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Mar. Would all those heads were off, so yours were saved!Once more, O Guise, the weeping Marmoutiere Entreats you, do not go.
Gui. Is't possible That Guise should say, in this he must refuse you!
Mar. Go then, my lord. I late received a letter From one at court, who tells me, the king loves me: Read it,—there is no more than what you hear. I've jewels offered too,—perhaps may take them; And if you go from Paris, I'll to court.
Gui. But, madam, I have often heard you say, You loved not courts.
Mar. Perhaps I've changed my mind: Nothing as yet could draw me, but a king; And such a king,—so good, so just, so great, That, at his birth, the heavenly council paused, And then, at last, cried out,—This is a man.
Gui. Come, 'tis but counterfeit; you dare not go,
Mar. Go to your government, and try.
Gui. I will.
Mar. Then I'll to court, nay—to the king.
Gui. By heaven, I swear you cannot, shall not,—dare not see him.
Mar. By heaven, I can, I dare, nay—and I will; And nothing but your stay shall hinder me; For now, methinks, I long fort.
Mar. I'll give you yet a little time to think; But, if I hear you go to take your leave, I'll meet you there; before the throne I'll stand,— Nay, you shall see me kneel and kiss his hand.
Gui. Furies and hell! She does but try me,—Ha! This is the mother-queen, and Espernon, Abbot Delbene, Alphonso Corso too,
All packed to plot, and turn me into madness.
[Reading the Letter.
Enter Cardinal Guise, Duke O/'mayenne,
Ha lean it be! "Madam, the king loves you."—[Reads.
But vengeance I will have; to pieces, thus, To pieces with them all. [Tears the Letter.
Card. Speak lower.
By all the torments of this galling passion, I'll hollow the revenge I vow, so loud, My father's ghost shall hear me up to heaven.
Card. Contain yourself; this outrage will undo us.
Gui. All things are ripe, and love new points their ruin.
Ha! my good lords, what if the murdering council Were in our power, should they escape our justice? I see, by each man's laying of his hand Upon his sword, you swear the like revenge. For me, I wish that mine may both rot off
Card. No more.
May. The Council of Sixteen attend you.
Gut. I go- that vermin may devour my limbs; That I may die, like the late puling Francis*,
Under the barber's hands, imposthumes choak me,—
If, while alive, I cease to chew their ruin;Alphonso Corso, Grillon, priest, together:
To hang them in effigy,—nay, to tread, Drag, stamp, and grind them, after they are dead. [Exeunt.
* Francis II. of France, a prince of delicate health and mean talents, died of an imposthume in the head.
Enter Queen-Mother, Abbot Delbene, and Polin.
Qu. M. Pray, mark the form of the conspiracy:
Pol. True, on my life;
Qu. M. Call colonel Grillon; the king would speak with him.
Ab. Was ever age like this? [Exit Pony.
Qu. M. Polin is honest; Beside, the whole proceeding is so like The hair-brained rout, I guessed as much before. Know then, it is resolved to seize the king, When next he goes in penitential weeds Among the friars, without his usual guards; Then, under shew of popular sedition, For safety, shut him in a monastery, And sacrifice his favourites to their rage.
Ab. When is this council to be held again?
Qu. M. Immediately upon the duke's departure.
Ab. Why sends not then the king sufficient guards, To seize the fiends, and hew them into pieces?
Qu. M. Tis in appearance easy, but the effect Most hazardous; for straight, upon the alarm, The city would be sure to be in arms; Therefore, to undertake, and not to compass, Were to come off with ruin and dishonour.
You know the Italian proverb—Bisogna copriersi*,—
Ab. But wherefore seems the king so unresolved?
Qu. M. I brought Polin, and made the demonstration;
Told him—necessity cried^out, to take A resolution to preserve his life, And look on Guise as a reclaimless rebel:
But, through the natural sweetness of his temper, And dangerous mercy, coldly he replied,— Madam, I will consider what you say.
Ab. Yet after all, could we but fix him—
Qu.M. Right,— The business were more firm for this delay; For noblest natures, though they suffer long, When once provoked, they turn the face to danger. But see, he comes, Alphonso Corso with him; Jxt us withdraw, and when 'tis fit rejoin him.
Enter King, and Alphonso Corso.
King. Alphonso Corso.
King. I think thou lovest me.
Alph. More than my life.
King. That's much; yet I believe thee.
• When Poltrot had discovered the intentions of the Council of Sixteen against the king's person, it was warmly debated in the council of Henry, whether the persons of the conspirators ought not to be seized at their next meeting. But, upon considering the numbers of the citizens, and their zeal for the League, together with the small number of the king's guards and adherents, this advice was rejected as too hazardous. It was upon this occasion that Catherine quoted the Tuscan proverb in the text,—" Bisogna copriersi bene il viso inanzi che struzzicare il vespaio;" Davila, lib. ix.
My mother has the judgment of the world, And all things move by that; but, my Alphonso, She has a cruel wit.
Alph. The^provocation, sir.
King. I know it well;But,—if thou'dst have my heart within thy hand,— All conjurations blot the name of kings. What honours, interest, were the world to buy him, Shall make a brave man smile, and do a murder? Therefore I hate the memory of Brutus, I mean the latter, so cried up in story. Caesar did ill, but did it in the sun, And foremost in the field; but sneaking Brutus, Whom none but cowards and white-livered knaves Would dare commend, lagging behind his fellows, His dagger in his bosom, stabbed his father. This is a blot, which Tully's eloquence Could ne'er wipe off, though the mistaken man Makes bold to call those traitors,—men divine. Alph. Tully was wise, but wanted constancy.
Enter Queen Mother, and Abbot Delbene.
Qu. M. Good-even, sir; 'tis just the time you ordered To wait on your decrees. King. Oh, madam! Qu. M. Sir?
King. Oh mother,—but I cannot make it way;— Chaos and shades,—'tis huddled up in night. Qu. M. Speak then, for speech is morning to the mind; <It spreads the beauteous images abroad, Which else lie furled and clouded in the soul.
King. You would embark me in a sea of blood.
Qu. M. You see the plot directly on your person; But give it o'er, I did but state the case. Take Guise into your heart, and drive your friends;