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A Tragicomedie


LFRED, King of England and born of very ancient Saxon stock, was obliged to flee to the island of Athelney in the Country of Somerset, together with his mother Osburga and a handful of others, and stayed in disguise in the household of a certain swineherd. But afterwards, thanks to the merits of St. Cuthbert (whom he had always adored with the greatest devotion, and to whom he gave alms when he appeared clad as a pauper), and given prior notice by the saint in a dream, he was restored to his kingdom after the Danes had been conquered, not without great miracles, and after their king had been converted to the Faith.]



ST. CUTHBERTUS King Alfred’s patrone
ALFREDE King of England
EDELVITHA the queene
OSBERGA the king’s mother.
EDWARD eldest son to the king.
ADELVOLD youngest son to the king.
ELFREDA youngest daughter to the king.
HUMFREY generall of the horse.
ATHELREDE generall of the foote
NEOTHUS a holy ermite [hermit]
DENEVULPHE, CRABULA a swin-heard, his wife blue
STRUMBO his son
GOTHURNUS King of the Danes
OSBERNE his brother
GORMO kinsman to Gothurnus
ROLLO officer to Gothurnus
BRAGADOCIA soldier to Gothernus
PIMPO servant to Bragadocia
PIPERO, TITMUS pages to Gothurnus



[Telling us that we must invoke the Saints, St. Cuthbert explains the reason for is arrival from heaven, namely to rescue England from the devastation inflicted by the Danes, and his devotee King Alfred from his danger.]

Who this deny’s, that heav’n a pious care
Retains for humain things, that saints apeare
Cal’d to th’ assistance of affaires below,
Must cruelnesse ith’ Deity allow,
That Mortall things without a rule are hurl’d, spacer5
And deeme those spirits helpelesse to the world.
Piety’s no captive to the orbs above,
But oft unto afflicted lands doth move.
This makes me to forsake the glorious skyes
To visit my poore cuntry, which exhausted lyes spacer10
A prey to Mars, where the inhuman Dane
With sacrilegious crueltys doth staine
Our holy alters. But I’m come to bring
Help to th’ afflicted, mindfull of that king
Of my deare England, who, zealously intent, spacer15
So oft is prayres unto my eares hath sent.
If ever you have heard of Cuthberts name
Whom England nurished, now heav’n doth claime.
I the same now will true examples give
How short, unconstant, is the life men live, spacer20
Which alwayes the divine protection wants,
Obtained by the sacred prayres of saints.
spacerKing Alfrede, vanquished by adverse fate,
Now from the Danes seekes safety by retreate.
And he who yet nere knew but still t’ o’ercome spacer25
Can from his foes scarce refuge find at home.
Thus heav’n to th’ Britans punishment doth send,
Till, taught, by evells, they their lives amend. red
Loe one oth’ kings chiefe captains doth appeare.
I go, straight to return an actor here. spacer30
Beginnings clad in sorrows livery
Will end in joy, content, alacrity.



[When the battle has been broken off by night’s intervention and the rout of the English, Athelede, Captain of the Foot, deplores his nation’s miseries as he is about to take flight.]

ATH. Whither tends th’ expiring fate of England?
What destiny menaces the Britans?
Th’ insulting enemy, violating spacer35
Their league, overruns all, and makes the earth
Weepe great flouds of blood, drunk with the current
Which flowes from wonded, slaughtered carcases.
Rivers are purpl’d, and roughly glide along
Their reedy banks hasting to the ocean spacer40
As witnesses of misery. Alas!
Wee have bin Britains, but that name must be
Eraz’d, and cuntry too, by th’ cruell Danes,
A cuntry styl’d the nursery of saints.
Why do I fly? Death’s far more welcome spacer45
Then to outlive the safety of my cuntry.
Ile seeke the enimy, embrace a death
More glorious from an adversaries hand.
O sad relicks of my cuntry! And you,
Whose blacke embraces smoot [smote] all things, dark night, spacer50
I call to witness that no regard for life,
Nor hopes of refuge from this dark umberage,
The cowards shelter, hath excited me
To an ignoble flight, but that the night spacer55
Hath lost my enemys, tyr’d with killing.
But who comes here?


ACT I, SCENE ii blue

[Humfrey, Master of the Horse, who lost the king when he went astray, meets Athelred.]

HUM. Where am I? How have I thus lost the king?
ATH. ’Tis Humfrey, I know his voice.
HUM. Shall I call out? The mercilesse Dane, which spacer60
Ready arm’d surrounds the whole wood, will heare.
Shall I return? Night makes me ignorant
Which way to take. Shall I once more assault
The enemy? To dy alone brings noe
Revenge. Oh cruell fates! Oh England! spacer65
Not be found in thy selfe, whose sorrows
Are preludes of joy to th’ insulting foe.
ATH. Humfrey, make Athelrede your associate
In life and death. Lets hast in search oth’ king. Enter king
Le here he comes, accompanied with spacer70
The two princes Edward and Adelvolde.



[Alfred, carrying a sword in his right hand and his royal crown in his left, having sent his younger son Adelvolde to his grandmother Osburga (who has been hiding in a nearby glen) to bring her after himself to the island of Athelney, where he is intent on fleeing, his elder son Edward to place is mother the queen and his sister in some safe location, Humfrey to raise an army, and Athelred to put the crown of the realm in some place of protection, finally puts on the costume of an ordinary soldier and sets his royal purple in a cave. Then he escapes by himself in the direction of Athelney.]

ALF. My knowledge of the place tells me where
I am, this wood leades to the isle Athelnea,
Whither I direct my flight. Thou, deare childe,
Make hast to Osberga, now glad to trust spacer75
Her safety to th’ assyle [asylum] of a deepe pit,
And by thy conduct let her follow me.
Run, it is requisite you make great hast.
AD. My feete shall be swift, tho feare clogs my hart.
ALF. Edward, hast to thy mother, out run the winde. spacer80
Let the castle be a safegaurd to her
And thy sisters. Night will secure them thither.
Then cautiously returne alone to me.
ED. I’m all obedience. Your commands are don.
ATH. Alfrede, permit your servants t’ attend you. spacer85
HUM. Lets be associates in your flight, as well as griefe.
ALF. What hopes for nothing needs not any friends.
ATH. A companion in misery is halfe a cure.
ALF. He deales unfriendly that makes his friends partake
Of a griefe. Sorrows shall be my companions. spacer90
Wherefore be gon. Night will favour my designe
Best alone. Humfrey, if the safety of
The king hath any influence upon you,
Declare your fidelity by leaving
Me alone. ’T will be the securest way. spacer95
To evade our enemies affaires here
Will require your stay. From every part
O th’ kingdome levy forces. Embody
Our dissipated troopes. Then follow me
To Athelnea, a place impregnable spacer100
To th’ enemy.
HUM. spacerspacerspacerI haste to your commands.
ALF. Nor shall a test of thy fidelity,
Athelrede, be wanting, if my commands
You’l follow.
ATH. spacerspacerspacer’Tis done, what ere you bid.
ALF. Here take his crowne, a burthen too heavy, spacer105
A glory fatall sometimes to the owner.
I deliver it to thy custody.
Let some safer place secure it till heav’n
Disrobe Alfrede of his dire miseries.
Then accompanying Humfrey come to me. spacer110
ATH. A faithfull hand shall execute your commands.
ALF. Now, Alfrede, having lost thy kingdome,
Put of thy kingly robes, and lay aside
That hatefull purple whose too much splendor
Will serve but to betray thee to thy foes. spacer115

Puts on the habit of a common soldiers.

Thus metamorphis’d by this habit
Into a common soldier, I have lost
All envy. Ambition dyes when not fed
With this regall burthen.

Lays his robes in a pit.

spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerPoverty is
In no place regarded. In this recesse spacer120
Lyes hid the king. Thus gold most fit ’s inhumed,
And the bright luster of purple cover’d,
With whose poysenous glory sweld kings oft
Breake forth into the byles of tyranny.
But my designe forbids delays. Complaints spacer125
Must not usurpe that time which safety wants.



[King Gothrunus of the Danes, reproaches his soldiers’ sloth in pursuing their victory. He sends ahead his brother Osberne with one band, and his kinsman Gormo with another, to harry the backs of the fleeing English, and quickly follows along himself.]

GOTH. O sluggards in your just rage! Unmindfull
Of revenge! Hath feare of killing ceas’d your
Victorious hands? Why drown yee not this
Hostile cuntry in its owne bloud? Ere this spacer130
A sanguine deluge flowing from the dead
Should have baptis’d the land, a purple sea.
O sloathfull soldiers! Fearefull even then
When Mars invites you to a rich booty.
The groanes of gasping bodyes are musicke spacer135
To my eares. Tis my delight to behold
Expiring countenances. ’Tis no mercy
To spare an enimy. Do yee demur?
Hast, hast, take ye to your armes. Throw firebrands
On all the land. And let a vaporous smoke spacer140
Umbrage [darken] its cities. The hand that gives death
To Alfrede shall be rewarded with
A thousnd pounds. Brother Osberne, and you,
Gormo, my deare kinsman, pursue the flying
Enemy. Let ev’ry hand be animated spacer145
Unto slaughter. Human bloud, a witnesse
Of my rage, shall pay a dreadfull tribute
To the ocean.
OSB. Let it, and by this hand shall fall what’ere
Hath hitherto bin fear’d by Danish kings. spacer150
GOR. Lets march. Ile heape destruction upon houses,
And ruinate cities. The palenesse of
The rising day prophesies desolation,
But setting shall depart with sanguine markes.
BRA. Squire, advance. Let me blow downe kingdoms spacer155
With my breath, and blow up townes. Today
Not one lesse then thirty-thousand shall be
Sascrifis’d to my indignation.
Every blow shall send a heccatombe
For a present to Pluto. spacer160
PIM. That is, with one blow hee’l slay a hundred
Men, altho with a hundred blows he shall
Ne’re kill one. Exit Brag., Pim.
GOTH. Goe, goe, be gon. Let our dominions spring
From English bloud. England, I rise from thy ashes spacer165
As a Phoenix from his reviving flame.
Thy bloud shall kingdoms hatch t’encrease my fame. Exit.



[Alfred’s mother Osberga, seeking death because she cannot tolerate her grief, is at length moved by the pity of her son Adelvold, who has refused to leave her side. She changes her mind and takes flight in the direction of Athelney.]

OSB. O wretched state of life! Why fly’st thou, death,
Osberga? A queene, a mother of kings?
Now a vagabond, to be pitied spacer170
Even by thy enimies. Why doe I
Protract that life, whose end will also be
A period to so many miseries?
Alas! Death would be lesse painfull to me
Then a life which hath seene my son disthron’d, spacer175
And fertile Britain groaning under
Th’ oppression of a cruel tyrant.
What other misery can befall me?
AD. Why loose you time with sighing griefe?
Lets rather fly. The enemy aproaches, spacer180
Sweld with fury, and thirsting after bloud.
This, this way will bring us to my father.
These woods will afford a sanctuary.
OSB. Think’st thou by death, death can be avoyded?
Cal’st thou that life which breathes nothing but woe? spacer185
Goe, follow thy father. I have resolv’d
To end a life grown old with afflictions.
Death from th’ enimy will prevent a more
Cruell one, springing from those pensive yeares
My griefe presages. Live thou to revenge spacer190
Thy father, whose kingdome from thy brother
Maya once descend to three. I’m already
Inanimate, griefe hath stupifyed
My joynts. Goe, ’tis rest not death that I seeke.
AD. O forget not my father, me, your selfe! spacer190
You were wont by your advice to comfort
My father when oprest with care. Who now
Shall doe you that office? You us’d to say
It is impious to accelerate death.
Why seeke you to be your owne murtherer? spacer195
Lets fly. Life onely thus can be preserv’d.
But if you have determin’d to embrace
Death, let Adelvold aassociate [accompany] you.
If you choose life, Ile be your leader,
If death, your companion. Rather, elevate spacer200
Your spirits oprest with evils, in which
To be orecome is the greatest evil.
OSB. Paardon me, deare childe, that am halfe senseles.
Raging griefe had almost got th’ upper hand,
And made me not myselfe. But now sorrow spacer205
Is banish’t from my breast, and I’m restor’d
Unto my selfe. I search not after death,
Nor now do I feare to prolong my life.
Goe, Ile follow. Fly, Ile persue. Wherere
You move to seeke your father, Ile search there. spacer210



[Humfrey thinks of putting the clothing of some Danish soldier he has found, in order to escape his band of pursuers.]

HUM. ’Tis strange! No place is exemp’t from the noyse
Of enimies, nor doth th’ obscurity
Of the night retard their persute.
’Tis more then once that troopes have lodg’d me round,
Yet by th’ assistance of the night I’ve ’scap’d. spacer215
Goe or stay, ’tis equally perilous.
If I goe, their torches will discover me,
For all the fyld’s one flame, which usurping
Element makes a bright day in spight of night.
If I stay or hide my selfe, no place ith’ wood spacer220
Is left unsearch’t. Their lights will soone betray
The most obscure recesse. Another way
Must be invented. This garment, which I know
To be some Dane’s, came most fortunately
Into my hands. I lately tooke it from spacer225
A dying soldier. Ile put it on.
Then, passing for a Dane, I shall more facilly [easily]
Encounter some surer meanes to escape.
But I’m betraid, somebody comes hither.
My sword shall end his journey. Hold. It may be spacer230
Some friend, and not an enemy, I feare.



[Hearing of Athelred’s danger, since he has fled here with the crown, Humfrey forgets about his own safety, leaves him the clothing, and immediately departs.]

ATH. Alas, how I am lost ’twixt feare and cares!
I am pursued by my enimes
Not much unlike the hunted leveret [young hare]
Which, to secure her flight, meander-like spacer235
Runs into doubles to delude the dogs,
And yet by her feet’s known scent betrays herselfe.
Is’t life I care for? No, ’tis dearer far
Then life, the kingdoms glory, Alfrede’s crowne.
Death’s sooner to be embrac’t then this should spacer240
Fall into the enimies hand. I heare
Th’ aproach of souldiers, their armour makes
A noyse. My anxious mind’s uncertaine
How or where to dispose of Englands pledge.
A doubtfull feare possesses me, whither spacer245
Losse of crowne or life is to be chosen.
Let life be lost, so’t purchase this security.
HUM. O trusty faithfulnesse Humfrey, why dos’t
Thou thus deliberate? Cans’t suffer one
So generous, and a friend, to perish, spacer250
Who with these cloaths thou may’s save, and a crown too?
What can acrew from thy private safety
Equallising the losse thy cuntry and
Thyselfe will sustaine, if destitute
Of helpe thou lets’t so stout a captain dy? spacer255
My soule, thou hast breath’d enough, ’tis time to dye,
Not ingloriously if by an enemy.
Thy cuntry’s ruine, and thy king exil’d,
The earth bedew’d with English bloud, they flight
Desperate, thy life a theater of griefs: spacer260
These and a thousand unborn miseries
Will be the objects of a sadder life.
Hope can suggest no reliefe. — ’Tis resolv’d.
These cloaths shall be for him. — What, yet in doubt?
Deliberation now’s degenerous. spacer265
Dost feele reluctancy to save a friend?
’Twill be a glory, cheape if at th’ expence
Of thy owne life. Here, faithfull Athelrede,
Receive a safety just now despear’d of.
Put on these Danish cloaths, let this disguise, spacer270
Taken from an enemy, protect both
Your life and the crowne. More time I dare not spend.

Gives At. the Danes cloaths.

Farewell. Be mindfull of your dying friend.



[Having tried in vain to call Humfrey back, Athelrede debates with himself what is best for him to do. Finally, judging this to be in the best interest of himself and his friend, he decides to put on the clothing.]

ATH. Oh stay, depart not yet. Returne. Hee’s fled,
Most inocent, to death, and ’tis for me. spacer275
Prodigall of his owne life to bestow’t
On me, he bids me live that he may dye.
Is life so sweet? Is death so full of gall?
No, no. Ile rush on death and call him backe.
But where shall I search? Whither follow him? spacer280
Hee’s far from hence, but too neare his owne death.
He robs himselfe to furnish mee with life.
Oh cruell piety! I’m left to wade
Through miseries which death will free him from.
But must he dye? Ile rather shew the way. — spacer285
What shall I at last resolve, life or death?
If death, I loose my trust, the crown. If life,
A friend. My cuntry bids me live, piety
Commands me dye. Let life then be my choise,
The kingdom’s good, and Alfrede exact it. spacer290
Wherefore this disguise shall make me a stranger
To my selfe. Fortune, I hope, may Humfrey
Safety give, and me my friend. ’Tis fit red
Sometimes by such deceits to temporize.
Ile yet retaine the shelter of the wood, spacer295
Till, metamorphis’d by these cloathes, I march
Amidst the enimy, with hopes to finde
Occasions to declare my gratefull minde.



[Osburne, pursuing Humfrey with soldiers in the night, snatches a torch from a bystander and enters into the woods where Humfrey has hidden himself a little earlier.]‘

OSB. Souldiers, bring your lighted torches hither.

Snatches a torch from one of the soldiers

Let not a corner be unsearch’d. Who’ere spacer300
It was that the darke night protected from
My hands shall not long escape my persute.
He cant be far. Seach ev’ry hole, descend
Into the caves oth’ wood, beset it round.
He hath provok’d us and must be punisht, spacer305
Or vaine were Osbern’s rage. What dark refuge
Is he got into? Or hangs he in the clouds,
Suspended by the eares? Why trifle ye?
Let the lights make day ev’ry where appear.
Hee’l scarce make a second escape. Should Jove spacer310
Protect him, I’de fetch him thence. I’le ruine
And consume to ashes all round about,
Fire or sword shall find this villain out.



{Humfrey is produced having been captured and bound by Gormo. He, hearing of Humfrey’s name and lineage and imagining he can hold him for a large ransom, spares his life.]

GOR. Bring the captive hither. Death shall teach him
The weight of my hand. But one life’s too poore spacer315
A victime for my fury. This sword, could it
Meete with as many opposers, should send
Thousands to Pluto. ’Tis a happinesse
My adversaries are wont to strive for.
’Tis a glory thou dy’st by Gormo’s hand. spacer320
If Britain’s harts can yet afford any blood,
Now prepare thy breast.
HUM. spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerBehold it naked, strike.
GOR. First Ile know thy name and extraction.
HUM. My name is Humfrey. My birth not ignoble,
Descended from illustrious ancestors, spacer325
And now generall of Alfred’s forces.
GOR. (Aside.) ’Tis well, Ile preserve him for a ransome.
However Ile first try his courage.

Runs at him with his naked sword.

GOR. Art thou not afraid? HUM. Of what?
GOR. Of death. HUM. ’Twill be an end of misery. spacer330
GOR. Thou shalt dye. HUM. ’Tis most certain.
GOR. And by my hand. HUM. I desire it.
GOR. What, to dye? HUM. For my king.
GOR. He’s nowhere. HUM. Hee’s in his kingdome.
GOR. But exil’d. HUM. For his faith. spacer335
GOR. What faith? HUM. The Christian.
GOR. What does that benefit you with? HUM. Salvation.
GOR. In death? HUM. In the death of Christ.
GOR. To wit, a man. HUM. And God.
GOR. What did he make? HUM. The world. spacer340
GOR. Of what? HUM. Of nothing.
GOR. For whom did he make it? HUM. For man.
GOR. And Man for whom? HUM. For himselfe.
GOR. What did he doe? HUM. Dye.
GOR. And yet a god? HUM. The worlds redemption. spacer345
GOR. By dying? HUM. By loving.
GOR. Whom? HUM. His enemies.
GOR. Where? HUM. Upon the Crosse.
GOR. What was his offence. HUM. His innocence.
GOR. What compeld him? HUM. Iniquity. spacer350
GOR. Whose? HUM. Mans.
GOR. Thou telst us strange things, were they not fable.
But I wonder a lyar shuld be so
Pious. Behold now thy fate approaches.
HUM. I’le not decline it. spacer355
GOR. Live then, but know’tis my gift.



[Osberne demands Humfrey of Gormo as if owed him by right of war.]

OSB. Gormo, that captive you have manicle’d
By my industry alone became a prey.
GOR. But by my art became a prisoner.
OSB. A beast once is found is easily taken. spacer360
GOR. This was easy to be found.
OSB. The night shelter’d him.
GOR. I tooke him in the night.
OSB. Scarse daring so much ith’ day.
GOR. I dare doe anything ith’ day that Osberne dares. spacer365
OSB. Resigne the prisoner,
Or learne by fighting the vigour of my arme.
OSB. If thou could’st thunder out Joves light’ning
And throw it at me, I’d countermeete it. They prepare to fight.



[As they are squabbling about this business and on the verge of a fight, Gothurnus intervenes and, learning the cause of the quarrel, employs both threats and persuasion to bring about a reconciliation. Then, when they have surrendered the captive to him, he sends them ahead to pursue the enemy farther.]

GOTH. Whats this I see? My captaines duelling? spacer370
Here Gormo, there Osberne, hasting unto
Their own destruction? What ist that breeds
Such rage, exasperated by some mistake?
OSB. This prisoner pursu’d by me ith’ night,
Gormo most injuriously detaines. spacer375
GOR. I, ignorant of what had past ith’ night,
By accident discover’d him after
His escape from Osberne.
OSB. This hand forc’t him to a fight.
GOR. This compel’d him to a rendition. [surrender] spacer380
OSB. My labour discov’red him. red
GOR. Mine tooke him.
GOTH. Is this th’ incentive of so great a crime,
Provoking kinsmen to their bloudy swords?
Is the regard of blood of amity so vile,spacer 385
Not to impede your rash hands from
Throwing to the ground your new built trophies?
O unparalel’d, unheard of madnesse!
Now neere we are loosing quite that kingdome
Where till now we had fixt so sure a footing. spacer390
What inconsulted rashnesse hath made you
Forget me, your selves, your cuntry, all things?
If your courage prompted you to slaughter,
Your enemies might have bine [been] its object.
If you covet kingdoms, your vanquish’t Britans. spacer395
Make you a resignement. [resignation] Ist’ honours you
Aspire to? The glory of your conquest
Affords it. I’st riches you desire?
All England yealds a spoile to your triumphs.
What seeke you more? Are you yet thirsty of spacer400
Mutuall blood? O wickednesse, abhor’d
Even by infernalls! What greater plague
Could Alfrede wish the Danes then what your selves
Are authors of? Recall, o readmit
Your pristine amity, and turn your rage spacer405
Upon your enemies. Sheath up your swords
And anger too. Let friendships firmest leagues
Unite your harts. Shake hands, embrace. ’Tis well. They embrace.
Slight mistakes obtaine an easy pardon.
Conquerors should allwayes hold together. spacer410
GOR. Osberne, in signe of friendship, this captive
I resign to your dispose.
OSB. Your gift shall be to th’ king
Least I seeme partiall in my owne cause.
Nobody is a just judge to himselfe. spacer415
GOTH. I accept the gift and shall reward
Your merits. Now to th’ worke in hand.
Follow your victory, leave no time for flight.
A captaine ought to know how to pursue
As well as overcome. Goe you before. Exeunt Osb., Gor. spacer420
Ile follow with the body oth’ army.



[The king is about to kill Humfrey, but he is diverted from this intention by Athelred, who in a false account pretends to be a Dane, and demands that this responsibility be given to him. And so the king leaves his lieutenant Rollo, to take some soldiers and be present at this butchery, threatening death if the prisoner escapes, and departs with the remainder of his army.]

GOTH. Now bring hither the plotter of all this
Mischiefe, that he may feele my vigorous hand.
By his sad example others shall know
What ’tis t’ incense the fury of a king. spacer425
Was thou the cause then of my captains quarrel,
So neere spilling each others blood?
And art thou yet unpunisht by Gothurnus?
Now call upon thy God to thy reliefe.
He shall scarce deliver thee from my hands. spacer430
HUM. Cease thus blasphemously to excite Him
To thy owne punishment whose thunder shakes
The trembling world, whose awfull nod
Moves the celestiall orbes, and guides the whole
Fabrick of the universe. ’Tis he that spacer435
Enthrones kings and precipitates [brings down] tyrants
From their usurped glory. You are ignorant
How great a deity you have provok’d.
GOTH. Let thy God thunder, and throw light’ning too.
My just rage sayes thou shalt dye. red spacer440
ATH. O stay the fatall blow, most gracious prince,
Till I shall relate the story of my misfortune,
Occasion’d by his most barbarous hand
That now stands here guilty of punishment.
If you shall perceive my request is just, spacer445
Grant an easy condescention to it.
GOTH. Speake quickly then, rage brookes not long delays.
ATH. Wee were three brothers owning the same father,
All fighting under your glorious ensignes.
This bloody villaine depriv’d me of my
Father and both my brothers, invoking spacer450
With their dying words the just gods to be
Revengers of that crime and perjury.
Having orecome my father by deceit,
He promis’d him his freedome, if bought
With the captivity of two of his sons. spacer455
They, most ready to preserve their father,
With an unanimous resolution
Commit themselves to fortune. These two became
Death’s prey. I’m onely unfortunately left
To undergoe the worst of miseries. spacer460
He, as soone as he had got these pledges
For my deare father, perfidiously
Laughing, “Here,“ said he, “take your father which
You have redeem’d. Withall taking his sword
Into his hand (unheard of cruelty!), spacer465
Strikes of my fathers head in the presence
Of his two sons. The head, besmear’d with blood,
Tumbles upon the ground. These spectators
Were struck with amazement, their blood, somtimes
Retiring into hidden arteries, spacer470
Caus’d palenesse like a wave, by reciprocall
Turns to overspread their countenances.
Nor is there an end to his cruelty.
For this salvage [savage] tygre, not contented
To period his rage with my fathers death, spacer475
Most inhumanly with his sword cuts of
Both the heads of his dutiful offspring.
Alas! What griefe possest my breast at this
Sad object? What sighs did I then send forth!
Now, my liege, let me beg this one request spacer480
Upon my knees, that he who murthered
My father and my brothers may receive
A death from my hand correspondent to
So immense a wickednesse, least a death
From your victorious arme should make him spacer485
Desirous of so glorious an end.
GOTH. ’Tis granted. Prepare some new invented
Torment that Phalaris may glory to blue
Call it his. Excogitate something more
Horrid then the roare of a brazen bull. spacer490
Let ev’ry groane be a memorandum
Of thy fathers and brothers cruell death.
Rollo, be thou spectator of his death,
Garded by a band of souldiers, and bring
His head fastned upon a speare to me. spacer495
This my command unlesse fullfild I see,
My pleasure is you all shall hanged bee.



[Having rallied his soldiers’ spirits with a speech, Rollo urges Athelred to proceed with the killing. In the manner of an executioner, he takes up a sword and, as if making some arrangement, he first frees the bonds of the still-kneeling Humfrey (who has not yet recognized him), secretly urges him to arm himself and hands him the sword, and draws a second one hanging at his side. So, with Rollo laid low by a blow and the other soldiers taken to their heels, they both make their exit while congratulating themselves.]

ROL Come, souldiers, lets faithfully execute
Our charge, tho me-thinkes ’tis somthing severe.
Let thousands of our enemys confront us spacer500
And with a hundred troopes surround us,
The uncontroled vallour of the Danes
Knows how to resist oposing fortune.
Vertue shines most in a doubtfull attempt,
And courage most generous when shunning spacer505
The base delays of feare, a desperate
Designe difficultly crownes the victor.
Goe on then securely with your revenge,
Determine whether a suddain or a
Lingring death shall dispatch him, whether spacer510
Your hand or some ones else shall give the blow.
’Tis no matter how, so his death be sure.
ATH. I have resolv’d the manner. My revenge
Shall correspond with his dire wickednesse.
The same way my father and my brothers spacer515
Lost their lives shall also his destroy.
A sword shall doe’t. If thou desirest to
Speake, or with thy ultimate breath invoke
Any deity, dispatch it quickly.
HUM. Dos’t thou preach piety, and exhort spacer520
Religion which thu never knew thyselfe.
Thus guilty of the greatest wickednesse,
Dost thou then believe that there is a God
And dos’t not know He is thy enimy?
Who hast been the author of all this deceit, spacer525
Whereby my life and fame are like to perish
Without pleading for my owne inocence?
I a perjur’d person? Pray in what place
Did I commit this bloody cruelty?
Why turn’st thou aside? Shew here thy guilty spacer530
Countenance. But to what end do I speake?
Is’t not to insensible brutes I send
My complaints. Goe happyly on, my soule,
Despising death, receive a double triumph,
Flowing from martyrdome and inocence. spacer535
O Christ, the Author of all piety,
Thou eternall happinesse to the just,
Bestow that reward which thou hast promis’d
To champions of the Christian faith.
ATH. ’Tis enough. Before thou go’st a victime spacer540
To my fathers manes [ghost], take this message red
Which thou from me shall tell him secretly.

Whispers to Humfrey and gives him a sword and unbinds him.

Humfrey, take this sword. ’Tis Athelrede bids
Joyne your force to his. If fate deny us
Life, at least wee’l dy togeather. spacer545
HUM. I follow your advice and you.

They fly upon Rollo, who falls. The rest run away.

ROL. Treason. Wee are betray’d.
HUM. Their captaine being slain, the rest are fledd.
No let me embrace the deare preserver of my life.
ATH. Humfrey (a name more capacious then friend),
To thee I returne that life thou wast spacer550
A doner of to me. I should have been
Ungratefull not to have restor’d it.
Pardon my love if I have injured
Your name by a fraudulent but pious
HUM. Such an offence brings its pardon with it. spacer555
’Tis now unsecure to stay here longer.
ATH. Lets therefore hast away. Exeunt.



[Rollo, regaining his senses and getting to his feet and now abandoning hope of Gothurnus’ pardon and his own safety, decides to recall the soldiers and seduce them into banditry, thinking by this means, he might appease the royal mind, if not by his entreaties, then at least by a cash payment.]

ROL. A thousand divels goe along with you!
Are we then betray’d by this dissembling
Villaine? How nere was I the Stygian lake! spacer560
How little did I want, quite voyde of sense,
From knocking at grim Pluto’s gate! I have
No wound that’s mortall, yet I was something
Stupify’d with the blow. Now what’s to
Be don? If I goe to th’ king I’m sure spacer565
To dye. My head will pay for the offence,
And for a Britain I shall be sacrific’d
To Gothurnus his fury. But the gods
And our owne nature teacheth us not to
Cast away our lives. And wee have so much spacer570
Reason not to fling ourselves into
The hands of a powerfull enemy.
He armes his enemy that forewarns him. red
So Gothurnus threat’ning the penalty
I must undergoe, if I fulfil’d not spacer575
His commands, hath preserved me from it.
I know his disposition’s rigid,
And his anger merciless when incens’t.
Wherefore if I returne I runne my necke
Into the halter. If fly, I throw myselfe spacer580
Upon the enemy. Ther’s yet a meane
To be experienced. — It shall be soe.
I’le to those souldiers which feare hath dispers’t
And the same cause and offence hath made my
Fellow criminals. Ile recall them to spacer585
Their armes. And upon yonder hill ith’ midst
O th’ wood wee’ll get our living by robery,
Untill, made rich with booties, we apease
Our offended king with presents. These will
Reingratiate us. Where supplications spacer590
Find a repulse, these force an easy way.
The temple of reliefe gold opens straight,
Let nere so strict a porter keepe the gate.

Go to Act II