The Two Noble Kinsmen/Act 1/Scene 1

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The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare
Act 1/Scene 1



Actus Primus.

[Scaena 1.] (Athens. Before a temple.)

[Enter Hymen with a Torch burning: a Boy, in a white Robe before
 singing, and strewing Flowres: After Hymen, a Nimph, encompast
in
 her Tresses, bearing a wheaten Garland. Then Theseus betweene
 two other Nimphs with wheaten Chaplets on their heades. Then
 Hipolita the Bride, lead by Pirithous, and another holding a
 Garland over her head (her Tresses likewise hanging.) After
 her Emilia holding up her Traine. (Artesius and Attendants.)]

The Song, [Musike.]

Roses their sharpe spines being gon,
Not royall in their smels alone,
But in their hew.
Maiden Pinckes, of odour faint,
Dazies smel-lesse, yet most quaint
And sweet Time true.

Prim-rose first borne child of Ver,
Merry Spring times Herbinger,
With her bels dimme.
Oxlips, in their Cradles growing,
Mary-golds, on death beds blowing,
Larkes-heeles trymme.

All deere natures children sweete,
Ly fore Bride and Bridegroomes feete, [Strew Flowers.]
Blessing their sence.
Not an angle of the aire,
Bird melodious, or bird faire,
Is absent hence.

The Crow, the slaundrous Cuckoe, nor
The boding Raven, nor Chough hore
Nor chattring Pie,
May on our Bridehouse pearch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly.

[Enter 3. Queenes in Blacke, with vailes staind, with imperiall
 Crownes. The 1. Queene fals downe at the foote of Theseus; The
 2. fals downe at the foote of Hypolita. The 3. before Emilia.]

1. QUEEN.

For pitties sake and true gentilities,
Heare, and respect me.

2. QUEEN.

For your Mothers sake,
And as you wish your womb may thrive with faire ones,
Heare and respect me.

3. QUEEN

Now for the love of him whom Iove hath markd
The honour of your Bed, and for the sake
Of cleere virginity, be Advocate
For us, and our distresses. This good deede
Shall raze you out o'th Booke of Trespasses
All you are set downe there.

THESEUS.

Sad Lady, rise.

HIPPOLITA.

Stand up.

EMILIA.

No knees to me.
What woman I may steed that is distrest,
Does bind me to her.

THESEUS.

What's your request? Deliver you for all.

1. QUEEN.

We are 3. Queenes, whose Soveraignes fel before
The wrath of cruell Creon; who endured
The Beakes of Ravens, Tallents of the Kights,
And pecks of Crowes, in the fowle feilds of Thebs.
He will not suffer us to burne their bones,
To urne their ashes, nor to take th' offence
Of mortall loathsomenes from the blest eye
Of holy Phoebus, but infects the windes
With stench of our slaine Lords. O pitty, Duke:
Thou purger of the earth, draw thy feard Sword
That does good turnes to'th world; give us the Bones
Of our dead Kings, that we may Chappell them;
And of thy boundles goodnes take some note
That for our crowned heades we have no roofe,
Save this which is the Lyons, and the Beares,
And vault to every thing.

THESEUS.

Pray you, kneele not:
I was transported with your Speech, and suffer'd
Your knees to wrong themselves; I have heard the fortunes
Of your dead Lords, which gives me such lamenting
As wakes my vengeance, and revenge for'em,
King Capaneus was your Lord: the day
That he should marry you, at such a season,
As now it is with me, I met your Groome,
By Marsis Altar; you were that time faire,
Not Iunos Mantle fairer then your Tresses,
Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreathe
Was then nor threashd, nor blasted; Fortune at you
Dimpled her Cheeke with smiles: Hercules our kinesman
(Then weaker than your eies) laide by his Club,
He tumbled downe upon his Nemean hide
And swore his sinews thawd: O greife, and time,
Fearefull consumers, you will all devoure.

1. QUEEN.

O, I hope some God,
Some God hath put his mercy in your manhood
Whereto heel infuse powre, and presse you forth
Our undertaker.

THESEUS.

O no knees, none, Widdow,
Vnto the Helmeted Belona use them,
And pray for me your Souldier.
Troubled I am. [turnes away.]

2. QUEEN.

Honoured Hypolita,
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slaine
The Sith-tuskd Bore; that with thy Arme as strong
As it is white, wast neere to make the male
To thy Sex captive, but that this thy Lord,
Borne to uphold Creation in that honour
First nature stilde it in, shrunke thee into
The bownd thou wast ore-flowing, at once subduing
Thy force, and thy affection: Soldiresse
That equally canst poize sternenes with pitty,
Whom now I know hast much more power on him
Then ever he had on thee, who ow'st his strength
And his Love too, who is a Servant for
The Tenour of thy Speech: Deere Glasse of Ladies,
Bid him that we, whom flaming war doth scortch,
Vnder the shaddow of his Sword may coole us:
Require him he advance it ore our heades;
Speak't in a womans key: like such a woman
As any of us three; weepe ere you faile;
Lend us a knee;
But touch the ground for us no longer time
Then a Doves motion, when the head's pluckt off:
Tell him if he i'th blood cizd field lay swolne,
Showing the Sun his Teeth, grinning at the Moone,
What you would doe.

HIPPOLITA.

Poore Lady, say no more:
I had as leife trace this good action with you
As that whereto I am going, and never yet
Went I so willing way. My Lord is taken
Hart deepe with your distresse: Let him consider:
Ile speake anon.

3. QUEEN.

O my petition was [kneele to Emilia.]
Set downe in yce, which by hot greefe uncandied
Melts into drops, so sorrow, wanting forme,
Is prest with deeper matter.

EMILIA.

Pray stand up,
Your greefe is written in your cheeke.

3. QUEEN.

O woe,
You cannot reade it there, there through my teares—
Like wrinckled peobles in a glassie streame
You may behold 'em. Lady, Lady, alacke,
He that will all the Treasure know o'th earth
Must know the Center too; he that will fish
For my least minnow, let him lead his line
To catch one at my heart. O pardon me:
Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,
Makes me a Foole.

EMILIA.

Pray you say nothing, pray you:
Who cannot feele nor see the raine, being in't,
Knowes neither wet nor dry: if that you were
The ground-peece of some Painter, I would buy you
T'instruct me gainst a Capitall greefe indeed—
Such heart peirc'd demonstration; but, alas,
Being a naturall Sifter of our Sex
Your sorrow beates so ardently upon me,
That it shall make a counter reflect gainst
My Brothers heart, and warme it to some pitty,
Though it were made of stone: pray, have good comfort.

THESEUS.

Forward to'th Temple, leave not out a Iot
O'th sacred Ceremony.

1. QUEEN.

O, This Celebration
Will long last, and be more costly then
Your Suppliants war: Remember that your Fame
Knowles in the eare o'th world: what you doe quickly
Is not done rashly; your first thought is more
Then others laboured meditance: your premeditating
More then their actions: But, oh Iove! your actions,
Soone as they mooves, as Asprayes doe the fish,
Subdue before they touch: thinke, deere Duke, thinke
What beds our slaine Kings have.

2. QUEEN.

What greifes our beds,
That our deere Lords have none.

3. QUEEN.

None fit for 'th dead:
Those that with Cordes, Knives, drams precipitance,
Weary of this worlds light, have to themselves
Beene deathes most horrid Agents, humaine grace
Affords them dust and shaddow.

1. QUEEN.

But our Lords
Ly blistring fore the visitating Sunne,
And were good Kings, when living.

THESEUS.

It is true, and I will give you comfort,
To give your dead Lords graves: the which to doe,
Must make some worke with Creon.

1. QUEEN.

And that worke presents it selfe to'th doing:
Now twill take forme, the heates are gone to morrow.
Then, booteles toyle must recompence it selfe
With it's owne sweat; Now he's secure,
Not dreames we stand before your puissance
Wrinching our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition cleere.

2. QUEEN.

Now you may take him, drunke with his victory.

3. QUEEN.

And his Army full of Bread, and sloth.

THESEUS.

Artesius, that best knowest
How to draw out fit to this enterprise
The prim'st for this proceeding, and the number
To carry such a businesse, forth and levy
Our worthiest Instruments, whilst we despatch
This grand act of our life, this daring deede
Of Fate in wedlocke.

1. QUEEN.

Dowagers, take hands;
Let us be Widdowes to our woes: delay
Commends us to a famishing hope.

ALL.

Farewell.

2. QUEEN.

We come unseasonably: But when could greefe
Cull forth, as unpanged judgement can, fit'st time
For best solicitation.

THESEUS.

Why, good Ladies,
This is a service, whereto I am going,
Greater then any was; it more imports me
Then all the actions that I have foregone,
Or futurely can cope.

1. QUEEN.

The more proclaiming
Our suit shall be neglected: when her Armes
Able to locke Iove from a Synod, shall
By warranting Moone-light corslet thee, oh, when
Her twyning Cherries shall their sweetnes fall
Vpon thy tastefull lips, what wilt thou thinke
Of rotten Kings or blubberd Queenes, what care
For what thou feelst not? what thou feelst being able
To make Mars spurne his Drom. O, if thou couch
But one night with her, every howre in't will
Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
Thou shalt remember nothing more then what
That Banket bids thee too.

HIPPOLITA.

Though much unlike [Kneeling.]
You should be so transported, as much sorry
I should be such a Suitour; yet I thinke,
Did I not by th'abstayning of my joy,
Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
That craves a present medcine, I should plucke
All Ladies scandall on me. Therefore, Sir,
As I shall here make tryall of my prayres,
Either presuming them to have some force,
Or sentencing for ay their vigour dombe:
Prorogue this busines we are going about, and hang
Your Sheild afore your Heart, about that necke
Which is my ffee, and which I freely lend
To doe these poore Queenes service.

ALL QUEENS.

Oh helpe now,
Our Cause cries for your knee.

EMILIA.

If you grant not [Kneeling.]
My Sister her petition in that force,
With that Celerity and nature, which
Shee makes it in, from henceforth ile not dare
To aske you any thing, nor be so hardy
Ever to take a Husband.

THESEUS.

Pray stand up.
I am entreating of my selfe to doe
That which you kneele to have me. Pyrithous,
Leade on the Bride; get you and pray the Gods
For successe, and returne; omit not any thing
In the pretended Celebration. Queenes,
Follow your Soldier. As before, hence you [to Artesius]
And at the banckes of Aulis meete us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall finde
The moytie of a number, for a busines
More bigger look't. Since that our Theame is haste,
I stamp this kisse upon thy currant lippe;
Sweete, keepe it as my Token. Set you forward,
For I will see you gone. [Exeunt towards the Temple.]
Farewell, my beauteous Sister: Pyrithous,
Keepe the feast full, bate not an howre on't.

PERITHOUS.

Sir,
Ile follow you at heeles; The Feasts solempnity
Shall want till your returne.

THESEUS.

Cosen, I charge you
Boudge not from Athens; We shall be returning
Ere you can end this Feast, of which, I pray you,
Make no abatement; once more, farewell all.

1. QUEEN.

Thus do'st thou still make good the tongue o'th world.

2. QUEEN.

And earnst a Deity equal with Mars.

3. QUEEN.

If not above him, for
Thou being but mortall makest affections bend
To Godlike honours; they themselves, some say,
Grone under such a Mastry.

THESEUS.

As we are men,
Thus should we doe; being sensually subdude,
We loose our humane tytle. Good cheere, Ladies. [Florish.]
Now turne we towards your Comforts. [Exeunt.]