Read ACTUS PRIMUS SCENA PRIMA of The Maids Tragedy, free online book, by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, on

Enter Cleon, Strato, Lysippus, Diphilus.

Cleon. The rest are making ready Sir.

Strat. So let them, there’s time enough.

Diph. You are the brother to the King, my Lord,
we’ll take your word.

Lys. Strato, thou hast some skill in Poetry, What
thinkst thou of a Mask? will it be well?

Strat. As well as Mask can be.

Lys. As Mask can be?

Strat. Yes, they must commend their King, and speak
in praise of the Assembly, bless the Bride and
Bridegroom, in person of some God; th’are tyed
to rules of flattery.

Clé. See, good my Lord, who is return’d!

Lys. Noble Melantius!

[Enter Melantius.

The Land by me welcomes thy vertues home to Rhodes, thou that with blood abroad buyest us our peace; the breath of King is like the breath of Gods; My brother wisht thee here, and thou art here; he will be too kind, and weary thee with often welcomes; but the time doth give thee a welcome above this or all the worlds.

Mel. My Lord, my thanks; but these scratcht limbs of mine have
spoke my love and truth unto my friends, more than my
tongue ere could: my mind’s the same it ever was to you;
where I find worth, I love the keeper, till he let it go,
And then I follow it.

Diph. Hail worthy brother!
He that rejoyces not at your return
In safety, is mine enemy for ever.

Mel. I thank thee Diphilus: but thou art faulty;
I sent for thee to exercise thine armes
With me at Patria: thou cam’st not Diphilus: ’Twas

Diph. My noble brother, my excuse
Is my King’s strict command, which you my Lord
Can witness with me.

Lys. ’Tis true Melantius,
He might not come till the solemnity
Of this great match were past.

Diph. Have you heard of it?

Mel. Yes, I have given cause to those that
Envy my deeds abroad, to call me gamesome;
I have no other business here at Rhodes.

Lys. We have a Mask to night,
And you must tread a Soldiers measure.

Mel. These soft and silken wars are not for me;
The Musick must be shrill, and all confus’d,
That stirs my blood, and then I dance with armes:
But is Amintor Wed?

Diph. This day.
Mel. All joyes upon him, for he is my friend:
Wonder not that I call a man so young my friend,
His worth is great; valiant he is, and temperate,
And one that never thinks his life his own,
If his friend need it: when he was a boy,
As oft as I return’d (as without boast)
I brought home conquest, he would gaze upon me,
And view me round, to find in what one limb
The vertue lay to do those things he heard:
Then would he wish to see my Sword, and feel
The quickness of the edge, and in his hand
Weigh it; he oft would make me smile at this;
His youth did promise much, and his ripe years
Will see it all perform’d.

[Enter Aspatia, passing by.

Melan. Hail Maid and Wife!
Thou fair Aspatia, may the holy knot
That thou hast tyed to day, last till the hand
Of age undo’t; may’st thou bring a race
Unto Amintor that may fill the world
Successively with Souldiers.

Asp. My hard fortunes
Deserve not scorn; for I was never proud
When they were good.

[Exit Aspatia.

Mel. How’s this?

Lys. You are mistaken, for she is not married.

Mel. You said Amintor was.

Diph. ’Tis true; but

Mel. Pardon me, I did receive
Letters at Patria, from my Amintor,
That he should marry her.

Diph. And so it stood,
In all opinion long; but your arrival
Made me imagine you had heard the change.

Mel. Who hath he taken then?

Lys. A Lady Sir,
That bears the light above her, and strikes dead
With flashes of her eye; the fair Evadne your
vertuous Sister.

Mel. Peace of heart betwixt them: but this is strange.

Lys. The King my brother did it
To honour you; and these solemnities
Are at his charge.

Mel. ’Tis Royal, like himself;
But I am sad, my speech bears so unfortunate a sound
To beautiful Aspatia; there is rage
Hid in her fathers breast; Calianax
Bent long against me, and he should not think,
If I could call it back, that I would take
So base revenges, as to scorn the state
Of his neglected daughter: holds he still his greatness
with the King?

Lys. Yes; but this Lady
Walks discontented, with her watry eyes
Bent on the earth: the unfrequented woods
Are her delight; and when she sees a bank
Stuck full of flowers, she with a sigh will tell
Her servants what a pretty place it were
To bury lovers in, and make her maids
Pluck’em, and strow her over like a Corse.
She carries with her an infectious grief
That strikes all her beholders, she will sing
The mournful’st things that ever ear hath heard,
And sigh, and sing again, and when the rest
Of our young Ladies in their wanton blood,
Tell mirthful tales in course that fill the room
With laughter, she will with so sad a look
Bring forth a story of the silent death
Of some forsaken Virgin, which her grief
Will put in such a phrase, that ere she end,
She’l send them weeping one by one away.

Mel. She has a brother under my command
Like her, a face as womanish as hers,
But with a spirit that hath much out-grown
The number of his years.

[Enter Amintor.

Clé. My Lord the Bridegroom!

Mel. I might run fiercely, not more hastily
Upon my foe: I love thee well Amintor,
My mouth is much too narrow for my heart;
I joy to look upon those eyes of thine;
Thou art my friend, but my disorder’d speech cuts off
my love.

Amin. Thou art Melantius;
All love is spoke in that, a sacrifice
To thank the gods, Melantius is return’d
In safety; victory sits on his sword
As she was wont; may she build there and dwell,
And may thy Armour be as it hath been,
Only thy valour and thy innocence.
What endless treasures would our enemies give,
That I might hold thee still thus!

Mel. I am but poor in words, but credit me young man,
Thy Mother could no more but weep, for joy to see thee
After long absence; all the wounds I have,
Fetch not so much away, nor all the cryes
Of Widowed Mothers: but this is peace;
And what was War?

Amin. Pardon thou holy God
Of Marriage bed, and frown not, I am forc’t
In answer of such noble tears as those,
To weep upon my Wedding day.

Mel. I fear thou art grown too sick; for I hear
A Lady mourns for thee, men say to death,
Forsaken of thee, on what terms I know not.

Amin. She had my promise, but the King forbad it,
And made me make this worthy change, thy Sister
Accompanied with graces above her,
With whom I long to lose my lusty youth,
And grow old in her arms.

Mel. Be prosperous.

[Enter Messenger.

Messen. My Lord, the Maskers rage for you.

Lys. We are gone. Cleon, Strata, Diphilus.

Amin. Wee’l all attend you, we shall trouble you
With our solemnities.

Mel. Not so Amintor.
But if you laugh at my rude carriage
In peace, I’le do as much for you in War
When you come thither: yet I have a Mistress
To bring to your delights; rough though I am,
I have a Mistress, and she has a heart,
She saies, but trust me, it is stone, no better,
There is no place that I can challenge in’t.
But you stand still, and here my way lies.


Enter Calianax with Diagoras.

Cal. Diagoras, look to the doors better for shame, you let
in all the world, and anon the King will rail at me; why
very well said, by Jove the King will have the show
i’th’ Court.

Diag. Why do you swear so my Lord?
You know he’l have it here.

Cal. By this light if he be wise he will not.

Diag. And if he will not be wise, you are forsworn.

Cal. One may wear his heart out with swearing, and get
thanks on no side, I’le be gone, look to’t who will.

Diag. My Lord, I will never keep them out.
Pray stay, your looks will terrifie them.

Cal. My looks terrifie them, you Coxcombly Ass you!
I’le be judg’d by all the company whether thou hast not a
worse face than I ­

Diag. I mean, because they know you and your Office.

Cal. Office! I would I could put it off, I am sure I sweat
quite through my Office, I might have made room at my
Daughters Wedding, they had near kill’d her among them.
And now I must do service for him that hath forsaken her;
serve that will.
[Exit Calianax.

Diag. He’s so humourous since his daughter was forsaken:
hark, hark, there, there, so, so, codes, codes.
What now?
[Within. knock within.

Mel. Open the door.

Diag. Who’s there?

Mel. Melantius.

Diag. I hope your Lordship brings no troop with you,
for if you do, I must return them.
[Enter Melantius.

Mel. None but this Lady Sir.
[And a Lady.

Diag. The Ladies are all plac’d above, save those that
come in the Kings Troop, the best of Rhodes sit there,
and there’s room.

Mel. I thank you Sir: when I have seen you plac’d
Madam, I must attend the King; but the Mask done, I’le
wait on you again.

Diag. Stand back there, room for my Lord Melantius, pray bear
back, this is no place for such youths and their Truls,
let the doors shut agen; I, do your heads itch? I’le
scratch them for you: so now thrust and hang: again,
who is’t now? I cannot blame my Lord Calianax for
going away; would he were here, he would run raging
among them, and break a dozen wiser heads than his
own in the twinkling of an eye: what’s the news now?


I pray can you help me to the speech of the Master Cook?

Diag. If I open the door I’le cook some of your Calvesheads.
Peace Rogues. ­again, ­who is’t?

Mel. Melantius within. Enter Calianax to Melantius.

Cal. Let him not in.

Diag. O my Lord I must; make room there for my
Lord; is your Lady plac’t?

Mel. Yes Sir, I thank you my Lord Calianax: well met,
Your causless hate to me I hope is buried.

Cal. Yes, I do service for your Sister here,
That brings my own poor Child to timeless death;
She loves your friend Amintor, such another
false-hearted Lord as you.

Mel. You do me wrong,
A most unmanly one, and I am slow
In taking vengeance, but be well advis’d.

Cal. It may be so: who placed the Lady there so near
the presence of the King?

Mel. I did.

Cal. My Lord she must not sit there.

Mel. Why?

Cal. The place is kept for women of more worth.
Mel. More worth than she? it mis-becomes your Age
And place to be thus womanish; forbear;
What you have spoke, I am content to think
The Palsey shook your tongue to.

Cal. Why ’tis well if I stand here to place mens wenches.

Mel. I shall forget this place, thy Age, my safety, and
through all, cut that poor sickly week thou hast to
live, away from thee.

Cal. Nay, I know you can fight for your Whore.

Mel. Bate the King, and be he flesh and blood,
He lyes that saies it, thy mother at fifteen
Was black and sinful to her.

Diag. Good my Lord!

Mel. Some god pluck threescore years from that fond man,
That I may kill him, and not stain mine honour;
It is the curse of Souldiers, that in peace
They shall be brain’d by such ignoble men,
As (if the Land were troubled) would with tears
And knees beg succour from ’em: would that blood
(That sea of blood) that I have lost in fight,
Were running in thy veins, that it might make thee
Apt to say less, or able to maintain,
Shouldst thou say more, ­This Rhodes I see is nought
But a place priviledg’d to do men wrong.

Cal. I, you may say your pleasure.

[Enter Amintor.

Amint. What vilde injury
Has stirr’d my worthy friend, who is as slow
To fight with words, as he is quick of hand?

Mel. That heap of age which I should reverence
If it were temperate: but testy years
Are most contemptible.

Amint. Good Sir forbear.

Cal. There is just such another as your self.

Amint. He will wrong you, or me, or any man,
And talk as if he had no life to lose
Since this our match: the King is coming in,
I would not for more wealth than I enjoy,
He should perceive you raging, he did hear
You were at difference now, which hastned him.

Cal. Make room there.

Hoboyes play within.

Enter King, Evadne, Aspatia, Lords and Ladies.

King. Melantius, thou art welcome, and my love
Is with thee still; but this is not a place
To brabble in; Calianax, joyn hands.

Cal. He shall not have my hand.

King. This is no time
To force you to’t, I do love you both:
Calianax, you look well to your Office;
And you Melantius are welcome home; begin the Mask.

Mel. Sister, I joy to see you, and your choice,
You lookt with my eyes when you took that man;
Be happy in him.


Evad. O my dearest brother!
Your presence is more joyful than this day can be unto

The Mask.

Night rises in mists.

Nigh. Our raign is come; for in the raging Sea
The Sun is drown’d, and with him fell the day:
Bright Cinthia hear my voice, I am the Night
For whom thou bear’st about thy borrowed light;
Appear, no longer thy pale visage shrowd,
But strike thy silver horn through a cloud,
And send a beam upon my swarthy face,
By which I may discover all the place
And persons, and how many longing eyes
Are come to wait on our solemnities.

[Enter Cinthia.

How dull and black am I! I could not find
This beauty without thee, I am so blind;
Methinks they shew like to those Eastern streaks
That warn us hence before the morning breaks;
Back my pale servant, for these eyes know how
To shoot far more and quicker rayes than thou.

Cinth. Great Queen, they be a Troop for whom alone
One of my clearest moons I have put on;
A Troop that looks as if thy self and I
Had pluckt our rains in, and our whips laid by
To gaze upon these Mortals, that appear
Brighter than we.

Night. Then let us keep ’em here,
And never more our Chariots drive away,
But hold our places, and out-shine the day.

Cinth. Great Queen of shadows, you are
pleas’d to speak
Of more than may be done; we may not break
The gods decrees, but when our time is come,
Must drive away and give the day our room.
Yet whil’st our raign lasts, let us stretch our power
To give our servants one contented hour,
With such unwonted solemn grace and state,
As may for ever after force them hate
Our brothers glorious beams, and wish the night
Crown’d with a thousand stars, and our cold light:
For almost all the world their service bend
To Phoebus and in vain my light I lend,
Gaz’d on unto my setting from my rise
Almost of none, but of unquiet eyes.

Nigh. Then shine at full, fair Queen, and by thy power
Produce a birth to crown this happy hour;
Of Nymphs and Shepherds let their songs discover,
Easie and sweet, who is a happy Lover;
Or if thou woot, then call thine own Endymion
From the sweet flowry bed he lies upon,
On Latmus top, thy pale beams drawn away,
And of this long night let him make a day.

Cinth. Thou dream’st dark Queen, that fair boy was not mine,
Nor went I down to kiss him; ease and wine
Have bred these bold tales; Poets when they rage,
Turn gods to men, and make an hour an age;
But I will give a greater state and glory,
And raise to time a noble memory
Of what these Lovers are; rise, rise, I say,
Thou power of deeps, thy surges laid away,
Neptune great King of waters, and by me
Be proud to be commanded.

[Neptune rises.

Nep. Cinthia, see,
Thy word hath fetcht me hither, let me know why I

Cinth. Doth this majestick show
Give thee no knowledge yet?

Nep. Yes, now I see.
Something intended (Cinthia) worthy thee;
Go on, I’le be a helper.

Cinth. Hie thee then,
And charge the wind flie from his Rockie Den.
Let loose thy subjects, only Boreas
Too foul for our intention as he was;
Still keep him fast chain’d; we must have none here
But vernal blasts, and gentle winds appear,
Such as blow flowers, and through the glad Boughs sing
Many soft welcomes to the lusty spring.
These are our musick: next, thy watry race
Bring on in couples; we are pleas’d to grace
This noble night, each in their richest things
Your own deeps or the broken vessel brings;
Be prodigal, and I shall be as kind,
And shine at full upon you.

Nep. Ho the wind
Commanding Eolus!

[Enter Eolus out of a Rock.

Eol. Great Neptune!

Nep. He.

Eol. What is thy will?

Nep. We do command thee free
Favonius and thy milder winds to wait
Upon our Cinthia, but tye Boreas straight;
He’s too rebellious.

Eol. I shall do it.

Nep. Do, great master of the flood, and all below,
Thy full command has taken.

Eol. Ho! the main;

Nep. Here.

Eol. Boreas has broke his chain,
And struggling with the rest, has got away.

Nep. Let him alone, I’le take him up at sea;
He will not long be thence; go once again
And call out of the bottoms of the Main,
Blew Proteus, and the rest; charge them put on
Their greatest pearls, and the most sparkling stone
The bearing Rock breeds, till this night is done
By me a solemn honour to the Moon;
Flie like a full sail.

Eol. I am gone.

Cin. Dark night,
Strike a full silence, do a thorow right
To this great Chorus, that our Musick may
Touch high as heaven, and make the East break day
At mid-ight.


Cinthia to thy power, and them we obey.
Joy to this great company, and no day
Come to steal this night away,
Till the rites of love are ended,
And the lusty Bridegroom say,
Welcome light of all befriended.
Pace out you watry powers below, let your feet
Like the Gallies when they row, even beat
Let your unknown measures set
To the still winds, tell to all
That Gods are come immortal great,
To honour this great Nuptial

The Measure. Second Song.

Hold back thy hours dark night, till we have done,
The day will come too soon;
Young Maids will curse thee if thou steal’st away,
And leav’st their blushes open to the day.
Stay, stay, and hide the blushes of the Bride.
Stay gentle night, and with thy darkness cover
The kisses of her Lover.
Stay, and confound her tears, and her shrill cryings,
Her weak denials, vows, and often dyings;
Stay and hide all, but help not though she

Nep. Great Queen of us and Heaven,
Hear what I bring to make this hour a full one,
If not her measure.

Cinth. Speak Seas King.

Nep. Thy tunes my Amphitrite joyes to have,
When they will dance upon the rising wave,
And court me as the sails, my Trytons play
Musick to lead a storm, I’le lead the way.

Song. Measure.

To bed, to bed; come Hymen, lead the Bride,
And lay her by her Husbands side:
Bring in the Virgins every one
That grieve to lie alone:
That they may kiss while they may say, a maid,
To morrow ’twill be other, kist and said:
Hesperus_ be long a shining,
Whilst these Lovers are a twining_.

Eol. Ho! Neptune!

Nept. Eolus!

Eol. The Seas go hie,
Boreas hath rais’d a storm; go and applie
Thy trident, else I prophesie, ere day
Many a tall ship will be cast away:
Descend with all the Gods, and all their power to
strike a cal.

Cin. A thanks to every one, and to gratulate
So great a service done at my desire,
Ye shall have many floods fuller and higher
Than you have wisht for; no Ebb shall dare
To let the day see where your dwellings are:
Now back unto your Government in haste,
Lest your proud charge should swell above the waste,
And win upon the Island.

Nep. We obey.

[Neptune descends, and the Sea-gods.

Cinth. Hold up thy head dead night; seest thou not day?
The East begins to lighten, I must down
And give my brother place.

Nigh. Oh! I could frown
To see the day, the day that flings his light
Upon my Kingdoms, and contemns old Night;
Let him go on and flame, I hope to see
Another wild-fire in his Axletree;
And all false drencht; but I forgot, speak Queen.
The day grows on I must no more be seen.

Cin. Heave up thy drowsie head agen, and see
A greater light, a greater Majestie,
Between our sect and us; whip up thy team;
The day breaks here, and you some flashing stream
Shot from the South; say, which way wilt thou go?

Nigh. I’le vanish into mists.

Cin. I into day. [Finis Mask.

King. Take lights there Ladies, get the Bride to bed;
We will not see you laid, good night Amintor,
We’l ease you of that tedious ceremony;
Were it [my] case, I should think time run slow.
If thou beest noble, youth, get me a boy,
That may defend my Kingdom from my foes.

Amin. All happiness to you.

King. Good night Melantius.