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What woman I may stead, that is distrest,
Does bind me to her.
Thes. What's your request ? Deliver you for all.
1st. Qu. We are three queens, whose sovereigns fi
The wrath of cruel Creon; who endure
The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,
And pecks of crows, in the foul field of Thebes.
He will not suffer us to burn their bones,
To urn their ashes, nor to take th’offence
Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye
Of holy Phæbus, but infects the winds
With stench of our slain lords. Oh pity, duke,
Thou purger of the earth, draw thy fear'd sword
That does good turns to th' world ; give us the bones
Of our dead kings, that we may chapel them;
And, of thy boundless goodness, take some note
That for our crowned heads we have no roof,
Save this which is the lion's and the bear's,
And vault to every thing.
Thes. Pray you kneel not.
I was transported with your speech, and suffer'd
Your knees to wrong themselves : I have heard the foro
tunes of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting, As wakes my vengeance
revenge for them. 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, Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreath Was then not thrash'd nor blasted : Fortune at you Dimpled her cheek with smiles : Hercules, our kinsman, (Then weaker than your eyes) laid by his club; He tumbled down upon his Nemean bide, And swore his sinews thaw'd. Oh grief, and time, Fearful consumers, you will all devour.
Ist. Qu. Oh I hope some god,
Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
Whereto he'll infuse power, and press you forth
Thes. Oh, no knees, none, widow;
Unto the helmeted Bellona use them,
And pray for me your soldier.
Troubled I am.
20. Qu. Honour'd Hippolita,
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
The scythe-tusk’d-boar; that with thy arm as strong,
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 honour
First Nature stiled it in, shrunk thee into
The bound thou wast o'erflowing, at once subduing
Thy force and thy affection : Soldieress,
That equally canst poize sternness with pity,
Who 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
The tenor of the 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
As any of us three; weep e'er you fail ; lend us a knee,
Buttouch the ground for us no longer time
Than a dove's motion when the head's pluckt off:
Tell him if he i'th' blood-ciz'd field lay swoln,
Shewing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,
What you would do.
Hip. Poor lady, say no more;
I had as lieve trace this good action with you,
As that whereto I'm going, and never yet
Went I so willing way. My lord is taken
Heart-deep with your distress ; let him consider;
I'll speak anon.
3rd. Qu. to Emil. O my petition was
Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
Melts into drops, so sorrow wanting form
Is prest with deeper matter.
Emil. Pray stand up,
Your grief is written in your cheek.
3rd. Qu. Oh woe,
You cannot read it there; there through my tears,
Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
may behold them. Lady, lady, alack !
He that will all the treasures know o'th' earth,
Must know the centre 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.
Emil. 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 ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you
T' instruct me 'gainst a capital grief indeed,
Such heart-pierc'd 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,
Though it were made of stone: pray have good comfort.
Thes. Forward to th’temple, leave not out a jot O'th' sacred ceremony.
1st. Qu. Oh this celebration Will longer last, and be more costly than Your suppliants war.
fame Knolls in the ear o'th' world : what you do quickly, 'Is not done rashly; your first thought is more Than others' labour'd meditance ; your premeditating More than their actions ; but oh Jove, your actions, Soon as they move, as Asprays do the fish, Subdue before they touch. Think, dear duke, think, What beds our slain kings have.
3rd. Qu. None fit for the 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
Affords them dust and shadow.
Ist. Qu. But our lords
| Lie blistering 'fore the visitating sun,
And were good kings when living.
Thes. It is true, and I will give you comfort, To give your
dead lords graves :
The which to do must make some work with Creon.
Ist. Qu. And that work presents itself to th' doing :
Now 'twill take form, the heats are gone to-morrow,
Then bootless toil must recompence itself
With its own sweat; now he's secure,
Not dreams we stand before your puissance,
Rincing our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition clear.
2nd. Qu. Now you may take him Drunk with his victory.
3rd. Qu. And his army full Of bread and sloth.
Thes. Artesis, that best knowest
How to draw out, fit to this enterprize
The prim’st for this proceeding, and the number
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.
1st. Qu. Dowagers, take hands; Let us be widows to our woes, delay Commends us to a famishing hope.
2nd. Qu. We come unseasonably. But when could
Cull forth, as unpang'd judgment can, fit'st time
For best solicitation ?
Thes. Why good ladies,
This is a service, whereto I am going,
Greater than any was; it more imports me
Than all the actions that I have foregone,
1st. Qu. The more proclaiming
Our suit shall be neglected, when her arms,
Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
By warranting moon-light corslet thee. Oh when
Her twining cherries shall their sweetness fall
Upon thy tasteful lips, what wilt thou think
Of rotten kings, or blubber'd queens? what care
For what thou feel'st not? what thou feel'st being able
To make Mars spurn his drum. Oh if thou couch
But one night with her, every hour in't will
Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
Thou shalt remember nothing more, than what
That banquet bids thee to.
Hip. Though much upliking 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 Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit That craves a present med'cine, I should pluck All ladies' scandal on me. Therefore, sir, As I shall here make trial of my prayers, Either presuming them to have some force, Or sentencing for aye their vigour dumb, Prorogue this business we are going about, and hang Your shield afore your heart, about that neck Which is my fee, and which I freely lend To do these poor queens service.
All Qu's, to Emil. Oh help now, Our cause cries for