Enter Foreste and Luinna.
I cannot tell why thou, my girl, should’st joy
In my advancement thus. Honour and place
525Bring sullen thoughts with them; business of such
A ragged quality as takes away
The amorous garb, those soft wanton touches
Wherewith the youthful flatterer betrays
The weaker side of action, whose effects
530More weakness brings. I shall no leisure have
To comfort thee with smiles. When ’tis assigned
That I must venture for a boy, ’twill be
In haste. My business will not suffer me
To stay and make a prologue to the act,
535To kiss, or simper invitation.
It is not fit I apprehend you now.
But I wish that you would know: my duty
Is so well preserved from all corruption,
Which either youth or foul example might
540Produce, that it implores for sufferance
To certify the world how strong it is.
I was assured before. This is the time
In which I shall oblige posterity
Of fall, my wench, by flattering error:
545Hast thou to my sister counsel given?
Instructions safe, Whereby her actions
May warrant her promotion well deserved?
It was my tongue’s last employment.
I would have her wear her growing fortunes
550In a handsome fashion. Do but observe
The unpolished garb of city dames – of those
Whom fathers’ purse-strings hoist up to honour –
How they do suck their chins into their necks,
Simper with unskilful levity, and trip
555On their wanton toes like kibe-heeled fairies.
The devil’s dam shows like a vestal nun
To them, more powerful in humility.
Instruct my sister, gentle wife.
Enter Lucio.
I shall be earnest to my utmost skill.
[Noticing Lucio] My Lord is come. Where’s my sister?
With the Florentine who instructeth her in music.
Exit [Luinna].
Signor Foreste,
You see my love is rude and bold: I am
The usher to my own entrance.
My good lord, the proverb will persuade you
To be bold with what’s your own.
Your title’s strong, both to the house and me.
I am in debt for both. Wilt thou not chide
To see my heart assume this liberty
Music [sounds in background, as if Corsa is practicing].
570Upon my tongue, before it rightly knows
Thy sister’s heart? The Duke’s consent as yet
Unasked too? Hark!
[Calling] Cease that noise, ’tis troublesome.
Cease Music.
How Foreste? Hast thou ears? And wilt thou
575Silence such hopeful harmony? Or is
Thy thrift unnatural: wilt thou forbid
They friend to share in what is good? [Calling] Sweet tongue
And hand, persist in what your kindness proffered.
[Also Calling] Obey him. [To Lucio] If the music not deserve
580Your strict attention, you must blame yourself.
Show me the way, Foreste!
Whither, sir?
My heart is stolen out of my ear! Let me
But know the thief and I’ll forgive the robbery.
585Speak. Who is that, with a voice so amorous
And shrill, confounds the other’s hollow organ?
Still so reserved? and unto me?
Enter Corsa [who kneels before Lucio].
Why then
Look there, the voice was hers, go sir
And take what else you would enforce from my possession.
Is this that child of Orpheus? How? Kneel to me?
Stay, sir. If she consent but to abuse
The property of motion – in such kind
As may exalt her person, but on such
Above this height – I am her enemy
595Forevermore. Consider what you do.
She brings not portion but humility:
If her first payment fail, who dares assure
The future debt? Pray, look into her lap.
You’ll find she comes not from the east, enriched
600With diamonds, bright wealth, whose wanton worth
Unskilful fancy prizes, not from use
But from the idolatrous dotings of the eye.
Her chaste obedience is all her dowry.
O bitter speech! It cuts my very soul
605To think that fortune should create us two
Mere patterns of your charity.
Dare you authorise this idolatry?
Then I’ll kneel too.
And I
610Will join to make the offence seem virtuous.
Now interchange your souls. Where passion is
So fond, it cannot well counterfeit.
Each unbusied angel, hear me speak!
O send, send down unto this youthful pair,
615Celestial heat: such serious love as makes
A business of delight. Instruct her soul
To practice duty in the humble strain,
And furnish him with an acceptance prompt.
Make her fruitful as the vine, which grows
620Crooked with the weight of its own increase:
So blesséd in their issue, that when time
Shall think them fit to taste the privilege
Of death, they shall not need a monument,
Yet dwell as chief i’th’ memory of fame.
Amen, amen.
Such is my prayer too. O Foreste!
Excessive joy disturbs my utterance:
My words are parted on my tongue. O speak!
Thou know’st my heart! Tell her there may lie hope
630I shall deserve those tears, that show like dew
Upon the morning cheek. Entreat her that
My years may not disgrace my love. Though I
Am young, I cannot counterfeit:
I ever speak my thoughts. I am o’ercome!
Alas sir, so am I. There needs no art
To help belief, where no suspicion is.
Now I’ll leave you to yourselves.
Exit Foreste.
I’ve much to promise, in my own behalf,
Of my future love and humble duty
640To yo,u my dearest lord. Time lays his hand
On pyramids of brass, and ruins quite
What all the fond artificers did think
Immortal workmanship. He send his worms
To books, to old records, and they devour
645Th’ inscription. He loves ingratitude,
For he destroyed the memory of man.
But I shall ne’er forget on what strange terms
You take me to your bed.
Excellent wretch! I am undone with joy!
650I will not blame the coward to fear death,
Since the world contains such joy as this.
Why do you weep, lady? Can you suppose
Foreste would consent to what is done
Unless he knew there were no danger in it?
655Sure his mother was a sibyl: he sees,
With a prophetic aim, the end of his
Designs before they come to action.
He is too wise to err. Why weep you then?
It is folly in my eyes.
660I know not why they weep, unless they weep
Because they now have lost their liberty.
Heretofore, each man which chance presented,
Was to them a lawful object; but now
They are to look on none but you.
Mark then the bondage I impose on mine:
My poor eyes have no object, but your face,
Of which I will deprive them, thus —
Covers her face with her white veil.
Shroud thee in thy vestal ornaments.
Creep, creep, my glorious sun, behind a cloud,
670For else my eyes will surfeit with delight.
I never felt true joy till now. Methinks
A brisk alacrity, a nimble fire,
Conveys me strangely from my flesh.
Not the cannon’s iron entrail, when wrapped
675Within a swarthy case of troubled air,
Could equal me in emphasis of motion.
Though modesty would suffer me to boast,
Yet ’twere not in the power of breath to make
My joy known as it is felt.
Come then, my dear Corsa, the priest attends
Within. The world wants men, and Hymen is
A nimble god! When all is past prevention
The Duke shall know my choice.