Page images
PDF
EPUB

Hast. Are you wise?
Have you the use of reason? Do you wake?
What means this raving? this transporting passion?

Alic. O thou cool traitor! thou insulting tyrant!
Dost thou behold my poor distracted heart,
Thus rent with agonizing love and rage,
And ask me what it means? Art thou not false?
Am I not scorn'd, forsaken and abandon'd,
Left, like a common wretch, to shame and infamy,
Giv'n up to be the sport of villains' tongues,
Of laughing parasites, and loose buffoons;
And all because my soul has doated on thee
With love, with truth, and tenderness unutterable?

Hast. Are these the proofs of tenderness and love?
These endless quarrels, discontents, and jealousies,
These never-ceasing wailings and complainings,
These furious starts, these whirlwinds of the soul,
Which ev'ry-other moment rise to madness?

Alic. What proof, alas! have I not giv’n of love?
What have I not abandon'd to thy arms?
Have I not set at nought my noble birth,
A spotless fame, and an unblemish'd race,
The peace of innocence, and pride of virtue?
My prodigality has giv'n thee all;
And now I've nothing left me to bestow,
You hate the wretched bankrupt you have made.

Hast. Why am I thus pursu'd from place to place,
Kept in the view, and cross'd at ev'ry turn?
In vain I fly, and like a hunted deer,
Scud o'er the lawns, and hasten to the covert;
Ere I can reach my safety, you o'ertake me
With the swift malice of some keen reproach,
And drive the winged shaft deep in my

heart.
Alic. Hither you fly,

and here

you
seek

repose; Spite of the poor deceit, your arts are known, Your pious, charitable, midnight visits.

Hast. If you are wise, and prize your peace of mind, Yet take the friendly counsel of my love; Believe me true, nor listen to your jealousy. Let not that monster, which undoes your sex, That baneful curiosity seduce you,

G

[ocr errors]

To hunt for needless secrets, which, neglected,
Shall never hurt your quiet; but, once known,
Shall sit upon your heart, pinch it with pain,
And banish the sweet sleep for ever from you.
Go to-

-be yet advis'd-
Alic. Dost thou in scorn
Preach patience to my rage? And bid me tamely
Sit like a poor contented idiot down,
Nor dare to think thou'st wrong'd me?-
Have I the least remaining cause to doubt?
Hast thou endeavour'd once to hide thy falsehood ?
To hide it, might have spoke some little tenderness,
And shewn thee half unwilling to undo me:
But thou disdain'st the weakness of humanity.
Thy words, and all thy actions, have confess'd it;
Ev'n now thy eyes avow it, now they speak,
And insolently own the glorious villany. [chains.

Hast. Well then, I own my heart has broke your
Patient I bore the painful bondage long,
At length my gen'rous love disdains your tyranny;
The bitterness and stings of taunting jealousy,
Vexatious days, and jarring, joyless nights,
Have driv'n him forth to seek some safer shelter,
Where he may rest his weary wings in peace.

Alic. You triumph! do! and with gigantic pride,
Defy impending vengeance. Does Heav'n wink?
His justice visits the false sons of men,
And perjury, like thine, will meet its doom.

Hast. Whatever may befall in time to come,
I would avoid the storm which threatens now.
Let any other kind of plague o'ertake me,
So I escape the fury of that tongue.

[Lord,
Alic. Thou hast thy wish–I go—but know, proud
Howe'er thou scorn'st the weakness of my sex,
This feeble hand may find the means to reach thee.
Howe'er sublime in pow'r and greatness plac'd,
With royal favour guarded round and grac'd;
On eagles' wings* my rage

her flight,
And hurl thee headlong from thy topmost height. [Erit.

shall
irge

* “ How I hare you on engles' wings, and brought you unto er myself." Exod. xix. 4. See also Isaiah xl. 31.

[ocr errors]

Hast. How fierce a fiend is passion? With what wild. What tyranny, it reigns in feebler natures ! [ness, Among the sex there are, whose yielding temper Gives way to ev'ry appetite alike;

Each gust of inclination, uncontroul'd, Sweeps thro' their souls, and sets them in an uproar; • Each motion of the heart rises to fury,' And love in their weak bosoms is a rage As terrible as hate, and as destructive. • So the wind roars o'er the wide fenceless ocean, 6 And heaves the billows of the boiling deep; • Alike from north, from south, from east, from west,

With equal force the tempest blows by turns
• From ev'ry corner of the seaman's compass.'*
But, soft ye, now,

for here comes one disclaims
Strife and her wrangling train; of equal elements,
Without one jarring atom was she form’d,
And gentleness and joy make up her being.

Enter Jane SHORE.
Forgive me, fair one, if oflicious friendship
Intrudes on your repose, and comes thus late,
To greet you with the tidings of success.
The princely Gloster has vouchsaf'd you hearing,
To-morrow he expects you at the court;
There plead your cause with never-failing beauty,
Speak all your griefs, and find a full redress.
J. Sho. Thus humbly let your lowly servant bend;

[Kneeling Thus let me bow my grateful knee to earth, And bless your noble nature for this goodness.

Hast. Rise, gentle dame, you wrong my meaning much, Think me not guilty of a thought so vain, To sell my courtesy for thanks like these.

J. Sho. 'Tis true, your bounty is beyond my speaking: But tho' my mouth be dumb, my heart shail thank you;

• And the very ports they blow

All the quarters that they know
l' the shipman's card.

Macbeth, A. 4. S. III.

And, when it melts before the throne of mercy, Mourning and bleeding for my past offences, My fervent soul shall breathe one pray’r for you, (If pray’rs of such a wretch are heard on high,) That Heav'n will pay you back, when most you need, The grace and goodness you

have shewn to me. Hast. If there be ought of merit in my service, Impute it there where most 'tis due, to love;

J. Sho. Alas! my Lord

Hast. Why bend thy eyes to earth? Wherefore these looks of heaviness and sorrow? Why breathes that sigh, my love? And wherefore falls This trickling show'r of tears, to stain thy sweetness? J. Sho. If pity dwells within your

noble breast, (As sure it does) Oh speak not to me thus.

Hast. Can I behold thee, and not speak of love?
Ev'n now, thus, sadly, as thou stand'st before me,
Thus desolate, dejected, and forlorn,
Thy softness steals upon me.

j. Sho. Cast round your eyes
Upon the high-born beauties of the court;
Behold, like op'ning roses, where they bloom,
Sweet to the sense, unsully'd all, and spotless;
There choose some worthy partner of your heart
To fill your arms, and bless your virtuous bed;*
Nor turn your eyes this way, where sin and mis’ry,
Like loathsome weeds, have over-run the soil,
And the destroyer shame has laid all waste.

Hast. What means this peevish, this fantastic change?
Where is thy wonted pleasantness of face?
Thy wonted graces, and thy dimpled smiles?
Where hast thou lost thy wit, and sportive mirth?+

* Hastings was married. See Preface, p. 97. + Sir Thomas More speaks of the wit and mirth of Jane Shore. Having spoken of her beauty, he adds, " yet delited not men so “ much in her beauty as in her pleasant behaviour. For a proper “ wit had she, and could both rede wel and write; mery in com

pany, redy and quick of audswer, neither mute nor ful of hable; “ sometimes taunting without displeasure, and not without disport. $ The king would say, That he had three concubines, which in three “ divers properties diversly excelled. One the merriešt," &c. “ the 6. meriest was the Shoris wife, in whom the king therefore toke 66 special pleasure."

Percy, vol. II. p. 256. 3d. Edn.

That cheerful heart, which us’d to dance for ever,
And cast a day of gladness all around thee?

J. Sho. Yes, I will own I merit the reproach;
And for those foolish days of wanton pride,
My soul is justly humbled to the dust:
All tongues, like yours, are licens'd to upbraid me,
Still to repeat my guilt, to urge my infamy,
And treat me like that abject thing I have been.
Yet, Heaven, be witness to this solemn truth,
That now, tho’ late, I look with horror back,
That I detest my wretched self, and curse
My past polluted life. All-judging Heav'n,
Who knows my crimes, has seen my sorrow for them.

Hast. No more of this dull stuff. 'Tis time enough
To whine and mortify thyself with penance,
When gone the lustre of thy starry eyes,
And failing palsies shake thy wither'd hand.

J. Sho. Never!
My soul shall never know pollution more;
Forbear, my Lord!

Here let me rather die,

[Kneeling. And end my sorrows and my shame for ever.

Hast. Away with this perverseness,—'tis too much. With one who knows you too.

J. Sho. For mercy's sake

Hast. Ungrateful woman! Is it thus you pay My services?

J. Sho. Abandon me to ruinRather than urge me

Hast. This way.

J. Sho. Help! Oh gracious Hear'n! Help! Save me! Help!

[Crying out.* Enter DUMONT, he interposes. Dum. My Lord! for honour's sakeHast. Ha! what art thou? Be gone! Dum. My duty calls me my attendance on my mistress here.

To

* As this play is now acted, Jane Shore goes of the stage at this place, and returns as soon as Hastings is gone.

« PreviousContinue »