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Hip. Brother, you've spoke that right:
Is this the form that living shone so bright?
Vind. The very same.
And now methinks I cou'd e'en chide myself,
For doating on her beauty, tho’ her death
Shall be reveng'd after no common action.
Does the silk-worm expend her yellow labours
For thee? For thee does she undo herself?
Are lordships sold to maintain ladyships,
For the poor benefit of a bewitching minute?
Why does yon' fellow falsify highways,
And put his life between the judge's lips,
To refine such a thing”? keeps horse and men
To beat their valours for her ?
Surely we're all mad people, and they
Whom we think are, are not : we mistake those;
'Tis we are mad in sense, they but in clothes.
Does every proud and self-affecting dame
Camphire her face for this ? and grieve her maker
In sinful baths of milk, when many an infant starves,
For her superfluous out-side, all for this?
Who now bids twenty pound a night ? prepares
Music, perfumes, and sweet meats ? All are hush'd,
Thou may'st lie chaste now! it were fine, methinks,
To have thee seen at revels, forgetful feasts,
And unclean brothels : sure 'twould fright the sinner,
And make him a good coward : put a reveller
Out of his antic amble,
And cloy an epicure with empty dishes.
Here might a scornful and ambitious woman
Look through and through herself."
The Atheist's Tragedy possesses no scene of equal interest with those we have before quoted, nor indeed any scene of impassioned interest,-its value is in its insulated beauties, and they are not very thickly sown. Although the date of its being printed is posterior to the Revenger's Tragedy, it was probably his earliest effort. The style is more measured and stately, and less natural than that of the latter.
We shall proceed to narrate the incidents in the Atheist's Tragedy, interspersing them with such extracts as are worth transplanting D'Amville, (the atheist) in order to further his design of obtaining possession of his brother Montferrers' estate, for which he has an unhallowed affection, persuades his nephew Charlemont to go to the wars, and furnishes
him with a thousand crowns for his equipment. Charlemont's resolution goes sadly against the heart of his poor old father.
“ Mont. I prithee let this current of my tears
Divert thy inclination from the war,
For of my children thou art only left,
To promise a succession to my house.
And all the honour thou canst get by arms,
Will give but vain addition to thy name;
Since from thy ancestors thou dost derive
A dignity sufficient; and as great
As thou hast substance to maintain and bear.
I prithee stay at home.
Charl. My noble father,
The weakest sigh you breathe, had power to turn
My strongest purpose; and your softest tear,
To melt my resolution to as soft
Obedience; but my affection to the war
Is as hereditary as my blood
To every life of all my ancestry.
Your predecessors were your precedents ;
And you are my example. Shall I serve
For nothing but a vain parenthesis,
I th' honour'd story of my family?
Or hang but like an empty scutcheon
Between the trophies of my predecessors,
And the rich arms of my posterity :
There's not a Frenchman of good blood and youth,
But, either out of spirit or example,
Is turn'd soldier. Only Charlemont
Must be reputed that same heartless thing,
That cowards will be bold to play upon.”
This resolution being immoveable however, he first takes of his friends and then of his mistress.
“ Charl. My noble mistress, this accomplement
Is like an elegant and moving speech,
Composed of many sweet persuasive points,
Which second one another, with a fluent
Increase, and confirmation of their force,
Reserving still the best until the last,
To crown a strong impulsion on the rest,
With a full conquest of the hearer's sense:
Because th' impression of the last we speak
Doth always longest and most constantly
Possess the entertainment of remembrance;
So all that now salute my taking leave,
Have added numerously to the love
Wherewith I did receive their courtesy;
you, dear mistress, being the last and best
That speaks my farewell; like th' imperious close
Of a sweet oration, wholly have
Possessed my liking, and shall ever live
Within the soul of my true memory.
So, mistress, with this kiss I take my leave.
Casta. My worthy servant, you mistake th' intent
Of kissing. 'Twas not meant to separate
A pair of lovers, but to be the scale
Of love, importing by the joining of
Our mutual and incorporated breaths,
That we should breath but one contracted life;
Or stay at home, or let me go with
Charl. My Castabella, for myself to stay,
would either tax my youth
With a dishonourable weakness, or
Your loving purpose with immodesty.
Castu. O the sad trouble of my fearful soul !
My faithful servant, did you never hear
That when a certain great man went to th’ war,
The lovely face of heav'n was mask'd with sorrow,
The sighing winds did move the breast of earth,
The heavy clouds hung down their mourning heads,
And wept sad showers the day that he went hence;
As if that day presag'd some ill success,
That fatally should kill his happiness;
And so it came to pass.
Methinks my eyes
(Sweet heav'n forbid !) are like those weeping clouds,
And as their showers presag'd, so do my tears,
Some sad event will follow
The avarice of the Atheist is not satisfied, and, as Castabella is the heiress to a large estate, he proposes a marriage, between her and his son Rousard, to Belforest her father, who describes beautifully the effect of the proposal on his daughter.
“ Bel. I entertain the offer of this match,
With purpose to confirm it presently.
I have already mov'd it to my daughter;
Her soft excuses savour'd at the first
(Methought) but of a modest innocence
Of blood; whose unmov'd stream was never drawn
Into the current of affection. But, when I
Replied with more familiar arguments,
Thinking to make her apprehension bold;
Her modest blush fell to a pale dislike,
And she refus'd it with such confidence,
As if she had been prompted by a love
Inclining firmly toʻsome other man,
And in that obstinacy she remains.”
She is, however, eventually forced to marry Rousard; and on the evening of the ceremony, Borachio, a scoundrel in the employ of D'Amville, disguises himself as a soldier, and announces the death of Charlemont. After describing a battle, he proceeds in these pretty fanciful lines.
Walking next day upon the fatal shore,
Among the slaughter'd bodies of their men,
Which the full stomach'd sea had cast upon
The sands, it was my unhappy chance to light
Upon a face, whose favour when it liv'd
My astonish'd mind inform’d me I had seen.
He lay in's armour, as if that had been
His coffin, and the weeping sea, (like one,
Whose milder temper doth lament the death
Of him whom in his rage he slew) runs up
The shore ; embraces him; kisses his cheek,
Goes back again and forces up the sands
To bury him; and every time it parts
Sheds tears upon him; till at last (as if
It could no longer endure to see the man
Whom it had slain, yet loath to leave him) with
A kind of unresolv’d, unwilling pace,
Winding her waves one in another, like
A man that folds his arms, or wrings his hands
For grief; ebb’d from the body and descends,
As if it would sink down into the earth,
And hide itself for shame of such a deed."
This is too much for Montferrers, who is taken suddenly ill, and persuaded, by a hypocritical, pretended clergyman, to make a will in favour of his brother D'Amville. The Atheist now determines to consummate the business by a master-piece of policy, and, with the assistance of Borachio, contrives the murder of Montferrers. The thunder roars, and the lightning flashes around them ; but D'Amville, believing in neither good
spirit nor bad, white spirit nor grey, exults amidst the war of elements in the success of his stratagems. To deceive the relatives of the deceased, he pretends excessive grief; and, to cheat the world, performs a solemn funeral over Montferrers and Charlemont. Meanwhile, the ghost of Montferrers appears to Charlemont in a dream, apprizes him of his father's death, and admonishes him to return to France. Charlemont awakes and endeavours to argue away his fears.
“ Charl. O my affrighted soul! what fearful dream
Was this that wak'd me? Dreams are but the rais'd
Impressions of premeditated things,
By serious apprehension left upon
Our minds ; or else the imaginary shapes
Of objects proper to th' complexion or
The dispositions of our bodies. These
Can neither of them be the cause why I
Should dream thus, for my mind has not been mov'd
With any one conception of a thought
To such a purpose; nor my nature wont
To trouble me with phantasies of terror.
It must be something that my genius would
Inform me of. Now gracious heaven forbid !
O! let my spirit be depriv'd of all
Fore-sight and knowledge, ere it understand
That vision acted; or divine that act
Why should I think so ?-left I not
My worthy father i' the kind regard
Of a most loving uncle? Soldier, saw'st
No apparition of a man?
Sol. You dream, sir, I saw nothing.
Charl. Tush! These idle dreams
Are fabulous. Our boiling phantasies,
Like troubled waters, falsify the shapes
Of things retain'd in them; and make 'em seem
Confounded, when they are distinguish'd. So
My actions, daily conversant with war,
(The argument of blood and death) had left,
Perhaps, th' imaginary presence of
Some bloody accident
Which mix'd confusedly with other thoughts,
(Whereof th' remembrance of my father might
Be one) presented all together, seem
Incorporate, as if his body were
The owner of that blood, the subject of