Act I


SCENE I.The British Camp.

Enter Bonduca, Daughters, Hengo, Nennius, and Soldiers.

Bond. The hardy Romans? Oh, ye gods of Britain,
The rust of arms, the blushing shame of soldiers!

Enter Caratach.

Are these the men that conquer by inheritance?
The fortune-makers? these the Julians,
That with the sun measure the end of nature,
Making the world but one Rome, and one Cæsar?
Shame, how they flee! Cæsar’s soft soul dwells in ’em,
Their mothers got ’em sleeping, Pleasure nursed ’em;
Their bodies sweat with sweet oils, love’s allurements,
Not lusty arms. Dare they send these to seek us,
These Roman girls? Is Britain grown so wanton?
Twice we have beat ’em, Nennius, scatter’d ’em:
And through their big-boned Germans, on whose pikes
The honour of their actions sits in triumph,
Made themes for songs to shame ’em: And a woman,
A woman beat ’em, Nennius; a weak woman,
A woman, beat these Romans!

Car. So it seems;
A man would shame to talk so.

Bond. Who’s that?

Car. I.

Bond. Cousin, do you grieve my fortunes?

Car. No, Bonduca;
If I grieve, ’tis the bearing of your fortunes:
You put too much wind to your sail; discretion
And hardy valour are the twins of honour,
And, nursed together, make a conqueror;
Divided, but a talker. ’Tis a truth,
That Rome has fled before us twice, and routed;
A truth we ought to crown the gods for, lady,
And not our tongues; a truth is none of ours,
Nor in our ends, more than the noble bearing;
For then it leaves to be a virtue, lady,
And we, that have been victors, beat ourselves,
When we insult upon our honour’s subject.

Bond. My valiant cousin, is it foul to say
What liberty and honour bid us do,
And what the gods allow us?

Car. No, Bonduca;
So what we say exceed not what we do.
You call the Romans “fearful, fleeing Romans,
And Roman girls, the lees of tainted pleasures:”
Does this become a doer? are they such?

Bond. They are no more.

Car. Where is your conquest then?
Why are your altars crown’d with wreaths of flowers?
The beasts with gilt horns waiting for the fire?
The holy Druides composing songs
Of everlasting life to victory?
Why are these triumphs, lady? for a May-game?
For hunting a poor herd of wretched Romans?
Is it no more? Shut up your temples, Britons,
And let the husbandman redeem his heifers,
Put out your holy fires, no timbrel ring,
Let’s home and sleep; for such great overthrows,
A candle burns too bright a sacrifice,
A glow- worm’s tail too full of flame.—Oh, Nennius,
Thou hadst a noble uncle knew a Roman,
And how to speak him, how to give him weight
In both his fortunes.

Bond. By the gods, I think
You dote upon these Romans, Caratach!

Car. Witness these wounds, I do; they were fairly given:
I love an enemy; I was born a soldier;
And he that in the head on’s troop defies me,
Bending my manly body with his sword,
I make a mistress. Yellow- tressed Hymen
Ne’er tied a longing virgin with more joy,
Than I am married to that man that wounds me:
And are not all these Roman? Ten struck battles
I suck’d these honour’d scars from, and all Roman;
Ten years of bitter nights and heavy marches,
(When many a frozen storm sung through my cuirass,
And made it doubtful whether that or I
Were the more stubborn metal) have I wrought through,
And all to try these

  By PanEris using Melati.

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