Read ACTUS QUINTUS. SCENA PRIMA. of The False One, free online book, by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, on ReadCentral.com.

Enter Cæsar, Antony, Dolabella.

Ant. The tumult still encreases.

Cæsar. O my fortune! My lustfull folly rather! but ’tis well, And worthily I am made a bondsmans prey, That after all my glorious victories, In which I pass’d so many Seas of dangers, When all the Elements conspir’d against me, Would yield up the dominion of this head To any mortal power: so blind and stupid, To trust these base Egyptians, that proclaim’d Their perjuries, in noble Pompeys death, And yet that could not warn me.

Dol. Be still Cæsar,
Who ever lov’d to exercise his fate,
Where danger look’t most dreadful.

Ant. If you fall, Fall not alone: let the King and his Sister Be buried in your ruines: on my life They both are guilty: reason may assure you Photinus nor Achillas durst attempt you, Or shake one Dart, or sword, aim’d at your safety, Without their warrant.

Cæsar. For the young King I know not How he may be misled; but for his Sister (Unequall’d Cleopatra) ’twere a kind Of blasphemy to doubt her: ugly treason Durst never dwell in such a glorious building, Nor can so clear and great a spirit, as hers is, Admit of falsehood.

Ant. Let us seize on him then:
And leave her to her fortune.

Dol. If he have power Use it to your security, and let His honesty acquit him: if he be false It is too great an honour he should dye By your victorious hand.

Cæsar. He comes: and I
Shall do as I find cause.

Enter Ptolomy, Achoreus, Apollodorus.

Ptol. Let not great Cæsar Impute the breach of hospitality, To you (my guest) to me; I am contemn’d, And my rebellious subjects lift their hands Against my head: and would they aim’d no farther, Provided that I fell a sacrifice To gain you safety: that this is not feign’d, The boldness of my innocence may confirm you: Had I been privy to their bloody plot, I now had led them on, and given fair gloss To their bad cause, by being present with them: But I that yet taste of the punishment, In being false to Pompey, will not make A second fault to Cæsar uncompel’d With such as have not yet shook off obedience, I yield my self to you, and will take part In all your dangers.

Cæsar. This pleads your excuse,
And I receive it.

Ach. If they have any touch Of justice, or religion, I will use The authority of our Gods, to call them back From their bad purpose.

Apo. This part of the palace
Is yet defensible: we may make it good,
Till your powers rescue us.

Cæsar. Cæsar besieg’d? O stain to my great actions: ’twas my custom, An Army routed, as my feet had wings To be first in the chase: nor walls, nor Bulworks Could guard those that escap’d the Battels fury From this strong Arm; and I to be enclos’d? My heart! my heart! but ’tis necessity, To which the Gods must yield, and I obey, ’Till I redeem it by some glorious way. [Exeunt.

SCENA II.

Enter Photinus, Achillas, Septimius, Souldiers.

Pho. There’s no retiring now, we are broke in: The deed past hope of pardon: if we prosper ’Twill be stil’d lawful!, and we shall give laws To those that now command us: stop not at Or loyalty, or duty: bold ambition, To dare and power to do, gave the first difference Between the King, and subject, Caesars Motto, Aut Cæsar aut Nihil, each of us must claim, And use it as our own.

Achil. The deed is bloody
If we conclude in Ptolomies death.

Pho. The better,
The globe of Empire must be so manur’d.

Sep. Rome, that from Romulus first took her name, Had her walls water’d with a Crimson showr Drain’d from a Brothers heart: nor was she rais’d To this prodigious height, that overlooks Three full parts of the Earth, that pay her tribute, But by enlarging of her arrow bounds By the Sack of Neighbour Cities, not made hers Till they were Cemented with the Blood of those That did possess ’em: Cæsar, Ptolomy, (Now I am steel’d) to me are empty names Esteem’d as Pompeys was.

Pho. Well said Septimius,
Thou now art right again.

Achil. But what course take we
For the Princess Cleopatra?

Pho. Let her live Awhile to make us sport: she shall authorize Our undertakings to the ignorant people, As if what we do were by her command: But our triumvirat Government once confirm’d, She bears her Brother company, that’s my Province: Leave me to work her.

Achil. I will undertake
For Ptolomy.

Sep. Cæsar shall be my task,
And as in Pompey I began a name
I’le perfect it in Cæsar.

Enter (above) Cæsar, Ptolomy, Achoreus, Apollodorus, Antony,
Dolabella.

Pho. ’Tis resolv’d then,
We’ll force our passage.

Achil. See, they do appear
As they desir’d a Parley.

Pho. I am proud yet
I have brought ’em to capitulate.

Ptol. Now, Photinus?

Pho. Now, Ptolomy?

Ptol. No addition?

Pho. We are equal,
Though Caesars name were put into the scale,
In which our worth is weigh’d.

Caes. Presumptuous Villain, Upon what grounds hast thou presum’d to raise Thy servile hand against the King, or me, That have a greater name?

Pho. On those, by which Thou didst presume to pass the Rubicon Against the Laws of Rome; and at the name Of Traitor smile; as thou didst when Marcellus, The Consul, with the Senates full consent Pronounc’d thee for an Enemy to thy Country, Yet thou wentst on, and thy rebellious Cause Was crown’d with fair success: Why should we fear then? Think on that, Cæsar.

Caes. O the gods! be brav’d thus,
And be compell’d to bear this from a Slave
That would not brook Great Pompey his Superiour?

Achil. Thy glories now have toucht the highest point,
And must descend.

Pho. Despair, and think we stand
The Champions of Rome, to wreak her wrongs,
Upon whose liberty thou hast set thy foot.

Sept. And that the Ghosts of all those noble Romans
That by thy Sword fell in this Civil War
Expect revenge.

Ant. Dar’st thou speak, and remember
There was a Pompey?

Pho. There is no hope to ’scape us: If that against the odds we have upon you You dare come forth, and fight, receive the honour To dye like Romans, if ye faint, resolve To starve like Wretches; I disdain to change Another syllable with you. [Exeunt.

Ant. Let us dye nobly;
And rather fall upon each others Sword
Than come into these Villains hands.

Caes. That Fortune, Which to this hour hath been a Friend to Cæsar, Though for a while she cloath her Brow with frowns, Will smile again upon me: who will pay her, Or sacrifice, or Vows, if she forsake Her best of works in me? or suffer him, Whom with a strong hand she hath led triumphant Through the whole western world, and Rome acknowledg’d Her Soveraign Lord, to end in-gloriously A life admir’d by all? The threatned danger Must by a way more horrid be avoided, And I will run the hazard; Fire the Palace, And the rich Magazines that neighbour it, In which the Wealth of Egypt is contain’d: Start not, it shall be so; that while the people Labour in quenching the ensuing flames, Like Cæsar, with this handful of my friends Through Fire, and Swords I force a passage to My conquering Legions. King, if thou dar’d follow Where Cæsar leads, or live or dye a Free-man; If not, stay here a Bond-man to thy Slave, And dead, be thought unworthy of a Grave. [Exeunt.

SCENE III.

Enter Septimius.

Sept. I feel my resolution melts again And that I am not Knave alone, but fool, In all my purposes. The Devil, Photinus, Employs me as a Property, and grown useless Will shake me off again; he told me so When I kill’d Pompey; nor can I hope better, When Cæsar is dispatch’d; Services done For such as only study their own ends, Too great to be rewarded, are return’d With deadly hate; I learn’d this Principle In his own School, yet still he fools me, well; And yet he trusts me: Since I in my nature Was fashion’d to be false, wherefore should I That kill’d my General, and a Roman, one To whom I ow’d all nourishments of life, Be true to an Egyptian? To save Cæsar, And turn Photinus’s plots on his own head, As it is in my power, redeem my credit, And live to lye and swear again in fashion, Oh, ’twere a master-piece! ha! ­me Cæsar, How’s he got off?

Enter Cæsar, Ptolomy, Antony, Dolabella, Achoreus,
Apollodorus, Souldiers.

Caes. The fire has took, And shews the City like a second Troy, The Navy too is scorch’d, the people greedy To save their Wealth and Houses, whilst their Souldiers Make spoil of all; only Achillas’s Troops Make good their Guard, break through them, we are safe; I’ll lead you like a Thunder-bolt.

Sept. Stay, Cæsar.

Caes. Who’s this? the Dog, Septimius?

Ant. Cut his throat.

Dol. You bark’d but now, fawn you so soon?

Sept. O hear me,
What I’ll deliver is for Caesars safety,
For all your good.

Ant. Good from a mouth like thine,
That never belch’d but blasphemy, and treason on Festival days!

Sept. I am an altered man, altered indeed,
And will give you cause to say I am a Roman.

Dol. Rogue, I grant thee.

Sept. Trust me, I’ll make the passage smooth, and easie
For your escape.

Ant. I’ll trust the Devil sooner,
And make a safer Bargain.

Sept. I am trusted
With all Photinus’s secrets.

Ant. There’s no doubt then
Thou wilt be false.

Sept. Still to be true to you.

Dol. And very likely.

Caes. Be brief, the means?

Sept. Thus, Cæsar, To me alone, but bound by terrible oaths Not to discover it, he hath reveal’d A dismal Vault, whose dreadful mouth does open A mile beyond the City: in this Cave Lye but two hours conceal’d.

Ant. If you believe him,
He’ll bury us alive.

Dol. I’ll flye in the Air first.

Sept. Then in the dead of night I’ll bring you back Into a private room, where you shall find Photinus, and Achillas, and the rest Of their Commanders close at Council.

Caes. Good, what follows?

Sept. Fall me fairly on their throats,
Their heads cut off and shorn, the multitude
Will easily disperse.

Caes. O Devil! away with him; Nor true to Friend nor Enemy? Cæsar scorns To find his safety, or revenge his wrongs So base a way; or owe the means of life To such a leprous Traytor, I have towr’d For Victory like a Faulcon in the Clouds, Nor dig’d for’t like a Mole; our Swords and Cause Make way for us, and that it may appear We took a noble Course, and hate base Treason, Some Souldiers that would merit Caesar’s favour, Hang him on yonder Turret, and then follow The lane this Sword makes for you. [Exit.

1 Sold. Here’s a Belt,
Though I dye for it I’ll use it.

2 Sold. ’Tis too good
To truss a Cur in.

Sept. Save me, here’s Gold.

1 Sold. If Rome
Were offered for thy ransom, it could not help thee.

2 Sold. Hang not an arse.

1 Sold. Goad him on with thy Sword;
Thou dost deserve a worser end, and may
All such conclude so, that their friends betray. [Exeunt.

SCENE IV.

Enter (severally) Arsino, Eros, Cleopatra.

Ars. We are lost.

Eros. Undone.

Ars. Confusion, Fire, and Swords,
And fury in the Souldiers face more horrid
Circle us round.

Eros. The Kings Command they laugh at,
And jeer at Caesars threats.

Ars. My Brother seiz’d on By the Roman, as thought guilty of the tumult, And forc’d to bear him company, as mark’d out For his protection or revenge.

Eros. They have broke
Into my Cabinet; my Trunks are ransack’d.

Ars. I have lost my jewels too: but that’s the least: The barbarous Rascals, against all humanity, Or sense of pity, have kill’d my little Dog, And broke my Monkeys Chain.

Eros. They rifled me:
But that I could endure, would they proceed no further.

Ars. O my Sister!

Eros. My Queen, my Mistress!

Ars. Can you stand unmov’d
When the Earth-quake of Rebellion shakes the City,
And the Court trembles?

Cleo. Yes, Arsino, And with a Masculine Constancy deride Fortunes worst malice, as a Servant to My Vertues, not a Mistress; then we forsake The strong Fort of our selves, when we once yield, Or shrink at her assaults; I am still my self, And though disrob’d of Soveraignty, and ravish’d Of ceremonious duty, that attends it, Nay, grant they had slav’d my Body, my free mind Like to the Palm-tree walling fruitful Nile, Shall grow up straighter and enlarge it self ’Spight of the envious weight that loads it with: Think of thy Birth (Arsino) common burdens Fit common Shoulders; teach the multitude By suffering nobly what they fear to touch at; The greatness of thy mind does soar a pitch, Their dim eyes (darkened by their narrow souls) Cannot arrive at.

Ars. I am new created, And owe this second being to you (best Sister) For now I feel you have infus’d into me Part of your fortitude.

Eros. I still am fearful; I dare not tell a lie; you that were born Daughters and Sisters unto Kings, may nourish Great thoughts, which I, that am your humble handmaid Must not presume to rival.

Cleo. Yet (my Eros) Though thou hast profited nothing by observing The whole course of my life, learn in my death, Though not to equal, yet to imitate Thy fearless Mistress.

Enter Photinus.

Eros. O, a man in Arms!
His Weapon drawn too?

Cleo. Though upon the point
Death sate, I’ll meet it, and outdare the danger.

Pho. Keep the Watch strong, and guard the passage sure
That leads unto the Sea.

Cleo. What Sea of rudeness Breaks in upon us? or what Subjects Breath Dare raise a storm, when we command a calm? Are Duty and Obedience fled to Heaven? And in their room ambition and pride Sent into Egypt? That Face speaks thee, Photinus, A thing thy Mother brought into the World; My Brother’s and my Slave: but thy behaviour, Oppos’d to that, an insolent intruder Upon that Soveraignty thou shouldst bow to. If in the Gulph of base ingratitude, All loyalty to Ptolomy the King Be swallowed up, remember who I am, Whose Daughter and whose Sister; or suppose That is forgot too; let the name of Cæsar Which Nations quake at, stop the desperate madness From running headlong on to thy Confusion. Throw from thee quickly those rebellious Arms, And let me read submission in thine Eyes; Thy wrongs to us we will not only pardon, But be a ready advocate to plead for thee To Cæsar, and my Brother.

Pho. Plead my Pardon? To you I bow, but scorn as much to stoop thus To Ptolomy or Cæsar, Nay, the gods, As to put off the figure of a man, And change my Essence with a sensual Beast; All my designs, my counsels, and dark ends Were aim’d to purchase you.

Cleo. How durst thou, being
The scorn of baseness, nourish such a thought?

Pho. They that have power are royal; and those base That live at the devotion of another. What birth gave Ptolomy, or fortune Cæsar, By Engines fashion’d in this Protean Anvil I have made mine; and only stoop at you, Whom I would still preserve free to command me; For Caesar’s frowns, they are below my thoughts, And but in these fair Eyes I still have read The story of a supream Monarchy, To which all hearts with mine gladly pay tribute, Photinus’s Name had long since been as great As Ptolomies e’r was, or Caesars is, This made me as a weaker tye to unloose The knot of Loyalty, that chain’d my freedom, And slight the fear that Caesars threats might cause, That I and they might see no Sun appear But Cleopatra in the Egyptian Sphear.

Cleo. O Giant-like Ambition! marryed to Cymmerian darkness! inconsiderate Fool, (Though flatter’d with self-love) could’st thou believe, Were all Crowns on the Earth made into one, And that (by Kings) set on thy head; all Scepters, Within thy grasp, and laid down at my feet, I would vouchsafe a kiss to a no-man? A guelded Eunuch?

Pho. Fairest, that makes for me, And shews it is no sensual appetite, But true love to the greatness of thy Spirit, That when that you are mine shall yield me pleasures, Hymen, though blessing a new married Pair Shall blush to think on, and our certain issue, The glorious splendor of dread Majesty, Whose beams shall dazel Rome, and aw the world, My wants in that kind others shall supply, And I give way to it.

Cleo. Baser than thy Birth;
Can there be gods, and hear this, and no thunder
Ram thee into the Earth?

Pho. They are asleep, And cannot hear thee; Or with open Eyes, Did Jove look on us, I would laugh and swear That his artillery is cloy’d by me: Or if that they have power to hurt, his Bolts Are in my hand.

Cleo. Most impious!

Pho. They are dreams, Religious Fools shake at: yet to assure thee, If Nemesis, that scourges pride and scorn, Be any thing but a name, she lives in me; For by my self (an oath to me more dreadful Than Stix is to your gods) weak Ptolomy dead, And Cæsar (both being in my toil) remov’d, The poorest Rascals that are in my Camp Shall in my presence quench their lustful heat In thee, and young Arsino, while I laugh To hear you howl in vain: I deride those gods, That you think can protect you.

Cleo. To prevent thee, In that I am the Mistress of my Fate; So hope I of my sister to confirm it. I spit at thee, and scorn thee.

Pho. I will tame
That haughty courage, and make thee stoop too.

Cleo. Never,
I was born to command, and will dye so.

Enter Achillas, and Souldiers, with the Body of Ptolomy.

Pho. The King dead? this is a fair entrance to
Our future happiness.

Ars. Oh my dear Brother!

Cleo. Weep not, Arsino, common women do so,
Nor lose a tear for him, it cannot help him;
But study to dye nobly.

Pho. Cæsar fled! ’Tis deadly aconite to my cold heart, It choaks my vital Spirits: where was your care? Did the Guards sleep?

Achil. He rowz’d them with his Sword; We talk of Mars, but I am sure his Courage Admits of no comparison but it self, And (as inspir’d by him) his following friends With such a confidence as young Eagles prey Under the large wing of their fiercer Dam, Brake through our Troops and scatter’d them, he went on But still pursu’d by us, when on the sudden, He turn’d his head, and from his Eyes flew terrour; Which strook in us no less fear and amazement, Than if we had encounter’d with the lightning Hurl’d from Jove’s cloudy Brow.

Cleo. ’Twas like my Cæsar.

Achil. We faln back, he made on, and as our fear Had parted from us with his dreadful looks, Again we follow’d; but got near the Sea; On which his Navy anchor’d; in one hand Holding a Scroll he had above the waves, And in the other grasping fast his Sword, As it had been a Trident forg’d by Vulcan To calm the raging Ocean, he made away As if he had been Neptune, his friends like So many Tritons follow’d, their bold shouts Yielding a chearful musick; we showr’d darts Upon them, but in vain, they reach’d their ships And in their safety we are sunk; for Cæsar Prepares for War.

Pho. How fell the King?

Achil. Unable To follow Cæsar, he was trod to death By the Pursuers, and with him the Priest Of Isis, good Achoreus.

Ars. May the Earth
Lye gently on their ashes.

Pho. I feel now, That there are powers above us; and that ’tis not Within the searching policies of man To alter their decrees.

Cleo. I laugh at thee; Where are thy threats now, Fool, thy scoffs and scorns Against the gods? I see calamity Is the best Mistress of Religion, And can convert an Atheist. [Shout within.

Pho. O they come, Mountains fall on me! O for him to dye That plac’d his Heaven on Earth, is an assurance Of his descent to Hell; where shall I hide me? The greatest daring to a man dishonest, Is but a Bastard Courage, ever fainting. [Exit.

Enter Cæsar, Sceva, Antony, Dolabella.

Caes. Look on your Cæsar; banish fear, my fairest,
You now are safe.

Sce. By Venus, not a kiss
Till our work be done; the Traitors once dispatch’d
To it, and we’ll cry aim.

Caes. I will be speedy. [Exeunt.

Cleo. Farewel again, Arsino; how now, Eros?
Ever faint-hearted?

Eros. But that I am assur’d, Your Excellency can command the General, I fear the Souldiers, for they look as if They would be nibling too.

Cleo. He is all honour, Nor do I now repent me of my favours, Nor can I think that Nature e’r made a Woman That in her prime deserv’d him.

Enter Cæsar, Sceva, Antonie, Dolabella, Souldiers, with the
Heads.

Ars. He’s come back,
Pursue no further; curb the Souldiers fury.

Caes. See (beauteous Mistris) their accursed heads
That did conspire against us.

Sce. Furies plague ’em, They had too fair an end to dye like Souldiers, Pompey fell by the Sword, the Cross or Halter Should have dispatch’d them.

Caes. All is but death, good Sceva, Be therefore satisfied: and now my dearest, Look upon Cæsar, as he still appear’d A Conquerour, and this unfortunate King Entomb’d with honour, we’ll to Rome, where Cæsar Will shew he can give Kingdoms; for the Senate, (Thy Brother dead) shall willingly decree The Crown of Egypt (that was his) to thee. [Exeunt omnes.