Thomas Otway

"Venice Preserved; or a Plot Discovered" by Thomas Otway: A TEI Edition by Jesús Tronch based on Robert G. Lawrence's edition





Source text for this digital edition:
Otway, Thomas. Venice Preserved. In: Lawrence, Robert G. (ed.) Restoration Plays. London: J. M. Dent, 1994, pp. 237-309. The Everyman Library
Digital text editor for EMOTHE:
  • Lawrence, Robert G.
  • Tronch Pérez, Jesus (Universitat de València)

Note on this digital edition

Reproduced with kind permission by Joan Lawrence.

For this digital edition, abbreviated names in speech prefixes and stage directions have been expanded.

With the support of research project GVAICO2016-094, funded by Generalitat Valenciana (2016-2017).


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

DUKE OF VENICE
PRIULI Father to Belvidera, a Senator
ANTONIO a Fine Speaker in the Senate
JAFFEIR }
PIERRE }
RENAULT }
BEDAMAR }
SPINOSA }
THEODORE }
ELIOT } Conspirators
REVILLIDO }
DURAND }
MEZZANA }
BRAMVEIL }
TERNON }
BRABE }
RETROSI }
BELVIDERA
AQUILINA
Two Women Attendants on Belvidera.
Two Women Servants to Aquilina.
The Council of Ten.
Officer
Guards
Friar [referred to as ‘Father’]
Executioner and Rabble

PROLOGUE

1
In these distracted times, when each man dreads
2
The bloody stratagems of busy heads;
3
When we have feared three years we know not what,
4
Till witnesses begin to die o' th' rot,
5
What made our poet meddle with a plot?
6
Was't that he fancied, for the very sake
7
And name of plot, his trifling play might take?
8
For there's not in't one inch-board evidence,
9
But 'tis, he says, to reason plain and sense,
10
And that he thinks a plausible defence.
11
Were Truth by Sense and Reason to be tried,
12
Sure all our swearers might be laid aside:
13
No, of such tools our author has no need,
14
To make his plot, or make his play succeed;
15
He of black Bills, has no prodigious tales,
16
Or Spanish pilgrims cast ashore in Wales;
17
Here's not one murther'd magistrate at least,
18
Kept rank like ven'son for a city feast,
19
Grown four days still, the better to prepare
20
And fit his pliant limbs to ride in chair:
21
Yet here's an army raised, though under ground,
22
But no man seen, nor one commission found;
23
Here is a traitor too, that's very old,
24
Turbulent, subtle, mischievous, and bold,
25
Bloody, revengeful, and to crown his part,
26
Loves fumbling with a wench, with all his heart;
27
Till after having many changes passed,
28
In spite of age (thanks heaven) is hanged at last:
29
Next is a senator that keeps a whore,
30
In Venice none a higher office bore;
31
To lewdness every night the letcher ran,
32
Show me, all London, such another man,
33
Match him at Mother Creswold's if you can.
34
O Poland, Poland! had it been thy lot,
35
T' have heard in time of this Venetian plot,
36
Thou surely chosen hadst one king from thence,
37
And honoured them as thou hast England since.


ACT I

SCENE I

Enter PRIULI and JAFFEIR.

Priuli
38
No more! I'll hear no more; begone and leave.

Jaffeir
39
Not hear me! by my sufferings but you shall!
40
My lord, my lord! I'm not that abject wretch
41
You think me: Patience! where's the distance throws
42
Me back so far, but I may boldly speak
43
In right, though proud oppression will not hear me!

Priuli
44
Have you not wrong'd me?

Jaffeir
Could my nature e'er
45
Have brook'd injustice or the doing wrongs,
46
I need not now thus low have bent myself
47
To gain a hearing from a cruel father!
48
Wronged you!

Priuli
Yes! wronged me, in the nicest point:
49
The honour of my house; you have done me wrong;
50
You may remember (for I now will speak,
51
And urge its baseness): when you first came home
52
From travel, with such hopes as made you looked on
53
By all men's eyes, a youth of expectation;
54
Pleased with your growing virtue, I received you:
55
Courted, and sought to raise you to your merits:
56
My house, my table, nay my fortune too,
57
My very self, was yours; you might have used me
58
To your best service; like an open friend,
59
I treated, trusted you, and thought you mine;
60
When in requital of my best endeavours,
61
You treacherously practised to undo me,
62
Seduced the weakness of my age's darling,
63
My only child, and stole her from my bosom:
64
O Belvidera!

Jaffeir
'Tis to me you owe her,
65
Childless you had been else, and in the grave,
66
Your name extinct, nor no more Priuli heard of.
67
You may remember, scarce five years are past,
68
Since in your brigandine you sailed to see
69
The Adriatic wedded by our Duke,
70
And I was with you: your unskilful pilot
71
Dashed us upon a rock; when to your boat
72
You made for safety; entered first yourself;
73
The affrighted Belvidera following next,
74
And she stood trembling on the vessel side,
75
Was by a wave washed off into the deep,
76
When instantly I plunged into the sea,
77
And buffeting the billows to her rescue,
78
Redeemed her life with half the loss of mine:
79
Like a rich conquest in one hand I bore her,
80
And with the other dashed the saucy waves,
81
That thronged and pressed to rob me of my prize:
82
I brought her, gave her to your despairing arms:
83
Indeed you thanked me; but a nobler gratitude
84
Rose in her soul: for from that hour she loved me,
85
Till for her life she paid me with herself.

Priuli
86
You stole her from me, like a thief you stole her,
87
At dead of night; that cursed hour you chose
88
To rifle me of all my heart held dear.
89
May all your joys in her prove false like mine;
90
A sterile fortune and a barren bed,
91
Attend you both; continual discord make
92
Your days and nights bitter and grievous: still
93
May the hard hand of a vexatious need
94
Oppress, and grind you; till at last you find
95
The curse of disobedience all your portion.

Jaffeir
96
Half of your curse you have bestowed in vain,
97
Heaven has already crowned our faithful loves
98
With a young boy, sweet as his mother's beauty.
99
May he live to prove more gentle than his grandsire,
100
And happier than his father!

Priuli
Rather live
101
To bait thee for his bread, and din your ears
102
With hungry cries: whilst his unhappy mother
103
Sits down and weeps in bitterness of want.

Jaffeir
104
You talk as if 'twould please you.

Priuli
'Twould, by Heaven.
105
Once she was dear indeed; the drops that fell
106
From my sad heart, when she forgot her duty,
107
The fountain of my life was not so precious:
108
But she is gone, and if I am a man
109
I will forget her.

Jaffeir
110
Would I were in my grave!

Priuli
And she too with thee;
111
For, living here, you're but my cursed remembrancers
112
I once was happy.

Jaffeir
113
You use me thus, because you know my soul
114
Is fond of Belvidera: you perceive
115
My life feeds on her, therefore thus you treat me
116
Oh! could my soul ever have known satiety:
117
Were I that thief, the doer of such wrongs
118
As you upbraid me with, what hinders me,
119
But I might send her back to you with contumely,
120
And court my fortune where she would be kinder!

Priuli
121
You dare not do't –

Jaffeir
Indeed, my lord, I dare not.
122
My heart that awes me is too much my master:
123
Three years are past since first our vows were plighted,
124
During which time, the world must bear me witness,
125
I have treated Belvidera like your daughter,
126
The daughter of a senator of Venice;
127
Distinction, place, attendance, and observance,
128
Due to her birth, she always has commanded;
129
Out of my little fortune I have done this;
130
Because (though hopeless e'er to win your nature)
131
The world might see, I loved her for herself,
132
Not as the heiress of the great Priuli –

Priuli
133
No more!

Jaffeir
Yes! all, and then adieu for ever.
134
There's not a wretch that lives on common charity
135
But's happier than me: for I have known
136
The luscious sweets of plenty; every night
137
Have slept with soft content about my head,
138
And never waked but to a joyful morning;
139
Yet now must fall like a full ear of corn,
140
Whose blossom scaped, yet's withered in the ripening.

Priuli
141
Home and be humble, study to retrench;
142
Discharge the lazy vermin of thy hall,
143
Those pageants of thy folly,
144
Reduce the glittering trappings of thy wife
145
To humble weeds, fit for thy little state;
146
Then to some suburb cottage both retire;
147
Drudge, to feed loathsome life: get brats, and starve –
148
Home, home, I say. –

[Exit PRIULI.

Jaffeir
Yes, if my heart would let me –
149
This proud, this swelling heart: home I would go,
150
But that my doors are hateful to my eyes,
151
Filled and dammed up with gaping creditors,
152
Watchful as fowlers when their game will spring;
153
I have now not fifty ducats in the world,
154
Yet still I am in love, and pleased with ruin.
155
O Belvidera! oh, she is my wife –
156
And we will bear our wayward fate together,
157
But ne'er know comfort more.

Enter PIERRE.

Pierre
My friend, good morrow!
158
How fares the honest partner of my heart?
159
What, melancholy! not a word to spare me?

Jaffeir
160
I'm thinking, Pierre, how that damned starving quality
161
Called Honesty got footing in the world.

Pierre
162
Why, powerful Villainy first set it up,
163
For its own ease and safety: honest men
164
Are the soft easy cushions on which knaves
165
Repose and fatten: were all mankind villains,
166
They'd starve each other; lawyers would want practice,
167
Cut-throats rewards: each man would kill his brother
168
Himself, none would be paid or hanged for murder:
169
Honesty was a cheat invented first
170
To bind the hands of bold deserving rogues,
171
That fools and cowards might sit safe in power,
172
And lord it uncontrolled above their betters.

Jaffeir
173
Then Honesty is but a notion.

Pierre
Nothing else,
174
Like wit, much talked of, not to be defined:
175
He that pretends to most, too, has least share in't;
176
'Tis a ragged virtue: Honesty! no more on't.

Jaffeir
177
Sure thou art honest?

Pierre
So indeed men think me.
178
But they're mistaken, Jaffeir; I am a rogue
179
As well as they;
180
A fine gay bold-faced villain, as thou seest me;
181
'Tis true, I pay my debts when they're contracted;
182
I steal from no man; would not cut a throat
183
To gain admission to a great man's purse,
184
Or a whore's bed; I'd not betray my friend,
185
To get his place or fortune: I scorn to flatter
186
A blown-up fool above me, or crush the wretch beneath me,
187
Yet, Jaffeir, for all this, I am a villain!

Jaffeir
188
A villain –

Pierre
Yes, a most notorious villain:
189
To see the suff'rings of my fellow-creatures,
190
And own myself a man: to see our senators
191
Cheat the deluded people with a show
192
Of Liberty, which yet they ne'er must taste of;
193
They say, by them our hands are free from fetters,
194
Yet whom they please they lay in basest bonds;
195
Bring whom they please to Infamy and Sorrow;
196
Drive us like wracks down the rough tide of power,
197
Whilst no hold's left to save us from destruction;
198
All that bear this are villains; and I one,
199
Not to rouse up at the great call of nature,
200
And check the growth of these domestic spoilers,
201
That make us slaves and tell us 'tis our charter.

Jaffeir
202
O Aquilina! Friend, to lose such beauty,
203
The dearest purchase of thy noble labours;
204
She was thy right by conquest, as by love.

Pierre
205
O Jaffeir! I'd so fixed my heart upon her,
206
That wheresoe'er I framed a scheme of life
207
For time to come, she was my only joy
208
With which I wished to sweeten future cares;
209
I fancied pleasures, none but one that loves
210
And dotes as I did can imagine like 'em:
211
When in the extremity of all these hopes,
212
In the most charming hour of expectation,
213
Then when our eager wishes soar the highest,
214
Ready to stoop and grasp the lovely game,
215
A haggard owl, a worthless kite of prey,
216
With his foul wings sailed in and spoiled my quarry.

Jaffeir
217
I know the wretch, and scorn him as thou hat'st him.

Pierre
218
Curse on the common good that's so protected!
219
Where every slave that heaps up wealth enough
220
To do much wrong becomes a lord of right:
221
I, who believed no ill could e'er come near me,
222
Found in the embraces of my Aquilina
223
A wretched old but itching senator;
224
A wealthy fool, that had bought out my title,
225
A rogue, that uses beauty like a lambskin,
226
Barely to keep him warm: that filthy cuckoo too
227
Was in my absence crept into my nest,
228
And spoiling all my brood of noble pleasure.

Jaffeir
229
Didst thou not chase him thence?

Pierre
I did, and drove
230
The rank old bearded Hirco stinking home:
231
The matter was complained of in the Senate,
232
I summoned to appear, and censured basely,
233
For violating something they call privilege –
234
This was the recompense of my service:
235
Would I'd been rather beaten by a coward!
236
A soldier's mistress, Jaffeir, 's his religion,
237
When that's profaned, all other ties are broken;
238
That even dissolves all former bonds of service,
239
And from that hour I think myself as free
240
To be the foe as e'er the friend of Venice. –
241
Nay, dear Revenge, whene'er thou call'st I'm ready.

Jaffeir
242
I think no safety can be here for virtue,
243
And grieve, my friend, as much as thou to live
244
In such a wretched state as this of Venice;
245
Where all agree to spoil the public good,
246
And villains fatten with the brave man's labours.

Pierre
247
We have neither safety, unity, nor peace,
248
For the foundation's lost of common good.
249
Justice is lame as well as blind amongst us;
250
The laws (corrupted to their ends that make 'em)
251
Serve but for instruments of some new tyranny,
252
That every day starts up to enslave us deeper:
253
Now could this glorious cause but find out friends
254
To do it right! O Jaffeir! then might'st thou
255
Not wear these seals of woe upon thy face.
256
The proud Priuli should be taught humanity,
257
And learn to value such a son as thou art.
258
I dare not speak! But my heart bleeds this moment!

Jaffeir
259
Cursed be the cause, though I thy friend be part on't:
260
Let me partake the troubles of my bosom,
261
For I am used to misery, and perhaps
262
May find a way to sweeten 't to thy spirit.

Pierre
263
Too soon it will reach thy knowledge –

Jaffeir
Then from thee
264
Let it proceed. There's virtue in thy friendship
265
Would make the saddest tale of sorrow pleasing,
266
Strengthen my constancy, and welcome ruin.

Pierre
267
Then thou art ruined!

Jaffeir
That I long since knew;
268
I and ill-fortune have been long acquaintance.

Pierre
269
I passed this very moment by thy doors,
270
And found them guarded by a troop of villains;
271
The sons of public rapine were destroying:
272
They told me, by the sentence of the law
273
They had commission to seize all thy fortune,
274
Nay more, Priuli's cruel hand hath signed it.
275
Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face
276
Lording it o'er a pile of massy plate,
277
Tumbled into a heap for public sale:
278
There was another making villainous jests
279
At thy undoing; he had ta'en possession
280
Of all thy ancient most domestic ornaments,
281
Rich hangings, intermixed and wrought with gold;
282
The very bed, which on thy wedding-night
283
Received thee to the arms of Belvidera,
284
The scene of all thy joys, was violated
285
By the coarse hands of filthy dungeon villains,
286
And thrown amongst the common lumber.

Jaffeir
287
Now, thanks Heaven –

Pierre
288
Thank Heaven! for what?

Jaffeir
That I am not worth a ducat.

Pierre
289
Curse thy dull stars, and the worse fate of Venice,
290
Where brothers, friends, and fathers, all are false;
291
Where there's no trust, no truth; where Innocence
292
Stoops under vile Oppression, and Vice lords it:
293
Hadst thou but seen, as I did, how at last
294
Thy beauteous Belvidera, like a wretch
295
That's doomed to banishment, came weeping forth,
296
Shining through tears, like April suns in showers
297
That labour to o'ercome the cloud that loads 'em,
298
Whilst two young virgins, on whose arms she leaned,
299
Kindly looked up, and at her grief grew sad,
300
As if they catched the sorrows that fell from her:
301
Even the lewd rabble that were gathered round
302
To see the sight, stood mute when they beheld her;
303
Governed their roaring throats and grumbled pity:
304
I could have hugged the greasy rogues: they pleased me.

Jaffeir
305
I thank thee for this story, from my soul,
306
Since now I know the worst that can befall me:
307
Ah, Pierre! I have a heart, that could have borne
308
The roughest wrong my fortune could have done me:
309
But when I think what Belvidera feels,
310
The bitterness her tender spirit tastes of,
311
I own myself a coward: bear my weakness,
312
If throwing thus my arms about thy neck,
313
I play the boy, and blubber in thy bosom.
314
Oh! I shall drown thee with my sorrows!

Pierre
Burn!
315
First burn, and level Venice to thy ruin.
316
What! starve like beggars' brats in frosty weather,
317
Under a hedge, and whine ourselves to death!
318
Thou, or thy cause, shall never want assistance,
319
Whilst I have blood or fortune fit to serve thee;
320
Command my heart: thou art every way its master.

Jaffeir
321
No: there's a secret pride in bravely dying.

Pierre
322
Rats die in holes and corners, dogs run mad;
323
Man knows a braver remedy for sorrow:
324
Revenge! the attribute of gods, they stamped it
325
With their great image on our natures; die!
326
Consider well the cause that calls upon thee:
327
And if thou'rt base enough, die then: remember
328
Thy Belvidera suffers: Belvidera!
329
Die! –damn first! –what! be decently interred
330
In a churchyard, and mingle thy brave dust
331
With stinking rogues that rot in dirty winding-sheets,
332
Surfeit-slain fools, the common dung o' th' soil.

Jaffeir
333
Oh!

Pierre
Well said, out with't, swear a little –

Jaffeir
Swear!
334
By sea and air! by earth, by heaven and hell.
335
I will revenge my Belvidera's tears!
336
Hark thee, my friend –Priuli –is –a Senator!

Pierre
337
A dog!

Jaffeir
Agreed.

Pierre
Shoot him.

Jaffeir
With all my heart.
338
No more: where shall we meet at night?

Pierre
I'll tell thee;
339
On the Rialto every night at twelve
340
I take my evening's walk of meditation,
341
There we two will meet, and talk of precious
342
Mischief –

Jaffeir
Farewell.

Pierre
At twelve.

Jaffeir
At any hour, my plagues
343
Will keep me waking.
[Exit PIERRE.
344
Tell me why, good Heaven,
345
Thou mad'st me what I am, with all the spirit,
346
Aspiring thoughts and elegant desires
347
That fill the happiest man? Ah! rather why
348
Didst thou not form me sordid as my fate,
349
Base-minded, dull, and fit to carry burdens?
350
Why have I sense to know the curse that's on me?
351
Is this just dealing Nature? Belvidera!
Enter BELVIDERA.
352
Poor Belvidera!

Belvidera
353
Lead me, lead me, my virgins,
354
To that kind voice. My lord, my love, my refuge!
355
Happy my eyes, when they behold thy face:
356
My heavy heart will leave its doleful beating
357
At sight of thee, and bound with sprightful joys.
358
O smile, as when our loves were in their spring,
359
And cheer my fainting soul.

Jaffeir
As when our loves
360
Were in their spring? has then my fortune changed?
361
Art thou not Belvidera, still the same,
362
Kind, good, and tender, as my arms first found thee?
363
If thou art altered, where shall I have harbour?
364
Where ease my loaded heart? Oh! where complain?

Belvidera
365
Does this appear like change, or love decaying?
366
When thus I throw myself into my bosom,
367
With all the resolution of a strong truth:
368
Beats not my heart, as 'twould alarum thine
369
To a new charge of bliss; I joy more in thee,
370
Than did thy mother when she hugged thee first,
371
And blessed the gods for all her travail past.

Jaffeir
372
Can there in woman be such glorious faith?
373
Sure all ill stories of thy sex are false.
374
O woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
375
To temper man: we had been brutes without you:
376
Angels are painted fair, to look like you;
377
There's in you all that we believe of heaven,
378
Amazing brightness, purity and truth,
379
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.

Belvidera
380
If love be treasure, we'll be wondrous rich;
381
I have so much, my heart will surely break with 't;
382
Vows cannot express it; when I would declare
383
How great's my joy, I am dumb with the big thought;
384
I swell, and sigh, and labour with my longing.
385
O lead me to some desert wide and wild,
386
Barren as our misfortunes, where my soul
387
May have its vent: where I may tell aloud
388
To the high heavens, and ever-list'ning planet,
389
With what a boundless stock my bosom's fraught!
390
Where I am throw my eager arms about thee,
391
Give loose to love with kisses, kindling joy,
392
And let off all the fire that's in my heart.

Jaffeir
393
O Belvidera! double I'm a beggar,
394
Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee;
395
Want! worldly Want! that hungry meagre fiend
396
Is at my heels, and chases me in view;
397
Canst thou bear cold and hunger? can these limbs,
398
Framed for the tender offices of love,
399
Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty?
400
When banished by our miseries abroad
401
(As suddenly we shall be), to seek out
402
(In some far climate where our names are strangers)
403
For charitable succour; wilt thou then,
404
When in a bed of straw we shrink together,
405
And the bleak winds shall whistle round our heads,
406
Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then
407
Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love?

Belvidera
408
Oh, I will love thee, even in madness love thee.
409
Though my distracted senses should forsake me,
410
I'd find some intervals, when my poor heart
411
Should 'suage itself and be let loose to thine.
412
Though the bare earth be all our resting-place,
413
Its roots our food, some clift our habitation,
414
I'll make this arm a pillow for thy head;
415
As thou sighing liest, and swelled with sorrow,
416
Creep to thy bosom, pour the balm of love
417
Into thy soul, and kiss thee to thy rest;
418
Then praise our God, and watch thee till the morning.

Jaffeir
419
Hear this, you heavens, and wonder how you made her!
420
Reign, reign, ye monarchs that divide the world,
421
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know
422
Tranquillity and happiness like mine;
423
Like gaudy ships, th' obsequious billows fall
424
And rise again, to lift you in your pride;
425
They wait but for a storm and then devour you:
426
I, in my private bark, already wrecked,
427
Like a poor merchant driven on unknown land,
428
That had by chance packed up his choicest treasure
429
In one dear casket, and saved only that:
430
Since I must wander further on the shore,
431
Thus hug my little, but my precious store;
432
Resolved to scorn, and trust my fate no more.

[Exeunt.

ACT II

[SCENE I]

Enter PIERRE and AQUILINA.

Aquilina
433
By all thy wrongs, thou'rt dearer to my arms
434
Than all the wealth of Venice: prithee stay,
435
And let us love to-night.

Pierre
No: there's fool,
436
There's fool about thee: when a woman sells
437
Her flesh to fools, her beauty's lost to me;
438
They leave a taint, a sully where they've past,
439
There's such a baneful quality about 'em,
440
E'en spoils complexions with their own nauseousness.
441
They infect all they touch; I cannot think
442
Of tasting anything a fool has palled.

Aquilina
443
I loathe and scorn that fool thou mean'st, as much
444
Or more than thou canst; but the beast has gold
445
That makes him necessary: power too,
446
To qualify my character, and poise me
447
Equal with peevish virtue, that beholds
448
My liberty with envy: in their hearts
449
Are loose as I am; but an ugly power
450
Sits in their faces, and frights pleasures from 'em.

Pierre
451
Much good may't do you, madam, with your Senator.

Aquilina
452
My Senator! why, canst thou think that wretch
453
E'er filled thy Aquilina's arms with pleasure?
454
Think'st thou, because I sometimes give him leave
455
To foil himself at what he is unfit for,
456
Because I force myself to endure and suffer him,
457
Think'st thou I love him? No, by all the joys
458
Thou ever gav'st me, his presence is my penance;
459
The worst thing an old man can be's a lover,
460
A mere memento mori to poor woman.
461
I never lay by his decrepit side,
462
But all that night I pondered on my grave.

Pierre
463
Would he were well sent thither!

Aquilina
That's my wish too:
464
For then, my Pierre, I might have cause with pleasure
465
To play the hypocrite; oh! how I could weep
466
Over the dying dotard, and kiss him too,
467
In hopes to smother him quite; then, when the time
468
Was come to pay my sorrows at his funeral,
469
For he's already made me heir to treasures,
470
Would make me out-act a real widow's whining:
471
How could I frame my face to fit my mourning,
472
With wringing hands attend him to his grave,
473
Fall swooning on his hearse, take mad possession
474
Even of the dismal vault where he lay buried,
475
There like the Ephesian matron dwell, till thou,
476
My lovely soldier, com'st to my deliverance;
477
Then throwing up my veil, with open arms
478
And laughing eyes, run to new-dawning joy.

Pierre
479
No more! I have friends to meet me here to-night,
480
And must be private. As you prize my friendship
481
Keep up your coxcomb: let him not pry nor listen
482
Nor fisk about the house as I have seen him,
483
Like a tame mumping squirrel with a bell on;
484
Curs will be abroad to bite him if you do.

Aquilina
485
What friends to meet? may I not be of your council?

Pierre
486
How! a woman ask questions out of bed?
487
Go to your Senator, ask him what passes
488
Amongst his brethren, he'll hide nothing from you;
489
But pump not me for politics. No more!
490
Give order that whoever in my name
491
Comes here, receive admittance: so good-night.

Aquilina
492
Must we ne'er meet again? Embrace no more?
493
Is love so soon and utterly forgotten?

Pierre
494
As you henceforward treat your fool, I'll think on't.

Aquilina
495
Curst be all fools, and doubly curst myself,
496
The worst of fools – I die if he forsakes me;
497
And how to keep him, heaven or hell instruct me.

[Exeunt.
[SCENE II.]
The Rialto
Enter JAFFEIR.

Jaffeir
498
I am here, and thus, the shades of night around me,
499
I look as if all hell were in my heart,
500
And I in hell. Nay, surely 'tis so with me; –
501
For every step I tread, methinks some fiend
502
Knocks at my breast, and bids it not be quiet:
503
I've heard how desperate wretches like myself,
504
Have wandered out at this dead time of night
505
To meet the foe of mankind in his walk:
506
Sure I'm so curst, that, tho' of Heaven forsaken,
507
No minister of darkness cares to tempt me.
508
Hell! hell! why sleepest thou?

Enter PIERRE.

Pierre
Sure I have stayed too long:
509
The clock has struck, and I may lose my proselyte.
510
Speak, who goes there?

Jaffeir
A dog, that comes to howl
511
At yonder moon: what's he that asks the question?

Pierre
512
A friend to dogs, for they are honest creatures
513
And ne'er betray their masters; never fawn
514
On any that they love not: well met, friend:
515
Jaffeir!

Jaffeir
516
The same. O Pierre! thou art come in season,
517
I was just going to pray.

Pierre
Ah, that's mechanic,
518
Priests make a trade on't, and yet starve by it too:
519
No praying, it spoils business, and time's precious;
520
Where's Belvidera?

Jaffeir
For a day or two
521
I've lodged her privately, till I see further
522
What fortune will do with me. Prithee, friend,
523
If thou wouldst have me fit to hear good counsel,
524
Speak not of Belvidera –

Pierre
Speak not of her.

Jaffeir
525
Oh no!

Pierre
526
Nor name her. May be I wish her well.

Jaffeir
527
Who well?

Pierre
Thy wife, thy lovely Belvidera;
528
I hope a man may wish his friend's wife well,
529
And no harm done!

Jaffeir
Y' are merry, Pierre!

Pierre
I am so:
530
Thou shalt smile too, and Belvidera smile;
531
We'll all rejoice; here's something to buy pins,
532
Marriage is chargeable.

Jaffeir
I but half wished
533
To see the Devil, and he's here already.
534
Well!
535
What must this buy, rebellion, murder, treason?
536
Tell me which way I must be damned for this.

Pierre
537
When last we parted, we had no qualms like these,
538
But entertained each other's thoughts like men,
539
Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world
540
Reformed since our last meeting? what new miracles
541
Have happened? has Priuli's heart relented?
542
Can he be honest?

Jaffeir
Kind Heaven! let heavy curses
543
Gall his old age; cramps, aches, rack his bones,
544
And bitterness disquiet wring his heart;
545
Oh, let him live till life become his burden!
546
Let him groan under't long, linger an age
547
In the worst agonies and pangs of death,
548
And find its ease, but late.

Pierre
Nay, couldst thou not
549
As well, my friend, have stretched the curse to all
550
The Senate round, as to one single villain?

Jaffeir
551
But curses stick not: could I kill with cursing,
552
By Heaven, I know not thirty heads in Venice
553
Should not be blasted; Senators should rot
554
Like dogs on dunghills; but their wives and daughters
555
Die of their own diseases. Oh, for a curse
556
To kill with!

Pierre
Daggers, daggers are much better!

Jaffeir
557
Ha!

Pierre
Daggers.

Jaffeir
But where are they ?

Pierre
558
Oh, a thousand
559
May be disposed in honest hands in Venice.

Jaffeir
560
Thou talk'st in clouds.

Pierre
But yet a heart half wronged
561
And thine has been, would find the meaning, Jaffeir.

Jaffeir
562
A thousand daggers, all in honest hands;
563
And have not I a friend will stick one here?

Pierre
564
Yes, if I thought thou wert not to be cherished
565
To a nobler purpose, I'd be that friend.
566
But thou hast better friends, friends whom thy wrongs
567
Have made thy friends; friends worthy to be called so;
568
I'll trust thee with a secret: there are spirits
569
This hour at work. But as thou art a man,
570
Whom I have picked and chosen from the world,
571
Swear, that thou wilt be true to what I utter,
572
And when I have told thee, that which only gods
573
And men like gods are privy to, then swear,
574
No chance or change shall wrest it from my bosom.

Jaffeir
575
When thou wouldst bind me, is there need of oaths?
576
(Greensickness girls lose maidenheads with such counters)
577
For tho u'rt so near my heart, that thou mayst see
578
Its bottom, sound its strength and firmness to thee:
579
Is coward, fool, or villain, in my face?
580
If I seem none of these, I dare believe
581
Thou wouldst not use me in a little cause,
582
For I am fit for honour's toughest task;
583
Nor ever yet found fooling was my province;
584
And for a villainous inglorious enterprise,
585
I know thy heart so well, I dare lay mine
586
Before thee, set it to what point thou wilt.

Pierre
587
Nay, it's a cause thou wilt be fond of, Jaffeir.
588
For it is founded on the noblest basis,
589
Our liberties, our natural inheritance;
590
There's no religion, no hypocrisy in't;
591
We'll do the business, and ne'er fast and pray for't:
592
Openly act a deed, the world shall gaze
593
With wonder at, and envy when it's done.

Jaffeir
594
For liberty!

Pierre
For liberty, my friend!
595
Thou shalt be freed from base Priuli's tyranny,
596
And thy sequestered fortunes healed again.
597
I shall be freed from opprobrious wrongs,
598
That press me now, and bend my spirit downward:
599
All Venice free, and every growing merit
600
Succeed to its just right: fools shall be pulled
601
From Wisdom's seat; those baleful unclean birds,
602
Those lazy owls, who (perched near Fortune's top)
603
Sit only watchful with their heavy wings
604
To cuff down new-fledged virtues, that would rise
605
To nobler heights, and make the grove harmonious.

Jaffeir
606
What can I do?

Pierre
Canst thou not kill a Senator?

Jaffeir
607
Were there one wise or honest, I could kill him
608
For herding with that nest of fools and knaves;
609
By all my wrongs, thou talk'st as if revenge
610
Were to be bad, and the brave story warms me.

Pierre
611
Swear, then!

Jaffeir
I do, by all those glittering stars
612
And yond great ruling planet of the night!
613
By all good powers above, and ill below!
614
By love and friendship, dearer than my life!
615
No power or death shall make me false to thee.

Pierre
616
Here we embrace, and I'll unlock my heart.
617
A council's held hard by, where the destruction
618
Of this great Empire's hatching: there I'll lead thee!
619
But be a man, for thou'rt to mix with men
620
Fit to disturb the peace of all the world,
621
Ad rule it when it's wildest –

Jaffeir
I give thee thanks
622
For this kind warning: yes, I will be a man,
623
And charge thee, Pierre, whene'er thou seest my fears
624
Betray me less, to rip this heart of mine
625
Out of my breast, and show it for a coward's.
626
Come, let's begone, for from this hour I chase
627
All little thoughts, all tender human follies
628
Out of my bosom: vengeance shall have room:
629
Revenge!

Pierre
And liberty!

Jaffeir
Revenge! revenge!

[Exeunt.
[SCENE III.]
The Scene changes to AQUILINA'S house, the Greek Courtesan
Enter Renault

Renault
630
Why was my choice ambition the first ground
631
A wretch can build on? it's indeed at distance
632
A good prospect, tempting to the view,
633
The height delights us, and the mountain top
634
Looks beautiful, because it's nigh to heaven,
635
But we ne'er think how sandy's the foundation,
636
What storm will batter, and what tempest shake us!
637
Who's there?

Enter SPINOSA.

Spinosa
Renault, good morrow! for by this time
638
I think the scale of night has turned the balance,
639
And weighs up morning: has the clock struck twelve?

Renault
640
Yes, clocks will go as they are set. But Man,
641
Irregular Man's ne'er constant, never certain:
642
I've spent at least three precious hours of darkness
643
In waiting dull attendance; 'tis the curse
644
Of diligent virtue to be mixed like mine,
645
With giddy tempers, souls but half resolved.

Spinosa
646
Hell size that soul amongst us it can frighten!

Renault
647
What's then the cause that I am here alone?
648
Why are we not together?
Enter Eliot
O sir, welcome!
649
You are an Englishman: when treason's hatching
650
One might have thought you'd not have been behindhand.
651
In what whore's lap have you been lolling?
652
Give but an Englishman his whore and ease,
653
Beef and sea-coal fire, he's yours for ever.

Eliot
654
Frenchman, you are saucy.

Renault
How!

Enter BEDAMAR the Ambassador, THEODORE, BRAMVEIL, DURAND, BRABE, REVILLIDO, MEZZANA, TERNON, RETROSI, Conspirators.

Bedamar
At difference, fie!
655
Is this a time for quarrels? Thieves and rogues
656
Fall out and brawl: should men of your high calling,
657
Men separated by the choice of Providence,
658
From the gross heap of mankind, and set here
659
In this great assembly as in one great jewel,
660
To adorn the bravest purpose it e'er smiled on,
661
Should you like boys wrangle for trifles?

Renault
Boys!

Bedamar
662
Renault, thy hand!

Renault
I thought I'd given my heart
663
Long since to every man that mingles here;
664
But grieve to find it trusted with such tempers,
665
Than can't forgive my froward age its weakness.

Bedamar
666
Eliot, thou once hadst virtue; I have seen
667
Thy stubborn temper bend with godlike goodness,
668
Not half thus courted: 'tis thy nation's glory,
669
To hug the foe that offers brave alliance
670
Once more embrace, my friends –we'll all embrace –
671
United thus, we are the mighty engine
672
Must twist this rooted Empire from its basis!
673
Totters it not already?

Eliot
Would it were tumbling!

Bedamar
674
Nay, it shall down: this night we seal its ruin.
Enter PIERRE.
675
O Pierre! thou art welcome!
676
Come to my breast, for by its hopes thou look'st
677
Lovelily dreadful, and the fate of Venice
678
Seems on thy sword already. O my Mars!
679
The poets that first feigned a god of war
680
Sure prophesied of thee.

Pierre
Friends! was not Brutus
681
(I mean that Brutus who in open senate
682
Stabbed the first Cæsar that usurped the world
683
A gallant man?

Renault
Yes, and Catiline too;
684
Though story wrong his fame: for he conspired
685
To prop the reeling glory of his country:
686
His cause was good.

Bedamar
And ours as much above it,
687
As Renault thou art superior to Cethegus,
688
Or Pierre to Cassius.

Pierre
Then to what we aim at
689
When do we start? or must we talk for ever?

Bedamar
690
No, Pierre, the deed's near birth: Fate seems to have set
691
The business up, and given it to our care;
692
I hope there's not a heart nor hand amongst us
693
But is firm and ready.

All
All!
694
We'll die with Bedamar.

Bedamar
O men,
695
Matchless, as will your glory be hereafter.
696
The game is for a matchless prize, if won;
697
If lost, disgraceful ruin.

Renault
What can lose it?
698
The public stock's a beggar; one Venetian
699
Trusts not another: look into their stores
700
Of general safety; empty magazines,
701
A tattered fleet, a murmuring unpaid army,
702
Bankrupt nobility, a harassed commonalty.
703
A factious, giddy, and divided Senate,
704
Is all the strength of Venice: let's destroy it;
705
Let's fill their magazines with arms to awe them,
706
Man out their fleet, and make their trade maintain it;
707
Let loose the murmuring army on their masters,
708
To pay themselves with plunder; lop their nobles
709
To the base roots, whence most of 'em first sprung;
710
Enslave the rout, whom smarting will make humble;
711
Turn out their droning Senate, and possess
712
That seat of empire which our souls were framed for.

Pierre
713
Ten thousand men are armed at your nod,
714
Commanded all by leaders fit to guide
715
A battle for the freedom of the world;
716
This wretched state has starved them in its service,
717
And by your bounty quickened, they're resolved
718
To serve your glory, and revenge their own!
719
They've all their different quarters in this city,
720
Watch for th' alarm, and grumble 'tis so tardy.

Bedamar
721
I doubt not, friend, but thy unwearied diligence
722
Has still kept waking, and it shall have ease;
723
After this night it is resolved we meet
724
No more, till Venice own us for her lords.

Pierre
725
How lovely the Adriatic whore,
726
Dressed in her flames, will shine! devouring flames!
727
Such as shall burn her to the watery bottom
728
And hiss in her foundation.

Bedamar
Now if any
729
Amongst us that owns this glorious cause,
730
Have friends or interest he'd wish to save,
731
Let it be told, the general doom is sealed;
732
But I'd forego the hopes of a world's empire,
733
Rather than wound the bowels of my friend.

Pierre
734
I must confess you there have touched my weakness,
735
I have a friend; hear it, such a friend!
736
My heart was ne'er shut to him: nay, I'll tell you,
737
He knows the very business of this hour;
738
But he rejoices in the cause, and loves it,
739
We've changed a vow to live and die together,
740
And he's at hand to ratify it here.

Renault
How! all betrayed?

Pierre
741
No – I've dealt nobly with you;
742
I've brought my all into the public stock;
743
I had but one friend, and him I'll share amongst you!
744
Receive and cherish him: or if, when seen
745
And searched, you find him worthless, as my tongue
746
Has lodged this secret in his faithful breast,
747
To ease your fears I wear a dagger here
748
Shall rip it out again, and give you rest.
749
Come forth, thou only good I e'er could boast of.

Enter JAFFEIR with a Dagger.

Bedamar
750
His presence bears the show of manly virtue.

Jaffeir
751
I know you'll wonder all, that thus uncalled,
752
I dare approach this place of fatal counsels;
753
But I'm amongst you, and by Heaven it glads me,
754
To see so many virtues thus united,
755
To restore justice and dethrone oppression.
756
Command this sword, if you would have it quiet,
757
Into this breast; but if you think it worthy
758
To cut the throats of reverend rogues in robes,
759
Send me into the cursed assembled Senate;
760
It shrinks not, though I meet a father there;
761
Would you behold this city flaming? Here's
762
A hand shall bear a lighted torch at noon
763
To the Arsenal, and set its gates on fire.

Renault
764
You talk this well, sir.

Jaffeir
Nay – by Heaven I'll do this.
765
Come, come, I read distrust in all your faces;
766
You fear me a villain, and indeed it's odd
767
To hear a stranger talk thus at first meeting,
768
Of matters that have been so well debated;
769
But I come ripe with wrongs as you with counsels,
770
I hate this Senate, am a foe to Venice;
771
A friend to none but men resolved like me,
772
To push on mischief; oh, did you but know me,
773
I need not talk thus!

Bedamar
Pierre! I must embrace him,
774
My heart beats to this man as if it knew him.

Renault
775
I never lov'd these huggers.

Jaffeir
Still I see
776
The cause delights me not. Your friends survey me,
777
As I were dangerous –but I come armed
778
Against all doubts, and to your trust will give
779
A pledge, worth more than all the world can pay for.
780
My Belvidera! Ho! My Belvidera!

Bedamar
781
What wonder next?

Jaffeir
Let me entreat you,
782
As I have henceforth hopes to call ye friends,
783
That all but the ambassador, [and] this
784
Grave guide of councils, with my friend that owns me,
785
Withdraw a while to spare a woman's blushes.

[Exeunt all but BEDAMAR, RENAULT, JAFFEIR, PIERRE.

Bedamar
786
Pierre, whither will this ceremony lead us?

Jaffeir
787
My Belvidera! Belvidera!

Enter BELVIDERA.

Belvidera
788
Who calls so loud at this late peaceful hour?
789
That voice was wont to come in gentler whispers,
790
And fill my ears with the soft breath of love:
791
Thou hourly image of my thoughts, where art thou?

Jaffeir
792
Indeed 'tis late.

Belvidera
Oh! I have slept and dreamt,
793
And dreamt again: where hast thou been, thou loiterer?
794
Tho' my eyes closed, my arms have still been opened;
795
Stretched every way betwixt my broken slumbers,
796
To search if thou wert come to crown my rest;
797
There's no repose without thee: Oh, the day
798
Too soon will break, and wake us to our sorrow;
799
Come, come to bed, and bid thy cares good-night.

Jaffeir
800
O Belvidera! we must change the scene
801
In which the past delights of life were tasted:
802
The poor sleep little, we must learn to watch
803
Ours labours late, and early every morning,
804
Midst winter frosts; then clad and fed with sparing,
805
Rise to our toils, and drudge away the day.

Belvidera
806
Alas! where am I? whither is't you lead me?
807
Methinks I read distraction in your face!
808
Something less gentle than the fate you tell me:
809
You shake and tremble too! your blood runs cold!
810
Heavens guard my love, and bless his heart with patience.

Jaffeir
811
That I have patience, let our fate bear witness,
812
Who has ordained it so, that thou and I,
813
(Thou the divinest Good man e'er possessed,
814
And I the wretched'st of the race of man)
815
This very hour, without one tear, must part.

Belvidera
816
Part! must we part? Oh! am I then forsaken?
817
Will my love cast me off? have my misfortunes
818
Offended him so highly, that he'll leave me?
819
Why drag you from me; whither are you going?
820
My dear! my life! my love!

Jaffeir
O friends!

Belvidera
821
Speak to me.

Jaffeir
Take her from my heart;
822
She'll gain such hold else, I shall ne'er get loose.
823
I charge thee take her, but with tender'st care
824
Relieve her troubles and assuage her sorrows.

Renault
825
Rise, madam! and command amongst your servants!

Jaffeir
826
To you, sirs, and your honours, I bequeath her,
827
And with her this, when I prove unworthy –
[Gives a dagger.
828
You know the rest: –then strike it to her heart;
829
And tell her, he, who three whole happy years
830
Lay in her arms, and each kind night repeated
831
The passionate vows of still-increasing love,
832
Sent that reward for all her truth and sufferings.

Belvidera
833
Nay, take my life, since he has sold it cheaply;
834
Or send me to some distant clime your slave,
835
But let it be far off, lest my complainings
836
Should reach his guilty ears, and shake his peace.

Jaffeir
837
No, Belvidera, I've contrived thy honour.
838
Trust to my faith, and be but fortune kind
839
To me, as I'll preserve that faith unbroken,
840
When next we meet, I'll lift thee to a height,
841
Shall gather all the gazing world about thee,
842
To wonder what strange virtue placed thee there.
843
But if we ne'er meet more –

Belvidera
O thou unkind one,
844
Never meet more? have I deserved this from you?
845
Look on me, tell me, speak, thou dear deceiver,
846
Why am I separated from thy love?
847
If I am false, accuse me; but if true,
848
Don't, prithee, don't in poverty forsake me,
849
But pity the sad heart, that's torn with parting.
850
Yet hear me! yet recall me –

[Exeunt RENAULT, BEDAMAR, and BELVIDERA.

Jaffeir
O my eyes!
851
Look not that way, but turn yourselves awhile
852
Into my heart, and be wean'd all together.
853
My friend, where art thou?

Pierre
Here, my honour's brother.

Jaffeir
854
Is Belvidera gone?

Pierre
Renault has led her
855
Back to her own apartment: but, by Heaven,
856
Thou must not see her more till our work's over.

Jaffeir
857
No.

Pierre
Not for your life.

Jaffeir
O Pierre, wert thou but she,
858
How I could pull thee down into my heart,
859
Gaze on thee till my eye-strings cracked with love,
860
Till all my sinews with its fire extended,
861
Fixed me upon the rack of ardent longing;
862
Then swelling, sighing, raging to be blest,
863
Come like a panting turtle to thy breast,
864
On thy soft bosom, hovering, bill and play,
865
Confess the cause why last I fled away;
866
Own 'twas a fault, but swear to give it o'er
867
And never follow false ambition more.

[Exeunt ambo.

ACT III

[SCENE I]

Enter AQUILINA and her Maid.

Aquilina
868Tell him I am gone to bed: tell him I am not at home; 869tell him I've better company with me, or anything; tell him, in 870short, I will not see him, the eternal, troublesome, vexatious 871fool: he's worse company than an ignorant physician –I'll not 872be disturbed at these unseasonable hours.

Maid
873But madam! He's here already, just entered the doors.

Aquilina
874Turn him out again, you unnecessary, useless, giddy-brained 875ass! If he will not begone, set the house a-fire and burn 876us both: I had rather meet a toad in my dish than that old 877hideous animal in my chamber to-night.

Enter ANTONIO.

Antonio
878Nacky, Nacky, Nacky –how dost do, Nacky? Hurry 879durry. I am come, little Nacky; past eleven o'clock, a late 880hour; time in all conscience to go bed, Nacky –Nacky, did I 881say? Ay Nacky; Aquilina, lina, lina, quilina, quilina, quilina, 882Aquilina, Naquilina, Naquilina, Acky, Acky, Nacky, Nacky, 883Queen Nacky –come let's to bed –you Fubbs, you Pugg you – 884you little Puss –Purree Tuzzey –I am a Senator.

Aquilina
885You are a fool, I am sure.

Antonio
886May be so too, sweetheart. Never the worse Senator 887for all that. Come Nacky, Nacky, let's have a game at rump, 888Nacky.

Aquilina
889You would do well, signor, to be troublesome here no 890longer, but leave me to myself: be sober and go home, sir.

Antonio
891Home, Madonna!

Aquilina
892Ay, home, sir. Who am I?

Antonio
893Madonna, as I take it you are my –you are –thou art 894my little Nicky Nacky … that's all!

Aquilina
895I find you are resolved to be troublesome, and so to 896make short of the matter in few words, I hate you, detest you, 897loathe you, I am weary of you, sick of you –hang you, you are 898an old, silly, impertinent, impotent, solicitous coxcomb, crazy 899in your head, and lazy in your body, love to be meddling with 900everything, and if you had not money, you are good for nothing.

Antonio
901Good for nothing! Hurry durry, I'll try that presently. 902Sixty-one years old, and good for nothing: that's brave. – 903 [To the maid.] Come, come, come, Mistress Fiddle-faddle, turn you 904out for a season; go turn out, I say, it is our will and pleasure 905to be private some moments –out, out when you are bid to. – [Puts her out and locks the door.] 906Good for nothing, you say.

Aquilina
907Why, what are you good for?

Antonio
908In the first place, madam, I am old, and consequently 909very wise, very wise, Madonna, d'ye mark that? in the second 910place, take notice, if you please, that I am a Senator, and when 911I think fit can make speeches, Madonna. Hurry durry, I can 912make a speech in the Senate-house now and then –would make 913your hair stand on end, Madonna.

Aquilina
914What care I for your speeches in the Senate-house: if 915you would be silent here, I should thank you.

Antonio
916Why, I can make speeches to thee too, my lovely 917Madonna; for example –my cruel fair one. [Takes out a purse of gold and at every pause shakes it. 918Since it is my fate, that you should with your servant angry 919prove; tho' late at night –I hope 'tis not too late with this to 920gain reception for my love –there's for thee, my little Nicky 921Nacky –take it, here take it –I say take it, or I'll throw it at your 922head –how now, rebel!

Aquilina
923Truly, my illustrious Senator, I must confess your 924honour is at present most profoundly eloquent indeed.

Antonio
925Very well; come, now let's sit down and think upon't 926a little –come sit I say – sit down by me a little, my Nicky 927Nacky, ha! – 928 [Sits down.] Hurry durry –good for nothing –

Aquilina
929No, sir, if you please I can know my distance and 930stand.

Antonio
931Stand: how? Nacky up and I down! Nay, then, let 932me exclaim with the poet,
ErrorMetrica
933
Show me a case more pitiful who can,
934
A standing woman, and a falling man.
935Hurry durry –not sit down –see this, ye gods –You won't sit 936down?

Aquilina
937No, sir.

Antonio
938Then look you now, suppose me a bull, a basan-bull, 939the bull of bulls, or any bull. Thus up I get and with my brows 940thus bent –I broo, I say I broo, I broo, I broo. You won't sit 941down, will you? –I broo –

[Bellows like a bull, and drive her about.

Aquilina
942Well, sir, I must endure this. [She sits down.] Now your 943honour has been a bull, pray what beast will your worship please 944to be next?

Antonio
945Now I'll be a Senator again, and thy lover, little Nicky 946Nacky! 947 [He sits by her.] Ah toad, toad, toad, toad! spit in 948my face a little, Nacky –spit in my face prithee, spit in my face, 949never so little: spit but a little bit –spit, spit, spit, spit, when 950you are bid, I say; do prithee spit –now, now, now, spit: what, 951you won't spit, will you? Then I'll be a dog.

Aquilina
952A dog, my lord?

Antonio
953Ay, a dog –and I'll give thee this t'other purse to let 954me be a dog –and to use me like a dog a little. Hurry durry – 955I will –here 'tis.

[Gives the purse.

Aquilina
956Well, with all my heart. But let me beseech your 957dogship to play your tricks over as fast as you can, that you may 958come to stinking the sooner, and be turned out of doors as you 959deserve.

Antonio
960Ay, ay –no matter for that –that – 961 [He gets under the table] –shan't move me –Now, bow wow wow, bow 962wow …

[Barks like a dog.

Aquilina
963Hold, hold, hold, sir, I beseech you: what is't you do? 964If curs bite, they must be kicked, sir. Do you see, kicked thus.

Antonio
965Ay, with all my heart: do kick, kick on, now I am 966under the table, kick again –kick harder –harder yet, bow wow 967wow, wow, bow –'od I'll have a snap at thy shins –bow wow 968wow, wow, bow –'od she kicks bravely. –

Aquilina
969Nay, then I'll go another way to work with you: and 970I think here's an instrument fit for the purpose. [Fetches a whip and bell. 971What, bite your mistress, sirrah! out, out of doors, you dog, to 972kennel and be hanged –bite your mistress by the legs, you 973rogue –

[She whips him.

Antonio
974Nay, prithee Nacky, now thou art too loving: Hurry 975durry, 'od I'll be a dog no longer.

Aquilina
976Nay, none of your fawning and grinning: but be gone, 977or here's the discipline: what, bite your mistress by the legs, 978you mongrel? out of doors –hout, hout, to kennel, sirrah! go.

Antonio
979This is very barbarous usage, Nacky, very barbarous: 980look you, I will not go –I will not stir from the door, that I 981resolve –hurry durry, what, shut me out?

[She whips him out.

Aquilina
982Ay, and if you come here any more to-night I'll have 983my footmen lug you, you cur: what, bite your poor mistress 984Nacky, sirrah!

Enter Maid.

Maid
985Heavens, madam! What's the matter?

[He howls at the door like a dog.

Aquilina
986Call my footmen hither presently.

Enter two Footmen.

Maid
987They are here already, madam, the house is all alarmed 988with a strange noise, that nobody knows what to make of.

Aquilina
989Go all of you and turn that troublesome beast in the 990next room out of my house –If I ever see him within these walls 991again, without my leave for his admittance, you sneaking rogues, 992I'll have you poisoned all, poisoned, like rats; every corner of 993the house shall stink of one of you; go, and learn hereafter to 994know my pleasure. So now for my Pierre:
ErrorMetrica
995
Thus when godlike lover was displeased,
996
We sacrifice our fool and he's appeased.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II

Enter BELVIDERA.

Belvidera
997
I'm sacrificed! I am sold! betray'd to shame!
998
Inevitable ruin has enclosed me!
999
No sooner was I to my bed repaired
1000
To weigh, and (weeping) ponder my condition,
1001
But the old hoary wretch, to whose false care
1002
My peace and honour was entrusted, came
1003
(Like Tarquin) ghastly with infernal lust.
1004
O thou, Roman Lucrece! thou couldst find friends
1005
To vindicate thy wrong,
1006
I never had but one, and he's proved false;
1007
He that should guard my virtue has betrayed it;
1008
Left me! undone me! O that I could hate him!
1009
Where shall I go! O whither whither wander?

Enter Jaffeir.

Jaffeir
1010
Can Belvidera want a resting place
1011
When these poor arms are open to receive her?
1012
Oh, 'tis in vain to struggle with desires
1013
Strong as my love to thee; for every moment
1014
I'm from thy sight, the heart within my bosom
1015
Moans like a tender infant in its cradle
1016
Whose nurse has left it; come, and with the songs
1017
Of gentle love persuade it to its peace.

Belvidera
1018
I fear the stubborn wanderer will not own me,
1019
'Tis grown a rebel to be ruled no longer,
1020
Scorns the indulgent bosom that first lulled it,
1021
And like a disobedient child disdains
1022
The soft authority of Belvidera.

Jaffeir
1023
There was a time –

Belvidera
Yes, yes, there was a time
1024
When Belvidera's tears, her cries, and sorrows,
1025
Were not despised; when if she chanced to sigh,
1026
Or look but sad –there was indeed a time
1027
When Jaffeir would have ta'en her in his arms,
1028
Eased her declining head upon his breast,
1029
And never left her till he found the cause.
1030
But let her now weep seas,
1031
Cry, till she rend the earth; sigh till she burst
1032
Her heart asunder; still he bears it all;
1033
Deaf as the wind, and as the rocks unshaken.

Jaffeir
1034
Have I been deaf? am I that rock unmoved,
1035
Against whose root tears beat and sighs are sent?
1036
In vain have I beheld thy sorrows calmly!
1037
Witness against me, heavens, have I done this?
1038
Then bear me in a whirlwind back again,
1039
And let that angry dear one ne'er forgive me!
1040
O thou too rashly censur'st of my love!
1041
Couldst thou but think how I have spent this night,
1042
Dark and alone, no pillow to my head,
1043
Rest in my eyes, nor quiet in my heart,
1044
Thou wouldst not, Belvidera, sure thou wouldst not
1045
Talk to me thus, but like a pitying angel
1046
Spreading thy wings come settle on my breast,
1047
And hatch warm comfort there ere sorrows freeze it.

Belvidera
1048
Why, then, poor mourner, in what baleful corner
1049
Hast thou been talking with that witch the night?
1050
On what cold stone hast thou been stretched along,
1051
Gathering the grumbling winds about thy head,
1052
To mix with theirs the accents of thy woes!
1053
Oh, now I find the cause my love forsakes me!
1054
I am no longer fit to bear a share
1055
In his concernments: my weak female virtue
1056
Must not be trusted; 'tis too frail and tender.

Jaffeir
1057
O Portia! Portia! what a soul was thine!

Belvidera
1058
That Portia was a woman, and when Brutus,
1059
Big with the fate of Rome (Heaven guard thy safety!)
1060
Concealed from her the labours of his mind,
1061
She let him see her blood was great as his,
1062
Flowed from a spring as noble, and a heart
1063
Fit to partake his troubles, as his love:
1064
Fetch, fetch that dagger back, the dreadful dower
1065
Thou gav'st last night in parting with me; strike it
1066
Here to my heart; and as the blood flows from it
1067
Judge if it run not pure as Cato's daughter's.

Jaffeir
1068
Thou art too good, and I indeed unworthy,
1069
Unworthy so much virtue: teach me how
1070
I may deserve such matchless love as thine,
1071
And see with what attention I'll obey thee.

Belvidera
1072
Do not despise me: that's the all I ask.

Jaffeir
1073
Despise thee! Hear me –

Belvidera
Oh, thy charming tongue
1074
Is but too well acquainted with my weakness,
1075
Knows, let it name but love, my melting heart
1076
Dissolves within my breast; till with closed eyes
1077
I reel into thy arms, and all's forgotten.

Jaffeir
1078
What shall I do?

Belvidera
Tell me! be just, and tell me
1079
Why dwells that busy cloud upon thy face?
1080
Why am I made a stranger? why that sigh,
1081
And I not know the cause? Why, when the world
1082
Is wrapt in rest, why chooses then my love
1083
To wander up and down in horrid darkness
1084
Loathing his bed, and these desiring arms?
1085
Why are these eyes bloodshot with tedious watching?
1086
Why starts he now? and looks as if he wished
1087
His fate were finished? Tell me, ease my fears;
1088
Lest when we next time meet, I want the power
1089
To search into the sickness of thy mind,
1090
But talk as wildly then as thou look'st now.

Jaffeir
1091
O Belvidera!

Belvidera
1092
Why was I last night delivered to a villain?

Jaffeir
1093
Ha, a villain!

Belvidera
1094
Yes! to a villain! Why at such an hour
1095
Meets that assembly all made up of wretches
1096
That look as hell had drawn 'em into league?
1097
Why, I in this hand, and in that a dagger,
1098
Was I delivered with such dreadful ceremonies?
1099
"To you, sirs, and to your honour I bequeath her,
1100
And with her this: whene'er I prove unworthy,
1101
You now the rest, then strike it to her heart"?
1102
Oh! why's that rest concealed from me? must I
1103
Be made the hostage of a hellish trust?
1104
For such I know I am; that's all my value?
1105
But by the love and loyalty I owe thee,
1106
I'll free thee from the bondage of these slaves,
1107
Straight to the Senate, tell 'em all I know,
1108
All that I think, all that my fears inform me!

Jaffeir
1109
Is this the Roman virtue! this the blood
1110
That boasts its purity with Cato's daughter's!
1111
Would she have e'er betrayed her Brutus?

Belvidera
No:
1112
For Brutus trusted her: wert thou so kind,
1113
What would not Belvidera suffer for thee?

Jaffeir
1114
I shall undo myself, and tell thee all.

Belvidera
1115
Look not upon me, as I am a woman,
1116
But as a bone, thy wife, thy friend, who long
1117
Has had admission to thy heart, and there
1118
Studied the virtues of thy gallant nature;
1119
Thy constancy, thy courage and thy truth,
1120
Have been my daily lesson: I have learnt them,
1121
Am bold as thou, can suffer or despise
1122
The worst of fates for thee, and with thee share them.

Jaffeir
1123
O you divinest Powers! look down and hear
1124
My prayers! instruct me to reward this virtue!
1125
Yet think a little ere thou tempt me further:
1126
Think I have a tale to tell, will shake thy nature,
1127
Melt all this boasted constancy thou talk'st of
1128
Into vile tears and despicable sorrows:
1129
Then if thou shouldst betray me!

Belvidera
Shall I swear?

Jaffeir
1130
No: do not swear: I would not violate
1131
Thy tender nature with so rude a bond:
1132
But as thou hopest to see me live my days,
1133
And love thee long, lock this within thy breast;
1134
I've bound myself by all the strictest sacraments
1135
Divine and human –

Belvidera
Speak!

Jaffeir
To kill thy father –

Belvidera
1136
My father!

Jaffeir
Nay, the throats of the whole Senate
1137
Shall bleed, my Belvidera: he amongst us
1138
That spares his father, brother, or his friend,
1139
Is damned: how rich and beauteous will the face
1140
Of Ruin look, when these wide streets run blood;
1141
I and the glorious partners of my fortune
1142
Shouting, and striding o'er the prostrate dead,
1143
Still to new waste; whilst thou, far off in safety,
1144
Smiling, shalt see the wonders of our daring,
1145
And when night comes, with praise and love receive me.

Belvidera
1146
Oh!

Jaffeir
Have a care, and shrink not even in thought!
1147
For if thou dost –

Belvidera
I know it, thou wilt kill me.
1148
Do, strike thy sword into this bosom: lay me
1149
Dead on the earth, and then thou wilt be safe:
1150
Murder my father! tho' his cruel nature
1151
Has persecuted me to my undoing,
1152
Driven me to basest wants, can I behold him,
1153
With smiles of vengeance, butchered in his age?
1154
The sacred fountain of my life destroyed?
1155
And canst thou shed the blood that gave me being,
1156
Nay, be a traitor too, and sell thy country?
1157
Can thy great heart descend so vilely low,
1158
Mix with hired slaves, bravos, and common stabbers,
1159
Nose-slitters, alley-lurking villains! join
1160
With such a crew and take a ruffian's wages
1161
To cut the throats of wretches as they sleep?

Jaffeir
1162
Thou wrong'st me, Belvidera! I've engaged
1163
With men of souls: fit to reform the ills
1164
Of all mankind: there's not a heart amongst them,
1165
But's as stout as death, yet honest as the nature
1166
Of man first made, ere fraud and vice were fashions.

Belvidera
1167
What's he, to whose curst hands last night thou gav'st me?
1168
Was that well done? Oh! I could tell a story
1169
Would rouse thy lion-heart out of its den
1170
And make it rage with terrifying fury.

Jaffeir
1171
Speak on, I charge thee!

Belvidera
O my love! if e'er
1172
Thy Belvidera's peace deserved thy care,
1173
Remove me from this place: last night, last night –

Jaffeir
1174
Distract me not, but give me all the truth.

Belvidera
1175
No sooner wert thou gone, and I alone,
1176
Left in the power of that old son of mischief;
1177
No sooner was I lain on my sad bed,
1178
But that vile wretch approached me; loose, unbuttoned,
1179
Ready for violation: then my heart
1180
Throbb'd with its fears: oh, how I wept and sighed
1181
And shrunk and trembled; whished in vain for him
1182
That should protect me. Thou, alas, wert gone!

Jaffeir
1183
Patience, sweet Heaven, till I make vengeance sure!

Belvidera
1184
He drew the hideous dagger forth thou gav'st him,
1185
And with upbraiding smiles, he said, "Behold it;
1186
This is the pledge of a false husband's love:"
1187
And in my arms then pressed, and would have clasped me;
1188
But with my cries I scared his coward heart,
1189
Till he withdrew, and muttered vows to hell.
1190
These are thy friends! with these thy life, thy honour,
1191
Thy love, all's staked, and all will go to ruin.

Jaffeir
1192
No more: I charge thee keep this secret close;
1193
Clear up thy sorrows, look as if thy wrongs
1194
Were all forgot, and treat him like a friend,
1195
As no complaint were made. No more, retire;
1196
Retire, my life, and doubt not of my honour;
1197
I'll heal its failings and deserve thy love.

Belvidera
1198
Oh, should I part with thee, I fear thou wilt
1199
In anger leave me, and return no more.

Jaffeir
1200
Return no more! I would not live without thee
1201
Another night to purchase the creation.

Belvidera
1202
When shall we meet again?

Jaffeir
Anon at twelve!
1203
I'll steal myself to thy expecting arms,
1204
Come like a travelled dove and bring thee peace.

Belvidera
1205
Indeed!

Jaffeir
By all our loves!

Belvidera
'Tis hard to part:
1206
But sure no falsehood ever looked so fairly.
1207
Farewell –remember twelve.

[Exit BELVIDERA.

Jaffeir
Let Heaven forget me
1208
When I remember not thy truth, thy love.
1209
How curst is my condition, tossed and justled,
1210
From every corner; Fortune's common fool,
1211
The jest of rogues, an instrumental ass
1212
For villains to lay loads of shame upon,
1213
And drive about just for their ease and scorn.

Enter PIERRE.

Pierre
1214
Jaffeir!

Jaffeir
Who calls !

Pierre
A friend, that could have wished
1215
T' have found thee otherwise employed: what, hunt
1216
A wife on the dull foil! sure a staunch husband
1217
Of all hounds is the dullest? wilt thou never,
1218
Never be weaned from caudles and confections?
1219
What feminine tale hast thou been listening to,
1220
Of unaired shirts; catarrhs and toothache got
1221
By thin-soled shoes? Damnation! that a fellow
1222
Chosen to be a sharer in the destruction
1223
Of a whole people, should sneak thus in corners
1224
To ease his fulsome lusts, and fool his mind.

Jaffeir
1225
May not a man then trifle out an hour
1226
With a kind woman and not wrong his calling?

Pierre
1227
Not in a cause like ours.

Jaffeir
Then, friend, our cause
1228
Is in a damned condition: for I'll tell thee,
1229
That canker-worm called Lechery has touched it,
1230
'Tis tainted vilely: wouldst thou think it, Renault
1231
(That mortified old withered winter rogue)
1232
Loves simple fornication like a priest;
1233
I found him out for watering at my wife:
1234
He visited her last night like a kind guardian:
1235
Faith, she has some temptations, that's the truth on't.

Pierre
1236
He durst not wrong his trust!

Jaffeir
'Twas something late, though,
1237
To take the freedom of a lady's chamber.

Pierre
1238
Was she in bed?

Jaffeir
Yes, faith, in virgin sheets
1239
White as her bosom, Pierre, dished neatly up,
1240
Might tempt a weaker appetite to taste.
1241
Oh, how the old fox stunk, I warrant thee,
1242
When the rank fit was on him!

Pierre
Patience guide me!
1243
He used no violence?

Jaffeir
No, no! out on't, violence!
1244
Played with her neck; brushed her with his grey-beard,
1245
Struggled and towzed, tickled her still she squeaked a little
1246
May be, or so –but not a jot of violence –

Pierre
1247
Damn him!

Jaffeir
Ay, so say I: but hush, no more on't –
1248
All hitherto is well, and I believe
1249
Myself no monster yet: though no man knows
1250
What fate he's born to: sure 'tis near the hour
1251
We all should meet for our concluding orders:
1252
Will the ambassador be here in person?

Pierre
1253
No: he has sent commission to that villain, Renault,
1254
To give the executing charge.
1255
I'd have thee be a man, if possible,
1256
And keep thy temper; for a brave revenge
1257
Ne'er comes too late.

Jaffeir
Fear not, I'm cool as patience:
1258
Had he completed my dishonour, rather
1259
Than hazard the success our hopes are ripe for,
1260
I'd bear it all with mortifying virtue.

Pierre
1261
He's yonder coming this way through the hall;
1262
His thoughts seem full.

Jaffeir
Prithee retire, and leave me
1263
With him alone: I'll put him to some trial,
1264
See how his rotten part will bear the touching.

Pierre
1265
Be careful, then.

[Exit PIERRE.

Jaffeir
Nay, never doubt, but trust me.
1266
What, be a devil! take a damning oath
1267
For shedding native blood! can there be a sin
1268
In merciful repentance? O this villain!

Enter Renault

Renault
1269
Perverse! and peevish! what a slave is Man!
1270
To let his itching flesh thus get the better of him!
1271
Despatch the tool her husband –that were well.
1272
Who's there?

Jaffeir
A man.

Renault
My friend, my near ally!
1273
The hostage of your faith, my beauteous charge, is very well.

Jaffeir
1274
Sir, are you sure of that?
1275
Stands she in perfect health? beats her pulse even?
1276
Neither too hot nor cold?

Renault
What means that question?

Jaffeir
1277
Oh, women have fantastic constitutions,
1278
Inconstant as their wishes, always wavering,
1279
And ne'er fixed; was it not boldly done
1280
Even at first sight to trust the thing I loved
1281
(A tempting treasure too!) with youth so fierce
1282
And vigorous as thine? but thou art honest.

Renault
1283
Who dares accuse me?

Jaffeir
Cursed be him that doubts
1284
Thy virtue: I have tried it, and declare,
1285
Were I to choose a guardian of my honour
1286
I'd put it into thy keeping; for I know thee.

Renault
1287
Know me!

Jaffeir
Ay, know thee: there's no falsehood in thee.
1288
Thou lookst just as thou art: let us embrace.
1289
Now wouldst thou cut my throat or I cut thine?

Renault
1290
You dare not do't.

Jaffeir
You lie, sir.

Renault
How!

Jaffeir
No more.
1291
'Tis a base world, and must reform, that's all.

Enter SPINOSA, THEODORE, ELIOT, REVILLIDO, DURAND, BRAMVEIL, and the rest of the Conspirators.

Renault
1292
Spinosa, Theodore!

Spinosa
The same.

Renault
1293
You are welcome!

Spinosa
You are trembling, sir.

Renault
1294
'Tis a cold night indeed, I am aged,
1295
Full of decay and natural infirmities;
[PIERRE re-enters.
1296
We shall be warm, my friend, I hope, to-morrow.

Pierre
1297
'Twas not well done, thou shouldst have stroked him
1298
And not have galled him.

Jaffeir
Damn him, let him chew on't.
1299
Heaven! where am I? beset with cursed fiends,
1300
That wait to damn me: what a devil's man,
1301
When he forgets his nature –hush, my heart.

Renault
1302
My friends, 'tis late: are we assembled all?
1303
Where's Theodore?

Theodore
At hand.

Renault
Spinosa.

Spinosa
Here.

Renault
1304
Bramveil.

Bramveil
I'm ready.

Renault
Durand and Brabe.

Durand
Command us,
1305
We are both prepared!

Renault
Mezzana, Revillido,
1306
Ternon, Retrosi; oh, you are men, I find,
1307
Fit to behold your fate, and meet her summons.
1308
To-morrow's rising sun must see you all
1309
Decked in your honours! are the soldiers ready?

Omnes.
1310
All, all.

Renault
1311
You, Durand, with your thousand must possess
1312
St. Mark's: you, captain, know your charge already:
1313
'Tis to secure the ducal palace: you,
1314
Brabe, with a hundred more must gain the Secque.
1315
With the like number Bramveil to the Procuralle.
1316
Be all this done with the least tumult possible,
1317
Till in each place you post sufficient guards:
1318
Then sheathe your swords in every breast you meet.

Jaffeir
1319
O reverend cruelty! damn'd bloody villain!

Renault
1320
During this execution, Durand, you
1321
Must in the midst keep your battalia fast,
1322
And, Theodore, be sure to plant the cannon
1323
That may command the streets; whilst Revillido,
1324
Mezzana, Ternon, and Retrosi, guard you.
1325
This done, we'll give the general alarm,
1326
Apply petards, and force the ars'nal gates;
1327
Then fire the city round in several places,
1328
Or with our cannon, if it dare resist,
1329
Batter't to ruin. But 'bove all I charge you,
1330
Shed blood enough, spare neither sex nor age,
1331
Name nor condition; if there live a Senator
1332
After to-morrow, tho' the dullest rogue
1333
That e'er said nothing, we have lost our ends;
1334
If possible, let's kill the very name
1335
Of Senator, and bury it in blood.

Jaffeir
1336
Merciless, horrid slave! –Ay, blood enough!
1337
Shed blood enough, old Renault: how thou charm'st me!

Renault
1338
But one thing more, and then farewell till Fate
1339
Join us again, or separate us ever:
1340
First, let's embrace, Heav'n knows who next shall thus
1341
Wing ye together: but let's all remember
1342
We wear no common cause upon our swords;
1343
Let each man think that on his single virtue
1344
Depends the good and fame of all the rest,
1345
Eternal honour or perpetual infamy.
1346
Let's remember through what dreadful hazards
1347
Propitious Fortune hitherto has led us,
1348
How often on the brink of some discovery
1349
Have we stood tottering, and yet kept our ground
1350
So well, the busiest searchers ne'er could follow
1351
Those subtle tracks which puzzled all suspicion:
1352
You droop, sir.

Jaffeir
No: with a most profound attention
1353
I've heard it all, and wonder at thy virtue.

Renault
1354
Tho' there be yet few hours 'twixt them and Ruin,
1355
Are not the Senate lulled in full security,
1356
Quiet and satisfied, as fools are always?
1357
Never did so profound repose forerun
1358
Calamity so great: nay, our good fortune
1359
Has blinded the most piercing of mankind;
1360
Strengthened the fearful'st, charm'd the most suspectful,
1361
Confounded the most subtle; for we live,
1362
We live, my friends, and quickly shall our life
1363
Prove fatal to these tyrants: let's consider
1364
That we destroy oppression, avarice,
1365
A people nursed up equally with vices
1366
And loathsome lusts, which Nature most abhors,
1367
And such as without shame she cannot suffer.

Jaffeir
1368
O Belvidera, take me to thy arms
1369
And show me where's my peace, for I have lost it.

[Exit JAFFEIR.

Renault
1370
Without the least remorse then let's resolve
1371
With fire and sword t' exterminate these tyrants,
1372
And when we shall behold those curst tribunals,
1373
Stained by the tears and sufferings of the innocent,
1374
Burning with flames rather from Heav'n than ours,
1375
The ragging furious and unpitying soldier
1376
Pulling his reeking dagger from the bosoms
1377
Of gasping wretches; death in every quarter,
1378
With all that sad disorder can produce,
1379
To make a spectacle of horror: then,
1380
Then let us call to mind, my dearest friends,
1381
That there is nothing pure upon the earth,
1382
That the most valued things have most alloys,
1383
And that in change of all those vile enormities,
1384
Under whose weight this wretched country labours,
1385
The means are only in our hands to crown them.

Pierre
1386
And may those Powers above that are propitious
1387
To gallant minds record this cause, and bless it.

Renault
1388
Thus happy, thus secure of all we wish for,
1389
Should there, my friends, be found amongst us one
1390
False to this glorious enterprise, what fate,
1391
What vengeance were enough for such a villain?

Eliot
1392
Death here without repentance, hell hereafter.

Renault
1393
Let that be my lot, if as here I stand
1394
Lifted by Fate amongst her darling sons,
1395
Tho' I'd one only brother, dear by all
1396
The strictest ties of nature; tho' one hour
1397
Had given us birth, one fortune fed our wants,
1398
One only love, and that but of each other,
1399
Still filled our minds: could I have such a friend
1400
Joined in this cause, and had but ground to fear
1401
Meant foul play; may this right hand drop from me,
1402
If I'd not hazard all my future peace,
1403
And stab him to the heart before you: who
1404
Would not do less? Wouldst not thou, Pierre, the same?

Pierre
1405
You've singled me, sir, out for this hard question,
1406
As if 'twere started only for my sake!
1407
Am I the thing you fear? Here, here's my bosom,
1408
Search it with all your swords! am I a traitor?

Renault
1409
No: but I fear your late commended friend
1410
Is little less: come, sirs, 'tis now no time
1411
To trifle with our safety. Where's this Jaffeir?

Spinosa
1412
He left the room just now in strange disorder.

Renault
1413
Nay, there's danger in him: I observ'd him,
1414
During the time I took for explanation,
1415
He was transported from most deep attention
1416
To a confusion which he could not smother.
1417
His looks grew full of sadness and surprise,
1418
All which betrayed a wavering spirit in him,
1419
That laboured with reluctancy and sorrow;
1420
What's requisite for safety must be done
1421
With speedy execution: he remains
1422
Yet in our power: I for my own part wear
1423
A dagger.

Pierre
Well?

Renault
And I could wish it!

Pierre
Where?

Renault
1424
Buried in his heart.

Pierre
Away! we're yet all friends;
1425
No more of this, 'twill breed ill blood amongst us.

Spinosa
1426
Let us draw our swords, and search the house,
1427
Pull him from the dark hole where he sits brooding
1428
O'er his cold fears, and each man kill his share of him.

Pierre
1429
Who talks of killing? who's he'll shed the blood
1430
That's dear to me? is't you? or you? or you, sir?
1431
What, not one speak? how you stand gaping all
1432
On your grave oracle, your wooden god there;
1433
Yet not a word: then, sir, I'll tell you a secret,
1434
Suspicion's but at best a coward's virtue!

[To Renault

Renault
1435
A coward –

[Handless his sword.

Pierre
Put, put up the sword, old man,
1436
Thy hand shakes at it; come, let's heal this breach,
1437
I am too hot; we yet may live friends.

Spinosa
1438
Till we are safe, our friendship cannot be so.

Pierre
1439
Again: who's that?

Spinosa
'Twas I.

Theodore
And I.

Revillido
And I.

Eliot
And all.

Renault
1440
Who are on my side?

Spinosa
Every honest sword;
1441
Let's die like men and not be sold like slaves.

Pierre
1442
One such word more, by Heav'n I'll to the Senate
1443
And hang ye all, like dogs in clusters.
1444
Why peep your coward swords half out their shells?
1445
Why do you not all brandish them like mine?
1446
You fear to die, and yet dare talk of killing?

Renault
1447
Go to thy Senate, and betray us, hasten,
1448
Secure thy wretched life, we fear to die
1449
Less than thou dar'st be honest.

Pierre
That's rank falsehood.
1450
Fear'st not thou death? fie, there's a knavish itch
1451
In that salt blood, an utter foe to smarting.
1452
Had Jaffeir's wife proved kind, he'd still been true.
1453
Foh –how that stinks!
1454
Thou die! thou kill my friend, or thou, or thou,
1455
Or thou, with that lean wither'd wretched face!
1456
Away! disperse all to your several charges,
1457
And meet to-morrow where your honour calls you;
1458
I'll bring that man, whose blood you so much thirst for,
1459
And you shall see him venture for you fairly –
1460
Hence, hence, I say.

[Exit RENAULT angrily.

Spinosa
I fear we've been to blame;
1461
And done too much.

Theodore
1462
'Twas too far urged against the man you loved.

Revillido
1463
Here, take our swords and crush 'em with your feet.

Spinosa
1464
Forgive us, gallant friend.

Pierre
Nay, now ye've found
1465
The way to melt and cast me as you will:
1466
I'll fetch this friend and give him to your mercy:
1467
Nay, he shall die if you will take him from me;
1468
For your repose I'll quit my heart's jewel,
1469
But would not have him torn away by villains
1470
And spiteful villainy.

Spinosa
No; may you both
1471
For ever live and fill the world with fame!

Pierre
1472
Now you are too kind. Whence rose all this discord?
1473
Oh, what a dangerous precipice have we scaped!
1474
How near a fall was all we had long been building!
1475
What an eternal blot had stained our glories,
1476
If one, the bravest and the best of men,
1477
Had fallen a sacrifice to rash suspicion,
1478
Butchered by those whose cause he came to cherish:
1479
Oh, could you know him all as I have known him,
1480
How good he is, how just, how true, how brave,
1481
You would not leave this place till you had seen him;
1482
Humbled yourselves before him, kissed his feet,
1483
And gained remission for the worst of follies;
1484
Come but to-morrow all your doubts shall end,
1485
And to your loves me better recommend,
1486
That I've preserved your fame, and saved my friend.

[Exeunt omnes.

ACT IV

[SCENE I]

Enter JAFFEIR and BELVIDERA.

Jaffeir
1487
Where dost thou lead me? Every step I move,
1488
Methinks I tread upon some mangled limb
1489
Of a rack'd friend: O my dear charming ruin!
1490
Where are we wandering?

Belvidera
To eternal honour;
1491
To do a deed shall chronicle thy name,
1492
Among the glorious legends of those few
1493
That have sav'd sinking nations: thy renown
1494
Shall be the future song of all the virgins,
1495
Who by thy piety have been preserved
1496
From horrid violation: every street
1497
Shall be adorn'd with statues to thy honour,
1498
And at thy feet this great inscription written,
1499
Remember him that propp'd the fall of Venice.

Jaffeir
1500
Rather, remember him, who after all
1501
The sacred bonds of oaths and holier friendship,
1502
In fond compassion to a woman's tears
1503
Forgot his manhood, virtue, truth and honour,
1504
To sacrifice the bosom that relieved him.
1505
Why wilt thou damn me?

Belvidera
O inconstant man!
1506
How will you promise? how will you deceive?
1507
Do return back, replace me in my bondage,
1508
Tell all thy friends how dangerously thou lov'st me,
1509
And let thy dagger do its bloody office;
1510
O that kind dagger, Jaffeir, how 'twill look
1511
Stuck through my heart, drench'd in my blood to th' hilts!
1512
Whilst these poor dying eyes shall with their tears
1513
No more torment thee, then thou wilt be free:
1514
Or if thou think'st it nobler, let me live
1515
Till I'm a victim to the hateful lust
1516
Of that infernal devil, that old fiend
1517
That's damned himself and would undo mankind:
1518
Last night, my love –

Jaffeir
Name, name it not again,
1519
It shows a beastly image to my fancy,
1520
Will make me into madness. Oh, the villain!
1521
That durst approach such purity as thine
1522
On terms so vile: destruction, swift destruction
1523
Fall on my coward-head, and make my name
1524
The common scorn of fools if I forgive him;
1525
If I forgive him, if I not revenge
1526
With utmost rage and most unstaying fury
1527
Thy sufferings, thou dear darling of my life, love.

Belvidera
1528
Delay no longer, then, but to the Senate;
1529
And tell the dismal'st story e'er was utter'd,
1530
Tell 'em what bloodshed, rapines, desolations,
1531
Have been prepared, how near's the fatal hour!
1532
Save thy poor country, save the reverend blood
1533
Of all its nobles, which to-morrow's dawn
1534
Must else see shed: save the poor tender lives
1535
Of all those little infants which the swords
1536
Of murtherers are whetting for this moment:
1537
Think thou already hearst their dying screams,
1538
Think that thou seest their sad distracted mothers
1539
Kneeling before thy feet, and begging pity
1540
With torn dishevell'd hair and streaming eyes,
1541
Their naked mangled breasts besmear'd with blood,
1542
And even the milk with which their fondled babes
1543
Softly they hush'd, dropping in anguish from 'em.
1544
Think thou seest this, and then consult thy heart.

Jaffeir
1545
Oh!

Belvidera
1546
Think too, if [that] thou lose this present minute,
1547
What miseries the next day bring upon thee.
1548
Imagine all the horrors of that night,
1549
Murder and rapine, waste and desolation,
1550
Confusedly ranging. Think what then may prove
1551
My lot! the ravisher may then come safe,
1552
And midst the terror of the public ruin
1553
Do a damn'd deed; perhaps to lay a train
1554
May catch thy life; then where will be revenge,
1555
The dear revenge that's due to such a wrong?

Jaffeir
1556
By all Heaven's powers, prophetic truth dwells in thee,
1557
For every word thou speak'st strikes through my heart
1558
Like a new light, and shows it how't has wandered;
1559
Just what thou'st made me, take me, Belvidera,
1560
And lead me to the place where I'm to say
1561
This bitter lesson, where I must betray
1562
My truth, my virtue, constancy and friends:
1563
Must I betray my friends! Ah, take me quickly,
1564
Secure me well before that thought's renewed;
1565
If I relapse once more, all's lost for ever.

Belvidera
1566
Hast thou a friend more dear than Belvidera?

Jaffeir
1567
No, thou'rt my soul itself; wealth, friendship, honour,
1568
All present joys, and earnest of all future,
1569
Are summ'd in thee: methinks when in thy arms
1570
Thus leaning on thy breast, one minute's more
1571
Than a long thousand years of vulgar hours.
1572
Why was such happiness not given me pure?
1573
Why dash'd with cruel wrongs, and bitter wantings?
1574
Come, lead me forward now like a tame lamb
1575
To sacrifice; thus in his fatal garlands,
1576
Deck'd fine and pleas'd, the wanton skips and plays,
1577
Trots by the enticing flattering priestess' side,
1578
And much transported with his little pride,
1579
Forgets his dear companions of the plain
1580
Till, by her bound, he's on the altar lain,
1581
Yet then too hardly bleats, such pleasure's in the pain.

Enter Officer and six Guards.

Officer
1582
Stand, who goes there?

Belvidera
1583
Friends.

Jaffeir
1584
Friends, Belvidera! hide me from my friends:
1585
By heaven, I'd rather see the face of hell,
1586
Than meet the man I love.

Officer
But what friends are you?

Belvidera
1587
Friends to the Senate and the State of Venice.

Officer
1588
My orders are to seize on all I find
1589
At this late hour, and bring 'em to the Council,
1590
Who now are sitting.

Jaffeir
Sir, you shall be obeyed.
1591
Hold, brutes, stand off, none of your paws upon me.
1592
Now the lot's cast, and Fate do what thou wilt!

[Exeunt guarded.
SCENE [II.]
The Senate-house
Where appear sitting, the DUKE of VENICE, PRIULI, ANTONIO, and eight other Senators.

Duke
1593
Antony, Priuli, Senators of Venice,
1594
Speak; why are we assembled here this night?
1595
What have you to inform us of, concerns
1596
The State of Venice, honour, or its safety?

Priuli
1597
Could words express the story I have to tell you,
1598
Fathers, these tears were useless, these sad tears
1599
That fall from my old eyes; but there is cause
1600
We all should weep; tear off these purple robes,
1601
And wrap ourselves in sackcloth, sitting down
1602
On the sad earth, and cry aloud to Heaven.
1603
Heaven knows if yet there be an hour to come
1604
Ere Venice be no more.

All Senators
How!

Priuli
Nay, we stand
1605
Upon the very brink of gaping ruin.
1606
Within this city's formed a dark conspiracy,
1607
To massacre us all, our wives and children,
1608
Kindred and friends, our palaces and temples
1609
To lay in ashes; nay, the hour too, fix'd;
1610
The swords, for aught I know, drawn e'en this moment,
1611
And the wild waste begun: from unknown hands
1612
I had this warning: but if we are men
1613
Let's not be tamely butchered, but do something
1614
That may inform the world in after ages,
1615
Our virtue was not ruin'd though we were.
[A noise without.
1616
Room, room, make room for some prisoners –

Second Senator
1617
Let's raise the city.

Enter Officer and Guard.

Priuli
Speak there, what disturbance?

Officer
1618
Two prisoners have the guard seiz'd in the streets,
1619
Who say they come to inform this reverend Senate
1620
About the present danger.

Enter JAFFEIR and BELVIDERA guarded.

All
Give 'em entrance –
1621
Well, who are you?

Jaffeir
A villain.

Antonio
Short and pithy.
1622
The man speaks well.

Jaffeir
Would every man that hears me
1623
Would deal so honestly and own his title.

Duke
1624
'Tis rumour'd that a plot has been contriv'd
1625
Against this State; that you have a share in't too.
1626
If you're a villain, to redeem your honour,
1627
Unfold the truth and be restored with mercy.

Jaffeir
1628
Think not that I to save my life come hither,
1629
I know its value better; but in pity
1630
To all those wretches whose unhappy dooms
1631
Are fix'd and seal'd. You see me here before you,
1632
The sworn and covenanted foe of Venice;
1633
But use me as my dealings may deserve
1634
And I may prove a friend.

Duke
The slave capitulates;
1635
Give him the tortures.

Jaffeir
That you dare not do,
1636
Your fears won't let you, nor the longing itch
1637
To hear a story which you dread the truth of,
1638
Truth which the fear of smart shall ne'er get from me.
1639
Cowards are scared with threat'nings; boys are whipp'd
1640
Into confessions: but a steady mind
1641
Acts of itself, ne'er asks the body counsel.
1642
Give him the tortures! Name but such a thing
1643
Again, by Heaven I'll shut these lips for ever,
1644
Not all your racks, your engines, or your wheels
1645
Shall force a groan away –that you may guess at.

Antonio
1646
A bloody-minded fellow, I'll warrant;
1647
A damn'd bloody-minded fellow.

Duke
1648
Name your conditions.

Jaffeir
For myself full pardon,
1649
Besides the lives of two and twenty friends,
[Delivers a list.
1650
Whose names are here enrolled: nay, let their crimes
1651
Be ne'er so monstrous, I must have the oaths
1652
And sacred promise of this reverend Council,
1653
That in a full assembly of the Senate
1654
The thing I ask be ratified. Swear this,
1655
And I'll unfold the secrets of your danger.

All
1656
We'll swear.

Duke
Propose the oath.

Jaffeir
By all the hopes
1657
Ye have of peace and happiness hereafter,
1658
Swear.

All
We all swear.

Jaffeir
To grant me what I've asked,
1659
Ye swear.

All
We swear.

Jaffeir
And as ye keep the oath,
1660
May you and your posterity be blest
1661
Or curst for ever.

All
Else be curst for ever.

Jaffeir
1662
Then here's the list, and with't the full disclose
1663
Of all that threatens you.
[Delivers another paper.
Now Fate, thou hast caught me.

Antonio
1664
Why, what a dreadful catalogue of cut-throats is here!
1665
I'll warrant you not one of these fellows but has a face like a lion.
1666
I dare not so much as read their names over.

Duke
1667
Give orders that all diligent search be made
1668
To seize these men, their characters are public;
1669
The paper intimates their rendezvous
1670
To be at the house of a famed Grecian courtesan
1671
Called Aquilina; see that place secured.

Antonio
1672
What, my Nicky Nacky, hurry durry, Nicky Nacky in the plot –
1673
I'll make a speech. Most noble Senators,
1674
What headlong apprehension drives you on,
1675
Right noble, wise and truly solid senators,
1676
To violate the laws and rights of nations?
1677
The lady is a lady of renown.
1678
'Tis true, she holds a house of fair reception,
1679
And though I say't myself, as many more
1680
Can say as well as I.

Second Senator
My lord, long speeches
1681
Are frivolous here when dangers are so near us;
1682
We all well know your interest in that lady,
1683
The world talks loud on't.

Antonio
Verily, I have done,
1684
I say no more.

Duke
But since he has declared
1685
Himself concerned, pray, captain, take great caution
1686
To treat the fair one as becomes her character,
1687
And let her bed-chamber be searched with decency.
1688
You, Jaffeir, must with patience bear till morning
1689
To be our prisoner.

Jaffeir
Would the chains of death
1690
Had bound me fast ere I had known this minute.
1691
I've done a deed will make my story hereafter
1692
Quotes in competition with all ill ones:
1693
The history of my wickedness shall run
1694
Down through the low traditions of the vulgar,
1695
And boys be taught to tell the tale of Jaffeir.

Duke
1696
Captain, withdraw your prisoner.

Jaffeir
Sir, if possible,
1697
Lead me where my own thoughts themselves may lose me,
1698
Where I may doze out what I've left of life,
1699
Forget myself and this day's guilt and falsehood.
1700
Cruel remembrance, how shall I appease thee!

[Exit guarded.
Noise without.

Voices
1701
More traitors; room, room, make room there.

Duke
1702
How's this? guards!
1703
Where are our guards? shut up the gates, the treason's
1704
Already at our doors.

Enter Officer.

Officer
My lords, more traitors:
1705
Seized in the very act of consultation;
1706
Furnished with arms and instruments of mischief.
1707
Bring in the prisoners.

Enter PIERRE, RENAULT, THEODORE, ELIOT, REVILLIDO, and other Conspirators, in fetters, guarded.

Pierre
You, my lords and fathers
1708
(As you are pleased to call yourselves) of Venice;
1709
If you sit here to guide the course of Justice,
1710
Why these disgraceful chains upon the limbs
1711
That have so often laboured in your service?
1712
Are these the wreaths of triumph ye bestow
1713
On those that bring you conquests home and honours?

Duke
1714
Go on: you shall be heard, sir.

Antonio
1715
And be hanged too, I hope.

Pierre
1716
Are these the trophies I've deserv'd for fighting
1717
Your battles with confederated powers?
1718
When winds and seas conspir'd to overthrow you,
1719
And brought the fleets of Spain to your own harbours:
1720
When you, great Duke, shrunk trembling in your palace,
1721
And saw your wife, th' Adriatic, plough'd
1722
Like a lewd whore by bolder prows than yours,
1723
Stepp'd not I forth, and taught your loose Venetians
1724
The task of honour and the way to greatness,
1725
Rais'd you from your capitulating fears
1726
To stipulate the terms of sued-for peace?
1727
And this my recompense? If I'm a traitor
1728
Produce my charge; or show the wretch that's base enough
1729
And brave enough to tell me I'm a traitor.

Duke
1730
Know you one Jaffeir?

[All the Conspirators murmur.

Pierre
Yes, and know his virtue,
1731
His justice, truth; his general worth and sufferings
1732
From a hard father taught me first to love him.

Enter JAFFEIR guarded.

Duke
1733
See him brought forth.

Pierre
My friend too bound! nay then
1734
Our fate has conquered us, and we must fall.
1735
Why drops the man whose welfare's so much mine
1736
They're but one thing? these reverend tyrants, Jaffeir,
1737
Call us all traitors: art thou one, my brother?

Jaffeir
1738
To thee I am the falsest, veriest slave
1739
That e'er betrayed a generous trusting friend,
1740
And gave up honour to be sure of ruin.
1741
All our fair hopes which morning was to have crown'd
1742
Has this curs'd tongue o'erthrown.

Pierre
So, then, all's over;
1743
Venice has lost her freedom; I my life;
1744
No more, farewell.

Duke
Say, will you make confession
1745
Of your vile deeds and trust the Senate's mercy?

Pierre
1746
Cursed be your Senate: cursed your constitution:
1747
The curse of growing factions and division
1748
Still vex your councils, shake your public safety,
1749
And make the robes of government you wear
1750
Hateful to you, as these base chains to me.

Duke
1751
Pardon or death?

Pierre
Death, honourable death!

Renault
1752
Death's the best thing we ask or you can give.

All Conspirators
1753
No shameful bonds, but honourable death.

Duke
1754
Break up the council: captain, guard your prisoners.
1755
Jaffeir, you are free, but these must wait for judgment.

[Exeunt all the Senators.

Pierre
1756
Come, where's my dungeon? lead me to my straw:
1757
It will not be the first time I've lodged hard
1758
To do your Senate service.

Jaffeir
Hold one moment.

Pierre
1759
Who's he disputes the judgment of the Senate?
1760
Presumptuous rebel –on–

[Strikes JAFFEIR.

Jaffeir
By Heaven, you stir not.
1761
I must be heard, I must have leave to speak;
1762
Thou hast disgrac'd me, Pierre, by a vile blow:
1763
Had not a dagger done thee nobler justice?
1764
But use me as thou wilt, thou canst not wrong me,
1765
For I am fallen beneath the basest injuries;
1766
Yet look upon me with an eye of mercy,
1767
With pity and with charity behold me;
1768
Shut not thy heart against a friend's repentance,
1769
But as there dwells a god-like nature in thee
1770
Listen with mildness to my supplications.

Pierre
1771
What whining monk art thou? what holy cheat,
1772
That wouldst encroach upon my credulous ears
1773
And cant'st thus vilely? hence. I know thee not.
1774
Dissemble and be nasty: leave me, hypocrite.

Jaffeir
1775
Not know me, Pierre?

Pierre
No, I know thee not: what art thou?

Jaffeir
1776
Jaffeir, thy friend, thy once loved, valued friend!
1777
Though now deservedly scorned, and used most hardly.

Pierre
1778
Thou Jaffeir! Thou my once loved, valued friend?
1779
By heavens, thou liest; the man, so call'd, my friend,
1780
Was generous, honest, faithful, just and valiant,
1781
Noble in mind, and in his person lovely,
1782
Dear to my eyes and tender to my heart:
1783
But thou a wretched, base, false, worthless coward,
1784
Poor even in soul, and loathsome in thy aspect,
1785
All eyes must shun thee, and all hearts detest thee.
1786
Prithee avoid, nor longer cling thus round me,
1787
Like something baneful, that my nature's chill'd at.

Jaffeir
1788
I have not wrong'd thee, by these tears I have not.
1789
But still am honest, true, and hope too, valiant:
1790
My mind still full of thee, therefore still noble;
1791
Let not thy eyes then shun me, nor thy heart
1792
Detest me utterly; oh, look upon me,
1793
Look back and see my sad sincere submission!
1794
How my heart swells, as even 'twould burst my bosom;
1795
Fond of its gaol, and labouring to be at thee!
1796
What shall I do? what say to make thee hear me?

Pierre
1797
Hast thou not wronged me? dar'st thou call thyself
1798
Jaffeir, that once loved, valued friend of mine,
1799
And swear thou hast not wronged me? whence these chains?
1800
Whence the vile death which I may meet this moment?
1801
Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou false one?

Jaffeir
1802
All's true, yet grant one thing, and I've done asking.

Pierre
1803
What's that?

Jaffeir
To take thy life on such conditions
1804
The Council have propos'd: thou and thy friends
1805
May yet live log, and to be better treated.

Pierre
1806
Life! ask my life! confess! record myself
1807
A villain for the privilege to breathe,
1808
And carry up and down this cursed city
1809
A discontented and repining spirit,
1810
Burthensome to itself a few years longer,
1811
To lose it, may be, at last in a lewd quarrel
1812
For some new friend, treacherous and false as thou art
1813
No, this vile world and I have long been jangling,
1814
And cannot part on better terms than now,
1815
When only men like thee are fit to live in't.

Jaffeir
1816
By all that's just –

Pierre
Swear by some other powers,
1817
For thou hast broke that sacred oath too lately.

Jaffeir
1818
Then by that hell I merit, I'll not leave thee,
1819
Till to thyself at least thou'rt reconciled,
1820
However thy resentments deal with me.

Pierre
1821
Not leave me!

Jaffeir
No, thou shalt not force me from thee.
1822
Use me reproachfully, and like a slave,
1823
Tread on me, buffet me, heap wrongs on wrongs
1824
On my poor head: I'll bear it all with patience,
1825
Shall weary out thy most unfriendly cruelty,
1826
Lie at thy feet and kiss 'em though they spurn me,
1827
Till, wounded by my sufferings, thou relent,
1828
And raise me to thy arms with dear forgiveness.

Pierre
1829
Art thou not –

Jaffeir
What?

Pierre
A traitor?

Jaffeir
Yes.

Pierre
A villain?

Jaffeir
1830
Granted.

Pierre
A coward, a most scandalous coward,
1831
Spiritless, void of honour, one who has sold
1832
Thy everlasting fame for shameless life?

Jaffeir
1833
All, all, and more, much more: my faults are numberless.

Pierre
1834
And wouldst thou have me live on terms like thine?
1835
Base as thou art false –

Jaffeir
No, 'tis to me that's granted.
1836
The safety of thy life was all I aim'd at,
1837
In recompense for faith and trust so broken.

Pierre
1838
I scorn it more because preserv'd by thee.
1839
And as when first my foolish heart took pity
1840
On thy misfortunes, sought thee in thy miseries,
1841
Relieved thy wants, and raised thee from thy state
1842
Of wretchedness in which thy fate had plung'd thee,
1843
To rank thee in my list of noble friends;
1844
All I received in surety for thy truth,
1845
Were unregarded oaths; and this, this dagger,
1846
Given with a worthless pledge, thou since hast stol'n,
1847
So I restore it back to thee again,
1848
Swearing by all those powers which thou hast violated,
1849
Never from this curs'd hour to hold communion,
1850
Friendship or interest with thee, though our years
1851
Were to exceed those limited the world.
1852
Take it –farewell–for now I owe thee nothing.

Jaffeir
1853
Say thou wilt live, then.

Pierre
For my life, dispose it
1854
Just as thou wilt, because 'tis what I'm tired with.

Jaffeir
1855
O Pierre!

Pierre
No more.

Jaffeir
My eyes won't lose the sight of thee,
1856
But languish after thine, and ache with gazing.

Pierre
1857
Leave me –nay, then, thus, thus, I throw thee from me
1858
And curses, great as is thy falsehood, catch thee.

Jaffeir
1859
Amen.
1860
He's gone, my father, friend, preserver,
1861
And here's the portion he has left me.
[Holds the dagger up.
1862
This dagger, well remembered, with this dagger
1863
I gave a solemn vow of dire importance,
1864
Parted with this and Belvidera together;
1865
Have a care, mem'ry, drive that thought no farther;
1866
No, I'll esteem it as a friend's last legacy,
1867
Treasure it up within this wretched bosom,
1868
Where it may grow acquainted with my heart,
1869
That when they meet, they start not from each other.
1870
So; now for thinking: a blow, call'd traitor, villain,
1871
Coward, dishonourable coward, fough!
1872
O for a long sound sleep, and so forget it!
1873
Down, busy devil. –

Enter BELVIDERA.

Belvidera
Whither shall I fly?
1874
Where hide me and my miseries together?
1875
Where's now the Roman constancy I boasted?
1876
Sunk into trembling fears and desperation!
1877
Not daring now to look up to that dear face
1878
Which used to smile even on my faults, but down
1879
Bending these miserable eyes to earth,
1880
Must move in penance, and implore much mercy.

Jaffeir
1881
Mercy, kind Heaven, has surely endless stores
1882
Hoarded for thee of blessings yet untasted;
1883
Let wretches loaded hard with guilt as I am,
1884
Bow [with] the weight and groan beneath the burthen,
1885
Creep with a remnant of that strength they've left,
1886
Before the footstool of that Heaven they've injured.
1887
O Belvidera! I'm the wretched'st creature
1888
E'er crawled on earth: now if thou hast virtue, help me,
1889
Take me into thy arms, and speak the words of peace
1890
To my divided soul, that wars within me,
1891
And raises every sense to my confusion;
1892
By Heav'n, I'm tottering on the very brink
1893
Of peace; and thou art all the hold I've left.

Belvidera
1894
Alas! I know thy sorrows are most mighty;
1895
I know thou'st cause to mourn; to mourn, my Jaffeir,
1896
With endless cries, and never-ceasing wailings,
1897
Thou'st lost –

Jaffeir
Oh, I have lost what can't be counted;
1898
My friend too, Belvidera, that dear friend,
1899
Who, next to thee, was all my health rejoiced in,
1900
Has used me like a slave; shamefully used me;
1901
'Twould break thy pitying heart to hear the story.
1902
What shall I do? resentment, indignation,
1903
Love, pity, fear and mem'ry, how I've wronged him,
1904
Distract my quiet with the very thought on't,
1905
And tear my heart to pieces in my bosom.

Belvidera
1906
What has he done?

Jaffeir
Thou'dst hate me, should I tell thee.

Belvidera
1907
Why?

Jaffeir
1908
Oh, he has us'd me! yet, by Heaven, I bear it:
1909
He has us'd me, Belvidera, but first swear
1910
That when I've told thee, thou'lt not loathe me utterly.
1911
Though vilest blots and stains appear upon me;
1912
But still at least with charitable goodness,
1913
Be near me in the pangs of my affliction,
1914
Not scorn me, Belvidera, as he has done.

Belvidera
1915
Have I then e'er been false that now I'm doubted?
1916
Speak, what's the cause I'm grown into distrust,
1917
Why thought unfit to hear my love's complainings?

Jaffeir
1918
Oh!

Belvidera
1919
Tell me.

Jaffeir
Bear my failings, for they are many.
1920
Oh my dear angel! in that friend I've lost
1921
All my soul's peace; for every thought of him
1922
Strikes my sense hard, and deads it in my brains;
1923
Wouldst thou believe it?

Belvidera
Speak!

Jaffeir
Before we parted,
1924
Ere yet his guards had led him to his prison,
1925
Full of severest sorrows for his suff'rings,
1926
With eyes o'erflowing and a bleeding heart,
1927
Humbling myself almost beneath my nature,
1928
As at his feet I kneel'd, and sued for mercy,
1929
Forgetting all our friendship, all the dearness,
1930
In which we've lived so many years together,
1931
With a reproachful hand he dashed a blow.
1932
He struck me, Belvidera, by Heaven, he struck me,
1933
Buffeted, called me traitor, villain, coward.
1934
Am I a coward? am I a villain? tell me:
1935
Thou'rt the best judge, and mad'st me, if I am so.
1936
Damnation: coward!

Belvidera
Oh! forgive him, Jaffeir.
1937
And if his sufferings wound thy heart already,
1938
What will they do to-morrow?

Jaffeir
Hah!

Belvidera
To-morrow,
1939
When thou shalt see him stretch'd in all the agonies
1940
Of a tormenting and a shameful death,
1941
His bleeding bowels, and his broken limbs,
1942
Insulted o'er by a vile butchering villain;
1943
What will thy heart do then? oh, sure 'twill stream
1944
Like my eyes now.

Jaffeir
What means thy dreadful story?
1945
Death, and to-morrow? broken limbs and bowels!
1946
Insulted o'er by a vile butchering villain!
1947
By all my fears I shall start out to madness,
1948
With barely guessing if the truth's hid longer.

Belvidera
1949
The faithless Senators, 'tis they've decreed it:
1950
They say according to our friend's request,
1951
They shall have death, and not ignoble bondage:
1952
Declare their promised mercy all as forfeited,
1953
False to their oaths, and deaf to intercession;
1954
Warrants are passed for public death to-morrow.

Jaffeir
1955
Death! doomed to die! condemned unheard! unpleaded!

Belvidera
1956
Nay, cruell'st racks and torments are preparing,
1957
To force confessions from their dying pangs.
1958
Oh, do not look so terribly upon me,
1959
How your lips shake, and all your face disordered!
1960
What means my love?

Jaffeir
1961
Leave me, I charge thee, leave me –strong temptations
1962
Wake in my heart.

Belvidera
For what?

Jaffeir
No more, but leave me.

Belvidera
1963
Why?

Jaffeir
1964
Oh! by Heaven I love you with that fondness
1965
I would not have thee stay a moment longer,
1966
Near these curs'd hands; are they not cold upon thee?

[Pulls the dagger half out of his bosom and puts it back again.

Belvidera
1967
No, everlasting comfort's in thy arms.
1968
To lean thus on thy breast is softer ease
1969
Than downy pillows deck'd with leaves of roses.

Jaffeir
1970
Alas! thou think'st not of the thorns 'tis filled with:
1971
Fly ere they [gall] thee: there's a lurking serpent,
1972
Ready to leap and sting thee to thy heart;
1973
Art thou not terrified?

Belvidera
No.

Jaffeir
Call to mind
1974
What thou hast done, and whither thou hast brought me.

Belvidera
1975
Hah!

Jaffeir
1976
Where's my friend? my friend, thou smiling mischief?
1977
Nay, shrink not, now 'tis too late, thou shouldst have fled
1978
When thy guilt first had cause, for dire revenge
1979
Is up and raging for my friend. He groans,
1980
Hark how he groans, his screams are in my ears
1981
Already; see, they've fix'd him on the wheel,
1982
And now they tear him –Murther! perjur'd Senate!
1983
Murther –Oh! –hark thee, traitress, thou hast done this:
[Fumbling for his dagger.
1984
Thanks to thy tears and false persuading love.
1985
How her eyes speak! O thou bewitching creature!
1986
Madness cannot hurt thee: come, thou little trembler,
1987
Creep, even into my heart, and there lie safe:
1988
'Tis thy own citadel –ha!–yet stand off,
1989
Heaven must have justice, and my broken vows
1990
Will sink me else beneath its reaching mercy;
1991
I'll wink and then 'tis done –

Belvidera
What means the lord
1992
Of me, my life and love? what's in thy bosom,
[Draws the dagger, offers to stab her.
1993
Thou grasp'st at so? Nay, why am I thus treated?
1994
What wilt thou do? Ah! do not kill me, Jaffeir,
1995
Pity these panting breasts, and trembling limbs,
1996
That used to clasp thee when thy looks were milder,
1997
That yet hang heavy on my unpurg'd soul,
1998
And plunge it not into eternal darkness.

Jaffeir
1999
No, Belvidera, when we parted last
2000
I gave this dagger with thee as in trust
2001
To be thy portion, if I e'er proved false.
2002
On such condition was my truth believ'd:
2003
But now 'tis forfeited and must be paid for.

[Offers to stab her again.

Belvidera
2004
Oh, mercy!

[Kneeling.

Jaffeir
Nay, no struggling.

Belvidera
Now, then, kill me.
[Leaps upon his neck and kisses him.
2005
While thus I cling about thy cruel neck,
2006
Kiss thy revengeful lips and die in joys
2007
Greater than any I can guess hereafter.

Jaffeir
2008
I am, I am a coward; witness't, heaven,
2009
Witness it, earth, and every being witness;
2010
'Tis but one blow; yet, by immortal love,
2011
I cannot longer bear a thought to harm thee;
[He throws away the dagger and embraces her.
2012
The seal of Providence is sure upon thee,
2013
And thou wert born for yet unheard-of wonders:
2014
Oh, thou wert either born to save or damn me!
2015
By all the power that's given thee o'er my soul,
2016
By thy resistless tears and conquering smiles,
2017
By the victorious love that still waits on thee,
2018
Fly to thy cruel father: save my friend,
2019
Or all our future quiet's lost for ever:
2020
Fall at his feet, cling round his reverend knees;
2021
Speak to him with thy eyes, and with thy tears
2022
Melt his hard heart, and wake dead nature in him;
2023
Crush him in thy arms, and torture him with thy softness:
2024
Nor, till thy prayers are granted, set him free,
2025
But conquer him, as thou hast vanquish'd me.

[Exeunt ambo.

ACT V

[SCENE I]

Enter PRIULI, solus.

Priuli
2026
Why, cruel Heaven, have my unhappy days
2027
Been lengthen'd to this sad one? Oh, dishonour
2028
And deathless infamy is fall'n upon me!
2029
Was it my fault? Am I a traitor? No.
2030
But then, my only child, my daughter, wedded;
2031
There my blest blood runs foul, and a disease
2032
Incurable has seized upon my memory,
2033
To make it rot and stink to after ages.
2034
Cursed be the fatal minute when I got her;
2035
Or would that I'd been anything but man,
2036
And raised an issue which would ne'er have wrong'd me.
2037
The miserablest creatures, man excepted,
2038
Are not the less esteemed, though their posterity
2039
Degenerate from the virtues of their fathers;
2040
The vilest beasts are happy in their offsprings,
2041
While only man gets traitors, whores and villains.
2042
Cursed be the names, and some swift blow from Fate
2043
Lay his head deep, where mine may be forgotten.

Enter BELVIDERA in a long mourning veil.

Belvidera
2044
He's there, my father, my inhuman father,
2045
That, for three years, has left an only child
2046
Exposed to all the outrages of Fate,
2047
And cruel ruin –oh! –

Priuli
What child of sorrow
2048
Art thou that com'st thus wrapt in weeds of sadness,
2049
And mov'st as if thy steps were towards a grave?

Belvidera
2050
A wretch, who from the very top of happiness
2051
Am fallen into the lowest depths of misery,
2052
And want your pitying hand to raise me up again.

Priuli
2053
Indeed thou talk'st as thou hadst tasted sorrows;
2054
Would I could help thee!

Belvidera
'Tis greatly in your power.
2055
The world, too, speaks you charitable, and I,
2056
Who ne'er asked alms before, in that dear hope
2057
Am come a-begging to you, sir.

Priuli
For what?

Belvidera
2058
O well regard me, is this voice a strange one?
2059
Consider, too, when beggars once pretend
2060
A case like mine, no little will content 'em.

Priuli
2061
What wouldst thou beg for?

Belvidera
Pity and forgiveness;
[Throws up her veil.
2062
By the kind tender names of child and father,
2063
Hear my complaints and take me to your love.

Priuli
2064
My daughter?

Belvidera
Yes, your daughter, by a mother
2065
Virtuous and noble, faithful to your honour,
2066
Obedient to your will, kind to your wishes,
2067
Dear to your arms: by all the joys she gave you,
2068
When in her blooming years she was your treasure,
2069
Look kindly on me; in my face behold
2070
The lineaments of hers you've kiss'd so often,
2071
Pleading the cause of your poor cast-off child.

Priuli
2072
Thou art my daughter?

Belvidera
Yes –and you've oft told me,
2073
With smiles of love and chaste paternal kisses,
2074
I'd much resemblance of my mother.

Priuli
Oh!
2075
Hadst thou inherited her matchless virtues
2076
I'd been too bless'd.

Belvidera
Nay, do not call to memory
2077
My disobedience, but let pity enter
2078
Into your heart, and quite deface the impression;
2079
For could you think how mine's perplexed, what sadness,
2080
Fears and despairs distract the peace within me,
2081
Oh, you would take me in your dear, dear arms,
2082
Hover with strong compassion o'er your young one,
2083
To shelter me with a protecting wing,
2084
From the black gather'd storm, that's just, just breaking.

Priuli
2085
Don't talk thus.

Belvidera
Yes, I must, and you must hear too.
2086
I have a husband.

Priuli
Damn him.

Belvidera
Oh, do not curse him!
2087
He would not speak so hard a word towards you,
2088
On any terms, [howe'er] he deal with me.

Priuli
2089
Ha! what means my child?

Belvidera
2090
Oh, there's but this short moment
2091
'Twixt me and Fate, yet send me not with curses
2092
Down to my grave, afford me one kind blessing
2093
Before we part: just take me in your arms,
2094
And recommend me with a prayer to Heaven,
2095
That I may die in peace, and when I'm dead –

Priuli
2096
How my soul's catched!

Belvidera
Lay me, I beg you, lay me
2097
By the dear ashes of my tender mother:
2098
She would have pitied me, had Fate yet spared her.

Priuli
2099
By heaven, my aching heart forebodes much mischief;
2100
Tell me thy story, for I'm still thy father.

Belvidera
2101
No, I'm contented.

Priuli
Speak.

Belvidera
No matter.

Priuli
Tell me.
2102
By you, blest Heaven, my heart runs o'er with fondness.

Belvidera
2103
Oh!

Priuli
Utter't.

Belvidera
O my husband, my dear husband
2104
Carries a dagger in his once kind bosom,
2105
To pierce the heart of your poor Belvidera.

Priuli
2106
Kill thee?

Belvidera
Yes, kill me. When he pass'd his faith
2107
And covenant, against your State and Senate,
2108
He gave me up as hostage for his truth,
2109
With me a dagger and a dire commission
2110
Whene'er he failed, to plunge it through this bosom.
2111
I learnt the danger, chose the hour of love
2112
To attempt his heart, and bring it back to honour.
2113
Great love prevail'd and bless'd me with success:
2114
He came, confessed, betrayed his dearest friends
2115
For promis'd mercy; now they're doomed to suffer,
2116
Gall'd with remembrance of what then was sworn,
2117
If they are lost, he vows to appease the gods
2118
With this poor life, and make my blood the atonement.

Priuli
2119
Heavens!

Belvidera
Think you saw what pass'd at our last parting;
2120
Think you beheld him like a raging lion,
2121
Pacing the earth and tearing up his steps,
2122
Fate in his eyes, and roaring with the pain
2123
Of burning fury; think you saw his one hand
2124
Fix'd on my throat, while the extended other
2125
Grasp'd a keen threat'ning dagger: oh, 'twas thus
2126
We last embrac'd, when, trembling with revenge,
2127
He dragg'd me to the ground, and at my bosom
2128
Presented horrid death, cried out: "My friends,
2129
Where are my friends?" swore, wept, rag'd, threaten'd, lov'd,
2130
For he yet loved, and that dear love preserved me,
2131
To this last trial of a father's pity.
2132
I fear not death, but cannot bear a thought
2133
That that dear hand should do the unfriendly office;
2134
If I was ever then your care, now hear me;
2135
Fly to the Senate, save the promised lives
2136
Of his dear friends, ere mine be made the sacrifice.

Priuli
2137
O my heart's comfort!

Belvidera
Will you not, my father?
2138
Weep not, but answer me.

Priuli
By Heaven, I will.
2139
Not one of 'em but what shall be immortal.
2140
Canst thou forgive me all my follies past,
2141
I'll henceforth be indeed a father; never,
2142
Never more thus expose, but cherish thee.
2143
Dear as the vital warmth that feeds my life,
2144
Dear as these eyes that weep in fondness o'er thee.
2145
Peace to thy heart. Farewell.

Belvidera
Go, and remember
2146
'Tis Belvidera's life her father pleads for.

[Exeunt severally.
Enter ANTONIO.

Antonio
2147Hum, hum, ha, 2148Signor Priuli, my lord Priuli, my lord, my lord, my lord: 2149[how] we lords love to call one another by our titles! My lord, 2150my lord, my lord –pox on him, I am a lord as well as he; and 2151so let him fiddle –I'll warrant him he's gone to the Senate-house, 2152and I'll be there too, soon enough for somebody. 'Od, here's a 2153tickling speech about the plot, I'll prove there's a plot with a 2154vengeance –would I had it without book; let me see – 2155Most reverend Senators, 2156That there is a plot, surely by this time, no man that hath 2157eyes or understanding in his head will presume to doubt, 'tis as 2158plain as the light in the cucumber –no –hold there –cucumber 2159does not come in yet –'tis as plain as the light in the sun, or as 2160the man in the moon, even at noonday; it is indeed a pumpkin-plot, 2161which, just as it was mellow, we have gathered, and now we 2162have gathered it, prepared and dressed it, shall we throw it like 2163a pickled cucumber out at the window? no: that it is not only 2164a bloody, horrid, execrable, damnable and audacious plot, but it 2165is, as I may so say, a saucy plot: and we all know, most reverend 2166fathers, that what is sauce for a goose is sauce for a gander: 2167therefore, I say, as those bloodthirsty ganders of the conspiracy 2168would have destroyed us geese of the Senate, let us make haste 2169to destroy them, so I humbly move for hanging –ha! hurry 2170durry –I think this will do, tho' I was something out, at first, 2171about the sun and the cucumber.

Enter AQUILINA.

Aquilina
2172Good-morrow, Senator.

Antonio
2173Nacky, my dear Nacky, morrow, Nacky, 'od I am very 2174brisk, very merry, very pert, very jovial –ha-a-a-a-a –kiss me, 2175Nacky; how dost thou do, my little tory rory strumpet, kiss me, 2176I say, hussy, kiss me.

Aquilina
2177Kiss me, Nacky, hang you, sir, coxcomb, hang you, sir.

Antonio
2178Hayty, tayty, is it so indeed, with all my heart, faith – 2179 hey then up go we, faith – hey then up go we, dum dum derum 2180dump.

[Sings.

Aquilina
2181Signior.

Antonio
2182Madonna.

Aquilina
2183Do you intend to die in your bed –?

Antonio
2184About threescore years hence, much may be done, my dear.

Aquilina
2185You'll be hanged, signior.

Antonio
2186Hanged, sweetheart? prithee be quiet! hanged quotha? 2187that's a merry conceit, with all my heart! why thou jok'st, 2188Nacky, thou art given to joking, I'll swear; well, I protest, 2189Nacky, nay, I must protest, and will protest that I love joking 2190dearly, man. And I love thee for joking, and I'll kiss thee for 2191joking, and towse thee for joking, and 'od, I have a devilish mind 2192to take thee aside about that business for joking too, 'od I have, 2193and Hey then up go we, dum dum derum dump.

[Sings.

Aquilina
2194See you this, sir?

[Draws a dagger.

Antonio
2195O Laud, a dagger! O Laud! it is naturally my aversion, 2196I cannot endure the sight on't, hide it for Heaven's sake, I cannot 2197look that way till it be gone –hide it, hide it, oh, oh, hide it!

Aquilina
2198Yes, in your heart I'll hide it.

Antonio
2199My heart; what, hide a dagger in my heart's blood?

Aquilina
2200
Yes, in thy heart, thy throat, thou pampered devil;
2201
Thou hast help'd to spoil my peace, and I'll have vengeance
2202
On thy cursed life, for all the bloody Senate,
2203
The perjur'd faithless Senate: where's my lord,
2204
My happiness, my love, my god, my hero,
2205
Doom'd by thy accursed tongue, amongst the rest,
2206
T' a shameful wrack? By all the rage that's in me
2207
I'll be whole years in murthering thee.

Antonio
Why, Nacky,
2208Wherefore so passionate? what have I done? what's the 2209matter, my dear Nacky? am not I thy love, thy happiness, thy 2210lord, thy hero, thy Senator, and everything in the world, Nacky?

Aquilina
2211
Thou! think'st thou, thou art fit to meet my joys;
2212
To bear the eager clasps of my embraces?
2213
Give me my Pierre, or –

Antonio
2214
Why, he's to be hang'd, little Nacky,
2215
Trussed up for treason, and so forth, child.

Aquilina
2216
Thou liest: stop down thy throat that hellish sentence,
2217
Or 'tis thy last: swear that my love shall live,
2218
Or thou art dead.

Antonio
Ah-h-h-h.

Aquilina
Swear to recall his doom,
2219
Swear at my feet, and tremble at my fury.

Antonio
2220
I do. Now if she would but kick a little bit, one kick now,
2221
Ah-h-h-h.

Aquilina
Swear, or –

Antonio
I do, by these dear fragrant foots
2222
And little toes, sweet as, e-e-e-e my Nacky Nacky Nacky.

Aquilina
2223
How!

Antonio
2224
Nothing but untie thy shoe-string a little, faith and troth,
2225
That's all, that's all, as I hope to live, Nacky, that's all.

Aquilina
2226
Nay, then –

Antonio
Hold, hold, thy love, thy lord, thy hero
2227
Shall be preserv'd and safe.

Aquilina
Or may this poniard
2228
Rust in thy heart.

Antonio
With all my soul.

Aquilina
Farewell –

[Exit AQUILINA.

Antonio
2229Adieu. Why, what a bloody-minded, inveterate, 2230termagant strumpet have I been plagued with! Oh-h-h yet 2231more! nay then I die, I die –I am dead already.

[Stretches himself out.
Enter JAFFEIR.

Jaffeir
2232
Final destruction seize on all the world:
2233
Bend down, ye heavens, and shutting round this earth,
2234
Crush the vile globe into its first confusion;
2235
Scorch it, with elemental flames, to one curst cinder,
2236
And all us little creepers in't, called men,
2237
Burn, burn to nothing: but let Venice burn
2238
Hotter than all the rest: here kindle hell
2239
Ne'er to extinguish, and let souls hereafter
2240
Groan here, in all those pains which mine feels now.

Enter BELVIDERA.

Belvidera
2241
My life –

[Meeting him.

Jaffeir
My plague –

[Turning from her.

Belvidera
Nay then I see my ruin
2242
If I must die!

Jaffeir
No, Death's this day too busy,
2243
Thy father's ill-timed mercy came too late.
2244
I thank thee for thy labours though and him too,
2245
But all my poor betray'd unhappy friends
2246
Have summons to prepare for Fate's black hour;
2247
And yet I live.

Belvidera
Then be the next my doom.
2248
I see thou'st pass'd my sentence in thy heart,
2249
And I'll no longer weep or plead against it,
2250
But with the humblest, most obedient patience
2251
Meet thy dear hands, and kiss 'em when they wound me;
2252
Indeed I'm willing, but I beg thee do it
2253
With some remorse, and where thou giv'st the blow,
2254
View me with eyes of a relenting love,
2255
And show me pity, for 'twill sweeten justice.

Jaffeir
2256
Show pity to thee?

Belvidera
Yes, and when thy hands,
2257
Charg'd with my fate, come trembling to the deed,
2258
As thou hast done a thousand thousand dear times,
2259
To this poor breast, when kinder rage has brought thee,
2260
When our stinged hearts have leaped to meet each other,
2261
And melting kisses sealed our lips together,
2262
When joys have left me gasping in thy arms,
2263
So let my death come now, and I'll shrink from't.

Jaffeir
2264
Nay, Belvidera, do not fear my cruelty,
2265
Nor let the thoughts of death perplex thy fancy,
2266
But answer me to what I shall demand
2267
With a firm temper and unshaken spirit.

Belvidera
2268
I will when I've done weeping –

Jaffeir
Fie, no more on't –
2269
How long is't since the miserable day
2270
We wedded first –

Belvidera
Oh-h-h!

Jaffeir
Nay, keep in thy tears,
2271
Lest they unman me too.

Belvidera
Heaven knows I cannot;
2272
The words you utter sound so very sadly
2273
These streams will follow –

Jaffeir
Come, I'll kiss 'em dry, then.

Belvidera
2274
But was't a miserable day?

Jaffeir
A curs'd one.

Belvidera
2275
I thought it otherwise, and you've oft sworn
2276
In the transporting hours of warmest love
2277
When sure you spoke the truth, you've sworn you blessed it.

Jaffeir
2278
'Twas a rash oath.

Belvidera
Then why am I not curs'd too?

Jaffeir
2279
No, Belvidera; by the eternal truth,
2280
I dote with too much fondness.

Belvidera
Still so kind?
2281
Still then do you love me?

Jaffeir
Nature, in her workings,
2282
Inclines not with more ardour to creation,
2283
Than I do now towards thee: man ne'er was bless'd,
2284
Since the first pair first met, as I have been.

Belvidera
2285
Then sure you will not curse me.

Jaffeir
No, I'll bless thee.
2286
I came on purpose, Belvidera, to bless thee.
2287
'Tis now, I think, three years we've liv'd together.

Belvidera
2288
And may no fatal minute ever part us,
2289
Till, reverend grown, for age and love, we go
2290
Down to one grave, as our last bed, together,
2291
There sleep in peace till an eternal morning.

Jaffeir
2292
When will that be?

[Sighing.

Belvidera
I hope long ages hence.

Jaffeir
2293
Have I not hitherto (I beg thee tell me
2294
Thy very fears) used thee with tender'st love?
2295
Did e'er my soul rise up in wrath against thee?
2296
Did e'er I frown when Belvidera smiled,
2297
Or, by the least unfriendly word, betray
2298
A bating passion? have I ever wronged thee?

Belvidera
2299
No.

Jaffeir
Has my heart, or have my eyes e'er wandered
2300
To any other woman?

Belvidera
Never, never –
2301
I were the worst of false ones should I accuse thee;
2302
I own I've been too happy, bless'd above
2303
My sex's charter.

Jaffeir
2304
Did I not say I came to bless thee?

Belvidera
2305
Yes.

Jaffeir
Then hear me, bounteous Heaven!
2306
Pour down your blessings on this beauteous head,
2307
Where everlasting sweets are always springing,
2308
With a continual giving hand: let peace,
2309
Honour, and safety, always hover round her:
2310
Feed her with plenty, let her eyes ne'er see
2311
A sight of sorrow, nor her heart know mourning:
2312
Crown all her days with joy, her nights with rest,
2313
Harmless as her own thoughts; and prop her virtue,
2314
To bear the loss of one that too much lov'd,
2315
And comfort her with patience in our parting.

Belvidera
2316
How, parting! parting!

Jaffeir
Yes, for ever parting.
2317
I have sworn, Belvidera, by yon heaven,
2318
That best can tell how much I lose to leave thee,
2319
We part this hour for ever.

Belvidera
Oh, call back
2320
Your cruel blessings, stay with me and cursed me!

Jaffeir
2321
No, 'tis resolv'd.

Belvidera
Then hear me too, just Heaven!
2322
Pour down your curses on this wretched head
2323
With never-ceasing vengeance: let despair,
2324
Danger or infamy, nay, all surround me:
2325
Starve me with wantings: let my eyes ne'er see
2326
A sight of comfort, nor my heart know peace,
2327
But dash my days with sorrow, nights with horrors
2328
Wild as my own thoughts now, and let loose fury
2329
To make me mad enough for what I lose,
2330
If I must lose him; if I must, I will not.
2331
O turn and hear me!

Jaffeir
Now hold, heart, or never.

Belvidera
2332
By all the tender days we've liv'd together;
2333
By all our charming nights, and joys that crown'd 'em:
2334
Pity my sad condition, speak, but speak.

Jaffeir
2335
Oh-h-h!

Belvidera
By these arms that now cling round thy neck:
2336
By this dear kiss and by ten thousand more,
2337
By these poor streaming eyes –

Jaffeir
Murther! unhold me:
[Draws his dagger.
2338
By the immortal destiny that doom'd me
2339
To this curs'd minute, I'll not live one longer.
2340
Resolve to let me go or see me fall –

Belvidera
2341
Hold, sir, be patient.

Jaffeir
Hark, the dismal bell
[Passing bell tolls.
2342
Tolls out for death; I must attend its call too,
2343
For my poor friend, my dying Pierre expects me:
2344
He sent a message to require I'd see him
2345
Before he died, and take his last forgiveness.
2346
Farewell for ever.

[Going out looks back at her.

Belvidera
Leave thy dagger with me.
2347
Bequeath me something. –Not one kiss at parting?
2348
O my poor heart, when wilt thou break?

Jaffeir
2349
Yet stay,
2350
We have a child, as yet a tender infant.
2351
Be a kind mother to him when I am gone:
2352
Breed him in virtue and the paths of honour,
2353
But let him never know his father's story:
2354
I charge thee guard him from the wrongs my fate
2355
May do his future fortune or his name.
2356
Now –nearer yet –
[Approaching each other.
2357
O that my arms were riveted
2358
Thus round thee ever! But my friends, my oath!
2359
This and no more.

[Kisses her.

Belvidera
Another, sure another,
2360
For that poor little one you've ta'en care of,
2361
I'll give't him truly.

Jaffeir
So, now farewell.

Belvidera
For ever?

Jaffeir
2362
Heaven knows for ever; all good angles guard thee.

[Exit.

Belvidera
2363
All ill ones sure had charge of me this moment.
2364
Curs'd be my days, and doubly curs'd my nights,
2365
Which I must now mourn out in widow'd tears;
2366
Blasted be every herb and fruit and tree;
2367
Curs'd be the rain that falls upon the earth,
2368
And may the general curse reach man and beast;
2369
Oh, give me daggers, fire or water!
2370
How I could bleed, how burn, how drown, the waves
2371
Huzzing and booming round my sinking head,
2372
Till I descended to the peaceful bottom!
2373
Oh, there's all quiet, here all rage and fury:
2374
The air's too thin, and pierces my weak brain:
2375
I long for thick substantial sleep: hell, hell,
2376
Burst from the centre, rage and roar aloud,
2377
If thou art half so hot, so mad as I am.
Enter PRIULI and Servants.
2378
Who's there?

[They seize her.

Priuli
2379
Run, seize and bring her safely home.
2380
Guard her as you would life: alas, poor creature!

Belvidera
2381
What? to my husband then conduct me quickly.
2382
Are all things ready? shall we die most gloriously?
2383
Say not a word of this to my old father.
2384
Murmuring streams, soft shades, and springing flowers,
2385
Lutes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of amber.

[Exit.

[SCENE II]

Scene opening discovers a Scaffold and a Wheel prepared for the executing of PIERRE, then enter Officers, PIERRE and Guards, a Friar, Executioner, and a great rabble.

Officer
2386
Room, room there –stand all by, make room for the prisoner.

Pierre
2387
My friend not come yet?

Father
2388
Why are you so obstinate?

Pierre
2389
Why you so troublesome, that a poor wretch
2390
Can't die in peace,
2391
But you, like ravens, will be croaking round him?

Father
2392
Yet, Heaven –

Pierre
I tell thee Heaven and I are friends.
2393
I ne'er broke peace with't yet, by cruel murthers,
2394
Rapine or perjury, or vile deceiving,
2395
But lived in moral justice towards all men,
2396
Nor am a foe to the most strong believers,
2397
Howe'er my own short-sighted faith confine me.

Father
2398
But an all-seeing Judge –

Pierre
You say my conscience
2399
Must be mine accuser: I've search'd that conscience,
2400
And find no records there of crimes that scare me.

Father
2401
'Tis strange you should want faith.

Pierre
You want to lead
2402
My reason blindfold, like a hamper'd lion,
2403
Check'd of its nobler vigour; then, when baited
2404
Down to obedient tameness, make it couch,
2405
And show strange tricks, which you call signs of faith.
2406
So silly souls are gull'd and you get money.
2407
Away, no more: Captain, I would hereafter
2408
This fellow write no lies of my conversion,
2409
Because he has crept upon my troubled hours.

Enter JAFFEIR.

Jaffeir
2410
Hold: eyes, be dry!
2411
Heart, strengthen me to bear
2412
This hideous sight, and humble me, to take
2413
The last forgiveness of a dying friend,
2414
Betray'd by my vile falsehood, to his ruin.
2415
O Pierre!

Pierre
Yet nearer.

Jaffeir
Crawling on my knees,
2416
And prostrate on the earth, let me approach thee:
2417
How shall I look up to thy injured face,
2418
That always used to smile, with friendship on me?
2419
It darts an air of so much manly virtue,
2420
That I, methinks, look little in thy sight,
2421
And stripes are fitter for me than embraces.

Pierre
2422
Dear to my arms, though thou'st undone my fame,
2423
I cannot forget to love thee; prithee, Jaffeir,
2424
Forgive that filthy blow my passion dealt thee;
2425
I'm now preparing for the land of peace,
2426
And fain would have the charitable wishes
2427
Of all good men, like thee, to bless my journey.

Jaffeir
2428
Good! I am the vilest creature; worse than e'er
2429
Suffer'd the shameful fate thou'rt going to taste of.
2430
Why was I sent for to be used thus kindly?
2431
Call, call me villain, as I am, describe
2432
The foul complexion of my hateful deeds,
2433
Lead me to the rack, and stretch me in thy stead,
2434
I've crimes enough to give it its full load,
2435
And do it credit. Thou wilt but spoil the use on't,
2436
And honest men hereafter bear its figure
2437
About 'em, as a charm from treacherous friendship.

Officer
2438
The time grows short, your friends are dead already.

Jaffeir
2439
Dead!

Pierre
Yes, dead, Jaffeir, they've all died like men too,
2440
Worthy their character.

Jaffeir
And what must I do?

Pierre
2441
O Jaffeir!

Jaffeir
Speak aloud thy burthen'd soul,
2442
And tell thy troubles to thy tortured friend.

Pierre
2443
Friend! Couldst thou yet be a friend, a generous friend,
2444
I might hope comfort from thy noble sorrows.
2445
Heav'n knows I want a friend.

Jaffeir
And I a kind one,
2446
That would not thus scorn my repenting virtue,
2447
Or think when he's to die, my thoughts are idle.

Pierre
2448
No! live, I charge thee, Jaffeir.

Jaffeir
2449
Yes, I'll live.
2450
But it shall be to see thy fall revenged
2451
At such a rate, as Venice long shall groan for.

Pierre
2452
Wilt thou?

Jaffeir
I will, by Heav'n.

Pierre
Then still thou'rt noble,
2453
And I forgive thee, oh –yet– shall I trust thee?

Jaffeir
2454
No: I've been false already.

Pierre
Dost thou love me?

Jaffeir
2455
Rip up my heart, and satisfy thy doubtings.

Pierre
2456
Curse on this weakness.

[He weeps.

Jaffeir
Tears! Amazement! Tears!
2457
I never saw thee melted thus before,
2458
And know there's something labouring in thy bosom.
2459
That must have vent: though I'm a villain, tell me.

Pierre
2460
Seest thou that engine?

[Pointing to the Wheel.

Jaffeir
2461
Why?

Pierre
2462
Is't fit a soldier, who has liv'd with honour,
2463
Fought nations' quarrels, and been crown'd with conquest,
2464
Be exposed a common carcase on a wheel?

Jaffeir
2465
Ha!

Pierre
Speak! is't fitting?

Jaffeir
Fitting?

Pierre
Yes, is't fitting?

Jaffeir
2466
What's to be done?

Pierre
I'd have thee undertake
2467
Something that's noble, to preserve my memory
2468
From the disgrace that's ready to attaint it.

Officer
2469
The day grows late, sir.

Pierre
I'll make haste! O Jaffeir,
2470
Though thou'st betray'd me, do me some way justice.

Jaffeir
2471
No more of that: thy wishes shall be satisfied.
2472
I have a wife, and she shall bleed, my child too
2473
Yield up his little throat, and all t' appease thee –

[Going away, PIERRE holds him.

Pierre
2474
No –this– no more!

[He whispers JAFFEIR.

Jaffeir
Ha! is't then so?

Pierre
Most certainly.

Jaffeir
2475
I'll do't.

Pierre
Remember.

Officer
Sir.

Pierre
Come, now I'm ready.
[He and JAFFEIR ascend the scaffold.
2476
Captain, you should be a gentleman of honour.
2477
Keep off the rabble, that I may have room
2478
To entertain my fate and die with decency.
2479
Come!

[Takes off his gown, Executioner prepares to bind him.

Father
2480
Son!

Pierre
Hence, tempter.

Officer
Stand off, priest.

Pierre
2481
I thank you, sir.
[To JAFFEIR.
You'll think on't.

Jaffeir
2482
'Twon't grow stale before to-morrow.

Pierre
2483
Now, Jaffeir! now I am going. Now; –

[Executioner having bound him.

Jaffeir
2484
Have at thee,
2485
Thou honest heart, then –here–
[Stabs him.
2486
And this is well too.

[Then stabs himself.

Father
Damnable deed!

Pierre
2487
Now thou hast indeed been faithful.
2488
This was done nobly –we've deceived the Senate.

Jaffeir
2489
Bravely.

Pierre
Ha! ha! ha! –oh! oh! –

[Dies.

Jaffeir
Now, ye curs'd rulers,
2490
Thus of the blood ye've shed I make libation,
2491
And sprinkle it mingling: may it rest upon you,
2492
And all your race: be henceforth peace a stranger
2493
Within your walls; let plagues and famine waste
2494
Your generations –O poor Belvidera!
2495
Sir, I have a wife, bear this
2496
[Giving dagger.]
in safety to her.
2497
A token that with my dying breath I blessed her,
2498
And the dear little infant left behind me.
2499
I'm sick –I'm quiet –

[JAFFEIR dies.

Officer
Bear this news to the Senate,
2500
And guard their bodies till there's a farther order:
2501
Heaven grant I die so well!

[Scene shuts upon them.
Soft music. Enter BELVIDERA distracted, led by two of her women, PRIULI and Servants.

Priuli
2502
Strengthen her heart with patience, pitying Heaven.

Belvidera
2503
Come come come come come, nay, come to bed!
2504
Prithee my love. The winds! hark how they whistle!
2505
And the rain beats: oh, how the weather shrinks me!
2506
You are angry now, who cares? pish, no indeed.
2507
Choose then, I say you shall not go, you shall not;
2508
Whip your ill nature; get you gone then! oh,
[JAFFEIR'S ghost rises.
2509
Are you return'd? See, father, here he's come again!
2510
Am I to blame to love him? O thou dear one!
[Ghost sinks.
2511
Why do you fly me? are you angry still, then?
2512
Jaffeir! where art thou? Father, why do you do thus?
2513
Stand off, don't hide him from me. He's here somewhere.
Enter Officer and others.
2514
Stand off, I say! what, gone? remember't, Tyrant!
2515
I may revenge myself for this trick one day.
2516
I'll do't –I'll do't! Renault's a nasty fellow.
2517
Hang him, hang him, hang him.

Priuli
2518
News, what news?

[Officer whispers PRIULI.

Officer
Most sad, sir.
2519
Jaffeir, upon the scaffold, to prevent
2520
A shameful death, stabb'd Pierre, and next himself:
2521
Both fell together.

[The ghosts of JAFFEIR and PIERRE rise together, both bloody.

Priuli
Daughter.

Belvidera
Ha, look there!
2522
My husband bloody, and his friend too! Murther!
2523
Who has done this? speak to me, thou sad vision,
[Ghosts sink.
2524
On these poor trembling knees I beg it. Vanish'd!
2525
Here they went down; oh, I'll dig, dig the den up.
2526
You shan't delude me thus. Ho, Jaffeir, Jaffeir,
2527
Peep up and give me but a look. I have him!
2528
I've got him, father: oh, how I'll smuggle him!
2529
My love! my dear! my blessing! help me, help me!
2530
They've hold on me, and drag me to the bottom.
2531
Nay –now they pull so hard –farewell –

[She dies.

Maid
She's dead.
2532
Breathless and dead.

Priuli
Then guard me from the sight on't;
2533
Lead me into some place that's fit for mourning;
2534
Where the free air, light, and the cheerful sun
2535
May never enter: hang it round with black:
2536
Set up one taper that may last a day
2537
As long as I've to live: and there all leave me.
2538
Sparing no tears when you this tale relate,
2539
But bid all cruel fathers dread my fate.

[Curtain falls. Exeunt omnes.

APPENDIX - PROLOGUE

To His Royal Highness
Upon his first appearance at the Duke's Theatre since his Return from Scotland
Written by Mr. Dryden.
Spoken by Mr. Smith.

2540
In those cold Regions which no Summers chear,
2541
When brooding darkness covers half the year,
2542
To hollow Caves the shivering Natives go;
2543
Bears range abroad, and hunt in tracks of Snow:
2544
But when the tedious Twilight wears away,
2545
And stars grow paler at th' approach of Day,
2546
The longing Crowds to frozen Mountains run,
2547
Happy who first can see the glimmering Sun!
2548
The surly Salvage Offspring disappear;
2549
And curse the bright Successour of the year.
2550
Yet, though rough Bears on Covert seek defence, }
2551
White Foxes stay, with seeming Innocence: }
2552
That crafty kind with daylight can dispense. }
2553
Still we are throng'd so full with Reynard's race,
2554
That Loyal Subjects scarce can find a place:
2555
Thus modest Truth is cast behind the Crowd:
2556
Truth speaks too Low; Hypocrisie too Loud.
2557
Let 'em be first, to flatter in success;
2558
Duty can stay; but Guilt has need to press.
2559
Once, when true Zeal the Sons of God did call,
2560
To make their solemn show at Heaven's White-hall,
2561
The fawning Devil appear'd among the rest,
2562
And made as good a Courtier as the best.
2563
The friends of Job, who rail'd at him before,
2564
Came Cap in hand when he had three time more.
2565
Yet late Repentance may, perhaps, be true;
2566
Kings can forgive if Rebels can but sue:
2567
A Tyrant's Pow'r in rigour is exprest:
2568
The Father yearns in the true Prince's Breast.
2569
We grant an Ore' grown Whig no grace can mend;
2570
But most are Babes, that know not they offend.
2571
The Crowd, to restless motion still enclin'd,
2572
Are Clouds, that rack according to the Wind.
2573
Driv'n by their Chiefs, they storms of Hailstones pour:
2574
Then mourn, and soften to a silent showre.
2575
O welcome to this much offending Land
2576
The Prince that brings forgiveness in his hand!
2577
Thus Angels on Glad Messages appear:
2578
Their first salute commands us not to fear:
2579
Thus Heav'n, that cou'd constrain us