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And now, young lords, was 't not a happy star
Led us to Rome, strangers, and, more than so,
Captives, to be advanced to this height?

It did me good, before the palace gate

To brave the tribune in his brother's hearing.
Dem. But me more good, to see so great a lord
Basely insinuate, and send us gifts.

Aar. Had he not reason, lord Demetrius?
Did you not use his daughter very friendly?

Dem. I would, we had a thousand Roman dames
At such a bay, by turn to serve our lust.

Chi. A charitable wish, and full of love.
Aar. Here lacks but your mother for to say amen.
Chi. And that would she for twenty thousand more.
Dem. Come, let us go; and pray to all the gods
For our beloved mother in her pains.

Aar. Pray to the devils; the gods have given us o'er.
[Aside. Flourish.
Dem. Why do the emperor's trumpets flourish thus?
Chi. Belike, for joy the emperor hath a son.
Dem. Soft; who comes here?

Enter a Nurse, with a Black-a-moor Child in her Arms.
Good morrow, lords:

O, tell me, did you see Aaron the Moor.

Aar. Well, more, or less, or ne'er a whit at all,
Here Aaron is; and what with Aaron now?

Nur. O gentle Aaron, we are all undone!

Now help, or woe betide thee evermore!

Aar. Why, what a caterwauling dost thou keep?
What dost thou wrap and fumble in thine arms?

Nur. O, that which I would hide from heaven's eye,
Our empress' shame, and stately Rome's disgrace;
She is deliver'd, lords, she is deliver❜d.

Aar. To whom?



I mean, she 's brought to bed.

Give her good rest! What hath he sent her?

Well, God

A devil.
Aar. Why, then she 's the devil's dam; a joyful issue.
Nur. A joyless, dismal, black, and sorrowful issue:
Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad

Amongst the fairest breeders of our clime.

The empress sends it thee, thy stamp, thy seal,
And bids thee christen it with thy dagger's point.

Aar. Out, out,5 you whore? is black so base a hue?Sweet blowse, you are a beauteous blossom, sure.

Dem. Villain, what hast thou done?


Canst not undo."


Done! that which thou

Thou hast undone our mother.

Aar. Villain, I have done thy mother."

Dem. And therein, hellish dog, thou hast undone. Woe to her chance, and damn'd her loathed choice! Accurs'd the offspring of so foul a fiend!

Chi. It shall not live.


It shall not die.1

Nur. Aaron, it must: the mother wills it so.

Aar. What, must it, nurse? then let no man, but I, Do execution on my flesh and blood.

Dem. I'll broach the tadpole on my rapier's point: Nurse, give it me; my sword shall soon despatch it.

5 Out, out,] The second interjection, which is wanting in the old copies, I have inserted for the sake of metre. Steevens. Out, out, you whore !] The edition 1600 reads,-Zounds, ye whore. Todd.

6 Done! that which thou -] Done! which is wanting in the old copies, was very properly added, for the sake of measure, by Mr. Capell. Steevens.


Done! that which thou

Canst not undo.] The edition 1600 reads:

Dem. Villaine what hast thou done?
Aar. That which thou canst not vndoe.


8 Thou hast undone ] Edition 1600 reads:-thou has undone her. Todd.

9 Villain, I have done thy mother.] To do is here used obscenely. So, in Taylor the Water Poet's character of a Prosti


"She's facile fieri; (quickly wonne,)

"Or, const'ring truly, easy to be done."


1 It shall not die.] We may suppose that the measure here was originally perfect, and stood thus:


I say, it shall not die. Steevens.

I'll broach the tadpole-] A broach is a spit. I'll spit the tadpole. Johnson.

Aar. Sooner this sword shall plough thy bowels up.
[Takes the Child from the Nurse, and draws.
Stay, murderous villains! will you kill your brother?
Now, by the burning tapers of the sky,

That shone so brightly when this boy was got,
He dies upon my scimitar's sharp point,
That touches this my first-born son and heir!
I tell you, younglings, not Enceladus,

With all his threat'ning band of Typhon's brood,
Nor great Alcides, nor the god of war,

Shall seize this prey out of his father's hands.
What, what; ye sanguine, shallow-hearted boys!
Ye white-lim❜d walls!3 ye alehouse painted signs
Coal-black is better than another hue,

In that it scorns to bear another hue:4
For all the water in the ocean

Can never turn a swan's black legs to white,
Although she lave them hourly in the flood.
Tell the emperess from me, I am of


To keep mine own; excuse it how she can.

Dem. Wilt thou betray thy noble mistress thus?
Aar. My mistress is my mistress; this, myself;
The vigour, and the picture of my youth:
This, before all the world, do I prefer;

So, in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1630: "I'll broach thee on my steel."

Again, in Greene's Pleasant Discovery of the Cosenage of Colliers, 1592: " with that she caught a spit in her hand, and swore if he offered to stirre, she should therewith broach him." Collins.

3 Ye white-lim'd walls!] The old copies have-white limb'd. The word intended, I think, was-white limn'd. Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read-white-lim'd. Malone.

I read-lim'd, because I never found the term-limn'd, employed to describe white-washing, and because in The Midsum mer-Night's Dream, we have

"This man, with lime, and rough-cast, doth present

A layer-on of white-wash is not a limner. Limning comprehends the idea of delineation. Steevens.

4 In that it scorns to bear another hue:] Thus both the quarto and the folio. Some modern editions had seems instead of scorns, which was restored by Dr. Johnson. Malone.

Scorns should undoubtedly be inserted in the text. Tyrwhitt

This, maugre all the world, will I keep safe,
Or some of you shall smoke for it in Rome.
Dem. By this our mother is for ever sham'd.
Chi. Rome will despise her for this foul escape.
Nur. The emperor, in his rage, will doom her death.
Chi. I blush to think upon this ignomy.6

Aar. Why, there 's the privilege your beauty bears:
Fy, treacherous hue! that will betray with blushing
The close enacts and counsels of the heart!7
Here's a young lad fram'd of another leer:8
Look, how the black slave smiles upon the father;
As who should say, Old lad, I am thine own.
He is your brother, lords; sensibly fed
Of that self-blood that first gave life to you;
And, from that womb, where you imprison'd were,
He is enfranchised and come to light:

Nay, he's your brother by the surer side,
Although my seal be stamped in his face.

Nur. Aaron, what shall I say unto the empress?


5 for this foul escape.] This foul illegitimate child. So, in King John:



"No scape of nature."


ignomy,] i. e. ignominy. See Vol. VIII, p. 330, n. 5.

The close enacts and counsels of the heart!] So in Othello :
They are close denotements working from the heart,—."


another leer:] Leer is complexion, or hue. So, in As you Like it: " a Rosalind of a better leer than you." See Mr. Tollet's note on Act IV, sc. i. In the notes on the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. Vol. IV, p. 320, lere is supposed to mean skin. So, in Isumbras, MS. Cott. Cal. 11, fol. 129:

"His lady is white as wales bone,

"Here lere brygte to se upon,

"So faire as blosme on tre."

Again, in the ancient metrical romance of the Sowdon of Babylone, MS:

"Tho spake Roulande with hevy cheere

"Woordes lamentable,

"When he saugh the ladies so whyte of lere
"Faile brede on theire table." Steevens.

9 that womb] Edition 1600-your womb. Todd.

Dem. Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,
And we will all subscribe to thy advice;
Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.


Aar. Then sit we down, and let us all consult. My son and I will have the wind of Keep there: Now talk at pleasure of your safety. [They sit on the Ground. Dem. How many women saw this child of his?

Aar. Why, so, brave lords; When we all join in league,
I am a lamb: but if you brave the Moor,
The chafed boar, the mountain lioness,
The ocean swells not so as Aaron storms.-
But, say again, how many saw the child?

Nur. Cornelia the midwife, and myself,
And no one else, but the deliver'd empress.
Aar. The emperess, the midwife, and yourself:


may keep counsel, when the third 's away: Go to the empress; tell her, this I said:-[Stabbing her. Weke, weke!-so cries a pig, prepar'd to the spit. Dem. What mean'st thou, Aaron? Wherefore didst thou this?

Aar. O, lord, sir, 'tis a deed of policy:
Shall she live to betray this guilt of ours?
A long-tongu'd babbling gossip? no, lords, no.
And now be it known to you my full intent.
Not far, one Muliteus lives,1 my countryman,
His wife but yesternight was brought to bed;
His child is like to her, fair as you are:

Go pack with him,2 and give the mother gold,


one Muliteus lives,] The word lives, which is wanting in the old copies, was supplied by Mr. Rowe. Malone.

Muliteus] This line being too long by a foot, Muliteus, no Moorish name, (or indeed any name at all) and the verb-lives wanting to the sense in the old copy, I suspect the designation of Aaron's friend to be a corruption, and that our

author wrote:

Not far, one Muley lives, my countryman. Muley lives was easily changed by a blundering transcriber, or printer, into-Muliteus. Steevens.

2 Go pack with him,] Pack here seems to have the meaning of make a bargain. Or it may mean, as in the phrase of modern gamesters, to act collusively:

“And mighty dukes pack knaves for half a crown.” Pope.

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