What's the Matter?
Palermo. Council chamber in the palace.
I do but dream on sovereignty;
Like one that stands upon a promontory,
And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
And chides the sea that sunders him from
Saying, he’ll lade it dry to have his way:
So do I wish the crown, being so far off;
And so I chide the means that keeps me from it
And, since this earth affords no joy to me,
But to command, to cheque, to o’erbear such
As are of better person than myself,
I’ll make my heaven to dream upon the crown.
I will be still awhile till time do serve:
I’ll watch and wake when others be asleep;
When I spy advantage, I’ll claim the crown,
For that's the golden mark I seek to hit.
Good morrow, brother. Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
Men judge by the complexion of the sky
The state and inclination of the day:
So may you by my dull and heavy eye.
Enter in state King Lucentio, Amadeo, and
God and his angels guard your sacred throne
And make you long become it!
Sure, we thank you. Now we are well resolved;
Call in the messenger sent from Naples;
Tell their general we attend him here,
To know for what he comes, and whence he
And what he craves.
I had a thing to say, but let it go;
I will fit it with some better time.
The sun is in the heaven.
Camillo with Lord Tertius.
My King; Lord Tertius,
Sent by Prince Cosimo, son of Naples.
May’t please your majesty to give us leave
Freely to render what we have in charge;
Or shall we sparingly show you far off
The Prince’s meaning and our embassy?
With frank and with uncurbed plainness,
Tell us the Prince’s mind.
When King Pompeo was in this island
And conquer’d it, thy royal uncle, for him
And his succession granted Naples a tribute,
Yearly three thousand pounds, which by thee
Is left untender’d.
And, to kill the marvel, shall be so ever.
Sicily is a world by itself;
And we will nothing pay for wearing our own noses.
We are come to this isle of Sicily
For the demand of our neglected tribute.
Which Naples had to take from ’s, to resume
We have again.
Come, our kingdom is stronger than it was.
Why tribute? why should we pay tribute? If Naples can hide the sun
from us with a blanket, Or put the moon in his pocket, we will pay
him tribute for light; else, sir, no more tribute, pray you now.
You must know, Lord Tertius,
Till the Neapolitans did extort
This tribute from us, we were free: your ambition,
Did put the yoke upon ’s; which to shake off
Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon
Ourselves to be.
I am perfect that the Dalmatians for
Their liberties are now in arms; a precedent
Which not to read would show Sicilians cold:
So the Neapolitans shall not find them.
Say, then, there’s no more tribute to be paid.
Tell Prince Cosimo I will keep my state,
Be like a king and show my sail of greatness.
The hearts of princes kiss obedience,
So much they love it; but to stubborn spirits
They swell, and grow as terrible as storms.
I am sorry, lords of Sicily,
That I am to pronounce the King of Naples thine
Receive it from me, then: war and confusion
In Naples’ name pronounce I ’gainst thee: look
For fury not to be resisted. Thus defied,
I thank thee for myself.
Thou art welcome, sir.
I know your master's pleasure and he mine.
Are men more order’d than when Pompeo
Smiled at their lack of skill, but found their
Worthy his frowning at: their discipline,
Now mingled with their courages, will make
To their approvers they are people such
That mend upon the world. So fare you well.
This was a merry message.
Hear me, my liege:
For mine own part, I could be well content
To entertain the lag-end of my life
With quiet hours; for I do protest,
I have not sought the day of this dislike.
But this Cosimo is a pestilence
That does infect the land.
Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are
Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden.
He’s a rank weed, and we must root him out.
Let’s purge this choler without letting blood:
This we prescribe, though no physician;
Deep malice makes too deep incision;
Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed.
Arm, arm, my lord; thou never had more cause.
Cosimo hath gather’d head; and a power
Of high-resolved men, bent to the spoil,
Hither marches amain.
Wherefore do you so ill translate yourself
Out of the speech of peace that bears such
Into the harsh and boisterous tongue of war;
Turning your books to graves, your ink to blood,
Your pens to lances and your eager tongue
To a trumpet and a point of war?
My soul, yet I know not why, hates nothing more
Some devil whisper curses in mine ear,
And prompt me, that my tongue may utter forth
The venomous malice of my swelling heart!
Remember, my liege,
The kings your ancestors, together with
The natural bravery of your isle, which stands
As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscalable and roaring waters,
With sands that will not bear your enemies’ boats,
But suck them up to the topmast.
The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their
In such a just war.
I embrace this fortune patiently,
Since not to be avoided it falls on me.
For us, we will consider of this further.
Lucentio begins to exit.
My king, Camillo gives you ill counsel:
The Prince of Naples is to be feared;
With hostile forces he’ll o’erspread the land,
And with the ostent of war will look so huge,
Amazement shall drive courage from the state;
Our men be vanquish’d ere they do resist,
And subjects punish’d that ne’er thought offence.
My liege, my lord, the Duke of Syracuse
Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
As traitors do.
We charge you, that you have contrived to wind
Yourself into a power tyrannical;
For which you are a traitor to the people,
Conspirant ’gainst this high-illustrious king.
Traitor? How now, my brother Messina!
You mistake me, sir.
The purest spring is not so free from mud
As I am clear from treason to my sovereign.
Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
And in his simple show he harbours treason.
Ah, gracious lord, these days are dangerous:
Virtue is choked with foul ambition
And charity chased hence by rancour’s hand;
Foul subornation is predominant
And equity exiled your highness’ land.
Brother, you do me shameful injury,
Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
Back do I toss those treasons to thy head.
I do profess that for your highness’ good I ever
More than mine own; that am, have, and will be—
Though all the world should crack their duty to
And throw it from their soul—yet my duty,
As doth a rock against the chiding flood,
Should the approach of this wild river break,
Stands unshaken yours.
Good Lord, what madness rules in brainsick
When for so slight and frivolous a cause
Such factious emulations shall arise!
Messina and Camillo, good brothers,
Quiet yourselves, I pray, and be at peace.
Our kinsman Camillo is as innocent
From meaning treason to our royal person
As is the sucking lamb or harmless dove:
The Duke is virtuous, mild and too well given
To dream on evil or to work my downfall.
Exit Lucentio and Amadeo one way, Morelli
What louring star now envies my estate,
That my brother, the Duke of Messina,
Does seek subversion of my harmless life?
That never didst him wrong, nor no man wrong.
Who’s so gross,
That seeth not this palpable device?
No simple man that sees
This jarring discord of nobility,
This shouldering of each other in the court,
But that it doth presage some ill event.
I will not trust the Duke of Messina;
I do not like him; I know his spirit,
And will not trust one of his malice.
Such men as he be never at heart’s ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous.
’Tis much when envy breeds unkind division;
There comes the rain, there begins confusion.
Bad is the world; and all will come to nought,
When such bad dealings must be seen in
Exit all. Blackout.
Copyright by A. K. Ludwig