Page images

Vhere are our guards ? Shut up the gates, the Duke. Say, will you make confession treason's

Of your vile deeds, and trust the senate's mercy ? lready at our doors.

Pier. Cursed be your senate! cursed your con,

stitution ! Enter Officer.

The curse of growing factions and divisions, Off. My lords, more traitors,

Still vex your councils, shake your public safety, eized in the very act of consultation;

And make the robes of government you weara urnished with arms and instruments of mischief. Hateful to you, as these base chains to me! ring in the prisoners.

Duke. Pardon, or death?

Pier. Death ! honourable death ! inter PIERRE, RENAULT, THEODORE, ELIOT, Ren. Death's the best thing we ask, or you REVILLIDO, and other Conspirators, in fetters.

can give; Pier. You, my lords, and fathers

No shameful bonds, but honourable death. Is you are pleased to call yourselves) of Venice, Duke. Break up the council.---Captain, guard you sit here to guide the course of justice,

your prisoners.Vhy these disgraceful chains upon the limbs, Jaffier, you are free, but these must wait for 'hat have so often laboured in your service ?

judgment. [Ereunt all the Senators. .re these the wreaths of triumph ye bestow Pier. Come, where's my dungeon ? Lead me In those, that bring you conquest home, and ho

to my straw : nours?

It will not be the first time I've lodged hard, Duke. Go on; you shall be heard, sir. To do the senate service. Ant. And be hanged too, I hope.

Juf. Hold, one moment. Pier. Are these the trophies I've deserved for Pier. Who’s he disputes the judgment of the fighting

senate? 'our battles with confederated powers ? Presumptuous rebel !-On. (Strikes JAFFIER. Vhen winds and seas conspired to overthrow you, Jaf. By Heaven, you stir not! Ind brought the fleets of Spain to your own har- I must be heard; I must have leave to speak. bours;

Thou hast disgraced me, Pierre, by a vile blow : Vhen you, great Duke, shrunk trembling in your Had not a dagger done thee nobler justice ? palace,

But use me as thou wilt, thou can’st not wrong mę, Ind saw your wife, the Adriatic, ploughed, For I am fallen beneath the basest injuries : Like a lewd whore, by bolder prows than yours, Yet look upon me with an eye of mercy, itepped not I forth, and taught your loose Vene- With pity and with charity behold me; tians

Shut not thy heart against a friend's repentance; Che task of honour, and the way to greatness ? But, as there dwells a godlike nature in thee, laised you from your capitulating fears

Listen with mildness to my supplications ! Co stipulate the terms of sued-for peace?

Pier. What whining monk art thou? what And this my recompence! if I'm a traitor,

holy cheat, Produce my charge; or shew the wretch 'that's That would'st encroach upon my credulous ears, base

And cant'st thus vilely? Hence! I know thee not; and brave enough, to tell me I'm a traitor. Dissemble and be nasty. Leave, hypocrite. Duke. Know you one Jaffier ?

Jaf. Not know me, Pierre !

[Consp. murmur. Pier. No, I know thee not. What art thou ? Pier. Yes, and know his virtue.

Juf. Jaffier, thy friend, thy once-loved valued His justice, truth, his general worth, and sufferings

friend! Froîn a hard father, taught me first to love him. Though now deserv’dly scorned, and used most

hardly. Enter JAFFIER guarded.

Pier. Thou, Jaffier! thou my once-loved vaDuke. See him brought forth.

lued friend! Pier. My friend too bound ! nay, then, By Heaven thou ly’st; the man so called, my Our fate has conquered us, and we must fall.

friend, Why droops the man, whose welfare's so much Was generous, honest, faithful, just, and valiant, mine,

Noble in mind, and in his person lovely; They are but one thing? These reverend tyrants, Dear to my eyes, and tender to my heart : Jaffier,

But thou! a wretched, base, false, worthless Call us traitors. Art thou one, my brother?

coward, Jaf. To thee, I am the falsest, veriest slave; Poor, even in soul, and loathsome in thy aspect ; That e'er betrayed a generous, trusting friend, All eyes must shun thee, and all hearts detest thee. And gave up honour to be sure of ruin, Prithee avoid; nor longer cling thus round me, All our fair hopes, which morning was to have Like something baneful, that my nature's chilled at. crowned,

Jof. I have not wronged thee, by these tears I Has this cursed tongue o'erthrown. Pier. So, then, all's over :

But still am honest, true, and, hope too, valiant; Venice has lost her freedom, I my life,

My mind still full of thee, therefore still noble. Farewell.

Let not thy eyes then shun me, nor thy heart

have not,

No inore.


Detest me utterly. Oh! look upon me, The safety of thy life was all I aimed at,
Look back, and see my sad, sincere submission! In recompence for faith and trust so broken.
How my heart swells, as e'en 'twould burst my Pier. I scorn it more, because preserved by

bosom ; Fond of its goal, and labouring to be at thee. And as, when first my foolish heart took pity What shall I do, what say, to make thee hear me? On thy misfortunes, sought thee in thy miseries, Pier. Hast thou not wrong'd me? Dar’st thou Relieved thy wants, and raised thee from the state call thyself

Of wretchedness, in which thy fate had plunged That once-loved, valued friend of mine,

thee, And swear thou hast not wrong'd me? Whence To rank thee in my list of noble friends; these chains ?

All I received, in surety for thy truth, Whence the vile death, which I may meet this Were unregarded oaths, and this, this dagger, moment?

Given with a worthless pledge, thou since has Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou false

stolen: one?

So I restore it back to thee again; Jaf. All's true ; yet grant one thing, and I've Swearing by all those powers, which thou hast done asking.

violated, Pier. What's that?

Ne'er from this cursed hour to hold communion, Jaf. To take thy life, on such conditions Friendship, or interest, with thee, though our years The council have proposed: thou, and thy friends, Were to exceed those limited the world. May yet live long, and to be better treated. Take it-farewell—for now I owe thee nothing.

Pier. Life ! ask my life! Confess, record myself Jaf. Say thou wilt live, then. A villain, for the privilege to breathe !

Pier. For my life, dispose it And carry up and down this cursed city, Just as thou wilt, because 'tis what I'm tired with. A discontented and repining spirit,

Jaf. Oh, Pierre! Burthensome to itself, a few years longer ;

Pier. No more. To lose it, may be, at last, in a lewd quarrel Jaf. My eyes won't lose the sight of thee, For some new friend, treacherous and false as But languish after thee, and ache with gazing. thou art !

Pier. Leave me-Nay, then, thus, thus I throw No, this vile world and I have long been jangling,

thee from me; And cannot part on better terms than now, And curses, great as is thy falsehood, catch thee. When only men, like thee, are fit to live in't. Jaf. Amen.

(Ext. Jaf. By all that's just

He's gone, my father, friend, preserver, Pier. Swear by some other powers,

And here's the portion he has left me: For thou hast broke that sacred oath too lately.

(Holds the dagger up Jaf. Then, by that hell I merit, I'll not leave This dagger. Well remembered! with this dagger, thee,

I gave a solemn vow of dire importance; Till to thyself, at least, thou’rt reconciled, Parted with this, and Belvidera together. However thy resentment deal with me.

Have a care, memory! drive that thought po Pier. Not leave me!

farther: Jaf. No; thou shalt not force me from thee. No, I'll esteem it, as a friend's last legacy; Use me reproachfully, and like a slave; Treasure it up within this wretched bosom, Tread on me, buffet me, heap wrongs on wrongs Where it may grow acquainted with my heart, On my poor head: I'll bear it all with patience, That, when they meet, they start not from each Shall weary out thy most unfriendly cruelty;

other. Lie at thy feet, and kiss them, though they So now for thinking—A blow! called traitor, spurn me;

Till, wounded by my sufferings, thou relent, Coward, dishonourable coward! fough!
And raise me to thy arms, with dear forgiveness. Oh! for a long sound sleep, and so forget it.
Pier. Art thou not-

Down, busy devil !
Jaf. What?
Pier. A traitor ?

Jaf. Yes.

Bel. Whither shall I Aly? Pier. A villain.

Where hide me and my miseries together? Jaf. Granted.

Where's now the Roman constancy I boasted? Pier. A coward, a most scandalous coward; Sunk into trembling fears and desperation, Spiritless, void of honour; one, who's sold Not daring to look up to that dear face, Thy everlasting fame for shameless life ! Which used to smile, even on my faults; but, Jaf. All, all, and more, much more: my faults

down, are numberless.

Bending these miserable eyes on earth, Pier. And would'st thou have me live on terms Must move in penance, and implore much mercy. like thine ?

Jaf. Mercy! kind heaven has surely endless Base, as thou art false

stores, Jaf. No; 'tis to me, that's granted:

Hoarded for thee, of blessings yet untasted;


Jaf. Ah!

Let wretches, loaded hard with guilt, as I am, He struck me, Belvidera ! by heaven, he struck Bow with the weight, and groan beneath the burthen,

Buffetted, called me traitor, villain, coward. Creep with a remnant of that strength they've Am I a coward? Am I a villain ? Tell me! left,

Thou’rt the best judge, and mad'st me, if I am so. Before the footstool of that heaven they've in- Damnation ! Coward ! jured.

Bel. Oh ! forgive him, Jaffier ; Oh, Belvidera! I'm the wretched'st creature And, if his sufferings wound thy heart already, E’er crawled on earth. Now, if thou hast virtue, What will they do to-morrow!

help me; Take me into thy arms, and speak the words of Bel. To-morrow, peace

When thou shalt see him stretched in all the To my divided soul, that wars within me,

agonies And raises every sense to my confusion : Of a tormenting and a shameful death; By heaven, I'm tottering on the very brink His bleeding bowels, and his broken limbs, of peace, and thou art all the hold i've left. Insulted o'er by a vile butchering villain ; Bel. Alas! I know thy sorrows are most What will thy heart do then? Oh! sure 'twill mighty:

stream, I know thou'st cause to mourn ; to mourn, my Like my eyes now. Jaffier,

Jaf: What means thy dreadful story? : With endless cries, and never-ceasing wailing : Death, and to-morrow! Broken limbs and bowels ! Thou'st lost

Insulted o'er by a vile butchering villain ! Jaf. Oh! I have lost what can't be counted. By all my fears, I shall start out to madness My friend too, Belvidera, that dear friend, With barely guessing, if the truth's hid longer. Who, next to thee, was all my heart rejoiced in, Bel. The faithless senators, 'tis they've de. Has used me like a slave, shamefully used me:

creed it : 'Twould break thy pitying heart to hear the story. They say, according to our friends' request, What should I do? Resentment, indignation, They shall have death, and not ignoble bondage ; Love, pity, fear, and memory how I've wronged Declare their promised mercy all as forfeited: him,

False to their oaths, and deaf to intercession, Distract my quiet with the very thought on't, Warrants are passed for public death to-morrow. And tear my heart to pieces in my bosom.

Jaf. Death! doomed to die ! condemned unBel. What has he done?

heard ! unpleaded ! Jaf. Thou’dst hate me, should I tell thee. Bel. Nay, cruellest racks and torments are preBel. Why?

paring, Jaf. Oh! he has used me-yet, by heaven, I

To force confession from their dying pangsbear it;

Oh! do not look so terribly upon me! He has used me, Belvidera—but first swear, How your lips shake, and all your face disordered ! That when I've told thee, thou wilt not loath me What means my love? utterly,

Jaf. Leave me, I charge thee, leave me-Strong Though vilest blots, and stains appear on me;

temptations But still, at least, with charitable goodness, Wake in my heart. Be near me in the pangs of my affliction,

Bel. For what? Nor scorn me, Belvidera, as he has done.

Jaf. No more, but leave me, Bel. Have I then e'er been false, that now I Bel. Why? am doubted ?

Jaf. Oh! by Heaven, I love thee with that Speak, what's the cause I am grown into distrust?

fondness, Why thought unfit to hear my love's complaining? I would not have thee stay a moment longer Jaf. Oh!

Near these cursed hands: Are they not cold up

on thee? Jaf. Bear my failings, for they are many.

[Pulls the dagger half out of his bosom, Oh, my dear angel! in that friend, I have lost

and puts it back again. All my soul's peace; for every thought of him Bel. No; everlasting comfort's in thy arms. Strikes my sense hard, and deads it in my brains ! To lean thus on thy breast, is softer ease Would'st thou believe it?

Than downy pillows, decked with leaves of roses.

Jaf. Alas! thou think’st not of the thorns 'tis Jaf. Before we parted,

filled with: Ere yet his guards had led him to his prison, Fly, ere they gall thee. There's a lurking serpent Full of severest sorrow for his sufferings, Ready to leap, and sting thce to the heart. eyes

o'erflowing, and a bleeding heart, Art thou not terrified ? Humbling myself almost beneath my nature,

Bel. No. As at his feet I kneeled and sued for mercy,

Jaf. Call to mind Forgetting all our friendship, all the dearness, What thou hast done, and whither thou hast In which we have lived so many years together,

brought me. With a reproachful hand he dashed a blow: Bel, Ha!

Bel. Tell me.

Bel. Speak.


Jaf. Where's my friend? my friend, thou smi- | To be thy portion, if I e'er proved false. ling mischief!

On such condition was my truth believed; Nay, shrink not, now 'tis too late ; thou should’st But now 'tis forfeited, and must be paid for. have fled

[Offers to stab her again. When thy guilt first had cause; for dire revenge Bel. Oh! Mercy!

(Kneeling Is up, and raging for my friend. He

groans !

Ja. Nay, nó struggling Hark, how he groans! his screams are in my ears Bel. Now, then, kill me, Already; see, they've fixed him on the wheel!

(Leaps on his neck, and kisses kin. And now they tear him! -murder ! Perjured se While thus I cling about thy cruel neck, nate!

Kiss thy revengeful lips, and die in joys Murder !-Oh!-Hark thee, traitress, thou hast Greater than any I can guess hereafter. done this!

Jaf. I am, I am a coward, witness heaven, Thanks to thy tears, and false persuading love. Witness it, earth, and every being witness ! How her eyes speak! Oh, thou bewitching crea 'Tis but one blow! yet, by immortal love, ture !

I cannot longer bear a thought to harm thee. Madness can't hurt thee. Come, thou little trem

(He throws away the dagger, end bler,

embraces her. Creep even into my heart, and there lie safe; The seal of Providence is sure upon thee; 'Tis thy own citadel-Ha-yet stand off! And thou wert born for yet unheard-of wonders, Heaven must have justice, and my broken vows Oh! thou wert either born to save or damn me! Will sink me else beneath its reaching mercy. By all the power, that's given thee o'er my soul, I'll wink, and then 'tís done

By thy resistless tears and conquering smiles, Bel. What means the lord

By the victorious love, that still waits on thee, Of me, my life, and love? What's in thy bosom, Fly to thy cruel father, save my friend, Thou grasp’st at so? Nay, why am I thus treated? Or all our future quiet's lost for ever!

(Draws the dagger, and offers to stab her: Fall at his feet, cling round his reverend knees, What wilt thou do?-A5! do not kill me, Jaffier ! | Speak to him with thy eyes, and with thy tears, Pity these panting breasts, and trembling limbs, Melt his hard heart, and wake dead nature in That used to clasp thee, when thy looks were

him ! milder,

Crush him in thy arms, torture him with thy softThat yet hang heavy on my unpurged soul,

ness; And plunge it not into eternal darkness ! Nor, till thy prayers are granted, set him free,

Jaf. Know, Belvidera, when we parted last, But conquer him as thou hast conquered me! I gave this dagger with thee, as in trust,



Enter BELVIDERA, in a long mourning Veil SCENE I.-An Apartment in PRIULI's House. Bel. He's there, my father, my inhuman father,

That for three years has left an only child Enter PRIULI solus.

Exposed to all the outrages of fate, Pri. Why, cruel Heaven, have my unhappy And cruel ruin !-Ohdays

Pri. What child of sorrow Been lengthened to this sad one? Oh! dishonour Art thou, that comest wrapt in weeds of sadness, And deathless infamy is fallen upon


And mov'st, as if thy steps were towards a Was it my fault? Am I a traitor? No.

grave? But then, my only child, my daughter wedded; Bel. A wretch, who, from the very top of hapThere my best blood runs foul, and a disease

piness, Incurable has seized upon my memory,

Am fallen into the depths of misery, To make it rot and stink to after-ages.

And want your pitying hand to raise me up again. Curst be the fatal minute, when I


Pri. Indeed thou talk'st as thou hadst tasted Or would that I'd been any thing but man,

sorrows; And raised an issue, which would ne'er have Would I could help thee! wronged me.

Bel. 'Tis greatly in your power: The miserablest creatures (man excepted) The world, too, speaks you charitable; and I, Are not the less esteemed, though their posterity Who'ne'er asked alms before, in that dear hope, Degenerate from the virtues of their fathers: Am come a begging to you, sir, The vilest beasts are happy in their offspring, Pri. For what? While only man gets traitors, whores, and villains. Bel. Oh, well regard me! is this voice a strange Cursed be the names, and some swift blow from

one? fate

Consider, too, when beggars once pretend Lay this head deep, where mine may be forgot- A case like mine, no little will content them, ten!

Pri What would'st thou beg for?

Think you

Bel. Pity and forgiveness. [Throws up her veil. Pri. Kill thee! By the kind tender names of child and father, Be!. Yes, kill me. When he passed his faith Hear my complaints, and take me to your love! And covenant against your state and senate, Pri. My daughter!

He gave me up a hostage for his truth: Bel. Yes, your daughter, by a mother

With me á dagger and a dire commission, Virtuous and noble, faithful to your honour, Whene'er he failed, to plunge it through this bo. Obedient to your will, kind to your wishes,

som! Dear to your arms: By all the joys she gave you, I learnt the danger, chose the hour of love When, in her blooming years, she was your trea To attempt his heart, and bring it back to honour. sure,

Great love prevailed, and blest me with success! Look kindly on me. In my face behold He came, confessed, betrayed his dearest friends The lineaments of her's you have kissed so often, For promised mercy. Now they are doomed to Pleading the cause of your poor cast-off child.

suffer, Pri. Thou art my daughter.

Galled with remembrance of what then was sworn, Bel. Yes and you have often told me, If they are lost, he vows to appease the gods With smiles of love and chaste paternal kisses, With this poor life, and make my blood the atoneI had much resemblance of my mother.

ment! Pri. Oh!

Pri. Heavens ! Hadst thou inherited her matchless virtues, Bel. Think you saw what passed at our last I had been too blessed !

parting: Bel. Nay, do not call to memory

beheld him like a raging lion, My disobedience; but let pity enter

Pacing the earth, and tearing up his steps, Into your heart, and quite deface the impression. Fate in his eyes, and roaring with the pain For could you think how mine's perplexed, what of burning fury: think you saw his one hand sadness,

Fixed on my throat, whilst the extended other Fears and despairs distract the peace within me, Grasped a keen threatening dagger: Oh! 'twa s Oh! you would take me in your dear, dear arms,

thus Hover with strong compassion o'er your young We last embraced, when, trembling with revenge, one,

He dragged me to the ground, and at my bosom To shelter me, with a protecting wing,

Presented horrid death. Cried out,' My friends! From the black gathering storm, that's just, just Where are my friends?' swore, wept, raged, breaking

threatened, loved, Pri. Don't talk thus.

(For yet he loved,) and that dear love preserved Bel. Yes, I must; and you must hear too. I have a husband.

To this last trial of a father's pity. Pri. Damn him.

I fear not death; but cannot bear the thought, Bel. Oh! do not curse him;

That that dear hand should do the unfriendly ofHe would not speak so hard a word towards you

fice. On any terms, howe'er he deals with me.

If I was ever then your care, now hear me; Pri: Ha! what means my child?

Fly to the senate, save the promised lives Bel. Oh! there's but this short moment of his dear friends, ere mine be made the sacri'Twixt me and fate: yet send me not with curses

Down to my grave; afford me one kind blessing Pri. Oh, my heart's comfort !
Before we part; just take me in your arms, Bel. Will you not, my father?
And recommend me with a prayer to heaven, Weep not, but answer me!
That I may die in peace; and when I am dead Pri. By Heaven I will.
Pri. How my soul's catched !

Not one of them but what shall be immortal. Bel. Lay me, I beg you, lay me

Canst thou forgive me all my

follies past? By the dear ashes of my tender mother.

I'll henceforth be indeed a father; never, She would have pitied' me, had fate yet spared | Never more thus expose, but cherish thee, her.

Dear as the vital warmth, that feeds my life, Pri. By heaven, my aching heart forebodes Dear as these eyes, that weep in fondness o’er much mischief!

thee: Tell me thy story, for I'm still thy father.

Peace to thy heart! Farewell. Bel. No; I'm contented.

Bel. Go, and remember, Pri. Speak!

'Tis Belvidera's life her father pleads for. Bel. No matter.

Ereunt severally, Pri. Tell me: By yon blessed Heaven, my heart runs o'er with

SCENE II.-A Garden. fondness! Bel. Oh!

Enter JAFFIER. Pri. Utter it!

Juf. Final destruction seize on all the world! Bel

. Oh! my husband, my dear husband, Bend down, ye heavens, and, shutting round this Carries a dagger in his once kind bosom,

earth, To pierce the heart of your poor Belvidera!


« PreviousContinue »