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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Entire Play

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The Two Noble Kinsmen, derived from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, begins as Athens defeats Thebes in war. Arcite and Palamon, Theban knights…

Prologue

The audience is welcomed to the play’s opening performance. The speaker apologizes for its inferiority to Chaucer, whose tale provides…

Act 1, scene 1

The wedding procession of Duke Theseus and his Amazonian bride Hippolyta is interrupted by three weeping queens whose dead kings…

Act 1, scene 2

Two noble cousins, Palamon and Arcite, discuss leaving Thebes, where the reign of their despised uncle Creon has corrupted the…

Act 1, scene 3

Pirithous leaves Athens to join Theseus in Thebes. Hippolyta and Emilia praise the strength of the bond between the two…

Act 1, scene 4

A victorious Theseus bids farewell to the three queens just as Palamon and Arcite are brought in wounded on stretchers….

Act 1, scene 5

The three queens take farewell of each other as the bodies of their dead husbands are carried off for separate…

Act 2, scene 1

The keeper of a jail in Athens discusses the terms of his daughter’s dowry with her wooer. The daughter enters…

Act 2, scene 2

Palamon and Arcite, after lamenting their prospect of lifelong imprisonment, rejoice that they are imprisoned together where nothing can ever…

Act 2, scene 3

Arcite decides he will not leave Athens and Emilia. Countrymen enter talking about their plans to dance at a May…

Act 2, scene 4

The jailer’s daughter, having fallen in love with Palamon, decides to find a way to free him from prison in…

Act 2, scene 5

Arcite, having won the competition disguised as a poor gentleman, is made an attendant upon Emilia. He and the other…

Act 2, scene 6

The jailer’s daughter, having set Palamon free and sent him off to await her in the woods, plans to bring…

Act 3, scene 1

Arcite, now Emilia’s attendant, is confronted by a still-shackled Palamon in the woods where the court is celebrating May Day….

Act 3, scene 2

The jailer’s daughter, unable to find Palamon, fearing that he has been eaten by wild animals and that her father…

Act 3, scene 3

Arcite brings Palamon food, wine, and files. He promises to return in two hours bringing swords and armor for their…

Act 3, scene 4

The jailer’s daughter, convinced that Palamon is dead and that her father will be hanged, begins to hallucinate.

Act 3, scene 5

The countrymen and the schoolmaster gather for the morris dance to be performed for Duke Theseus. When the countrywomen arrive,…

Act 3, scene 6

Arcite arrives in the forest with armor and swords. The two cousins dress each other in armor and prepare as…

Act 4, scene 1

The jailer receives the news that he and his daughter have been pardoned for Palamon’s escape, but that his daughter…

Act 4, scene 2

Emilia examines miniature portraits of Palamon and Arcite and is unable to choose between them. Theseus, hearing descriptions of the…

Act 4, scene 3

The jailer’s daughter is diagnosed by the doctor as suffering from love melancholy. He prescribes that the daughter’s wooer, who…

Act 5, scene 1

In preparation for the coming confrontation, Arcite and his companion knights pray for victory at the altar of Mars; Palamon…

Act 5, scene 2

The doctor observes the jailer’s daughter with the wooer pretending to be Palamon, and declares that she will soon be…

Act 5, scene 3

Emilia listens to the sounds of the combat as first one contestant and then the other seems to be winning….

Act 5, scene 4

As Palamon puts his head on the block for his beheading, word comes that Arcite has been crushed by his…

Epilogue

The speaker bids the audience farewell, hoping that the play has pleased them.

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Flourish. Enter Prologue.

PROLOGUE 
 New plays and maidenheads are near akin:
 Much followed both, for both much money giv’n,
 If they stand sound and well. And a good play,
 Whose modest scenes blush on his marriage day
5 And shake to lose his honor, is like her
 That after holy tie and first night’s stir
 Yet still is modesty, and still retains
 More of the maid, to sight, than husband’s pains.
 We pray our play may be so, for I am sure
10 It has a noble breeder and a pure,
 A learnèd, and a poet never went
 More famous yet ’twixt Po and silver Trent.
 Chaucer, of all admired, the story gives;
 There, constant to eternity, it lives.
15 If we let fall the nobleness of this,
 And the first sound this child hear be a hiss,
 How will it shake the bones of that good man
 And make him cry from underground “O, fan
 From me the witless chaff of such a writer
20 That blasts my bays and my famed works makes
 lighter
 Than Robin Hood!” This is the fear we bring;
 For, to say truth, it were an endless thing
 And too ambitious, to aspire to him,
25 Weak as we are, and, almost breathless, swim
 In this deep water. Do but you hold out
 Your helping hands, and we shall tack about
 And something do to save us. You shall hear
 Scenes, though below his art, may yet appear
30 Worth two hours’ travel. To his bones sweet sleep;
5

7
The Two Noble Kinsmen
PROLOGUE

 Content to you. If this play do not keep
 A little dull time from us, we perceive
 Our losses fall so thick we must needs leave.
Flourish. He exits.
ACT 1
Scene 1
Music. Enter Hymen with a torch burning, a Boy in
a white robe before, singing and strewing flowers.
After Hymen, a Nymph encompassed in her tresses,
bearing a wheaten garland; then Theseus between
two other Nymphs with wheaten chaplets on their
heads. Then Hippolyta, the bride, led by Pirithous,
and another holding a garland over her head, her
tresses likewise hanging. After her, Emilia, holding
up her train. Then Artesius and Attendants.


The Song, sung by the Boy.

  Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
 Not royal in their smells alone,
  But in their hue;
 Maiden pinks, of odor faint,
5 Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint,
  And sweet thyme true;
 Primrose, firstborn child of Ver,
 Merry springtime’s harbinger,
  With her bells dim;
10 Oxlips in their cradles growing,
 Marigolds on deathbeds blowing,
  Lark’s-heels trim;
 All dear Nature’s children sweet
 Lie ’fore bride and bridegroom’s feet,
Strew flowers.
11

13
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

15  Blessing their sense.
 Not an angel of the air,
 Bird melodious or bird fair,
  Is absent hence.
 The crow, the sland’rous cuckoo, nor
20 The boding raven, nor chough hoar,
  Nor chatt’ring pie,
 May on our bridehouse perch or sing,
 Or with them any discord bring,
  But from it fly.


Enter three Queens in black, with veils stained, with
imperial crowns. The first Queen falls down at the foot
of Theseus; the second falls down at the foot of
Hippolyta; the third before Emilia.


FIRST QUEEN, to Theseus 
25 For pity’s sake and true gentility’s,
 Hear and respect me.
SECOND QUEEN, to Hippolyta  For your mother’s sake,
 And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair
 ones,
30 Hear and respect me.
THIRD QUEEN, to Emilia 
 Now for the love of him whom Jove hath marked
 The honor of your bed, and for the sake
 Of clear virginity, be advocate
 For us and our distresses. This good deed
35 Shall raze you out o’ th’ book of trespasses
 All you are set down there.
THESEUS, to First Queen 
 Sad lady, rise.
HIPPOLYTA, to Second Queen  Stand up.
EMILIA, to Third Queen  No knees to me.
40 What woman I may stead that is distressed
 Does bind me to her.

15
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

THESEUS, to First Queen 
 What’s your request? Deliver you for all.
FIRST QUEEN 
 We are three queens whose sovereigns fell before
 The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured
45 The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,
 And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.
 He will not suffer us to burn their bones,
 To urn their ashes, nor to take th’ offense
 Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye
50 Of holy Phoebus, but infects the winds
 With stench of our slain lords. O, pity, duke!
 Thou purger of the Earth, draw thy feared sword
 That does good turns to th’ world; give us the bones
 Of our dead kings, that we may chapel them;
55 And of thy boundless goodness take some note
 That for our crownèd heads we have no roof
 Save this, which is the lion’s and the bear’s,
 And vault to everything.
THESEUS  Pray you, kneel not.
60 I was transported with your speech and suffered
 Your knees to wrong themselves. I have heard the
 fortunes
 Of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting
 As wakes my vengeance and revenge for ’em.
65 King Capaneus was your lord. The day
 That he should marry you, at such a season
 As now it is with me, I met your groom
 By Mars’s altar. You were that time fair—
 Not Juno’s mantle fairer than your tresses,
70 Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten
 wreath
 Was then nor threshed nor blasted. Fortune at you
 Dimpled her cheek with smiles. Hercules, our
 kinsman,
75 Then weaker than your eyes, laid by his club;

17
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

 He tumbled down upon his Nemean hide
 And swore his sinews thawed. O grief and time,
 Fearful consumers, you will all devour!
FIRST QUEEN O, I hope some god,
80 Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
 Whereto he’ll infuse power, and press you forth
 Our undertaker.
THESEUS  O, no knees, none, widow!
 Unto the helmeted Bellona use them
85 And pray for me, your soldier.The First Queen rises.
 Troubled I am.Turns away.
SECOND QUEEN  Honored Hippolyta,
 Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
 The scythe-tusked boar; that with thy arm, as strong
90 As it is white, wast near to make the male
 To thy sex captive, but that this thy lord,
 Born to uphold creation in that honor
 First nature styled it in, shrunk thee into
 The bound thou wast o’erflowing, at once subduing
95 Thy force and thy affection; soldieress
 That equally canst poise sternness with pity,
 Whom now I know hast much more power on him
 Than ever he had on thee, who ow’st his strength
 And his love too, who is a servant for
100 The tenor of thy speech, dear glass of ladies,
 Bid him that we, whom flaming war doth scorch,
 Under the shadow of his sword may cool us;
 Require him he advance it o’er our heads;
 Speak ’t in a woman’s key, like such a woman
105 As any of us three; weep ere you fail.
 Lend us a knee;
 But touch the ground for us no longer time
 Than a dove’s motion when the head’s plucked off.
 Tell him if he i’ th’ blood-sized field lay swoll’n,
110 Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,
 What you would do.

19
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

HIPPOLYTA  Poor lady, say no more.
 I had as lief trace this good action with you
 As that whereto I am going, and never yet
115 Went I so willing way. My lord is taken
 Heart-deep with your distress; let him consider.
 I’ll speak anon.Second Queen rises.
THIRD QUEEN  O, my petition was
 Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
120 Melts into drops; so sorrow, wanting form,
 Is pressed with deeper matter.
EMILIA  Pray stand up.
 Your grief is written in your cheek.
THIRD QUEEN  O, woe!
125 You cannot read it there.She rises.
 There through my tears,
 Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
 You may behold ’em. Lady, lady, alack!
 He that will all the treasure know o’ th’ Earth
130 Must know the center too; he that will fish
 For my least minnow, let him lead his line
 To catch one at my heart. O, pardon me!
 Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,
 Makes me a fool.
EMILIA 135 Pray you say nothing, pray you.
 Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in ’t,
 Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were
 The groundpiece of some painter, I would buy you
 T’ instruct me ’gainst a capital grief—indeed,
140 Such heart-pierced demonstration. But, alas,
 Being a natural sister of our sex,
 Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me
 That it shall make a counter-reflect ’gainst
 My brother’s heart and warm it to some pity,
145 Though it were made of stone. Pray have good
 comfort.

21
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

THESEUS, coming forward 
 Forward to th’ temple. Leave not out a jot
 O’ th’ sacred ceremony.
FIRST QUEEN  O, this celebration
150 Will longer last and be more costly than
 Your suppliants’ war. Remember that your fame
 Knolls in the ear o’ th’ world; what you do quickly
 Is not done rashly; your first thought is more
 Than others’ labored meditance, your premeditating
155 More than their actions. But, O Jove, your actions,
 Soon as they move, as ospreys do the fish,
 Subdue before they touch. Think, dear duke, think
 What beds our slain kings have!
SECOND QUEEN  What griefs our beds,
160 That our dear lords have none!
THIRD QUEEN  None fit for th’ dead.
 Those that with cords, knives, drams, precipitance,
 Weary of this world’s light, have to themselves
 Been death’s most horrid agents, human grace
165 Affords them dust and shadow.
FIRST QUEEN  But our lords
 Lie blist’ring ’fore the visitating sun,
 And were good kings when living.
THESEUS 
 It is true, and I will give you comfort
170 To give your dead lords graves;
 The which to do must make some work with Creon.
FIRST QUEEN 
 And that work presents itself to th’ doing.
 Now ’twill take form; the heats are gone tomorrow.
 Then, bootless toil must recompense itself
175 With its own sweat. Now he’s secure,
 Not dreams we stand before your puissance,
 Rinsing our holy begging in our eyes
 To make petition clear.

23
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

SECOND QUEEN  Now you may take him,
180 Drunk with his victory.
THIRD QUEEN  And his army full
 Of bread and sloth.
THESEUS  Artesius, that best knowest
 How to draw out, fit to this enterprise,
185 The prim’st for this proceeding, and the number
 To carry such a business: forth and levy
 Our worthiest instruments, whilst we dispatch
 This grand act of our life, this daring deed
 Of fate in wedlock.
FIRST QUEEN, to Second and Third Queens 
190 Dowagers, take hands.
 Let us be widows to our woes. Delay
 Commends us to a famishing hope.
ALL THE QUEENS  Farewell.
SECOND QUEEN 
 We come unseasonably; but when could grief
195 Cull forth, as unpanged judgment can, fitt’st time
 For best solicitation?
THESEUS  Why, good ladies,
 This is a service whereto I am going
 Greater than any was; it more imports me
200 Than all the actions that I have foregone,
 Or futurely can cope.
FIRST QUEEN  The more proclaiming
 Our suit shall be neglected when her arms,
 Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
205 By warranting moonlight corselet thee. O, when
 Her twinning cherries shall their sweetness fall
 Upon thy tasteful lips, what wilt thou think
 Of rotten kings or blubbered queens? What care
 For what thou feel’st not, what thou feel’st being
210 able
 To make Mars spurn his drum? O, if thou couch
 But one night with her, every hour in ’t will

25
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
 Thou shalt remember nothing more than what
215 That banquet bids thee to.
HIPPOLYTA, to Theseus  Though much unlike
 You should be so transported, as much sorry
 I should be such a suitor, yet I think
 Did I not, by th’ abstaining of my joy—
220 Which breeds a deeper longing—cure their surfeit
 That craves a present med’cine, I should pluck
 All ladies’ scandal on me.She kneels.
 Therefore, sir,
 As I shall here make trial of my prayers,
225 Either presuming them to have some force,
 Or sentencing for aye their vigor dumb,
 Prorogue this business we are going about, and
 hang
 Your shield afore your heart—about that neck
230 Which is my fee, and which I freely lend
 To do these poor queens service.
ALL QUEENS, to Emilia  O, help now!
 Our cause cries for your knee.
EMILIA, to Theseus, kneeling  If you grant not
235 My sister her petition in that force,
 With that celerity and nature which
 She makes it in, from henceforth I’ll not dare
 To ask you anything, nor be so hardy
 Ever to take a husband.
THESEUS 240 Pray stand up.
Hippolyta and Emilia rise.
 I am entreating of myself to do
 That which you kneel to have me.—Pirithous,
 Lead on the bride; get you and pray the gods
 For success and return; omit not anything
245 In the pretended celebration.—Queens,
 Follow your soldier. To Artesius. As before, hence
 you,

27
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 1

 And at the banks of Aulis meet us with
 The forces you can raise, where we shall find
250 The moiety of a number for a business
 More bigger looked.Artesius exits.
To Hippolyta. Since that our theme is haste,
 I stamp this kiss upon thy currant lip;
 Sweet, keep it as my token.—Set you forward,
255 For I will see you gone.
The wedding procession begins to exit
towards the temple.

 Farewell, my beauteous sister.—Pirithous,
 Keep the feast full; bate not an hour on ’t.
PIRITHOUS  Sir,
 I’ll follow you at heels. The feast’s solemnity
260 Shall want till your return.
THESEUS  Cousin, I charge you,
 Budge not from Athens. We shall be returning
 Ere you can end this feast, of which I pray you
 Make no abatement.—Once more, farewell all.
All but Theseus and the Queens exit.
FIRST QUEEN 
265 Thus dost thou still make good the tongue o’ th’
 world.
SECOND QUEEN 
 And earn’st a deity equal with Mars.
THIRD QUEEN If not above him, for
 Thou, being but mortal, makest affections bend
270 To godlike honors; they themselves, some say,
 Groan under such a mast’ry.
THESEUS  As we are men,
 Thus should we do; being sensually subdued,
 We lose our human title. Good cheer, ladies.
275 Now turn we towards your comforts.
Flourish. They exit.




29
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 2

Scene 2
Enter Palamon and Arcite.

ARCITE 
 Dear Palamon, dearer in love than blood
 And our prime cousin, yet unhardened in
 The crimes of nature, let us leave the city
 Thebes, and the temptings in ’t, before we further
5 Sully our gloss of youth,
 And here to keep in abstinence we shame
 As in incontinence; for not to swim
 I’ th’ aid o’ th’ current were almost to sink,
 At least to frustrate striving; and to follow
10 The common stream, ’twould bring us to an eddy
 Where we should turn or drown; if labor through,
 Our gain but life and weakness.
PALAMON  Your advice
 Is cried up with example. What strange ruins,
15 Since first we went to school, may we perceive
 Walking in Thebes! Scars and bare weeds
 The gain o’ th’ martialist, who did propound
 To his bold ends honor and golden ingots,
 Which though he won, he had not, and now flirted
20 By peace for whom he fought. Who then shall offer
 To Mars’s so-scorned altar? I do bleed
 When such I meet, and wish great Juno would
 Resume her ancient fit of jealousy
 To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
25 For her repletion, and retain anew
 Her charitable heart, now hard and harsher
 Than strife or war could be.
ARCITE  Are you not out?
 Meet you no ruin but the soldier in
30 The cranks and turns of Thebes? You did begin
 As if you met decays of many kinds.

31
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Perceive you none that do arouse your pity
 But th’ unconsidered soldier?
PALAMON  Yes, I pity
35 Decays where’er I find them, but such most
 That, sweating in an honorable toil,
 Are paid with ice to cool ’em.
ARCITE  ’Tis not this
 I did begin to speak of. This is virtue
40 Of no respect in Thebes. I spake of Thebes—
 How dangerous, if we will keep our honors,
 It is for our residing, where every evil
 Hath a good color; where every seeming good’s
 A certain evil; where not to be e’en jump
45 As they are here were to be strangers, and,
 Such things to be, mere monsters.
PALAMON  ’Tis in our power—
 Unless we fear that apes can tutor ’s—to
 Be masters of our manners. What need I
50 Affect another’s gait, which is not catching
 Where there is faith? Or to be fond upon
 Another’s way of speech, when by mine own
 I may be reasonably conceived—saved too,
 Speaking it truly? Why am I bound
55 By any generous bond to follow him
 Follows his tailor, haply so long until
 The followed make pursuit? Or let me know
 Why mine own barber is unblessed, with him
 My poor chin too, for ’tis not scissored just
60 To such a favorite’s glass? What canon is there
 That does command my rapier from my hip
 To dangle ’t in my hand, or to go tiptoe
 Before the street be foul? Either I am
 The forehorse in the team, or I am none
65 That draw i’ th’ sequent trace. These poor slight
 sores

33
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Need not a plantain. That which rips my bosom
 Almost to th’ heart’s—
ARCITE  Our Uncle Creon.
PALAMON 70 He.
 A most unbounded tyrant, whose successes
 Makes heaven unfeared and villainy assured
 Beyond its power there’s nothing; almost puts
 Faith in a fever, and deifies alone
75 Voluble chance; who only attributes
 The faculties of other instruments
 To his own nerves and act; commands men service,
 And what they win in ’t, boot and glory; one
 That fears not to do harm; good, dares not. Let
80 The blood of mine that’s sib to him be sucked
 From me with leeches; let them break and fall
 Off me with that corruption.
ARCITE  Clear-spirited cousin,
 Let’s leave his court, that we may nothing share
85 Of his loud infamy; for our milk
 Will relish of the pasture, and we must
 Be vile or disobedient, not his kinsmen
 In blood unless in quality.
PALAMON  Nothing truer.
90 I think the echoes of his shames have deafed
 The ears of heav’nly justice. Widows’ cries
 Descend again into their throats and have not
 Due audience of the gods.

Enter Valerius.

 Valerius.
VALERIUS 
95 The King calls for you; yet be leaden-footed
 Till his great rage be off him. Phoebus, when
 He broke his whipstock and exclaimed against
 The horses of the sun, but whispered to
 The loudness of his fury.

35
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 2

PALAMON 100 Small winds shake him.
 But what’s the matter?
VALERIUS 
 Theseus, who where he threats appalls, hath sent
 Deadly defiance to him and pronounces
 Ruin to Thebes, who is at hand to seal
105 The promise of his wrath.
ARCITE  Let him approach.
 But that we fear the gods in him, he brings not
 A jot of terror to us. Yet what man
 Thirds his own worth—the case is each of ours—
110 When that his action’s dregged with mind assured
 ’Tis bad he goes about?
PALAMON  Leave that unreasoned.
 Our services stand now for Thebes, not Creon.
 Yet to be neutral to him were dishonor,
115 Rebellious to oppose. Therefore we must
 With him stand to the mercy of our fate,
 Who hath bounded our last minute.
ARCITE  So we must.
 To Valerius. Is ’t said this war’s afoot? Or, it shall
120 be,
 On fail of some condition?
VALERIUS  ’Tis in motion;
 The intelligence of state came in the instant
 With the defier.
PALAMON 125 Let’s to the King, who, were he
 A quarter carrier of that honor which
 His enemy come in, the blood we venture
 Should be as for our health, which were not spent,
 Rather laid out for purchase. But alas,
130 Our hands advanced before our hearts, what will
 The fall o’ th’ stroke do damage?
ARCITE  Let th’ event,
 That never-erring arbitrator, tell us

37
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 3

 When we know all ourselves, and let us follow
135 The becking of our chance.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Pirithous, Hippolyta, Emilia.

PIRITHOUS 
 No further.
HIPPOLYTA  Sir, farewell. Repeat my wishes
 To our great lord, of whose success I dare not
 Make any timorous question; yet I wish him
5 Excess and overflow of power, an ’t might be,
 To dure ill-dealing fortune. Speed to him.
 Store never hurts good governors.
PIRITHOUS  Though I know
 His ocean needs not my poor drops, yet they
10 Must yield their tribute there.—My precious maid,
 Those best affections that the heavens infuse
 In their best-tempered pieces keep enthroned
 In your dear heart!
EMILIA  Thanks, sir. Remember me
15 To our all-royal brother, for whose speed
 The great Bellona I’ll solicit; and
 Since in our terrene state petitions are not
 Without gifts understood, I’ll offer to her
 What I shall be advised she likes. Our hearts
20 Are in his army, in his tent.
HIPPOLYTA  In ’s bosom.
 We have been soldiers, and we cannot weep
 When our friends don their helms or put to sea,
 Or tell of babes broached on the lance, or women
25 That have sod their infants in—and after ate them—
 The brine they wept at killing ’em. Then if

39
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 3

 You stay to see of us such spinsters, we
 Should hold you here forever.
PIRITHOUS  Peace be to you
30 As I pursue this war, which shall be then
 Beyond further requiring.Pirithous exits.
EMILIA  How his longing
 Follows his friend! Since his depart, his sports,
 Though craving seriousness and skill, passed slightly
35 His careless execution, where nor gain
 Made him regard, or loss consider, but
 Playing one business in his hand, another
 Directing in his head, his mind nurse equal
 To these so diff’ring twins. Have you observed him
40 Since our great lord departed?
HIPPOLYTA  With much labor,
 And I did love him for ’t. They two have cabined
 In many as dangerous as poor a corner,
 Peril and want contending; they have skiffed
45 Torrents whose roaring tyranny and power
 I’ th’ least of these was dreadful, and they have
 Fought out together where Death’s self was lodged.
 Yet fate hath brought them off. Their knot of love,
 Tied, weaved, entangled, with so true, so long,
50 And with a finger of so deep a cunning,
 May be outworn, never undone. I think
 Theseus cannot be umpire to himself,
 Cleaving his conscience into twain and doing
 Each side like justice, which he loves best.
EMILIA 55 Doubtless
 There is a best, and reason has no manners
 To say it is not you. I was acquainted
 Once with a time when I enjoyed a playfellow;
 You were at wars when she the grave enriched,
60 Who made too proud the bed; took leave o’ th’ moon,
 Which then looked pale at parting, when our count
 Was each eleven.

41
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 3

HIPPOLYTA  ’Twas Flavina.
EMILIA  Yes.
65 You talk of Pirithous’ and Theseus’ love.
 Theirs has more ground, is more maturely seasoned,
 More buckled with strong judgment, and their needs
 The one of th’ other may be said to water
 Their intertangled roots of love. But I,
70 And she I sigh and spoke of, were things innocent,
 Loved for we did, and like the elements
 That know not what nor why, yet do effect
 Rare issues by their operance, our souls
 Did so to one another. What she liked
75 Was then of me approved, what not, condemned,
 No more arraignment. The flower that I would pluck
 And put between my breasts—O, then but beginning
 To swell about the blossom—she would long
 Till she had such another, and commit it
80 To the like innocent cradle, where, Phoenix-like,
 They died in perfume. On my head no toy
 But was her pattern; her affections—pretty,
 Though haply hers careless were—I followed
 For my most serious decking. Had mine ear
85 Stol’n some new air, or at adventure hummed one
 From musical coinage, why, it was a note
 Whereon her spirits would sojourn—rather, dwell
 on—
 And sing it in her slumbers. This rehearsal—
90 Which fury-innocent wots well comes in
 Like old importment’s bastard—has this end,
 That the true love ’tween maid and maid may be
 More than in sex individual.
HIPPOLYTA  You’re out of breath,
95 And this high-speeded pace is but to say
 That you shall never—like the maid Flavina—
 Love any that’s called man.
EMILIA I am sure I shall not.

43
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 4

HIPPOLYTA Now, alack, weak sister,
100 I must no more believe thee in this point—
 Though in ’t I know thou dost believe thyself—
 Than I will trust a sickly appetite,
 That loathes even as it longs. But sure, my sister,
 If I were ripe for your persuasion, you
105 Have said enough to shake me from the arm
 Of the all-noble Theseus, for whose fortunes
 I will now in and kneel, with great assurance
 That we, more than his Pirithous, possess
 The high throne in his heart.
EMILIA 110 I am not
 Against your faith, yet I continue mine.
They exit.


Scene 4
Cornets. A battle struck within; then a retreat.
Flourish. Then enter, through one door, Theseus,
victor, accompanied by Lords and Soldiers.
Entering through another door, the three Queens
meet him, and fall on their faces before him.


FIRST QUEEN 
 To thee no star be dark!
SECOND QUEEN  Both heaven and Earth
 Friend thee forever.
THIRD QUEEN  All the good that may
5 Be wished upon thy head, I cry “Amen” to ’t!
THESEUS 
 Th’ impartial gods, who from the mounted heavens
 View us their mortal herd, behold who err
 And, in their time, chastise. Go and find out
 The bones of your dead lords and honor them
10 With treble ceremony; rather than a gap
 Should be in their dear rites, we would supply ’t;

45
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 4

 But those we will depute which shall invest
 You in your dignities and even each thing
 Our haste does leave imperfect. So, adieu,
15 And heaven’s good eyes look on you.Queens exit.

Enter a Herald and Soldiers bearing Palamon
and Arcite on biers.


 What are those?
HERALD 
 Men of great quality, as may be judged
 By their appointment. Some of Thebes have told ’s
 They are sisters’ children, nephews to the King.
THESEUS 
20 By th’ helm of Mars, I saw them in the war,
 Like to a pair of lions, smeared with prey,
 Make lanes in troops aghast. I fixed my note
 Constantly on them, for they were a mark
 Worth a god’s view. What prisoner was ’t that told me
25 When I enquired their names?
HERALD  Wi’ leave, they’re called
 Arcite and Palamon.
THESEUS  ’Tis right; those, those.
 They are not dead?
HERALD 
30 Nor in a state of life. Had they been taken
 When their last hurts were given, ’twas possible
 They might have been recovered. Yet they breathe
 And have the name of men.
THESEUS  Then like men use ’em.
35 The very lees of such, millions of rates,
 Exceed the wine of others. All our surgeons
 Convent in their behoof; our richest balms,
 Rather than niggard, waste. Their lives concern us
 Much more than Thebes is worth. Rather than have
40 ’em

47
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 5

 Freed of this plight, and in their morning state,
 Sound and at liberty, I would ’em dead.
 But forty-thousandfold we had rather have ’em
 Prisoners to us than Death. Bear ’em speedily
45 From our kind air, to them unkind, and minister
 What man to man may do—for our sake, more,
 Since I have known frights, fury, friends’ behests,
 Love’s provocations, zeal, a mistress’ task,
 Desire of liberty, a fever, madness,
50 Hath set a mark which nature could not reach to
 Without some imposition, sickness in will
 O’er-wrestling strength in reason. For our love
 And great Apollo’s mercy, all our best
 Their best skill tender.—Lead into the city,
55 Where, having bound things scattered, we will post
 To Athens ’fore our army.
Flourish. They exit.


Scene 5
Music. Enter the Queens with the hearses of their
knights, in a funeral solemnity, &c.


The dirge.

   Urns and odors bring away;
  Vapors, sighs, darken the day;
 Our dole more deadly looks than dying;
  Balms and gums and heavy cheers,
5  Sacred vials filled with tears,
 And clamors through the wild air flying.
  Come, all sad and solemn shows
  That are quick-eyed Pleasure’s foes;
  We convent naught else but woes.
10  We convent naught else but woes.


49
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 1. SC. 5

THIRD QUEEN, to Second Queen 
 This funeral path brings to your household’s grave.
 Joy seize on you again; peace sleep with him.
SECOND QUEEN, to First Queen 
 And this to yours.
FIRST QUEEN, to Third Queen  Yours this way. Heavens
15 lend
 A thousand differing ways to one sure end.
THIRD QUEEN 
 This world’s a city full of straying streets,
 And death’s the market-place where each one meets.
They exit severally.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter Jailer and Wooer.

JAILER I may depart with little while I live; something I
 may cast to you, not much. Alas, the prison I keep,
 though it be for great ones, yet they seldom come;
 before one salmon you shall take a number of minnows.
5 I am given out to be better lined than it can
 appear to me report is a true speaker. I would I
 were really that I am delivered to be. Marry, what
 I have, be it what it will, I will assure upon my
 daughter at the day of my death.
WOOER 10Sir, I demand no more than your own offer,
 and I will estate your daughter in what I have
 promised.
JAILER Well, we will talk more of this when the solemnity
 is past. But have you a full promise of her?
15 When that shall be seen, I tender my consent.

Enter the Jailer’s Daughter, carrying rushes.

WOOER I have sir. Here she comes.
JAILER, to Daughter Your friend and I have chanced
 to name you here, upon the old business. But no
 more of that now; so soon as the court hurry is
20 over, we will have an end of it. I’ th’ meantime,
53

55
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 1

 look tenderly to the two prisoners. I can tell you
 they are princes.
DAUGHTER These strewings are for their chamber. ’Tis
 pity they are in prison, and ’twere pity they should
25 be out. I do think they have patience to make any
 adversity ashamed. The prison itself is proud of
 ’em, and they have all the world in their chamber.
JAILER They are famed to be a pair of absolute men.
DAUGHTER By my troth, I think fame but stammers
30 ’em. They stand a grise above the reach of report.
JAILER I heard them reported in the battle to be the
 only doers.
DAUGHTER Nay, most likely, for they are noble suff’rers.
 I marvel how they would have looked had they
35 been victors, that with such a constant nobility enforce
 a freedom out of bondage, making misery
 their mirth and affliction a toy to jest at.
JAILER Do they so?
DAUGHTER It seems to me they have no more sense
40 of their captivity than I of ruling Athens. They eat
 well, look merrily, discourse of many things, but
 nothing of their own restraint and disasters. Yet
 sometimes a divided sigh, martyred as ’twere i’ th’
 deliverance, will break from one of them—when
45 the other presently gives it so sweet a rebuke that
 I could wish myself a sigh to be so chid, or at least
 a sigher to be comforted.
WOOER I never saw ’em.
JAILER The Duke himself came privately in the night,
50 and so did they.

Enter Palamon and Arcite, in shackles, above.

 What the reason of it is, I know not. Look, yonder
 they are; that’s Arcite looks out.
DAUGHTER No, sir, no, that’s Palamon. Arcite is the

57
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

 lower of the twain; you may perceive a part of
55 him.
JAILER Go to, leave your pointing; they would not
 make us their object. Out of their sight.
DAUGHTER It is a holiday to look on them. Lord, the
 diff’rence of men!
Jailer, Daughter, and Wooer exit.


Scene 2
Palamon and Arcite remain, above.

PALAMON 
 How do you, noble cousin?
ARCITE  How do you, sir?
PALAMON 
 Why, strong enough to laugh at misery
 And bear the chance of war; yet we are prisoners
5 I fear forever, cousin.
ARCITE  I believe it,
 And to that destiny have patiently
 Laid up my hour to come.
PALAMON  O, cousin Arcite,
10 Where is Thebes now? Where is our noble country?
 Where are our friends and kindreds? Never more
 Must we behold those comforts, never see
 The hardy youths strive for the games of honor,
 Hung with the painted favors of their ladies,
15 Like tall ships under sail; then start amongst ’em
 And as an east wind leave ’em all behind us,
 Like lazy clouds, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
 Even in the wagging of a wanton leg,
 Outstripped the people’s praises, won the garlands
20 Ere they have time to wish ’em ours. O, never
 Shall we two exercise, like twins of honor,
 Our arms again, and feel our fiery horses

59
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Like proud seas under us. Our good swords now—
 Better the red-eyed god of war ne’er wore
25 Ravished our sides, like age must run to rust
 And deck the temples of those gods that hate us;
 These hands shall never draw ’em out like lightning
 To blast whole armies more.
ARCITE  No, Palamon,
30 Those hopes are prisoners with us. Here we are
 And here the graces of our youths must wither
 Like a too-timely spring. Here age must find us
 And—which is heaviest, Palamon—unmarried.
 The sweet embraces of a loving wife,
35 Loaden with kisses, armed with thousand Cupids,
 Shall never clasp our necks; no issue know us—
 No figures of ourselves shall we e’er see,
 To glad our age, and like young eagles teach ’em
 Boldly to gaze against bright arms and say
40 “Remember what your fathers were, and conquer!”
 The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments
 And in their songs curse ever-blinded Fortune
 Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
 To youth and nature. This is all our world.
45 We shall know nothing here but one another,
 Hear nothing but the clock that tells our woes.
 The vine shall grow, but we shall never see it;
 Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
 But dead-cold winter must inhabit here still.
PALAMON 
50 ’Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds
 That shook the agèd forest with their echoes
 No more now must we halloo; no more shake
 Our pointed javelins whilst the angry swine
 Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,
55 Struck with our well-steeled darts. All valiant uses,
 The food and nourishment of noble minds,
 In us two here shall perish; we shall die,

61
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Which is the curse of honor, lastly,
 Children of grief and ignorance.
ARCITE 60 Yet, cousin,
 Even from the bottom of these miseries,
 From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
 I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
 If the gods please: to hold here a brave patience,
65 And the enjoying of our griefs together.
 Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
 If I think this our prison!
PALAMON  Certainly
 ’Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
70 Were twined together. ’Tis most true, two souls
 Put in two noble bodies, let ’em suffer
 The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
 Will never sink; they must not, say they could.
 A willing man dies sleeping and all’s done.
ARCITE 
75 Shall we make worthy uses of this place
 That all men hate so much?
PALAMON  How, gentle cousin?
ARCITE 
 Let’s think this prison holy sanctuary
 To keep us from corruption of worse men.
80 We are young and yet desire the ways of honor
 That liberty and common conversation,
 The poison of pure spirits, might like women
 Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing
 Can be but our imaginations
85 May make it ours? And here being thus together,
 We are an endless mine to one another;
 We are one another’s wife, ever begetting
 New births of love; we are father, friends,
 acquaintance;
90 We are, in one another, families;
 I am your heir, and you are mine. This place

63
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Is our inheritance; no hard oppressor
 Dare take this from us; here with a little patience
 We shall live long and loving. No surfeits seek us;
95 The hand of war hurts none here, nor the seas
 Swallow their youth. Were we at liberty,
 A wife might part us lawfully, or business;
 Quarrels consume us; envy of ill men
 Crave our acquaintance. I might sicken, cousin,
100 Where you should never know it, and so perish
 Without your noble hand to close mine eyes,
 Or prayers to the gods. A thousand chances,
 Were we from hence, would sever us.
PALAMON  You have made
105 me—
 I thank you, cousin Arcite—almost wanton
 With my captivity. What a misery
 It is to live abroad and everywhere!
 ’Tis like a beast, methinks. I find the court here,
110 I am sure, a more content; and all those pleasures
 That woo the wills of men to vanity
 I see through now, and am sufficient
 To tell the world ’tis but a gaudy shadow
 That old Time as he passes by takes with him.
115 What had we been, old in the court of Creon,
 Where sin is justice, lust and ignorance
 The virtues of the great ones? Cousin Arcite,
 Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
 We had died as they do, ill old men, unwept,
120 And had their epitaphs, the people’s curses.
 Shall I say more?
ARCITE  I would hear you still.
PALAMON  You shall.
 Is there record of any two that loved
125 Better than we do, Arcite?
ARCITE  Sure there cannot.

65
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

PALAMON 
 I do not think it possible our friendship
 Should ever leave us.
ARCITE  Till our deaths it cannot.

Enter Emilia and her Woman, below.

130 And after death our spirits shall be led
 To those that love eternally.Palamon catches sight
of Emilia.

 Speak on, sir.
EMILIA, to her Woman 
 This garden has a world of pleasures in ’t.
 What flower is this?
WOMAN 135 ’Tis called narcissus, madam.
EMILIA 
 That was a fair boy certain, but a fool
 To love himself. Were there not maids enough?
ARCITE, to Palamon, who is stunned by the sight of Emilia 
 Pray, forward.
PALAMON  Yes.
EMILIA, to Woman 140 Or were they all hard-hearted?
WOMAN 
 They could not be to one so fair.
EMILIA  Thou wouldst not.
WOMAN 
 I think I should not, madam.
EMILIA  That’s a good wench.
145 But take heed to your kindness, though.
WOMAN  Why,
 madam?
EMILIA 
 Men are mad things.
ARCITE, to Palamon  Will you go forward,
150 cousin?
EMILIA, to Woman 
 Canst not thou work such flowers in silk, wench?
WOMAN  Yes.

67
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

EMILIA 
 I’ll have a gown full of ’em, and of these.
 This is pretty color. Will ’t not do
155 Rarely upon a skirt, wench?
WOMAN  Dainty, madam.
ARCITE, to Palamon 
 Cousin, cousin! How do you, sir? Why, Palamon!
PALAMON 
 Never till now I was in prison, Arcite.
ARCITE 
 Why, what’s the matter, man?
PALAMON 160 Behold, and wonder!
 By heaven, she is a goddess.
ARCITE, seeing Emilia  Ha!
PALAMON  Do reverence.
 She is a goddess, Arcite.
EMILIA, to Woman 165 Of all flowers
 Methinks a rose is best.
WOMAN  Why, gentle madam?
EMILIA 
 It is the very emblem of a maid.
 For when the west wind courts her gently,
170 How modestly she blows and paints the sun
 With her chaste blushes! When the north comes
 near her,
 Rude and impatient, then, like chastity,
 She locks her beauties in her bud again,
175 And leaves him to base briers.
WOMAN  Yet, good madam,
 Sometimes her modesty will blow so far
 She falls for ’t. A maid,
 If she have any honor, would be loath
180 To take example by her.
EMILIA  Thou art wanton!
ARCITE, to Palamon 
 She is wondrous fair.

69
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

PALAMON  She is all the beauty extant.
EMILIA, to Woman 
 The sun grows high. Let’s walk in. Keep these
185 flowers.
 We’ll see how near art can come near their colors.
 I am wondrous merry-hearted. I could laugh now.
WOMAN 
 I could lie down, I am sure.
EMILIA  And take one with you?
WOMAN 
190 That’s as we bargain, madam.
EMILIA  Well, agree then.
Emilia and Woman exit.
PALAMON 
 What think you of this beauty?
ARCITE  ’Tis a rare one.
PALAMON 
 Is ’t but a rare one?
ARCITE 195 Yes, a matchless beauty.
PALAMON 
 Might not a man well lose himself and love her?
ARCITE 
 I cannot tell what you have done; I have,
 Beshrew mine eyes for ’t! Now I feel my shackles.
PALAMON 
 You love her, then?
ARCITE 200 Who would not?
PALAMON  And desire her?
ARCITE 
 Before my liberty.
PALAMON  I saw her first.
ARCITE 
 That’s nothing.
PALAMON 205 But it shall be.
ARCITE  I saw her, too.
PALAMON Yes, but you must not love her.

71
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

ARCITE 
 I will not, as you do, to worship her
 As she is heavenly and a blessèd goddess.
210 I love her as a woman, to enjoy her.
 So both may love.
PALAMON  You shall not love at all.
ARCITE Not love at all! Who shall deny me?
PALAMON 
 I, that first saw her; I that took possession
215 First with mine eye of all those beauties
 In her revealed to mankind. If thou lov’st her,
 Or entertain’st a hope to blast my wishes,
 Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fellow
 False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
220 And all the ties between us I disclaim
 If thou once think upon her.
ARCITE  Yes, I love her,
 And, if the lives of all my name lay on it,
 I must do so. I love her with my soul.
225 If that will lose you, farewell, Palamon.
 I say again, I love, and in loving her maintain
 I am as worthy and as free a lover
 And have as just a title to her beauty
 As any Palamon or any living
230 That is a man’s son.
PALAMON  Have I called thee friend?
ARCITE 
 Yes, and have found me so. Why are you moved
 thus?
 Let me deal coldly with you: am not I
235 Part of your blood, part of your soul? You have
 told me
 That I was Palamon and you were Arcite.
PALAMON 
 Yes.

73
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

ARCITE  Am not I liable to those affections,
240 Those joys, griefs, angers, fears, my friend shall
 suffer?
PALAMON 
 You may be.
ARCITE  Why then would you deal so cunningly,
 So strangely, so unlike a noble kinsman,
245 To love alone? Speak truly, do you think me
 Unworthy of her sight?
PALAMON  No, but unjust
 If thou pursue that sight.
ARCITE  Because another
250 First sees the enemy, shall I stand still
 And let mine honor down, and never charge?
PALAMON 
 Yes, if he be but one.
ARCITE  But say that one
 Had rather combat me?
PALAMON 255 Let that one say so,
 And use thy freedom. Else, if thou pursuest her,
 Be as that cursèd man that hates his country,
 A branded villain.
ARCITE  You are mad.
PALAMON 260 I must be.
 Till thou art worthy, Arcite, it concerns me.
 And in this madness if I hazard thee
 And take thy life, I deal but truly.
ARCITE  Fie, sir!
265 You play the child extremely. I will love her;
 I must, I ought to do so, and I dare,
 And all this justly.
PALAMON  O, that now, that now,
 Thy false self and thy friend had but this fortune
270 To be one hour at liberty, and grasp
 Our good swords in our hands, I would quickly
 teach thee

75
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

 What ’twere to filch affection from another.
 Thou art baser in it than a cutpurse.
275 Put but thy head out of this window more
 And, as I have a soul, I’ll nail thy life to ’t.
ARCITE 
 Thou dar’st not, fool; thou canst not; thou art feeble.
 Put my head out? I’ll throw my body out
 And leap the garden when I see her next,
280 And pitch between her arms to anger thee.

Enter Jailer, above.

PALAMON 
 No more; the keeper’s coming. I shall live
 To knock thy brains out with my shackles.
ARCITE  Do!
JAILER 
 By your leave, gentlemen.
PALAMON 285 Now, honest keeper?
JAILER 
 Lord Arcite, you must presently to th’ Duke;
 The cause I know not yet.
ARCITE  I am ready, keeper.
JAILER 
 Prince Palamon, I must awhile bereave you
290 Of your fair cousin’s company.
Arcite and Jailer exit.
PALAMON  And me too,
 Even when you please, of life.—Why is he sent for?
 It may be he shall marry her; he’s goodly,
 And like enough the Duke hath taken notice
295 Both of his blood and body. But his falsehood!
 Why should a friend be treacherous? If that
 Get him a wife so noble and so fair,
 Let honest men ne’er love again. Once more
 I would but see this fair one. Blessèd garden

77
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 2

300 And fruit and flowers more blessèd that still
 blossom
 As her bright eyes shine on you, would I were,
 For all the fortune of my life hereafter,
 Yon little tree, yon blooming apricock!
305 How I would spread and fling my wanton arms
 In at her window; I would bring her fruit
 Fit for the gods to feed on; youth and pleasure
 Still as she tasted should be doubled on her;
 And, if she be not heavenly, I would make her
310 So near the gods in nature, they should fear her.

Enter Jailer, above.

 And then I am sure she would love me.—How now,
 keeper,
 Where’s Arcite?
JAILER  Banished. Prince Pirithous
315 Obtained his liberty, but never more
 Upon his oath and life must he set foot
 Upon this kingdom.
PALAMON  He’s a blessèd man.
 He shall see Thebes again, and call to arms
320 The bold young men that, when he bids ’em charge,
 Fall on like fire. Arcite shall have a fortune,
 If he dare make himself a worthy lover,
 Yet in the field to strike a battle for her,
 And, if he lose her then, he’s a cold coward.
325 How bravely may he bear himself to win her
 If he be noble Arcite—thousand ways!
 Were I at liberty, I would do things
 Of such a virtuous greatness that this lady,
 This blushing virgin, should take manhood to her
330 And seek to ravish me.
JAILER  My lord, for you
 I have this charge to—
PALAMON  To discharge my life?

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ACT 2. SC. 2

JAILER 
 No, but from this place to remove your Lordship;
335 The windows are too open.
PALAMON  Devils take ’em
 That are so envious to me! Prithee, kill me.
JAILER 
 And hang for ’t afterward!
PALAMON  By this good light,
340 Had I a sword I would kill thee.
JAILER  Why, my lord?
PALAMON 
 Thou bringst such pelting, scurvy news continually,
 Thou art not worthy life. I will not go.
JAILER 
 Indeed you must, my lord.
PALAMON 345 May I see the garden?
JAILER 
 No.
PALAMON  Then I am resolved, I will not go.
JAILER 
 I must constrain you then; and, for you are
 dangerous,
350 I’ll clap more irons on you.
PALAMON  Do, good keeper.
 I’ll shake ’em so, you shall not sleep;
 I’ll make you a new morris. Must I go?
JAILER 
 There is no remedy.
PALAMON 355 Farewell, kind window.
 May rude wind never hurt thee. O, my lady,
 If ever thou hast felt what sorrow was,
 Dream how I suffer.—Come; now bury me.
Palamon and Jailer exit.




81
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter Arcite.

ARCITE 
 Banished the kingdom? ’Tis a benefit,
 A mercy I must thank ’em for; but banished
 The free enjoying of that face I die for,
 O, ’twas a studied punishment, a death
5 Beyond imagination—such a vengeance
 That, were I old and wicked, all my sins
 Could never pluck upon me. Palamon,
 Thou hast the start now; thou shalt stay and see
 Her bright eyes break each morning ’gainst thy
10 window
 And let in life into thee; thou shalt feed
 Upon the sweetness of a noble beauty
 That nature ne’er exceeded nor ne’er shall.
 Good gods, what happiness has Palamon!
15 Twenty to one he’ll come to speak to her,
 And if she be as gentle as she’s fair,
 I know she’s his. He has a tongue will tame
 Tempests and make the wild rocks wanton.
 Come what can come,
20 The worst is death. I will not leave the kingdom.
 I know mine own is but a heap of ruins,
 And no redress there. If I go, he has her.
 I am resolved another shape shall make me
 Or end my fortunes. Either way I am happy.
25 I’ll see her and be near her, or no more.

Enter four Country people, and one with
a garland before them.


Arcite steps aside.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN My masters, I’ll be there, that’s
 certain.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN And I’ll be there.

83
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 3

THIRD COUNTRYMAN And I.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN 30Why, then, have with you, boys.
 ’Tis but a chiding. Let the plough play today; I’ll
 tickle ’t out of the jades’ tails tomorrow.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN I am sure to have my wife as jealous
 as a turkey, but that’s all one. I’ll go through;
35 let her mumble.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN Clap her aboard tomorrow night
 and stow her, and all’s made up again.
THIRD COUNTRYMAN Ay, do but put a fescue in her fist
 and you shall see her take a new lesson out and be
40 a good wench. Do we all hold against the Maying?
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN Hold? What should ail us?
THIRD COUNTRYMAN Arcas will be there.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN And Sennois and Rycas; and
 three better lads ne’er danced under green tree.
45 And you know what wenches, ha! But will the
 dainty domine, the Schoolmaster, keep touch, do
 you think? For he does all, you know.
THIRD COUNTRYMAN He’ll eat a hornbook ere he fail.
 Go to, the matter’s too far driven between him and
50 the tanner’s daughter to let slip now; and she must
 see the Duke, and she must dance too.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN Shall we be lusty?
SECOND COUNTRYMAN All the boys in Athens blow wind
 i’ th’ breech on ’s. And here I’ll be and there I’ll be,
55 for our town, and here again, and there again. Ha,
 boys, hey for the weavers!
FIRST COUNTRYMAN This must be done i’ th’ woods.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN O pardon me.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN By any means; our thing of learning
60 says so—where he himself will edify the Duke
 most parlously in our behalfs. He’s excellent i’ th’
 woods; bring him to th’ plains, his learning makes
 no cry.

85
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 3

THIRD COUNTRYMAN We’ll see the sports, then every
65 man to ’s tackle. And, sweet companions, let’s rehearse,
 by any means, before the ladies see us, and
 do sweetly, and God knows what may come on ’t.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN Content. The sports once ended,
 we’ll perform. Away, boys, and hold.
Arcite comes forward.
ARCITE 70By your leaves, honest friends: pray you,
 whither go you?
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN Whither?
 Why, what a question’s that?
ARCITE  Yes, ’tis a question
75 To me that know not.
THIRD COUNTRYMAN  To the games, my friend.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN 
 Where were you bred, you know it not?
ARCITE  Not far, sir.
 Are there such games today?
FIRST COUNTRYMAN 80 Yes, marry, are there,
 And such as you never saw. The Duke himself
 Will be in person there.
ARCITE  What pastimes are they?
SECOND COUNTRYMAN 
 Wrestling and running.—’Tis a pretty fellow.
THIRD COUNTRYMAN 
85 Thou wilt not go along?
ARCITE  Not yet, sir.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN  Well, sir,
 Take your own time.—Come, boys.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN, aside to the others My mind misgives
90 me. This fellow has a vengeance trick o’ th’
 hip. Mark how his body’s made for ’t.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN, aside to the others I’ll be
 hanged, though, if he dare venture. Hang him,
 plum porridge! He wrestle? He roast eggs! Come,
95 let’s be gone, lads.The four exit.

87
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 4

ARCITE 
 This is an offered opportunity
 I durst not wish for. Well I could have wrestled—
 The best men called it excellent—and run
 Swifter than wind upon a field of corn,
100 Curling the wealthy ears, never flew. I’ll venture,
 And in some poor disguise be there. Who knows
 Whether my brows may not be girt with garlands,
 And happiness prefer me to a place
 Where I may ever dwell in sight of her?
Arcite exits.


Scene 4
Enter Jailer’s Daughter, alone.

DAUGHTER 
 Why should I love this gentleman? ’Tis odds
 He never will affect me. I am base,
 My father the mean keeper of his prison,
 And he a prince. To marry him is hopeless;
5 To be his whore is witless. Out upon ’t!
 What pushes are we wenches driven to
 When fifteen once has found us! First, I saw him;
 I, seeing, thought he was a goodly man;
 He has as much to please a woman in him,
10 If he please to bestow it so, as ever
 These eyes yet looked on. Next, I pitied him,
 And so would any young wench, o’ my conscience,
 That ever dreamed, or vowed her maidenhead
 To a young handsome man. Then I loved him,
15 Extremely loved him, infinitely loved him!
 And yet he had a cousin, fair as he too.
 But in my heart was Palamon, and there,
 Lord, what a coil he keeps! To hear him
 Sing in an evening, what a heaven it is!

89
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 5

20 And yet his songs are sad ones. Fairer spoken
 Was never gentleman. When I come in
 To bring him water in a morning, first
 He bows his noble body, then salutes me thus:
 “Fair, gentle maid, good morrow. May thy goodness
25 Get thee a happy husband.” Once he kissed me;
 I loved my lips the better ten days after.
 Would he would do so ev’ry day! He grieves much—
 And me as much to see his misery.
 What should I do to make him know I love him?
30 For I would fain enjoy him. Say I ventured
 To set him free? What says the law then?
 Thus much for law or kindred! I will do it,
 And this night, or tomorrow, he shall love me.
She exits.


Scene 5
This short flourish of cornets and shouts within.
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, Emilia, Arcite
in disguise, with a garland, Attendants, and others.


THESEUS, to Arcite 
 You have done worthily. I have not seen,
 Since Hercules, a man of tougher sinews.
 Whate’er you are, you run the best and wrestle
 That these times can allow.
ARCITE 5 I am proud to please you.
THESEUS 
 What country bred you?
ARCITE  This; but far off, prince.
THESEUS 
 Are you a gentleman?
ARCITE  My father said so,
10 And to those gentle uses gave me life.

91
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 5

THESEUS 
 Are you his heir?
ARCITE  His youngest, sir.
THESEUS  Your father,
 Sure, is a happy sire, then. What proves you?
ARCITE 
15 A little of all noble qualities.
 I could have kept a hawk and well have hallowed
 To a deep cry of dogs. I dare not praise
 My feat in horsemanship, yet they that knew me
 Would say it was my best piece. Last, and greatest,
20 I would be thought a soldier.
THESEUS  You are perfect.
PIRITHOUS 
 Upon my soul, a proper man.
EMILIA  He is so.
PIRITHOUS, to Hippolyta 
 How do you like him, lady?
HIPPOLYTA 25 I admire him.
 I have not seen so young a man so noble,
 If he say true, of his sort.
EMILIA  Believe,
 His mother was a wondrous handsome woman;
30 His face, methinks, goes that way.
HIPPOLYTA  But his body
 And fiery mind illustrate a brave father.
PIRITHOUS 
 Mark how his virtue, like a hidden sun,
 Breaks through his baser garments.
HIPPOLYTA 35 He’s well got, sure.
THESEUS, to Arcite 
 What made you seek this place, sir?
ARCITE  Noble Theseus,
 To purchase name and do my ablest service
 To such a well-found wonder as thy worth;

93
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 5

40 For only in thy court, of all the world,
 Dwells fair-eyed Honor.
PIRITHOUS  All his words are worthy.
THESEUS 
 Sir, we are much indebted to your travel,
 Nor shall you lose your wish.—Pirithous,
45 Dispose of this fair gentleman.
PIRITHOUS  Thanks, Theseus.—
 Whate’er you are, you’re mine, and I shall give you
 To a most noble service: to this lady,
 This bright young virgin.
He brings Arcite to Emilia.
50 Pray observe her goodness;
 You have honored her fair birthday with your
 virtues,
 And, as your due, you’re hers. Kiss her fair hand, sir.
ARCITE 
 Sir, you’re a noble giver.—Dearest beauty,
55 Thus let me seal my vowed faith.
He kisses her hand.
 When your servant,
 Your most unworthy creature, but offends you,
 Command him die, he shall.
EMILIA  That were too cruel.
60 If you deserve well, sir, I shall soon see ’t.
 You’re mine, and somewhat better than your rank
 I’ll use you.
PIRITHOUS, to Arcite 
 I’ll see you furnished, and because you say
 You are a horseman, I must needs entreat you
65 This afternoon to ride—but ’tis a rough one.
ARCITE 
 I like him better, prince; I shall not then
 Freeze in my saddle.
THESEUS, to Hippolyta  Sweet, you must be ready,—
 And you, Emilia,—and you, friend,—and all,

95
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 6

70 Tomorrow by the sun, to do observance
 To flowery May in Dian’s wood.—Wait well, sir,
 Upon your mistress.—Emily, I hope
 He shall not go afoot.
EMILIA  That were a shame, sir,
75 While I have horses.—Take your choice, and what
 You want at any time, let me but know it.
 If you serve faithfully, I dare assure you
 You’ll find a loving mistress.
ARCITE  If I do not,
80 Let me find that my father ever hated,
 Disgrace and blows.
THESEUS  Go lead the way; you have won it.
 It shall be so; you shall receive all dues
 Fit for the honor you have won. ’Twere wrong else.—
85 Sister, beshrew my heart, you have a servant
 That, if I were a woman, would be master;
 But you are wise.
EMILIA  I hope too wise for that, sir.
Flourish. They all exit.


Scene 6
Enter Jailer’s Daughter alone.

DAUGHTER 
 Let all the dukes and all the devils roar!
 He is at liberty. I have ventured for him,
 And out I have brought him; to a little wood
 A mile hence I have sent him, where a cedar
5 Higher than all the rest spreads like a plane
 Fast by a brook, and there he shall keep close
 Till I provide him files and food, for yet
 His iron bracelets are not off. O Love,
 What a stout-hearted child thou art! My father
10 Durst better have endured cold iron than done it.

97
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 2. SC. 6

 I love him beyond love and beyond reason
 Or wit or safety. I have made him know it;
 I care not, I am desperate. If the law
 Find me and then condemn me for ’t, some wenches,
15 Some honest-hearted maids, will sing my dirge
 And tell to memory my death was noble,
 Dying almost a martyr. That way he takes
 I purpose is my way too. Sure he cannot
 Be so unmanly as to leave me here.
20 If he do, maids will not so easily
 Trust men again. And yet he has not thanked me
 For what I have done; no, not so much as kissed me,
 And that, methinks, is not so well; nor scarcely
 Could I persuade him to become a free man,
25 He made such scruples of the wrong he did
 To me and to my father. Yet I hope,
 When he considers more, this love of mine
 Will take more root within him. Let him do
 What he will with me, so he use me kindly;
30 For use me so he shall, or I’ll proclaim him,
 And to his face, no man. I’ll presently
 Provide him necessaries and pack my clothes up,
 And where there is a path of ground I’ll venture,
 So he be with me. By him like a shadow
35 I’ll ever dwell. Within this hour the hubbub
 Will be all o’er the prison. I am then
 Kissing the man they look for. Farewell, father!
 Get many more such prisoners and such daughters,
 And shortly you may keep yourself. Now to him.
She exits.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Cornets in sundry places. Noise and hallowing
as people a-Maying.
 Enter Arcite alone.


ARCITE 
 The Duke has lost Hippolyta; each took
 A several laund. This is a solemn rite
 They owe bloomed May, and the Athenians pay it
 To th’ heart of ceremony. O Queen Emilia,
5 Fresher than May, sweeter
 Than her gold buttons on the boughs, or all
 Th’ enameled knacks o’ th’ mead or garden—yea,
 We challenge too the bank of any nymph
 That makes the stream seem flowers; thou, O jewel
10 O’ th’ wood, o’ th’ world, hast likewise blessed a pace
 With thy sole presence. In thy rumination
 That I, poor man, might eftsoons come between
 And chop on some cold thought! Thrice blessèd
 chance
15 To drop on such a mistress, expectation
 Most guiltless on ’t. Tell me, O Lady Fortune,
 Next after Emily my sovereign, how far
 I may be proud. She takes strong note of me,
 Hath made me near her; and this beauteous morn,
20 The prim’st of all the year, presents me with
 A brace of horses; two such steeds might well
101

103
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Be by a pair of kings backed, in a field
 That their crowns’ titles tried. Alas, alas,
 Poor cousin Palamon, poor prisoner, thou
25 So little dream’st upon my fortune that
 Thou think’st thyself the happier thing, to be
 So near Emilia; me thou deem’st at Thebes,
 And therein wretched, although free. But if
 Thou knew’st my mistress breathed on me, and that
30 I eared her language, lived in her eye—O coz,
 What passion would enclose thee!

Enter Palamon as out of a bush, with his shackles;
he bends his fist at Arcite.


PALAMON  Traitor kinsman,
 Thou shouldst perceive my passion if these signs
 Of prisonment were off me, and this hand
35 But owner of a sword. By all oaths in one,
 I and the justice of my love would make thee
 A confessed traitor, O thou most perfidious
 That ever gently looked, the void’st of honor
 That e’er bore gentle token, falsest cousin
40 That ever blood made kin! Call’st thou her thine?
 I’ll prove it in my shackles, with these hands,
 Void of appointment, that thou liest, and art
 A very thief in love, a chaffy lord,
 Nor worth the name of villain. Had I a sword,
45 And these house clogs away—
ARCITE  Dear cousin Palamon—
PALAMON 
 Cozener Arcite, give me language such
 As thou hast showed me feat.
ARCITE  Not finding in
50 The circuit of my breast any gross stuff
 To form me like your blazon holds me to
 This gentleness of answer: ’tis your passion
 That thus mistakes, the which, to you being enemy,

105
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Cannot to me be kind. Honor and honesty
55 I cherish and depend on, howsoe’er
 You skip them in me, and with them, fair coz,
 I’ll maintain my proceedings. Pray be pleased
 To show in generous terms your griefs, since that
 Your question’s with your equal, who professes
60 To clear his own way with the mind and sword
 Of a true gentleman.
PALAMON  That thou durst, Arcite!
ARCITE 
 My coz, my coz, you have been well advertised
 How much I dare; you’ve seen me use my sword
65 Against th’ advice of fear. Sure, of another
 You would not hear me doubted, but your silence
 Should break out, though i’ th’ sanctuary.
PALAMON  Sir,
 I have seen you move in such a place which well
70 Might justify your manhood; you were called
 A good knight and a bold. But the whole week’s not
 fair
 If any day it rain; their valiant temper
 Men lose when they incline to treachery,
75 And then they fight like compelled bears—would fly
 Were they not tied.
ARCITE  Kinsman, you might as well
 Speak this and act it in your glass as to
 His ear which now disdains you.
PALAMON 80 Come up to me;
 Quit me of these cold gyves, give me a sword
 Though it be rusty, and the charity
 Of one meal lend me. Come before me then,
 A good sword in thy hand, and do but say
85 That Emily is thine, I will forgive
 The trespass thou hast done me—yea, my life,
 If then thou carry ’t; and brave souls in shades
 That have died manly, which will seek of me

107
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Some news from Earth, they shall get none but this:
90 That thou art brave and noble.
ARCITE  Be content.
 Again betake you to your hawthorn house.
 With counsel of the night I will be here
 With wholesome viands. These impediments
95 Will I file off. You shall have garments and
 Perfumes to kill the smell o’ th’ prison. After,
 When you shall stretch yourself and say but “Arcite,
 I am in plight,” there shall be at your choice
 Both sword and armor.
PALAMON 100 O you heavens, dares any
 So noble bear a guilty business? None
 But only Arcite. Therefore none but Arcite
 In this kind is so bold.
ARCITE  Sweet Palamon.
PALAMON 
105 I do embrace you and your offer; for
 Your offer do ’t I only. Sir, your person
 Without hypocrisy I may not wish
 More than my sword’s edge on ’t.
Wind horns off; sound cornets.
ARCITE  You hear the horns.
110 Enter your muset, lest this match between ’s
 Be crossed ere met. Give me your hand; farewell.
 I’ll bring you every needful thing. I pray you,
 Take comfort and be strong.
PALAMON  Pray hold your promise,
115 And do the deed with a bent brow. Most certain
 You love me not; be rough with me, and pour
 This oil out of your language. By this air,
 I could for each word give a cuff, my stomach
 Not reconciled by reason.
ARCITE 120 Plainly spoken,
 Yet pardon me hard language. When I spur
 My horse, I chide him not; content and anger

109
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 2

 In me have but one face.Wind horns.
 Hark, sir, they call
125 The scattered to the banquet; you must guess
 I have an office there.
PALAMON  Sir, your attendance
 Cannot please heaven, and I know your office
 Unjustly is achieved.
ARCITE 130 ’Tis a good title.
 I am persuaded this question, sick between ’s,
 By bleeding must be cured. I am a suitor
 That to your sword you will bequeath this plea,
 And talk of it no more.
PALAMON 135 But this one word:
 You are going now to gaze upon my mistress,
 For note you, mine she is—
ARCITE  Nay then,—
PALAMON  Nay, pray you,
140 You talk of feeding me to breed me strength.
 You are going now to look upon a sun
 That strengthens what it looks on; there
 You have a vantage o’er me, but enjoy ’t till
 I may enforce my remedy. Farewell.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Jailer’s Daughter, alone.

DAUGHTER 
 He has mistook the brake I meant, is gone
 After his fancy. ’Tis now well-nigh morning.
 No matter; would it were perpetual night,
 And darkness lord o’ th’ world. Hark, ’tis a wolf!
5 In me hath grief slain fear, and but for one thing,
 I care for nothing, and that’s Palamon.
 I reck not if the wolves would jaw me, so

111
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 2

 He had this file. What if I hallowed for him?
 I cannot hallow. If I whooped, what then?
10 If he not answered, I should call a wolf,
 And do him but that service. I have heard
 Strange howls this livelong night; why may ’t not be
 They have made prey of him? He has no weapons;
 He cannot run; the jingling of his gyves
15 Might call fell things to listen, who have in them
 A sense to know a man unarmed and can
 Smell where resistance is. I’ll set it down
 He’s torn to pieces; they howled many together,
 And then they fed on him; so much for that.
20 Be bold to ring the bell. How stand I then?
 All’s chared when he is gone. No, no, I lie.
 My father’s to be hanged for his escape;
 Myself to beg, if I prized life so much
 As to deny my act, but that I would not,
25 Should I try death by dozens. I am moped;
 Food took I none these two days;
 Sipped some water. I have not closed mine eyes
 Save when my lids scoured off their brine. Alas,
 Dissolve, my life! Let not my sense unsettle,
30 Lest I should drown, or stab, or hang myself.
 O state of nature, fail together in me,
 Since thy best props are warped! So, which way now?
 The best way is the next way to a grave;
 Each errant step beside is torment. Lo,
35 The moon is down, the crickets chirp, the screech
 owl
 Calls in the dawn. All offices are done
 Save what I fail in. But the point is this—
 An end, and that is all.
She exits.




113
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter Arcite with meat, wine, and files.

ARCITE 
 I should be near the place.—Ho! Cousin Palamon!
PALAMON, within 
 Arcite?
ARCITE  The same. I have brought you food and files.
 Come forth and fear not; here’s no Theseus.

Enter Palamon.

PALAMON 
5 Nor none so honest, Arcite.
ARCITE  That’s no matter.
 We’ll argue that hereafter. Come, take courage;
 You shall not die thus beastly. Here, sir, drink—
 I know you are faint—then I’ll talk further with you.
PALAMON 
10 Arcite, thou mightst now poison me.
ARCITE  I might;
 But I must fear you first. Sit down and, good now,
 No more of these vain parleys. Let us not,
 Having our ancient reputation with us,
15 Make talk for fools and cowards. To your health.
He drinks.
PALAMON Do!
ARCITE 
 Pray sit down, then, and let me entreat you,
 By all the honesty and honor in you,
 No mention of this woman; ’twill disturb us.
20 We shall have time enough.
PALAMON  Well, sir, I’ll pledge you.
He drinks.

115
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 3

ARCITE 
 Drink a good hearty draught; it breeds good blood,
 man.
 Do not you feel it thaw you?
PALAMON 25 Stay, I’ll tell you
 After a draught or two more.
ARCITE  Spare it not.
 The Duke has more, coz. Eat now.
PALAMON  Yes.He eats.
ARCITE 30 I am glad
 You have so good a stomach.
PALAMON  I am gladder
 I have so good meat to ’t.
ARCITE  Is ’t not mad lodging
35 Here in the wild woods, cousin?
PALAMON  Yes, for them
 That have wild consciences.
ARCITE  How tastes your
 victuals?
40 Your hunger needs no sauce, I see.
PALAMON  Not much.
 But if it did, yours is too tart, sweet cousin.
 What is this?
ARCITE  Venison.
PALAMON 45 ’Tis a lusty meat.
 Give me more wine. Here, Arcite, to the wenches
 We have known in our days!
He raises his cup in a toast.
 The Lord Steward’s
 daughter!
50 Do you remember her?
ARCITE  After you, coz.
PALAMON 
 She loved a black-haired man.
ARCITE  She did so; well, sir?

117
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 3

PALAMON 
 And I have heard some call him Arcite, and—
ARCITE 
55 Out with ’t, faith.
PALAMON  She met him in an arbor.
 What did she there, coz? Play o’ th’ virginals?
ARCITE 
 Something she did, sir.
PALAMON  Made her groan a month
60 for ’t—
 Or two, or three, or ten.
ARCITE  The Marshal’s sister
 Had her share, too, as I remember, cousin,
 Else there be tales abroad. You’ll pledge her?
PALAMON 65 Yes.
He lifts his cup and then drinks.
ARCITE 
 A pretty brown wench ’tis. There was a time
 When young men went a-hunting, and a wood,
 And a broad beech—and thereby hangs a tale.
 Heigh ho!
PALAMON 70 For Emily, upon my life! Fool,
 Away with this strained mirth. I say again
 That sigh was breathed for Emily. Base cousin,
 Dar’st thou break first?
ARCITE  You are wide.
PALAMON 75 By heaven and
 Earth,
 There’s nothing in thee honest.
ARCITE  Then I’ll leave you.
 You are a beast now.
PALAMON 80 As thou mak’st me, traitor.
ARCITE 
 There’s all things needful: files and shirts and
 perfumes.

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ACT 3. SC. 4

 I’ll come again some two hours hence and bring
 That that shall quiet all.
PALAMON 85 A sword and armor.
ARCITE 
 Fear me not. You are now too foul. Farewell.
 Get off your trinkets; you shall want naught.
PALAMON  Sirrah—
ARCITE 
 I’ll hear no more.
He exits.
PALAMON 90 If he keep touch, he dies for ’t.
He exits.


Scene 4
Enter Jailer’s Daughter.

DAUGHTER 
 I am very cold, and all the stars are out too,
 The little stars and all, that look like aglets.
 The sun has seen my folly.—Palamon!
 Alas, no; he’s in heaven. Where am I now?
5 Yonder’s the sea, and there’s a ship. How ’t tumbles!
 And there’s a rock lies watching under water.
 Now, now, it beats upon it; now, now, now,
 There’s a leak sprung, a sound one! How they cry!
 Open her before the wind; you’ll lose all else.
10 Up with a course or two, and tack about, boys!
 Good night, good night; you’re gone. I am very
 hungry.
 Would I could find a fine frog; he would tell me
 News from all parts o’ th’ world; then would I make
15 A carrack of a cockleshell, and sail
 By east and northeast to the king of pygmies,
 For he tells fortunes rarely. Now my father,

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ACT 3. SC. 5

 Twenty to one, is trussed up in a trice
 Tomorrow morning. I’ll say never a word.
(Sing.)
20 For I’ll cut my green coat a foot above my knee,
 And I’ll clip my yellow locks an inch below mine
  eye.
  Hey nonny, nonny, nonny.
 He’s buy me a white cut, forth for to ride,
25 And I’ll go seek him through the world that is so
  wide.
  Hey nonny, nonny, nonny.

 O, for a prick now, like a nightingale,
 To put my breast against. I shall sleep like a top else.
She exits.


Scene 5
Enter a Schoolmaster and six Countrymen,
one dressed as a Bavian.


SCHOOLMASTER Fie, fie, what tediosity and disinsanity
 is here among you! Have my rudiments been labored
 so long with you, milked unto you, and, by a
 figure, even the very plum broth and marrow of
5 my understanding laid upon you, and do you still
 cry “Where?” and “How?” and “Wherefore?” You
 most coarse-frieze capacities, you jean judgments,
 have I said “Thus let be” and “There let be”
 and “Then let be” and no man understand me? Proh
10 deum, medius fidius
, you are all dunces! Forwhy,
 here stand I; here the Duke comes; there are you,
 close in the thicket; the Duke appears; I meet him
 and unto him I utter learnèd things and many figures;
 he hears, and nods, and hums, and then cries
15 “Rare!” and I go forward. At length I fling my cap
 up—mark there! Then do you as once did Meleager

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ACT 3. SC. 5

 and the boar—break comely out before him;
 like true lovers, cast yourselves in a body decently,
 and sweetly, by a figure, trace and turn, boys.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN 20And sweetly we will do it, Master
 Gerald.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN Draw up the company. Where’s
 the taborer?
THIRD COUNTRYMAN Why, Timothy!

Enter the Taborer.

TABORER 25Here, my mad boys. Have at you!
SCHOOLMASTER But I say, where’s their women?

Enter five Wenches.

FOURTH COUNTRYMAN Here’s Fritz and Maudlin.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN And little Luce with the white
 legs, and bouncing Barbary.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN 30And freckled Nell, that never failed
 her master.
SCHOOLMASTER Where be your ribbons, maids? Swim
 with your bodies, and carry it sweetly and deliverly,
 and now and then a favor and a frisk.
NELL 35Let us alone, sir.
SCHOOLMASTER Where’s the rest o’ th’ music?
THIRD COUNTRYMAN Dispersed, as you commanded.
SCHOOLMASTER Couple, then, and see what’s wanting.
 Where’s the Bavian?—My friend, carry your tail
40 without offense or scandal to the ladies; and be
 sure you tumble with audacity and manhood, and
 when you bark, do it with judgment.
BAVIAN Yes, sir.
SCHOOLMASTER Quo usque tandem? Here is a woman
45 wanting.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN We may go whistle; all the fat’s i’
 th’ fire.
SCHOOLMASTER We have, as learnèd authors utter,

125
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ACT 3. SC. 5

 washed a tile; we have been fatuus and labored
50 vainly.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN This is that scornful piece, that
 scurvy hilding that gave her promise faithfully she
 would be here—Cicely, the sempster’s daughter.
 The next gloves that I give her shall be dogskin;
55 nay, an she fail me once—you can tell, Arcas, she
 swore by wine and bread she would not break.
SCHOOLMASTER An eel and woman, a learnèd poet
 says, unless by th’ tail and with thy teeth thou hold,
 will either fail. In manners, this was false
60 position.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN A fire ill take her! Does she flinch
 now?
THIRD COUNTRYMAN What shall we determine, sir?
SCHOOLMASTER Nothing. Our business is become a
65 nullity, yea, and a woeful and a piteous nullity.
FOURTH COUNTRYMAN Now, when the credit of our town
 lay on it, now to be frampold, now to piss o’ th’
 nettle! Go thy ways; I’ll remember thee. I’ll fit
 thee!

Enter Jailer’s Daughter.

DAUGHTER, sings 
70 The George Alow came from the south,
 From the coast of Barbary-a,
 And there he met with brave gallants of war,
 By one, by two, by three-a.
 “Well hailed, well hailed, you jolly gallants,
75 And whither now are you bound-a?
 O, let me have your company
 Till I come to the sound-a.”

 There was three fools, fell out about an owlet—
Sings  The one he said it was an owl,
80  The other he said nay,

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ACT 3. SC. 5

 The third he said it was a hawk,
  And her bells were cut away.

THIRD COUNTRYMAN There’s a dainty madwoman, master,
 comes i’ th’ nick, as mad as a March hare. If we
85 can get her dance, we are made again. I warrant
 her, she’ll do the rarest gambols.
FIRST COUNTRYMAN A madwoman? We are made, boys.
SCHOOLMASTER, to Jailer’s Daughter And are you mad,
 good woman?
DAUGHTER 90I would be sorry else. Give me your hand.
SCHOOLMASTER Why?
DAUGHTER I can tell your fortune. She looks at his
 hand. 
You are a fool. Tell ten.—I have posed him.
 Buzz!—Friend, you must eat no white bread; if
95 you do, your teeth will bleed extremely. Shall we
 dance, ho? I know you, you’re a tinker. Sirrah tinker,
 stop no more holes but what you should.
SCHOOLMASTER Dii boni! A tinker, damsel?
DAUGHTER Or a conjurer. Raise me a devil now, and let
100 him play Chi passa o’ th’ bells and bones.
SCHOOLMASTER Go, take her, and fluently persuade her
 to a peace. Et opus exegi, quod nec Iovis ira, nec
 ignis.
 Strike up, and lead her in.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN Come, lass, let’s trip it.
DAUGHTER 105I’ll lead.
THIRD COUNTRYMAN Do, do!
SCHOOLMASTER Persuasively, and cunningly.
Wind horns.
 Away, boys! I hear the horns. Give me some
 meditation, and mark your cue.
All but Schoolmaster exit.
110 Pallas, inspire me!

Enter Theseus, Pirithous, Hippolyta, Emilia, and train.

THESEUS This way the stag took.
SCHOOLMASTER Stay, and edify!

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ACT 3. SC. 5

THESEUS What have we here?
PIRITHOUS Some country sport, upon my life, sir.
THESEUS, to Schoolmaster 115Well, sir, go forward. We
 will “edify.”Chairs and stools brought out.
 Ladies, sit down. We’ll stay it.
Theseus, Hippolyta, and Emilia sit.
SCHOOLMASTER 
 Thou doughty duke, all hail!—All hail, sweet ladies!
THESEUS, aside This is a cold beginning.
SCHOOLMASTER 
120 If you but favor, our country pastime made is.
 We are a few of those collected here
 That ruder tongues distinguish “villager.”
 And to say verity, and not to fable,
 We are a merry rout, or else a rabble,
125 Or company, or by a figure, chorus,
 That ’fore thy dignity will dance a morris.
 And I that am the rectifier of all,
 By title pedagogus, that let fall
 The birch upon the breeches of the small ones,
130 And humble with a ferula the tall ones,
 Do here present this machine, or this frame.
 And, dainty duke, whose doughty dismal fame
 From Dis to Daedalus, from post to pillar,
 Is blown abroad, help me, thy poor well-willer,
135 And with thy twinkling eyes look right and straight
 Upon this mighty “Morr,” of mickle weight—
 “Is” now comes in, which being glued together
 Makes “Morris,” and the cause that we came hither.
 The body of our sport, of no small study,
140 I first appear, though rude, and raw, and muddy,
 To speak before thy noble grace this tenner,
 At whose great feet I offer up my penner.
 The next, the Lord of May and Lady bright,
 The Chambermaid and Servingman by night
145 That seek out silent hanging; then mine Host

131
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ACT 3. SC. 5

 And his fat Spouse, that welcomes to their cost
 The gallèd traveler, and with a beck’ning
 Informs the tapster to inflame the reck’ning;
 Then the beest-eating Clown; and next the Fool,
150 The Bavian with long tail and eke long tool,
 Cum multis aliis that make a dance;
 Say “ay,” and all shall presently advance.
THESEUS 
 Ay, ay, by any means, dear Domine.
PIRITHOUS Produce!
SCHOOLMASTER 
155 Intrate, filii. Come forth and foot it.

Music. Enter the Countrymen, Countrywomen, and
Jailer’s Daughter; they perform a morris dance.


SCHOOLMASTER 
 Ladies, if we have been merry
 And have pleased ye with a derry,
 And a derry and a down,
 Say the Schoolmaster’s no clown.—
160 Duke, if we have pleased thee too
 And have done as good boys should do,
 Give us but a tree or twain
 For a Maypole, and again,
 Ere another year run out,
165 We’ll make thee laugh, and all this rout.

THESEUS 
 Take twenty, Domine.—How does my sweetheart?
HIPPOLYTA 
 Never so pleased, sir.
EMILIA  ’Twas an excellent dance,
 And, for a preface, I never heard a better.
THESEUS 
170 Schoolmaster, I thank you.—One see ’em all
 rewarded.An Attendant gives money.

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ACT 3. SC. 6

PIRITHOUS 
 And here’s something to paint your pole withal.
He gives money.
THESEUS Now to our sports again.
SCHOOLMASTER 
 May the stag thou hunt’st stand long,
175 And thy dogs be swift and strong;
 May they kill him without lets,
 And the ladies eat his dowsets.

Wind horns within. Theseus, Hippolyta,
Emilia, Pirithous, and Train exit.

 Come, we are all made. Dii deaeque omnes,
 You have danced rarely, wenches.
They exit.


Scene 6
Enter Palamon from the bush.

PALAMON 
 About this hour my cousin gave his faith
 To visit me again, and with him bring
 Two swords and two good armors. If he fail,
 He’s neither man nor soldier. When he left me,
5 I did not think a week could have restored
 My lost strength to me, I was grown so low
 And crestfall’n with my wants. I thank thee, Arcite,
 Thou art yet a fair foe, and I feel myself,
 With this refreshing, able once again
10 To outdure danger. To delay it longer
 Would make the world think, when it comes to
 hearing,
 That I lay fatting like a swine to fight
 And not a soldier. Therefore, this blest morning
15 Shall be the last; and that sword he refuses,

135
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

 If it but hold, I kill him with. ’Tis justice.
 So, love and fortune for me!

Enter Arcite with armors and swords.

 O, good morrow.
ARCITE 
 Good morrow, noble kinsman.
PALAMON 20 I have put you
 To too much pains, sir.
ARCITE  That too much, fair cousin,
 Is but a debt to honor and my duty.
PALAMON 
 Would you were so in all, sir; I could wish you
25 As kind a kinsman as you force me find
 A beneficial foe, that my embraces
 Might thank you, not my blows.
ARCITE  I shall think either,
 Well done, a noble recompense.
PALAMON 30 Then I shall quit you.
ARCITE 
 Defy me in these fair terms, and you show
 More than a mistress to me. No more anger,
 As you love anything that’s honorable!
 We were not bred to talk, man; when we are armed
35 And both upon our guards, then let our fury,
 Like meeting of two tides, fly strongly from us,
 And then to whom the birthright of this beauty
 Truly pertains—without upbraidings, scorns,
 Despisings of our persons, and such poutings,
40 Fitter for girls and schoolboys—will be seen,
 And quickly, yours or mine. Will ’t please you arm,
 sir?
 Or if you feel yourself not fitting yet
 And furnished with your old strength, I’ll stay,
45 cousin,
 And ev’ry day discourse you into health,

137
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ACT 3. SC. 6

 As I am spared. Your person I am friends with,
 And I could wish I had not said I loved her,
 Though I had died. But loving such a lady,
50 And justifying my love, I must not fly from ’t.
PALAMON 
 Arcite, thou art so brave an enemy
 That no man but thy cousin’s fit to kill thee.
 I am well and lusty. Choose your arms.
ARCITE  Choose you, sir.
PALAMON 
55 Wilt thou exceed in all, or dost thou do it
 To make me spare thee?
ARCITE  If you think so, cousin,
 You are deceived, for as I am a soldier,
 I will not spare you.
PALAMON 60 That’s well said.
ARCITE  You’ll find it.
PALAMON 
 Then, as I am an honest man and love
 With all the justice of affection,
 I’ll pay thee soundly.He chooses armor.
65 This I’ll take.
ARCITE taking the other  That’s mine, then.
 I’ll arm you first.
PALAMON  Do.Arcite begins arming him.
 Pray thee tell me, cousin,
70 Where got’st thou this good armor?
ARCITE  ’Tis the Duke’s,
 And to say true, I stole it. Do I pinch you?
PALAMON  No.
ARCITE 
 Is ’t not too heavy?
PALAMON 75 I have worn a lighter,
 But I shall make it serve.
ARCITE  I’ll buckle ’t close.

139
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

PALAMON 
 By any means.
ARCITE  You care not for a grand guard?
PALAMON 
80 No, no, we’ll use no horses. I perceive
 You would fain be at that fight.
ARCITE  I am indifferent.
PALAMON 
 Faith, so am I. Good cousin, thrust the buckle
 Through far enough.
ARCITE 85 I warrant you.
PALAMON  My casque now.
ARCITE 
 Will you fight bare-armed?
PALAMON  We shall be the nimbler.
ARCITE 
 But use your gauntlets though. Those are o’ th’ least.
90 Prithee take mine, good cousin.
PALAMON  Thank you, Arcite.
 How do I look? Am I fall’n much away?
ARCITE 
 Faith, very little; love has used you kindly.
PALAMON 
 I’ll warrant thee, I’ll strike home.
ARCITE 95 Do, and spare not.
 I’ll give you cause, sweet cousin.
PALAMON  Now to you, sir.
He begins to arm Arcite.
 Methinks this armor’s very like that, Arcite,
 Thou wor’st that day the three kings fell, but lighter.
ARCITE 
100 That was a very good one, and that day,
 I well remember, you outdid me, cousin.
 I never saw such valor. When you charged
 Upon the left wing of the enemy,

141
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

 I spurred hard to come up, and under me
105 I had a right good horse.
PALAMON  You had, indeed;
 A bright bay, I remember.
ARCITE  Yes, but all
 Was vainly labored in me; you outwent me,
110 Nor could my wishes reach you; yet a little
 I did by imitation.
PALAMON  More by virtue;
 You are modest, cousin.
ARCITE  When I saw you charge first,
115 Methought I heard a dreadful clap of thunder
 Break from the troop.
PALAMON  But still before that flew
 The lightning of your valor. Stay a little;
 Is not this piece too strait?
ARCITE 120 No, no, ’tis well.
PALAMON 
 I would have nothing hurt thee but my sword.
 A bruise would be dishonor.
ARCITE  Now I am perfect.
PALAMON 
 Stand off, then.
ARCITE 125 Take my sword; I hold it better.
PALAMON 
 I thank you, no; keep it; your life lies on it.
 Here’s one; if it but hold, I ask no more
 For all my hopes. My cause and honor guard me!
ARCITE 
 And me my love!
They bow several ways, then advance and stand.
130 Is there aught else to say?
PALAMON 
 This only, and no more: thou art mine aunt’s son.
 And that blood we desire to shed is mutual—
 In me thine, and in thee mine. My sword

143
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

 Is in my hand, and if thou kill’st me,
135 The gods and I forgive thee. If there be
 A place prepared for those that sleep in honor,
 I wish his weary soul that falls may win it.
 Fight bravely, cousin. Give me thy noble hand.
ARCITE, as they shake hands 
 Here, Palamon. This hand shall never more
140 Come near thee with such friendship.
PALAMON  I commend thee.
ARCITE 
 If I fall, curse me, and say I was a coward,
 For none but such dare die in these just trials.
 Once more farewell, my cousin.
PALAMON 145 Farewell, Arcite.
Fight.
Horns within. They stand.
ARCITE 
 Lo, cousin, lo, our folly has undone us!
PALAMON Why?
ARCITE 
 This is the Duke, a-hunting, as I told you.
 If we be found, we are wretched. O, retire,
150 For honor’s sake, and safely, presently
 Into your bush again. Sir, we shall find
 Too many hours to die in. Gentle cousin,
 If you be seen, you perish instantly
 For breaking prison, and I, if you reveal me,
155 For my contempt. Then all the world will scorn us,
 And say we had a noble difference,
 But base disposers of it.
PALAMON  No, no, cousin,
 I will no more be hidden, nor put off
160 This great adventure to a second trial.
 I know your cunning, and I know your cause.
 He that faints now, shame take him! Put thyself
 Upon thy present guard—

145
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

ARCITE  You are not mad?
PALAMON 
165 Or I will make th’ advantage of this hour
 Mine own, and what to come shall threaten me
 I fear less than my fortune. Know, weak cousin,
 I love Emilia, and in that I’ll bury
 Thee and all crosses else.
ARCITE 170 Then come what can come,
 Thou shalt know, Palamon, I dare as well
 Die as discourse or sleep. Only this fears me:
 The law will have the honor of our ends.
 Have at thy life!
PALAMON 175 Look to thine own well, Arcite.
Fight again.

Horns. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia,
Pirithous and train.


THESEUS 
 What ignorant and mad malicious traitors
 Are you, that ’gainst the tenor of my laws
 Are making battle, thus like knights appointed,
 Without my leave and officers of arms?
180 By Castor, both shall die.
PALAMON  Hold thy word, Theseus.
 We are certainly both traitors, both despisers
 Of thee and of thy goodness. I am Palamon,
 That cannot love thee, he that broke thy prison.
185 Think well what that deserves. And this is Arcite.
 A bolder traitor never trod thy ground,
 A falser ne’er seemed friend. This is the man
 Was begged and banished; this is he contemns thee
 And what thou dar’st do; and in this disguise,
190 Against thine own edict, follows thy sister,
 That fortunate bright star, the fair Emilia,
 Whose servant—if there be a right in seeing
 And first bequeathing of the soul to—justly

147
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ACT 3. SC. 6

 I am; and, which is more, dares think her his.
195 This treachery, like a most trusty lover,
 I called him now to answer. If thou be’st
 As thou art spoken, great and virtuous,
 The true decider of all injuries,
 Say “Fight again,” and thou shalt see me, Theseus,
200 Do such a justice thou thyself wilt envy.
 Then take my life; I’ll woo thee to ’t.
PIRITHOUS  O heaven,
 What more than man is this!
THESEUS  I have sworn.
ARCITE 205 We seek not
 Thy breath of mercy, Theseus. ’Tis to me
 A thing as soon to die as thee to say it,
 And no more moved. Where this man calls me
 traitor,
210 Let me say thus much: if in love be treason,
 In service of so excellent a beauty,
 As I love most, and in that faith will perish,
 As I have brought my life here to confirm it,
 As I have served her truest, worthiest,
215 As I dare kill this cousin that denies it,
 So let me be most traitor, and you please me.
 For scorning thy edict, duke, ask that lady
 Why she is fair, and why her eyes command me
 Stay here to love her; and if she say “traitor,”
220 I am a villain fit to lie unburied.
PALAMON 
 Thou shalt have pity of us both, O Theseus,
 If unto neither thou show mercy. Stop,
 As thou art just, thy noble ear against us;
 As thou art valiant, for thy cousin’s soul,
225 Whose twelve strong labors crown his memory,
 Let’s die together at one instant, duke;
 Only a little let him fall before me,
 That I may tell my soul he shall not have her.

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ACT 3. SC. 6

THESEUS 
 I grant your wish, for to say true, your cousin
230 Has ten times more offended, for I gave him
 More mercy than you found, sir, your offenses
 Being no more than his.—None here speak for ’em,
 For ere the sun set both shall sleep forever.
HIPPOLYTA 
 Alas, the pity! Now or never, sister,
235 Speak not to be denied. That face of yours
 Will bear the curses else of after ages
 For these lost cousins.
EMILIA  In my face, dear sister,
 I find no anger to ’em, nor no ruin.
240 The misadventure of their own eyes kill ’em.
 Yet that I will be woman and have pity,
 My knees shall grow to th’ ground but I’ll get mercy.
She kneels.
 Help me, dear sister; in a deed so virtuous,
 The powers of all women will be with us.
Hippolyta kneels.
245 Most royal brother—
HIPPOLYTA  Sir, by our tie of marriage—
EMILIA 
 By your own spotless honor—
HIPPOLYTA  By that faith,
 That fair hand, and that honest heart you gave me—
EMILIA 
250 By that you would have pity in another;
 By your own virtues infinite—
HIPPOLYTA  By valor;
 By all the chaste nights I have ever pleased you—
THESEUS 
 These are strange conjurings.
PIRITHOUS 255 Nay, then, I’ll in too.
He kneels.

151
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

 By all our friendship, sir, by all our dangers;
 By all you love most, wars and this sweet lady—
EMILIA 
 By that you would have trembled to deny
 A blushing maid—
HIPPOLYTA 260 By your own eyes; by strength,
 In which you swore I went beyond all women,
 Almost all men, and yet I yielded, Theseus—
PIRITHOUS 
 To crown all this: by your most noble soul,
 Which cannot want due mercy, I beg first—
HIPPOLYTA 
265 Next hear my prayers—
EMILIA  Last let me entreat, sir—
PIRITHOUS 
 For mercy.
HIPPOLYTA  Mercy.
EMILIA  Mercy on these princes.
THESEUS 
270 You make my faith reel. (To Emilia.) Say I felt
 Compassion to ’em both, how would you place it?
They rise from their knees.
EMILIA 
 Upon their lives, but with their banishments.
THESEUS 
 You are a right woman, sister: you have pity,
 But want the understanding where to use it.
275 If you desire their lives, invent a way
 Safer than banishment. Can these two live,
 And have the agony of love about ’em,
 And not kill one another? Every day
 They’d fight about you, hourly bring your honor
280 In public question with their swords. Be wise, then,
 And here forget ’em; it concerns your credit
 And my oath equally. I have said they die.

153
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ACT 3. SC. 6

 Better they fall by th’ law than one another.
 Bow not my honor.
EMILIA 285 O, my noble brother,
 That oath was rashly made, and in your anger;
 Your reason will not hold it. If such vows
 Stand for express will, all the world must perish.
 Besides, I have another oath ’gainst yours,
290 Of more authority, I am sure more love,
 Not made in passion neither, but good heed.
THESEUS 
 What is it, sister?
PIRITHOUS  Urge it home, brave lady.
EMILIA 
 That you would ne’er deny me anything
295 Fit for my modest suit and your free granting.
 I tie you to your word now; if you fail in ’t,
 Think how you maim your honor—
 For now I am set a-begging, sir, I am deaf
 To all but your compassion—how their lives
300 Might breed the ruin of my name. Opinion!
 Shall anything that loves me perish for me?
 That were a cruel wisdom. Do men prune
 The straight young boughs that blush with thousand
 blossoms
305 Because they may be rotten? O, Duke Theseus,
 The goodly mothers that have groaned for these,
 And all the longing maids that ever loved,
 If your vow stand, shall curse me and my beauty,
 And in their funeral songs for these two cousins
310 Despise my cruelty, and cry woe worth me,
 Till I am nothing but the scorn of women.
 For heaven’s sake, save their lives, and banish ’em.
THESEUS 
 On what conditions?
EMILIA  Swear ’em never more
315 To make me their contention, or to know me,

155
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

 To tread upon thy dukedom, and to be,
 Wherever they shall travel, ever strangers
 To one another.
PALAMON  I’ll be cut a-pieces
320 Before I take this oath! Forget I love her?
 O, all you gods, despise me then! Thy banishment
 I not mislike, so we may fairly carry
 Our swords and cause along; else never trifle,
 But take our lives, duke. I must love, and will,
325 And for that love must and dare kill this cousin
 On any piece the Earth has.
THESEUS  Will you, Arcite,
 Take these conditions?
PALAMON  He’s a villain, then.
PIRITHOUS 330These are men!
ARCITE 
 No, never, duke. ’Tis worse to me than begging
 To take my life so basely; though I think
 I never shall enjoy her, yet I’ll preserve
 The honor of affection, and die for her,
335 Make death a devil!
THESEUS 
 What may be done? For now I feel compassion.
PIRITHOUS 
 Let it not fall again, sir.
THESEUS  Say, Emilia,
 If one of them were dead, as one must, are you
340 Content to take th’ other to your husband?
 They cannot both enjoy you. They are princes
 As goodly as your own eyes, and as noble
 As ever fame yet spoke of. Look upon ’em,
 And, if you can love, end this difference.
345 I give consent.—Are you content too, princes?
BOTH 
 With all our souls.
THESEUS  He that she refuses
 Must die then.

157
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ACT 3. SC. 6

BOTH  Any death thou canst invent, duke.
PALAMON 
350 If I fall from that mouth, I fall with favor,
 And lovers yet unborn shall bless my ashes.
ARCITE 
 If she refuse me, yet my grave will wed me,
 And soldiers sing my epitaph.
THESEUS, to Emilia  Make choice, then.
EMILIA 
355 I cannot, sir; they are both too excellent.
 For me, a hair shall never fall of these men.
HIPPOLYTA 
 What will become of ’em?
THESEUS  Thus I ordain it—
 And, by mine honor, once again, it stands,
360 Or both shall die: you shall both to your country,
 And each within this month, accompanied
 With three fair knights, appear again in this place,
 In which I’ll plant a pyramid; and whether,
 Before us that are here, can force his cousin
365 By fair and knightly strength to touch the pillar,
 He shall enjoy her; the other lose his head,
 And all his friends; nor shall he grudge to fall,
 Nor think he dies with interest in this lady.
 Will this content you?
PALAMON 370 Yes.—Here, Cousin Arcite,
 I am friends again till that hour.He offers his hand.
ARCITE  I embrace you.
They shake hands.
THESEUS 
 Are you content, sister?
EMILIA  Yes, I must, sir,
375 Else both miscarry.
THESEUS, to Palamon and Arcite 
 Come, shake hands again, then,

159
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 3. SC. 6

 And take heed, as you are gentlemen, this quarrel
 Sleep till the hour prefixed, and hold your course.
PALAMON 
 We dare not fail thee, Theseus.
They shake hands again.
THESEUS 380 Come, I’ll give you
 Now usage like to princes and to friends.
 When you return, who wins I’ll settle here;
 Who loses, yet I’ll weep upon his bier.
They exit.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter Jailer and his Friend.

JAILER 
 Heard you no more? Was nothing said of me
 Concerning the escape of Palamon?
 Good sir, remember!
FIRST FRIEND  Nothing that I heard,
5 For I came home before the business
 Was fully ended. Yet I might perceive,
 Ere I departed, a great likelihood
 Of both their pardons; for Hippolyta
 And fair-eyed Emily, upon their knees,
10 Begged with such handsome pity that the Duke,
 Methought, stood staggering whether he should
 follow
 His rash oath or the sweet compassion
 Of those two ladies. And, to second them,
15 That truly noble prince, Pirithous—
 Half his own heart—set in too, that I hope
 All shall be well. Neither heard I one question
 Of your name or his ’scape.
JAILER  Pray heaven it hold so.

Enter Second Friend.

163

165
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 1

SECOND FRIEND 
20 Be of good comfort, man; I bring you news,
 Good news.
JAILER  They are welcome.
SECOND FRIEND  Palamon has cleared
 you
25 And got your pardon, and discovered how
 And by whose means he escaped, which was your
 daughter’s,
 Whose pardon is procured too; and the prisoner,
 Not to be held ungrateful to her goodness,
30 Has given a sum of money to her marriage—
 A large one, I’ll assure you.
JAILER  You are a good man
 And ever bring good news.
FIRST FRIEND  How was it ended?
SECOND FRIEND 
35 Why, as it should be: they that ne’er begged
 But they prevailed had their suits fairly granted;
 The prisoners have their lives.
FIRST FRIEND  I knew ’twould be so.
SECOND FRIEND 
 But there be new conditions, which you’ll hear of
40 At better time.
JAILER  I hope they are good.
SECOND FRIEND  They are
 honorable;
 How good they’ll prove I know not.
FIRST FRIEND 45 ’Twill be known.

Enter Wooer.

WOOER 
 Alas, sir, where’s your daughter?
JAILER  Why do you ask?
WOOER 
 O, sir, when did you see her?

167
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ACT 4. SC. 1

SECOND FRIEND, aside  How he looks!
JAILER 
50 This morning.
WOOER  Was she well? Was she in health?
 Sir, when did she sleep?
FIRST FRIEND, aside  These are strange questions.
JAILER 
 I do not think she was very well—for now
55 You make me mind her; but this very day
 I asked her questions, and she answered me
 So far from what she was, so childishly,
 So sillily, as if she were a fool,
 An innocent, and I was very angry.
60 But what of her, sir?
WOOER  Nothing but my pity;
 But you must know it, and as good by me
 As by another that less loves her.
JAILER  Well, sir?
WOOER 
65 No, sir, not well.
FIRST FRIEND  Not right?
SECOND FRIEND  Not well?
WOOER 
 ’Tis too true; she is mad.
FIRST FRIEND  It cannot be.
WOOER 
70 Believe you’ll find it so.
JAILER  I half suspected
 What you told me. The gods comfort her!
 Either this was her love to Palamon,
 Or fear of my miscarrying on his ’scape,
75 Or both.
WOOER  ’Tis likely.
JAILER  But why all this haste, sir?
WOOER 
 I’ll tell you quickly. As I late was angling

169
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 1

 In the great lake that lies behind the palace,
80 From the far shore—thick set with reeds and
 sedges—
 As patiently I was attending sport,
 I heard a voice, a shrill one; and, attentive,
 I gave my ear, when I might well perceive
85 ’Twas one that sung, and by the smallness of it
 A boy or woman. I then left my angle
 To his own skill, came near, but yet perceived not
 Who made the sound, the rushes and the reeds
 Had so encompassed it. I laid me down
90 And listened to the words she sung, for then,
 Through a small glade cut by the fishermen,
 I saw it was your daughter.
JAILER  Pray go on, sir.
WOOER 
 She sung much, but no sense; only I heard her
95 Repeat this often: “Palamon is gone,
 Is gone to th’ wood to gather mulberries;
 I’ll find him out tomorrow.”
FIRST FRIEND  Pretty soul!
WOOER 
 “His shackles will betray him; he’ll be taken,
100 And what shall I do then? I’ll bring a bevy,
 A hundred black-eyed maids that love as I do,
 With chaplets on their heads of daffadillies,
 With cherry lips and cheeks of damask roses,
 And all we’ll dance an antic ’fore the Duke,
105 And beg his pardon.” Then she talked of you, sir—
 That you must lose your head tomorrow morning,
 And she must gather flowers to bury you,
 And see the house made handsome. Then she sung
 Nothing but “Willow, willow, willow,” and between
110 Ever was “Palamon, fair Palamon,”
 And “Palamon was a tall young man.” The place
 Was knee-deep where she sat; her careless tresses,

171
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 1

 A wreath of bulrush rounded; about her stuck
 Thousand freshwater flowers of several colors,
115 That methought she appeared like the fair nymph
 That feeds the lake with waters, or as Iris
 Newly dropped down from heaven. Rings she made
 Of rushes that grew by, and to ’em spoke
 The prettiest posies: “Thus our true love’s tied,”
120 “This you may lose, not me,” and many a one;
 And then she wept, and sung again, and sighed,
 And with the same breath smiled and kissed her
 hand.
SECOND FRIEND 
 Alas, what pity it is!
WOOER 125 I made in to her.
 She saw me, and straight sought the flood. I saved
 her
 And set her safe to land, when presently
 She slipped away, and to the city made
130 With such a cry and swiftness that, believe me,
 She left me far behind her. Three or four
 I saw from far off cross her—one of ’em
 I knew to be your brother—where she stayed
 And fell, scarce to be got away. I left them with her
135 And hither came to tell you.

Enter Jailer’s Brother, Jailer’s Daughter, and others.

 Here they are.
DAUGHTER, sings 
 May you never more enjoy the light, etc.
 Is not this a fine song?
BROTHER O, a very fine one.
DAUGHTER 140I can sing twenty more.
BROTHER I think you can.
DAUGHTER Yes, truly can I. I can sing The Broom
 and Bonny Robin. Are not you a tailor?
BROTHER Yes.

173
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 1

DAUGHTER 145Where’s my wedding gown?
BROTHER I’ll bring it tomorrow.
DAUGHTER Do, very rarely, I must be abroad else to
 call the maids and pay the minstrels, for I must
 lose my maidenhead by cocklight. ’Twill never
150 thrive else.
Sings. O fair, O sweet, etc.
BROTHER, to Jailer You must e’en take it patiently.
JAILER ’Tis true.
DAUGHTER Good e’en, good men. Pray, did you ever
155 hear of one young Palamon?
JAILER Yes, wench, we know him.
DAUGHTER Is ’t not a fine young gentleman?
JAILER ’Tis, love.
BROTHER, aside to others By no mean cross her; she
160 is then distempered far worse than now she
 shows.
FIRST FRIEND, to Daughter Yes, he’s a fine man.
DAUGHTER O , is he so? You have a sister.
FIRST FRIEND Yes.
DAUGHTER 165But she shall never have him—tell her so—
 for a trick that I know; you’d best look to her, for
 if she see him once, she’s gone, she’s done and
 undone in an hour. All the young maids of our
 town are in love with him, but I laugh at ’em and
170 let ’em all alone. Is ’t not a wise course?
FIRST FRIEND Yes.
DAUGHTER There is at least two hundred now with
 child by him—there must be four; yet I keep close
 for all this, close as a cockle; and all these must be
175 boys—he has the trick on ’t—and at ten years old
 they must be all gelt for musicians and sing the
 wars of Theseus.
SECOND FRIEND This is strange.
DAUGHTER As ever you heard, but say nothing.
FIRST FRIEND 180No.

175
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 1

DAUGHTER They come from all parts of the dukedom
 to him; I’ll warrant you, he had not so few last
 night as twenty to dispatch. He’ll tickle ’t up in two
 hours, if his hand be in.
JAILER, aside 185She’s lost past all cure.
BROTHER Heaven forbid, man!
DAUGHTER, to Jailer Come hither; you are a wise
 man.
FIRST FRIEND, aside Does she know him?
SECOND FRIEND 190No; would she did.
DAUGHTER You are master of a ship?
JAILER Yes.
DAUGHTER Where’s your compass?
JAILER Here.
DAUGHTER 195Set it to th’ north. And now direct your
 course to th’ wood, where Palamon lies longing for
 me. For the tackling, let me alone.—Come, weigh,
 my hearts, cheerly.
ALL, as if sailing a ship Owgh, owgh, owgh!—’Tis up!
200 The wind’s fair!—Top the bowline!—Out with the
 main sail! Where’s your whistle, master?
BROTHER Let’s get her in!
JAILER Up to the top, boy!
BROTHER Where’s the pilot?
FIRST FRIEND 205Here.
DAUGHTER What kenn’st thou?
SECOND FRIEND A fair wood.
DAUGHTER Bear for it, master. Tack about!
Sings.
 When Cynthia with her borrowed light, etc.
They exit.




177
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 2

Scene 2
Enter Emilia alone, with two pictures.

EMILIA 
 Yet I may bind those wounds up that must open
 And bleed to death for my sake else. I’ll choose,
 And end their strife. Two such young handsome men
 Shall never fall for me; their weeping mothers,
5 Following the dead cold ashes of their sons,
 Shall never curse my cruelty.
Looks at one of the pictures.
 Good heaven,
 What a sweet face has Arcite! If wise Nature,
 With all her best endowments, all those beauties
10 She sows into the births of noble bodies,
 Were here a mortal woman, and had in her
 The coy denials of young maids, yet doubtless
 She would run mad for this man. What an eye,
 Of what a fiery sparkle and quick sweetness,
15 Has this young prince! Here Love himself sits
 smiling;
 Just such another wanton Ganymede
 Set Jove afire with, and enforced the god
 Snatch up the goodly boy and set him by him,
20 A shining constellation. What a brow,
 Of what a spacious majesty, he carries,
 Arched like the great-eyed Juno’s but far sweeter,
 Smoother than Pelops’ shoulder! Fame and Honor,
 Methinks, from hence as from a promontory
25 Pointed in heaven, should clap their wings and sing
 To all the under world the loves and fights
 Of gods and such men near ’em.
Looks at the other picture.
 Palamon
 Is but his foil, to him a mere dull shadow;
30 He’s swart and meager, of an eye as heavy

179
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 2

 As if he had lost his mother; a still temper,
 No stirring in him, no alacrity;
 Of all this sprightly sharpness not a smile.
 Yet these that we count errors may become him;
35 Narcissus was a sad boy but a heavenly.
 O, who can find the bent of woman’s fancy?
 I am a fool; my reason is lost in me;
 I have no choice, and I have lied so lewdly
 That women ought to beat me. On my knees
40 I ask thy pardon: Palamon, thou art alone
 And only beautiful, and these the eyes,
 These the bright lamps of beauty, that command
 And threaten love, and what young maid dare cross
 ’em?
45 What a bold gravity, and yet inviting,
 Has this brown manly face! O Love, this only
 From this hour is complexion. Lie there, Arcite.
She puts aside his picture.
 Thou art a changeling to him, a mere gypsy,
 And this the noble body. I am sotted,
50 Utterly lost. My virgin’s faith has fled me.
 For if my brother but even now had asked me
 Whether I loved, I had run mad for Arcite.
 Now, if my sister, more for Palamon.
 Stand both together. Now, come ask me, brother.
55 Alas, I know not! Ask me now, sweet sister.
 I may go look! What a mere child is Fancy,
 That, having two fair gauds of equal sweetness,
 Cannot distinguish, but must cry for both.

Enter a Gentleman.

 How now, sir?
GENTLEMAN 60 From the noble duke, your brother,
 Madam, I bring you news: the knights are come.
EMILIA 
 To end the quarrel?

181
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 2

GENTLEMAN  Yes.
EMILIA  Would I might end first!
65 What sins have I committed, chaste Diana,
 That my unspotted youth must now be soiled
 With blood of princes, and my chastity
 Be made the altar where the lives of lovers—
 Two greater and two better never yet
70 Made mothers joy—must be the sacrifice
 To my unhappy beauty?

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous and Attendants.

THESEUS, to Attendant  Bring ’em in
 Quickly, by any means; I long to see ’em.
 To Emilia. Your two contending lovers are
75 returned,
 And with them their fair knights. Now, my fair
 sister,
 You must love one of them.
EMILIA  I had rather both,
80 So neither for my sake should fall untimely.
THESEUS 
 Who saw ’em?
PIRITHOUS  I awhile.
GENTLEMAN  And I.

Enter a Messenger.

THESEUS 
 From whence come you, sir?
MESSENGER 85 From the knights.
THESEUS  Pray
 speak,
 You that have seen them, what they are.
MESSENGER  I will, sir,
90 And truly what I think. Six braver spirits
 Than these they have brought, if we judge by the
 outside,

183
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 2

 I never saw nor read of. He that stands
 In the first place with Arcite, by his seeming,
95 Should be a stout man, by his face a prince—
 His very looks so say him; his complexion
 Nearer a brown than black—stern and yet noble—
 Which shows him hardy, fearless, proud of dangers;
 The circles of his eyes show fire within him,
100 And as a heated lion, so he looks.
 His hair hangs long behind him, black and shining
 Like ravens’ wings; his shoulders broad and strong,
 Armed long and round; and on his thigh a sword
 Hung by a curious baldric, when he frowns
105 To seal his will with. Better, o’ my conscience,
 Was never soldier’s friend.
THESEUS 
 Thou hast well described him.
PIRITHOUS  Yet a great
 deal short,
110 Methinks, of him that’s first with Palamon.
THESEUS 
 Pray speak him, friend.
PIRITHOUS  I guess he is a prince too,
 And, if it may be, greater; for his show
 Has all the ornament of honor in ’t:
115 He’s somewhat bigger than the knight he spoke of,
 But of a face far sweeter; his complexion
 Is, as a ripe grape, ruddy. He has felt
 Without doubt what he fights for, and so apter
 To make this cause his own. In ’s face appears
120 All the fair hopes of what he undertakes,
 And when he’s angry, then a settled valor,
 Not tainted with extremes, runs through his body
 And guides his arm to brave things. Fear he cannot;
 He shows no such soft temper. His head’s yellow,
125 Hard-haired and curled, thick-twined like ivy tods,
 Not to undo with thunder. In his face
 The livery of the warlike maid appears,

185
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Pure red and white, for yet no beard has blessed him.
 And in his rolling eyes sits Victory,
130 As if she ever meant to crown his valor.
 His nose stands high, a character of honor;
 His red lips, after fights, are fit for ladies.
EMILIA 
 Must these men die too?
PIRITHOUS  When he speaks, his tongue
135 Sounds like a trumpet. All his lineaments
 Are as a man would wish ’em, strong and clean.
 He wears a well-steeled axe, the staff of gold;
 His age some five-and-twenty.
MESSENGER  There’s another—
140 A little man, but of a tough soul, seeming
 As great as any; fairer promises
 In such a body yet I never looked on.
PIRITHOUS 
 O, he that’s freckle-faced?
MESSENGER  The same, my lord.
145 Are they not sweet ones?
PIRITHOUS  Yes, they are well.
MESSENGER  Methinks,
 Being so few, and well disposed, they show
 Great and fine art in nature. He’s white-haired—
150 Not wanton white, but such a manly color
 Next to an auburn; tough and nimble-set,
 Which shows an active soul. His arms are brawny,
 Lined with strong sinews—to the shoulder-piece
 Gently they swell, like women new-conceived,
155 Which speaks him prone to labor, never fainting
 Under the weight of arms; stout-hearted still,
 But when he stirs, a tiger. He’s grey-eyed,
 Which yields compassion where he conquers; sharp
 To spy advantages, and where he finds ’em,
160 He’s swift to make ’em his. He does no wrongs,

187
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Nor takes none. He’s round-faced, and when he
 smiles
 He shows a lover; when he frowns, a soldier.
 About his head he wears the winner’s oak,
165 And in it stuck the favor of his lady.
 His age some six-and-thirty. In his hand
 He bears a charging-staff embossed with silver.
THESEUS 
 Are they all thus?
PIRITHOUS  They are all the sons of honor.
THESEUS 
170 Now, as I have a soul, I long to see ’em.—
 Lady, you shall see men fight now.
HIPPOLYTA  I wish it,
 But not the cause, my lord. They would show
 Bravely about the titles of two kingdoms;
175 ’Tis pity love should be so tyrannous.—
 O, my soft-hearted sister, what think you?
 Weep not till they weep blood. Wench, it must be.
THESEUS, to Emilia 
 You have steeled ’em with your beauty. (To
 Pirithous.) 
Honored friend,
180 To you I give the field; pray order it
 Fitting the persons that must use it.
PIRITHOUS  Yes, sir.
THESEUS 
 Come, I’ll go visit ’em. I cannot stay—
 Their fame has fired me so—till they appear.
185 Good friend, be royal.
PIRITHOUS  There shall want no bravery.
All but Emilia exit.
EMILIA 
 Poor wench, go weep, for whosoever wins
 Loses a noble cousin for thy sins.
She exits.




189
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 4. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter Jailer, Wooer, Doctor.

DOCTOR Her distraction is more at some time of the
 moon than at other some, is it not?
JAILER She is continually in a harmless distemper,
 sleeps little, altogether without appetite, save often
5 drinking, dreaming of another world, and a better;
 and what broken piece of matter soe’er she’s about,
 the name Palamon lards it, that she farces ev’ry
 business withal, fits it to every question.

Enter Jailer’s Daughter.

 Look where she comes; you shall perceive her
10 behavior.They stand aside.
DAUGHTER I have forgot it quite. The burden on ’t was
 “down-a down-a,” and penned by no worse man
 than Geraldo, Emilia’s schoolmaster. He’s as fantastical,
 too, as ever he may go upon ’s legs, for in
15 the next world will Dido see Palamon, and then
 will she be out of love with Aeneas.
DOCTOR, aside to Jailer and Wooer What stuff’s here?
 Poor soul.
JAILER E’en thus all day long.
DAUGHTER 20Now for this charm that I told you of, you
 must bring a piece of silver on the tip of your
 tongue, or no ferry; then if it be your chance to
 come where the blessed spirits are, there’s a
 sight now! We maids that have our livers perished,
25 cracked to pieces with love, we shall come there,
 and do nothing all day long but pick flowers with
 Proserpine. Then will I make Palamon a nosegay;
 then let him mark me then.
DOCTOR How prettily she’s amiss! Note her a little
30 further.
DAUGHTER Faith, I’ll tell you, sometime we go to

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ACT 4. SC. 3

 barley-break, we of the blessed. Alas, ’tis a sore life
 they have i’ th’ other place—such burning, frying,
 boiling, hissing, howling, chatt’ring, cursing—O,
35 they have shrewd measure, take heed! If one be
 mad, or hang or drown themselves, thither they
 go, Jupiter bless us, and there shall we be put in
 a cauldron of lead and usurers’ grease, amongst a
 whole million of cutpurses, and there boil like a
40 gammon of bacon that will never be enough.
DOCTOR How her brains coins!
DAUGHTER Lords and courtiers that have got maids
 with child, they are in this place. They shall stand
 in fire up to the navel and in ice up to th’ heart, and
45 there th’ offending part burns and the deceiving
 part freezes: in troth, a very grievous punishment,
 as one would think, for such a trifle. Believe me,
 one would marry a leprous witch to be rid on ’t, I’ll
 assure you.
DOCTOR 50How she continues this fancy! ’Tis not an engraffed
 madness, but a most thick and profound
 melancholy.
DAUGHTER To hear there a proud lady and a proud city
 wife howl together—I were a beast an I’d call it
55 good sport. One cries “O this smoke!” th’ other,
 “This fire!”; one cries, “O, that ever I did it behind
 the arras!” and then howls; th’ other curses a suing
 fellow and her garden house.
Sings.
  I will be true, my stars, my fate, etc.
Daughter exits.
JAILER 60What think you of her, sir?
DOCTOR I think she has a perturbed mind, which I
 cannot minister to.
JAILER Alas, what then?
DOCTOR Understand you she ever affected any man
65 ere she beheld Palamon?

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ACT 4. SC. 3

JAILER I was once, sir, in great hope she had fixed her
 liking on this gentleman, my friend.
WOOER I did think so, too, and would account I had a
 great penn’orth on ’t to give half my state that both
70 she and I, at this present, stood unfeignedly on the
 same terms.
DOCTOR That intemp’rate surfeit of her eye hath distempered
 the other senses. They may return and
 settle again to execute their preordained faculties,
75 but they are now in a most extravagant vagary.
 This you must do: confine her to a place where
 the light may rather seem to steal in than be
 permitted.—Take upon you, young sir, her friend,
 the name of Palamon; say you come to eat with
80 her, and to commune of love. This will catch her
 attention, for this her mind beats upon; other
 objects that are inserted ’tween her mind and eye
 become the pranks and friskins of her madness.
 Sing to her such green songs of love as she says
85 Palamon hath sung in prison. Come to her stuck
 in as sweet flowers as the season is mistress of,
 and thereto make an addition of some other compounded
 odors which are grateful to the sense.
 All this shall become Palamon, for Palamon can
90 sing, and Palamon is sweet and ev’ry good thing.
 Desire to eat with her, carve her, drink to her, and
 still among intermingle your petition of grace and
 acceptance into her favor. Learn what maids have
 been her companions and playferes, and let them
95 repair to her with Palamon in their mouths, and
 appear with tokens, as if they suggested for him.—
 It is a falsehood she is in, which is with falsehoods
 to be combated. This may bring her to eat,
 to sleep, and reduce what’s now out of square in
100 her into their former law and regiment. I have seen
 it approved, how many times I know not, but to

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ACT 4. SC. 3

 make the number more, I have great hope in this.
 I will between the passages of this project come
 in with my appliance. Let us put it in execution
105 and hasten the success, which doubt not will bring
 forth comfort.
They exit.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Flourish. Enter Theseus, Pirithous, Hippolyta,
and Attendants. Three altars set up onstage.


THESEUS 
 Now let ’em enter and before the gods
 Tender their holy prayers. Let the temples
 Burn bright with sacred fires, and the altars
 In hallowed clouds commend their swelling incense
5 To those above us. Let no due be wanting.
 They have a noble work in hand will honor
 The very powers that love ’em.
PIRITHOUS  Sir, they enter.

Flourish of cornets. Enter Palamon and Arcite
and their Knights.


THESEUS 
 You valiant and strong-hearted enemies,
10 You royal german foes, that this day come
 To blow that nearness out that flames between you,
 Lay by your anger for an hour and, dove-like,
 Before the holy altars of your helpers,
 The all-feared gods, bow down your stubborn
15 bodies.
 Your ire is more than mortal; so your help be.
 And as the gods regard you, fight with justice.
199

201
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ACT 5. SC. 1

 I’ll leave you to your prayers, and betwixt you
 I part my wishes.
PIRITHOUS 20 Honor crown the worthiest!
Theseus and his train exit.
PALAMON 
 The glass is running now that cannot finish
 Till one of us expire. Think you but thus,
 That were there aught in me which strove to show
 Mine enemy in this business, were ’t one eye
25 Against another, arm oppressed by arm,
 I would destroy th’ offender, coz—I would
 Though parcel of myself. Then from this gather
 How I should tender you.
ARCITE  I am in labor
30 To push your name, your ancient love, our kindred
 Out of my memory, and i’ th’ selfsame place
 To seat something I would confound. So hoist we
 The sails that must these vessels port even where
 The heavenly Limiter pleases.
PALAMON 35 You speak well.
 Before I turn, let me embrace thee, cousin.
They embrace.
 This I shall never do again.
ARCITE  One farewell.
PALAMON 
 Why, let it be so. Farewell, coz.
ARCITE 40 Farewell, sir.
Palamon and his Knights exit.
 Knights, kinsmen, lovers, yea, my sacrifices,
 True worshippers of Mars, whose spirit in you
 Expels the seeds of fear and th’ apprehension
 Which still is father of it, go with me
45 Before the god of our profession. There
 Require of him the hearts of lions and
 The breath of tigers, yea, the fierceness too,
 Yea, the speed also—to go on, I mean;

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ACT 5. SC. 1

 Else wish we to be snails. You know my prize
50 Must be dragged out of blood; force and great feat
 Must put my garland on, where she sticks,
 The queen of flowers. Our intercession, then,
 Must be to him that makes the camp a cistern
 Brimmed with the blood of men. Give me your aid,
55 And bend your spirits towards him.
They go to Mars’s altar, fall on
their faces before it, and then kneel.

 Thou mighty one, that with thy power hast turned
 Green Neptune into purple, whose approach
 Comets prewarn, whose havoc in vast field
 Unearthèd skulls proclaim, whose breath blows
60 down
 The teeming Ceres’ foison, who dost pluck
 With hand armipotent from forth blue clouds
 The masoned turrets, that both mak’st and break’st
 The stony girths of cities; me thy pupil,
65 Youngest follower of thy drum, instruct this day
 With military skill, that to thy laud
 I may advance my streamer, and by thee
 Be styled the lord o’ th’ day. Give me, great Mars,
 Some token of thy pleasure.
Here they fall on their faces as formerly, and
there is heard clanging of armor, with a short
thunder, as the burst of a battle, whereupon
they all rise and bow to the altar.

70 O, great corrector of enormous times,
 Shaker of o’er-rank states, thou grand decider
 Of dusty and old titles, that heal’st with blood
 The Earth when it is sick, and cur’st the world
 O’ th’ pleurisy of people, I do take
75 Thy signs auspiciously, and in thy name
 To my design march boldly.—Let us go.They exit.

205
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ACT 5. SC. 1

Enter Palamon and his Knights,
with the former observance.


PALAMON 
 Our stars must glister with new fire, or be
 Today extinct. Our argument is love,
 Which, if the goddess of it grant, she gives
80 Victory too. Then blend your spirits with mine,
 You whose free nobleness do make my cause
 Your personal hazard. To the goddess Venus
 Commend we our proceeding, and implore
 Her power unto our party.
Here they go to Venus’s altar, fall on
their faces before it, and then kneel.

85 Hail, sovereign queen of secrets, who hast power
 To call the fiercest tyrant from his rage
 And weep unto a girl; that hast the might
 Even with an eye-glance to choke Mars’s drum
 And turn th’ alarm to whispers; that canst make
90 A cripple flourish with his crutch, and cure him
 Before Apollo; that mayst force the king
 To be his subject’s vassal, and induce
 Stale gravity to dance. The polled bachelor,
 Whose youth, like wanton boys through bonfires,
95 Have skipped thy flame, at seventy thou canst catch,
 And make him, to the scorn of his hoarse throat,
 Abuse young lays of love. What godlike power
 Hast thou not power upon? To Phoebus thou
 Add’st flames hotter than his; the heavenly fires
100 Did scorch his mortal son, thine him. The huntress,
 All moist and cold, some say, began to throw
 Her bow away and sigh. Take to thy grace
 Me, thy vowed soldier, who do bear thy yoke
 As ’twere a wreath of roses, yet is heavier
105 Than lead itself, stings more than nettles.
 I have never been foul-mouthed against thy law,

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ACT 5. SC. 1

 Ne’er revealed secret, for I knew none—would not,
 Had I kenned all that were. I never practiced
 Upon man’s wife, nor would the libels read
110 Of liberal wits. I never at great feasts
 Sought to betray a beauty, but have blushed
 At simp’ring sirs that did. I have been harsh
 To large confessors, and have hotly asked them
 If they had mothers—I had one, a woman,
115 And women ’twere they wronged. I knew a man
 Of eighty winters—this I told them—who
 A lass of fourteen brided; ’twas thy power
 To put life into dust. The agèd cramp
 Had screwed his square foot round;
120 The gout had knit his fingers into knots;
 Torturing convulsions from his globy eyes
 Had almost drawn their spheres, that what was life
 In him seemed torture. This anatomy
 Had by his young fair fere a boy, and I
125 Believed it was his, for she swore it was,
 And who would not believe her? Brief, I am
 To those that prate and have done, no companion;
 To those that boast and have not, a defier;
 To those that would and cannot, a rejoicer.
130 Yea, him I do not love that tells close offices
 The foulest way, nor names concealments in
 The boldest language. Such a one I am,
 And vow that lover never yet made sigh
 Truer than I. O, then, most soft sweet goddess,
135 Give me the victory of this question, which
 Is true love’s merit, and bless me with a sign
 Of thy great pleasure.
Here music is heard; doves are
seen to flutter. They fall again upon
their faces, then on their knees.

 O thou that from eleven to ninety reign’st
 In mortal bosoms, whose chase is this world

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 1

140 And we in herds thy game, I give thee thanks
 For this fair token, which being laid unto
 Mine innocent true heart, arms in assurance
 My body to this business.—Let us rise
 And bow before the goddess.They rise and bow.
145 Time comes on.
They exit.

Still music of recorders. Enter Emilia in white, her
hair about her shoulders, wearing a wheaten wreath;
one in white holding up her train, her hair stuck with
flowers; one before her carrying a silver hind, in which
is conveyed incense and sweet odors, which being
set upon the altar of Diana, her maids standing
aloof, she sets fire to it. Then they curtsy and kneel.


EMILIA 
 O sacred, shadowy, cold, and constant queen,
 Abandoner of revels, mute contemplative,
 Sweet, solitary, white as chaste, and pure
 As wind-fanned snow, who to thy female knights
150 Allow’st no more blood than will make a blush,
 Which is their order’s robe, I here, thy priest,
 Am humbled ’fore thine altar. O, vouchsafe
 With that thy rare green eye, which never yet
 Beheld thing maculate, look on thy virgin,
155 And, sacred silver mistress, lend thine ear—
 Which ne’er heard scurrile term, into whose port
 Ne’er entered wanton sound—to my petition,
 Seasoned with holy fear. This is my last
 Of vestal office. I am bride-habited
160 But maiden-hearted. A husband I have ’pointed,
 But do not know him. Out of two I should
 Choose one, and pray for his success, but I
 Am guiltless of election. Of mine eyes,
 Were I to lose one—they are equal precious—
165 I could doom neither; that which perished should

211
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ACT 5. SC. 2

 Go to ’t unsentenced. Therefore, most modest queen,
 He of the two pretenders that best loves me
 And has the truest title in ’t, let him
 Take off my wheaten garland, or else grant
170 The file and quality I hold I may
 Continue in thy band.
Here the hind vanishes under the
altar, and in the place ascends a rose
tree, having one rose upon it.

 See what our general of ebbs and flows
 Out from the bowels of her holy altar
 With sacred act advances: but one rose.
175 If well inspired, this battle shall confound
 Both these brave knights, and I, a virgin flower,
 Must grow alone unplucked.
Here is heard a sudden twang of instruments,
and the rose falls from the tree.

 The flower is fall’n, the tree descends. O mistress,
 Thou here dischargest me. I shall be gathered;
180 I think so, but I know not thine own will.
 Unclasp thy mystery!—I hope she’s pleased;
 Her signs were gracious.
They curtsy and exit.


Scene 2
Enter Doctor, Jailer, and Wooer in
the habit of Palamon.


DOCTOR 
 Has this advice I told you done any good upon her?
WOOER 
 O, very much. The maids that kept her company
 Have half-persuaded her that I am Palamon;
 Within this half-hour she came smiling to me,

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

5 And asked me what I would eat, and when I would
 kiss her.
 I told her “Presently,” and kissed her twice.
DOCTOR 
 ’Twas well done; twenty times had been far better,
 For there the cure lies mainly.
WOOER 10 Then she told me
 She would watch with me tonight, for well she knew
 What hour my fit would take me.
DOCTOR  Let her do so,
 And when your fit comes, fit her home,
15 And presently.
WOOER  She would have me sing.
DOCTOR 
 You did so?
WOOER  No.
DOCTOR  ’Twas very ill done, then.
20 You should observe her ev’ry way.
WOOER  Alas,
 I have no voice, sir, to confirm her that way.
DOCTOR 
 That’s all one, if you make a noise.
 If she entreat again, do anything.
25 Lie with her, if she ask you.
JAILER  Ho there, doctor!
DOCTOR 
 Yes, in the way of cure.
JAILER  But first, by your leave,
 I’ th’ way of honesty.
DOCTOR 30 That’s but a niceness.
 Ne’er cast your child away for honesty.
 Cure her first this way; then if she will be honest,
 She has the path before her.
JAILER 
 Thank you, doctor.

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

DOCTOR 35 Pray bring her in
 And let’s see how she is.
JAILER  I will, and tell her
 Her Palamon stays for her. But, doctor,
 Methinks you are i’ th’ wrong still.Jailer exits.
DOCTOR 40 Go, go.
 You fathers are fine fools. Her honesty?
 And we should give her physic till we find that!
WOOER 
 Why, do you think she is not honest, sir?
DOCTOR 
 How old is she?
WOOER 45 She’s eighteen.
DOCTOR  She may be.
 But that’s all one; ’tis nothing to our purpose.
 Whate’er her father says, if you perceive
 Her mood inclining that way that I spoke of,
50 Videlicet, the way of flesh—you have me?
WOOER 
 Yes, very well, sir.
DOCTOR  Please her appetite,
 And do it home; it cures her, ipso facto,
 The melancholy humor that infects her.
WOOER 
55 I am of your mind, doctor.
DOCTOR  You’ll find it so.

Enter Jailer, Daughter, and Maid.

 She comes; pray humor her.
Wooer and Doctor stand aside.
JAILER, to Daughter 
 Come, your love Palamon stays for you, child,
 And has done this long hour, to visit you.
DAUGHTER 
60 I thank him for his gentle patience.

217
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

 He’s a kind gentleman, and I am much bound to
 him.
 Did you ne’er see the horse he gave me?
JAILER  Yes.
DAUGHTER 
65 How do you like him?
JAILER  He’s a very fair one.
DAUGHTER 
 You never saw him dance?
JAILER  No.
DAUGHTER  I have, often.
70 He dances very finely, very comely,
 And for a jig, come cut and long tail to him,
 He turns you like a top.
JAILER  That’s fine indeed.
DAUGHTER 
 He’ll dance the morris twenty mile an hour,
75 And that will founder the best hobbyhorse,
 If I have any skill, in all the parish,
 And gallops to the tune of Light o’ love.
 What think you of this horse?
JAILER  Having these virtues,
80 I think he might be brought to play at tennis.
DAUGHTER 
 Alas, that’s nothing.
JAILER  Can he write and read too?
DAUGHTER 
 A very fair hand, and casts himself th’ accounts
 Of all his hay and provender. That hostler
85 Must rise betime that cozens him. You know
 The chestnut mare the Duke has?
JAILER  Very well.
DAUGHTER 
 She is horribly in love with him, poor beast,
 But he is like his master, coy and scornful.

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

JAILER 
90 What dowry has she?
DAUGHTER  Some two hundred bottles,
 And twenty strike of oats, but he’ll ne’er have her.
 He lisps in ’s neighing able to entice
 A miller’s mare. He’ll be the death of her.
DOCTOR, aside 95What stuff she utters!

Wooer and Doctor come forward.

JAILER 
 Make curtsy; here your love comes.
WOOER  Pretty soul,
 How do you?Daughter curtsies.
 That’s a fine maid; there’s a curtsy!
DAUGHTER 
100 Yours to command i’ th’ way of honesty.—
 How far is ’t now to th’ end o’ th’ world, my masters?
DOCTOR 
 Why, a day’s journey, wench.
DAUGHTER, to Wooer  Will you go with me?
WOOER 
 What shall we do there, wench?
DAUGHTER 105 Why, play at
 stool-ball.
 What is there else to do?
WOOER  I am content,
 If we shall keep our wedding there.
DAUGHTER 110 ’Tis true,
 For there, I will assure you, we shall find
 Some blind priest for the purpose, that will venture
 To marry us; for here they are nice and foolish.
 Besides, my father must be hanged tomorrow,
115 And that would be a blot i’ th’ business.
 Are not you Palamon?
WOOER  Do not you know me?

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

DAUGHTER 
 Yes, but you care not for me; I have nothing
 But this poor petticoat and two coarse smocks.
WOOER 
120 That’s all one; I will have you.
DAUGHTER  Will you surely?
WOOER, taking her hand 
 Yes, by this fair hand, will I.
DAUGHTER  We’ll to bed then.
WOOER 
 E’en when you will.He kisses her.
DAUGHTER, wiping her face 125 O , sir, you would fain
 be nibbling.
WOOER 
 Why do you rub my kiss off?
DAUGHTER  ’Tis a sweet one,
 And will perfume me finely against the wedding.
130 Is not this your cousin Arcite?She indicates Doctor.
DOCTOR  Yes, sweetheart,
 And I am glad my cousin Palamon
 Has made so fair a choice.
DAUGHTER  Do you think he’ll have me?
DOCTOR 
135 Yes, without doubt.
DAUGHTER, to Jailer  Do you think so too?
JAILER  Yes.
DAUGHTER 
 We shall have many children. (To Doctor.) Lord,
 how you’re grown!
140 My Palamon, I hope, will grow too, finely,
 Now he’s at liberty. Alas, poor chicken,
 He was kept down with hard meat and ill lodging,
 But I’ll kiss him up again.

Enter a Messenger.


223
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 2

MESSENGER 
 What do you here? You’ll lose the noblest sight
145 That e’er was seen.
JAILER  Are they i’ th’ field?
MESSENGER  They are.
 You bear a charge there too.
JAILER  I’ll away straight.—
150 I must e’en leave you here.
DOCTOR  Nay, we’ll go with you.
 I will not lose the sight.
JAILER, aside to Doctor  How did you like her?
DOCTOR 
 I’ll warrant you, within these three or four days
155 I’ll make her right again.Jailer and Messenger exit.
(To Wooer.)  You must not from her,
 But still preserve her in this way.
WOOER  I will.
DOCTOR 
 Let’s get her in.
WOOER 160 Come, sweet, we’ll go to dinner
 And then we’ll play at cards.
DAUGHTER  And shall we kiss too?
WOOER 
 A hundred times.
DAUGHTER  And twenty.
WOOER 165 Ay, and twenty.
DAUGHTER 
 And then we’ll sleep together.
DOCTOR, to Wooer  Take her offer.
WOOER 
 Yes, marry, will we.
DAUGHTER  But you shall not hurt me.
WOOER 
170 I will not, sweet.
DAUGHTER  If you do, love, I’ll cry.
They exit.




225
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 3

Scene 3
Flourish. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta,
Emilia, Pirithous, and some Attendants.


EMILIA 
 I’ll no step further.
PIRITHOUS  Will you lose this sight?
EMILIA 
 I had rather see a wren hawk at a fly
 Than this decision; ev’ry blow that falls
5 Threats a brave life; each stroke laments
 The place whereon it falls, and sounds more like
 A bell than blade. I will stay here.
 It is enough my hearing shall be punished
 With what shall happen, ’gainst the which there is
10 No deafing but to hear; not taint mine eye
 With dread sights it may shun.
PIRITHOUS, to Theseus  Sir, my good lord,
 Your sister will no further.
THESEUS  O, she must.
15 She shall see deeds of honor in their kind,
 Which sometime show well, penciled. Nature now
 Shall make and act the story, the belief
 Both sealed with eye and ear.—You must be present;
 You are the victor’s meed, the price and garland
20 To crown the question’s title.
EMILIA  Pardon me.
 If I were there, I’d wink.
THESEUS  You must be there;
 This trial is as ’twere i’ th’ night, and you
25 The only star to shine.
EMILIA  I am extinct;
 There is but envy in that light which shows
 The one the other. Darkness, which ever was
 The dam of horror, who does stand accursed
30 Of many mortal millions, may even now,

227
The Two Noble Kinsmen
ACT 5. SC. 3

 By casting her black mantle over both,
 That neither could find other, get herself
 Some part of a good name, and many a murder
 Set off whereto she’s guilty.
HIPPOLYTA 35 You must go.
EMILIA 
 In faith, I will not.
THESEUS  Why, the knights must kindle
 Their valor at your eye. Know, of this war
 You are the treasure, and must needs be by
40 To give the service pay.
EMILIA  Sir, pardon me.
 The title of a kingdom may be tried
 Out of itself.
THESEUS  Well, well, then; at your pleasure.
45 Those that remain with you could wish their office
 To any of their enemies.
HIPPOLYTA  Farewell, sister.
 I am like to know your husband ’fore yourself
 By some small start of time. He whom the gods
50 Do of the two know best, I pray them he
 Be made your lot.
Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, and others,
exit.
 Emilia remains, comparing again
the pictures of Arcite and Palamon.

EMILIA 
 Arcite is gently visaged, yet his eye
 Is like an engine bent, or a sharp weapon
 In a soft sheath; mercy and manly courage
55 Are bedfellows in his visage. Palamon
 Has a most menacing aspect; his brow
 Is graved, and seems to bury what it frowns on;
 Yet sometimes ’tis not so, but alters to
 The quality of his thoughts. Long time his eye
60 Will dwell upon his object. Melancholy
 Becomes him nobly; so does Arcite’s mirth;

229
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ACT 5. SC. 3

 But Palamon’s sadness is a kind of mirth,
 So mingled, as if mirth did make him sad
 And sadness merry. Those darker humors that
65 Stick misbecomingly on others, on them
 Live in fair dwelling.
Cornets. Trumpets sound as to a charge.
 Hark how yon spurs to spirit do incite
 The princes to their proof! Arcite may win me,
 And yet may Palamon wound Arcite to
70 The spoiling of his figure. O, what pity
 Enough for such a chance? If I were by,
 I might do hurt, for they would glance their eyes
 Towards my seat, and in that motion might
 Omit a ward or forfeit an offense
75 Which craved that very time.
Cornets. A great cry and noise
within crying “À Palamon!”

 It is much better
 I am not there. O, better never born
 Than minister to such harm!

Enter Servant.

 What is the chance?
SERVANT 80The cry’s “À Palamon.”
EMILIA Then he has won. ’Twas ever likely.
 He looked all grace and success, and he is
 Doubtless the prim’st of men. I prithee run
 And tell me how it goes.
Shout and cornets, crying “À Palamon!”
SERVANT 85 Still “Palamon.”
EMILIA 
 Run and inquire.Servant exits.
Addressing Arcite’s picture.  Poor servant, thou hast
 lost.
 Upon my right side still I wore thy picture,
90 Palamon’s on the left—why so, I know not.

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ACT 5. SC. 3

 I had no end in ’t else; chance would have it so.
 On the sinister side the heart lies; Palamon
 Had the best-boding chance.
Another cry, and shout within, and cornets.
 This burst of clamor
95 Is sure th’ end o’ th’ combat.

Enter Servant.

SERVANT 
 They said that Palamon had Arcite’s body
 Within an inch o’ th’ pyramid, that the cry
 Was general “À Palamon.” But anon,
 Th’ assistants made a brave redemption, and
100 The two bold titlers at this instant are
 Hand to hand at it.
EMILIA  Were they metamorphosed
 Both into one—O, why, there were no woman
 Worth so composed a man! Their single share,
105 Their nobleness peculiar to them, gives
 The prejudice of disparity, value’s shortness,
 To any lady breathing.
Cornets. Cry within, “Arcite, Arcite.”
 More exulting?
 “Palamon” still?
SERVANT 110 Nay, now the sound is “Arcite.”
EMILIA 
 I prithee lay attention to the cry;
 Set both thine ears to th’ business.
Cornets. A great shout, and cry “Arcite, victory!”
SERVANT  The cry is “Arcite”
 And “Victory! Hark, Arcite, victory!”
115 The combat’s consummation is proclaimed
 By the wind instruments.
EMILIA  Half-sights saw
 That Arcite was no babe. God’s lid, his richness
 And costliness of spirit looked through him; it could

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ACT 5. SC. 3

120 No more be hid in him than fire in flax,
 Than humble banks can go to law with waters
 That drift-winds force to raging. I did think
 Good Palamon would miscarry, yet I knew not
 Why I did think so. Our reasons are not prophets
125 When oft our fancies are. They are coming off.
 Alas, poor Palamon!

Cornets. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous,
Arcite as victor, and Attendants and others.


THESEUS 
 Lo, where our sister is in expectation,
 Yet quaking and unsettled.—Fairest Emily,
 The gods by their divine arbitrament
130 Have given you this knight; he is a good one
 As ever struck at head.—Give me your hands.
 Receive you her, you him. Be plighted with
 A love that grows as you decay.
ARCITE  Emily,
135 To buy you I have lost what’s dearest to me
 Save what is bought, and yet I purchase cheaply,
 As I do rate your value.
THESEUS  O loved sister,
 He speaks now of as brave a knight as e’er
140 Did spur a noble steed. Surely the gods
 Would have him die a bachelor, lest his race
 Should show i’ th’ world too godlike. His behavior
 So charmed me that methought Alcides was
 To him a sow of lead. If I could praise
145 Each part of him to th’ all I have spoke, your Arcite
 Did not lose by ’t, for he that was thus good
 Encountered yet his better. I have heard
 Two emulous Philomels beat the ear o’ th’ night
 With their contentious throats, now one the higher,
150 Anon the other, then again the first,
 And by-and-by out-breasted, that the sense

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ACT 5. SC. 4

 Could not be judge between ’em. So it fared
 Good space between these kinsmen, till heavens did
 Make hardly one the winner.—Wear the garland
155 With joy that you have won.—For the subdued,
 Give them our present justice, since I know
 Their lives but pinch ’em. Let it here be done.
 The scene’s not for our seeing. Go we hence
 Right joyful, with some sorrow.—Arm your prize;
160 I know you will not lose her.—Hippolyta,
 I see one eye of yours conceives a tear,
 The which it will deliver.
EMILIA  Is this winning?
 O all you heavenly powers, where is your mercy?
165 But that your wills have said it must be so,
 And charge me live to comfort this unfriended,
 This miserable prince, that cuts away
 A life more worthy from him than all women,
 I should and would die too.
HIPPOLYTA 170 Infinite pity
 That four such eyes should be so fixed on one
 That two must needs be blind for ’t.
THESEUS  So it is.
Flourish. They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Guard with Palamon and his Knights,
pinioned; Jailer, Executioner and Others,
carrying a block and an ax.


PALAMON 
 There’s many a man alive that hath outlived
 The love o’ th’ people; yea, i’ th’ selfsame state
 Stands many a father with his child. Some comfort
 We have by so considering. We expire,
5 And not without men’s pity. To live still,

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ACT 5. SC. 4

 Have their good wishes; we prevent
 The loathsome misery of age, beguile
 The gout and rheum that in lag hours attend
 For gray approachers; we come towards the gods
10 Young and unwappered, not halting under crimes
 Many and stale. That sure shall please the gods
 Sooner than such, to give us nectar with ’em,
 For we are more clear spirits. My dear kinsmen,
 Whose lives for this poor comfort are laid down,
15 You have sold ’em too too cheap.
FIRST KNIGHT  What ending could be
 Of more content? O’er us the victors have
 Fortune, whose title is as momentary
 As to us death is certain. A grain of honor
20 They not o’er-weigh us.
SECOND KNIGHT  Let us bid farewell;
 And with our patience anger tott’ring Fortune,
 Who at her certain’st reels.
THIRD KNIGHT  Come, who begins?
PALAMON 
25 E’en he that led you to this banquet shall
 Taste to you all. To Jailer. Ah ha, my friend, my
 friend,
 Your gentle daughter gave me freedom once;
 You’ll see ’t done now forever. Pray, how does she?
30 I heard she was not well; her kind of ill
 Gave me some sorrow.
JAILER  Sir, she’s well restored,
 And to be married shortly.
PALAMON  By my short life,
35 I am most glad on ’t. ’Tis the latest thing
 I shall be glad of; prithee, tell her so.
 Commend me to her, and to piece her portion,
 Tender her this.He gives his purse to Jailer.
FIRST KNIGHT  Nay, let’s be offerers all.

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ACT 5. SC. 4

SECOND KNIGHT 
40 Is it a maid?
PALAMON  Verily, I think so.
 A right good creature, more to me deserving
 Than I can quit or speak of.
ALL KNIGHTS  Commend us to her.
They give their purses.
JAILER 
45 The gods requite you all and make her thankful!
PALAMON 
 Adieu, and let my life be now as short
 As my leave-taking.Lays his head on the block.
FIRST KNIGHT Lead, courageous cousin.
SECOND AND THIRD KNIGHTS We’ll follow cheerfully.

A great noise within crying “Run!” “Save!” “Hold!”
Enter in haste a Messenger.


MESSENGER 
50 Hold, hold! O, hold, hold, hold!

Enter Pirithous in haste.

PIRITHOUS 
 Hold, ho! It is a cursèd haste you made
 If you have done so quickly!—Noble Palamon,
 The gods will show their glory in a life
 That thou art yet to lead.
PALAMON 55 Can that be,
 When Venus, I have said, is false? How do things
 fare?
PIRITHOUS 
 Arise, great sir, and give the tidings ear
 That are most dearly sweet and bitter.
PALAMON, rising 60 What
 Hath waked us from our dream?
PIRITHOUS  List then: your
 cousin,

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ACT 5. SC. 4

 Mounted upon a steed that Emily
65 Did first bestow on him—a black one, owing
 Not a hair worth of white, which some will say
 Weakens his price, and many will not buy
 His goodness with this note, which superstition
 Here finds allowance—on this horse is Arcite
70 Trotting the stones of Athens—which the calkins
 Did rather tell than trample, for the horse
 Would make his length a mile, if ’t pleased his rider
 To put pride in him. As he thus went counting
 The flinty pavement, dancing, as ’twere, to th’ music
75 His own hooves made—for, as they say, from iron
 Came music’s origin—what envious flint,
 Cold as old Saturn, and like him possessed
 With fire malevolent, darted a spark,
 Or what fierce sulphur else, to this end made,
80 I comment not; the hot horse, hot as fire,
 Took toy at this and fell to what disorder
 His power could give his will; bounds, comes on end,
 Forgets school-doing, being therein trained
 And of kind manage. Pig-like he whines
85 At the sharp rowel, which he frets at rather
 Than any jot obeys; seeks all foul means
 Of boist’rous and rough jadery to disseat
 His lord that kept it bravely. When naught served,
 When neither curb would crack, girth break, nor
90 diff’ring plunges
 Disroot his rider whence he grew, but that
 He kept him ’tween his legs, on his hind hoofs
 On end he stands
 That Arcite’s legs, being higher than his head,
95 Seemed with strange art to hang. His victor’s wreath
 Even then fell off his head, and presently
 Backward the jade comes o’er, and his full poise
 Becomes the rider’s load. Yet is he living,
 But such a vessel ’tis that floats but for

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ACT 5. SC. 4

100 The surge that next approaches. He much desires
 To have some speech with you. Lo, he appears.

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia,
and Arcite carried in a chair.


PALAMON 
 O, miserable end of our alliance!
 The gods are mighty, Arcite. If thy heart,
 Thy worthy, manly heart, be yet unbroken,
105 Give me thy last words. I am Palamon,
 One that yet loves thee dying.
ARCITE  Take Emilia
 And with her all the world’s joy. Reach thy hand;
 Farewell. I have told my last hour. I was false,
110 Yet never treacherous. Forgive me, cousin.
 One kiss from fair Emilia.She kisses him.
 ’Tis done.
 Take her. I die.He dies.
PALAMON  Thy brave soul seek Elysium!
EMILIA 
115 I’ll close thine eyes, prince. Blessed souls be with
 thee!
 Thou art a right good man, and while I live,
 This day I give to tears.
PALAMON  And I to honor.
THESEUS 
120 In this place first you fought; e’en very here
 I sundered you. Acknowledge to the gods
 Our thanks that you are living.
 His part is played, and though it were too short,
 He did it well. Your day is lengthened, and
125 The blissful dew of heaven does arrouse you.
 The powerful Venus well hath graced her altar,
 And given you your love. Our master, Mars,
 Hath vouched his oracle, and to Arcite gave

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ACT 5. SC. 4

 The grace of the contention. So the deities
130 Have showed due justice.—Bear this hence.
PALAMON  O cousin,
 That we should things desire which do cost us
 The loss of our desire, that naught could buy
 Dear love but loss of dear love.
Arcite’s body is carried out.
THESEUS 135 Never Fortune
 Did play a subtler game. The conquered triumphs;
 The victor has the loss; yet in the passage
 The gods have been most equal.—Palamon,
 Your kinsman hath confessed the right o’ th’ lady
140 Did lie in you, for you first saw her and
 Even then proclaimed your fancy. He restored her
 As your stol’n jewel and desired your spirit
 To send him hence forgiven. The gods my justice
 Take from my hand and they themselves become
145 The executioners. Lead your lady off,
 And call your lovers from the stage of death,
 Whom I adopt my friends. A day or two
 Let us look sadly, and give grace unto
 The funeral of Arcite, in whose end
150 The visages of bridegrooms we’ll put on
 And smile with Palamon—for whom an hour,
 But one hour since, I was as dearly sorry
 As glad of Arcite, and am now as glad
 As for him sorry. O you heavenly charmers,
155 What things you make of us! For what we lack
 We laugh, for what we have are sorry, still
 Are children in some kind. Let us be thankful
 For that which is, and with you leave dispute
 That are above our question. Let’s go off
160 And bear us like the time.
Flourish. They exit.




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EPILOGUE



Enter Epilogue.

EPILOGUE 
 I would now ask you how you like the play,
 But, as it is with schoolboys, cannot say.
 I am cruel fearful! Pray yet, stay a while,
 And let me look upon you. No man smile?
5 Then it goes hard, I see. He that has
 Loved a young handsome wench, then, show his
 face—
 ’Tis strange if none be here—and, if he will,
 Against his conscience let him hiss and kill
10 Our market. ’Tis in vain, I see, to stay you.
 Have at the worst can come, then! Now what say
 you?
 And yet mistake me not: I am not bold.
 We have no such cause. If the tale we have told—
15 For ’tis no other—any way content you—
 For to that honest purpose it was meant you—
 We have our end; and you shall have ere long,
 I dare say, many a better, to prolong
 Your old loves to us. We, and all our might,
20 Rest at your service. Gentlemen, good night.
Flourish. He exits.