Two Noble Kinsmen Scenes
A room in the prison.
(Jailer; Wooer; Doctor; Jailer’s Daughter)
A Doctor gets details of the Jailer’s Daughter’s symptoms from her father, who tells him that she is fixated on Palamon. The Daughter herself enters and the Doctor gets to hear her babbling for himself. He admits that he cannot fix her brain, but on hearing that there was a man in the picture before Palamon, suggests that they trick her. Namely, the Wooer should dress up like Palamon and act like him, and in all things pretend to be him, in the hopes that over time she will regain her wits and realize it’s actually the Wooer. ( line)
Enter Jailer, Wooer, Doctor.
Her distraction is more at some time of the moon than at other some, is it not?
She is continually in a harmless distemper, sleeps little, altogether without appetite, save often drinking, dreaming of another world and a better; and what broken piece of matter soe’er she’s about, the name Palamon lards it, that she farces ev’ry business withal, fits it to every question.
Look where she comes, you shall perceive her behavior.
I have forgot it quite; the burden on’t was “Down-a, down-a,” and penn’d by no worse man than Giraldo, Emilia’s schoolmaster. He’s as fantastical, too, as ever he may go upon ’s legs, for in the next world will Dido see Palamon, and then will she be out of love with Aeneas.
What stuff’s here? Poor soul!
Ev’n thus all day long.
Now for this charm that I told you of, you must bring a piece of silver on the tip of your tongue, or no ferry. Then, if it be your chance to come where the blessed spirits—as there’s a sight now! We maids that have our livers perish’d, crack’d to pieces with love, we shall come there, and do nothing all day long but pick flowers with Proserpine. Then will I make Palamon a nosegay, then let him mark me—then—
How prettily she’s amiss! Note her a little further.
Faith, I’ll tell you; sometime we go to barley-break, we of the blessed. Alas, ’tis a sore life they have i’ th’ tother place, such burning, frying, boiling, hissing, howling, chatt’ring, cursing! O, they have shrowd measure! Take heed: if one be mad, or hang or drown themselves, thither they go—Jupiter bless us!—and there shall we be put in a cauldron of lead and usurers’ grease, amongst a whole million of cutpurses, and there boil like a gammon of bacon that will never be enough.
How her brain coins!
Lords and courtiers that have got maids with child, they are in this place. They shall stand in fire up to the nav’l, and in ice up to th’ heart, and there th’ offending part burns, and the deceiving part freezes: in troth a very grievous punishment, as one would think, for such a trifle. Believe me, one would marry a leprous witch to be rid on’t, I’ll assure you.
How she continues this fancy! ’Tis not an engraff’d madness, but a most thick and profound melancholy.
To hear there a proud lady and a proud city-wife howl together! I were a beast and I’ld call it good sport. One cries, “O, this smoke!” th’ other, “This fire!” One cries, “O, that ever I did it behind the arras!” and then howls; th’ other curses a suing fellow and her garden-house.
“I will be true, my stars, my fate,” etc.
What think you of her, sir?
I think she has a perturb’d mind, which I cannot minister to.
Alas, what then?
Understand you she ever affected any man ere she beheld Palamon?
I was once, sir, in great hope she had fix’d her liking on this gentleman, my friend.
I did think so too, and would account I had a great penn’worth on’t to give half my state that both she and I at this present stood unfeignedly on the same terms.
That intemp’rate surfeit of her eye hath distemper’d the other senses. They may return and settle again to execute their preordain’d faculties, but they are now in a most extravagant vagary. This you must do: confine her to a place where the light may rather seem to steal in than be permitted. Take upon you, young sir her friend, the name of Palamon, say you come to eat with her, and to commune of love. This will catch her attention, for this her mind beats upon; other objects that are inserted ’tween her mind and eye become the pranks and friskins of her madness. Sing to her such green songs of love as she says Palamon hath sung in prison. Come to her, stuck in as sweet flowers as the season is mistress of, and thereto make an addition of some other compounded odors which are grateful to the sense. All this shall become Palamon, for Palamon can sing, and Palamon is sweet, and ev’ry good thing. Desire to eat with her, carve her, drink to her, and still among intermingle your petition of grace and acceptance into her favor. Learn what maids have been her companions and play-feres, and let them repair to her with Palamon in their mouths, and appear with tokens, as if they suggested for him. It is a falsehood she is in, which is with falsehoods to be combated. This may bring her to eat, to sleep, and reduce what’s now out of square in her into their former law and regiment. I have seen it approv’d, how many times I know not, but to make the number more I have great hope in this. I will, between the passages of this project, come in with my appliance. Let us put it in execution; and hasten the success, which doubt not will bring forth comfort.