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Act I


POLYDAMAS, _Usurper of Sicily._
LEONIDAS, _the rightful Prince, unknown._
ARGALEON, _favourite to_ POLYDAMAS.
HERMOGENES, _foster-father to_ LEONIDAS.
EUBULUS, _his friend and companion._
RHODOPHIL, _captain of the guards._
PALAMEDE, _a courtier._

PALMYRA, _daughter to the Usurper._
MELANTHA, _an affected lady._
BELIZA, _woman to_ DORALICE.
ARTEMIS, _a court lady._




SCENE I.--_Walks near the Court._

_Enter_ DORALICE _and_ BELIZA.

_Dor._ Beliza, bring the lute into this arbour; the walks are empty: I
would try the song the princess Amalthea bade me learn.
[_They go in, and sing._


_Why should a foolish marriage vow,
Which long ago was made,
Oblige us to each other now,
When passion is decayed?
We loved, and we loved, as long as we could,
'Till our love was loved out in us both;
But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure is fled:
'Twas pleasure first made it an oath._


_If I have pleasures for a friend,
And further love in store,
What wrong has he, whose joys did end,
And who could give no more?_
_'Tis a madness that he
Should be jealous of me,
Or that I should bar him of another:
For all we can gain,
Is to give ourselves pain,
When neither can hinder the other._

_Enter_ PALAMEDE, _in a riding-habit, and hears the Song. Re-enter_

_Bel._ Madam, a stranger.

_Dor._ I did not think to have had witnesses of my bad singing.

_Pala._ If I have erred, madam, I hope you'll pardon the curiosity of
a stranger; for I may well call myself so, after five years absence
from the court: but you have freed me from one error.

_Dor._ What's that, I beseech you?

_Pala._ I thought good voices, and ill faces, had been inseparable;
and that to be fair, and sing well, had been only the privilege of

_Dor._ And how many more of these fine things can you say to me?

_Pala._ Very few, madam; for if I should continue to see you some
hours longer, you look so killingly that I should be mute with wonder.

_Dor._ This will not give you the reputation of a wit with me. You
travelling monsieurs live upon the stock you have got abroad, for the
first day or two: to repeat with a good memory, and apply with a good
grace, is all your wit; and, commonly, your gullets are sewed up, like
cormorants. When you have regorged what you have taken in, you are the
leanest things in nature.

_Pala._ Then, madam, I think you had best make that use of me; let me
wait on you for two or three days together, and you shall hear all I
have learnt of extraordinary in other countries; and one thing which I
never saw 'till I came home, that is, a lady of a better voice, better
face, and better wit, than any I have seen abroad. And, after this, if
I should not declare myself most passionately in love with you, I
should have less wit than yet you think I have.

_Dor._ A very plain, and pithy declaration. I see, sir, you have been
travelling in Spain or Italy, or some of the hot countries, where men
come to the point immediately. But are you sure these are not words of
course? For I would not give my poor heart an occasion of complaint
against me, that I engaged it too rashly, and then could not bring it

_Pala._ Your heart may trust itself with me safely; I shall use it
very civilly while it stays, and never turn it away, without fair
warning to provide for itself.

_Dor._ First, then, I do receive your passion with as little
consideration, on my part, as ever you gave it me, on yours. And now,
see what a miserable wretch you have made yourself!

_Pala._ Who, I miserable? Thank you for that. Give me love enough, and
life enough, and I defy Fortune.

_Dor._ Know, then, thou man of vain imagination, know, to thy utter
confusion, that I am virtuous.

_Pala._ Such another word, and I give up the ghost.

_Dor._ Then, to strike you quite dead, know that I am married too.

_Pala._ Art thou married? O thou damnable virtuous woman!

_Dor._ Yes, married to a gentleman; young, handsome rich, valiant, and
with all the good qualities that will make you despair, and hang

_Pala._ Well, in spite of all that, I'll love you: Fortune has cut us
out for one another; for I am to be married within these three days;
married, past redemption to a young, fair, rich, and virtuous lady;
and it shall go hard but I will love my wife as little, as, I
perceive, you do your husband.

_Dor._ Remember, I invade no propriety: my servant you are, only 'till
you are married.

_Pala._ In the meantime, you are to forget you have a husband.

_Dor._ And you, that you are to have a wife.

_Bel._ [_aside, to her Lady._] O madam, my lord's just at the end of
the walks! and, if you make not haste, will discover you.

_Dor._ Some other time, new servant, we'll talk further of the
premises; in the mean while, break not my first commandment, that is,
not to follow me.

_Pala._ But where, then, shall I find you again?

_Dor._ At court. Yours, for two days, sir.

_Pala._ And nights, I beseech you, madam.
[_Exeunt_ DORALICE _and_ BELIZ.

_Pala._ Well, I'll say that for thee, thou art a very dexterous
executioner; thou hast done my business at one stroke: yet I must
marry another--and yet I must love this; and if it lead me into some
little inconveniencies, as jealousies, and duels, and death, and so
forth--yet, while sweet love is in the case, Fortune, do thy worst,
and avaunt, mortality!

_Enter_ RHODOPHIL, _who seems speaking to one within._

_Rho._ Leave 'em with my lieutenant, while I fetch new orders from the
king.--How? Palamede! [_Sees_ PALAMEDE.

_Pala._ Rhodophil!

_Rho._ Who thought to have seen you in Sicily?

_Pala._ Who thought to have found the court so far from Syracuse?

_Rho._ The king best knows the reason of the progress. But, answer me,
I beseech you, what brought you home from travel?

_Pala._ The commands of an old rich father.

_Rho._ And the hopes of burying him?

_Pala._ Both together, as you see, have prevailed on my good nature.
In few words, my old man has already married me; for he has agreed
with another old man, as rich and as covetous as himself; the articles
are drawn, and I have given my consent, for fear of being
disinherited; and yet know not what kind of woman I am to marry.

_Rho._ Sure your father intends you some very ugly wife, and has a
mind to keep you in ignorance till you have shot the gulf.

_Pala._ I know not that; but obey I will, and must.

_Rho._ Then I cannot chuse but grieve for all the good girls and
courtezans of France and Italy. They have lost the most kind-hearted,
doting, prodigal humble servant, in Europe.

_Pala._ All I could do, in these three years I staid behind you, was
to comfort the poor creatures for the loss of you. But what's the
reason that, in all this time, a friend could never hear from you?

_Rho._ Alas, dear Palamede! I have had no joy to write, nor indeed to
do any thing in the world to please me. The greatest misfortune
imaginable is fallen upon me.

_Pala._ Pr'ythee, what's the matter?

_Rho._ In one word, I am married: wretchedly married; and have been
above these two years. Yes, faith, the devil has had power over me, in
spite of my vows and resolutions to the contrary.

_Pala._ I find you have sold yourself for filthy lucre; she's old, or
ill conditioned.

_Rho._ No; none of these: I'm sure she's young; and, for her humour,
she laughs, sings, and dances eternally; and, which is more, we never
quarrel about it, for I do the same.

_Pala._ You're very unfortunate indeed: then the case is plain, she is
not handsome.

_Rho._ A great beauty too, as people say.

_Pala._ As people say? why, you should know that best yourself.

_Rho._ Ask those, who have smelt to a strong perfume two years
together, what's the scent.

_Pala._ But here are good qualities enough for one woman.

_Rho._ Ay, too many, Palamede. If I could put them into three or four
women, I should be content.

_Pala._ O, now I have found it! you dislike her for no other reason
but because she's your wife.

_Rho._ And is not that enough? All that I know of her perfections now,
is only by memory. I remember indeed, that about two years ago I loved
her passionately; but those golden days are gone, Palamede: Yet I
loved her a whole half year, double the natural term of any mistress;
and I think, in my conscience, I could have held out another quarter,
but then the world began to laugh at me, and a certain shame, of being
out of fashion, seized me. At last, we arrived at that point, that
there was nothing left in us to make us new to one another. Yet still
I set a good face upon the matter, and am infinite fond of her before
company; but when we are alone, we walk like lions in a room; she one
way, and I another. And we lie with our backs to each other, so far
distant, as if the fashion of great beds was only invented to keep
husband and wife sufficiently asunder.

_Pala._ The truth is, your disease is very desperate; but, though you
cannot be cured you may be patched up a little: you must get you a
mistress, Rhodophil. That, indeed, is living upon cordials; but, as
fast as one fails, you must supply it with another. You're like a
gamester who has lost his estate; yet, in doing that, you have learned
the advantages of play, and can arrive to live upon't.

_Rho._ Truth is, I have been thinking on't, and have just resolved to
take your counsel; and, faith, considering the damned disadvantages of
a married man, I have provided well enough, for a poor humble sinner,
that is not ambitious of great matters.

_Pala._ What is she, for a woman?

_Rho._ One of the stars of Syracuse, I assure you: Young enough, fair
enough; and, but for one quality, just such a woman as I could wish.

_Pala._ O friend, this is not an age to be critical in beauty. When we
had good store of handsome women, and but few chapmen, you might have
been more curious in your choice; but now the price is enhanced upon
us, and all mankind set up for mistresses, so that poor little
creatures, without beauty, birth, or breeding, but only impudence, go
off at unreasonable rates: And a man, in these hard times, snaps at
them, as he does at broad gold; never examines the weight, but takes
light or heavy, as he can get it.

_Rho._ But my mistress has one fault, that's almost unpardonable; for,
being a town-lady, without any relation to the court, yet she thinks
herself undone if she be not seen there three or four times a day with
the princess Amalthea. And, for the king, she haunts and watches him
so narrowly in a morning, that she prevents even the chemists, who
beset his chamber, to turn their mercury into his gold.

_Pala._ Yet, hitherto, methinks, you are no very unhappy man.

_Rho._ With all this, she's the greatest gossip in nature; for,
besides the court, she's the most eternal visitor of the town; and yet
manages her time so well, that she seems ubiquitary. For my part, I
can compare her to nothing but the sun; for, like him, she takes no
rest, nor ever sets in one place, but to rise in another.

_Pala._ I confess, she had need be handsome, with these qualities.

_Rho._ No lady can be so curious of a new fashion, as she is of a new
French word: she's the very mint of the nation; and as fast as any
bullion comes out of France, coins it immediately into our language.

_Pala._ And her name is--

_Rho._ No naming; that's not like a cavalier: Find her, if you can, by
my description; and I am not so ill a painter that I need write the
name beneath the picture.

_Pala._ Well, then, how far have you proceeded in your love?

_Rho._ 'Tis yet in the bud, and what fruit it may bear I cannot tell;
for this insufferable humour, of haunting the court, is so
predominant, that she has hitherto broken all her assignations with
me, for fear of missing her visits there.

_Pala._ That's the hardest part of your adventure. But, for aught I
see, fortune has used us both alike: I have a strange kind of mistress
too in court, besides her I am to marry.

_Rho._ You have made haste to be in love, then; for, if I am not
mistaken, you are but this day arrived.

_Pala._ That's all one: I have seen the lady already, who has charmed
me; seen her in these walks, courted her, and received, for the first
time, an answer that does not put me into despair.


I'll tell you more at leisure my adventures. The walks fill apace, I
see. Stay, is not that the young lord Argaleon, the king's favourite?

_Rho._ Yes, and as proud as ever, as ambitious, and as revengeful.

_Pala._ How keeps he the king's favour with these qualities?

_Rho._ Argaleon's father helped him to the crown: besides, he gilds
over all his vices to the king, and, standing in the dark to him, sees
all his inclinations, interests, and humours, which he so times and
soothes, that, in effect, he reigns.

_Pala._ His sister Amalthea, who, I guess, stands by him, seems not to
be of his temper.

_Rho._ O, she's all goodness and generosity.

_Arga._ Rhodophil, the king expects you earnestly.

_Rho._ 'Tis done, my lord, what he commanded: I only waited his return
from hunting. Shall I attend your lordship to him?

_Arga._ No; I go first another way. [_Exit hastily._

_Pala._ He seems in haste, and discomposed.

_Amal._ [_to_ RHOD. _after a short whisper._] Your friend? then he
must needs be of much merit.

_Rho._ When he has kissed the king's hand, I know he'll beg the honour
to kiss yours. Come, Palamede.
[_Exeunt_ RHODO. _and_ PALA. _bowing to_ AMAL.

_Arte._ Madam, you tell me most surprising news.

_Amal._ The fear of it, you see,
Has discomposed my brother; but to me,
All, that can bring my country good, is welcome.

_Arte._ It seems incredible, that this old king,
Whom all the world thought childless,
Should come to search the farthest parts of Sicily,
In hope to find an heir.

_Amal._ To lessen your astonishment, I will
Unfold some private passages of state,
Of which you are yet ignorant: Know, first,
That this Polydamus, who reigns, unjustly
Gained the crown.

_Arte._ Somewhat of this I have confusedly heard.

_Amal._ I'll tell you all in brief: Theagenes,
Our last great king,
Had, by his queen, one only son, an infant
Of three years old, called, after him, Theagenes.
The general, this Polydamus, then married;
The public feasts for which were scarcely past,
When a rebellion in the heart of Sicily
Called out the king to arms.

_Arte._ Polydamus
Had then a just excuse to stay behind.

_Amal._ His temper was too warlike to accept it.
He left his bride, and the new joys of marriage,
And followed to the field. In short, they fought,
The rebels were o'ercome; but in the fight
The too bold king received a mortal wound.
When he perceived his end approaching near,
He called the general, to whose care he left
His widow queen, and orphan son; then died.

_Arte._ Then false Polydamus betrayed his trust?

_Amal._ He did; and, with my father's help,--for which
Heaven pardon him!--so gained their soldiers' hearts,
That, in a few days, he was saluted king:
And when his crimes had impudence enough
To bear the eye of day,
He marched his army back to Syracuse.
But see how heaven can punish wicked men,
In granting their desires: The news was brought him,
That day he was to enter it, that Eubulus,
Whom his dead master had left governor,
Was fled, and with him bore away the queen,
And royal orphan; but, what more amazed him,
His wife, now big with child, and much detesting
Her husband's practices, had willingly
Accompanied their flight.

_Arte._ How I admire her virtue!

_Amal._ What became
Of her, and them, since that, was never known;
Only, some few days since, a famous robber
Was taken with some jewels of vast price,
Which, when they were delivered to the king,
He knew had been his wife's; with these, a letter,
Much torn and sullied, but which yet he knew
To be her writing.

_Arte._ Sure, from hence he learned
He had a son?

_Amal._ It was not left so plain:
The paper only said, she died in child-bed;
But when it should have mentioned son or daughter,
Just there it was torn off.

_Arte._ Madam, the king.

_To them_ POLYDAMUS, ARGALEON, _Guard and Attendants._

_Arga._ The robber, though thrice racked, confessed no more.
But that he took those jewels near this place.

_Poly._ But yet the circumstances strongly argue,
That those, for whom I search, are not far off.

_Arga._ I cannot easily believe it.

_Arte._ No,
You would not have it so. [_Aside._

_Poly._ Those, I employed, have in the neighbouring hamlet,
Amongst the fishers' cabins, made discovery
Of some young persons, whose uncommon beauty,
And graceful carriage, make it seem suspicious
They are not what they seem: I therefore sent
The captain of my guards, this morning early,
With orders to secure and bring them to me.


O, here he is.--Have you performed my will?

_Rho._ Sir, those, whom you commanded me to bring,
Are waiting in the walks.

_Poly._ Conduct them hither.

_Rho._ First, give me leave
To beg your notice of this gentleman.

_Poly._ He seems to merit it. His name and quality?

_Rho._ Palamede, son to lord Cleodemus of Palermo,
And new returned from travel.
[PALAMEDE _approaches, and kneels to kiss the
Kings hand._

_Poly._ You are welcome.
I knew your father well, he was both brave
And honest; we two once were fellow soldiers
In the last civil wars.

_Pala._ I bring the same unquestion'd honesty
And zeal to serve your majesty; the courage
You were pleased to praise in him,
Your royal prudence, and your people's love,
Will never give me leave to try, like him,
In civil wars; I hope it may in foreign.

_Poly._ Attend the court, and it shall be my care
To find out some employment, worthy you.
Go, Rhodophil, and bring in those without. [_Exeunt_ RHO. _and_ PALA.

RHODOPHIL _returns again immediately, and with him enter_

Behold two miracles! [_Looking earnestly on_ LEON. _and_ PALMYRA.
Of different sexes, but of equal form:
So matchless both, that my divided soul
Can scarcely ask the gods a son or daughter,
For fear of losing one. If from your hands,
You powers, I shall this day receive a daughter,
Argaleon, she is yours; but, if a son,
Then Amalthea's love shall make him happy.

_Arga._ Grant, heaven, this admirable nymph may prove
That issue, which he seeks!

_Amal._ Venus Urania, if thou art a goddess,
Grant that sweet youth may prove the prince of Sicily!

_Poly._ Tell me, old man, and tell me true, from whence [_To_ HERM.
Had you that youth and maid?

_Her._ From whence you had
Your sceptre, sir: I had them from the gods.

_Poly._ The gods then have not such another gift.
Say who their parents were.

_Her._ My wife, and I.

_Arga._ It is not likely, a virgin, of so excellent a beauty,
Should come from such a stock.

_Amal._ Much less, that such a youth, so sweet, so graceful,
Should be produced from peasants.

_Her._ Why, nature is the same in villages,
And much more fit to form a noble issue,
Where it is least corrupted.

_Poly._ He talks too like a man that knew the world,
To have been long a peasant. But the rack
Will teach him other language. Hence with him!
[_As the Guards are carrying him away, his peruke
falls off._
Sure I have seen that face before. Hermogenes!
'Tis he, 'tis he, who fled away with Eubulus,
And with my dear Eudoxia.

_Her._ Yes, sir, I am Hermogenes;
And if to have been loyal be a crime,
I stand prepared to suffer.

_Poly._ If thou would'st live, speak quickly,
What is become of my Eudoxia?
Where is the queen and young Theagenes?
Where Eubulus? and which of these is mine?
[_Pointing to_ LEON. _and_ PALM.

_Her._ Eudoxia is dead, so is the queen,
The infant king, her son, and Eubulus.

_Poly._ Traitor, 'tis false: Produce them, or--

_Her._ Once more
I tell you, they are dead; but leave to threaten,
For you shall know no further.

_Poly._ Then prove indulgent to my hopes, and be
My friend for ever. Tell me, good Hermogenes,
Whose son is that brave youth?

_Her._ Sir, he is yours.

_Poly._ Fool that I am! thou see'st that so I wish it,
And so thou flatter'st me.

_Her._ By all that's holy!

_Poly._ Again. Thou canst not swear too deeply.--
Yet hold, I will believe thee:--Yet I doubt.

_Her._ You need not, sir.

_Arga._ Believe him not; he sees you credulous,
And would impose his own base issue on you,
And fix it to your crown.

_Amal._ Behold his goodly shape and feature, sir;
Methinks he much resembles you.

_Arga._ I say, if you have any issue here,
It must be that fair creature;
By all my hopes I think so.

_Amal._ Yes, brother, I believe you by your hopes,
For they are all for her.

_Poly._ Call the youth nearer.

_Her._ Leonidas, the king would speak with you.

_Poly._ Come near, and be not dazzled with the splendour,
And greatness of a court.

_Leon._ I need not this encouragement;
I can fear nothing but the gods.
And, for this glory, after I have seen
The canopy of state spread wide above
In the abyss of heaven, the court of stars,
The blushing morning, and the rising sun,
What greater can I see?

_Poly._ This speaks thee born a prince; thou art, thyself,
[_Embracing him._
That rising sun, and shalt not see, on earth,
A brighter than thyself. All of you witness,
That for my son I here receive this youth,
This brave, this--but I must not praise him further,
Because he now is mine.

_Leon._ I wo'not, sir, believe [_Kneeling._
That I am made your sport;
For I find nothing in myself, but what
Is much above a scorn. I dare give credit
To whatsoe'er a king, like you, can tell me.
Either I am, or will deserve to be, your son.

_Arga._ I yet maintain it is impossible
This young man should be yours; for, if he were,
Why should Hermogenes so long conceal him,
When he might gain so much by his discovery?

_Her._ I staid a while to make him worthy, sir,
Of you. [_To the King._
But in that time I found
Somewhat within him, which so moved my love,
I never could resolve to part with him.

_Leon._ You ask too many questions, and are [_To_ ARGA.
Too saucy for a subject.

_Arga._ You rather over-act your part, and are
Too soon a prince.

_Leon._ Too soon you'll find me one.

_Poly._ Enough, Argaleon!
I have declared him mine; and you, Leonidas,
Live well with him I love.

_Arga._ Sir, if he be your son, I may have leave
To think your queen had twins. Look on this virgin;
Hermogenes would enviously deprive you
Of half your treasure.

_Her._ Sir, she is my daughter.
I could, perhaps, thus aided by this lord,
Prefer her to be yours; but truth forbid
I should procure her greatness by a lie!

_Poly._ Come hither, beauteous maid: Are you not sorry
Your father will not let you pass for mine?

_Palm._ I am content to be what heaven has made me.

_Poly._ Could you not wish yourself a princess then?

_Palm._ Not to be sister to Leonidas.

_Poly._ Why, my sweet maid?

_Palm._ Indeed I cannot tell;
But I could be content to be his handmaid.

_Arga._ I wish I had not seen her. [_Aside._

_Palm._ I must weep for your good fortune; [_To_ LEON.
Pray, pardon me, indeed I cannot help it.
Leonidas,--alas! I had forgot,
Now I must call you prince,--but must I leave you?

_Leon._ I dare not speak to her; for, if I should,
I must weep too. [_Aside._

_Poly._ No, you shall live at court, sweet innocence,
And see him there. Hermogenes,
Though you intended not to make me happy,
Yet you shall be rewarded for the event.
Come, my Leonidas, let's thank the gods;
Thou for a father, I for such a son.
[_Exeunt all but_ LEON. _and_ PALM.

_Leon._ My dear Palmyra, many eyes observe me,
And I have thoughts so tender, that I cannot
In public speak them to you: Some hours hence,
I shall shake off these crowds of fawning courtiers,
And then-- [_Exit_ LEON.

_Palm._ Fly swift, you hours! you measure time for me in vain,
'Till you bring back Leonidas again.
Be shorter now; and, to redeem that wrong,
When he and I are met, be twice as long! [_Exit._

John Dryden

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