« PreviousContinue »
your character; yet, pardon me, sir, if I wonder you were not at their trial. • Thor. I knew it was impossible to save him; and I and my family bear so great a part in his distress, that - to have been present would but have aggravated our sorrow without relieving his. • Blunt. It was mournful indeed. Barnwell's youth and modest deportment, as he passed, drew tears from every eye. When placed at the bar and arraigned before the reverend judges, with many tears and interrupting sobs, he confess'd and aggravated his of. fences, without accusing, or once reflecting on Mill
wood, the shameless author of his ruin. 6 dauntless and unconcern'd, stood by his side, viewing
with visible pride and contempt the vast assembly, who, all, with sympathising sorrow, wept for the wretched youth. Millwood, when call'd upon to answer, loudly
insisted upon her innocence, and made an artful and a • bold defence; but finding all in vain, the impartial
jury and the learned bench concurring to find her • guilty, how did she curse herself, poor Barnwell, us, • her judges, all mankind. But what could that avail? 6 She was condemn’d, and is this day to suffer with him.
( Thor. The time draws on. I am going to visit • Barnwell, as you are Millwood.
- Lucy. We have not wrong'd her, yet I dread this " interview. She is proud, impatient, wrathful, and
unforgiving. To be the branded instruments of ven
geance, to suffer in her shame, and sympathize with • her in all she suffers, is the tribute we must pay for 6 our former ill-spent lives, and long confederacy with
her in wickedness. • Thor. Happy for you it ended when it did. What you have done against Millwood, I believe proceeded • from a just abhorrence of her crimes, free from interest, 5 malice, or revenge.
Proselytes to virtue should be • encouraged; pursue your propos'd reformation, and ( know me hereafter for your friend.
Lucy. This is a blessing as unhop'd for as unmerited. • But Heaven, that snatched us from impending ruin,
you as its instrument to secure us from apostacy. • Thor. With gratitude to impute your deliverance to
Heaven is just. Many less virtuously dispos'd than « Barnwell was have never fallen in the manner he has
done. May not such owe their safety rather to Providence than to themselves? With pity and compassion let us judge him. Great were his faults, but strong was the temptation. I wish his master may not have been to blame in the lenity shewn to his first offence.
Let his ruin teach us diffidence, humility, and circum! spection, and the fear of God; for if we, who wonder
at his fate, had like him been tried, like him perhaps we had fallen.
[Exeunt.' SCENE II. A Dungeon, a Table and a Lump.
Enter Thorow Good at a distance. Thor. There see the bitter fruits of passion's detested reign, and sensual appetite indulged; severe reflections, penitence and tears.
Barn. My honour'd, injur'd master, whose goodness has cover'd me a thousand times with shame, forgive this last unwilling disrespect. Indeed I saw you not.
Thor. 'Tis well : I hope you are better employ'd in viewing of yourself; your journey's long, your time • for preparation almost spent.” I sent a severend divine to teach you to improve it, and should be glad to hear of his success.
Burn. The Word of Truth, which he recommended for my constant companion in this my sad retirement, has at length remov'd the doubts I labour'd under. From thence I've learn’d the infinite extent of heavenly mercy through a Saviour; that my offences, though great, are not unpardonable; and that 'tis not my interest only, but my duty, to believe and to rejoice in that hope.* So shall Heaven receive the glory, and future penitents the profit of my example.
*“ Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing install in prayer."
ROMANS XII. 12.
Barn. "Tis wonderful that words should charm despair, speak peace and pardon to a murderer's conscience; but truth and mercy flow in every sentence, attended with force and energy divine. How shall I describe my present state of mind? I hope in doubt, and trembling I rejoice; I feel my grief increase, even as my fears give way. Joy and gratitude now supply more tears than the horror and anguish of despair before.
Thor. These are the genuine signs of true repentance; these lead the way we trust to everlasting peace. Oh, • the joy it gives to see a soul form’d and prepar’d for 6 Heaven! For this the faithful minister devotes himself
to meditation, abstinence, and prayer, shunning the
vain delights of sensual joys, and daily dies, that 6 others may live for ever. For this he turns the Sacred • Volume o'er, and spends his life in painful search of o truth. The love of riches and the bust of power, he
looks upon with just contempt and detestation; he only counts for wealth the soul he wins, and his highest ambition is to serve God and benefit mankind. If the
rewards of all his pains be to preserve one soul from ' wandering, or turn one from the error of his ways,
how does he then rejoice, and own his little labours overpaid.'*
Barn. What do I owe for all your generous kindness? But though I cannot, Heaven can and will reward you.
Thor. To see thee thus, is joy too great for words. Farewell.--Heaven strengthen thee: Farewell.
Barn. Oh, sir, there's something I would say, if my sad swelling heart would give me leave.
Thor. Give it vent awhile, and try.
Barnt. I had a friend—tis true I am unworthy--yet methinks your generous example might persuadeCould not I see him once, before I go from whence there's no return:
* " Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one con“ vert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from 5 the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shail hide. a multitude of sins."
James X. 19, 20.
Thor. He's coming, and as much thy friend as ever. I will not anticipate his sorrow; too soon he'll see the sad effects of this contagious ruin. This torrent of domestic misery bears too hard upon me. I must retire to indulge a weakness I find impossible to overcome. [ Aside.) Much lov'd--and much lamented youth! -Farewell. - Heaven strengthen thee.-Farewell.
Barn. The best of masters and of men, Farewell. While I live let me not want your prayers.
Thor. Thou shalt not. If, as I greatly hope, thy peace is made with Heaven, death is already vanquished. Bear a little longer the pains that attend this transitory life, and cease from pain for ever.
[Exit Thor Barn. Perhaps I shall. I find a power within, that strengthens my soul against the fears of death, and spite of conscious shame and guilt, gives me a gentle taste of comfort more than mortal.
Enter TRUEMAN and KEEPER. Keep. Sir, there's the prisoner. [Exit Keeper.
Barn. Trueman!-My friend, whom I so wish'd to see, yet now he's here, I dare not look upon him.
[Weeps. True. Oh, Barnwell! Barnwell!
Barn. Mercy! Mercy! gracious Heaven! For death, but not for this, I was prepar’d.
True. What have I suffer'd since I saw thee last? What pain has absence given me!-But, oh, to see thee thus!
Barn. I know it is dreadful ! I feel the anguish of thy generous soul-But I have liv'd to murder all who love me!
[Both weep. True. I came not to reproach you; I thought to bring you comfort; but I'm deceiv'd, for I have none to give. I came to share thy sorrow, but cannot bear my own.
Barn. My sense of guilt indeed you cannot know; 'tis what the good and innocent, like you, can ne'er conceive; but other griefs at present I have none, but what I feel for you.
In your sorrow I read you love me still: but yet, methinks, 'tis strange, when I consider what I am.
True. No more of that; I can remember nothing but thy virtues, thy honest, tender friendship, our former happy state, and present misery. Oh, had you trusted me when first the fair seducer tempted you, all might have been prevented.
Barn. Alas, thou knowest not what a wretch I've been. Breach of friendship was my first and least offence. So far was I lost to goodness, so devoted to the author of my ruin, that had she insisted on my murdering thee, I think- I should have done it.
True. Pr’ythee aggravate thy faults no more.
Barn. I think I should! Thus good and generous as you are, I should have murder'd you!
True. We have not yet embrac'd, and may be interrupted. Come to my arms.
Barn. Never, never will I taste such joys on earth; never will I so soothe my just remorse.
Are those honest arms and faithful bosom fit to embrace and to support a murderer? These iron fetters only shall clasp, and flinty pavement bear me; (throring himself on the ground.] even these too good for such a bloody monster.
True. Shall misfortune sever those whom friendship joined: Thy miseries cannot lay thee so low, but love will find thee. Our mutual groans shall echo to each other through the dreary vault; our sighs shall number the moments as they pass, and mingling tears communicate such anguish as words werenever made to express.
Barn. Then be it so. [Rising.] Since you propose an intercourse of woe, pour all your griefs into my 'breast, and in exchange take mine. [Embracing.] Where's now the anguish that you promis'd? You've taken mine and made me no return. Sure peace and comfort dwell within these arms, and sorrow cann't approach me while I am here. 6 This too is the work of Heaven: which
already has indulged me with a faint ray of hope that I
may be pardoned hereafter, and now has added an "unexpected moment of virtuous friendship here. Oh, take, take some of the joy that overflows my breast!
True. I do, I do. Almighty Power! how hast thou made us capable to bear at once the extremes of pleasure and of pain.