The Two Noble Kinsmen - Act 5, scene 4
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Act 5, scene 4
As Palamon puts his head on the block for his beheading, word comes that Arcite has been crushed by his falling horse. Mortally wounded, Arcite confesses that he was wrong to pursue Emilia after Palamon had already declared his love for her. He gives his right in Emilia to Palamon, and then dies. Theseus declares that the court will spend some days in mourning for Arcite and then turn to the celebration of Palamon’s marriage to Emilia.Enter Guard ⌜with⌝ Palamon and his Knights,
pinioned; Jailer, Executioner ⌜and Others,
carrying a block and an ax.⌝
3203 There’s many a man alive that hath outlived
3204 The love o’ th’ people; yea, i’ th’ selfsame state
3205 Stands many a father with his child. Some comfort
3206 We have by so considering. We expire,
3207 5 And not without men’s pity. To live still,
3209 The loathsome misery of age, beguile
3210 The gout and rheum that in lag hours attend
3211 For gray approachers; we come towards the gods
3212 10 Young and unwappered, not halting under crimes
3213 Many and stale. That sure shall please the gods
3214 Sooner than such, to give us nectar with ’em,
3215 For we are more clear spirits. My dear kinsmen,
3216 Whose lives for this poor comfort are laid down,
3217 15 You have sold ’em too too cheap.
FIRST KNIGHT 3218 What ending could be
3219 Of more content? O’er us the victors have
3220 Fortune, whose title is as momentary
3221 As to us death is certain. A grain of honor
3222 20 They not o’er-weigh us.
SECOND KNIGHT 3223 Let us bid farewell;
3224 And with our patience anger tott’ring Fortune,
3225 Who at her certain’st reels.
THIRD KNIGHT 3226 Come, who begins?
3227 25 E’en he that led you to this banquet shall
3228 Taste to you all. ⌜To Jailer.⌝ Ah ha, my friend, my
3230 Your gentle daughter gave me freedom once;
3231 You’ll see ’t done now forever. Pray, how does she?
3232 30 I heard she was not well; her kind of ill
3233 Gave me some sorrow.
JAILER 3234 Sir, she’s well restored,
3235 And to be married shortly.
PALAMON 3236 By my short life,
3237 35 I am most glad on ’t. ’Tis the latest thing
3238 I shall be glad of; prithee, tell her so.
3239 Commend me to her, and to piece her portion,
3240 Tender her this.⌜He gives his purse to Jailer.⌝
FIRST KNIGHT 3241 Nay, let’s be offerers all.
3242 40 Is it a maid?
PALAMON 3243 Verily, I think so.
3244 A right good creature, more to me deserving
3245 Than I can quit or speak of.
ALL KNIGHTS 3246 Commend us to her.
They give their purses.
3247 45 The gods requite you all and make her thankful!
3248 Adieu, and let my life be now as short
3249 As my leave-taking.⌜Lays his head⌝ on the block.
FIRST KNIGHT 3250 Lead, courageous cousin.
SECOND ⌜AND THIRD⌝ KNIGHTS 3251 We’ll follow cheerfully.
A great noise within crying “Run!” “Save!” “Hold!”
Enter in haste a Messenger.
3252 50 Hold, hold! O, hold, hold, hold!
Enter Pirithous in haste.
3253 Hold, ho! It is a cursèd haste you made
3254 If you have done so quickly!—Noble Palamon,
3255 The gods will show their glory in a life
3256 That thou art yet to lead.
PALAMON 3257 55 Can that be,
3258 When Venus, I have said, is false? How do things
3260 Arise, great sir, and give the tidings ear
3261 That are most ⌜dearly⌝ sweet and bitter.
PALAMON, ⌜rising⌝ 3262 60 What
3263 Hath waked us from our dream?
PIRITHOUS 3264 List then: your
3267 65 Did first bestow on him—a black one, owing
3268 Not a hair worth of white, which some will say
3269 Weakens his price, and many will not buy
3270 His goodness with this note, which superstition
3271 Here finds allowance—on this horse is Arcite
3272 70 Trotting the stones of Athens—which the calkins
3273 Did rather tell than trample, for the horse
3274 Would make his length a mile, if ’t pleased his rider
3275 To put pride in him. As he thus went counting
3276 The flinty pavement, dancing, as ’twere, to th’ music
3277 75 His own hooves made—for, as they say, from iron
3278 Came music’s origin—what envious flint,
3279 Cold as old Saturn, and like him possessed
3280 With fire malevolent, darted a spark,
3281 Or what fierce sulphur else, to this end made,
3282 80 I comment not; the hot horse, hot as fire,
3283 Took toy at this and fell to what disorder
3284 His power could give his will; bounds, comes on end,
3285 Forgets school-doing, being therein trained
3286 And of kind manage. Pig-like he whines
3287 85 At the sharp rowel, which he frets at rather
3288 Than any jot obeys; seeks all foul means
3289 Of boist’rous and rough jadery to disseat
3290 His lord that kept it bravely. When naught served,
3291 When neither curb would crack, girth break, nor
3292 90 diff’ring plunges
3293 Disroot his rider whence he grew, but that
3294 He kept him ’tween his legs, on his hind hoofs
3295 On end he stands
3296 That Arcite’s legs, being higher than his head,
3297 95 Seemed with strange art to hang. His victor’s wreath
3298 Even then fell off his head, and presently
3299 Backward the jade comes o’er, and his full poise
3300 Becomes the rider’s load. Yet is he living,
3301 But such a vessel ’tis that floats but for
3303 To have some speech with you. Lo, he appears.
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia,
⌜and⌝ Arcite ⌜carried⌝ in a chair.
3304 O, miserable end of our alliance!
3305 The gods are mighty, Arcite. If thy heart,
3306 Thy worthy, manly heart, be yet unbroken,
3307 105 Give me thy last words. I am Palamon,
3308 One that yet loves thee dying.
ARCITE 3309 Take Emilia
3310 And with her all the world’s joy. Reach thy hand;
3311 Farewell. I have told my last hour. I was false,
3312 110 Yet never treacherous. Forgive me, cousin.
3313 One kiss from fair Emilia.⌜She kisses him.⌝
3314 ’Tis done.
3315 Take her. I die.⌜He dies.⌝
PALAMON 3316 Thy brave soul seek Elysium!
3317 115 I’ll close thine eyes, prince. Blessed souls be with
3319 Thou art a right good man, and while I live,
3320 This day I give to tears.
PALAMON 3321 And I to honor.
3322 120 In this place first you fought; e’en very here
3323 I sundered you. Acknowledge to the gods
3324 Our thanks that you are living.
3325 His part is played, and though it were too short,
3326 He did it well. Your day is lengthened, and
3327 125 The blissful dew of heaven does arrouse you.
3328 The powerful Venus well hath graced her altar,
3329 And given you your love. Our master, Mars,
3330 ⌜Hath⌝ vouched his oracle, and to Arcite gave
3332 130 Have showed due justice.—Bear this hence.
PALAMON 3333 O cousin,
3334 That we should things desire which do cost us
3335 The loss of our desire, that naught could buy
3336 Dear love but loss of dear love.
⌜Arcite’s body is carried out.⌝
THESEUS 3337 135 Never Fortune
3338 Did play a subtler game. The conquered triumphs;
3339 The victor has the loss; yet in the passage
3340 The gods have been most equal.—Palamon,
3341 Your kinsman hath confessed the right o’ th’ lady
3342 140 Did lie in you, for you first saw her and
3343 Even then proclaimed your fancy. He restored her
3344 As your stol’n jewel and desired your spirit
3345 To send him hence forgiven. The gods my justice
3346 Take from my hand and they themselves become
3347 145 The executioners. Lead your lady off,
3348 And call your lovers from the stage of death,
3349 Whom I adopt my friends. A day or two
3350 Let us look sadly, and give grace unto
3351 The funeral of Arcite, in whose end
3352 150 The visages of bridegrooms we’ll put on
3353 And smile with Palamon—for whom an hour,
3354 But one hour since, I was as dearly sorry
3355 As glad of Arcite, and am now as glad
3356 As for him sorry. O you heavenly charmers,
3357 155 What things you make of us! For what we lack
3358 We laugh, for what we have are sorry, still
3359 Are children in some kind. Let us be thankful
3360 For that which is, and with you leave dispute
3361 That are above our question. Let’s go off
3362 160 And bear us like the time.
Flourish. They exit.