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Tell me why, good Heaven,
Barren as our misfortunes, where my soul Thou mad'st me what I am, with all the spirit, May have its vent, where I may tell aloud Aspiring thoughts, and elegant desires,
To the high heavens, and every list’ning planet, That fill the happiest man? Ah, rather, why With what a boundless stock my bosom's fraught; Didst thou not form me sordid as my fate, Where I may throw my eager arms alout thee, Base-minded, dull, and fit to carry burthens ? Give loose to love, with kisses kindling joy, Why have I sense to know the curse, that's on And let off all the fire that's in my heart. me!
Jaf. Oh, Belvidera! doubly I'm a beggar; Is this just dealing, nature?-Belvidera ! Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee.
Want, worldly want, that hungry meagre fiend, Enter BELVIDERA.
Is at my heels, and chaces me in view. Poor Belvidera !
Canst thou bear cold and hunger? Can these limbs, Bel. Lead me, lead me, my virgins,
Framed for the tender offices of love, To that kind voice. My lord, my love, my refuge! Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty? Happy my eyes, when they behold thy face ! When banished by our miseries abroad My heavy heart will leave its doleful beating (As suddenly we shall be), to seek out · At sight of thee, and bound with sprightly joys. In some far climate, where our names are stranOh smile! as when our loves were in the spring,
gers, And cheer my fainting soul.
For charitable succour; wilt thou then, Jaf. As when our loves
When in a bed of straw we shrink together, Were in the spring! Has then our fortune chang. And the bleak winds shall whistle round our ed?
heads; Art thou not Belvidera, still the same,
Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then Kind, good, and tender, as my arms first found Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love? tliec?
Bel. Oh! I will love thee, even in madness If thou art altered, where shall I have harbour?
love thee; Where ease my loaded heart? Oh! where com- Though my distracted senses should forsake me, plain?
I'd find some intervals, when my poor heart Bel. Does this appear like change, or love de- Should 'swage itself, and be let loose to thine. caying,
Though the bare earth be all our resting-place, When thus I throw myself into thy bosom, Its roots our food, some clift our habitation, With all the resolution of strong truth!) I'll make this arm a pillow for thine head; Beats not my heart, as 'twonld alarum thine And, as thou sighing liest, and swelled with sora To a new charge of bliss ? I joy more in thee,
row, Than did thy mother, when she hugged thee first, Creep to thy bosom, pour the balm of love And blessed the gods for all her travail past. Into thy soul, and kiss thee to thy rest; Jaf. Can there in woman be such glorious Then praise our God, and watch thee till the faith?
morning. Sure all ill stories of thy sex are false!
Jaf. Hear this, you heavens, and wonder bow Oh woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
you made her! To temper man; we had been brutes without Reign, reign, ye monarchs, that divide the world; you !
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know Angels are painted fair to look like you; Tranquillity and happiness like mine! There's in you all, that we believe of heaven; Like gaudy ships the obsequious billows fall, Amazing brightness, purity and truth,
And rise again, to lift you in your pride ; Eternal joy, and everlasting love.
They wait but for a storm, and then devour you; Bel. If love be treasure, we'll be wondrous I, in my private bark already wrecked, rich;
Like a poor merchant driven to unknown land, I have so much, my heart will surely break with it: That had by chance packed up his choicest treaVows can't express it. When I would declare
sure How great's my joy, I'm dumb with the big In one dear casket, and saved only that; thought;
Since I must wander further on the shore, I swell, and sigh, and labour with my longing. Thus hug my little, but my precious store, 0! lead me to some desert wide and wild, Resolved to scorn and trust my fate no more.
And let us love to-night.
Pier. No: there's fool,
There's fool about thee. When a woman sells Aqui. By all thy wrongs, thou’rt dearer to my arms Her ftesh to fools, her beauty's lost to me; Than all the wealth of Venice. Prithee stay, They leave a taint, a sully, where they have passed;
There's such a baneful quality about them, Comes here, receive admittance. So, goodE'en spoils complexions with their nauseousness;
night. They infect all they touch: I cannot think Aqui. Must we ne'er meet again? embrace no Of tasting any thing a fool has palled.
more? Aqui. I loathe and scorn that fool thou mean’st, Is love so soon and utterly forgotten? as much
Pier. As you henceforward treat your fool, Or more than thou canst ; but the beast has gold,
I'n think on't. That makes him necessary; power too,
Aquid Cursed be all fools—I die, if he for. To qualify my character, and poise me Equal with peevish virtue, that beholds
And how to keep him, Heaven or hell instruct My liberty with envy. In their hearts
(Exeunt. They're loose as I am; but an ugly power Sits in their faces, and frights pleasure from them.
SCENE II.-The Rialto. Pier. Much good may't do you, madam, with
Enter JAFFIER. your senator. Aqui: My senator! Why, canst thou think that Jaf. I am here; and thus, the shades of night
wretch E'er filled thy Aquilina's arms with pleasure? I look as if all hell were in my heart, Think’st thou, because I sometimes give him and I in hell. Nay surely 'tis so with me! leave
For every step I tread, methinks some fiend To foil himself at what he is unfit for;
Knocks at my breast, and bids me not be quiet. Because I force myself to endure and suffer him, I've heard how desperate wretches, like myself, Think'st thou, I love him? No; by all the joys Have wandered out at this dead time of night, Thou ever gav'st me, his presence is my penance. To meet the foe of mankind in his walk. The worst thing an old man can be's a lover, Sure I'm so cursed, that, though of Heaven fore A mere memento mori to poor woman.
saken, I never lay by his decrepid side,
No minister of darkness cares to tempt me. But all that night I ponder on my grave. Hell, hell ! why sleepest thou ? Pier. Would he were well sent thither!
Enter PIERRE. Aqui. That's
my wish too ; For then, my Pierre, I might have cause, with Pier. Sure I've staid too long : pleasure,
The clock has struck, and I may lose my proses To play the hypocrite. Oh! how I could weep
lyte. Over the dying dotard, and kiss him too, Speak, who
there? In hopes to smother him quite; then, when the Jaf. A dog, that comes to howl time
At yonder moon. What's he, that asks the quesWas come to pay my sorrows at his funeral,
tion? (For he has already made me heir to treasures Pier. A friend to dogs, for they are honest Would make me out-act a real widow's whin
And ne'er betray their masters; never fawn How could I frame my face to fit my mourning! On any, that they love not. Well met, friend: With wringing hands attend him to his grave;
Jaffier ? Fall swooning on his hearse; take mad possession Jaf. The same. O Pierre, thou art come in Even of the dismal vault, where he lay buried;
season ; There, like the Ephesian matron, dwell, till thou, I was just going to pray: My lovely soldier, com’st to my
deliverance; Pier. Ah, that's mechanic! Then, throwing up my veil, with open arms Priests make a trade on't, and yet starve by it And laughing eyes, run to new-dawning joy. Pier. No more: I've friends to meet me here No praying; it spoils business, and time's precious. to-night,
Where's Belvidera? And must be private. As you prize my friend. Juf. For a day or two ship,
I've lodged her privately, till I see farther, Keep up your coxcomb; let him not pry, nor lis. What fortune will do for me. Prithee, friend, ten,
If thou wouldst have me fit to hear good counsel, Nor frisk about the house, as I have seen him, Speak not of BelvideraLike a tame mumping squirrel with a bell on; Pier. Not of her? Curs will be abroad to bite him, if you do.
Jaf. Oh, no! Aqui. What, friends to meet! May’nt I be of Pier. Not name her? May be I wish her well. your council ?
Jaf, Whom well? Pier. How! a woman ask questions out of bed! Pier. Thy wife; thy lovely Belvidera. Go to your senator; ask him what passes I hope a man may wish his friend's wife well, Amongst his brethren; he'll hide nothing from And no harm done. you:
Jaf. You are merry, Pierre. But pump not me for politics. No more!
Pier. I am so : Give order, that whoever in my name
Thou shalt sinile too, and Belvidera smile :
We'll all rejoice. Here's something to buy pins; Is coward, fool, or villain in my face?
Thou wouldst not use me in a little cause,
Before thee, set it to what point thou wilt. But entertained each other's thoughts like men, Pier. Nay, 'tis a cause thou wilt be fond of, Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world
Jaffier; Reformed, since our last meeting? What new For it is founded on the noblest basis; miracles
Our liberties, our natural inheritance. Have happened ? Has Priuli's heart relented ? There's no religion, no hypocrisy in it; Can he be honest ?
We'll do the business, and ne'er fast and prac Jaf. Kind Heaven, let heavy curses
for it; Gall his old age; cramps, aches, rack his boneə, "Openly act a deed, the world shall gaze And bitterest disquiet wring his heart !
With wonder at; and envy, when 'tis done. Oh! let him live, till life become his burden ! Jaf. For liberty ! Let him groan under it long, linger an age Pier. For liberty, my friend. In the worst agonies and pangs of death,
Thou shalt be freed from base Priuli's tyranny, And find its ease, but late!
And thy sequestered fortunes healed again : Pier. Nay, couldst thou not
I shall be free from those opprobrious wrongs, As well, my friend, have stretched the curse to | That press me now, and bend my spirit downward; all
All Venice free, and every growing merit The senate round, as to one single villain? Succeed to its just right: fools shall be pulled Juf. But curses stick not: Could I kill with From wisdom's seat: those baleful unclean birds, cursing,
Those lazy owls, who, perched near fortune's top, By Heaven I know not thirty heads in Venice Sit only watchful with their heavy wings Should not be blasted. Senators should rot, To cuff down new-fledged virtues, that would rise Like dogs on dunghills : But their wives and To nobler heights, and make the grove harmodaughters
nions. Die of their own diseases. Oh! for a curse Jaf. What can I do? To kill with !
Pier. Canst thou not kill a senator ? Pier. Daggers, daggers, are much better, Jaf. Were there one wise or honest, I could Jaf. Ha !
kill him, Pier. Daggers.
For herding with that nest of fools and knares. Jaf. But where are they?
By all my wrongs, thou talk'st as if revenge Pier. Oh, a thousand
Were to be had; and the brave story warms me. May be disposed of, in honest hands, in Venice. Pier. Swear, then ! juf. Thou talk'st in clouds.
Jaf. I do, by all those glittering stars, Pier. But yet a heart, half wronged
And yon great ruling planet of the night; As thine has been, would find the meaning, Jaf- By all good powers above, and ill below; fier.
By love and friendship, dearer than my life, Jaf. A thousand daggers, all in honest hands! | No power, or death, shall make me false to thee. And have not I a friend will stick one here ! Pier. Here we embrace, and I'll unlock my Pier. Yes, if I thought thou wert not to be
A council's held hard by, where the destruction To a nobler purpose, I would be that friend. Of this great empire's hatching: there I'll lead But thou hast better friends; friends, whom thy
But be a man! for thou’rt to mix with men, Have made thy friends ; friends, worthy to be Fit to disturb the peace of all the world, called so.
And rule it when 'tis wildest. I'll trust thee with a secret: There are spirits Jaf. I give thee thanks This hour at work. But, as thou art a man, For this kind warning. Yes, I'll be a man; Whom I have picked and chosen from the world, And charge thoe, Pierre, whene'er thou seest my Swear that thou wilt be true to what I utter;
fears And when I've told thee that, which only gods, Betray me less, to rip this heart of mine And men like gods, are privy to, then swear, Out of my breast, and shew it for a coward's. No chance or change shall wrest it from thy bo- Come, let's be gone! for, from this hour, I chase
All little thoughts, all tender human follies, Jaf. When thou wouldst bind me, is there Out of my bosom: Vengeance shall have room : need of oaths ?
Bed. Eliot, thou once had'st virtue. I have SCENE III. Change to AQUILINA's House, the Greek Courtezan.
Thy stubborn temper bend with godlike good
ness, Enter RENAULT.
Not half thus courted: 'Tis thy nation's glory Ren. Why was my choice ambition ? the To hug the foe, that offers brave alliance. worst ground
One more embrace, my friends-we'll all em. A wretch can build on! It's, indeed, at distance,
brace. A goodly prospect, tempting to the view; United thus, we are the mighty engine The height delights us, and the mountain top Must twist this rooted empire from its basis. Looks beautiful, because 'tis nigh to heaven; Totters it not already? But we ne'er think how sandy's the foundation, Eli. Would it were tumbling! What storm will batter, and what tempest shake Bed. Nay, it shall down; this night we seal its us.
ruin. Who's there?
Oh, Pierre! thou art welcome.
The poets, that first feigned the god of war, Ren. Yes; clocks will go as they are set : Sure prophesied of thee. but man,
Pier. Friend, was not Brutus Irregular man's ne'er constant, never certain: (I mean that Brutus, who, in open senate, Thave spent at least three precious hours of dark- Stabbed the first Cæsar that usurped the world)
A gallant man? In waiting dull attendance; 'tis the curse
Ren. Yes, and Catiline too, Of diligent virtue to be mixed, like mine, Though story wrong his fame; for he conspired With giddy tempers, souls but half resolved. To prop the reeling glory of his country: Spin. Hell seize that soul amongst us it can His cause was good. frighten.
Bed. And ours as much above it, Ren. What's then the cause, that I am here As, Renault, thou’rt superior to Cethegus, alone?
Or Pierre to Cassius. Why are we not together?
Pier. Then to what we aim at.
When do we start? or must we talk for ever? Enter Eliot.
Bed. No, Pierre, the deed's near birth; fate 0, sir, welcome!
seems to have set You are an Englishman : when treason's hatch- The business up, and given it to our care; ing,
I hope there's not a heart or hand amongst us, One might have thought you'd not have been But is firm and ready.) behindhand.
The game is for a matchless prize, if won;
If lost, disgraceful ruin.
Ren. What can lose it?
BRAMVEIL, DURAND, BRABE, REVILLIDO, Trusts not another. Look into their stores
A tattered fleet, a murmuring unpaid army, Is this a time for quarrels ? Thieves and rogues Bankrupt nobility, a harassed commonalty, Fall out and brawl: should men of your high A factious, giddy, and divided senate, calling,
Is all the strength of Venice: let's destroy it; Men separated by the choice of Providence Let’s fill their magazines with arms to awe them; From the gross heap of mankind, and set here Man out their fleet, and make their trade mainIn this assembly as in one great jewel,
tain it; To adorn the bravest purpose it e'er smiled on; Let loose the murmuring army on their masters,
you, like boys, wrangle for trifles ? To pay themselves with plunder; lop their noRen. Boys!
bles Bed. Renault, thy hand.
To the base roots, whence most of them first Ren. I thought I'd given my heart
sprung; Long since to every man, that mingles here; Enslave the rout, whom smarting will make But grieve to find it trusted with such tempers,
humble; froward age its weakness. Turn out their droning senate, and possess
That can't forgive my
That seat of empire, which our souls were framed | Would you behold this city flaming? here is for.
A hand, shall bear a lighted torch at noon Pier. Ten thousand men are armed at your nod, To the arsenal, and set its gates on fire. Commanded all by leaders fit to guide
Ren. You talk this well, sir. A battle for the freedom of the world:
Jaf. Nay—by Heaven, I'll do this. This wretched state has starved them in its ser- Come, come, I read distrust in all your faces : vice;
You fear me a villain, and indeed 'tis odd And, by your bounty quickened, they're resol- To hear a stranger talk thus, at first meeting, ved
Of matters that have been so well debated; To serve your glory, and revenge their own: But, I come ripe with wrongs, as you with coun"They've all their different quarters in this city,
cils ! Watch for the alarm, and grumble 'tis so tardy. I hate this senate, am a foe to Venice; Bed. I doubt not, friend, but thy unwearied di- A friend to none, but men resolved, like me, ligence
To push on mischief. Oh! did you but know Has still kept waking, and it shall have ease;
me, After this night it is resolved we meet
I need not talk thus ! No more, till Venice owns us for her lords.
Bed. Pierre, I must embrace him. Pier, How lovelily the Adriatic whore, My heart beats to this man, as if it knew him. Dressed in her flames, will shine! Devouring Ren. I never loved these huggers. Aames!
Jaf. Still I see Such as shall burn her to the watery bottom, The cause delights ye not. Your friends survey And hiss in her foundation. Bed. Now, if any
As I were dangerous—But I come armed Amongst us, that owns this glorious cause, Against all doubts, and to your trust will give Have friends or interest he would wish to save, A pledge, worth more than all the world can pay Let it be told: the general doom is sealed;
for. But I'd forego the hopes of a world's empire, My Belvidera! Hoa! my Belvidera! Rather than wound the bowels of my friend. Bed. What wonder is next? Pier. I must confess, you there have touched Jaf. Let me entreat you, my weakness.
As I have henceforth hopes to call you friends, I have a friend; hear it! such a friend,
That all but the ambassador, and this My heart was ne'er shut to him. Nay, I'll tell Grave guide of councils, with my friend that you,
owns me, He knows the very business of this hour; Withdraw a while, to spare a woman's blushes. But he rejoices in the cause, and loves it:
(Exeunt all but BED. REN. JAF. PIER. We've changed a vow to live and die together, And he's at hand to ratify it here.
Enter BELVIDERA. Ren. How! all betrayed !
Bed. Pierre, whither will this ceremony
lead Pier. No-I've nobly dealt with you; I've brought my all into the public stock:
Jaf: My Belvidera ! Belvidera! I've but one friend, and him I'll share amongst Bel, Who you:
Who calls so loud at this late peaceful hour? Receive and cherish bim; or if, when seen That voice was wont to come in gentle whispers, And searched, you find him worthless, as my And fill my ears with the soft breath of love. tongue
Thou hourly image of my thoughts, where art Has lodged this secret in his faithful breast,
thou? To ease your fears, I wear a dagger here
Jaf. Indeed 'tis late. Shall rip it out again, and give you rost.
Bel. Oh! I have slept and dreamt, Come forth, thou only good í e'er could boast And dreamt again. Where hast thou been, thou of!
loiterer? Enter JAFFIER.
Though my eyes closed, my arms have still been
opened, Bed. His presence bears the shew of manly Stretched every way betwixt my broken slumbers, virtue.
To search, if thou wert come to crown my rest: Jaf. I know you'll wonder all, that thus, un- There's no repose without thee : Oh! the day called,
Too soon will break, and wake us to our sorrow. I dare approach this place of fatal councils; Come, come to bed, and bid thy cares goodBut I'm amongst you, and, by Heaven, it glads me
night. To see so many virtues thus united,
Jaf. Oh, Belvidera! we must change the scene, To restore justice and dethrone oppression. In which the past delights of life were tasted: Command this sword, if you would have it quiet, The poor sleep little; we must learn to watch Into this breast; but, if you think it worthy Our labours late, and early every morning, To cut the throats of reverend rogues in robes, Midst winter frosts, thin clad, and fed with Send me into the cursed assembled senate :
sparing, It shrinks not, though I meet a father there. Rise to our toils, and drudge away the day,