Page images
PDF
EPUB

eyes of truth;

pet forth!

To hunt thy heels, like hell-hounds, through the To carp and cavil at l.is royal right; world;

Therefore, I hold it fitting, with the soonest, That I can place thee in such abject state, To appoint the order of the coronation; As help shall never find thee; where, repining, So to approve our duty to the king, Thou shalt sit down, and gnaw the earth for an- And stay the babbling of such vain gainsayers. guish;

Derb. We all attend to know your highness' Groan to the pitiless winds without return;

pleasure.

(To Gloster. Howl like the midnight wolf amidst the desert, Glost. My lords, a set of worthy men you are, And curse thy life, in bitterness and misery? Prudent and just, and careful for the state ;

J.Sh. Let me be branded for the public scorn, Therefore, to your most grave determination, Turned forth, and driven to wander like a vaga- I yield myself'in all things; and demand bond,

What punishment your wisdom shall think mect Be friendless and forsaken, seek my bread To inflict upon those damnable contrivers, Upon the barren wild, and desolate waste, Who shall, with potions, charms, and witching Feed on my sighs, and drink my falling tears,

drugs, Ere I consent to teach my lips injustice, Practise against our person and our life? Or wrong the orphan who has none to save him! Hast. So much I hold the king your highness' Glost. 'Tis well-we'll try the temper of your

debtor, heart.

So precious are you to the common weal, What hoa! who waits without ?

That I presume, not only for myself,

But in behalf of these my noble brothers, Enter RATCLIFFE, CATESBY, and Attendants.

To say, whoe'er they be, they merit death. Rat. Your highness' pleasure

Glost. Then judge yourselves, convince your Glost. Go, some of you, and turn this strum

Behold my arm, thus blasted, dry, and withered, Spurn her into the strect; there let her perish,

[Pulling up his sleeve. And rot upon a dunghill. Through the city Shrunk like a foul abortion, and decayed, See it proclaimed, that none, on pain of death, Like some untimely product of the seasons, Presume to give her comfort, food, or harbour; Robbed of its properties of strength and office. Who ministers the smallest comfort, dies. This is the sorcery of Edward's wife, Her house, her costly furniture and wealth, Who, in conjunction with that harlot Shore, The purchase of her loose luxurious life, And other like confederate midnight hags, We seize on, for the profit the state.

By force of potent spells, of bloody characters, Away ! Begone!

And conjurations horrible to hear, J. Sh. Oh, thou most righteous judge Call fiends and spectres from the yawning deep, Humbly behold, I bow myself to thee,

And set the ministers of hell at work, And own thy justice in this hard decree : To torture and despoil me of my life. No longer, then, my ripe offences spare,

Hast. If they have done this deedBut what I merit, let me learn to bear.

Glost. If they have done it! Yet, since 'tis all my wretchedness can give, Talk'st thou to me of It's, audacious traitor ! For my past crimes my forfeit life receive; Thou art that strumpet witch's chief abettor, No pity for my sufferings here I crave,

The patron and complotter of her mischiefs, And only hope forgiveness in the grave.

And joined in this contrivance for my death. [Erit SHORE, guarded by CATESBY and others. Nay start not, lords—What ho! a guard, there, Glost. So much for this.-Your project's at an

sirs ! end.

[TO RATCLIFFE. This idle toy, this hilding, scorns my power,

Enter Guards. And sets us all at naught. See that a guard Lord Hastings, I arrest thee of high treason. Be ready at my call.

Seize him, and bear him instantly away. Rat. The council waits

He shall not live an hour. By holy Paul, Upon your highness' leisure,

I will not dine before his head be brought me! Glost. Bid them enter.

Ratcliffe, stay you, and see that it be done :

The rest, that love me, rise and follow me. Enter the Duke of BUCKINGHAM, Earl of DER

[Exeunt GLOSTER, and the lords following. BY, Bishop of Ely, Lord HASTINGS, und others, as to the council. The Duke of Glos- Manent Lord HASTINGS, RATCLIFFE, and TER takes his place at the upper end, then the

Guards. rest sit.

Hast. What! and no more but this-How ! Derb. In happy times we are assembled here,

to the scaffold ? To 'point the day, and fix the solemn pomp. Oh, gentle Ratcliffe ! tell me, do I hold thee? For placing England's crown, with all due rites, Or if I dream, what shall I do to wake, Upon our sovereign Edward's youthful brow. To break, to struggle through this dread confuHast. Some busy meddling knaves, 'tis said,

sion ? there are,

For surely death itself is not so painful As such will still be prating, who presume

As is this sudden horror and surprise.

Rat. You heard, the duke's commands to me And set my burning bosom all in flames : were absolute.

Raving and mad, I Hew to my revenge, Therefore, my lord, address you to your shrift, And writ I know not what-told the protector, With all good speed you may. Summon your That Shore's detested wife, by wiles, had won courage,

thee And be yourself; for you must die this instant. To plot against his greatness He believed it, Hast. Yes, Ratcliffe, I will take thy friendly (Oh, dire event of my pernicious counsel !) counsel,

And, while I meant destruction on her head, And die as a man should; 'tis somewhat hard He has turned it all on thine. To call my scattered spirits home at once: Hast. Accursed jealousy ! But since what must be, must be–let necessity Oh, merciless, wild, and unforgiving fiend! Supply the place of time and preparation, Blindfold it runs to undistinguished mischief, And arm me for the blow. 'Tis but to die, And murders all it meets. Cursed be its rage, 'Tis but toʻventure on that common hazard, For there is none so deadly ; doubly cursed Which many a time in battle I have run; Be all those easy fools who give it harbour; 'Tis but to do, what at that very moment, Who turn a monster loose among mankind, In many nations of the peopled earth,

Fiercer than famine, war, or spotted pestilence; A thousand and a thousand shall do with me; Baneful as death, and horrible as hell! 'Tis but to close my eyes, and shut out day-light, Alic. If thou wilt curse, curse rather thine Own To view no more the wicked ways of men,

falsehood; No longer to behold the tyrant Gloster, Curse the lewd maxims of thy perjured sex, And be a weeping witness of the woes, Which taught thee first to laugh at faith and jusThe desolation, slaughter, and calamities,

tice,
Which he shall bring on this unhappy land. To scorn the solemn sanctity of oaths,

And make a jest of a poor woman's ruin :
Enter ALICIA.

Curse thy proud heart, and thy insulting tongue,
Alic. Stand off, and let me pass--I will, I must That raised this fatal fury in my soul,
Catch bim once more in these despairing arms, And urged my vengeance to undo us both.
And hold him to my heart--O Hastings, Hastings! Hast: Oh, thou inhuman! turn thy eyes away,
Hast. Alas! why com’st thou at this dreadful And blast me not with their destructive beams:
moment,

Why should I curse thee with my dying breath? To fill me with new terrors, new distractions; Begone! and let me die in peace. To turn me wild with thy distempered rage, Alic. Canst thou, Oh, cruel Hastings, leave And shock the peace of my departing soul ?

me thus ! Away! I prithee leave me?

Hear me, I beg thee- I conjure thee, hear me, Alic. Stop a minute

While with an agonizing heart, I swear, Till my full griefs find passage-Oh, the tyrant! By all the pangs I feel, by all the sorrows, Perdition fall on Gloster's head and mine! The terrors and despair thy loss shall give me, Hast. What means thy frantic grief?

My hate was on my rival bent alone. Alic. I cannot speak

on! had I once divined, false as thou art, But I have murdered thee-Oh, I could tell thee! A danger to thy life, I would have died, Hust. Speak, and give ease to thy conflicting I would have met it for thee, and made bare passion ;

My ready faithful breast, to save thee from it. Be quick, nor keep me longer in suspense; Hast. Now mark ! and tremble at Heaven's Time presses, and a thousand crowding thoughts

just award: Break in at once! this way and that they snatch, While thy insatiate wrath, and fell revenge, They tear

my

hurried soul: all claim attention, Pursued the innocence which never wronged And yet not one is heard. Oh! speak, and leave

thee, me;

Behold the mischief falls on thee and me: For I have business would employ an age, Remorse and heaviness of heart shall wait thee, And but a minute's time to get it done in. And everlasting anguish be thy portion: Alic. That, that's my grief’tis I that urge For me, the snares of death are wound about me,

And now, in one poor moment, I am gone. Thus haunt thee to the toil, sweep thee from Oh! if thou hast one tender thought remaining, earth,

Fly to thy closet, fall upon thy knees, And drive thee down this precipice of fate. And recommend my parting soul to mercy. Hast. Thy reason is grown wild. Could thy Alic. Oh! yet before I go for ever from thee, weak hand

Turn thee, in gentleness and pity, to me, Bring on this mighty ruin? If it could,

[Kneeling What have I done so grievous to thy soul, And, in compassion of my strong affliction, So deadly, so beyond the reach of pardon, Say, is it possible you can forgive That nothing but my life can make atonement ? The fatal rashness of ungoverned love? Alic. Thy cruel scorn hath stung me to the For, oh! 'tis certain, if I had not loved thee heart,

Beyond my peace, my reason, fame, and life,

thee on,

Desired to death, and doated to distraction, Like a poor bird, that flutters in its cage,
This day of horror never should have known us. Thou beat'st thyself to death. Retire, I beg
Hast: Oh, rise, and let me hush thy stormy

thee;
sorrows!

[Raising her. To see thee thus, thou know'st not how it Assuage thy tears, for I will chide no more,

wounds me; No more upbraid thee, thou unhappy fair one. Thy agonies are added to my own, I see the hand Heaven is armed against me,

And make the burthen more than I can bear. And, in mysterious providence, decrees

Farewell-Good angels visit thy afflictions, To punish me by thy mistaken hand.

And bring thee peace and comfort from above ! Most righteous doom ! for, oh, while I behold Alic. Oh! stab me to the heart, some pitying thee,

hand! Thy wrongs rise up in terrible array,

Now strike me dead ! And charge thy ruin on me; thy fair fame, Hast. One thing I had forgotThy spotless beauty, innocence, and youth, I charge thee, by our present common miseries; Dishonoured, blasted, and betrayed by me. By our past loves, if yet they have a name; Alic. And does thy heart relent for my undo- By all thy hopes of peace here and hereafter, ing?

Let not the rancour of thy hate pursue Oh, that inhuman Gloster could be moved, The innocence of thy unhappy friend; But half so easily as I can pardon !

Thou know'st who 'tis I mean; Oh! should'st Hast. Here, then, exchange we mutually for

thou wrong her, giveness :

Just Heaven shall double all thy woes upon So may the guilt of all my broken vows,

thee, My perjuries to thee, be all forgotten,

And make them know no end-Remember this, As here my soul acquits thee of my death, As the last warning of a dying man. As here I part without one angry thought, Farewell, for ever! As here I leave thee with the softest tenderness,

[The guards carry Hastings off. Mourning the chance of our disastrous loves, Alic. For ever! Oh, for ever? And begging Heaven to bless and to support thee. Oh, who can bear to be a wretch for ever! Rat. My lord, dispatch; the duke has sent to My rival, too! His last thoughts hung on her,

And, as he parted, left a blessing for her: For loitering in my duty.

Shall she be blest, and I be curst, for ever? Hast. I obey.

No: since her fatal beauty was the cause Alic. Insatiate, savage monster! Is a moment Of all my sufferings, let her share my pains; So tedious to thy malice ? Oh, repay him, Let her, like me, of every joy forlorn, Thou great avenger ! Give him blood for blood : Devote the hour when such a wretch was born; Guilt haunt him! fiends pursue him! lightnings Like me, to deserts and to darkness run, blast him !

Abhor the day, and curse the golden sun; Some horrid, cursed kind of death o'ertake him, Cast every good, and every hope behind; Sudden, and in the fulness of his sins !

Detest the works of nature, loathe mankind : That he may know how terrible it is,

Like me, with cries distracted, fill the air, To want that moment he denies thee now. Tear her poor bosom, rend her frantic hair ; Hast. This rage is all in vain, that tears thy And prove the torments of the last despair ! bosom ;

(Exit.

chide me,

ACT V.

SCENE I.-The Street.

The most-such iron hearts we are, and such

The base barbarity of human kind
Enter BELMOUR and DUMONT.

With insolence, and lewd reproach, pursued her, Dum. You saw her, then ?

Hooting and railing, and, with villanous hands Bel. I met her, as returning,

Gathering the filth from out the common ways, In solemn penance, from the public cross. To burl upon her head. Before her, certain rascal officers,

Dum. Inhuman dogs! Slaves in authority, the knaves of justice, How did she bear it? Proclaimed the tyrant Gloster's cruel orders. Bel. With the gentlest patience; On either side her marched an ill-looked priest, Submissive, sad, and lowly, was her look; Who, with severe, with horrid haggard eyes, A burning taper in her hand she bore, Did, ever and anon, by turns, upbraid her, And on her shoulders, carelessly confused, And thunder, in her trembling ear, damnation. With loose neglect, her lovely tresses hung; Around her, numberless, the rabble flowed, Upon her cheek a faintish flush was spread; Shouldering each other, crowding for a view, Feeble she seemed, and sorely smit with pain, Gaping and gazing, taunting and reviling.

While barefoot as she trod the flinty pavement, Some pitying-But those, alas ! how few ! Her footsteps all along were marked with blood.

H

you?

Yet, silent still she passed, and unrepining; Dum. Oh, that day!
Her streaming eyes bent ever on the earth, The thought of it must live for ever with me.
Except, when in some bitter pang of sorrow, I met her, Belmour, when the royal spoiler
To Heaven she seemed, in fervent zeal, to raise, Bore her in triumph from my widowed home!
And beg that mercy man denied her here. Within his chariot, by his side she sat,
Dum. When was this piteous sight?

And listened to his talk with downward looks, Bel. These last two days.

'Till sudden, as she chanced aside to glance, You know my care was wholly bent on you, Her eyes encountered mine-Oh! then, my friend! To find the happy means of your deliverance, Oh!'who can paint my grief and her amazeWhich, but for Hastings' death, I had not gained. ment! During that time, although I have not seen her, As at the stroke of death, twice turned she pale, Yet divers trusty messengers I've sent,

And twice a burning crimson blushed all o'er her; To wait about, and watch a fit convenience Then, with a shriek, heart-wounding, loud she To give her some relief; but all in vain;

cried, A churlish guard attend upon her steps,

While down her cheeks two gushing torrents ran, Who menace those with death that bring her Fast falling on her hands, which thus she wrungcomfort,

Moved at her grief, the tyrant ravisher, And drive all succour from her.

With courteous action, wooed her oft to turn; Dum. Let them threaten;

Earnest he seemed to plead, but all in vain : Let proud oppression prove its fiercest malice; Even to the last she bent her sight towards me, So Heaven befriend my soul, as here I vow And followed me—till I had lost myself. To give her help, and share one fortune with her. Bel. Alas ! for pity! Oh! those speaking tears! Bel. Mean you to see her, thus, in your own Could they be false? Did she not suffer with

form? Dum. I do.

For though the king by force possessed her perBel. And have you thought upon the conse- son, quence?

Her unconsenting heart still dwelt with you: Dum. What is there I should fear?

If all her former woes were not enough, Bel. Have you examined

Look on her now; behold her where she wanInto your inmost heart, and tried at leisure

ders, The several secret springs that move the passions? Hunted to death, distressed on every side, Has mercy fixed her empire there so sure, With no one hand to help; and tell me then, That wrath and vengeance never may return? If ever misery were known like hers? Can you resume a husband's name, and bid Dum. And can she bear it? can that delicate That wakeful dragon, fierce resentment, sleep?

frame Dum. Why dost thou search so deep, and urge Endure the beating of a storm so rude? my memory

Can she, for whom the various seasons changed, To conjure up my wrongs to life again? To court her appetite and crown her board, I have long laboured to forget myself,

For whom the foreign vintages were pressed, To think on all time backward like

a space

For whom the merchant spread his silken stores, Idle and void, where nothing e'er had being;

Can she But thou hast peopled it again : Revenge Entreat for bread, and want the needful raiment, And jealousy renew their horrid forms, To wrap her shivering bosom from the weather? Shoot all their fires, and drive me to distraction. When she was mine, no care came ever nigh her; Bel. Far be the thought from me! my care I thought the gentlest breeze, that wakes the was only

spring, To arm you for the meeting : better were it Too rough to breathe upon her; chearfulness Never to see her, than to let that name Danced all the day before her, and at night Recall forgotten rage, and make the husband Soft slumbers waited on her downy pillowDestroy the generous pity of Dumont.

Now sad and shelterless, perhaps, she lies, Dum. O thou hast set my busy brain at work, Where piercing winds blow sharp, and the chill And now she musters up a train of images,

rain Which, to preserve my peace, I had cast aside, Drops from some pent-house on her wretched And sunk in deep oblivion-Oh, that form!

head, That angel face on which my dotage hung! Drenches her locks, and kills her with the cold. How have I gazed upon her, till my soul It is too much-Hence with her past offences ! With very eagerness went forth towards her, They are atoned at full-Why stay we, then? And issued at my eyes-Was there a gem Oh ! let us haste, my friend, and find her out. Which the sun ripens in the Indian mine, Bel. Somewhere about this quarterof the town, Or the rich bosom of the ocean yields;

I hear the poor abandoned creature lingers : What was there art could make, or wealth could Her guard, though set with strictest watch to

buy, Which I have left unsought to deck her beauty ? All food and friendship from her, yet permit her What could her king do more!-And yet she fled. To wander in the streets, there choose her bed, Bel. Away with that sad fancy

And rest her head on what cold stone she pleases.

[ocr errors]

keep

[ocr errors]

Dum. Here let us then divide; each in his When my approaches made a little holiday, round

And every face was dressed in smiles to meet me: To search her sorrows out; whose hap it is But now 'tis otherwise; and those who blessed First to behold her, this way let him lead

me, Her fainting steps, and meet we here together. Now curse me to my face. Why should I wander,

(Ereunt. Stray further on, for I can die even here !

[She sits down at the door. Enter JANE SHORE, her hair hanging loose on her shoulders, and bare-footed.

Enter Alicia in disorder, tuo Servunts followJ. Sh. Yet, yet endure, nor murmur, oh, my

ing. soul !

Alic. What wretch art thou, whose misery For are not thy transgressions great and number- and baseness less?

Hang on my door; whose hateful whine of woe Do they not cover thee like rising floods, Breaks in upon my sorrows, and distracts And press thee like a weight of waters down? My jarring senses with thy beggar's cry? Does not the hand of righteousness afflict thee? J. Sh. A very beggar, and a wretch, indeed; And who shall plead against it? Who shall say One driven by strong calamity to seek To Power Almighty, thou hast done enough ; For succours here; one perishing for want, Or bid his dreadful rod of vengeance stay?

Whose hunger has not tasted food those three Wait then with patience, till the circling hours

days:
Shall bring the time of thy appointed rest, And humbly asks, for charity's dear sake,
And lay thee down in death. The hireling, thus, A draught of water and a little bread.
With labour drudges out the painful day,

Alic. And dost thou come to me, to me for And often looks with long expecting eyes

bread? To see the shadows rise, and be dismissed. I know thee not-Go-hunt for it abroad, And hark, methinks the roar, that late pursued Where wanton hands upon the earth have scatme,

tered it, Sinks like the murmurs of a falling wind, Or cast it on the waters–Mark the eagle And softens into silence. Does revenge And hungry vulture, when they wind the prey; And malice then grow weary, and forsake me? Watch where the ravens of the valley feed, My guard, too, that observed me still so close, And seek thy food with them. I know thee not. Tire in the task of their inhuman office,

J. Sh. And yet there was a time, when my And loiter far behind. Alas ! I faint,

Alicia My spirits fail at once- This is the door Has thought unhappy Shore her dearest blessing, of my Alicia-Blessed opportunity !

And mourned the live-long day she passed withI'll steal a little succour from her goodness,

out me; Now while no eye observes me.

When, paired like turtles, we were still toge(She knocks at the door.

ther;

When often, as we prattled arm in arm,
Enter a Servant.

Inclining fondly to me, she has sworn, 1 Is your lady,

She loved me more than all the world besides. My gentle friend, at home? Oh! bring me to her! Alic. Ha! say'st thou ! Let me look upon

[Going in.

thee wellSer. Hold, mistress, whither would you? 'Tis true, I know thee now A mischief on (Pushing her back.

thee! J. Sh. Do you know me?

Thou art that fatal fair, that cursed she, Ser. I know you well, and know my orders, That set my brain a madding. Thou hast robbed too:

me; You must not enter here

Thou hast undone me

Murder! Oh, my J. Sh. Tell my Alicia,

Hastings ! 'Tis I would see her.

See his pale bloody head shoots glaring by me! Ser. She is ill at ease,

Give me him back again, thou soft deluder, And will admit no visitor.

Thou beauteous witch! J. Sh. But tell her

J. Sh. Alas! I never wronged you'Tis 1, her friend, the partner of her heart, Oh! then be good to me; have pity on me; Wait at the door and beg

Thou never knew'st the bitterness of want, Ser. 'Tis all in vain

And may'st thou never know it. Oh! bestow Go hence, and howl to those that will regard you. Some poor remain, the voiding of thy table,

(Shuts the door, and exit. A morsel to support my famished soul ! J. Sh. It was not always thus; the time has Alic. Avaunt! and come not near me been,

J. Sh. To thy hand When this unfriendly door, that bars my passage, I trusted all; gave my whole store to tliee, Flew wide, and almost leaped from off its hinges, Nor do I ask it back; allow me but To give me entrance here; when this good house The smallest pittance! give me but to eat, Has poured forth all its dwellers to receive me; Lest I fall down, and perish here before thee.

« PreviousContinue »