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Act I, Scene i

Act I, Scene i
Enter the Ghost of Andrea, and with him Revenge.
GHOST

When this eternal substance of my soul
Did live imprisoned in my wanton flesh,
Each in their function serving other's need,
I was a Courtier in the Spanish Court.
My name was Don Andrea; my descent,
Though not ignoble, yet inferior far
To gracious fortunes of my tender youth1:
For there in prime and pride of all my years,
By duteous service and deserving love,
In secret I possessed a worthy dame,
Which hight sweet Bel-imperia by name.
But in the harvest of my summer' joys,
Death's winter nipped the blossoms of my bliss,
Forcing divorce betwixt my love and me.
For in the late conflict with Portingale
My valor drew me into danger's mouth,
Til life to death made passage through my wounds. 2
When I was slain, my soul descended straight
To pass the flowing stream of Acheron;
But churlish Charon, only boatman there,
Said that, my rites of burial not performed, 3
I might not sit amongst his passengers.
Ere Sol had slept three nights in Thetis' lap,
By Don Horatio, our Knight-Marshal's son,
My funerals and obsequies were done.
Then was the ferry-man of Hell content
To pass me over to the slimy strond
That leads to fell Avernus' ugly waves.
There, pleasing Cerberus with honeyed speech,
I passed the perils of the foremost porch.
Not far from hence, amidst ten thousand souls,
Sat Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanth,
To whom no sooner 'gan I make approach,
To crave a passport for my wandering ghost,
But Minos, [in graven leaves of Lottery,
Drew forth the manner of my life and death. 5
'This knight,' quoth he, 'both lived and died in love,
And for his love tried fortune of the wars,
And by war's fortune lost both love and life.'
'Why then,' said Aeacus, 'convey him hence,
To walk with lovers in our fields of love,
And spend the course of everlasting time
Under green myrtle trees and cypress shades.'
'No, no,' said Rhadamanth, 'it were not well
With loving souls to place a martialist.
He died in war and must to Martial fields,
Where wounded Hector lives in lasting pain
And Achilles' Myrmidons do scour the plain.' 6
Then Minos, mildest censor of the three,
Made this device to end the difference:
'Send him,' quoth he,' 'to our infernal King,
To doom him as best seems his Majesty.'
To this effect my passport straight was drawn.
In keeping on my way to Pluto's Court,
Through dreadful shades of ever-glooming night,
I saw more sights than thousand tongues can tell,
Or pens can write, or mortal hearts can think
Three ways there were: that on the right-hand side
Was ready way unto the 'foresaid fields,
Where lovers live and bloody Martialists;
But either sort contained within his bounds.
The left-hand path, declining fearfully,7
Was ready downfall to the deepest hell,
Where bloody Furies shakes their whips of steel,
And poor Ixion turns an endless wheel;
Where usurers are choked with melting gold
And wantons are embraced with ugly Snakes,
And murderers groan with never-killing wounds,
And perjured wights scalded in boiling lead,
And all foul sins with torments overwhelmed.
'Twixt these two ways I trod the middle path,
Which brought me to the fair Elysian green,
In midst whereof there stands a stately tower,
The walls of brass, the gates of adamant.
Here finding Pluto with his Proserpine,
I showed my passport humbled on my knee;
Whereat fair Proserpine began to smile,
And begged that only she might give my doom.
Pluto was pleased, and sealed it with a kiss.
Forthwith, Revenge, she rounded thee in th' ear,
And bade thee lead me through the gates of Horn,
Where dreams have passage in the silent night.
No sooner had she spoke but we were here,
I wot not how in twinkling of an eye.

REVENGE

Then know, Andrea, that thou art arrived
Where thou shalt see the author of thy death,
Don Balthazar, the Prince of Portingale,
Deprived of life by Bel-imperia.
Here sit we down to see the mystery,
And serve for Chorus in this Tragedy. 8
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