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FR. Unhappy man, who do you tread so slowly, in a daze? Why is your step so uncertain? Although your body wishes to move along, your mind rebels, and you walk on unwilling feet. Why do you think gloomy thoughts so long, and find no end to them? Why do you shun the sight of your fellow citizens, madman? Overcome whatever obstructs you, free your mind, and recover yourself.
DR. S. Alas, my mind, full of crime, flees itself. My heart, burdened with evils, and the fear of a guilty mind refuse me peace. My sorrow burns. My mind, alas, cannot expel this poison, and brutal awareness of wrongdoing gnaws at me. What hostile demon let me to slander Edward’s marriage with a report of adultery? Alas, Edward, I have betrayed your children, and with my evil mouth I accused them of bastardy. At my bidding, Richard possesses your crown. Oh me, with my preaching I befouled your children. With my lies I blasphemed, and with my vain sermon I corrupted sacred Scripture.
FR. Why, an enemy to yourself, do you burden yourself with heavy penalties? Sorrow, when fed, gathers up more torches with which to burn us, and renews a sorrow that is unwilling to be healed. A wise sadness accepts a bridle, and becomes extinguished. Anyone who wants to free himself of this madness overcomes it, and attempts to cure this treacherous evil.
DR. S. Headlong the mind flees someone offering good counsel, but immediately returns, vainly seeking to grasp the meaning of this advice. Crime forces one to pursue the worst — it fears virtue. Angry sorrow kindles itself, and renews its failing strength. My crime will never cease to punish me. Never will nocturnal quiet dissolve my cares, or deep sleep. At night I cry for the day, in daytime I seek the night again. I always flee myself — but I am never able to flee my crime.
FR. Can nobody cure this evil?
DR. S. If I should be able to die — FR. But disgrace can be removed, even if it is great.
DR. S. Unless a trace of shameful sin endures forever.
FR. Can death alone remove this unspeakable stain?
DR. S. A corrupted life does not know how to free itself of crime.
FR. But the gods forgive the sinner, even when he repents late.
DR. S. Crime, once born, is the mother of further crime.
FR. Will you hesitate to be healed, you who fears a wound too greatly?
DR S. It is not possible easily to heal a grave wound.
FR. A priest who cannot forgive himself has never shriven any man.
DR. S. First you be the sole accuser of your own crime — then offer such advice.
FR. Absolve the man whom you judge you have punished enough.
DR. S. Nobody can punish this dire crime enough.
FR. In punishing your wrongdoing, you are an over-harsh judge.
DR. S. Unless they are sharply painful, rotten wounds fester.
FR. While you ponder severe penalties, you are showing no care for the accused.
DR. S. Sorrow is the cure for sorrow. It does not know how to be sparing. Heaven witnessed this unspeakable crime, the widespread earth was aware of this great shame. My mind’s foul ruin has made me so unlike myself that nobody shuns me more than I do. And, wretchedly, I am made a refugee from myself. My mind avidly prays for an overdue separation from the body. whoever bids me live kills me, whoever orders me to die grants me life, so pleasing is that which displeases me. What are the idle rabble saying about me?
FR. They claim you were party to this crime.
DR. S. But what public commotion rolls this way?
FR. When Gloucester the prince first began to rule at his subjects’ behest, the pious King first desired to address his subjects from that place where the living law customarily speaks to the English. Now, therefore, the King progresses to Westminster, so that he may piously give his injunctions to the lawyers, lest some depraved mind corrupt the threats of the law. (Shall departeth.) He has gone, poor soul, nor can he bear looking his fellow citizens in the face. I shall report to him the words of the King.


It has always been fitting first to crown the King’s head with the burning gold, and with just law to rule the citizenry of the nation here at Astraea’s temple and the awful tribunal of Minos. A King’s paramount duty is to ensure that the law, that strongest pillar of commonwealths, firmly presides over a fair court. It is scarcely fit for fear to govern your hearts, you tribe of lawyers distinguished by high titles. Indomitable blind rage does not govern. Now the soldier unbuckles his exhausted sword. It is of advantage for all to be bound by ties of unity, and the lineage of our forefathers will not be held in contempt. I praise you, fathers, learned in our ancestral law, who guide the nation by justice. Let not England languish, worn out by internal strife. I shall endow you with ample honor. Even if citizens rejoice that your minds are tired out by all this recent strife — citizens, I mean, who live by sordid pursuits — no case argued before a magistrate will be the cause of your oppression, nor will wild battles resound with the blast of the war-trumpet. For prosperity is undone by discord. For this reason, the false mind threatens from behind a fair mask; from this source flows every evil for our citizens. Love, piety, faith have calmed these storms: these chains will bind together England, which no domestic upheaval will harm, which no hostile power can break. Let every memory of our recent hatreds vanish.
[To one of his followers.] Guard, free Fogge immediately, who is taking refuge in asylum as a suppliant out of fear of me. Let there be an end to anger, let not rage hurl its threats. My anxious mind strives with the greatest zeal to be looked upon favorably by my subjects. Alas, how I wish that golden trust would flourish, so very familiar in former centuries! How i wish that virtue had not learned to paint her face! Let the will of the gods quickly turn against me, if my tongue deceitfully interprets my thoughts. [Enter Fogge.] Do not be afraid, Fogge. Come closer. Let us reconcile our minds. Accept this pledge of my trust, clasp my hand, and love me in return.

Go to Act V of the Second Action