Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
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Titus Andronicus (Folio, 1623)


Enter Aron, Chiron and Demetrius at one dore: and at another
dore young Lucius and another, with a bundle of
1680
weapons, and verses writ vpon them.
Chi. Demetrius heeres the sonne of Lucius,
He hath some message to deliuer vs.
Aron. I some mad message from his mad Grandfather.
Boy. My Lords, with all the humblenesse I may,
1685I greete your honours from Andronicus,
And pray the Romane Gods confound you both.
Deme. Gramercie louely Lucius, what's the newes?
For villanie's markt with rape. May it please you,
My Grandsire well aduis'd hath sent by me,
1690The goodliest weapons of his Armorie,
To gratifie your honourable youth,
The hope of Rome, for so he bad me say:
And so I do and with his gifts present
Your Lordships, when euer you haue need,
1695You may be armed and appointed well,
And so I leaue you both: like bloody villaines.
Exit
Deme. What's heere? a scrole, & written round about?
Let's see.
Integer vitæ scelerisque purus, non egit maury iaculis nec ar-
1700cus.
Chi. O 'tis a verse in Horace, I know it well.
I read it in the Grammer long agoe.
Moore. I iust, a verse in Horace: right, you haue it,
Now what a thing it is to be an Asse?
1705Heer's no sound iest, the old man hath found their guilt,
And sends the weapons wrapt about with lines,
That wound (beyond their feeling) to the quick:
But were our witty Empresse well a foot,
She would applaud Andronicus conceit:
1710But let her rest, in her vnrest a while.
And now young Lords, wa'stnot a happy starre
Led vs to Rome strangers, and more then so;
Captiues, to be aduanced to this height?
It did me good before the Pallace gate,
1715To braue the Tribune in his brothers hearing.
Deme. But me more good, to see so great a Lord
Basely insinuate, and send vs gifts.
Moore. Had he not reason Lord Demetrius?
Did you not vse his daughter very friendly?
1720Deme. I would we had a thousand Romane Dames
At such a bay, by turne to serue our lust.
Chi. A charitable wish, and full of loue.
Moore. Heere lack's but you mother for to say, Amen.
Chi. And that would she for twenty thousand more.
1725Deme. Come, let vs go, and pray to all the Gods
For our beloued mother in her paines.
Moore. Pray to the deuils, the gods haue giuen vs ouer.
Flourish.
Dem. Why do the Emperors trumpets flourish thus?
1730Chi. Belike for ioy the Emperour hath a sonne.
Deme. Soft, who comes heere?
Enter Nurse with a blacke a Moore childe.
Nur. Good morrow Lords:
O tell me, did you see Aaron the Moore?
1735Aron. Well, more or lesse, or nere a whit at all,
Heere Aaron is, and what with Aaron now?
Nurse. Oh gentle Aaron, we are all vndone,
Now helpe, or woe betide thee euermore.
Aron. Why, what a catterwalling dost thou keepe?
1740What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine armes?
Nurse. O that which I would hide from heauens eye,
Our Empresse shame, and stately Romes disgrace,
She is deliuered Lords, she is deliuered.
Aron. To whom?
1745Nurse. I meane she is brought a bed?
Aron. Wel God giue her good rest,
What hath he sent her?
Nurse. A deuill.
Aron. Why then she is the Deuils Dam: a ioyfull issue.
1750Nurse. A ioylesse, dismall, blacke &, sorrowfull issue,
Heere is the babe as loathsome as a toad,
Among'st the fairest breeders of our clime,
The Empresse sends it thee, thy stampe, thy seale,
And bids thee christen it with thy daggers point.
1755Aron. Out you whore, is black so base a hue?
Sweet blowse, you are a beautious blossome sure.
Deme. Villaine what hast thou done?
Aron. That which thou canst not vndoe.
Chi. Thou hast vndone our mother.
1760Deme. And therein hellish dog, thou hast vndone,
Woe to her chance, and damn'd her loathed choyce,
Accur'st the off-spring of so foule a fiend.
Chi. It shall not liue.
Aron. It shall not die.
1765Nurse. Aaron it must, the mother wils it so.
Aron. What, must it Nurse? Then let no man but I
Doe execution on my flesh and blood.
Deme. Ile broach the Tadpole on my Rapiers point:
Nurse giue it me, my sword shall soone dispatch it.
1770Aron. Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels vp.
Stay murtherous villaines, will you kill your brother?
Now by the burning Tapers of the skie,
That sh'one so brightly when this Boy was got,
He dies vpon my Semitars sharpe point,
1775That touches this my first borne sonne and heire.
I tell you young-lings, not Enceladus
With all his threatning band of Typhons broode,
Nor great Alcides, nor the God of warre,
Shall ceaze this prey out of his fathers hands:
1780What, what, ye sanguine shallow harted Boyes,
Ye white-limb'd walls, ye Ale-house painted signes,
Cole-blacke is better then another hue,
In that it scornes to beare another hue:
For all the water in the Ocean,
1785Can neuer turne the Swans blacke legs to white,
Although she laue them hourely in the flood:
Tell the Empresse from me, I am of age
To keepe mine owne, excuse it how she can.
Deme. Wilt thou betray thy noble mistris thus?
1790Aron. My mistris is my mistris: this my selfe,
The vigour, and the picture of my youth:
This, before all the world do I preferre,
This mauger all the world will I keepe safe,
Or some of you shall smoake for it in Rome.
1795Deme. By this our mother is for euer sham'd.
Chi. Rome will despise her for this foule escape.
Nur. The Emperour in his rage will doome her death.
Chi. I blush to thinke vpon this ignominie.
Aron. Why ther's the priuiledge your beauty beares:
1800Fie trecherous hue, that will betray with blushing
The close enacts and counsels of the hart:
Heer's a young Lad fram'd of another leere,
Looke how the blacke slaue smiles vpon the father;
As who should say, old Lad I am thine owne.
1805He is your brother Lords, sensibly fed
Of that selfe blood that first gaue life to you,
And from that wombe where you imprisoned were
He is infranchised and come to light:
Nay he is your brother by the surer side,
1810Although my seale be stamped in his face.
Nurse. Aaron what shall I say vnto the Empresse?
Dem. Aduise thee Aaron, what is to be done,
And we will all subscribe to thy aduise:
Saue thou the child, so we may all be safe.
1815Aron. Then sit we downe and let vs all consult.
My sonne and I will haue the winde of you:
Keepe there, now talke at pleasure of your safety.
Deme. How many women saw this childe of his?
Aron. Why so braue Lords, when we ioyne in league
1820I am a Lambe: but if you braue the Moore,
The chafed Bore, the mountaine Lyonesse,
The Ocean swells not so at Aaron stormes:
But say againe, how many saw the childe?
Nurse. Cornelia, the midwife, and my selfe,
1825And none else but the deliuered Empresse.
Aron. The Empresse, the Midwife, and your selfe,
Two may keepe counsell, when the third's away:
Goe to the Empresse, tell her this I said,
He kils her
Weeke, weeke, so cries a Pigge prepared to th' spit.
1830Deme. What mean'st thou Aaron?
Wherefore did'st thou this?
Aron. O Lord sir, 'tis a deed of pollicie?
Shall she liue to betray this guilt of our's:
A long tongu'd babling Gossip? No Lords no:
1835And now be it knowne to you my full intent.
Not farre, one Muliteus my Country-man
His wife but yesternight was brought to bed,
His childe is like to her, faire as you are:
Goe packe with him, and giue the mother gold,
1840And tell them both the circumstance of all,
And how by this their Childe shall be aduaunc'd,
And be receiued for the Emperours heyre,
And substituted in the place of mine,
To calme this tempest whirling in the Court,
1845And let the Emperour dandle him for his owne.
Harke ye Lords, ye see I haue giuen her physicke,
And you must needs bestow her funerall,
The fields are neere, and you are gallant Groomes:
This done, see that you take no longer daies
1850But send the Midwife presently to me.
The Midwife and the Nurse well made away,
Then let the Ladies tattle what they please.
Chi. Aaron I see thou wilt not trust the ayre with se-
Deme. For this care of Tamora,
1855Her selfe, and hers are highly bound to thee.
Exeunt.
Aron. Now to the Gothes, as swift as Swallow flies,
There to dispose this treasure in mine armes,
And secretly to greete the Empresse friends:
Come on you thick-lipt-slaue, Ile beare you hence,
1860For it is you that puts vs to our shifts:
Ile make you feed on berries, and on rootes,
And feed on curds and whay, and sucke the Goate,
And cabbin in a Caue, and bring you vp
To be a warriour, and command a Campe.
Exit