« PreviousContinue »
The blessings of the cheerful mord be on you,
Enter e Servant.
Attends your leisure.
I'll wait you on the instant, and inform you Like thee reserve their raiment for the naked, Of each unhappy circumstance, in which Reach out their bread to feed the crying orphan, Your friendly aid and counsel much may stead Or mix their pitying tears with those that weep!
[Exeunt Belmour and Dumont. Thy praise deserves a better tongue than mine,
Enter ALICIA. To speak and bless thy name. Is this the gentleman,
Alic. Still, my fair friend, still shall I find you Whose friendly service you commended to me?
thus? Bel. Madam, it is.
Still shall these sighs heave after one another, J. Sh. A venerable aspect.
[Aside. These trickling drops chase one another still, Age sits with decent grace upon his visage, As if the posting messengers of grief And worthily becomes his silver locks ;
Could overtake the hours Aed far away,
And make old Time come back?
Heaven and his saints be witness to my thoughts,
That I could wish to take its turn again. Which my poor hand and humble roof can give. Alic. And yet some of those days my friend But to supply these golden vantages,
has known, Which elsewhere you might find, expect to meet some of those years might pass for golden ones, A just regard and value for your worth, At least if womankind can judge of happiness. The welcome of a friend, and the free partner- What could we wish, we, who delight in empire, ship
Whose beauty is our sovereign good, and gives Of all that little good the world allows me. Dum. You over-rate me much; and all my Our reasons to rebel, and power to reign,
What could we more than to behold a monarch, Must be my future truth; let them speak for me, Lovely, renowned, a conqueror, and young, And make up my deserving.
Bound in our chains, and sighing at our feet? J. Sh. Are you of England ?
J. Sh. 'Tis true, the royal Edward was a wonDum. No, gracious lady, Flanders claims my der, birth;
The goodly pride of all our English youth; At Antwerp has my constant biding been, He was the very joy of all that saw him; Where sometimes I have known more plenteous Formed to delight, to love, and to persuade. days
Impassive spirits and angelic natures Than these which now my failing age affords. Might have been charmed, like yielding human J. Sh. Alas! at Antwerp !-Oh, forgive my
[Weeping. Stooped from their heaven, and listened to his They fall for my offences and must fall
talking Long, long ere they shall wash
But what had I to do with kings and courts? You knew perhaps-Oh grief! 'oh shame! 'my My humble lot had cast me far beneath him; husband.
And that he was the first of all mankind, Dum. I knew him well-but stay this flood of The bravest, and most lovely, was my curse. anguish!
Alic. Sure, something more than fortune joined The senseless grave feels not your pious sorrows:
your loves : Three years and more are past, since I was bid, Nor could his greatness, and his gracious form, With many of our common friends, to wait him Be elsewhere matched so well, as to the sweetTo his last peaceful mansion. I attended, Sprinkled his clay-cold corse with holy drops, And beauty of my friend. According to our church's rev'rend rite,
J. Sh. Name him no more! And saw him laid in hallow'd ground, to rest. He was the bane and ruin of my peace. J. Sh. Oh, that my soul had known no joy but | This anguish and these tears, these are the legahim !
cies That I had lived within his guiltless arms, His fatal love has left me. Thou wilt see me, And, dying, slept in innocence beside him! Believe me, my Alicia, thou wilt see me, But now his dust abhors the fellowship, E'er yet a few short days pass o'er my head, And scorns to mix with mine.
Abandoned to the very utmost wretchedness,
The hand of power has seized almost the whole If I not hold her nearer to my soul,
Distraction and despair seize me on earth!
true ; Bright as the morning sun above the mist. Therefore these jewels, once the lavish bounty Exert thy charms, seek out the stern protector, Of royal Edward's love, I trust to thee; And soothe his savage temper with thy beauty :
[Giving a casket. Spite of his deadly, unrelenting nature,
Receive this, all that I can call my own, He shall be moved to pity, and redress thee. And let it rest unknown, and safe with thee :
J. Sh. My form, alas! has long forgot to please; That if the state's injustice should oppress me, The scene of beauty and delight is changed; Strip me of all, and turn me out a wanderer, No roses bloom upon my fading cheek,
My wretchedness may find relief from thee, Nor laughing graces wanton in my eyes;
And shelter from the storm. But haggard grief, lean-looking sallow care, Alic. My all is thine ; And pining discontent, a rueful train,
One common hazard shall attend us both, Dwell on my brow, all hideous and forlorn, And both be fortunate, or both be wretched. One only shadow of a hope is left me;
But let thy fearful doubting heart be still; The noble-minded Hastings, of his goodness, The saints and angels have thee in their charge, Has kindly undertaken to be my advocate, And all things shall be well. Think not, the And move my humble suit to angry Gloster.
good, Alic. Does Hastings undertake to plead your The gentle deeds of mercy thou hast done, cause ?
Shall die forgotten all; the poor, the prisoner, But wherefore should he not? Hastings has eyes; The fatherless, the friendless, and the widow, The gentle lord has a right tender heart, Who daily own the bounty of thy hand, Melting and easy, yielding to impression, Shall cry to Heaven, and pull a blessing on And catching the soft flame from each new beauty;
Even man, the merciless insulter man, But yours shall charm him long.
Man, who rejoices in our sex's weakness, J. Sh. Away, you flatterer!
Shall pity thee, and with unwonted goodness Nor charge his generous meaning with a weak- Forget thy failings, and record thy praise. ness,
J. Sh. Why should I think that man will do Which his great soul and virtue must disdain. Too much of love thy hapless friend has proved, What yet he never did for wretches like me? Too many giddy foolish hours are gone, Mark by what partial justice we are judged : And in fantastic measures danced away : Such is the fate unhappy women find, May the remaining few know only friendship!
And such the curse entailed upon our kind, So thou, my dearest, truest, best Alicia,
That man, the lawless libertine, may rove, Vouchsafe to lodge me in thy gentle heart, Free and unquestioned through the wilds of love; A partner there; I will give up mankind, While woman, sense and nature's easy fool, Forget the transports of increasing passion, If poor weak woman swerve from virtue's rule, And all the pangs we feel for its decay. If, strongly charmed, she leave the thorny way, Alic. Live! live and reign for ever in my bo- And in the softer paths of pleasure stray, som !
[Embracing. Ruin ensues, reproach and endless shame, Safe and unrivalled there possess thy own; And one false step entirely damps her fame : And you, the brightest of the stars above, In vain with tears her loss she may deplore, Ye saints, that once were women here below, In vain look back on what she was before; Be witness of the truth, the holy friendship, She sets, like stars that fall, to rise no more. Which here to this my other self I vow!
SCENE I. Continues.
But my lieart guesses at the friendly meaning,
Aud will not die your debtor. Enter Alicia, speaking to Jane Suore as en- Hast. 'Tis well, madam. tering.
But I would see your friend. Alic. No farther, gentle friend; good angels Alic. Oh, thou false lord ! guard you,
I would be mistress of my heaving heart, And spread their glorious wings about your Stifle this rising rage, and learn from thee slumbers.
To dress my face in easy dull indifference: The drowsy night grows on the world, and now But it will not be; my wrongs will tear their way, The busy craftsmen and o'er laboured hind And rush at once upon thee. Forget the travail of the day in sleep:
Hast. Are you wise? Care only wakes, and moping pensiveness; Have you the use of reason? Do you wake? With meagre discontented looks they sit,
What means this raving, this transporting pasAnd watch the wasting of the midnight taper.
sion? Such vigils must I keep, so wakes my soul, Alic. Oh, thou cool traitor ! thou insulting Restless and self-tormented! Oh, false Hastings! tyrant ! Thou hast destroyed iny peace.
Dost thou behold my poor distracted heart,
[Knocking within. Thus rent with agonizing love and rage, What noise is that?
And ask me what it means? Art thou not false ? What visitor is this, who, with bold freedom, Am I not scorned, forsaken, and abandoned, Breaks in upon the peaceful night and rest, Left, like a common wretch, to shame and inWith such a rude approach?
Given up to be the sport of villains' tongues, Enter a Servant.
Of laughing parasites, and lewd buffoons ? Ser. One from the court,
And all because my soul has doated on thee Lord Hastings (as I think) demands my lady. With love, with truth, and tenderness unutterable ! Alic. Hastings ! Be still, my heart, and try to Hust. Are these the proofs of tenderness and meet him
love? With his own arts : with falsehood-But he comes. These endless quarrels, discontents, and jealousies
These never-ceasing wailings and complainings, Enter LORD Hastings, speaks to a Servant as These furious starts, these whirlwinds of the soul, entering
Which every other moment rise to madness? Hast. Dismiss my train, and wait alone with- Alic. What proof, alas ! have I not given of out.
love? Alicia here! Unfortunate encounter !
What have I not abandoned to thy arms? But be it as it may.
Have I not set at nought my noble birth, Alic. When humbly, thus,
A spotless fame, and an unblemished race, The great descend to visit the afflicted,
The peace of innocence, and pride of virtue? When thus, unmindful of their rest, they come My prodigality has given thee all ; To soothe the sorrows of the midnight mourner, And now, I've nothing left me to bestow, Comfort comes with them; like the golden sun, You hate the wretched bankrupt you have made. Dispels the sullen shades with her sweet influ- Hast. Why am I thus pursued from place to ence,
place, And cheers the melancholy house of care. Kept in the view, and crossed at every turn? Hast. 'Tis true, I would not over-rate a cour- In vain I fly, and, like a hunted deer, tesy,
Scud o'er the lawns, and hasten to the covert; Nor let the coldness of delay hang on it,
E'er I can reach my safety, you o'ertake me To nip and blast its favour, like a frost; With the swift malice of some keen reproach, But rather chose, at this late hour to come, And drive the winged shaft deep in my heart, That your fair friend may kpow I have prevail- Alic. Hither you fly, and here you seek repose; ed;
Spite of the poor deceit, your arts are known, The lord protector has received her suit, Your pious, charitable, midnight visits ! And means to shew her grace.
Hast. If you are wise, and prize your peace of Alic. My friend ! my lord.
mind, Hast. Yes, lady, yours: none has a right more Yet take the friendly counsel of my love ; ample
Believe me true, nor listen to your jealousy. To task my power than you.
Let not that devil, which undoes your sex, Alic. I want the words,
That cursed curiosity seduce you, To pay you back a compliment so courtly; To hunt for necdless secrets, which, neglected,
Shall never hurt your quiet; but, once known, Gives way to every appetite alike:
uproar; lic. Dost thou, in scorn,
Each motion of the heart rises to fury, Preach patience to my rage, and bid me tamely
And love, in their weak bosoms, is a rage Sit like a poor contented idiot down,
As terrible as hate, and as destructive. Nor dare to think thou'st wronged me? Ruin So the wind roars o'er the wide fenceless oceatly seize thee,
And heaves the billows of the boiling deep, And swift perdition overtake thy treachery! Alike from north, from south, from east, from Have I the least remaining cause to doubt ?
west; Hast thou endeavoured once to hide thy false- With equal force the tempest blows, by turns, hood?
From ́every corner of the seaman's compass. To hide it might have spoke some little tender- But soft ye now—for here comes one, disclaims ness,
Strife and her wrangling train; of equal elements,
Enter Jane SHORE.
if officious friendship Hast. Well, then! I own my heart has broke Intrudes on your repose, and comes thus late
To greet you with the tidings of success. Patient I bore the painful bondage long;
The princely Gloster has vouchsafed you hearAt length my generous love disdains your ty- ing; ranny;
To-morrow he expects you at the court; The bitterness and stings of taunting jealousy, There plead your cause, with never-failing beauty, Vexatious days, and jarring, joyless nights, Speak all your griefs, and find a full redress. Have driven him forth to seek some safer shelter, J. Sh. Thus humbly let your lowly servant bend, Where he may rest his weary wings in peace.
[Kneeling. Alic. You triumph! do! and, with gigantic Thus let me bow my grateful knee to earth, pride,
And bless your noble nature for this goodness. Defy impending vengeance. Heaven shall wink; Hast. Rise, gentle dame; you wrong my nicanNo more his arm shall roll the dreadful thunder; ing much; Nor send his lightnings forth : no more his jus- Think me not guilty of a thought so vain, tice
To sell my courtesy for thanks like these! Shall visit the presuming sons of men,
J. Sh. 'Tis true, your bounty is beyond my But perjury, like thine, shall dwell in safety.
speaking: Hast. Whate'er my fate decrees for me here- But though my mouth be dumb, my heart shall
after, Be present to me now, my better angel ! And when it melts before the throne of mercy, Preserve me from the storm that threatens now, Mourning and bleeding for my past offences, And if I have beyond atonement sinned,
My fervent soul shall breathe one prayer for you, Let any other kind of plague o’ertake me, If prayers of such a wretch are heard on high, So I escape the fury of that tongue.
That Heaven will pay you back, when most you Alic. Thy prayer is heard—I go--but know,
need, proud lord,
The grace and goodness you have shewn to me. Howe'er thou scorn'st the weakness of my sex,
Hast. If there be ought of merit in my service, This feeble hand may find the means to reach Impute it there, where most 'tis due, to love; thee,
Be kind, my gentle mistress, to my wishes, Howe'er sublime in power and greatness placed, And satisfy my panting heart with beauty. With royal favour guarded round and graced; J. Sh. Alas! my lordOn eagle's wings my rage shall urge her flight, Hast. Why hend thy eyes to earth? And burl thee headlong from thy topmost height; Wherefore these looks of heaviness and sorrow ? Then, like thy fate, superior will I sit,
Why breathes that sigh, my love? And wherefore And view thee fallen, and grovelling at my feet;
falls See thy last breath with indignation go,
This trickling shower of tears, to stain thy sweeta And tread thee sinking to the shades below.
[Erit. J. Sh. If pity dwells within your noble breast, Hast. How fierce a fiend is passion! with what (As sure it does) Oh, speak not to me thus ! wildness,
Hust. Can I behold thee, and not speak of What tyranny untamed it reigns in woman!
love? Unhappy sex! whose easy yielding temper Even now, thus sadly as thou stand'st before me,
thank you ;
Thus desolate, dejected, and forlorn,
J. Sh. Retire! I beg you leave me Thy softness steals upon my yielding senses,
Hust. Thus to coy it!Tili пiy
soul faints, and sickens with desire; With one who knows you too. How canst thou give this motion to my heart, J. Sh. For mercy's sake And bid my tongue be soll?
Hast. Ungrateful woman! Is it thus you pay J. Sh. Cast round your eyes
My services ?
J. Sh. Abandon me to ruin-
[Pulling her. To till your arms, and bless your virtuous bed; There if you struggleNor turn your eyes this way, where sin and J. Sh. Help, oh, gracious Heaven ! misery,
Help! Save ie! Help!
Enter Dumont, he interposes.
Hast. Hå! What art thou ? - Begone!
At distance wait, and know thy oflice better. And cast a day of gladness all around thee? Dum. Forego your hold, any lord ! 'tis most J. Sh. Yes, I will own I merit the reproach;
unmanly And for those foolish days of wanton pride, This violenceMy soul is justly humbled to the dust :
Hast. Avoid the room this moment,
Dum. No, my lord-
Dum. Yes, thou proud lord!
thee. Hast. No more of this dull stuff. 'Tis time I know thee, too, for one who stains those hoenough
nours, To whine and mortify thyself with penance,
And blots a long illustrious line of ancestry, When the decaying sense is palled with pleasure, By poorly daring thus to wrong a woman. And weary nature tires in her last stage;
Hast. 'Tis wonderous well! I see, my saint-like Then weep and tell thy beads, when altering dame, rheums
You stand provided of your braves and ruffians, Have stained the lustre of thv starry eyes, To nian your cause, and bluster in your brothel. And failing patsies shake thy withered hand. Dum. 'Take back the foul reproach, unmannerThe present moment claims more generous use;
ed railer ! Thy beauty, night, and solitude, reproach me, Nor urge my rage too far, lest thou should'st For having talked thus long—come let me press
(Luying hold of her. I have as daring spirits in my blood Pant on thy bosom, sink into thy arms,
As thou or any of thy race e'er boasted ; And lose myself in the luxurious flood !
And though no gaudy titles graced my birth, J. Sh. Never! by those chaste lights above, I Titles, the servile courtier's lean reward,
Sometimes the pay of virtue, but more oft My soul shall never know pollution more ; The hire which greatness gives to slaves and Forbear, my lord !-here let me rather die :
(Kneeling Yet Heaven, that made me honest, made me inore Let quick destruction overtake me here,
Iban ever king did, when he made a lord. And end my sorrows and my shame for ever. Hast. Insolent villain ! henceforth let this Hast. Away with this perverseness !—'tis too teach thee [Druu's and strikes him. much.
The distance 'twixt a peasant and a prince! Nay, if you strive'tis monstrous affectation! Dum. Nay, then, my lord, [drawing) learn you
by this, how well