"The Devil Take The Hindmost"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In the opening scene of Act V of Philaster, or Love Lies A-Bleeding, Philaster, rightful heir to the throne of Sicily, lies under sentence of death imposed by the usurping king, who has endeavored to get his daughter Arethusa to marry the licentious Prince of Spain, Pharamond. She has begged the disposal of Philaster, whom she secretly loves, from her father. Arethusa and her servant boy Bellario visit Philaster in prison, where he is momentarily awaiting execution. He is reconciled to dying, but both Arethusa and Bellario aver that they will die when he does. In the next scene Philaster, Arethusa, and Bellario appear before the king, and Arethusa announces that she has disposed of Philaster by marrying him. The enraged king immediately calls for the executioner to kill Philaster and Arethusa, but at this moment a revolt of the citizens, who love Philaster, is announced. There is a call to arms, and all rush offstage except Dion, Cleremont, and Thrasilene, who comment on the action of the play like a chorus. When Dion predicts that the citizens will bear themselves well, Thrasilene, wondering whether they will stand steadfast, says:

What if a toy take 'em i' the heels now, and they run all away, and cry, "The devil take the hindmost"?