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The Castle of Vautsburg on the Rhine. A chamber in a tower. Prince Henry sitting alone, ill and restless. Midnight.

Prince Henry

I cannot sleep! my fever'd brain
Calls up the vanish'd past again,
And throws its misty splendours deep
Into the pallid realms of sleep.
Rest, rest!
O give me rest and peace!
The thought of life that ne'er shall cease
Has something in it like despair,
A weight I am too weak to bear!
Sweeter to this afflicted breast,
The thought of never ending rest!
Sweeter the undisturbed and deep
Tranquility of endless sleep.

A flash of lightning, out of which Lucifer appears, in the garb of a travelling Physician.

  Prince Henry!
Prince Henry
  Who is it speaks?
What may your wish and purpose be?
  Your Highness, you behold in me
Only a trav'ling physician;
One of the few who have a mission
To cure incurable diseases,
Or those that are called so.
What is your illness?
Prince Henry
  It has no name.
A smould'ring, dull, perpetual flame.
Even the doctors of Salern
Send me back word they can discern
No cure for a malady like this,
Save one, which in its nature is
Impossible, and cannot be.
  What is their remedy?
Prince Henry
  You shall see;
Writ in this scroll is the mystery.
Lucifer (reading)

"The only remedy that remains
Is the blood that flows from a maiden's veins,
Who of her own free will shall die,
And give her life as the price of yours."
That is the strangest of all cures,
And one, I think, you will never try.
Meanwhile permit me to recommend,
As the matter admits of no delay,
My wonderful Catholicon,
Of very subtle and magical powers.

Prince Henry
  Purge with your nostrums and drugs infernal,
The spouts and gargoyles of these towers.
Not me. My faith is utterly gone
In ev'ry power but the Power Supernal.

Lucifer shows Prince Henry the remedy
Lucifer (showing a flask)

Behold it here! This little flask
Contains the wonderful quintessence,
The perfect flower and efflorescence
Of all the knowledge man can ask!
'Tis Alcohol, in the Arab speech
Of him whose wondrous lore I teach!

Prince Henry
  How limpid, pure, and crystalline!
The little wavelets dance and shine!
Lucifer (pouring)

Let not the quantity alarm you;
You may drink all; it will not harm you,

Prince Henry Lucifer Chorus of Angels
  You may drink all;
It will not harm you.
Ah! what in ambush
lurks below!
How limpid, pure
and crystalline!
  Woe, woe
eternal woe!
    This fearful
The little wavelets dance and   curse
shine!   Shakes
the great universe.

Lucifer (disappearing)

Drink, drink, and thy soul shall sink
Down into the deep abyss.

Prince Henry
  Through ev'ry vein I feel again
The fever of youth, the soft desire.
A rapture that is almost pain
Throbs in my heart, and fills my brain,

Prince Henry Chorus of Angels
Through ev'ry vein I feel again, Beware, O beware,
I feel again beware,
The fever of youth, the soft desire, O beware,
the soft For sickness, sorrow, and care,
desire, All are there.
  sickness, sorrow, and care,
  All are there,
Golden visions wave and hover,  
Golden vapours, waters streaming,  
Landscapes moving,  
Changing, gleaming! Alas,
I am like a happy lover.  
  Alas, alas, alas!
Golden vapours,  
Waters streaming, Like a
Landscapes moving, vapour,
Changing, gleaming! Like a
Golden visions, vapour, the golden
Golden visions vision Shall fade and
Wave and hover. pass, fade and pass.
Golden visions!  

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Date modified 5 January, 2010 Copyright © 2010 The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive All Rights Reserved