Act I

Scene i

(England of the West Saxons - the court) [1]

Enter Celeric, Elkwin, Elfrid, [2] Segebert, Bertha and Attendants, to the musical accompaniment of hautboys [3]


Since it has pleased the highest Power to place me,
His substitute, in regal sovereignty
Over this kingdom, by the general vote
Of you my loyal lords, and loving subjects,
Though grounded on my right of due succession; ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 5
Being immediate heir, and only child
Of your late much deplorŤd King, my father,
I am in a most reverend duty bound
Unto that Power above me, and a well-
Befitting care towards you, my faithful people, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 10
To rule and govern so, at least so near
As by all possibility I may,
That I may shun heavenís anger, and your grief.
Which that I may, at our last consultation,
The better to pass through my weighty charge, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 15
I gave you to consider of the proposition
Is made to me by the Northumbrian King
Of marriage, not only to enable me
In my government, but thereby to strengthen
This kingdom in succeeding times, by a line †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 20
Of lawful successors. I gave you all
My strong and most unanswerable reasons,
To which you seemed contented, all but one,
Who with the rest by this I hope is satisfied.
íTis you, Lord Segebert, you it is I mean. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 25
Does it appear to you yet reasonable
That I be matched to the Northumbrian King?
I have with patience waited a whole month
For you to rectify your scrupulous judgement,
Whereby it might comply with these, no way ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 30
Inferior to yourself, but are your peers,
As well in their known wisdom, as my favour.

Segebert. (Kneels)
Thus low, unto your sacred Majesty
I here devote myself, and thus I meet,
With equal love, th'embraces of these lords. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 35
Iíll join and grow one body and one voice
With them, in all may add unto your honour
And your dear kingdomís good. But pardon me,
My sovereign Queen, and I beseech you, my lords,
To weigh with your known wisdom the great danger †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 40
This match may bring unto the crown and country.
íTis true, the King Osric, as well in person
As in his dignity, may be thought fit
To be endow'd with all you seem to yield him.
But what becomes of all the wholesome laws, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 45
Customs, and all the nerves of government
Your no less prudent than majestic father,
With power and policy, enriched this land with,
And made the Saxons happy, and yourself
A queen of so great eminence? Must all, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 50
With so much majesty and matchless beauty,
Be now subjected to a strangerís foot,
And trod into disorder? All your wealth,
Your state, your laws, your subjects and the hope
Of flourishing future fortunes, which your father, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 55
By his continual care and tedious study,
Gave as a legacy unto this kingdom,
Must all be altered, or quite subverted,
And all by a wilful gift unto a stranger?

Peace! Stop his mouth. Unreverend [4] old man, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 60
How darest thou thus oppose thy sovereignís will,
So well approved by all thy fellow peers,
Of which the meanest equals thee in judgement?

Do you approve their judgements, Madam, which
Are grounded on your will? I may not do't. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 65
Only, I pray that you may understand,
But not unto your loss, the difference
Betwixt smooth flattery, and honest judgements.

Do you hear this, my lords?

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† My Lord Segebert,
Though you except against [5] this king, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 70
He may hereafter thank you in your kind.

Meantime, I thank you for your prophecy.

You cannot but allow succession is
The life of kingdoms, and if so, you cannot †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 75
But wish the Queen, which heaven grant speedily,
An happy husband. [6]

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I thank you, good my lord.

And if an husband, why not him she affects?
Can it befit a subject to control
The affection of his princess? Heaven forbid!

This is ear-taking music. [7]

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† Or suppose ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 80
You might control it; whom in your great wisdom
Would you allot the Queen?

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I see your aim;
And know, when I have said all that I dare,
What censure I must undergo. And thus,
I'll meet it boldly: you are sycophants all, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 85
And do provide but for yourselves, though all
The kingdom perish for't. May the justice
That follows flattery overtake you for't.

Elkwin. [8]
Take hence the madman!

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† We are sorry for you.

And wish the troublesome spirit were out of you, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 90
That so distracts your reason.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† We have known you
Speak and answer to the purpose.

Your question, to no purpose, sir, was this:
Whom my great wisdom would allot the Queen?
You are not worth my answer. But, my Sovereign,††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 95
I do implore your gracious attention
To these few words.

†††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† Less sense.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† No matter.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† Silence! [9]
Speak your few words, the Queen can give you hearing.

I wish your Highness would command your women
That know their qualities to take up your beagles. [10]†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 100
Their petulances sort not with this place,
Nor the more serious matter of my speech.

Speak! I can hear you through. Forbear [11] him lords.

The King, your father, and my ne'er to be
Forgotten master (please you to remember,††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 105
Although his memory be lost with these, [12]
Who ne'er had grace to know him rightly), gave me,
Before his death, strictly this charge, and in
Your presence too, charging yourself, withal, [13]
To give it due obedience: that you should, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 110
Before all men's advice, take mine for marriage,
And that, especially, I should take care
'Gainst innovation. [14] That the laws he left
Established with such care for good o' th' [15] kingdom
Might be maintained by whomsoe'er you matched with. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 115
I know, and you, if you knew anything,
Might know the difference twixt the Northumbrian laws
And ours. And sooner will their king pervert
Your privileges and your government,
Than reduce his to yours: pure common sense, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 120
Even you methinks, my lords, may foretell that.

You have said enough.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I do beseech your Highness
But for this little more.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† I'll hear no more. [16]

Pray hear his little more, although you send him
Out of your hearing then for evermore. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 125

Your father added this to his command:
That rather than by marriage you should bring
Your subjects to such thraldom, and that if
No prince, whose laws cohered with yours, did seek you
(As some there are, and nearer than th' Northumbrian), ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 130
That he would have you from some noble stock
To take a subject in your own dominion.


†††††††††† To urge your father's testament?

But did the King, your ne'er forgotten master,
Bequeath her an affection to such blood? ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 135

Forbear! Now he's not worth your speaking to.

Celeric. (Aside)
Now she'll ha' me, I hope. What a foul beast
Was I to undervalue subjects' blood?

I have forborne you long, for the old love
My father in his life conferred upon you; †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 140
And still, I yield to it so much as saves
Your head, bold talking fellow. But sir, hear
Your doom. Since the King's love hath puffed your dotage
With swoln [17] conceit (for what can it be less)
That you are now my king (for sure you think so), †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 145
I'll try my title with you. Hence, you exile:
Go in perpetual banishment from this kingdom.
Speak not a word for him.

All. [18]
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† In sooth, [19] we meant it not.

But may it please your Majesty, you mentioned
His head erewhile. [20] Now, if I might advise -††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 150

Away, you'll be too cruel.



Another hope lost.

His lands and goods, Madam, would be thought on.

No! He has children.


I'll take his daughter, with all faults, and half his lands. [21]


Why are ye not gone?


I have not much to say.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 155

Out with it then, and then out with yourself.

In the large history of your father's life,
You find but one example for this doom
Of banishment. And that was of Alberto, five years since,
For wronging me unto his Highness, when†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 160
He stood in competition with me for
The honour in the state the King then gave me.

And what of this?

But thus: I stood by then, and then all-knowing Heaven
Saw that though he for wronging me was banished, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 165
I was right sorry, and much pleaded for him.

It follows now that you would have these lords,
Whom you have so abused, to plead for you?

Quite contrary, for they are my abusers;
Yet I do grieve for them, but more for you, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 170
To think on all your sorrows, when too late
You'll wish for me to steer the state.

Pray, if you meet that good old Lord Alberto,
Now in your exile, send him home to us;
I'll promise him your honour in the state. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 175

Ha, ha, ha.

Go from my sight, and if after three days
Thou art seen in my dominion, I will give
A thousand crowns [22] to him that brings thy head.
See proclamation sent to that effect. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 180

I will, and as many informers after
The proclamation as there be crowns in't.
[To Segebert] Come, we have spoken for you all that we can.

The Queen's implacable.

Begone, I say. Why dost thou stay? ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 185

But to applaud your mercy and bounty,
In that you post me from a world of care
And give me the wide world for my share.


Exeunt Segebert and Celeric.

Your Majesty has performed a point of justice
Mingled with clemency beyond all precedent. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 190

Enough to give a warning to all such
As dare oppose their prince's purposes.
Conduct in now th' Embassador [23] of Northumbria,
Whilst I review his master's brighter figure, [24]


Exeunt Elkwin and Elfrid.

As ardently, but with more pure affection,††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 195
As e'er [25] did Cynthia her Endymion. [26]


Enter Theodric.

My Lord, you have attended long, but now
I shall return that answer to your King,
That if his love be as you have pretended, [27]
May well excuse your stay. Tell him this story:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 200
A King sent forth a general to besiege
A never-conquered city. The siege was long,
And no report came back unto the king
How well or ill his expedition thrived,
Until his doubtful thoughts had given lost, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 205
His hope o' th' city and his army both.
When he being full of this despair, arrived
O' th' sudden his brave general with victory,
Which made his thanks, as was his conquest double.
You may interpret me, my lord.


††† If so, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 210
I am to tell the King he has won your love.

A blush may be excused in the confession:
'Tis my first answer to the question: yes.

So, from the doubtful darkness of the night,
The blushing morn ushers the cheerful sun, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 215
To give new light and life unto the world: [28]
I shall revive my King with these glad tidings.

You have said well, let us inform you better.

Bertha takes Theodric aside to talk with him. [29]

I can but think what old Segebert said
Concerning laws, customs and privileges, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 220
And how this match will change the government.
I fear, howe'er the laws may go, our customs will
Be lost: for he, methinks, out-flatters us already.

He's the King's favourite, and has wooed so well
For him, that we may fear he'll wriggle in ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 225
'Twixt him and us, the prime man in her favour.

Bertha. (Speaking aside to Theodric) [30]
Let it be so. The tenth of the next month
I'll be prepared to entertain his Highness:
First to confirm a contract; then, as soon
As he shall please, to consummate our marriage. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 230
In the meantime this figure, which you say
Resembles him, as painters' skill affords,
Indeed it is a sweet one (Kisses it), shall be daily
My dear companion, most unseparably; [31]
And when I sleep it shall partake my pillow. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 235
Does he love mine as well, d' ye think, my lord?

Just with the same devotion; if I durst [32]
I would say more.


†††† Nay, speak my lord, pray speak.

He does allow't [33] a table, waiters and officers
That eat the meat.


††† Indeed.


††† O horrible. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 240

Elfrid. (Aside)
Nay, we shall ne'er come near him.


†††††††† And at night
He lodges it perpetually on his bosom.

We are dunces to him.


Here, just here;
And't please your Majesty, o' the heart's side. (Shrugs)

Indeed, I am pleased. I'll stay you but tonight; †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 245
Tomorrow you shall hasten towards the King.
And, for your speed wear this. (She gives him a token) [34]

Most gracious Queen. (Kisses her hand)

Exeunt omnes. [35]




Scene ii

(England of the West Saxons)


Enter Segebert, Anthynus, Offa and Mildred [36]

'Tis the Queen's pleasure, children; I must bear it.

To banishment, good Heaven forbid. And Heaven
I hope will not yet suffer it.

Whilst we expect the best from Heaven's high will,
It suffers princes to reward us ill. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 5
Yet, can I think it shakes an angry hand
Over my head, for some misdeed of mine,
Which I have unrepented let go by?
It must be something sure was pleasure to me.
What in the world has most delighted me? ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 10
To love my King and country, neighbours, friends,
And sometimes enemies (I'll pass o'er that). [37]
I have done well (though I do not to boast it)
To succour and relieve all kind of wretches:
Poor souls that have half-deafened me with prayers, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 15
Loud prayers. They'll miss me now; and I
Shall have a miss of them too (let that pass).
What have I done at home, since my wife died?
No turtle [38] ever kept a widowhood
More strict than I have done. Then, for my children: ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 20
Offa, come you hither.


My lord father.

Anthynus. (Aside)
He might have called me first; I am the eldest.

I am sure thou'lt answer in behalf of one. [39]
Have I not loved thee always?


O dear sir,
I am all unworthy to acknowledge half, [40]††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 25
Half of your pious bounties on a son,
A wretch so ill deserving as my self;
Your hand has evermore been open to me,
Your blessings still more readily have showered
Upon my head, than I had grace to ask them. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 30
(Aside) [41] For, to my knowledge, I ne'er asked blessing yet
With a good will in all my life; some would
Do penance in the church with less perplexity.

Ay, thou wast ever an obedient child.
Next, you my daughter.

Anthynus. (Aside)

†† Then I must be last. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 35

How have you found my love?


Sir, far above my duty.

Do not weep, but speak good child.
I have not long to stay with ye: my three days
Will scarce afford this hour to bide with you. (Weeps)

Had I no tears nor sobs to interrupt ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 40
My flattering tongue, but had speech as free
As the best orator that speaks for fee
Could, or durst I attempt t'express your goodness,
More than to say, 'tis more than I can say.

'Tis a good maid; O Queen, thou art too cruel! †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 45

But honoured father, grant me yet one bone. [42]

What's that my girl?

Mildred. (Weeping)

†††††††† You shall know presently. (Dries her eyes)
Pray, give me leave to kneel unto the Queen,
To try what I can do for your repeal.
'Twere shame we should sit down and lose you thus. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 50
The Queen affects [43] me well; you know she loves me,
And promised once she would deny me nothing.

For this thou shalt not trouble her. Besides,
You put me well in mind to charge you, daughter,
Upon my blessing, go no more to court. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 55
Shun it, I charge thee, as thou wouldst my curse.
If you have lovers there, whom they call servants,
Do as neat surgeons do when they have touched
Loathsome or pestilent sores: wash clean your hands
Of all of 'em that are far more infectious. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 60
And hear me, daughter Mildred, I am told
The Northumbrian Embassador, now at court,
The great King's greater favourite, made hot love to you;
And that he obtained your picture which he wears,
More proud of't than his undeserved honours. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 65
Let me now charge you further, and observe it,
Shake off all thoughts of him. Upon the match [44] now,
He and whole shoals of upstart braveries, [45]
Must hither needs attend their king. But if
Thou marry with him, or any amongst them, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 70
Though the greatest subject that his master has,
Thou art divorced forever of my blessing.

I will in all obey you.


†††††††††† I shall look to that, sir.

Enough. Anthynus.

Anthynus. (Aside)

†††††† At last, yet I am thought on.

Now there rests, of all my children, but you†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 75

To resolve [46] me how you have found my love?

You ask me last, sir, I presume, cause you

Have had me longest, to crown their testimony.

Yet you seem, Anthynus, by your leave, the

Least to know me, but like a stranger look††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 80

Upon me when these give me due respect.

Less than due I dare not give you; and more

Were to abuse you. Though I do not applaud,

I must approve you are a right good father.



Yet, you speak in this but coldly. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 85

Offa. (Aside)
No, no, it sounds not well, but you are wise.

I have observed, but specially at court,
Where flattery is too frequent, the great scorn
You have ever cast upon it, and do fear
To come within such danger of reproof. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 90
Knowing your reason may as well detest it
In your own house, as in King's palaces.
And when I hear another (my dear sister,
Heaven know I mean not you)
Speak like a flatterer, I hold my peace, †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 95
And so come short of doing what I would,
For fear of over-doing. But honoured sir,
When a son can be found that dares do more
For's [47] father's life or honour than myself,
I'll forfeit mine inheritance and your blessing; †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 100
So much your love engages me.

Offa. (Aside)
If this were hearty now, not hollow.


††††††††† No more,
Time calls away apace, and I am satisfied.
Since I must undergo the Queen's hard censure,
That it falls not upon me like a curse, ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 105
For wronging crown or country, neighbours, friends,
Or you, my dearer children. I will take it
Not as a punishment but blessing: rather
To be removed from miseries
Are like to fall on this unhappy kingdom.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 110
And I will think the Queen has done me favour,
To ease me of my cares a thousand ways,
To make my rest of life all holidays.
Now take my last directions, son Anthynus.

Anthynus. (Aside)
Son! It is holy day [48] with me too. 'Tis ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 115
The first time he called me son these three years.

Though you are eldest, and my lawful heir,
And must be lord, at my decease, of all
My large possessions, yet, it is my will
That, till my death, my Offa have the sway ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 120
And government of all, allowing you
That yearly stipend formerly I gave you.
Let me not hear of any grudge betwixt you.
And be you both respectful of your sister,
And you of them, good girl. It is decreed ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 125
That I shall never see you more.


†††† Ay me. (Cries)

Go get thee in, I prithee, Mildred.
Go in, I say, thy brothers shall a little
Show me my way. Go in, I shall not speak else,
And I have more to say to them. Good now go. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 130

Oh, Oh, Oh.

You will not disobey me? Heaven bless my girl.


Mildred goes and comes again.

But must I never see you more?

Yes child, in Heaven, and then for evermore.

To wait your coming thither, [49] I'll afore. [50]

Exit Mildred.

Thither shall be my first journey. But after

You shall still hear from me where'er I wander.

Not I, sir, by your favour.


†††† Why, I pray?

I must be nearer you. I kneel for't sir, (Kneels)
And humbly pray I may not be denied
To wait on you in exile. Take me with you.

Offa. (Aside)
Do you not find him? [51]


†††††††††† This is but your stoutness
(Though you seem humble unto me) against
Your brother, because I leave the rule to him.

Far be it from my thoughts, dear sir: consider
He has had that rule already divers [52] years
E'er since my mother died, and been your darling,
Heaven knows without my grudge, while you were pleased.

Offa. (Aside)
Heaven knows his thoughts the while, alack a day. [53]

I never envied him, though I have found
You have severely overlooked my actions,
When you have smiled on his, though but the same.
I have been still content while I have found my duty firm. [54]

You shall along. [55]


†† You have new begotten [56] me.



†††††† Peace! I know thy fear, my dearest boy.

Does not your blood begin to chill within you?
Great heirs are over hasty, sir,
And think their fathers live too long. Pray, sir,
Take heed of him: though he should act the
Parricide [57] abroad, our laws acquit him.

I'll give myself to Heaven, quit thou thy fear.
I am not worth a life. I'll take him hence,
That thou mayst be secure from bloody spite.
I fear him not, mischief has spent herself
And left her sting within me for a charm
That quit me from the fear of further harm.
Go, get thee home, my blessing and farewell.

Offa. (Aside)
Pray, sir, excuse me, I cannot speak for laughing.

And, farewell country, shed not a tear for me;
I go to be dissolved in tears for thee.





[1] England of the West Saxons - the court] The only explicit indication of geographical location in the 1657 quarto is the phrase 'Scene England' printed before the beginning of Act I; in order to clarify the setting for each scene the appropriate domain of the Saxon England of the play is given.

[2] Elfrid is omitted from the 1657 quarto's stage direction, but is clearly present as the scene progresses.

[3] hautboys] the precursor of the modern oboe.

[4] Unreverend] impertinent; irreverent.

[5] except against] take exception to.

[6] Cf. Patrick Hannay's poem, 'A Happy Husband' (1622): a near contemporary example of attitudes to roles for husbands and wives; cf. R. J. Kaufmann, Richard Brome: Caroline Playwright (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), 99n; the poem is accessible via Literature Online:; cf. 'O he's a happy husband / Now he owes nature nothing' (i.e. now he is dead), John Webster, The White Devil, III.ii.110-11. Also see the Introduction for a discussion of possible readings.

[7] This is ear-taking music] Segebert is referring, pointedly, to Elkwin's flattery of the Queen.

[8] The 1657 quarto has Segebert speaking, after an extra speech tag. It seems reasonable to assume that Elkwin (rather than Segebert or the Queen) demands Segebert's removal, especially as Bertha intervenes several lines later (l. 103) to hear more of Segebert's complaint. Indeed, Segebert's reference to the other lords' 'petulances' (l. 101) would also suggest that Bertha does not intervene earlier in this exchange. It would be a question for directors as to whether the sycophant lords actually attempt to remove Segebert at this point in the scene.

[9] This line, divided between four speakers, is an example of a device often employed by John Ford; cf. The Broken Heart, III.ii.27.

[10] beagles] small hounds used for hare-hunting (OED 1); cf. Timon of Athens, IV.iii.177-8: 'Get thee away and take / Thy beagles with thee.' Also, cf. Twelfth Night, II.iii.176-7: 'She's a beagle, true bred, and one that adores / me: what o' that?'

[11] Forbear] to abstain from injuring, punishing, or giving way to resentment against (a person or thing); to spare, show mercy or indulgence to (OED 8).

[12] these] i.e. the other lords.

[13] withal] as well.

[14] innovation] the alteration of what is established by the introduction of new elements (OED 1.a); also, the more politically pointed meaning of 'revolution' (OED 1.b).

[15] o' th'] of the.

[16] There is a correspondence between Segebert's impertinence and his sharing of lines of speech with Bertha.

[17] swoln] variant of 'swollen'.

[18] The several occasions throughout the play when lines are spoken by 'All', in unnatural harmony, seem to be for comic effect.

[19] In sooth] in truth.

[20] erewhile] a while before.

[21] The previous three lines appear to be a short passage of prose, before Bertha and Segebert resume their argument in verse.

[22] crowns] an English coin of the value of five shillings (OED 8.b); anachronistic as regards the Saxon setting.

[23] Embassador] Ambassador.

[24] figure] portrait.

[25] ere] before.

[26] Cynthia her Endymion] Endymion, the shepherd of Greek mythology, who falls in love with the goddess of the moon, here (and elsewhere) named as Cynthia. In John Lyly's Endymion, Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queene and Sir Walter Raleigh's poem 'Ocean's Love to Cynthia', the representations of Cynthia are, famously, representations of Queen Elizabeth. See the Introduction for a discussion of Brome's use of references to Elizabeth.

[27] pretended] claimed.

[28] This line has echoes of the Sermon on the Mount from Saint Matthew's Gospel V.xiv: 'Ye are the light of the world.'

[29] Cf. Christopher Marlowe, Edward the Second, I.iv.229: 'Then thusóbut none shall hear it but ourselves', where Isabella draws Mortimer Junior away, and a discussion ensues among the watching nobles: their onstage audience.

[30] It is not indicated in the 1657 quarto, but it seems reasonable from the nature of their exchanges to assume that Bertha and Theodric are speaking out of the hearing of the assembled lords.

[31] unseparably] obsolete form, meaning 'inseparably'.

[32] durst] past tense of 'dare'.

[33] allow't] allow it; 'it' being the portrait of Bertha.

[34] Although not indicated in the 1657 quarto, Bertha clearly gives Theodric some token of her pleasure at their meeting.

[35] Exeunt omnes] Ďall go outí, a direction for all to retire (OED).

[36] Segebert's relationship with his children echoes that of Gloucester, Edgar and Edmund in King Lear; Offa (like Edmund) is mistakenly favoured by his father to the detriment of Anthynus (like Edgar); for further discussion of this aspect of the play see the Introduction.

[37] King and country, neighbours, friends, / And sometimes enemies] Cf. Julius Caesar, III.ii.74: 'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears'; also see Segebert's echoing of these lines later in the scene: 'That it falls not upon me like a curse, / For wronging crown or country, neighbours, friends, / Or you my dearer children' (ll. 106-7).

[38] turtle] turtle-dove; cf. The Winter's Tale, IV.iv.154-5: 'Your hand, my Perdita: so turtles pair / That never mean to part'; a symbol of conjugal affection and constancy (OED 1.a).

[39] one] a child.

[40] half] Offa plays on Segebert's use of 'behalf'.

[41] The three lines that follow are bracketed in the quarto, and by their nature must be spoken as an aside.

[42] bone] obsolete form of 'boon', meaning prayer, petition, entreaty or request (OED 1).

[43] effects] favours.

[44] the match] the betrothal of Bertha and the Northumbrian king.

[45] braveries] plural of 'bravery': a gallant, a beau (OED 5).

[46] resolve] answer.

[47] For's] for his; typical of the many contractions in Brome's verse.

[48] holy day] 'holyday' in quarto; Anthynus' play on words is better represented by retaining the original spelling, though the sense is made clearer by using two words.

[49] thither] to that place, there.

[50] I'll afore] Mildred says she will get to Heaven sooner than her father, i.e. she will kill herself.

[51] Do you not find him?] 'Do you not see he is dissembling?'

[52] divers] several.

[53] the while, alack a day] 'meanwhile, [his thoughts] regret [it] every day.'

[54] An unusually long line that is not easily relineated. It is, however, consistent with Anthynus' pleading towards his father that his speech should exceed the normal syllabic constraints (not, as a rule, particularly strict in Brome's verse).

[55] shall along] i.e. 'go with me.'

[56] begotten] fathered.

[57] Parricide] patricide, father murderer.