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Marpisa widow of Count Altomarus is advanced to be Queen to the King of Norway, by the practices of her paramour Gotharus. She has by her first husband a young son Haraldus; to secure whose succession to the crown by the aid of Gotharus (in prejudice of the king's son, the lawful heir) she tells Gotharus that the child is his. He believes her, and tells Haraldus; who taking to heart his mother's dishonour, and his own stain of bastardy, falls into a mortal sickness.

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Queen. How is it with my child ?
Har. I know you love me :

Yet I must tell you truth, I cannot live.

And let this comfort you, death will not come
Unwelcome to your son. I do not die

Against my will; and having my desires,
You have less cause to mourn.

Queen. What is't hath made

The thought of life unpleasant? which does court
Thy dwelling here, with all delights that nature
And art can study for thee, rich in all things

Thy wish can be ambitious of, yet all

These treasures nothing to thy mother's love,
Which to enjoy thee would defer a while
Her thought of going to heaven.

Har. Oh take heed, mother.

Heaven has a spacious ear, and power to punish
Your too much love with my eternal absence.
I beg your prayers and blessing.


Queen. Thou art dejected. Have but a will, and live.

Har. 'Tis in vain, mother.

Queen. Sink with a fever into earth!

Look up, thou shalt not die.

Har. I have a wound within,

You do not see, more killing than all fevers.

Queen. A wound? where? who has murther'd thee?

Har. Gotharus

Queen. Ha! furies persecute him.

Har. Oh pray for him :

It is my duty, though he gave me death.

He is my father.

Queen. How, thy father?

Har. He told me so, and with that breath destroy'd me. I felt it strike upon my spirits, mother; Would I had ne'er been born!

Queen. Believe him not.

Har. Oh do not add another sin to what

Is done already; death is charitable,

To quit me from the scorn of all the world.

Queen. By all my hopes, Gotharus has abused thee. Thou art the lawful burthen of my womb;

Thy father Altomarus.

Har. Ha!

Queen. Before whose spirit (long since taken up

To meet with saints and troops angelical)

I dare again repeat, thou art his son.

Har. Ten thousand blessings now reward my mother!

Speak it again, and I may live: a stream

Of pious joy runs through me; to my soul


You've struck a harmony, next that in heaven.
you without a blush call me your child,
And son of Altomarus? all that's holy

Dwell in your blood for ever: speak it once,
But once again.

Queen. Were it my latest breath;

Thou'rt his and mine.

Har. Enough, my tears do flow


To give you thanks for't: I would you could resolve me But one truth more; why did my lord Gotharus

Call me the issue of his blood?

Queen. Alas,

He thinks thou art.

Har. What are those words? I am

Undone again.

Queen. Ha!

Har. 'Tis too late

To call 'em back. He thinks I am his son.

Queen. I have confess'd too much, and tremble with

The imagination. Forgive me, child,

And heaven, if there be mercy to a crime
So black, as I must now, to quit thy fears,
Say I've been guilty of: we have been sinful,
And I was not unwilling to oblige

His active brain for thy advancement, by
Abusing his belief thou wert his own.

But thou hast no such stain; thy birth is innocent,
Or may I perish ever: 'tis a strange

Confession to a child, but it may drop

A balsam to thy wound. Live, my Haraldus,
If not, for this, to see my penitence,
And with what tears I'll wash away my sin.

Har. I am no bastard then

Queen. Thou art not.

Har. But

I am not found, while you are lost. No time
Can restore you. My spirits faint

Queen. Will nothing comfort thee?

Har. Give me your blessing; and, within my heart, I'll pray you may have many. My soul flies

'Bove this vain world: good mother, close mine eyes. Queen. Never died so much sweetness in his years. 114

114 Mamillus in the Winter's Tale in this manner droops and dies from a conceit of his mother's dishonour.



Don Ramires leaves his son Fernando with a heavy curse, and a threat of disinheriting, if he do not renounce Felisarda the poor niece of Don Carlos, whom he courts, when by his father's command he should address Jacinta the daughter and rich heiress of Carlos; his younger brother Francisco's mistress.

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Fer. Why does not all the stock of thunder fall?
Or the fierce winds, from their close caves let loose,
Now shake me into atoms?

Fran. Fie, noble brother, what can so deject
Your masculine thoughts? is this done like Fernando,
Whose resolute soul so late was arm'd to fight
With all the miseries of man, and triumph

With patience of a martyr? I observ'd

My father late come from you.

Fer. Yes, Francisco:

He hath left his curse upon me.

Fran. How?

Fer. His curse: dos't comprehend what that word


Shot from a father's angry breath? unless

I tear poor Felisarda from my heart,

He hath pronounc'd me heir to all his curses.

Does this fright thee, Francisco?

To dance in soul for this: tis only I

Thou hast cause

Must lose, and mourn; thou shalt have all; I am
Degraded from my birth, while he affects
Thy forward youth, and only calls thee son,
Son of his active spirit, and applauds


Thy progress with Jacinta, in whose smiles
Thou may'st see all thy wishes waiting for thee;
Whilst poor Fernando for her sake must stand
An excommunicate from every blessing,
A thing that dare not give myself a name,
But flung into the world's necessities,
Until in time, with wonder of my wants,
I turn a ragged statue, on whose forehead
Each clown may carve his motto.

Don Ramires is seized with a mortal sickness, but forbids Fernando to approach his chamber till he shall send for him, on pain of his dying curse.


Fer. This turn is fatal, and affrights me; but
Heaven has more charity than to let him die
With such a hard heart; 'twere a sin, next his
Want of compassion, to suspect he can
Take his eternal flight, and leave Fernando
This desperate legacy; he will change the curse
Into some little prayer, I hope; and then

Enter servant, and physician.

Serv. Make haste, I beseech you, doctor.

Phy. Noble Fernando.

Fer. As you would have men think your art is meant Not to abuse mankind, employ it all

To cure my poor sick father.

Phy. Fear it not, sir.

[Exit physician with servant.

Fer. But there is more than your thin skill requir'd,

To state a health; your recipes, perplext

With tough names, are but mockeries and noise,

Without some dew from heaven, to mix and make 'em

Enter servant.

Thrive in the application: what now?

Ser. Oh sir, I am sent for the confessor,

The doctor fears him much; your brother says


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