enough to weare a Buffe-jerken
   With three gold laces.
   Hast strength enough to support a Dutch felt
   With a flaunting Feather?
   Can thy side endure to be wedded to a Rapire
   Hatch'd with gold, with hilt and hangers of the new fashion?
   Canst drinke, drab, and dice:
   Canst damne thy selfe into debt among
   Beleeving Tradesmen;
   Hast manners enough to give thy Lieuetenant,
   Antient or Sergeant leave to goe before thee
   Upon any peece of danger?
   Hast wit enough, in thy anger, not to draw a sword?
   These are the chiefe properties that pertaine
   To our moderne Captaines; and if thou
   Could'st but be taught these military rudiments,
   I doubt not but thou mightst prove a very
   Excellent new souldier.

Ag.    If this be all, I hope, in time, to be as famous
   As e're was Caesar, or great Pompey.

Po.    Agnostus, come along, thy selfe prepare
   To be a servant to the god of warre.

SCEN. 4.
Rhodon, Acanthus, Anthophotus, Panace.
Rho.    This strange imposture hath amaz'd me so,
   That I am almost to a statue strucke,
   Not knowing what to speake, or what to thinke.

Pa.    Assure your selfe it was a strange Collusion:
   For this, on my fidelity, beleeve,
   That 'twas not Iris whom you met last night.

Rho.    Then 'twas some hellish hag, that, in her shape,
   Gave me the venemous confection
   Which had undone me quite, if thou in time
   Had'st not apply'd thy precious antidote.
   But yet, me thinkes, that heaven should not permit
   The subt'lest hellish power to counterfeit
   The feature of so beautifull an angell.

Ac.    Doubtlesse it was the false Ponerias plot,
   Whom Martagon hath lately entertaind,
   With her companion, old Agnostus;
   For, know the malice of your foes is such,
   That if by open force they can't destroy you,
   By hidden plots they'll seeke your overthrow.

Rho.    Then I must pardon crave of gentle Iris,
   To whom I did ascribe this treacherous fact.

An.    If she were guilty of so blacke a deed
   These hands should chaine her to a fatall stake,
   And sacrifice her Corps in hideous flames,  
   Unto the awfull goddesse of revenge;
   (Which done) I'de throw her hatefull ashes up
   Against the furious gusts of boistrous winds,
   That being so disperst, there might remaine
   Not the least relique of so vile a wretch.

Rho.    My Iris is as cleare as innocency it selfe;
   And since my treacherous foes have gone about,
   By wicked flights, to wrong so sweet a saint,
   And bring me also to a shamefull end,
   I here enjoyne ye (honourable friends)
   Upon my sword to take a solemne oath,
  He drawes his sword, they lay their hands upon it, and kisse it.
   Ne're to lay downe your just and lawfull armes,
   Untill we be avenged to the full,
   For such unkindly and disloyall wrongs:
   True honour, that with dearest bloud is sought,
   Is like a precious gemme that's cheaply bought.

An.    Ill is a life bestow'd upon that wight
   That dares not loose it to maintaine the right:
   Him I account a base inglorious sot,
   That dares not honor pull from dangers throat.

SCEN. 5.
Martagon, Cynosbatus, Agnostus, Poneria.
Ma.    Lady Poneria, upon your commendation,
   We bestow a regiment upon this Gentleman.  

Po.    Thanks (worthy Martagon) beleeve it Sir,
   Those good respects which I to your affaires owe,
   Urg'd me t'importune you for his employment,
   Because I know him to be a tri'd souldier,
   Of great experience, worth and merit:
   How say you, Colonell Agnostus,
   I hope your actions shall make good my words hereafter.

Ag.    I am at your service, Madam Poneria:
   I am a man of action, I confesse.

Po.    Trust me sir, although he wants verball expression,
   He is a Gentleman of singular abilities.

Ma.    And I thinke no lesse, for th' are not good words
   That makes deserving souldiers, but good swords.

Cy.    He lookes as if he had bin bred, borne,
   And brought up in a Leager all his life time.
Enter Gladiolus.
Glad.    Noble Generall; the beaut'ous Eglantine
   Wisheth all happinesse to your designes,
   Desiring that this paper may kisse your hands for her.
He opens the Letter.
Ma.    Tis about a place, Ile pawne my life on't:
   Heare me Mounsier, I understand the businesse:
   Her request is granted.
   She when she please, may at my hands command
   A greater curtesie then this.

Gla.    Thanks honor'd Sir.

Ma.    On you I bestow a Captaines place.

Gla.    Now I perceive that the readi'st way to attaine
   Preferment in the Court of Mars,
   Is to creep into the favour of Venus.  

Ma.    I understand you are a man of reall worth,
   And very sufficient for such an office.
Enter Acanthus.
Ac.    Imperious Martagon, that art no lesse
   Knowne for thy power, then thy wickednesse:
   In Rhodons name I doe defie thee here,
   Who chalengeth the Combat at thy hands,
   To be aveng'd on thee for thy foule wrongs:
   But if thou dar'st not in a single fight,
   Give satisfaction to the noble Shepheard;
   Then thee and all thy troopes he doth invite,
   To a bloudy breakfast to morrow morne.
   Attended by a vigorous army he
   Stands in the confines of his owne dominions
   Swearing that he will prove it in the field,
   That thou a tyrant and a traitour art.

Ma.    Bold friend, I prethe speake ingeniously,
   Doth this defiance come from Rhodons mouth.

Ac.    Upon my life, & by the honor of a souldier it doth.

Ma.    Then tell him, I'me resolv'd to be a guest,
   More bold then welcome at his bloudy feast.

Ac.    I will great Martagon; and misdoubt not,
   But that your cheere shall be exceeding hot.
Exit Aca.
Ma.    Dissembling witch: how hast thou beguil'd us?

Po.    What adverse power hath crost our plot?

Ma.    Did'st not thou with thy deep protestatio[n]s force us
   To give strong credence to thy false relations,
   When thou affirm'dst that thou hadst poyson'd Rhodon.

Po.    The opposition of the cursed fates
   Hath brought us to deserv'd confusion.  

Ma.    Avant you hagge, abhominable sorceresse,
   Here I doe thee on paine of death enjoyne,
   With that Impostor thy companion,
   Immediately to depart out of my Dominions.

Po.    Now I accursed wretch have seene too well,
   That heaven will not be overrul'd by hell.

Ag.    How sodainly by one contrarious gust,
   Is all our honour tumbled into dust.

Ma.    Since that our braving foe is now at hand,
   (Cynosbatus) we must not thinke of a retreat.

Cy.    What your discretion holds fit to be done,
   I condiscend to noble Martagon.

Ma.    Then let us meet our proud foe face to face,
   And with our swords and speares that right maintaine,
   Which lately we by sword and speare did gaine.

SCEN. 6.
Rhodon, Anthophotus, Acanthus.
Rho.    Deserving friends and fellow souldiers,
   Now arme your selves with Romane fortitude:
   First call to minde the justice of our cause,
   And then let each remember that true honour,
   Which must be valu'd above health and life:
   Consider also that we must contend,
   Against a tyrant and a meere usurper;  
   A person guilty of no meane offences,
   Which must be justly punish'd by our swords.
Enter Poneria, Agnostus.
Po.    Thrice noble Rhodon, in whose noble brest
   True pitty dwels, vouchsafe a pardon
   To us distressed Caitives.

Rho.    I neither know what your offences are, nor yet your selves.

Po.    I am the unfortunate Poneria,
   That was suborn'd by unjust Martagon
   To worke thy utter ruine:
   I did conduct the love-sicke Eglantine
   Unto thy presence instead of Iris:
   I caus'd her to give thee a poysonous drinke,
   Under the pretence that it was a love-potion.
   I have deserv'd to dye, and crave life at your hands.

Rho.    And are you the grand incendiary
   That have so many mischiefes wrought in Thessaly?
   Now I remember I have seen your elvish countenance,
   Nor have I altogether forgot your reverent mate,
   Who with his personated gravity deludes the world,
   Being accounted a man of profound art.
   Acanthus, see them committed to safe custody,
   See you make them sure for starting.

Po.    Nay worthy sir.

Ac.    You must away, for no entreaties can prevaile.
Exeunt Po. Ag. Ac.
Rho.    The apprehension of these wretches doth presage
   Auspicious fortunes to our actions;
Drum beats a march within.    List, list, Anthophotus, our enemies are at hand,
   Their thundring drums warne us of their approach.  

[An.]    Wee'le bid them noble welcome then: this day will I
   Victorious be (I vow) or bravely dye.

Rho.    Thy honour'd resolution I commend,
   And take it for a signe of good successe.
Enter Acan.
Ac.    Arme, arme: the hostile forces are in sight,
   And thus come marching on in proud array:
   The Battaile's led by Martagon himselfe,
   Wherein are marshal'd neere five thousand Bill men,
   All clad in coats of red:
   A furious Amazon cald Tulipa,
   Brings on three thousand burley Swissers,
   Arai'd in gorgeous Coats of red and yellow;
   And these make up the vanne:
   To which are added for a forlorne hope,
   Two hundred melancholy Gentlemen,
   The fierce Cynosbatus brings up the Rere,
   Wherein about two thousand souldiers be
   Clad all in greene, and arm'd with pikes of steele.
   Narcissus with a thousand Daffadils,
   Clad in deepe yellow coats doth flanke
   The right side of the battaile.
   The left wing is by Hyacinthus led,
   Wherein a thousand Souldiers march,
   Arraid in purple coats.
Enter Martagon, Rhodon.
Ma.    What fury tempted thee unhappy Rhodon,
   In hostile manner thus to invade my confines.

Rho.    For Violettas sake I tooke up armes,
   Whom thou unjustly hast opprest.
Musicke sound.   

Ma.    What I have done my sword shall justifie.

Rho.    Whence comes this most harmonious melody.
Enter Flora, Iris, Eglantine, Panace.
Flo.    Put up these murdring blades on paine of my displeasure,
   Confine them to perpetuall prison in the scabbard,
   That they may nere come forth to manage civill broiles.

All.    We must obey, and will, Oh awfull goddesse.

Flo.    While in my flowry bowers I tooke repose,
   I heard the noyse of these tumultuous broiles,
   Which strooke me with a wonderfull amazement.
   Then hastily I left my bankes of pleasure,
   And hither came to end these mortall jarres;
   Therefore I charge you both on that allegance
   And respect which you doe owe to me,
   Quite to dismisse your armed bands.
   And you Martagon, who have faire Violetta wrong'd,
   To her shall make an ample restitution,
   Of what y'have tane from her;
   And entertaine a friendly league with Rhodon,
   Which you Cynosbatus must also condescend to:
   But as for you fond Madam Eglantine,
   Since you have broke the sacred lawes of love,
   And by unlawfull meanes sought to accomplish
   Your designes, and make the Shepheard Rhodon
   Enamor'd on you:
   You to a vestall Temple shall be confin'd,
   Where with ten yeeres pennance
   You shall expiate your folly.
   But where be those two intruders
   Poneria and Agnostus.
   These that have crept in among us, and with false flights
   Sought to ore-throw our state.  
   Poneria and Agnostus brought.    We banish them quite
   Out of Thessaly for ever.
   What I have decreed you must assent unto.

Ma.    We doe, because we must.

Flo.    Rhodon, I here bestow on thee this noble shepherdesse.

Rho.    Thanks for your precious gift, renowned Queen.

Flo.    And now since all things are reduc'd to joyfull peace,
   Let us betake our selves to sweet delights,
   And solemnize with mirth your nuptiall rites.