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WILLIAM ROWLEY, THOMAS DECKER, JOHN FORD, ETC.

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SPECIMENS

OF

ENGLISH DRAMATIC POETS

GORBODUC, A TRAGEDY. BY THOMAS SACKVILLE, LORD BUCKHURST, AFTERWARDS EARL OF DORSET; AND THOMAS NORTON.

Whilst king Gorboduc in the presence of his councillors laments the

death of his eldest son, Ferrex, whom Porrex, the younger son, has slain ; Marcella, a court lady, enters and relates the miserable end of Porrex, stabbed by his mother in his bed.

GORBOVUC, AROSTUS, EUBULUS, and others.
Gorb. What cruel destiny,
What froward fate hath sorted us this chance ?
That even in those where we should comfort find,
Where our delight now in our aged days
Should rest and be, even there our only grief
And deepest sorrows to abridge our life,
Most pining cares and deadly thoughts do grave.

Arost. Your grace should now, in these grave years of yours,
Have found ere this the price of mortal joys,
How full of change, how brittle our estate,
How short they be, how fading here in earth,
Of nothing sure, save only of the death,
To whom both man and all the world doth owe
Their end at last; neither should nature's

power In other sort against your heart prevail,

2

PART I.

Than as the naked hand, whose stroke assays
The armed breast where force doth light in vain.

Gorb. Many can yield right grave and sage advice
Of patient sprite to others wrapt in wo,
And can in speech both rule and conquer kind,*
Who, if by proof they might feel riature's force,
Would show themselves men as they are indeed,
Which now will needs be gods : but what doth mean
The sorry cheer of her that here doth come ?

MARCELLA enters.

Marc. Oh where is ruth? or where is pity now? Whither is gentle heart and mercy fled ? Are they exil'd out of our stony breasts, Never to make return ? is all the world Drowned in blood, and sunk in cruelty ? If not in women mercy may be found, If not (alas) within the mother's breast To her own child, to her own flesh and blood; If ruth be banisht thence, if pity there May have no place, if there no gentle heart Do live and dwell, where should we seek it then?

Gorb. Madam (alas) what means your woful taie

Marc. O silly woman I, why to this hour
Have kind and fortune thus deferr'd my breath,
That I should live to see this doleful day?
Will ever wight believe that such hard heart
Could rest within the cruel mother's breast,
With her own hand to slay her only son ?
But out (alas) these eyes beheld the same,
They saw the dreary sight, and are become
Most ruthful records of the bloody fact.
Porrex, alas, is by his mother slain,
And with her hand, a woful thing to tell,
While slumb’ring on his careful bed he rests,
His heart stabb'd in with knife is reft of life.

* Nature; natural affection.

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