Fair Em
1[Scene 1]
Enter William the Conqueror, Marquis Lübeck with a picture, Mountney, Manville, Valingford, and Duke Dirot.
Lübeck
What means fair Britain’s mighty conqueror
5So suddenly to cast away his staff
And, all in passion, to forsake the tilt?
Dirot
My lord, this triumph we solemnise here
Is of mere love to your increasing joys,
Only expecting cheerful looks for all.
10What sudden pangs then moves your majesty
To dim the brightness of the day with frowns?
William
Ah, good my lords, misconster not the cause.
At least suspect not my displeasèd brows;
I amorously do bear to your intent.
15For thanks and all that you can wish I yield,
But that which makes me blush and shame to tell
Is cause why thus I turn my conquering eyes
To cowards’ looks and beaten fantasies.
Mountney
Since we are guiltless, we the less dismay
20To see this sudden change possess your cheer.
For if it issue from your own conceits,
Bred by suggestion of some envious thoughts,
Your highness’ wisdom may suppress it straight.
Yet tell us, good my lord, what thought it is
25That thus bereaves you of your late content,
That in advice we may assist your grace
Or bend our forces to revive your spirits.
William
Ah, Marquis Lübeck, in thy power it lies
To rid my bosom of these thrallèd dumps.
30And therefore, good my lords, forbear a while
That we may parley of these private cares,
Whose strength subdues me more than all the world.
Valingford
We go, and wish thee private conference,
Public affects, in this accustomed peace.
35Exit all but William and the Marquis [Lübeck].
William
Now, Marquis, must a conqueror-at-arms
Disclose himself thralled to unarmèd thoughts
And, threatened of a shadow, yield to lust.
[Indicating Lübeck’s shield] No sooner had my sparkling eyes beheld
40The flames of beauty blazing on this piece,
But suddenly a sense of miracle
Imagined on thy lovely mistress’ face
Made me abandon bodily regard
And cast all pleasures on my wounded soul.
45Then, gentle Marquis, tell me what she is
That thus thou honour’st on thy warlike shield,
And if thy love and interest be such
As justly may give place to mine.
That, if it be, my soul with honour’s wings
50May fly into the bosom of my dear;
If not, close them and stoop into my grave.
Lübeck
If this be all, renownèd conqueror,
Advance your drooping spirits and revive
The wonted courage of your conquering mind,
55For this fair picture painted on my shield
Is the true counterfeit of lovely Blanche,
Princess and daughter to the King of Danes,
Whose beauty and excess of ornaments
Deserves another manner of defence,
60Pomp, and high person to attend her state
Than Marquis Lübeck any way presents.
Therefore, her virtues I resign to thee,
Already shrined in thy religious breast
To be advanced and honoured to the full.
65Nor bear I this an argument of love,
But to renown fair Blanche, my sovereign’s child,
In every place where I by arms may do it.
William
Ah, Marquis, thy words bring heaven unto my soul
And had I heaven to give for thy reward,
70Thou shouldst be throned in no unworthy place.
But let my uttermost wealth suffice thy worth,
Which here I vow, and to aspire the bliss
That hangs on quick achievement of my love,
Thyself and I will travel in disguise
75To bring this lady to our Britain court.
Lübeck
Let William but bethink what may avail,
And let me die if I deny my aid.
William
Then thus: the Duke Dirot and th’Earl Demarch
Will I leave substitutes to rule my realm
80While mighty love forbids my being here,
And in the name of Sir Robert of Windsor
Will go with thee unto the Danish court.
Keep William’s secrets, Marquis, if thou love him.
Bright Blanche, I come. Sweet Fortune favour me,
85And I will laud thy name eternally.
Exeunt.