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

Enter Evadne and a Gentleman.

Evad. Sir, is the King abed?

Gent. Madam, an hour ago.

Evad. Give me the key then, and let none be near;
’Tis the Kings pleasure.

Gent. I understand you Madam, would ’twere mine.
I must not wish good rest unto your Ladiship.

Evad. You talk, you talk.

Gent. ’Tis all I dare do, Madam; but the King will wake,
and then.

Evad. Saving your imagination, pray good night Sir.

Gent. A good night be it then, and a long one Madam;
I am gone.

Evad. The night grows horrible, and all about me
Like my black purpose: O the Conscience
[King abed.

Of a lost Virgin; whither wilt thou pull me?
To what things dismal, as the depth of Hell,
Wilt thou provoke me? Let no [woman] dare
From this hour be disloyal: if her heart
Be flesh, if she have blood, and can fear, ’tis a daring
Above that desperate fool that left his peace,
And went to Sea to fight: ’tis so many sins
An age cannot prevent ’em: and so great,
The gods want mercy for: yet I must through ’em.
I have begun a slaughter on my honour,
And I must end it there: he sleeps, good heavens!
Why give you peace to this untemperate beast
That hath so long transgressed you? I must kill him,
And I will do’t bravely: the meer joy
Tells me I merit in it: yet I must not
Thus tamely do it as he sleeps: that were
To rock him to another world: my vengeance
Shall take him waking, and then lay before him
The number of his wrongs and punishments.
I’le shake his sins like furies, till I waken
His evil Angel, his sick Conscience:
And then I’le strike him dead: King, by your leave:

[Ties his armes to the bed.

I dare not trust your strength: your Grace and I
Must grapple upon even terms no more:
So, if he rail me not from my resolution,
I shall be strong enough.
My Lord the King, my Lord; he sleeps
As if he meant to wake no more, my Lord;
Is he not dead already? Sir, my Lord.

King. Who’s that?

Evad. O you sleep soundly Sir!

King. My dear Evadne,
I have been dreaming of thee; come to bed.

Evad. I am come at length Sir, but how welcome?

King. What pretty new device is this Evadne?
What do you tie me to you by my love?
This is a quaint one: Come my dear and kiss me;
I’le be thy Mars to bed my Queen of Love:
Let us be caught together, that the Gods may see,
And envy our embraces.

Evad. Stay Sir, stay,
You are too hot, and I have brought you Physick
To temper your high veins.

King. Prethee to bed then; let me take it warm,
There you shall know the state of my body better.

Evad. I know you have a surfeited foul body,
And you must bleed.

King. Bleed!

Evad. I, you shall bleed: lie still, and if the Devil,
Your lust will give you leave, repent: this steel
Comes to redeem the honour that you stole,
King, my fair name, which nothing but thy death
Can answer to the world.

King. How’s this Evadne?

Evad. I am not she: nor bear I in this breast
So much cold Spirit to be call’d a Woman:
I am a Tyger: I am any thing
That knows not pity: stir not, if thou dost,
I’le take thee unprepar’d; thy fears upon thee,
That make thy sins look double, and so send thee
(By my revenge I will) to look those torments
Prepar’d for such black souls.

King. Thou dost not mean this: ’tis impossible:
Thou art too sweet and gentle.

Evad. No, I am not:
I am as foul as thou art, and can number
As many such hells here: I was once fair,
Once I was lovely, not a blowing Rose
More chastly sweet, till tho, thou, thou, foul
(Stir not) didst poyson me: I was a world of vertue,
Till your curst Court and you (hell bless you for’t)
With your temptations on temptations
Made me give up mine honour; for which (King)
I am come to kill thee.

King. No.

Evad. I am.

King. Thou art not.
I prethee speak not these things; thou art gentle,
And wert not meant thus rugged.

Evad. Peace and hear me.
Stir nothing but your tongue, and that for mercy
To those above us; by whose lights I vow,
Those blessed fires that shot to see our sin,
If thy hot soul had substance with thy blood,
I would kill that too, which being past my steel,
My tongue shall teach: Thou art a shameless Villain,
A thing out of the overchange of Nature;
Sent like a thick cloud to disperse a plague
Upon weak catching women; such a tyrant
That for his Lust would sell away his Subjects,
I, all his heaven hereafter.

King. Hear Evadne,
Thou soul of sweetness! hear, I am thy King.

Evad. Thou art my shame; lie still, there’s none about you,
Within your cries; all promises of safety
Are but deluding dreams: thus, thus, thou foul man,
Thus I begin my vengeance.

[Stabs him.

King. Hold Evadne!
I do command thee hold.

Evad. I do not mean Sir,
To part so fairly with you; we must change
More of these love-tricks yet.

King. What bloody villain
Provok’t thee to this murther?

Evad. Thou, thou monster.

King. Oh!

Evad. Thou kept’st me brave at Court, and Whor’d me;
Then married me to a young noble Gentleman;
And Whor’d me still.

King. Evadne, pity me.

Evad. Hell take me then; this for my Lord Amintor;
This for my noble brother: and this stroke
For the most wrong’d of women.

[Kills him.

King. Oh! I die.

Evad. Die all our faults together; I forgive thee.


Enter two of the Bed-Chamber.

1. Come now she’s gone, let’s enter, the King expects
it, and will be angry.

2. ’Tis a fine wench, we’I have a snap at her one of these
nights as she goes from him.

1. Content: how quickly he had done with her! I see
Kings can do no more that way than other mortal people.

2. How fast he is! I cannot hear him breathe.

1. Either the Tapers give a feeble light, or he looks very

2. And so he does, pray Heaven he be well.
Let’s look: Alas! he’s stiffe, wounded and dead:
Treason, Treason!

1. Run forth and call.

[Exit Gent.

2. Treason, Treason!

1. This will be laid on us: who can believe
A Woman could do this?

Enter Cleon and Lisippus.

Cleon. How now, where’s the Traytor?

1. Fled, fled away; but there her woful act lies still.

Clé. Her act! a Woman!

Lis. Where’s the body?

1. There.

Lis. Farewel thou worthy man; there were two bonds
That tyed our loves, a Brother and a King;
The least of which might fetch a flood of tears:
But such the misery of greatness is,
They have no time to mourn; then pardon me.
Sirs, which way went she?

[Enter Strato.

Strat. Never follow her,
For she alas! was but the instrument.
News is now brought in, that Melantius
Has got the Fort, and stands upon the wall;
And with a loud voice calls those few that pass
At this dead time of night, delivering
The innocent of this act.

Lis. Gentlemen, I am your King.

Strat. We do acknowledge it.

Lis. I would I were not: follow all; for this must have
a sudden stop.


Enter Melant. Diph. and Cal. on the wall.

Mel. If the dull people can believe I am arm’d,
Be constant Diphilus; now we have time,
Either to bring our banisht honours home,
Or create new ones in our ends.

Diph. I fear not;
My spirit lies not that way. Courage Calianax.

Cal. Would I had any, you should quickly know it.

Mel. Speak to the people; thou art eloquent.

Cal. ’Tis a fine eloquence to come to the gallows;
You were born to be my end; the Devil take you.
Now must I hang for company; ’tis strange
I should be old, and neither wise nor valiant.

Enter Lisip. Diag. Cleon, Strat. Guard.

Lisip. See where he stands as boldly confident,
As if he had his full command about him.

Strat. He looks as if he had the beter cause; Sir,
Under your gracious pardon let me speak it;
Though he be mighty-spirited and forward
To all great things; to all things of that danger
Worse men shake at the telling of; yet certainly
I do believe him noble, and this action
Rather pull’d on than sought; his mind was ever
As worthy as his hand.

Lis. ’Tis my fear too;
Heaven forgive all: summon him Lord Cleon.

Cleon. Ho from the walls there.

Mel. Worthy Cleon, welcome;
We could have wisht you here Lord; you are honest.

Cal. Well, thou art as flattering a knave, though I dare
not tell you so.


Lis. Melantius!

Mel. Sir.

Lis. I am sorry that we meet thus; our old love
Never requir’d such distance; pray Heaven
You have not left your self, and sought this safety
More out of fear than honour; you have lost
A noble Master, which your faith Melantius,
Some think might have preserv’d; yet you know best.

Cal. When time was I was mad; some that dares
Fight I hope will pay this Rascal.

Mel. Royal young man, whose tears look lovely on thee;
Had they been shed for a deserving one,
They had been lasting monuments. Thy Brother,
Whil’st he was good, I call’d him King, and serv’d him
With that strong faith, that most unwearied valour;
Pul’d people from the farthest Sun to seek him;
And by his friendship, I was then his souldier;
But since his hot pride drew him to disgrace me,
And brand my noble actions with his lust,
(That never cur’d dishonour of my Sister,
Base stain of Whore; and which is worse,
The joy to make it still so) like my self;
Thus have I flung him off with my allegiance,
And stand here mine own justice to revenge
What I have suffered in him; and this old man
Wrong’d almost to lunacy.

Cal. Who I? you’d draw me in: I have had no wrong,
I do disclaim ye all.

Mel. The short is this;
’Tis no ambition to lift up my self,
Urgeth me thus; I do desire again
To be a subject, so I may be freed;
If not, I know my strength, and will unbuild
This goodly Town; be speedy, and be wise, in a reply.

Strat. Be sudden Sir to tie
All again; what’s done is past recal,
And past you to revenge; and there are thousands
That wait for such a troubled hour as this;
Throw him the blank.

Lis. Melantius, write in that thy choice,
My Seal is at it.

Mel. It was our honour drew us to this act,
Not gain; and we will only work our pardon.

Cal. Put my name in too.

Diph. You disclaim’d us but now, Calianax.

Cal. That’s all one;
I’le not be hanged hereafter by a trick;
I’le have it in.

Mel. You shall, you shall;
Come to the back gate, and we’l call you King,
And give you up the Fort.

Lis. Away, away.

[Exeunt Omnes.

Enter Aspatia in mans apparel.

Asp. This is my fatal hour; heaven may forgive
My rash attempt, that causelesly hath laid
Griefs on me that will never let me rest:
And put a Womans heart into my brest;
It is more honour for you that I die;
For she that can endure the misery
That I have on me, and be patient too,
May live, and laugh at all that you can do.
God save you Sir.
[Enter Servant.

Ser. And you Sir; what’s your business?

Asp. With you Sir now, to do me the Office
To help me to you Lord.

Ser. What, would you serve him?

Asp. I’le do him any service; but to haste,
For my affairs are earnest, I desire to speak with

Ser. Sir, because you are in such haste, I would be loth
delay you any longer: you cannot.

Asp. It shall become you tho’ to tell your Lord.

Ser. Sir, he will speak with no body.

Asp. This is most strange: art thou gold proof? there’s
for thee; help me to him.

Ser. Pray be not angry Sir, I’le do my best.


Asp. How stubbornly this fellow answer’d me!
There is a vile dishonest trick in man,
More than in women: all the men I meet
Appear thus to me, are harsh and rude,
And have a subtilty in every thing,
Which love could never know; but we fond women
Harbor the easiest and smoothest thoughts,
And think all shall go so; it is unjust
That men and women should be matcht together.

Enter Amintor and his man.

Amint. Where is he!

Ser. There my Lord.

Amint. What would you Sir?

Asp. Please it your Lordship to command your man
Out of the room; shall deliver things
Worthy your hearing.

Amint. Leave us.

Asp. O that that shape should bury falshood in it.


Amint. Now your will Sir.

Asp. When you know me, my Lord, you needs must guess
My business! and I am not hard to know;
For till the change of War mark’d this smooth face
With these few blemishes people would call me
My Sisters Picture, and her mine; in short,
I am the brother to the wrong’d Aspatia.

Amint. The wrong’d Aspatia! would thou wert so too
Unto the wrong’d Amintor; let me kiss
That hand of thine in honour that I bear
Unto the wrong’d Aspatia: here I stand
That did it; would he could not; gentle youth
Leave me, for there is something in thy looks
That calls my sins in a most hideous form
Into my mind; and I have grief enough
Without thy help.

Asp. I would I could with credit:
Since I was twelve years old I had not seen
My Sister till this hour; I now arriv’d;
She sent for me to see her Marriage,
A woful one: but they that are above,
Have ends in every thing; she us’d few words,
But yet enough to make me understand
The baseness of the injury you did her.
That little training I have had is War;
I may behave my self rudely in Peace;
I would not though; I shall not need to tell you
I am but young; and you would be loth to lose
Honour that is not easily gain’d again.
Fairly I mean to deal; the age is strict
For single combats, and we shall be stopt
If it be publish’t: if you like your sword,
Use it; if mine appear a better to you,
Change; for the ground is this, and this the time
To end our difference.

Amint. Charitable youth,
If thou be’st such, think not I will maintain
So strange a wrong; and for thy Sisters sake,
Know that I could not think that desperate thing
I durst not do; yet to enjoy this world
I would not see her; for beholding thee,
I am I know not what; if I have ought
That may content thee, take it and be gone;
For death is not so terrible as thou;
Thine eyes shoot guilt into me.

Asp. Thus she swore
Thou would’st behave thy self, and give me words
That would fetch tears into mine eyes, and so
Thou dost indeed; but yet she bade me watch,
Lest I were cousen’d, and be sure to fight ere I

Amint. That must not be with me;
For her I’le die directly, but against her will never
hazard it.

Asp. You must be urg’d; I do not deal uncivilly with those that
Dare to fight; but such a one as you
Must be us’d thus.

[She strikes him.

Amint. Prethee youth take heed;
Thy Sister is a thing to me so much
Above mine honour, that I can endue
All this; good gods ­a blow I can endure;
But stay not, lest thou draw a timely death upon thy

Asp. Thou art some prating fellow,
One that hath studyed out a trick to talk
And move soft-hearted people; to be kickt,

[She kicks him.

Thus to be kickt ­why should he be so slow
In giving me my death?

Amint. A man can bear
No more and keep his flesh; forgive me then;
I would endure yet if I could; now shew
The spirit thou pretendest, and understand
Thou hast no honour to live:

[They fight.

What dost thou mean? thou canst not fight:
The blows thou mak’st at me are quite besides;
And those I offer at thee, thou spread’st thine arms,
And tak’st upon thy breast, Alas! defenceless.

Asp. I have got enough,
And my desire; there’s no place so fit for me to die
as here.

Enter Evadne.

Evad. Amintor; I am loaden with events
That flie to make thee happy; I have joyes

[Her hands bloody with a knife.

That in a moment can call back thy wrongs, And settle thee in thy free state again; It is Evadne still that follows thee, but not her mischiefs.

Amint. Thou canst not fool me to believe agen;
But thou hast looks and things so full of news that
I am staid.

Evad. Noble Amintor, put off thy amaze;
Let thine eyes loose, and speak, am I not fair?
Looks not Evadne beauteous with these rites now?
Were those hours half so lovely in thine eyes,
When our hands met before the holy man?
I was too foul within to look fair then;
Since I knew ill, I was not free till now.

Amint. There is presage of some important thing
About thee, which it seems thy tongue hath lost:
Thy hands are bloody, and thou hast a knife.

Evad. In this consists thy happiness and mine;
Joy to Amintor, for the King is dead.

Amint. Those have most power to hurt us that we love,
We lay our sleeping lives within their arms.
Why, thou hast rais’d up mischief to this height,
And found out one to out-name thy other faults;
Thou hast no intermission of thy sins,
But all thy life is a continual ill;
Black is thy colour now, disease thy nature.
Joy to Amintor! thou hast toucht a life,
The very name of which had power to chain
Up all my rage, and calm my wildest wrongs.

Evad. ’Tis done; and since I could not find a way
To meet thy love so clear, as through his life,
I cannot now repent it.

Amint. Could’st thou procure the Gods to speak to me,
To bid me love this woman, and forgive,
I think I should fall out with them; behold
Here lies a youth whose wounds bleed in my brest,
Sent by his violent Fate to fetch his death
From my slow hand: and to augment my woe,
You now are present stain’d with a Kings blood
Violently shed: this keeps night here,
And throws an unknown wilderness about me.

Asp. Oh, oh, oh!

Amint. No more, pursue me not.

Evad. Forgive me then, and take me to thy bed.
We may not part.

Amint. Forbear, be wise, and let my rage go this way.

Evad. ’Tis you that I would stay, not it.

Amint. Take heed, it will return with me.

Evad. If it must be, I shall not fear to meet it; take me home.

Amint. Thou monster of cruelty, forbear.

Evad. For heavens sake look more calm;
Thine eyes are sharper than thou canst make thy sword.

Amint. Away, away, thy knees are more to me than violence.
I am worse than sick to see knees follow me
For that I must not grant; for heavens sake stand.

Evad. Receive me then._Amint_. I dare not stay thy language;
In midst of all my anger and my grief,
Thou dost awake something that troubles me,
And sayes I lov’d thee once; I dare not stay;
There is no end of womens reasoning.

[Leaves her.

Evad. Amintor, thou shalt love me once again;
Go, I am calm; farewell; and peace for ever.
Evadne whom thou hat’st will die for thee.

[Kills her self.

Amint. I have a little humane nature yet
That’s left for thee, that bids me stay thy hand.

Evad. Thy hand was welcome, but came too late;
Oh I am lost! the heavy sleep makes haste.

[She dies.

Asp. Oh, oh, oh!

Amint. This earth of mine doth tremble, and I feel
A stark affrighted motion in my blood;
My soul grows weary of her house, and I
All over am a trouble to my self;
There is some hidden power in these dead things
That calls my flesh into’em; I am cold;
Be resolute, and bear’em company:
There’s something yet which I am loth to leave.
There’s man enough in me to meet the fears
That death can bring, and yet would it were done;
I can find nothing in the whole discourse
Of death, I durst not meet the boldest way;
Yet still betwixt the reason and the act,
The wrong I to Aspatia did stands up,
I have not such a fault to answer,
Though she may justly arm with scorn
And hate of me, my soul will part less troubled,
When I have paid to her in tears my sorrow:
I will not leave this act unsatisfied,
If all that’s left in me can answer it.

Asp. Was it a dream? there stands Amintor still:
Or I dream still.

Amint. How dost thou? speak, receive my love, and help:
Thy blood climbs up to his old place again:
There’s hope of thy recovery.

Asp. Did you not name Aspatia?

Amint. I did.

Asp. And talkt of tears and sorrow unto her?

Amint. ’Tis true, and till these happy signs in thee
Did stay my course, ’twas thither I was going.

Asp. Th’art there already, and these wounds are hers:
Those threats I brought with me, sought not revenge,
But came to fetch this blessing from thy hand,
I am Aspatia yet.

Amint. Dare my soul ever look abroad agen?

Asp. I shall live Amintor; I am well:
A kind of healthful joy wanders within me.

Amint. The world wants lines to excuse thy loss:
Come let me bear thee to some place of help.

Asp. Amintor thou must stay, I must rest here,
My strength begins to disobey my will.
How dost thou my best soul? I would fain live,
Now if I could: would’st thou have loved me then?

Amint. Alas! all that I am’s not worth a hair from thee.

Asp. Give me thy hand, mine hands grope up and down,
And cannot find thee; I am wondrous sick:
Have I thy hand Amintor?
Amint. Thou greatest blessing of the world, thou hast.

Asp. I do believe thee better than my sense.
Oh! I must go, farewell.

Amint. She swounds: Aspatia help, for Heavens sake water;
Such as may chain life for ever to this frame.
Aspatia, speak: what no help? yet I fool,
I’le chafe her temples, yet there’s nothing stirs;
Some hidden Power tell her that Amintor calls,
And let her answer me: Aspatia, speak.
I have heard, if there be life, but bow
The body thus, and it will shew it self.
Oh she is gone! I will not leave her yet.
Since out of justice we must challenge nothing;
I’le call it mercy if you’l pity me,
You heavenly powers, and lend for some few years,
The blessed soul to this fair seat agen.
No comfort comes, the gods deny me too.
I’le bow the body once agen: Aspatia!
The soul is fled for ever, and I wrong
My self, so long to lose her company.
Must I talk now? Here’s to be with thee love.

[Kills himself.

Enter Servant.

Ser. This is a great grace to my Lord, to have the new
King come to him; I must tell him, he is entring.
O Heaven help, help;

Enter Lysip. Melant. Cal. Cleon, Diph. Strato.

Lys. Where’s Amintor?

Strat. O there, there.

Lys. How strange is this!

Cal. What should we do here?

Mel. These deaths are such acquainted things with me,
That yet my heart dissolves not. May I stand
Stiff here for ever; eyes, call up your tears;
This is Amintor: heart he was my friend;
Melt, now it flows; Amintor, give a word
To call me to thee.

Amint. Oh!

Mel. Melantius calls his friend Amintor; Oh thy arms
Are kinder to me than thy tongue;
Speak, speak.

Amint. What?

Mel. That little word was worth all the sounds
That ever I shall hear agen.

Diph. O brother! here lies your Sister slain;
You lose your self in sorrow there.

Mel. Why Diphilus, it is
A thing to laugh at in respect of this;
Here was my Sister, Father, Brother, Son;
All that I had; speak once again;
What youth lies slain there by thee?

Amint. ’Tis Aspatia.
My senses fade, let me give up my soul
Into thy bosom.

Cal. What’s that? what’s that? Aspatia_!

Mel. I never did repent the greatness of my heart till now;
It will not burst at need.

Cal. My daughter dead here too! and you have all fine new
tricks to grieve; but I ne’re knew any but direct

Mel. I am a pratler, but no more.

Diph. Hold Brother.

Lysip. Stop him.

Diph. Fie; how unmanly was this offer in you!
Does this become our strain?

Cal. I know not what the mater is, but I am
Grown very kind, and am friends with you;
You have given me that among you will kill me
Quickly; but I’le go home, and live as long as I can.

Mel. His spirit is but poor that can be kept
From death for want of weapons.
Is not my hand a weapon good enough
To stop my breath? or if you tie down those,
I vow Amintor I will never eat,
Or drink, or sleep, or have to do with that
That may preserve life; this I swear to keep.

Lysip. Look to him tho’, and bear those bodies in.
May this a fair example be to me,
To rule with temper: for on lustful Kings
Unlookt for sudden deaths from heaven are sent!
But curst is he that is their instrument.

The Stationers Censure.

Good Wine requires no Bush, they say,
And I, No Prologue such a Play:
The Makers therefore did forbeare
To have that Grace prefixed here.
But cease here (Censure) least the Buyer
Hold thee in this a vaine Supplyer.
My office is to set it forth
When Fame applauds it’s reall worth.