The Cruel Brother
Enter Foreste and Lucio.
I must not be so rude as to believe
That you, my lord, can your affection set
Upon a maid so humble in her birth
As she you name. For regard of honour,
Do not mock the sister of your servant.
This way to madness leads! Teach not my heart
10Such modern heraldry. Let it dispose
On charitable thoughts with natural eyes,
Unlimited by customary form,
Which gain and niceties have made an art.
Virtue, not blood, enables us, and earns
15Her attribute without hereditary help
From ancestors. O my dear Foreste!
Thy sister with such noble wealth is fraught,
That to be courteous for her appears
A holy sin. But thou art cruel grown:
20Thy memory is sick. The old effects
That witness how I love thy learnéd soul
Are quite forgot.
Young lord, disclaim that thought!
Here I promulgate, you my patron are:
25You found me in estate so poor, so low,
That you were fain to stoop to lift me up.
You are the Duke’s creature, who dotes by art;
Who, in his love and kindness, method keeps:
He holdeth thus his arms, in fearful care
30Not to bruise you with is dear embracements.
And what is she whose virgin blood disdains
To quench your lawful fire? Or whom the Duke
Would not procure to climb your marriage bed
Upon her knees? And I shall then –
35Like to the treacherous moon – strive to eclipse
The sun that gives me light? Shall I consent
That she, that tumbled in a womb with me,
Shall give your issue birth? The royal Duke
Would thank us for such charity. My lord,
40Though you are wise, you are but young.
Heart of viper!
Sure time hath lost his feathers from his heels:
Mark how slow he goes! Shall I ne’er be old,
That my designs may repute have,
45And credit in the world? I do not ask
Thy sister for my whore, but for my wife.
Sir, ’tis already joined unto my creed,
For I would eat your heart should it contrive
A way in thought how to cheat my sister
50Of her pure chastity. I love you so
That I with care suppose she not deserves
To be your wife, and so esteem of her
That she is much too good to be your whore.
In this new argument I am too bold:
55You know my duty well. The Duke’s abroad.
Though but the birth of day. Go sir!
Enter [the] Duke, [accompanied by] Castruchio, Dorido, Cosimo, pages and [court] followers.
[To Lucio] My glorious boy, you are too vigilant:
60The sun and you do visit me at once.
This courtship is not safe, you must not meet
Your lover with a rival, glorious
As yourself. Foreste! Welcome from Genoa,
How fares our brother cardinal?
In health and ease. He bade me to tell your grace
It was a deed of charity to think
Him worthy of this same great employment,
And this letter he humbly recommends
To your perusal.
The Duke reads the letter to himself.
How can it choose
But choke the very soul and bruise the heart
To think that such a giddy snipe – a fool
That merely lives to disparage nature –
Should creep to this ambitious government!
75Still he rules the ruler. The Duke is ward
Unto a page, whose eyebrows wear more beard
Than doth his chin! And there’s his instrument,
A dark fellow, that with disguiséd looks
Could cheat a hypocrite older than time.
I’ve heard a better character of both:
Such as to the young count wit and valour gives;
Unto Foreste, honest spirits.
Report is then become a bawd to luck,
Whom fortune do enrich, fame doth flatter.
[To Lucio and Foreste, referencing the letter] Sure this tame priest will make us all cowards;
We must a truce confirm with Genoa.
Well, be it so. Where now, my noble boy?
Shall I occasion find to testify
That you deserve my love by virtue of your own?
90In sickly times, when war and civil spleen
Besiege the heart with treacherous designs,
A friend shall find a cause to make him known;
But now, in fair weather, I need not ask
What hovel’s near.
In this I dare discredit fate!
They are not so wealthy in affliction,
With sorrow so well stored, as could suffice
To try my sufferance in the behalf
Of you, my prince and still royal master.
Dar’st thou then die for me?
Here — make thyself a sacrifice to fame,
Proffers him a naked poniard.
Take it, and I will be thy chronicler.
It were, sir, but ingratitude in me
To lessen thus the number sanctified
105Of your true friends.
[Presents his chest to the Duke.]
Be you pleased to sheath it
In that same part which you do most abhor.
O Lucio! Thou art my earwig now,
Creep’st in my ear to feast upon my brains!
When in my private grave I lie enclosed,
110More silent than my ruined fame, no tongue
Shall pay his tribute to my memory
But thine. For thou art likely to survive:
Thy years are few, but full of gratitude. —
Come, hie we to the park: the sprightful morn
115Gives motion wings, and liberty to those
Whom lameness stakes unto the ground.
[Exeunt Duke, Lucio, Foreste, pages and court followers.]
Royal dotard! Like tinder, thou dost waste
Thy forcéd fire to give another light,
Whose saucy flame will darken thine. Monstrous!
Why dost thou spend thy gall in secret thus?
A pox upon’t! Turn thoughts to action.
Heaven knows, I had rather enrich myself
Than envy others’ wealth. Employ thy brain.
[Hands Castruchio a document.]
Get the Duke’s fist to this and thou shalt share
125Five hundred crowns.
What is’t?
The old business.
And not yet signed? This ’tis to be modest!
Had I had reputation in thy creed
Enter Foreste.
130It had been done long since. There’s my agent.
Hence, provide me thanks.
[Exeunt Dorido and Cosimo.]
Save you signor.
You may with charity.
Am in your remembrance, sir?
Signor Castruchio, as I take you.
The same. Because I never did desire
To gain by being troublesome, I lost
The dear benefit of the practic part.
Custom’s a suitor’s safe encourager.
I the Duke have served since I was able
140To serve myself, yet never had the luck
To get by it. And as the times promise,
Never shall, unless I imitate the crab,
And find my way, as he doth his, backwards.
That is, to make petition to the foot
145That he will please t’instruct, and teach the head
When to commiserate my affair.
[Hands Foreste the document] Signor. I need a comment to your words.
If you will move my lord, the count,
To get the Duke’s fair hand subscribèd here,
150Then I shall feel myself well understood.
Sir, my abilities are most pregnant
When I find I may be profitable
To any courtiers just and modest suit.
I pray, what sense carries the inscription?
Only this, sir. There is an engine made
Which spends it strength by force of nimble wheels;
For they, once screwed up, in their return
Will rive on oak, but with such subtle force
That motion gives no leisure to impediment.
160The large and ponderous log is soon consumed
To shavings more transparent than a glass.
Of these, the skilful boxes make, scabbards,
Sheaths, cheasts, and moulds for children’s cabinets.
Trust me, an engine of importance great!
165But now, what would the engineer himself?
’Faith, signor, naught but a monopoly
For all those wares his engine makes.
[Returning the document] Keep it. Good sir, keep it. A monopoly!
Why, sir the commonwealth hath been so crushed
170With th’ insulting charter of such patents
That now the very word defiles the cause.
I had though you, signor, would have engaged
My industry in such a suit as might
No way disparage: though it did enrich,
175However not abuse the public weal.
Very good, sir. My Lord the count, yourself
His servile instrument, and some of others
Of this new faction that now engross
All offices and send your scouts abroad.
180Intelligencers strict, that bring home
The number and rate of what yourselves,
Or others, in the dark, can put to sale.
Nature hath not altered yet the first
And antique method to preserve our breaths:
185We must eat bread if we intend to live,
Which how to get, unless this humble way
That you deride, in troth I cannot tell.
It makes me mad to think you should expose
Us men of heart to those fastidious helps
190That ’scape your own acceptance. Your wide throats,
That soon will swallow anything which fills,
Although it nourish not. A pox upon you all!
I did expect you would begin to rail.
Good troubled soul! I knew you well before.
195You are the only man, whole wealthy muse
Doth furnish all the fiddlers in the state
With desperate ballads and invective songs,
Libels of such weak fancy and composure
That we do all esteem it greater wrong
200T’have our names extant in such paltry rhyme
Than in the slanderous sense.
Very well, sir!
You! You must be a satirist for forsooth,
Calumniate by instinct and inspiration.
205As if just heaven would borrow gall of you
Wherewith to write our faults – O strict account! –
Your gall, which in the pen so overflows
That still it blots where it inscribes.
You imitate the property of dogs,
210Who bark and snarl most at him they know not,
For else among all those you scandalise
Why named you me, almost a stranger to your eye?
My ancestors, that built no monument
For their fames to dwell in, you also bring
215Into the knowledge of the critic world.
Why, I could never see the yet, but drunk:
Which makes thy verse reel and stagger so.
Come sir! We may exchange one thrust unseen.
They draw and fight, close [quarters].
A pretty cur! Dare it bite as well as bark?
How now, sir, your mathematical thrusts?
Then have at ye!
Foreste flings down Castruchio [and] disarms him.
Yield me thy sword, or else thou diest.
I have no joy to set at liberty
A soul so unprepared. And as thou art
225My enemy, I take a full revenge
By suffering thy corrupted blood to dwell
And taint within thy veins.
Enter a Monk.
W’are discovered.
Take thy sword. Now get thee home and rail upon’t,
Because t’would fight no better.
Yet we may meet i’th’ dark. You have a throat,
And there are knives in Italy.
Exit Castruchio.
A good day attend my ghostly father.
Doth this your tarriance here discover ought
You would with me?
Your leisure shall produce my utterance.
O, son, your fame is of complexion clear,
Such as ensnares the virtuous eye to love
And adoration, such as would procure
All the skilful angels suitors to her,
240And such as serves for my encouragement.
For I no letters have from noble friends,
Which a requital from themselves invite
By courtship bold, and troublesome to others.
Nor am I with that wicked metal stored
245That rules the mighty and betrays the mind
To toil in a design which angers heaven
And makes the devil blush. But yet, dear son,
I have a suit to thee.
Which I desire to know.
In the ancient convent of Saint Augustine
There is a holy brother lately dead,
Whose place, if you will but confirm on me
By the Duke’s letter to the brotherhood,
Then shall I better leisure have to pray
255For you, my patron.
Alas my Father!
The times are more observant to your tribe:
It is the method now that your deserts
Need not to usher but succeed reward.
260The treatise written lately to confute
The desperate sect in Mantua, calls it you
The author?
It knows no other.
There your preferment safely taketh root.
265Believe me, ghostly father, I will choose
The fittest time to work in your behalf.
Heaven prosper you designs.
Exit Monk.
What throngs of great impediments besiege
The virtuous mind! So thick in multitude,
270They jostle one another as they come.
Hath vice a charter got, that none must rise
But such who of the devil’s faction are?
The way to honour is not evermore
The way to hell: a virtuous man may climb.
275Let the flatterer sell his lies elsewhere:
It is unthrifty merchandise to change
My gold for breath. Of all antagonists,
Most charity I find in envious men,
For they do sooner hurt themselves than hurt
280Or me, or him that raised me up.
An envious man is made of thoughts;
To ruminate much doth melt the brain
And make the heart grow lean. Such men as these –
That in opposing waste their proper strengths,
285That sacrifice themselves in silly hope
To butcher us – save revenge a labour.
And die to make experiment of wrath.
Let fame discourse aloud until she want
An antidote: I am not scared with noise.
290Here I dismiss my fears. If I can swell –
Unpoisoned by those helps which heaven forbids –
Fond love of ease, shall ne’er my soul dehort,
Maugre all flattery, envy, or report.
Exit Foreste.