“Fuimus Troes” (Aeneid 2).
THE TRUE TROJANS.
Edited by Chris Butler, Sheffield Hallam University.
--- First Publication and Authorship. 3.
--- Dates of Composition and Performance. 4.
---Type of Play. 8.
---Major Thematic Concerns.
---James as “Second Brute”. 11.
---Prince Henry and Chivalric Values. 13.
---James/Charles as Second Augustus. 15.
---Tranlatio Imperii. 17.
---The Golden Age (and the Marriage of Princess Elizabeth
and Frederick V, Elector Palatine). 19.
---National Identity. 22.
---Editorial Procedures. 24.
Works Cited in the Introduction and Notes. 25.
“Fuimus Troes” (Aeneid 2). The True Trojans. 29.
Appendix 1: Fisher’s Epithalamium. 139.
First Publication and Authorship.
“Fuimus Troes” (Aeneid 2). The True Trojans (hereafter referred to as Fuimus Troes) was first published, anonymously, in a quarto-sized edition, in London, 1633. Wood, the seventeenth-century historian of Oxford, affirmed that Jasper Fisher was the author of Fuimus Troes, and this attribution has been widely accepted.
Jasper Fisher was born in Carleton, Bedfordshire in 1591, the son of William Fisher, “deputy auditor for Yorkshire” (Foster 500), and Alice Roane of Wellingborough. After matriculating at Magdalen Hall, Oxford (1607), Fisher obtained his BA (1611), MA (1614) and BD and DD (1638). While still at Oxford, he contributed a Latin poem to Epithalamia (1613), the university’s volume celebrating the wedding of James I’s daughter Princess Elizabeth and Frederick V, Elector Palatine (see Appendix 1). In 1624, Fisher became rector of St. Nicholas Church in the “somewhat straggling” village of Wilden, Bedfordshire (Page, Counties 223), and, in 1627, married Elizabeth Sams. Their two children (Jasper and Elizabeth) were baptized at Wilden.
In addition to Fuimus Troes, Fisher published sermons, including The Priest’s Duty and Dignity (1635), which argues that while priests should not be regarded as infallible (in the Roman Catholic manner), nor should every believer assume the right to interpret scripture according to his/her own lights. Notwithstanding its promotion of Anglican views, the sermon could be read as implicitly criticising the absolutist position espoused by Stuart monarchs. On the priest’s role as mediator of God’s laws, Fisher insists it is “[t]he law which he speaks, not which he makes of which he is the lawyer, not the law-giver” (16). Conversely, in True Law of Free Monarchies (1598), James I (who equated the authority of kings with that of bishops) had asserted: “Kings were the authors and makers of the laws, and not the laws of the king”. Comparing these statements, it seems justifiable to assume that Fisher was no mere mouthpiece for the Stuart polity.
In later life, according to a manuscript note by Oldys, Fisher became blind, “whether from old age or an accident is not known. Wood calls him “an ingenious man, as those that knew him have divers times informed me”” (Bradley). Fisher’s death, in 1643, is recorded on a monument on the north wall of the chancel in St. Nicholas Church (Page, Counties 226).
Dates of Composition and Performance.
Neither the date of composition of Fuimus Troes, nor the date of its one attested performance is known. Curran cites Brinkley’s assessment that “1625 is probably the latest possible date [of composition] for Fuimus Troes” (261). This supposition is based on the assumption that because the play contains a song in Scottish dialect it was written with a view to pleasing King James I, who died in 1625 (see Bentley 304 and Hazlitt 447). However, the inclusion of a song in Scottish dialect may well have pleased King Charles after 1625. Apparent analogical references not only to the death of Prince Henry (1612; see 3.7.1.ff), but also (arguably) to the disasters which befell Frederick V, the Elector Palatine suggest that the play was written after 1620 when “Frederick’s forces were … defeated at the Battle of White Mountain, outside Prague, on 8 November” (Yates, Rosicrucian 34). In any case, as Hopkins remarks: “It seems reasonable to assume [that the play’s] … dates of composition and [original] performance … were close together” (39).
In the early seventeenth-century, academics who wrote plays “tried to maintain their amateur profile by keeping their works unpublished” (Elliott, Plays 181). Fuimus Troes would have been “written exclusively for the use of student actors, not for any profit that might be gained from either the printed page or the professional stage” (181). This would explain why, if the play was written around (or several years before) 1625, it remained unpublished until 1633. It does not, however, explain why the play eventually was printed in that year. Possibly Fuimus Troes was restaged, or considered for revival, in the early 1630s.
To consider this possibility, it will be useful to discuss Cartwright’s The Royal Slave. The latter play was performed in Christ Church hall, at Oxford University, before King Charles and Queen Henrietta. It received “a warm reception from the entire court, especially the queen, who made a special request to have it performed by her own company … at Hampton Court the following January” (Elliott, Drama 652-3). It must be acknowledged that The Royal Slave is a very different play to the comparatively dry Fuimus Troes. Nonetheless, there is evidence here of a relationship between successful academic drama and subsequent re-presentations at court, around the Christmas season. Royal attendance at academic drama was more frequent under James and Charles than it had been with Elizabeth. Consequently, academic drama can be said to have had more contact with the court after 1603 than during the Elizabethan period. Certainly, “Oxford’s proximity to London ensured that the worlds of court, capital and university remained in close connection” (Fincham 180). In this context, it is worth noting that Shakespeare’s Cymbeline (which, like Fuimus Troes, features an encounter between Romans and Britons on British soil around the time of the birth of Christ) was revived “on Charles I’s return from his Scottish coronation ” (Kerrigan 133) and performed “at court on 1 January 1634, when, according to the Master of the Revels, it was “well liked by the King” (Warren 6). Also, the inclusion of over a dozen songs in Fuimus Troes, in addition to “triumphs” (3.7.49.sd) and a masque, suggests the play was written (or had been revised and extended) with a view to making its otherwise rather old-fashioned (Senecan) treatment of a historical subject as entertaining for a courtly audience as possible. Bearing in mind Charles I’s Scottish coronation of 1633, a song in Scottish dialect may have been included by special request, for “from the accession of the new dynasty it became increasingly fashionable for the university to produce verses to commemorate the births, marriages, deaths and peregrinations of the Stuarts, with as many as eight collections being published in the decade after 1630” (Fincham 180).
The play’s list of Dramatis Personae cites the main historical sources. Camillus and Brennus, we are told, come from Livy’s history Book 5. The majority of the remaining characters derive from either Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars or Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. Whoever composed the list of Dramatis Personae was meticulous, not only listing two “lad[ies] mentioned” who do not appear onstage during the play, but also listing the character of Cassibelane twice: once as Caesar’s “Cassibellaunus” and again as Geoffrey’s “Cassibelane”. The author of this list was either careless or keen to assert an equivalence between Caesar and Geoffrey’s texts as “history”.
Indeed, I feel Fuimus Troes may offer more to the modern reader as a dramatisation of the historiographical contest between native and classical (Latin) texts for discursive eminence in the early decades of the seventeenth-century than to the modern playgoer as an early modern representation of historical characters in conflict. Investigation of character-psychology is not a priority in the play. Only Rollano, the cowardly Belgian who prefers tackling dead capons to live Romans, Eulinus, the lovesick noble given to neo-platonic excess in his utterance and Spenserian intensity in his dreams, and Nennius, the British champion who wins Caesar’s sword in one-to-one combat, emerge as memorable characters. However, the play becomes more fascinating if its two main sources (Caesar and Geoffrey) are regarded as the real protagonist and antagonist among the Dramatis Personae. And though the traitor Androgeus, as character, may not captivate an audience with his pallid vacillations, as a Geoffrey-derived creation he attracts the informed reader’s eye by appearing onstage with his Caesarian double, Mandubratius (Mandubrace). For Mandubratius and Androgeus are the same “historical” character under two different names. In such ways, “the play calls attention [both] to its use of Galfridian non-history and to its own story as a mixture” (Curran 22).
Of course, Fuimus Troes has other sources besides those cited in the list of Dramatis Personae. The playwright paraphrases Tacitus, Lucian and others, among Latin authors. He also includes abundant echoes of early modern English poets and dramatists such as Spenser, Shakespeare and Kyd. Other details derive from English/British chroniclers and antiquarians such as Holinshed and Camden. In addition, eulogistic imagery familiar from the many masques and pageants written after the accession of King James in 1603 is often employed by Fisher as patriotic ammunition. Details of such borrowings and adaptations can be found in the notes accompanying the text of the play in this edition.
Type of Play.
Under conditions affected by strict state censorship (as obtained under the Tudor-Stuart polities), the distancing effect inherent in “history plays” allowed playwrights to comment obliquely on contemporary political issues in relative safety. Also, a dramatist might claim he did not seek to criticise the existing regime in his history play, but rather wished to demonstrate “universal” laws of government in a historical setting. After all, “kings, by understanding these laws, could rule wisely and well” (Ribner 19). Nonetheless, “historical eras were chosen for dramatisation particularly because they offered direct parallels with the events of the dramatists’ own times” (17).
As mentioned, a frequent “source of entertainment for the Stuart royalties was provided by the plays performed at the Oxford and Cambridge colleges” (Boas 401). Given the perceived function of the history play as a means of recommending, in acceptable terms, a style of government to a monarch, it comes as no surprise to find that many academic plays were history plays. However, from 1605-1636, Cambridge “had the monopoly of the royal presence at its entertainments” (409). We can assume, therefore, that the performance of Fuimus Troes at Magdalen did not receive a royal audience. But academic plays did not require a royal audience to justify their existence: “In the training of young men for public life, either in the church or state, plays were regarded as a branch of rhetoric whose educational function was to hone the skills of the future preacher, orator and statesman in the classical style” (Elliott, Plays 180). Fuimus Troes, then, may not have been written to advise a king, but to assist in the training of young men who later would be in positions where they would be called upon to advise their monarch or his council. As we know, Fisher not only became a rector after leaving Oxford, he also preached sermons which touched on controversial areas of doctrine.
As for why an academic history play like Fuimus Troes should contain so many songs, it appears that at Oxford, in the Tudor-Stuart period, bachelors were sometimes admitted to Master’s status only on condition that they write a play well-stocked with songs (see Elliot, Plays 179). This provided Oxford’s musical scholars (including choristers) with an opportunity to perform new work before a large audience.
Completing ignoring the play’s musical content, Ribner regards Fuimus Troes as “an academic exercise in the vernacular [which] cannot be said to have had … much influence … upon … the mainstream of English drama”. Yet, he concedes:
The play is interesting as a late survival of the type of rigid imposition of Senecan form on chronicle matter [as, for example, in The Misfortunes of Arthur [1587-8]]. Fisher’s play does, however, show some influence of the popular dramatic tradition in that the serious historical matter is combined with a romantic love affair and with comic interludes provided by a cowardly clown (228).
Aspects of Fuimus Troes may certainly be regarded as a throwback to Elizabethan Senecan tragedy. Its patriotic welding of “British” (i.e. Galfridian) material to a classical form follows the practice inaugurated by “the first original English tragedy extant [based on the] Senecan model, Gorboduc” (Charlton 140-1). In lieu of presenting action, the many “long, static and declamatory speeches” (Cuddon 806) in both plays strive for rhetorical effect at the expense of the (relative) naturalism cultivated by commercial dramatists after Marlowe. Similarly, stichomythia tends to appear in plays regarded as Senecan (see Fuimus Troes 5.1.22ff). While this device may be “highly effective in the creation of tension and conflict” (Cuddon 864), it can also make characters seem like interchangeable conduits of rhetorical technique rather than distinct individuals. In addition, the authors of Gorboduc and Fuimus Troes appear to have designed their plays to deliver clear moral messages. Characters in both plays assert that national tragedy follows private rebellion. At the end of Gorboduc, surviving Britons are told: “These mischiefes spring when rebells will arise, / To worke revenge and iudge their princes fact, / This, this ensues, when noble men do faile / In loyall trouth, and subiectes will be kinges” (5.2.242-5; in Cunliffe). Fisher’s Androgeus likewise says: “Thus, civil war by me and factious broils / Deface this goodly land” (5.5.1-2). Admittedly, Androgeus is a traitor: this speech might be read as expressive of his remorse (and so not primarily didactic). But the patriotic Belinus sententiously concurs: “No way half so quick / To ruinate kingdoms as by home-bred strife. Thus, while we single fight, we perish all” (5.2.8-10). Also, Fisher’s play, like Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy (an “amalgam of Seneca and popular tradition” [Charlton 144]), has Mercury guide the ghosts of illustrious soldiers from the classical underworld back “to this upper sky” (Fuimus, induction 38) to watch the living wreak revenge.
In place of the customary Senecan moralising chorus, however, Fisher puntuates the main action with songs, dances, triumphs and a masque (though the first song in Act 2 Scene 8 strikingly resembles a Greek tragic chorus). Given that opera began as “chanted tragedy” (Cuddon 616) and “musicologists … have charted in the masque the development of a musical style which, in projecting the words of songs in recitative and arioso setting, may have contributed to the rise of opera” (Lindley ix-x), Fisher’s play may be given some credit for a role in the development and combination of existing dramatic forms which culminated in opera.
Major thematic concerns.
James as “Second Brute”.
The Tudor monarchs “exploited their Welsh ancestry to claim descent from the early British kings as a way of legitimising their rule” (Wymer 4), basing their claims largely on genealogical “evidence” contained in Geoffrey’s history. Then, in 1603, James I became king of an ambiguous amalgamation of realms. As a result:
just when all this body of [Galfridian] mythical material was beginning to be historically discredited by the emergence of “modern” historiography and proper antiquarian research, it was being reinvigorated poetically by the reunion of Britain under James, … [who] was hailed as the second Brute in the pageantry which accompanied his Royal entry into London in 1604 and in many other poems and pageants over the next few years (Wymer 5-6).
Thus, Munday’s The Triumphs of Reunited Britania (1605) declares that James, “a second Brute”, is descended from the first (Trojan) Brute “by the blessed marriage of Margaret, eldest daughter of King Henrie the Seaventh, to Iames the fourth king of Scotland” (47-9). James, however, was a better Brute, for “whereas the first Brutus had “severed and divided” the kingdom of Britain among his sons, the new Stuart king would make “one happy Britannia again, peace and quietness bringing that to pass which war nor any other means could attain unto”” (King 41).
With this in mind, it seems legitimate to ask if Fuimus Troes endorses James as a “second Brute”. As Ronan observes, history plays “provided … audiences … with the aesthetic pleasure of ironic endings” (16); i.e. plays that “end” happily end ironically for an audience which knows that history holds unhappiness in store for some of the characters onstage at the play’s close. Obviously, this device affords not only “aesthetic pleasure” for an audience, but also a means of sending a message to a reigning (currently happy) monarch. In Fuimus Troes, Caesar is told by Hulacus, a druid soothsayer, “Be Saturn, and so thou shalt not be Tarquin” (5.1.45). Primed by Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (among many other works), the audience knows that Caesar, as ruler, will become, or come to be perceived as, a tyrant (as did Tarquin) and invite assassination by Brutus. (The name “Brutus” here is another source of irony; Caesar—or James, the second Brute—is told: “Rule as Saturn or be killed by another second Brute…”). So while the play’s conclusion seems to celebrate the union of Caesar and Cassibelane, it indicates elsewhere their shared destinies as would-be absolutists. (Charles I, of course, was to meet a fate comparable to Caesar’s in 1642.)
Prince Henry and Chivalric Values.
Nennius, “a character among Geoffrey’s most brazen fictions … symbolised not only British identity and defiance against Rome, but also continuity [in that he] objected to the renaming of Troynovant into what was to become “London”” (Curran 162; stress added). Likewise, in Fuimus Troes, Nennius represents continuity, in a Stuart context, with the Elizabethan era, espousing Spenserian-Elizabethan chivalric, militant Protestant values. In this he resembles James I’s son Prince Henry, who “ever much reverenced [the] memory and government” of Elizabeth I (Sir John Holles, in Strong 2). As a result of his “reverence” for Elizabeth I’s reign, Henry’s court tended to be the focus-point for a faction of opposition to James’s policies.
Given the positive portrayal of Nennius in Fuimus Troes as a Spenserian chivalric hero, we might suppose that Fisher, like Drayton, was in the pro-Henry / anti-James camp. “For Drayton’s generation (and the one that followed),” says Helgerson, an “intense nostalgia for the age of Elizabeth went hand in hand with a disdain for the Stuart monarch and his court” (129). Drayton, it should be noted, dedicated Polyolbion (1612) to Prince Henry. Indeed, poets at this time frequently reiterated “themes of laudation of Henry living and lament for him dead … [identifying him] with other worthies, like Hector … [and celebrating] his prowess in the lists” (Strong 19). Fisher also compares Nennius with Hector (3.7.19) and shows his knightly prowess in single combat with Caesar himself (3.2). It is worth observing, then, that Prince Henry was closely connected with Oxford: “a census [of scholars at the university] was drawn up [in 1610] … at the request of the prince of Wales” (Porter 35). It is also known that “the prince’s college chapel of Magdalen [Fisher’s college] was draped in black” for Henry’s funeral (Fincham 180).
Reading Nennius as analogue for Henry, then, must lead us to view Fuimus Troes as, to some extent, a challenge to the authority of James I, in that it presents feudal values (i.e. values consistent with a belief in the limited authority of a monarch) in a more positive light than that accorded to values consistent with a belief in the absolute powers of the monarch. Here, I feel, it would be helpful to consider the comparable tension between feudal and absolutist values which exists in a prototype for Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene: Tasso’s Jerusalem Liberated. In Book Five of the latter work:
Rinaldo slays Gernando [another noble] … in a fight over honour and precedence … Goffredo [the king] resolves to punish the offender … [But Rinaldo] refuses even to submit to trial … For Rinaldo, the freeborn nobleman, submission to the law is a sign of servile subjection. The state and its claims must give way before the higher claim of honour and lineage … Tasso leaves no doubt concerning the official allegiance of his poem. It supports Goffredo … [But the notion that] Tasso’s … allegiance [to absolutist state values] is only official, that his poem betrays a ‘secret solidarity’ with the feudal, romantic ideology that it ostensibly rejects, has been a commonplace of criticism almost since the poem was issued (Helgerson 45-6).
Fisher’s play conforms to the same pattern. After all, it is virtually inevitable that the character who heroically (and successfully) challenges no less a personage than Julius Caesar to single combat and takes part in an exciting duel onstage (or on page) will cut a more dashing figure than the representative of state values (i.e. the king), whatever the “official” line of the poem or play in question. Indeed, this “pattern” may be a generic feature common to epics and revenge tragedies exploring heroic-epic values. Choosing to represent Prince Henry as Nennius, then, as an application of this generic “feature”, may be regarded as a political gesture on the dramatist’s part.
James/Charles as Second Augustus.
The relationship of Britain, or England, or whatever name we choose to give to James’s ambiguous realm(s), to classical and Catholic Rome is of central importance to the play. Caesar’s Rome is the Britons’ enemy, but it also represents (as imperial power) a model of excellence to be imitated and surpassed. “In place of Geoffrey’s belief that the Britons resembled the Romans because both descended from Troy, [the governing elite of Stuart Britain] began to embrace the idea that the Roman mission to conquer and civilize had translated westwards and been inherited by Britain” (Kerrigan 114).
In this context, it is significant that James’s “accession medal is the first example of a British monarch adopting the title and dress of a Roman emperor” (King 81). At the pageant welcoming him to London, James was “hailed as a new Augustus … The character of Roman Emperor is [thus] imposed over that of Trojan Prince [“second Brute”] to herald a great imperial reign” (Parry 14). Identification with Augustus, though, not only involves the presentation of the monarch as an emperor who ushers in a new golden age of peace, but may also give rise to concern over the political dangers associated with an absolutist model of rule. For “a state which breaks out of the shell of an ageing empire and claims its autonomy—as Henry VIII broke free of the power of Rome … is likely to be imprinted not just with the ideology but the vices of the apparatus that fostered it” (Kerrigan 114). The growing tendency for English monarchs to represent themselves as Roman emperors represented a clear threat to those who favoured a parliamentarian system. This threat became more serious under James who consistently espoused his belief in his divine right to rule absolutely and reached its presumptuous apogee under Charles. For example, Rubens’s panels for Whitehall, commissioned by Charles, represented James not only as a Roman emperor but as a Roman emperor turned god: “the central oval of the ceiling shows the apotheosis of James … [the king is] borne heavenwards on an imperial eagle” (Parry 28). Like the Romans Julius and Augustus, and the Stuart James, Charles, such imagery implies, is a future god. Gods do not need parliaments to ratify their decrees.
At the Christmas festivities of 1631-2, Charles played Caesar; he led captive kings in Aurelian Townshend’s Albion’s Triumph, and bought Mantegna’s Triumph of Caesar in 1629. This painting, along with twelve portraits of Roman emperors by Titian, “held a particular significance for Charles, for … he was increasingly disposed to cast himself in an imperial role as Emperor of Great Britain, a style already adopted by King James but more grandiosely assumed by Charles” (Parry 49). Albion’s Triumph ends in the joint apotheosis of Charles and Henrietta.
Turning to Fuimus Troes, we find expressed the idea that the Britons can be beaten by the Romans only because a number of British tribes have gone over to Caesar’s side (5.2.5-10). But the British tribes have defected not through fear of Caesar but in opposition to their king’s tyranny: Cassibelane usurps the claims of Androgeus and Themantius to the throne (at least, according to Androgeus and Themantius), refuses to compromise on the question of where Eulinus should be tried for killing Hirildas, and persecutes the tribal chieftain Mandubrace, apparently for political reasons. Whether Cassibelane is in the right or wrong on these issues, the obvious implication is that it is his autocratic style of government that sets in motion the chain of events that leads to the British defeat by Caesar. Had Cassibelane’s “parliament” been given its due, the Romans could have been repulsed. As Themantius pointedly declares: “A body politic must on two legs stand” (5.5.37).
The concept of translatio imperii (the translation of empire) became “extremely influential in the Middle Ages, when the Roman empire was ‘translated’ first to the Franks under Charlemagne and subsequently to the Germans as the Holy Roman Empire, and in a rather different form in the Renaissance, when Spain, France and England all saw themselves as heirs to Rome … [In the use the Tudors made of Geoffrey’s material,] we can see a deliberate imitation of Virgil’s use of the legend of the Trojan Aeneas to support the political position of Augustus. Just as empire had passed from Troy to Rome, so now it passed to New Troy, London” (Rivers 59, 61).
The Renaissance historian Panvinio “locates the main triumphal succession not in the papacy but in the Holy Roman Empire … from Romulus to Charles V” (Miller 47). Charles V (“the second Charlemagne”), on being elected as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, was perceived as “the potential Lord of the World … due to the Hapsburg dynastic marriage policy which had brought … vast territories under his rule” (Yates, Astraea 1), “territories more extensive than the ancient Roman empire” (Miller 2).
This reading of history extended into the reign of Charles I. George Lauder, a Scot and a “robust poetic supporter of Charles in his early reign” (Miller 120), represented Charles as another Charlemagne: “his royall brow / Crown’d with triumphant bayes …may HEE … take his place / In Charlemaigne’s fair chayre” (Miller 120-1). Poets such as Lauder, then, were asserting that a new “Charles the Great” was the heir to the British throne at the time Fuimus Troes was written (if a date of composition based on supposed analogical references to Frederick’s downfall is accepted [see below]). Also, this new Charlemagne occupied the throne when the play was finally published. Hence, it is intriguing to find, in the play’s opening scene, Brennus (who “throughout the sixteenth-century and well into the seventeenth … continued to be invoked as a figure for England’s / Britain’s independence from, rivalry with, and primordial superiority to Rome” [Schwyzer 15]), referring anachronistically to “Charles his wain” (line 17) as the starting point for his victorious campaign against Rome. Charles’s Wain, of course, was an old name for the Great Bear constellation. As Berry and Archer observe:
An important figurative strand within Union-inspired literature expands on classical allusions to the British as ‘the nations on whom the Pole Star looks down’, whose island ‘lies under the Great Bear’, the constellation ‘that circleth ever in her place’ … Following the acceptance of Copernicus’s hypothesis of the earth’s planetary status, both the new Britain and its ruler are equated with the polar stars as the ‘loadstone’ or fixed points within the newly mobile globe (124).
With a new Charlemagne reigning at the new imperial/geographical centre of the world, Charles’s empire supersedes that of old Rome (previously regarded, at least by the ancient Romans themselves, as the centre of the known world), thereby “reversing the Roman conquest of Britain” (Miller 121). In this way, Charles may be said to “appropriate the triumphal boast of Julius Caesar: ‘hee shall come and see, and overcome’ (Miller 121; quoting Lauder). Fisher participates in the same discursive field, cancelling Caesar’s boast by having Caesar himself admit, regarding his British campaign: “Nor can I write now, ‘I came over, / And I overcame’” (3.4.19-20). Also, Fisher interrogates the notion that Caesar discovered Britain by implying that the pole star lures Caesar to Britain precisely so that Rome’s imperial authority may be transmitted: “I long to stride / This Hellespont [i.e. the Channel]” declares Caesar in Act 1, “Disclosing to our empire unknown lands / Until the arctic star for zenith stands” (2.33-6). That is, the arctic star will not only magnetically distort the borders of the Roman Empire and de-centre Rome, but the island it shines upon (Britain) will replace Rome as the “zenith” of the world. In asserting that the Britons are no less “true Trojans” than the Romans, and in showing Nennius the British hero defeating Julius Caesar in single combat, taking Caesar’s sword as a sign of victory to be paraded in a triumphal procession, Fisher announces that the imperial mantle is being translated from pagan (or Catholic) Rome to Christian (Protestant) Britain. Thus, the “triumphs” in Act 3 Scene 7, though they appear only as a stage direction in the text of the play, in performance would presumably play a major role, representing the moment of translatio imperii.
The Golden Age (and the Marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Frederick V, Elector Palatine).
The Christian Holy Roman empire was to be created by (ostensibly) peaceful means, not conquest. Charles V “had providentially inherited territories in Europe which recalled the Roman Empire [and] … did not entertain the ambition of achieving a world empire by conquering other states” (Yates, Astraea 25-6; emphasis added). But the dream of Charles V peacefully ruling a united Christian world ended with the reformation. After that, individual national monarchs “representing the ordered rule of the One within their individual realms—took over something of the imperial role” (Astraea 28). James was represented as having providentially united the island of Britain for the first time since the birth of Christ. Thus, “the small world of the Tudor union [of the houses of Lancaster and York] and the Tudor pax” and the slightly larger world of (symbolic) British union under James and the Jacobean pax “have behind them the vaster European perspectives of the Hapsburg union and the Hapsburg pax; and behind these again is the august concept of Holy Roman Empire, reaching out in ever-widening influence to include the whole globe” (54).
James I saw dynastic union as the means by which a Christian empire could expand without recourse to arms. Accordingly, he decided his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, should marry “Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, … the senior Elector of the Holy Roman Empire who … was [putatively] descended from Charlemagne” (Strong 56-7). An account published in Heidelberg in 1613 of a masque intended to be performed at the marriage of Elizabeth and Frederick provides
insight as to how the Palatine match was viewed … The argument [of the masque states:] … ‘although the poets say, divisus ab orbe Britannus; yet the marriage, made in heaven, and consummated on earth, of the only daughter of this wise King of Great Britain with the Serene Prince Frederick V, Elector of Palatine … had given occasion … to believe, that one day, if it pleased God, the world (quitting its errors) would come to give recognition to Truth which resides solely in England and the Palatinate’ (Strong 135).
In other words, the marriage of Elizabeth and Frederick brought the dream of a world Protestant empire one step closer to fulfillment.
Early modern plays featuring Roman characters set in the decades before the birth of Christ participate in the belief that Christ awaited the coming of Augustus in order to be born into a world stable enough to facilitate the growth of Christianity (see 5.6.62-3 and note). A further implication of this belief in the providential function of imperially-ensured peace was that, in the Stuart period, the creation of a reformed Christian world empire (larger than that governed by Augustus) would see the return of Christ and the completion of history. Consequently, Fuimus Troes includes not only several references to Astraea, the goddess of justice whom Virgil had predicted, in Eclogue 4, would return to earth for a new golden age (see 3.8.16), but also millennial imagery (5.2.16-21). The fact that Fuimus Troes takes its title from Virgil’s Aeneid becomes highly significant in this context, for the latter work had come to be seen as “a semi-sacred poem glorifying the historical framework of the Saviour’s birth” (Yates, Astraea 1). Moreover, from a Christian perspective, the reference to the prophecies of Daniel in the final scene (“The world’s fourth empire Britain doth embrace” [line 20]) suggests that, after the final defeat of Rome, the reign of Christ on earth will begin.
However, hopes for a reformed Christian empire were shown to be unrealistic following the outbreak in Europe of the Thirty Years War around 1620, and the play seems to allude to this disappointment. The heroine of Fuimus Troes, Landora, is referred to as a “phoenix” (4.2.40; as Yates points out, “the return of the golden age and the rebirth of the phoenix are symbols with parallel meanings” [Astraea 38]). But instead of performing a glorious resurrection, this phoenix commits suicide after being involved in a somewhat sordid subplot. Eulinus, a Briton, impersonating the man Landora loved, had been sleeping with her. In the notes to 1.4.85-7, it is suggested that this subplot refers analogically to Frederick V claiming Elizabeth as his bride on the strength of his descent from Charlemagne. Here, there is only space to observe that the name “Landora” is an anagram of “a Roland”. A Roland, it might be felt, must love (and serve) a (descendant of) Charlemagne. In any case, when his country has been ravaged as a result of his actions, Eulinus laments: “Shall ensigns be displayed, and nations rage / About so vile a wretch?” (4.2.34-5). As mentioned, the Thirty Years War was to devastate Europe following Frederick’s attempt to reign as King of Bohemia. In the aftermath of the Battle of White Mountain, “propaganda pamphlets against Frederick … delighted to show him as a poor fugitive [“a wretch”] with one of his stockings coming down” (Yates, Rosicrucian 34). Certainly, events following his marriage to Elizabeth showed that Frederick was no Charlemagne.
The play concludes not with the dynastic union of Britain and Rome through marriage, but with the “masculine embrace” of Cassibelane and Caesar (Mikalachki 96-7). Translatio imperii, it seems, is achieved between men at a symbolic level (via exchanged gifts [5.6.36-40], trophies won in single combat, etc.) not through men and women in a biological manner.
If England depends, to an extent, on Scotland as other for self-definition, what happens when England “merges” with Scotland? Or is English identity, insofar as it can be said to exist at all, simply the product of such mergers? “‘My muse is rightly of the English strain, / That cannot long one fashion entertain.’ Drayton mocks both himself and the English for their lack of any single fixed identity. Yet in this self-mockery there is also pride” (Helgerson 14). By definition, an empire is a nation with an identity crisis, a notional space with shifting boundaries. To become (or extend) an empire is to admit change. “To be like the Greeks [or the Trojans] … to base one’s identity and the identity of one’s country on a project of imitative self-transformation is precisely to adopt “the English strain”, as Drayton defines it” (14). To possess a fluid identity is to possess a recipe for successful imperialism. The mission of world rule is transferred from Rome to Britain because Britain possesses the more flexible identity; put another way: Britain lacks a sense of identity even more than the Romans do.
Are the Britons savages or Trojans? Caesar’s spy, Volusenus, describes the Britons as exotic barbarians: “their statures tall and big, / With blue-stained skins, and long, black, dangling hair / Promise a barbarous fierceness” (2.4.10-12). “The catalogue of British forces offers similar imagery, as the Ordovices are said to ‘rush half-naked on their foes’ [2.5.43]. But British warriors are elsewhere referred to as ‘worthy [k]nights’ [2.8.4]” (Curran 23). Nennius is a chivalric hero, fighting alongside cannibals who “gnaw and suck / Their enemies’ bones” (2.5.62-3). If they are descended from Trojans, these Britons no longer act like it. As Samuel Purchas asks in a marginal note of 1625: “Were not wee our selves made and not borne civill in our Progenitors dayes? and were not Caesars Britaines as brutish as Virginians? The Romane swords were best teachers of civilitie to this & other Countries neere us” (in Wymer 4). The alliteration Purchas found so ready to hand (“Britaines … brutish)” should be noted. As a result of ongoing developments in historiographical method, Britain’s Trojan ancestry (via Brute) had become material for self-mocking word-play. Through its fusion of Latin and “British” sources, Fuimus Troes participates in this self-mockery (for example, see 3.8.38 for a comparable equation of Britons with “brutes”) at the same time that it refuses to relinquish the notion that the Britons, no less than the Romans, are “true Trojans”.
I have based this edition on the quarto edition of Fuimus Troes (1633). Spelling and punctuation have been modernised. In some cases, vocabulary has been (silently) modernised. Elisions in the original have also been silently regularised, except where metre would be affected by the change. The “-ed” form is used for unstressed terminations in past tenses and past participles, and “-èd” for stressed. Unaccented vowels have occasionally been given accents to correct what I regard as faulty metre. I have also corrected what I consider to be obvious errors (such changes are referred to in the relevant footnotes). Square brackets enclose any additions to or changes in the stage directions.
It will be noticed that this edition contains a great many notes. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I have not included a glossary. Therefore, every word which I felt a modern reader might not understand is glossed in a note below the text. Secondly, the play contains a great many classical allusions which require explanation for a modern reader. Thirdly, there has been very little criticism written about this play. Therefore, I have attempted to include every salient piece of commentary I could find, distributed in relevant footnotes. Hence, this edition functions as a compilation of existing criticism on Fuimus Troes. Finally, as explained in the introduction, I find it useful to regard Fisher’s sources (especially Geoffrey and Caesar) as characters in the play. To enable the reader to discern these “characters” beneath their disguises, I have given perhaps more examples of “source-passages” than is customary in most editions.
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“Fuimus Troes” (Aeneid 2).°
THE TRUE TROJANS,°
a story of the Britons’ valour at the Romans’ first invasion.
Printed by J[ohn] L[egatt] for Robert Allot,° and are to be sold at the sign of the
Bear in Paul’s churchyard, 1633.
Magdalen College° in Oxford.
Quis Martem tunicâ tectum adamantinâ dignè scripserit?°
Furius Camillus.° from] Livy
Q. Laberius, alias Labienus.° [characters
Q. Atrius. from]
Comius Atrebas.° Caesar’s
Mandubratius,° princeps Trinobantum. on the
Cingetorix, petty king in Kent. Gallic War
Carvilius, petty king in Kent. Books 4 and 5.
Taximagulus, petty king in Kent.
Segonax, petty King in Kent.
Androgeus,° Lud’s son.
Nennius, Beli Mawr’s son.° from]
Belinus, a chief nobleman.° Geoffrey’s
Hirildas, nephew to Cassibelane. Monuments
Eulinus, nephew to Androgeus. Book 4.
Cridous, King of Albania.
Britael, King of Demetia.
Guerthed, King of Ordovicia.
Lantonus, druid or priest.
Hulacus, druid or priest.
Landora, lady mentioned.°
Cordella, lady mentioned.
Rollano, a Belgic.
Chorus of five bards or poets laureate.
Mercury: As in the vaults of this big-bellied earth
Are dungeons, whips and flames for wicked ghosts,
So° fair Elysian fields, where spotless souls
Do bathe themselves in bliss. Among the rest,
Two pleasant groves by two sorts are possessed: 5
One by true lovers crowned with myrtle boughs,
Who, hand in hand, sing paeans of their joy;
Brave soldiers hold the second, clad in steel,
Whose glittering arms brighten those gloomy shades,
In lieu of starry lights.° From hence I bring 10
A pair of martial imps,° by Jove’s decree,
As sticklers° in their nations’ enmity.
Furius Camillus, and, thou Briton bold,
Great Brennus, sheathe your conquering blades. In vain
You threaten death, for ghosts may not be slain.° 15
Brennus: From the unbounded ocean and cold climes
Where Charles his wain° circles the northern pole,
I first led out great swarms of shaggy Gauls
And big-boned Britons.° The white-pated Alps,
Where snow and winter dwell, did bow their necks° 20
To our victorious feet. Rome, proudest Rome,
We clothed in scarlet of patrician blood,°
And ’bout your Capitol pranced our vaunting steeds,
Defended more by geese than by your gods.°
Camillus: But I cut short your fury, and my sword 25
To fat our crows and dung our Latin fields.°
I turned your torrent to another coast,°
And what you quickly won, you sooner lost.
Mercury: Leave these weak brawlings. Now swift time hath spent 30
A Pylian age, ° and more, since you two breathed,
Mirrors° of British and of Roman valour.
Lo, now the black imperial bird° doth clasp
Under her wings the continent, and Mars,
Trampling down nations with his brazen wheels, 35
Fights for his nephews° and hath once more made
Britons and Romans meet. To view these deeds,
I, Hermes, bring you to this upper sky,
Where you may wander, and with ghastly looks
Incite your country-men. When night and sleep 40
Conquer the eyes; when weary bodies rest
Never two nations better matched, for Jove
Loves both alike. Whence then these armèd bands?°
Brennus: Then let war ope° his jaws as wide as hell
And fright young babes; my country-folk, more stern,
Full dearly will each pace of ground be sold, 50
Which rated is at dearest blood, not gold.°
Or can three hundred summers slake their° fear?
Camillus: Arise, thou Julian star, whose angry beams° 55
Be heralds to the north of war and death.°
Let those black calends° be revenged, those ghosts
(Whose mangled sheaths deprived of funeral rites,
Be expiated with a fiery deluge. 60
Jove rules the spheres, Rome all the world beside,
And shall this little corner be denied?°
Mercury: Bandy no more these private frowns, but haste,
Fly to your parties and enrage their minds,
And back reduce° you to grim Pluto’s hall.
The True Trojans.
Act 1 Scene 1.
Duke° Nennius, alone.
Nennius. Methinks I hear Bellona’s° dreadful voice,
Redoubled from the concave shores of Gaul.°
Methinks I hear their neighing steeds, the groans
Of complemental° souls, taking their leave,
And all the din and clamorous rout° which sounds 5
When falling kingdoms crack in fatal flames.
Die, Belgics,° die like men. Free minds need have
Naught but the ground they fight on for their grave,
And we are next. Think ye the smoky mist
Of sun-boiled seas can stop the eagle’s eye,° 10
Or can our wat’ry walls keep dangers out,°
Feeding impostumed humours° to be lanced
As they° are now, whose flaming towns, like beacons, 15
Give us fair warning, and even gild our spires,°
Whilst merrily we warm us at their fires?
Yet we are next, who, charmed with peace and sloth,
Dream golden dreams. Go, warlike Britain, go,
For olive bough exchange thy hazel bow,° 20
Hang up thy rusty helmet, that the bee
May have a hive or spider find a loom.
Instead of soldiers’ fare and lodging hard
(The bare ground being their bed and table), lie
Smothered in down, melting in luxury. 25
Instead of bellowing drum and cheerful flute,
Be lulled in lady’s lap with amorous lute.°
But, as for Nennius, know I scorn this calm.
The ruddy planet at my birth bore sway—
Sanguine adust° my humour, and wild fire 30
Make up the temper° of a captain’s valour.
Act 1 Scene 2.
[Enter] Julius Caesar, Comius, Volusenus, Laberius, soldiers with ensign° (a two-necked
Caesar: Welcome thus far, partners of weal and woe;
Welcome, brave bloods. Now may our weapons sleep,
Vast Germany stands trembling at our bridge,°
And Gaul lies bleeding in her mother’s lap. 5
Once the Pellean duke° did eastward march
To rouse the drowsy sun, before he rose,
Adorned with Indian rubies, but the main°
Bade him retire. He was my type.° This day,
We stand on nature’s western brink.° Beyond, 10
Nothing but sea and sky. Here is nil ultra.°
Democritus, make good thy fancy,° give me
More worlds to conquer, which may be both seen
And won together. But methinks I ken
A whitish cloud° kissing the waves, or else 15
Some chalky rocks surmount the barking flood.
Comius, your knowledge can correct our eyes.°
Comius: It is the British shore, which ten leagues hence
Displays her shining cliffs unto your sight.
Invites destruction and gives to our eye
Shall paint her pale face with red crimson gore.
Comius: Thus much I know, great Caesar, that they lent
Their secret aid unto the neighbour Gauls,° 25
Fostering their fugitives with friendly care,
Which made your victory fly with slower wing.
Caesar: That’s cause enough.° They shall not henceforth range
Abroad for war, we’ll bring him° to their doors.
His ugly idol shall displace their gods, 30
Their dear Penates,° and in desolate streets
Raise trophies high of barbarous bones, whose stench
May poison all the rest. I long to stride°
Disclosing to our empire unknown lands° 35
Until the arctic star° for zenith stands.
Laberius: Then raise the camp and strike a dreadful march
And unawares pour vengeance on their heads.
Be like the wingéd bolt of angry Jove,
Or chiding torrent whose late-risen stream 40
From mountains bended top runs raging down,
Deflow’ring all the virgin dales.
Caesar: First, let’s advise,° for soon to ruin come
Rash weapons which lack counsel grave at home.
Laberius: What need consulting where the cause° is plain? 45
Laberius: Provide for battle, but of truce no word.
Caesar: Where peace is first refused should come the sword.°
Laberius: But ’tis unlike° their self-presuming might
Caesar: ’Tis true, yet so we stop the people’s cry,°
When we propose and they do peace deny.
We’ll therefore wise ambassadors dispatch
(Parents of love, the harbingers of leagues,
Men that may speak with mildness mixed with courage, 55
Having quick feet, broad eyes, short tongues, long ears)
To warn the British court,
And further view the ports, fathom the seas,
Learn their complotments,° where invasion may
Be soonest entertained.° All this shall lie 60
On Volusene, a legate° and a spy.
Volusenus: My care and quickness shall deserve this kindness.
Meantime, unite and range° your scattered troops,
Embark your legions at the Iccian shore°
And teach Erinyes° swim, which crawled before. 65
Act 1 Scene 3.
[Enter] Cassibelane, Androgeus, Themantius, Belinus, attendants.
Cassibelane: Although the people’s voice constrains me hold
This regal staff,° whose massy weight would bruise
Your age and pleasures, yet this, nephews, know:
Your trouble less,° your honour is the same,
As if you wore the diadem of this isle. 5
Meanwhile, Androgeus, hold unto your use
Our lady-city Troynovant° and all
The toll and tribute of delicious Kent,
Of which each quarter can maintain a king.
Have you, Themantius, Cornwall’s dukedom large, 10
Both rich and strong in metals and in men.°
I must to Verulam’s fencèd town° repair,
And as protector for the whole take care.°
Androgeus: My heart agrees. Henceforth, ye sovereign cares,
State-mysteries, false graces, jealous fears, 15
The linings of a crown, forsake my brain.
These territories neither are too wide
To trouble my content, nor yet too narrow
To feed a princely train.
Themantius: All thanks I render. Your will shall guide ours. 20
With treble-twisted love, we’ll strive to make
One soul inform three bodies, keeping still
The same affections both in good and ill.
Now am I for a hunting match. Yon thickets
Shelter a boar which spoils the plough-man’s hope— 25
Whose jaws with double-sword, whose back is armed
With bristled pikes, whose fume inflames the air,
And° foam besnows the trampled corn. This beast
I long to see come smoking to a feast.
Exit Themantius. Enter Rollano.
Belinus: Here comes my Belgic friend, Landora’s servant. 30
What news, Rollano, that thy feet so strive
To have precedence° of each other? Speak.
I read disturbèd passions on thy brow.
Rollano: My trembling heart quavers upon my tongue,
That scarce I can with broken sounds vent forth 35
These sad, strange, sudden, dreary, dismal news.
A merchant’s ship, arrived,° tells how the Roman,
Having run Gaul quite through with bloody arms,
Prepares for you. His navy, rigged in bay,
Only expects a gale. Further, they say, 40
A pinnace,° landed, from him brings command
Either to lose your freedom or your land.
Cassibelane: And dares proud Caesar back our untamed surges?
Dreads he not our sea-monsters, whose wild shapes
Their theatres ne’er yet in picture saw?° 45
Come, sirs, to arms, to arms. Let speedy posts
Summon our petty kings and muster up
Our valorous nations from the north and west.
Two names which now Albania’s kingdom° share. 50
Entreat their aid, if not for love, yet fear
For° new foes should imprint swift-equal fear
Through all the arteries of our isle.°
Belinus, thy authority must rouse
The vulgar troops within my special charge.° 55
Fire° the beacons. Strike alarums loud.
Raise all the country ’gainst this common foe.
We’ll soon confront him in his full career.
This news more moves my choler° than my fear.
Rollano: I am by birth a Belgic, whence I fled 60
To Germany for fear of Roman arms.
But when their bridge bridled the stately Rhine,°
I soon returned, and thought to hide my head
In this soft halcyon’s nest,° this Britain isle.
But now, behold, Mars is a-nursing here, 65
And ’gins to speak aloud.
Is no nook safe from Rome? Do they still haunt° me?
Some peaceful god transport me through the air,
Beyond cold Thule,° or the sun’s bedchamber,
Where only swine or goats do live and reign; 70
Yet these° may fight. Place me where quiet peace
Hushes all storms, where sleep and silence dwell,
Where never man nor beast did wrong the soil,
Or crop the first fruits,° or made so much noise
As with their breath. But foolish thoughts, adieu. 75
Act 1 Scene 4.
[Enter] Eulinus, Hirildas.
Eulinus: The court a wardrobe is of living shapes,
And ladies are the tissue-spangled suits
Which nature wears on festival high days.°
The court a spring, each madam is a rose.
The court is heaven, fair ladies are the stars. 5
Hirildas: Aye, falling stars.
Eulinus: False echo, don’t blaspheme that glorious sex,
Whose beauteous rays can strike rash gazers blind.
Hirildas: Love should be blind.
Eulinus: Pray, leave this cynic humour, whilst I sigh 10
My mistress’ praise: her beauty’s past compare;
Oh, would she were more kind or not so fair.
Her modest smiles both curb and kindle love.
The court is dark without her. When she rises,
The morning is her hand-maid, strewing roses 15
About love’s hemisphere. The lamps above
Eclipse themselves for shame, to see her eyes
Out-shine their chrysolites° and more bless the skies
Than they the Earth—
Hirildas: Give me her name.
Eulinus: —Her body is a crystal cage, whose pure 20
Transparent mould not° of gross elements
Compacted, but° the extracted quintessence
Of sweetest forms distilled, where graces bright
Do live immured, but not exempt from sight…
Hirildas: I prithee speak° her. 25
Eulinus: Her model is beyond all poets’ brains
And painters’ pencils. All the lively nymphs,
Sirens and dryads are but kitchen-maids,
If you compare. To frame the like Pandore,°
The gods repine,° and nature would grow poor… 30
Hirildas: By love, who is’t? Hath she no mortal name?
Eulinus: For here you find great Juno’s stately front,
Pallas’ gray eye, Venus her dimpled chin,
Aurora’s rosy fingers, the small waist
Of Ceres’ daughter and Medusa’s hair 35
Before it hissed…°
Hirildas: Oh love, as deaf as thou art blind! Good Eulinus,
Call home thy soul and tell thy mistress’ name.
Eulinus: Oh, strange! What, ignorant still, when as so plainly
These attributes describe her? Why, she is 40
A rhapsody of goddesses! The elixir°
Of all their several perfections. She is
(Now bless your ears) by mortals called Landora.
Hirildas: What, Landora the Trinobantic lady°?
Eulinus: All steel and adamant. ’Tis beauty’s pride to stain
Her lily white with blood of lovers slain.°
Their groans make music, and their scalding sighs
Raise a perfume, and, vulture-like, she gnaws
Their bleeding hearts. No gifts, no learned flattery, 50
No stratagems can work Landora’s battery.°
As a tall rock maintains majestic state,
Though Boreas° gallop on the tottering seas
Upon his surly breast, so° she resists, 55
And all my projects on her cruel heart
Are but retorted to° their author’s smart.
Hirildas: Why then, let scorn succeed thy love and bravely
Conquer thy self, if thou wilt conquer her.
Stomachs with kindness cloyed, disdain must stir.° 60
Eulinus: Most impious thoughts! Oh, let me rather perish
And, loving, die, than, living, cease to love.
And when I faint, let her but hear me cry,
“Aye me, there’s none which truly loves, but I”.
Hirildas: Oh, ye cross° darts of Cupid! This very lady, 65
This lady-wasp,° woos me, as thou dost her,
With glances, jewels, bracelets of her hair,
Lascivious banquets and most eloquent eyes.
All which my heart misconsters° as immodest,
It being pointed for another pole. 70
But hence learn courage, coz.° Why stand you dumb?
Women are women, and may be o’ercome.
Eulinus: Your words are earwigs° to my vexéd brain,
They strike me senseless. 75
My kinsman and Hirildas, to my end,°
But I’ll ne’er call you counsellor or friend. Adieu.
Hirildas: Stay, stay. For now I mean with gentler breath
To waft you to your happy landing place.
Seeing this crocodile pursues me flying, 80
Flies you pursuing, we’ll catch her by a trick.
But in the night, and secret, and disguised,
Where thou, which art my self,° shalt act my part.
Eulinus: Blest be these means, and happy the success.
Now ’gin I rear my crest above the moon°
And in those gilded books read lectures of
Whose garments shine with thirteen precious stones, 90
Types of as many virtues; then her daughter,°
Whose beauty without° Perseus would have tamed
The monstrous fish,° glides with a starry crown;
Then just Astraea° combs her golden hair;
And my Landora can become the skies 95
As well as they. Oh, how my joys do swell!
He mounted not more proud whose burning throne
Kindled the cedar-tops and quaffed whole fountains.°
Fly then, ye wingéd hours, as swift as thought,
Or my desires. Let day’s bright wagoner° 100
Fall headlong and lie buried in the deep,
And, dormouse-like, Alcides’ night° out-sleep.
Good Tethys,° quench his beams, that he ne’er rise
To scorch the Moors, to suck up honey-dews
Or to betray my person.° 105
But prithee, tell, what mistress you adore?
Hirildas: The kind Cordella,° loving and belov’d.
Only some jar of late about a favour
Made me inveigh ’gainst women. Come, away,
Our plots desire the night, not babbling day. 110
Eulinus: We must give way. Here come our reverend bards
With former chance comparing present deeds.°
Act 1 Scene 5.
Chorus of five bards laureate, [comprised of] four voices and a harper, attired.
Birds do sing,
Now with high,
Then low cry;
Flat, acute; 5
The sun born
All: He’s no bard that cannot sing
The praises of the flow’ry spring. 10
2: Flora,° queen,
All in green,
To paint white
And to spread 15
With a blue
All: He’s no bard that cannot sing
The praises of the flow’ry spring. 20
3: Woods renew
Crowned with bay,°
With his pipe 25
Care doth wipe,°
Till he dream
By the stream.
All: He’s no bard that cannot sing
The praises of the flow’ry spring. 30
4: Faithful loves,
Sit and bill
On a hill.
Country swains 35
Run and leap,
Turn and skip.
All: He’s no bard that cannot sing
The praises of the flow’ry spring. 40
5: Pan° doth play
Two foot tall,
With caps red 45
On their head,
On the ground.
All: He’s no bard that cannot sing
The praises of the flow’ry spring. 50
6: Phyllis° bright,
Clothed in white,
With neck fair,
Rocks doth move 55
With her love
And make mild
All: He’s no bard that cannot sing
Thus spend we time in laughter,
While peace and spring do smile,
But I hear a sound of slaughter
Draw nearer to our isle.
Leave then your wonted prattle, 65
The oaten reed° forbear,
For I hear a sound of battle,
And trumpets tear the air.
Let bagpipes die for want of wind,
Let crowd° and harp be dumb. 70
Let little tabor come behind,
For I hear the dreadful drum.
Let no birds sing, no lambkins dance,
No fountains murmuring go.
Let shepherd’s crook be made a lance, 75
For the martial horns do blow.
Act 2 Scene 1.
[Enter] Cassibelane, Cridous, Britael, Guerthed, Nennius, Belinus, Eulinus, [with] Volusenus
Cassibelane: Heavens favour Cridous, fair Albania’s° king,
And Britael decked with the Demetian° crown.
The same to famous Guerthed, whose command
Legate, you may your message now declare. 5
Volusenus: By me, great Caesar greets the Briton state.
This letter speaks the rest.
Cassibelane: Then read the rest.
Volusenus: [Reads] “Caesar, Proconsul° of Gallia, to Cassibelane, King of Britain.
Since Romulus’ race, by will of Jove,
Have stretched their empire wide, 10
Unto Mount Atlas’ side,
And provinces and nations strong,
With homage due obey,
We wish that you, hid in the sea, 15
Do likewise tribute pay,
Submitting all unto our wills,
For rashly aiding Gaul,
And noble lads for hostages
Make ready at our call. 20
These, granted, may our friendship gain,
Denied, shall work your woe.
Now take your choice: whether you’d find
Rome as a friend or foe.”
Cassibelane: Bold mandates are unwelcome to free princes. 25
Legate, withdraw; you shall be soon dispatched.
Cridous: He writes more like a victor than a foe,
Whose greatness, risen from subduéd nations,
Is fastened only with fear’s slippery knot.
Nor can they fight so fierce for wealth or fame, 30
As we for native liberty. With answer rough
Bid him defiance. So thinks Cridous.
Guerthed: Guerthed maintains the same, and on their flesh
I’ll write my answer in red characters.
Britael: Thou ravenous wolf,° imperious monster Rome, 35
Seven-headed hydra,° know we scorn thy threats.
We can oppose thy hills with mounts as high
And scourge usurpers with like cruelty.
And thus thinks Britael.
Eulinus: Let Caesar come. Our land doth rust with ease 40
And wants° an object whose resisting power
May strike out valorous flashes from her veins.
So shadows give a picture life. So flames
Grow brighter by a fanning blast. Nor think
I am a courtier and no warrior-born, 45
“Militat omnis amans”: each lover is a soldier.
I can join Cupid’s bow and Mars his lance.
A pewter-coat° fits me as well as silk.
It grieves me see our martial spirits trace 50
The idle streets while weapons by their side
Dangle and lash their backs, as t’were to upbraid
Their needless use.° Nor is it glory small
They° set upon us last, when their proud arms
Fathom the land and seas and teach both poles. 55
On then. So great a foe, so good a cause,
Shall make our name more famous. So thinks Eulinus.
Cassibelane: Then, friends and princes, on this blade take oath,
First, to your country, to revenge her wrongs,
And next, to me, as general, to be led 60
With unity and courage.
They kiss the sword.
All: The gods bless Britain and Cassibelane.
Nennius: Now, royal friends, the heirs of mighty Brute,°
You see what storm hangs hovering o’er this land,
Ready to pour down cataclysms° of blood. 65
Let ancient glory then inflame your hearts.
Beyond the craggy hills of grim-faced death,
Bright honour keeps triumphant court, and deeds
Of martial men live there in marble rolls.
Porter to fame.°
What though the Roman, armed with foreign spoil,
Behind him lead the conquered world and hope
To sink our island with his army’s weight,
Yet we have gods and men and horse to fight, 75
And we can bravely die. But our just cause,
Your forward loves and all our people edged
With Dardan° spirit, and the powerful name
Of country bid us hope for victory.
We have a world within ourselves,° whose breast 80
No foreigner hath, unrevengèd, pressed
These thousand years. Though Rhine and Rhone can serve°
And envy Thames his never captive stream,
Yet maugre° all, if we ourselves are true,
Cassibelane: Let’s then dismiss the legate with a frown
And draw our forces toward the sea to join
With the four kings of Kent, and so affront
His first arrival. But, before all, let
Our priests and druids in their hallowed groves 90
Propitiate the gods and scan events
By their mysterious arts.
Act 2 Scene 2.
[Enter] Eulinus, Hirildas, Rollano.
Hirildas: Well, so. Your tongue’s your own, though drunk or angry.
[Hirildas] seals his mouth.
Hirildas: Speak not a word upon your life. Be dumb.
[Hirildas] gives him money.
Hirildas: [Aside] An excellent instrument to be the bawd
To his dear lady. [To Rollano] But, Rollano, hark. 10
What words, what looks, did give my letter welcome?
Hirildas: Nay, now thy silence is antedated.° Speak.
Hirildas: I give thee leave, I say. Speak. Be not foolish. 15
[Hirildas unseals his mouth.]
Rollano: Then (with your leave), she used,° upon receipt,
No words, but silent joy purpled her face,°
And, seeing your name, straight clapped it to her heart
To print there a new copy, as she’d° say
The words went by her eyes too long a way. 20
Hirildas: You told her my conditions, and my oath
Of silence, and that only you be used?
Rollano: All, sir.
Hirildas: And that this night—
Rollano: Aye, sir.
Hirildas: You guard the door—
Rollano: Aye, sir. 25
Hirildas: But I ne’er mean to come.
Rollano: No, sir? Oh, wretch!
Shall I deceive when she remains so true?
Hirildas: No, thou shall be true,° and she remain deceived.
Eulinus, in my shape, shall climb her bed.
This is the point.° You’ll promise all your aid?
Rollano: Your servant to command, and then reward.
Eulinus: We’ll draw thee meteor-like by our warm favour
Unto the roof and ceiling of the court. 35
We’ll raise thee (hold but fast) on fortune’s ladder.
This fellow is a medley of most lewd
And vicious qualities: a braggart, yet a coward;
A knave, and yet a slave; true to all villainy,
But false to goodness. Yet now I love him 40
Because he stands just in the way of love.°
Hirildas: Coz, I commend you to the Cyprian queen°
Whilst I attend Diana in the forest.
My kinsman Mandubrace and I must try
Our greyhounds’ speed after a light-foot hare. 45
Eulinus: Oh love, whose nerves unite in equal bonds
This massy frame; thou cement of the world,
By which the orbs and elements agree,°
By which all living creatures joy to be,
And, dying, live in their posterity. 50
Thy holy raptures warm each noble breast,
Sweetly inspiring more soul. Thy delight
Surpasses melody, nectar and all pleasures
Of Tempe,° and of Tempe’s oldest sister,
Elysium°—a banquet of all the senses! 55
By thy commanding power, gods into beasts
And men to gods are changed, as poets say.
When sympathy rules, all like what they obey.
But love triumphs when man and woman meet
His sacred shrine. Yet, this to me denied,
And laugh at lovers’ perjuries and guiles.
Act 2 Scene 3.
[Enter] Lantonus, Hulacus [and] two druids, in long robes [with] hats like pyramids [and] branches of mistletoe.
Lantonus: That souls immortal are, I easily grant,
Their future state distinguished, joy or pain,
According to the merits of this life,
But then, I rather think, being free from prison
And bodily contagion, they subsist 5
In places fit for immaterial spirits,
Are not transfused from men to beasts, from beasts
To men again, wheeled round about by change.
Hulacus: And were it not more cruel, to turn out
Poor naked souls stripped of warm flesh, like landlords 10
Bidding them wander? Then (forsooth) imagine
Some unknown cave or coast, whither° all the myriads
Of souls deceased are shipped° and thrust together!
Nay, reason rather says: as at one moment
Some die and some are born, so may their ghosts, 15
Without more cost, serve the succeeding age.
For sure they don’t wear,° to be cast aside,
But enter straight less or more noble bodies,
According to desert of former deeds:
The valiant into lions, coward minds 20
Into weak hares, th’ambitious into eagles,
Soaring aloft, but the perverse and peevish
Are next indeniz’d into° wrinkled apes,
Each vice and virtue wearing seemly shapes.°
Lantonus: So you debase the gods’ most lively image,° 25
The human soul, and rank it with mere brutes,
Whose life, of reason void, ends with their sense.
Belinus: Hail to heaven’s privy counsellors. The king
Desires your judgement of these troublesome times.
Lantonus: The gods foretold these mischiefs long ago. 30
In Eldol’s° reign, the earth and sky were filled
With prodigies, strange sights and hellish shapes:
Sometimes two hosts with fiery lances met,
Armour and horse being heard amid the clouds;
With streamers red, now march these airy warriors, 35
And then a sable hearse-cloth wraps up all,°
And bloody drops speckled the grass, as falling
From their deep-wounded limbs,
Whilst staring comets shook their flaming hair.
Thus all our wars were acted first on high, 40
And we taught what to look for.°
Hulacus: Nature turns° step-dame to her brood and dams
Deny their monstrous issue. Saturn, joined
In dismal league with Mars, portends some change.
Late in a grove by night, a voice was heard 45
To cry aloud, “Take heed, more Trojans come.”°
What may be known or done, we’ll search and help,
With all religious care.°
Belinus: The king and army do expect as much,
That powers divine, perfumed with odour sweet 50
And feasted with the fat of bulls and rams,
Be pleased to bless their plots.
Lantonus: All rites and orisons due shall be performed.
Chiefly, night’s empress° fourfold honour craves,
Mighty in heaven and hell, in woods and waves. ° 55
Act 2 Scene 4.
[Enter] Caesar, Volusenus, Laberius, soldiers.
Caesar: What land, what people and what answer, show.
Volusenus: We saw a paradise whose bosom teems
With silver ore, whose seas are paved with pearl.°
The meadows richly spread with Flora’s tapestry;
The fields even wonder at their harvest loads.° 5
In crystal streams the scaly nations play,°
Fringed all along with trembling poplar trees.
The sun in summer, loath to leave their sight,
With blue-stained skins and long black dangling hair,
Promise a barbarous fierceness.° They scarce know,
And much less fear, our empire’s might, but thus
Seeing your empire’s great, why should it not suffice?
To covet more and more is tyrant’s usual guise.°
To lose what Jove you gave, you’d think it but unjust.
You have your answer then: defend this isle we must,
Hath iron more for swords than gold for tribute’s pay.
We hope the gods will help (and fortune back) our cause,
As you from Troy, so we our pedigree do claim.
Despise us not because the sea and north us close.°
Who can no further go, must turn upon their foes.
Thus, rudely° we conclude: wage war or change your will. 30
We hope to use a lance far better than a quill.”
Caesar: I grieve to draw my sword against the stock
And must be frighted ere we shall be friends.°
Then let’s aboard and, hoisting sails, convey 35
Two legions over, for I long to view
This unknown land and all their fabulous rites°
Nature nor fates can valorous virtue stop.
Laberius: Now Caesar speaks like Caesar: stronger and stronger. 40
Rise like a whirlwind. Tear the mountain’s pride.
Shake thy brass harness, whose loud clattering may
And put to flight this nation with the noise. 45
A fly is not an eagle’s combatant,
Nor may a pygmy with a giant strive.
Act 2 Scene 5.
[Enter] Cassibelane, Belinus and attendants, [with] Comius following.
Comius: Health and good fortune on Cassibelane tend.
My love to you and Britain waft me hither
To make atonement° ere the Roman leader
Bring fire and spoil and ruin on your heads.
Nothing withstands his force. Be not too hardy°
But buy a friend with kindness, lest you buy
His anger dearly.
Cassibelane: Comius, speak no more. He knows our mind.
Comius: Oh, let not rage so blind your judgement but 10
Prevent with ease the hazard of a war—
Of war (a word composed of thousand ills).
Oh, be not cruel to yourselves. I’ll undertake,
Without discredit, to appease his wrath
If you’ll cashier° your soldiers and receive 15
Him like a guest, not like an enemy.
Cassibelane: False-hearted Gaul, dar’st thou persuade e’en me
For to betray my people to the sword?
Now know I thou art sent for to solicit
Our princes to rebel, to learn our strength. 20
Lay hands on him: a spy.
All: A spy, a spy, a traitor and a spy.
They chain him.
Comius: Is this the guerdon° of my loving care?
You break the laws of nature, nations, friends.
But look for due revenge at Caesar’s hand. 25
Cassibelane: Expect° in prison thy revenge. Away with him.
Belinus, have you mustered up our forces?
Belinus: Yes, if it please your highness.
Cassibelane: And what are the particulars?
Belinus: First, Cridous leads from the Albanian realm, 30
Where Grampius’° ridge divides the smiling dales,
Five thousand horse, and twenty thousand foot,
Three thousand chariots manned. The Brigants° come,
Decked with blue-painted shields, twelve thousand strong.
Under the conduct of Demetia’s prince, 35
Whom the Silures° flank, eight thousand stout,
Greedy of fight, born soldiers the first day,
Whose gray-goose-wingèd shafts ne’er flew in vain.
Then Guerthed, mounted on a shag-hair steed, 40
Full fifteen thousand brings, both horse and foot,
Of desperate Ordovicians, whose use° is
To rush half-naked on their foes, enraged
With a rude noise of pipes.
Your province bounded with that boiling stream 45
And with curled-pated Humber, Neptune’s heir,
Affords eight thousand cars,° with hooks and scythes,
And fifty thousand expert men of war
(All brave Logrians, armed with pike and spear), 50
Each nation being distinguished into troops,
With gaudy pennons° flickering in the air.
Beside these, Kent is up in arms, to blunt
The edge of their first furious shock.
Cassibelane: We’ll now invite them° to a martial feast, 55
Carving with falchions° and carousing healths
In their lives’ moisture. Well returned, Androgeus.
Have you obtained, or is your suit denied?
Androgeus: Our message told unto the Scots, their king,
With willing sympathy, levies a band: 60
Ten thousand footmen, whose strange appetites
Murder and then devour and dare gnaw and suck
Their enemies’ bones. Conducted thence, we saw
The Pictish court and, friendly° entertained,
Receive eight thousand, whose most ugly shapes, 65
May kill and stonify° without all weapons.
More aid they promise, if more need. These forces,
Led by Cadallan, hither march with speed.
Cassibelane: ’Tis well. Our kings consent for common good. 70
When all are joined, we shall o’er-spread the hills,
And, soldiers thicker than the sand on shore,
Hide all the landing coasts. Ere next day break,
The rocks shall answer what the drum doth speak.
Act 2 Scene 6.
[Enter] Hulacus, Lantonus, ministers.
Lantonus: That ceremonious fear,° which bends the heart
Of mortal creatures and displays itself
In outward signs of true obedience,
As° prayer, kneeling, sacrifice and hymns,
Requires again help from immortal deities 5
As promise, not as debt. We laud° their names;
They give us blessings and forgive our blames.
Thus, gods and men do barter. What in piety
Ascends, as much descends again in pity—
A golden chain reaching from heaven to earth. 10
Hulacus: And now’s the time, good brother, of their aid,°
When danger’s black face frowns upon our state.
Away, away, ye hearts and tongues profane;
Without devotion, mysteries are vain.°
They kneel, elevate hands thrice.
Lantonus: Draw near, ye heavenly powers 15
Who dwell in starry bowers,
And ye who in the deep
On mossy pillows sleep,
And ye who keep the centre
Where never light did enter, 20
And ye whose habitations
Are still among the nations,
To see and hear our doings
(Our births, our wars, our wooings).
Behold our present grief. 25
Belief doth beg relief.
By the dreadful mistletoe°
Which doth on holy oak grow. ° 30
Draw near, draw near, draw near.
Hulacus: Help us, beset with danger,
And turn away your anger.
Help us, begirt with trouble,
And now your mercy double. 35
Help us, oppressed with sorrow,
And fight for us tomorrow.
Let fire consume the foe-man.
Let air infect the Roman.
Let seas entomb their fury. 40
Let gaping earth them bury.
Let fire and air and water
And earth conspire their slaughter.
Both: [going around] By the vervain and lunary,
By fern-seed planetary, 45
By the dreadful mistletoe
Which doth on holy oak grow.
Draw near, draw near, draw near.
Help us, help us, help us.
Lantonus: We’ll praise then your great power, 50
Each month, each day, each hour,
And blaze in lasting story,
Your honour and your glory.
High altars lost in vapour,
Young heifers free from labour, 55
White lambs for suck still crying
Shall make your music, dying.
The boys and girls around,
With honeysuckles crowned,
The bards with harp and rhyming, 60
Green bays their brows entwining,
Sweet tune and sweeter ditty
Shall chant your gracious pity.
Both: [going around] By the vervain and lunary,
By fern-seed planetary, 65
By the dreadful mistletoe
Which doth on holy oak grow.
Draw near, draw near, draw near.
We’ll praise, we’ll praise, we’ll praise.
Hulacus: Fix, holy brother, now your prayers on one: 70
Britain’s chief patroness.° With humble cry,
Let us invoke the moon’s bright majesty.°
Lantonus: Thou, queen of heaven, commandress of the deep,
Lady of lakes, regent of woods and deer,
A lamp dispelling irksome night, the source 75
With garments blue and rushy garlands dressed,
Wait twenty thousand naiads. Thy crescent
Brute elephants adore,° and man doth feel
Thy force run through the zodiac of his limbs.° 80
Oh, thou first guide of Brutus to this isle,°
Drive back these proud usurpers from this isle.
Whether the name of Cynthia’s silver globe
Or chaste Diana with a gilded quiver
Or dread Proserpina, stern Dis° his spouse, 85
Or soft Lucina, called in child-bed throes,
Doth thee delight—rise with a glorious face,
Green drops of Nereus° trickling down thy cheeks,
And with bright horns, united in full orb,
Toss high the seas, with billows beat the banks, 90
Conjure up Neptune and the Aeolian slaves,°
Contract both night and winter in a storm,°
That° Romans lose their way and sooner land
At sad Avernus° than at Albion’s strand.
So mayst thou shun the dragon’s head and tail.° 95
So may the fair game fall before thy bow.
Shed light on us, but lightning on our foe.
Hulacus: Methinks a gracious lustre spreads her brow,
[Voice] within [the shrine]: Come near and take this oracle.
Lantonus: Behold, an oracle flies out from her shrine,
Which both the king and state shall see before
We dare unfold it.
Act 2 Scene 7.
[Enter] Brennus’s ghost [and] Nennius in night-robes.
Brennus: Follow me.
Brennus: Follow me, Nennius.
Nennius: He names me. Sure it is some friend which speaks.
I’ll follow thee, though’t be through Stygian lakes. 5
Brennus: ’Tis ancient Brennus calls, whose victories
Europe and Asia felt, and still record.
Dear Nennius, now’s the time to steel thy courage.
Canst thou behold thy mother° captive, then
Look back upon thy ancestors, enrolled 10
Among the worthies,° who spread wide her fame?
First let thy eyeballs pour out poisoned beams
And kill them with disdain who dare but lift
Their hand against her. No! No consul must
Boast of her thralldom and out-brave our walls. 15
I wonder that such impudent owls should gaze
Against the splendor of our British cliffs.
Play thou a second Brennus. Let thy lance,
Like an Herculean club, two monsters tame:
Rome’s avarice and pride. So, come life or death, 20
Let honour have the incense° of thy breath.
Nennius: Farewell, heroic soul. Thou shalt not blush
At Nennius’ deeds. The smallest drop of fame
Is cheap if death and dangers may it buy.
Yet give thy words new vigour to my spirits 25
And spur the Pegasus of my mounting thoughts.
I’ll follow thee o’er piles of slaughtered foes
And knock at Pluto’s gate. I come. Come life or death,
Honour, to thee I consecrate my breath.
[Enter] Caesar, [with] Camillus’s ghost following.
Camillus: Julius, stay here. Thy friend Camillus speaks. 30
Caesar: Oh, thou preserver of our present race,
Our city’s second founder!° What dire fate
Troubles thy rest that thou shouldst trouble mine?
Camillus: Only to bid thee fight.
Caesar: Thou shalt not need.
Camillus: And bid thee take a full revenge on this, 35
This nation° which did sack and burn down Rome,
Quenching the coals with blood, and kicked our ashes,
Trampling upon the ruins of our state,
Then led the Gauls in triumph thorough° Greece,
To fix their tents beside Euxinus’ gulf.° 40
Caesar: Is this that northern rout,° the scourge of kingdoms,
Whose names, till now unknown, we judgéd Gauls,
Their tongue and manners not unlike?
Camillus: Gauls were indeed the bulk, but Brennus led
(Then brother to the Briton king)° those armies, 45
Backed with great troops of warlike islanders.
To thee belongs° to render bad for ill.
Oh, be my spirit doubled in thy breast,
With all the courage of three Scipios,°
In feats of war, be forced to bear our yoke.
Caesar: So mayst thou sweetly rest, as I shall strive
To trace your steps.° Nor let me live if I
Thence° disappointed ever seem to fly.
Act 2 Scene 8.
Ancient bards have sung,
With lips dropping honey
And a sugared tongue,
Of our worthy knights:
How Brute did giants tame,° 5
And, by Isis’° current,
A second Troy did frame
(A centre of delights);
Locrinus, eldest son,°
Did drown the furious Hun° 10
But burnt himself with Elstrid’s love;°
Leil, rex pacificus;°
How heavenly bodies roll above;°
Both soul and body’s Bath°
(Like Icarus, he flew);°
A golden crown, ° whose heirs
More than half the world subdue.° 20
Thou nurse of champions, oh, thou spring
Whence chivalry did flow;
Thou diamond of the world’s great ring,°
Thy glorious virtue show.
Thou many a lord hast bred, 25
In catalogue of fame read,°
And still we have
As captains brave
As° ever Britons led.
Then dub a dub dub.° 30
The soldiers join [with] tantara.°
Chorus: Cassibelane, with armour gay
And strongly couchèd lance,
On carcasses shall prance.
What a crimson stream the blade 35
Of Nennius’ sword hath made.°
Black Allia’s day°
And Canae’s fray°
Have for a third long stayed.°
Then dub a dub, dub. 40
The soldiers join [with] tantara.
Act 3 Scene 1.
Noise of ships landing and the battle within. [Enter] Caesar, Volusenus, Laberius, Atrius, ensign, drums, flag.
Caesar: Our landing cost us dearly, many lives
Between the ships and shore being sacrificed.
Our men with heavy armour clogged, and ignorant
Of all the flats and shallows, were compelled
To wade and fight, like Tritons: half above, 5
Half under water.° Now we surer tread
Though much diminished by so many lost.
Come on. Come on.
They march and go out.
[Enter] Cassibelane, Cridous, Britael, Guerthed, the four kings of Kent, Nennius, Androgeus, Themantius, Eulinus, Hirildas, Belinus, Rollano, ensigns, drum. A march [plays].
Cassibelane: So let them land. No matter which they choose—
Fishes or crows—to be executors;° 10
They’ll find the land as dangerous as the sea.
The nature of our soil won’t bear a Roman,
As Irish earth doth poison poisonous beasts.°
On then. Charge close, before they gather head.
Nennius: Brother, advance. On this side, I’ll lead up 15
The new-come succours° of the Scots and Picts.
They march and go out.
[Enter] Caesar [accompanied.]
Caesar: What, still fresh supplies come thronging from their dens?
The nest of hornets is awake. I think,
Here’s nature’s shop.° Here men are made, not born,
Nor stay nine tedious months, but in a trice 20
Sprout up like mushrooms at war’s thunderclap.°
We must make out a way.°
[Enter] Rollano, armed cap-a-pie.°
Rollano: Since I must fight, I am prepared to fight,
And much enflamed with noise of trump and drum.
Methinks I am turned lion and durst meet 25
Ten Caesars. Where° all these covetous rogues
Who spoil the rich for gain and kill the poor
For glory?° Blood-suckers and public robbers.
Laberius enters. Rollano retires afraid but, [Laberius] being gone out, [Rollano] goes forward [again].
Rollano: Nay, stay, and brag Rollano did thee kill.
Stay, let me flesh my sword° and wear thy spoils. 30
Laberius re-enters with an ensign.
Laberius: Come, will ye forsake your ensign and fall off?°
I call to witness all the gods: I here
Perform my duty. Thou canst not ’scape.
Rollano would fly, fights, falls as [though] wounded.
Now die, or yield thyself.
Rollano: I yield, I yield. Oh, save my life, I yield. 35
I am no Briton, but by chance come hither.
I’ll never more lift weapon in their quarrel.
Laberius: How may I trust your faith?
Rollano: Command me any thing.
Laberius: Lay down your neck.
Treads on it.
Give up your sword. 40
Beats him with it.
Enter Eulinus, Androgeus [and] Belinus, with bloody swords.
Eulinus: Rollano, what, at stand?° Pursue the chase.
Rollano: I made their strongest captain fly. This hand,
This martial hand, I say, did make him fly.
Eulinus: Some silly scout. 45
Rollano: He was a match for Cyclops. At each step,
The ground danced, and his nostrils blew the dust;
Armed as the god of battle pictured is.°
Eulinus: What were his looks?
Rollano: His brows were like a stormy winter night, 50
When Juno, scolding, and Mars, malcontent,
Disturb the air. At each look, lightning flies.
Jove ’gainst the giants needed but his eyes.°
Eulinus: How eloquent is fear!
Rollano: So came he stalking with a beam-like spear. 55
I gave the onset then received his charge,
And next blow cleft his morion.° So, he flies.
Eulinus: Oh, bravely done. Here comes a straggling soldier.
Rollano: ’Tis he! ’Tis he! I care not for vainglory.
It’s sweeter live than dead to be a story.° 60
[He] runs away.
Eulinus: Oh, valiant coward, stay. There’s not a spark
Of British spirit doth enlive° thy corpse.
Act 3 Scene 2.
Nennius: Fight, Britons, fight. The day is ours. I’m cloyed
And glutted e’en with slaughter. There some fly,°
And, flying, die, and, dying, mangled lie.
I twice broke through the ranks, yet cannot find
That vent’rous captain Caesar, on whose breast 5
I long to try my blade and prick that bladder
Puffed with ambition and victorious fight.
Caesar: We may confess they come of Trojan kind;
A hundred valiant Hectors here we find.
Nennius: Fairly encountered. Let our blades discuss 10
Who hath the justest cause, and on this combat
May Victory her equal balance hang.
Caesar: Thou seem’st a worthy prince, and Caesar’s match.
They fight. [Caesar] wounds Nennius in the head, who staggers, fights, and recovers Caesar’s fallen sword, and puts him to flight.°
Nennius: Stay, stay. Thou art at home. Here’s Campus Martius.°
The Britons, sought-for, see thy frighted back.° 15
Return and take possession of our isle,
And by thy death be styled Britannicus.°
Leave not thy blade unsheathed. A tyrant’s heart
To his own sword a scabbard should impart.°
Ye senators and gaily-gowned Quirites,° 20
Open the Capitol’s ivory gates and lead
Fat bulls with garlands green and gilded horns.
Let supplications last for twice ten days—
Caesar returns a victor.
Prepare the laureate coach and snow-white steeds, 25
Embroidered canopy and scarlet gowns;°
Let altars smoke, and tholes° expect our spoils—
Caesar returns in triumph: basely flies
And leaves his conquest in weak infancy.°
For had he won this coast, yet many blows 30
Must pass, ere he could pass the Thames. And then,
Ere he touch Humber, many nations° must
Be tamed. And then, before he Tweed can drink
And climb the craggy rocks of Caledon,°
A life is° spent, yea, many thousand lives. 35
Oh, my wound rages, and tormented brain
Doth labour of a fury, not a Pallas.°
This blade was steeped in poison. Oh, I’m poisoned!
Well didst thou fly, ° or I had made thee taste
Thine own provision.° Now my wrath and pain 40
With double force shall flow in purple streams.
The three infernal ladies° with wire whips
And speckled snakes shall lackey close° my steps,
Whilst that I offer hecatombs° of men.
To lie so far from home in foreign soil.°
When cedars fall, whole woods are crushed, nor die
Can Nennius private without company.
Thou runn’st upon thy death. 50
Laberius: A Roman never daunted was with looks,
Been captive led in chains.
Nennius: But our looks kill.
[They] fight. Laberius falls.°
Die slave, by Caesar’s sword. Thou art his friend;
Die as the ransom of his greater ghost, 55
And learn as well as I how venom smarts.
Be thou my post to the Tartarian prince°
And tell him Nennius comes. But first, I’ll send
More of you headlong home a nearer way
Than by the cloudy Alps. 60
Exit. A retreat [is] sounded.
Act 3 Scene 3.
[Enter] Cassibelane, Belinus, Lantonus.
Cassibelane: Now hot alarums die in fainter notes.
Tempestuous night is gone. Victorious joy
(As when pale Eos° cleaves the eastern fogs
And, blushing more and more, opes half her eye,
With holy water° sprinkling all the meads, 5
Whose clear reflex° serves as her morning glass)
Doth paint with gaudy plumes the checkered sky.
The only° name of victory sounds sweeter,
Than all mellifluous rhetoric.
Lantonus: Thanks to Andates,° whose power kingdoms feel. 10
Andates, greatest goddess, in whose train
Fear, red-faced anger and confusions wheel.
Murder and desolation run before,
But joyful shouts, mirth, olive-budding peace
And laurel-crowned triumph, at her back, 15
Do pace with stately steps. Thy temple is
The earth, where furious monarchs play the priests;
Armies of men imbrue° thy altar-stones.
Thanks also to the trident-shaker’s mace,
The waters, wrinkled, frown or smoothly smile.
But thou, heaven’s diamond,° fair Phoebus’ sister,
Shall blazon more thy praise. Thy influence strong°
Struck up the sandy ooze, that madding waves 25
Battered their ships and dashed their bended sails
And, with a tempest, turned them round in scorn.°
Cassibelane: But where’s the answer which her idol gave?
Can you expound the sense?
Lantonus: Dread sovereign, thus runs the oracle: 30
“Loud doth the king of beasts roar;
High doth the queen of birds° soar,
But her wings, clipped, soon grow out;
Till “C” ’gainst “C” strike a round, ° 35
In a perfect circle bound.”°
The meaning, wrapped up in cross,° doubtful terms,
Lies yet thus open: that disastrous fate
Must be the prologue to a joyful close.
The rest we’ll search out if our skill don’t fail. 40
Belinus: Renowned Cassibelane, might my counsel speak!
Cassibelane: I know thy loyal heart and prudent head,
Upon whose hairs time’s child, experience, hangs
(A milk-white badge of wisdom), and canst wield
Thy tongue in senate and thy hands in field. 45
Speak free, Belinus.
Belinus: We forfeit fame and smother° victory
By idle lingering. The foe, discomfited,
Must needs be much amazed. His ships, dismembered,°
Do piecemeal float upon the waves. The horse° 50
Whose succour he expects are beaten back
By friendly winds.° His camp contracted is
(A tithe of° soldiers left, the rest all slain),
His chief munition spent or lost. Provision
What then shall hinder to destroy their name,°
So none again shall venture, but our isle
Rounded with Nereus’ girdle° may enjoy
Cassibelane: I like thy warning. With united stroke 60
Of all our nations, we’ll his camp beleaguer,
Devouring ships and men. But one mischance,
My brother’s wound (his mortal wound I fear),
Turns all to wormwood.° Why were ye dumb, ye idols?
No sainted° statue did foretell this grief. 65
Come, let’s go visit him. You may, lord general,
Set Comius free. We love not to insult
But render good for ill.
Act 3 Scene 4.
[Enter] Caesar, Volusenus, [accompanied].
Caesar: Heaven, sea and wind and all the elements
Conspire to work us harm. Our ships in Gaul,
Wind-bound, at length put forth and come in view,
Are tossed and torn. Our navy on° the shore
With civil discord break each other’s planks.° 5
The airy rulers° are displeased. All day,
Noises and nimble° flashes mixed with rain
Amaze° our soldiers.
To make grief full, my daughter’s death I hear.°
When, powerful Fortune,° will thy anger cease? 10
Never till now did Caesar Fortune fear.
Whose lesser turrets pinnacle Rome’s head,
Are all your deities fled? Or was I bold°
To out-go nature° and our empire stretch 15
Beyond her limits? Pardon then my fault.
Or do we basely faint?° Or is our might
Answered with like, since Troy ’gainst Troy doth fight?
Nor can I write now, “I came over, and
Volusenus: The islanders consult, and sure° intend
Some sudden stratagem. And now the scales
Poise equal day and night,° when rougher seas
And stormy Pleiads may our passage stop.°
Caesar: Then sirs, to ship. Compelled, I leave this land 25
Act 3 Scene 5.
[Enter] Cassibelane, Belinus, Lantonus [and] Nennius in a chair.
Nennius: We won the day, and all our foes are fled?
Belinus: Yes, noble Nennius. Scattered on the shore,
Thick lay the Latins, and the glutted stream
Spews up her dead, whom death hath taught to swim
Though ignorant alive. Their flowing blood 5
Made a new Red Sea. But those few we lost,
Sweetly reposed upon their mother’s breast,
And wounded all before,° kept in their face
A warlike frown.°
Which never hurt, but killed? Let it be placed
Within my tomb.°
Belinus: Here is the fatal blade.
Nennius: Death like a Parthian° flies, and, flying, kills.
In midst of conquest came my deadly wound.
Accursed weapon, more accursed man, 15
Who serpent-like in poison bathes his sting.
Tiber doth breed as venomous beasts as Nile.°
We scorn such cruel craft.° But death draws near.
A giddy horror seizeth on my brain.
Dear brother and thou,° holy priest of heaven, 20
Witness my words: I leave my country free
And die a victor. Thus, with lighter wing,
My purified soul mounts to her first best cause.°
I long even to behold those glorious cloisters
Where Brutus, great Dunwallo and his sons, 25
Thrice noble spirits, walk.°
Thou mighty enginer° of this wondrous globe,
Protect this isle, confound all foreign plots;
Grant Thames and Tiber never join their channels,
But may a natural hate derived from us 30
Live still in our long-trailèd progeny.°
(My eyes do swim in death.)
Before this land shall wear the Roman yoke,
Let first the adamantine axle crack,
Which binds the ball terrestrial to her poles,° 35
And dash the empty air; let planets drop
Their scalding jelly and, all flame being spent,
Entomb the world in everlasting smoke.
Come faster, death. I can behold thy grim
And ugly jaws with quiet mind. Now, now, 40
I hear sweet music, and my spirit flies.
Cassibelane: His breath is gone who was his country’s prop
And my right hand. Now only doth he crave
To see him° laid with honour in the grave.
Act 3 Scene 6.
[Enter] Eulinus, Hirildas.
Eulinus: A mind content, oh, ’tis a mind of pearl,
A mint of golden thoughts, a heaven on earth!
When eager longer meet full but their scope,
And hopes are actuated beyond hope.°
So Hercules joyed, the golden fruit being gained;
So Venus joyed, the golden ball to hold;
So Midas joyed, when he turned all to gold;
So, and much more, rejoiced the Phrygian swain,°
Which air did ever kiss. His brazen keel,
Proud of° her burden, sliced the capering brine.
The Tritons blew their horns, and sea-gods dance;°
Before, behind, about his ship,° they prance.
The mermaids skip on high but to compare 15
Their dangling tresses with her silken hair.
Of pure beatitude° wraps me round about,
Without a speck or blemish, nor can invention
Wish more unto me than I have: Landora. 20
I’m rich, free, learnèd, honoured, all, in this.
Who dares conceive against the female sex
But one base thought? Lo, here I stand, their champion,
And will maintain he is a beast, a devil,
Begot between a bitch-wolf and an incubus.° 25
Women—all good, all perfect, and all gracious
Men-making creatures, angels clad in flesh—
Let me adore your name.
Hirildas: And let me speak.
Eulinus: But I in you° enjoy Landora’s love. 30
Hirildas: But she enjoys not your love, cause unknown.°
Eulinus: No matter I in you, or you in me,
So that° I still possess my dearest dear.
A paltry fancy last night in her bed
Turmoiled my thoughts, which since I shaped in rhymes, thus… 35
Hirildas: Prithee, let’s hear. I know thou art turned poet.
Eulinus: [reads] “The Dream.
Slumb’ring at last (for love can hardly sleep), 40
Straight-ways I dreamed (for love doth revels keep°):
A damsel fair, and fashioned for delight
(Our day-born objects do return at night),
With flow’ry chaplet and red velvet gown,
Which from her breast was fastened along down 45
With rich enamelled locks, all which one key,
Whose bright gold ’bout her silver neck did play,
Could open and divorce. A veil most fair
(Such whiteness only Paphian doves° do wear)
With false light did her beauteous front improve. 50
From this arch,° Cupid shot his darts of love.
With gentle strain,° she took me by the hand
(Touches in love do more than tongue’s command),
Then leads me with an amorous smile along
(He’s easily led whom beauty draws, more strong 55
Than cable-ropes). An altar we descry,
In little rolling° curls. A reverend priest,
With snowy beard waving upon his breast,
There kneeling, did his eyes in sorrow steep, 60
Whose passionate cry made me, though ignorant,° weep.
Phlegon’s° hot breath no sooner licks up dew
Than joy had dried those tears, for, lo, I view
A circular room,° all built with marble dear—
It seemed. I know not how we came, nor whence,
Nor any passage saw to get from thence,
But, oh, the rich delight and glorious fire
Which dazzled me, no heart can more desire.
Her first, my guide, oped her spice-breathing door:° 70
“Ask what thou wilt, this is the ark of store.°
No vows are here repulsed,” she said. But I,
Surprised with extreme joy and ecstasy,
By chance a scorpion’s tail behind her spied°
Trembling, yet silent, doubtful what to crave;°
Lo, wit a stink and fearful screech, this brave°
And glorious dame doth vanish, and a dart,°
Which still I quake at, struck me to the heart.
But, waking, I revived, and found in bed 80
Hirildas: Ha, ha. Your tedious dream hath made me drowsy.
But hark, we must attend the funeral pomp.
Act 3 Scene 7.
The funeral [cortege, including Cassibelane,] passes over the stage.° Nennius’s escutcheon° [and] armour, [and] Caesar’s sword borne; [the procession includes figures carrying] torches [and other] mourners.
Cassibelane: Set down that heavy load with heavier hearts.°
Could virtuous valour, honourable thoughts,°
A noble scorn of fortune, pride and death,
Myriads of vows and prayers sent to heaven…
Could country’s love or Britain’s genius° save 5
A mortal man from sleeping in his grave,
Then hadst thou lived, great Nennius, and outlived
The smooth-tongued Greek.° But we may more envy,
And less bewail, thy loss, since thou didst fall
On honour’s lofty field-bed,° on which stage 10
Never did worthy° act a statelier part.
Nor durst pale death approach with cypress° sad,
Till flourishing bay° thy conquering temples clad.
A funeral elegy [is] sung to the harp.
Mourners: Turnus° may conceal his name,
Nennius had Aeneas’ fame.° 15
Hannibal, let Afric’ smother,
Nennius was great Scipio’s brother.°
Greece, forbear Achilles’ story,
Nennius had brave Hector’s glory.°
Sorrowful songs befit a tomb.