†††† Dramatis Personae
Duke Of Venice.
Priuli, Father to Belvidera, a Senator.
Antonio, a Fine Speaker in the Senate.
Jaffeir, Pierre, Renault,
Bedamar, Spinosa, Theodore
Eliot, Revillido, Durand
Mezzana, Bramveil, Ternon
Two Women, Attendants on
Two Women, Servants to Aquilina.
The Council of Ten.
Executioner and Rabble.
TO HER GRACE
THE DUCHESS OF PORTSMOUTH
Madam,óWere it possible for me to let the world know how entirely your Graceís goodness has devoted a poor man to your service; were there words enough in speech to express the mighty sense I have of your great bounty towards me; surely I should write and talk of it for ever: but your Grace has given me so large a theme, and laid so very vast a foundation, that imagination wants stock to build upon it. I am as one dumb when I would speak of it, and when I strive to write, I want a scale of thought sufficient to comprehend the height of it. Forgive me, then, madam, if (as a poor peasant once made a present of an apple to an emperor) I bring this small tribute, the humble growth of my little garden, and lay it at your feet. Believe it is paid you with the utmost gratitude, believe that so long as I have thought to remember how very much I owe your generous nature, I will ever have a heart that shall be grateful for it too: Your grace, next Heaven, deserves it amply from me; that gave me life, but on a hard condition, till your extended favour taught me to prize the gift, and took the heavy burthen it was clogged with from me: I mean hard fortune: when I had enemies, that with malicious power kept back and shaded me from those royal beams, whose warmth is all I have, or hope to live by; your noble pity and compassion found me, where I was far cast backward from my blessing; down in the rear of Fortune, called me up, placed me in the shine, and I have felt its comfort. You have in that restored me to my native right, for a steady faith, and loyalty to my prince, was all the inheritance my father left me, and however hardly my ill-fortune deal with me, ítis what I prize so well that I neíer pawned it yet, and hope I neíer shall part with it. Nature and Fortune were certainly in league when you were born, and as the first took care to give you beauty enough to enslave the hearts of all the world, so the other resolved to do its merit justice, that none but a monarch, fit to rule that world, should eíer possess it, and in it he had an empire. The young prince you have given him, by his blooming virtues, early declares the mighty stock he came from; and as you have taken all the pious care of a dear mother and a prudent guardian to give him a noble and generous education; may it succeed according to his merits and your wishes: may he grow up to be a bulwark to his illustrious father, and a patron to his loyal subjects, with wisdom and learning to assist him, whenever called to his councils, to defend his right against the encroachments of republicans in his senates, to cherish such men as shall be able to vindicate the royal cause, that good and fit servants to the crown may never be lost for want of a protector. May he have courage and conduct, fit to fight his battles abroad, and terrify his rebels at home; and that all these may be yet more sure, may he never, during the spring-time of his years, when these growing virtues ought with care to be cherished, in order to their ripening; may he never meet with vicious natures, or the tongues of faithless, sordid, insipid flatterers, to blast íem: To conclude; may he be as great as the hand of Fortune (with his honour) shall be able to make him: and may your grace, who are so good a mistress, and so noble a patroness, never meet with a less grateful servant than, madam, your graceís entirely devoted creature.
In these distracted
times, when each man dreads
The bloody stratagems of busy heads;
When we have feared three years we know not what,
Till witnesses began to die oí thí rot,
What made our poet meddle with a plot?
Wasít that he fancied, for the very sake
And name of plot, his trifling play might take?
For thereís not inít one inch-board evidence,
But ítis, he says, to reason plain and sense,
And that he thinks a plausible defence.
Were Truth by Sense and Reason to be tried,
Sure all our swearers might be laid aside:
No, of such tools our author has no need,
To make his plot, or make his play succeed;
He, of black Bills, has no prodigious tales,
Or Spanish pilgrims cast ashore in Wales;
Hereís not one murtheríd magistrate at least,
Kept rank like veníson for a city feast,
Grown four days stiff, the better to prepare
And fit his pliant limbs to ride in chair:
Yet hereís an army raised, though under ground,
But no man seen, nor one commission found;
Here is a traitor too, thatís very old,
Turbulent, subtle, mischievous, and bold,
Bloody, revengeful, and to crown his part,
Loves fumbling with a wench, with all his heart;
Till after having many changes passed,
In spite of age (thanks heaven) is hanged at last;
Next is a senator that keeps a whore,
In Venice none a higher office bore;
To lewdness every night the letcher ran,
Show me, all London, such another man,
Match him at Mother Creswoldís if you can.
O Poland, Poland! had it been thy lot,
Tí have heard in time of this Venetian plot,
Thou surely chosen hadst one king from thence,
And honoured them as thou hast England since.
Enter Priuli and Jaffeir.
Priu. No more! Iíll hear no more; begone and leave.
Jaff. Not hear me! by my sufferings but
My lord, my lord! Iím not that abject wretch
You think me: Patience! whereís the distance throws
Me back so far, but I may boldly speak
In right, though proud oppression will not hear me!
Priu. Have you not wrongíd me?
Jaff.Could my nature eíer
Have brookíd injustice or the doing wrongs,
I need not now thus low have bent myself
To gain a hearing from a cruel father!
Priu. Yes! wronged me, in the nicest
The honour of my house; you have done me wrong;
You may remember (for I now will speak,
And urge its baseness): when you first came home
From travel, with such hopes, as made you looked on
By all menís eyes, a youth of expectation;
Pleased with your growing virtue, I received you:
Courted, and sought to raise you to your merits:
My house, my table, nay my fortune too,
My very self, was yours; you might have used me
To your best service; like an open friend,
I treated, trusted you, and thought you mine;
When in requital of my best endeavours,
You treacherously practised to undo me,
Seduced the weakness of my ageís darling,
My only child, and stole her from my bosom:
Jaff. íTis to me you owe her,
Childless you had been else, and in the grave,
Your name extinct, nor no more Priuli heard of.
You may remember, scarce five years are past,
Since in your brigandine you sailed to see
The Adriatic wedded by our Duke,
And I was with you: your unskilful pilot
Dashed us upon a rock; when to your boat
You made for safety; entered first yourself;
The affrighted Belvidera following next,
As she stood trembling on the vessel side,
Was by a wave washed off into the deep,
When instantly I plunged into the sea,
And buffeting the billows to her rescue,
Redeemed her life with half the loss of mine:
Like a rich conquest in one hand I bore her,
And with the other dashed the saucy waves,
That thronged and pressed to rob me of my prize:
I brought her, gave her to your despairing arms:
Indeed you thanked me; but a nobler gratitude
Rose in her soul: for from that hour she loved me,
Till for her life she paid me with herself.
Priu. You stole her from me, like a
thief you stole her,
At dead of night; that cursed hour you chose
To rifle me of all my heart held dear.
May all your joys in her prove false like mine;
A sterile fortune, and a barren bed,
Attend you both; continual discord make
Your days and nights bitter and grievous: still
May the hard hand of a vexatious need
Oppress, and grind you; till at last you find
The curse of disobedience all your portion.
Jaff. Half of your curse you have
bestowed in vain,
Heaven has already crowned our faithful loves
With a young boy, sweet as his motherís beauty.
May he live to prove more gentle than his grandsire.
And happier than his father!
Priu. Rather live
To bait thee for his bread, and din your ears
With hungry cries: whilst his unhappy mother
Sits down and weeps in bitterness of want.
Jaff. You talk as if ítwould please you.
Priu. íTwould by Heaven.
Once she was dear indeed; the drops that fell
From my sad heart, when she forgot her duty,
The fountain of my life was not so precious:
But she is gone, and if I am a man
I will forget her.
Jaff. Would I were in my grave!
Priu And she too with thee;
For, living here, youíre but my cursed remembrancers
I once was happy.
Jaff. You use me thus, because you know
Is fond of Belvidera: you perceive
My life feeds on her, therefore thus you treat me;
Oh! could my soul ever have known satiety:
Were I that thief, the doer of such wrongs
As you upbraid me with, what hinders me,
But I might send her back to you with contumely,
And court my fortune where she would be kinder!
Priu. You dare not doító
Jaff. Indeed, my lord, I dare not.
My heart that awes me is too much my master:
Three years are past since first our vows were plighted,
During which time, the world must bear me witness,
I have treated Belvidera like your daughter,
The daughter of a senator of Venice;
Distinction, place, attendance, and observance,
Due to her birth, she always has commanded;
Out of my little fortune I have done this;
Because (though hopeless eíer to win your nature)
The world might see, I loved her for herself,
Not as the heiress of the great Priulió
Priu. No more!
Jaff. Yes! all, and then adieu for ever.
Thereís not a wretch that lives on common charity
Butís happier than me: for I have known
The luscious sweets of plenty; every night
Have slept with soft content about my head,
And never waked but to a joyful morning;
Yet now must fall like a full ear of corn,
Whose blossom scaped, yetís withered in the ripening.
Priu. Home and be humble, study to
Discharge the lazy vermin of thy hall,
Those pageants of thy folly,
Reduce the glittering trappings of thy wife
To humble weeds, fit for thy little state;
Then to some suburb cottage both retire;
Drudge, to feed loathsome life: get brats, and starveó
Home, home, I say.ó
Jaff. Yes, if my heart would let meó
This proud, this swelling heart: home I would go,
But that my doors are hateful to my eyes,
Filled and dammed up with gaping creditors,
Watchful as fowlers when their game will spring;
I have now not fifty ducats in the world,
Yet still I am in love, and pleased with ruin.
O Belvidera! oh, she is my wifeó
And we will bear our wayward fate together,
But neíer know comfort more.
Pierr. My friend, good morrow!
How fares the honest partner of my heart?
What, melancholy! not a word to spare me?
Jaff. Iím thinking, Pierre, how that
damned starving quality
Called Honesty got footing in the world.
Pierr. Why, powerful Villainy first set
For its own ease and safety: honest men
Are the soft easy cushions on which knaves
Repose and fatten: were all mankind villains,
Theyíd starve each other; lawyers would want practice,
Cut-throats rewards: each man would kill his brother
Himself, none would be paid or hanged for murder:
Honesty was a cheat invented first
To bind the hands of bold deserving rogues,
That fools and cowards might sit safe in power,
And lord it uncontrolled above their betters.
Jaff. Then Honesty is but a notion.
Pierr. Nothing else,
Like wit, much talked of, not to be defined:
He that pretends to most, too, has least share inít;
íTis a ragged virtue: Honesty! no more onít.
Jaff. Sure thou art honest?
Pierr.So indeed men think me?
But theyíre mistaken, Jaffeir; I am a rogue
As well as they;
A fine gay bold- faced villain, as thou seest me;
íTis true, I pay my debts when theyíre contracted;
I steal from no man; would not cut a throat
To gain admission to a great manís purse,
Or a whoreís bed; Iíd not betray my friend,
get his place or
fortune: I scorn to flatter
A blown-up fool above me, or crush the wretch beneath me,
Yet, Jaffeir, for all this, I am a villain!
Jaff. A villainó
Pierr. Yes, a most notorious villain:
To see the suffírings of my fellow-creatures,
And own myself a man: to see our senators
Cheat the deluded people with a show
Of Liberty, which yet they neíer must taste of;
They say, by them our hands are free from fetters,
Yet whom they please they lay in basest bonds;
Bring whom they please to Infamy and Sorrow;
Drive us like wracks down the rough tide of power,
Whilst no holdís left to save us from destruction;
All that bear this are villains; and I one,
Not to rouse up at the great call of nature,
And check the growth of these domestic spoilers,
That makes us slaves and tells us ítis our charter.
Jaff. O Aquilina! Friend, to lose such
The dearest purchase of thy noble labours;
She was thy right by conquest, as by love.
Pierr. O Jaffeir! Iíd so fixed my heart
That wheresoeíer I framed a scheme of life
For time to come, she was my only joy
With which I wished to sweeten future cares;
I fancied pleasures, none but one that loves
And dotes as I did can imagine like íem:
When in the extremity of all these hopes,
In the most charming hour of expectation,
Then when our eager wishes soar the highest,
Ready to stoop and grasp the lovely game,
A haggard owl, a worthless kite of prey,
With his foul wings sailed in and spoiled my quarry.
Jaff. I know the wretch, and scorn him as thou hatíst him
Pierr. Curse on the common good thatís so
Where every slave that heaps up wealth enough
To do much wrong, becomes a lord of right:
I, who believed no ill could eíer come near me,
Found in the embraces of my Aquilina
A wretched old but itching senator;
A wealthy fool, that had bought out my title,
A rogue, that uses beauty like a lambskin,
Barely to keep him warm: that filthy cuckoo too
Was in my absence crept into my nest,
And spoiling all my brood of noble pleasure.
Jaff. Didst thou not chase him thence?
Pierr. I did, and drove
The rank old bearded Hirco stinking home:
The matter was complained of in the Senate,
I summoned to appear, and censured basely,
For violating something they call privilegeó
This was the recompense of my service:
Would Iíd been rather beaten by a coward!
A soldierís mistress Jaffeirís his religion,
When thatís profaned, all other ties are broken;
That even dissolves all former bonds of service,
And from that hour I think myself as free
To be the foe as eíer the friend of Venice.ó
Nay, dear Revenge, wheneíer thou callíst Iím ready.
Jaff. I think no safety can be here for
And grieve, my friend, as much as thou to live
In such a wretched state as this of Venice;
Where all agree to spoil the public good,
And villains fatten with the brave manís labours.
Pierr. We have neither safety, unity, nor
For the foundationís lost of common good;
Justice is lame as well as blind amongst us;
The laws (corrupted to their ends that make íem)
Serve but for instruments of some new tyranny,
That every day starts up to enslave us deeper:
Now could this glorious cause but find out friends
To do it right! O Jaffeir! then mightíst thou
Not wear these seals of woe upon thy face,
The proud Priuli should be taught humanity,
And learn to value such a son as thou art.
I dare not speak! But my heart bleeds this moment!
Jaff. Cursed be the cause, though I thy
friend be part onít:
Let me partake the troubles of thy bosom,
For I am used to misery, and perhaps
May find a way to sweeten ít to thy spirit.
Pierr. Too soon it will reach thy knowledgeó
Jaff. Then from thee
Let it proceed. Thereís virtue in thy friendship
Would make the saddest tale of sorrow pleasing,
Strengthen my constancy, and welcome ruin.
Pierr. Then thou art ruined!
Jaff. That I long since knew,
I and ill-fortune have been long acquaintance.
Pierr. I passed this very moment by thy
And found them guarded by a troop of villains;
The sons of public rapine were destroying:
They told me, by the sentence of the law
They had commission to seize all thy fortune,
Nay more, Priuliís cruel hand hath signed it.
Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face
Lording it oíer a pile of massy plate,
Tumbled into a heap for public sale:
There was another making villainous jests
At thy undoing; he had taíen possession
Of all thy ancient most domestic ornaments,
Rich hangings, intermixed and wrought with gold;
The very bed, which on thy wedding-night
Received thee to the arms of Belvidera,
The scene of all thy joys, was violated
By the coarse hands of filthy dungeon villains,
And thrown amongst the common lumber.
Jaff. Now, thanks Heavenó
Pierr. Thank Heaven! for what?
Jaff. That I am not worth a ducat.
Pierr. Curse thy dull stars, and the worse
fate of Venice.
Where brothers, friends, and fathers, all are false;
Where thereís no trust, no truth; where Innocence
Stoops under vile Oppression, and Vice lords it:
Hadst thou but seen, as I did, how at last
Thy beauteous Belvidera, like a wretch
Thatís doomed to banishment, came weeping forth,
Shining through tears, like April suns in showers
That labour to oíercome the cloud that loads íem,
Whilst two young virgins, on whose arms she leaned,
Kindly looked up, and at her grief grew sad,
As if they catched the sorrows that fell from her:
Even the lewd rabble that were gathered round
To see the sight, stood mute when they beheld her;
Governed their roaring throats and grumbled pity:
I could have hugged the greasy rogues: they pleased me.
Jaff. I thank thee for this story, from
Since now I know the worst that can befall me:
Ah, Pierre! I have a heart, that could have borne
The roughest wrong my fortune could have done me:
But when I think what Belvidera feels,
The bitterness her tender spirit tastes of,
I own myself a coward: bear my weakness,
If throwing thus my arms about thy neck,
I play the boy, and blubber in thy bosom.
Oh! I shall drown thee with my sorrows!
First burn, and level Venice to thy ruin.
What! starve like beggarsí brats in frosty weather,
Under a hedge, and whine ourselves to death!
Thou, or thy cause, shall never want assistance,
Whilst I have blood or fortune fit to serve thee:
Command my heart: thou art every way its master.
Jaff. No: thereís a secret pride in bravely dying.
Pierr. Rats die in holes and corners, dogs
Man knows a braver remedy for sorrow:
Revenge! the attribute of gods, they stamped it
With their great image on our natures; die!
Consider well the cause that calls upon thee:
And if thouírt base enough, die then: remember
Thy Belvidera suffers: Belvidera!
Die!ódamn first!ówhat! be decently interred
In a churchyard, and mingle thy brave dust
With stinking rogues that rot in dirty winding-sheets,
Surfeit-slain fools, the common dung oí thí soil.
Pierr. Well said, out withít, swear a littleó
By sea and air! by earth, by heaven and hell,
I will revenge my Belvideraís tears!
Hark thee, my friendóPriulióisóa Senator!
Pierr. A dog!
Pierr. Shoot him.
Jaff. With all my heart.
No more: where shall we meet at night?
Pierr. Iíll tell thee;
On the Rialto every night at twelve
I take my eveningís walk of meditation,
There we two will meet, and talk of precious
Pierr. At twelve.
Jaff. At any hour, my plagues
Will keep me waking.
Tell me why, good
Thou madíst me what I am, with all the spirit,
Aspiring thoughts and elegant desires
That fill the happiest man? Ah! rather why
Didst thou not form me sordid as my fate,
Base-minded, dull, and fit to carry burdens?
Why have I sense to know the curse thatís on me?
Is this just dealing, Nature? Belvidera!
Belv. Lead me, lead me, my virgins!
To that kind voice. My lord, my love, my refuge!
Happy my eyes, when they behold thy face:
My heavy heart will leave its doleful beating
At sight of thee, and bound with sprightful joys.
O smile, as when our loves were in their spring,
And cheer my fainting soul.
Jaff. As when our loves
Were in their spring? has then my fortune changed?
Art thou not Belvidera, still the same,
Kind, good, and tender, as my arms first found thee?
If thou art altered, where shall I have harbour?
Where ease my loaded heart? Oh! where complain?
Belv. Does this appear like change, or
When thus I throw myself into thy bosom,
With all the resolution of a strong truth:
Beats not my heart, as ítwould alarum thine
To a new charge of bliss; I joy more in thee,
Than did thy mother when she hugged thee first,
And blessed the gods for all her travail past.
Jaff. Can there in women be such glorious
Sure all ill-stories of thy sex are false:
O woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
To temper man: we had been brutes without you:
Angels are painted fair, to look like you;
Thereís in you all that we believe of heaven,
Amazing brightness, purity and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.
Belv. If love be treasure, weíll be
I have so much, my heart will surely break with ít;
Vows cannot express it; when I would declare
How greatís my joy, I am dumb with the big thought;
I swell, and sigh, and labour with my longing.
O lead me to some desert wide and wild,
Barren as our misfortunes, where my soul
May have its vent: where I may tell aloud
To the high heavens, and ever listíning planet,
With what a boundless stock my bosomís fraught!
Where I may throw my eager arms about thee,
Give loose to love with kisses, kindling joy,
And let off all the fire thatís in my heart.
Jaff. O Belvidera! double Iím a beggar,
Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee;
Want! worldly Want! that hungry meagre fiend
Is at my heels, and chases me in view;
Canst thou bear cold and hunger? can these limbs,
Framed for the tender offices of love,
Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty
banished by our miseries
(As suddenly we shall be), to seek out
(In some far climate where our names are strangers)
For charitable succour; wilt thou then,
When in a bed of straw we shrink together,
And the bleak winds shall whistle round our heads,
Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then
Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love?
Belv. Oh, I will love thee, even in
madness love thee.
Though my distracted senses should forsake me,
Iíd find some intervals, when my poor heart
Should ísuage itself and be let loose to thine.
Though the bare earth be all our resting-place,
Its roots our food, some clift our habitation,
Iíll make this arm a pillow for thy head;
As thou sighing liest, and swelled with sorrow,
Creep to thy bosom, pour the balm of love
Into thy soul, and kiss thee to thy rest;
Then praise our God, and watch thee till the morning.
Jaff. Hear this, you heavens, and wonder
how you made her!
Reign, reign, ye monarchs that divide the world,
Busy rebellion neíer will let you know
Tranquillity and happiness like mine;
Like gaudy ships, thí obsequious billows fall
And rise again, to lift you in your pride;
They wait but for a storm and then devour you:
I, in my private bark, already wrecked,
Like a poor merchant driven on unknown land,
That had by chance packed up his choicest treasure
In one dear casket, and saved only that:
Since I must wander
further on the shore,
Thus hug my little, but my precious store;
Resolved to scorn, and trust my fate no more.
Enter PIERRE and AQUILINA
Aquil. By all thy wrongs, thouírt dearer
to my arms
Than all the wealth of Venice: prithee stay,
And let us love to-night.
Pierr. No: thereís fool,
Thereís fool about thee: when a woman sells
Her flesh to fools, her beautyís lost to me;
They leave a taint, a sully where theyíve past,
Thereís such a baneful quality about íem,
Eíen spoils complexions with their own nauseousness.
They infect all they touch; I cannot think
Of tasting anything a fool has palled.
Aquil. I loathe and scorn that fool thou
meaníst, as much
Or more than thou canst; but the beast has gold
That makes him necessary: power too,
To qualify my character, and poise me
Equal with peevish virtue, that beholds
My liberty with envy: in their hearts
Are loose as I am; but an ugly power
Sits in their faces, and frights pleasures from íem.
Pierr. Much good mayít do you, madam, with your Senator.
Aquil. My Senator! why, canst thou think
Eíer filled thy Aquilinaís arms with pleasure?
Thinkíst thou, because I sometimes give him leave
To foil himself at what he is unfit for;
Because I force myself to endure and suffer him,
Thinkíst thou I love him? No, by all the joys
Thou ever gavíst me, his presence is my penance;
The worst thing an old man can beís a lover,
A mere memento mori to poor woman.
I never lay by his decrepit side,
But all that night I pondered on my grave.
Pierr. Would he were sent thither!
Aquil. Thatís my wish too:
For then, my Pierre, I might have cause with pleasure
To play the hypocrite: oh! how I could weep
Over the dying dotard, and kiss him too,
In hopes to smother him quite; then, when the time
Was come to pay my sorrows at his funeral,
For heís already made me heir to treasures,
Would make me out-act a real widowís whining:
How could I frame my face to fit my mourning,
With wringing hands attend him to his grave,
Fall swooning on his hearse: take mad possession
Even of the dismal vault where he lay buried,
There like the Ephesian matron dwell, till thou,
My lovely soldier, comíst to my deliverance;
Then throwing up my veil, with open arms
And laughing eyes, run to new-dawning joy.
Pierr. No more! I have friends to meet me
And must be private. As you prize my friendship
Keep up your coxcomb: let him not pry nor listen
Nor fisk about the house as I have seen him,
Like a tame mumping squirrel with a bell on;
Curs will be abroad to bite him if you do.
Aquil. What friends to meet? may I not be of your council?
Pierr. How! a woman ask questions out of
Go to your Senator, ask him what passes
Amongst his brethren, heíll hide nothing from you;
But pump not me for politics. No more!
Give order that whoever in my name
Comes here, receive admittance: so good-night.
Aquil. Must we neíer meet again! Embrace
Is love so soon and utterly forgotten!
Pierr. As you henceforward treat your fool, Iíll think onít.
Aquil. Curst be all fools, and doubly
The worst of foolsóI die if he forsakes me;
And now to keep him, heaven or hell instruct me.
[SCENE II.]óThe Rialto
Jaff. I am here, and thus, the shades of
night around me,
I look as if all hell were in my heart,
And I in hell. Nay, surely ítis so with me;ó
For every step I tread, methinks some fiend
Knocks at my breast, and bids it not be quiet:
Iíve heard, how desperate wretches, like myself,
Have wandered out at this dead time of night
To meet the foe of mankind in his walk:
Sure Iím so curst, that, thoí of Heaven forsaken,
No minister of darkness cares to tempt me.
Hell! hell! why sleepest thou?
Pierr. Sure I have stayed too long:
The clock has struck, and I may lose my proselyte.
Speak, who goes there?
Jaff. A dog, that comes to howl
At yonder moon: whatís he that asks the question?
Pierr. A friend to dogs, for they are
And neíer betray their masters; never fawn
On any that they love not: well met, friend:
Jaff. The same. O Pierre! thou art come
I was just going to pray.
Pierr. Ah, thatís mechanic,
Priests make a trade onít, and yet starve by it too:
No praying, it spoils business, and timeís precious;
Jaff. For a day or two
Iíve lodged her privately, till I see further
What fortune will do with me? Prithee, friend,
If thou wouldst have me fit to hear good counsel,
Speak not of Belvideraó
Pierr. Speak not of her.
Jaff. Oh no!
Pierr. Nor name her. May be I wish her well.
Jaff. Who well?
Pierr. Thy wife, thy lovely Belvidera;
I hope a man may wish his friendís wife well,
And no harm done!
Jaff. Yí are merry, Pierre!
Pierr. I am so:
Thou shalt smile too, and Belvidera smile;
Weíll all rejoice; hereís something to buy pins,
Marriage is chargeable.
Jaff. I but half wished
To see the Devil, and heís here already.
What must this buy, rebellion, murder, treason?
Tell me which way I must be damned for this.
Pierr. When last we parted, we had no
qualms like those.
But entertained each otherís thoughts like men,
Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world
Reformed since our last meeting? what new miracles
Have happened? has Priuliís heart relented?
Can he be honest?
Jaff. Kind Heaven! let heavy curses
Gall his old age; cramps, aches, rack his bones,
And bitterest disquiet wring his heart;
Oh, let him live till life become his burden!
Let him groan underít long, linger an age
In the worst agonies and pangs of death,
And find its ease, but late.
Pierr Nay, couldst thou not
As well, my friend, have stretched the curse to all
The Senate round, as to one single villain?
Jaff. But curses stick not: could I kill
By Heaven! I know not thirty heads in Venice
Should not be blasted; Senators should rot
Like dogs on dunghills; but their wives and daughters
Die of their own diseases. Oh, for a curse
To kill with!
Pierr. Daggers, daggers are much better!
Jaff. But where are they?
Pierr. Oh, a thousand
May be disposed in honest hands in Venice.
Jaff. Thou talkíst in clouds.
Pierr. But yet a heart half wronged
As thine has been, would find the meaning, Jaffeir.
Jaff. A thousand daggers, all in honest
And have not I a friend will stick one here?
Pierr. Yes, if I thought thou wert not to
To a nobler purpose, Iíd be that friend.
But thou hast better friends, friends whom thy wrongs
Have made thy friends; friends worthy to be called so;
Iíll trust thee with a secret: there are spirits
This hour at work. But as thou art a man,
Whom I have picked and chosen from the world,
Swear, that thou wilt be true to what I utter,
And when I have told thee, that which only gods
And men like gods are privy to, then swear,
No chance or change shall wrest it from my bosom.
Jaff. When thou wouldst bind me, is there
need of oaths?
(Greensickness girls lose maidenheads with such counters)
For thouírt so near my heart, that thou mayst see
Its bottom, sound its strength, and firmness to thee:
Is coward, fool, or villain, in my face?
If I seem none of these, I dare believe
Thou wouldst not use me in a little cause,
For I am fit for honourís toughest task;
Nor ever yet found fooling was my province;
And for a villainous inglorious enterprise,
I know thy heart so well, I dare lay mine
Before thee, set it to what point thou wilt.
Pierr. Nay, itís cause thou wilt be fond
For it is founded on the noblest basis,
Our liberties, our natural inheritance;
Thereís no religion, no hypocrisy inít;
Weíll do the business, and neíer fast and pray forít:
Openly act a deed, the world shall gaze
With wonder at, and envy when itís done.
Jaff. For liberty!
Pierr. For liberty, my friend!
Thou shalt be freed from base Priuliís tyranny,
And thy sequestered fortunes healed again.
I shall be freed from opprobrious wrongs,
That press me now, and bend my spirit downward:
All Venice free, and every growing merit
Succeed to its just right: fools shall be pulled
From Wisdomís seat; those baleful unclean birds,
Those lazy owls, who (perched near Fortuneís top)
Sit only watchful with their heavy wings
To cuff down new-fledged virtues, that would rise
To nobler heights, and make the grove harmonious.
Jaff. What can I do?
Pierr. Canst thou not kill a Senator?
Jaff. Were there one wise or honest, I
could kill him
For herding with that nest of fools and knaves;
By all my wrongs, thou talkíst as if revenge
Were to be had, and the brave story warms me.
Pierr. Swear, then!
Jaff. I do, by all those glittering stars
And yond great ruling planet of the night!
By all good powers above, and ill below!
By love and friendship, dearer than my life!
No power or death shall make me false to thee.
Pierr. Here we embrace, and Iíll unlock my
A councilís held hard by, where the destruction
Of this great Empireís hatching: there Iíll lead thee!
But be a man, for thouírt to mix with men
Fit to disturb the peace of all the world,
And rule it when itís wildestó
Jaff. I give thee thanks
For this kind warning: yes, I will be a man,
And charge thee, Pierre, wheneíer thou seest my fears
Betray me less, to rip this heart of mine
Out of my breast, and show it for a cowardís.
Come, letís begone, for from this hour I chase
All little thoughts, all tender human follies
Out of my bosom: vengeance shall have room:
Pierr. And liberty!
Jaff. Revenge! revenge!
[SCENE III.]óThe Scene changes to AQUILINAíS house, the Greek Courtesan Enter RENAULT.
Renault. Why was my choice ambition, the
A wretch can build on? itís indeed at distance
A good prospect, tempting to the view,
The height delights us, and the mountain top
Looks beautiful, because itís nigh to heaven,
But we neíer think how sandyís the foundation,
What storm will batter, and what tempest shake us!
Spin. Renault, good morrow! for by this
I think the scale of night has turned the balance,
And weighs up morning: has the clock struck twelve?
Ren. Yes, clocks will go as they are
set. But Man,
Irregular Manís neíer constant, never certain:
Iíve spent at least three precious hours of darkness
In waiting dull attendance; ítis the curse
Of diligent virtue to be mixed like mine,
With giddy tempers, souls but half resolved.
Spin. Hell seize that soul amongst us, it can frighten!
Ren. Whatís then the cause that I am
Why are we not together?
O sir, welcome!
You are an Englishman: when treasonís hatching
One might have thought youíd not have been behindhand.
In what whoreís lap have you been lolling?
Give but an Englishman his whore and ease,
Beef and sea-coal fire, heís yours for ever.
Eliot. Frenchman, you are saucy.
Enter BEDAMAR the Ambassador, THEODORE, BRAMVEIL, DURAND, BRABE, REVILLIDO, MEZZANA, TERNON, RETROSI, Conspirators.
Beda. At difference, fie!
Is this a time for quarrels? Thieves and rogues
Fall out and brawl: should men of your high calling,
Men separated by the choice of Providence,
From the gross heap of mankind, and set here
In this great assembly as in one great jewel,
To adorn the bravest purpose it eíer smiled on,
Should you like boys wrangle for trifles?
Beda. Renault, thy hand!
Ren. I thought Iíd given my heart
Long since to every man that mingles here;
But grieve to find it trusted with such tempers,
That canít forgive my froward age its weakness.
Beda. Eliot, thou once hadst virtue; I
Thy stubborn temper bend with godlike goodness,
Not half thus courted: ítis thy nationís glory,
To hug the foe that offers brave alliance.
Once more embrace, my friendsóweíll all embraceó
United thus, we are the mighty engine
Must twist this rooted Empire from its basis!
Totters it not already?
Eliot. Would it were tumbling!
Beda. Nay, it shall down: this night we seal its ruin.
O Pierre! thou art
Come to my breast, for by its hopes thou lookíst
Lovelily dreadful, and the fate of Venice
Seems on thy sword already. O my Mars!
The poets that first feigned a god of war
Sure prophesied of thee.
Pierr. Friends! was not Brutus
(I mean that Brutus who in open senate
Stabbed the first Cæsar that usurped the world)
A gallant man?
Ren. Yes, and Catiline too;
Though story wrong his fame: for he conspired
To prop the reeling glory of his country:
His cause was good.
Beda. And ours as much above it,
As Renault thou art superior to Cethegus,
Or Pierre to Cassius.
Pierr. Then to what we aim at
When do we start? or must we talk for ever?
Beda. No, Pierre, the deedís near birth:
Fate seems to have
The business up, and given it to our care;
I hope thereís not a heart nor hand amongst us
But is firm and ready.
Weíll die with Bedamar.
Beda. O men,
Matchless, as will your glory be hereafter.
The game is for a matchless prize, if won;
If lost, disgraceful ruin.
Ren. What can lose it?
The public stockís a
beggar; one Venetian
Trusts not another: look into their stores
Of general safety; empty magazines,
A tattered fleet, a murmuring unpaid army,
Bankrupt nobility, a harassed commonalty,
A factious, giddy, and divided Senate,
Is all the strength of Venice: letís destroy it;
Letís fill their magazines with arms to awe them,
Man out their fleet, and make their trade maintain it;
Let loose the murmuring army on their masters,
To pay themselves with plunder; lop their nobles
To the base roots, whence most of íem first sprung;
Enslave the rout, whom smarting will make humble;
Turn out their droning Senate, and possess
That seat of empire which our souls were framed for.
Pierr. Ten thousand men are armed at your
Commanded all by leaders fit to guide
A battle for the freedom of the world;
This wretched state has starved them in its service,
And by your bounty quickened, theyíre resolved
To serve your glory, and revenge their own!
Theyíve all their different quarters in this city,
Watch for thí alarm, and grumble ítis so tardy.
Beda. I doubt not, friend, but thy
Has still kept waking, and it shall have ease:
After this night it is resolved we meet
No more, till Venice own us for her lords.
Pierr. How lovely the Adriatic whore,
Dressed in her flames, will shine! devouring flames!
Such as shall burn her to the watery bottom
And hiss in her foundation.
Beda. Now if any
Amongst us that owns this glorious cause,
Have friends or interest, heíd wish to save,
Let it be told. the general doom is sealed;
But Iíd forego the hopes of a worldís empire,
Rather than wound the bowels of my friend.
Pierr. I must confess you there have
touched my weakness.
I have a friend; hear it, such a friend!
My heart was neíer shut to him: nay, Iíll tell you,
He knows the very business of this hour;
But he rejoices in the cause, and loves it,
Weíve changed a vow to live and die together,
And heís at hand to ratify it here.
Ren. How! all betrayed?
Pierr. NoóIíve dealt nobly with you;
Iíve brought my all into the public stock;
I had but one friend, and him Iíll share amongst you!
Receive and cherish him: or if, when seen
And searched, you find him worthless, as my tongue
Has lodged this secret in his faithful breast,
To ease your fears I wear a dagger here
Shall rip it out again, and give you rest.
Come forth, thou only good I eíer could boast of.
Enter Jaffeir with a Dagger.
Beda. His presence bears the show of manly virtue.
Jaff. I know youíll wonder all, that thus
I dare approach this place of fatal counsels;
But Iím amongst you, and by Heaven it glads me,
To see so many virtues thus united,
To restore justice and dethrone oppression.
Command this sword, if you would have it quiet,
Into this breast; but if you think it worthy
To cut the throats of reverend rogues in robes,
Send me into the cursed assembled Senate;
It shrinks not, though I meet a father there;
Would you behold this city flaming? Hereís
A hand shall bear a lighted torch at noon
To the Arsenal, and set its gates on fire.
Ren. You talk this well, sir.
Jaff. Nayóby Heaven Iíll do this.
Come, come, I read distrust in all your faces;
You fear me a villain, and indeed itís odd
To hear a stranger talk thus at first meeting,
Of matters, that have been so well debated;
But I come ripe with wrongs as you with counsels,
I hate this Senate, am a foe to Venice;
A friend to none, but men resolved like me,
To push on mischief; oh, did you but know me,
I need not talk thus!
Beda. Pierre! I must embrace him,
My heart beats to this man as if it knew him.
Ren. I never lovíd these huggers.
Jaff. Still I see
The cause delights me not. Your friends survey me,
As I were dangerousóbut I come armed
Against all doubt, and to your trust will give
A pledge, worth more than all the world can pay for.
My Belvidera! Ho! My Belvidera!
Beda. What wonder next?
Jaff. Let me entreat you,
As I have henceforth hopes to call ye friends,
That all but the ambassador, [and] this
Grave guide of councils, with my friend that owns me,
Withdraw a while to spare a womanís blushes.
[Exeunt all but Bedamar, Renault, Jaffeir, Pierrn.
Beda. Pierre, whither will this ceremony lead us?
Jaff. My Belvidera! ho! my Belvidera!
Belv. Who calls so loud at this late
That voice was wont to come in gentler whispers,
And fill my ears with the soft breath of love:
Thou hourly image of my thoughts, where art thou?
Jaff. Indeed ítis late.
Belv. Oh! I have slept and dreamt,
And dreamt again: where hast thou been, thou loiterer?
Thoí my eyes closed, my arms have still been opened;
Stretched every way betwixt my broken slumbers,
To search if thou wert come to crown my rest;
Thereís no repose without thee: Oh, the day
Too soon will break, and wake us to our sorrow;
Come, come to bed, and bid thy cares good-night.
Jaff. O Belvidera! we must change the
In which the past delights of life were tasted:
The poor sleep little, we must learn to watch
Our labours late, and early every morning,
Midst winter frosts; then clad and fed with sparing,
Rise to our toils, and drudge away the day.
Belv. Alas! where am I! whither isít you
Methinks I read distraction in your face!
Something less gentle than the fate you tell me:
You shake and tremble too! your blood runs cold!
Heavens guard my love, and bless his heart with patience.
Jaff. That I have patience, let our fate
Who has ordained it so, that thou and I,
(Thou the divinest Good man eíer possessed,
And I the wretchedíst of the race of man)
This very hour, without one tear, must part.
Belv. Part! must we part? Oh! am I then
Will my love cast me off? have my misfortunes
Offended him so highly, that heíll leave me?
Why drag you from me; whither are you going?
My dear! my life! my love!
Jaff. O friends!
Belv. Speak to me.
Jaff. Take her from my heart;
Sheíll gain such hold else, I shall neíer get loose.
I charge thee take her, but with tenderíst care
Relieve her troubles and assuage her sorrows.
Ren. Rise, madam! and command amongst your servants!
Jaff. To you, sirs, and your honours, I
And with her this, when I prove unworthyó [Gives a dagger.
You know the rest:óthen strike it to her heart;
And tell her, he, who three whole happy years
Lay in her arms, and each kind night repeated
The passionate vows of still-increasing love.
Sent that reward for all her truth and sufferings.
Belv. Nay, take my life, since he has
sold it cheaply;
Or send me to some distant clime your slave,
But let it be far off, lest my complainings
Should reach his guilty ears, and shake his peace.
Jaff. No, Belvidera, Iíve contrived thy
Trust to my faith, and be but fortune kind
To me, as Iíll preserve that faith unbroken,
When next we meet, Iíll lift thee to a height,
Shall gather all the gazing world about thee,
To wonder what strange virtue placed thee there.
But if we neíer meet moreó
Belv. O thou unkind one,
Never meet more? have I deserved this from you?
Look on me, tell me, speak, thou dear deceiver,
Why am I separated from thy love?
If I am false, accuse me; but if true,
Donít, prithee, donít in poverty forsake me,
But pity the sad heart, thatís torn with parting.
Yet hear me! yet recall meó
[Exeunt Renault, Bedamar, and Belvidera.
Jaff. O my eyes!
Look not that way, but turn yourselves a while
Into my heart, and be weaníd all together.
My friend, where art thou?
Pierr. Here, my honourís brother.
Jaff. Is Belvidera gone?
Pierr. Renault has led her
Back to her own apartment: but, by Heaven!
Thou must not see her more till our workís over.
Pierr. Not for your life.
Jaff. O Pierre, wert thou but she.
How I could pull thee down into my heart,
Gaze on thee till my eye- strings cracked with love,
Till all my sinews with its fire extended,
Fixed me upon the rack of ardent longing;
Then swelling, sighing, raging to be blest,
Come like a panting turtle to thy breast,
On thy soft bosom, hovering, bill and play,
Confess the cause why last I fled away;
Own ítwas a fault, but swear to give it oíer
And never follow false ambition more. [Exeunt ambo.
Enter Aquilina and her Maid.
Aquil. Tell him I am gone to bed: tell him I am not at home; tell him Iíve better company with me, or anything; tell him, in short, I will not see him, the eternal, troublesome, vexatious fool: heís worse company than an ignorant physicianóIíll not be disturbed at these unseasonable hours.
Maid. But madam! Heís here already, just entered the doors.
Aquil. Turn him out again, you unnecessary, useless, giddy brained ass! If he will not begone, set the house a-fire and burn us both: I had rather meet a toad in my dish than that old hideous animal in my chamber to-night.
Anto. Nacky, Nacky, Nackyóhow dost do, Nacky? Hurry durry. I am come, little Nacky; past eleven oíclock, a late hour; time in all conscience to go to bed, NackyóNacky, did I say? Ay Nacky; Aquilina, lina, lina, quilina, quilina, quilina, Aquilina, Naquilina, Naquilina, Acky, Acky, Nacky, Nacky. Queen Nackyócome letís to bedóyou Fubbs, you Pugg youó you little PussóPurree TuzzeyóI am a Senator.
Aquil. You are a fool, I am sure.
Anto. May be so too, sweetheart. Never the worse Senator for all that. Come Nacky, Nacky, letís have a game at rump, Nacky.
Aquil. You would do well, signor, to be troublesome here no longer, but leave me to myself: be sober and go home, sir.
Anto. Home, Madonna!
Aquil. Ay, home, sir. Who am I?
Anto. Madonna, as I take it you are myóyou areóthou art my little Nicky NackyÖthatís all!
Aquil. I find you are resolved to be troublesome, and so to make short of the matter in few words, I hate you, detest you, loathe you, I am weary of you, sick of youóhang you, you are an old, silly, impertinent, impotent, solicitous coxcomb, crazy in your head, and lazy in your body, love to be meddling with everything, and if you had not money, you are good for nothing.
Anto. Good for nothing! Hurry durry, Iíll try that presently. Sixty-one years old, and good for nothing: thatís brave.ó[To the maid.] Come, come, come, Mistress fiddle-faddle, turn you out for a season; go turn out, I say, it is our will and pleasure to be private some momentsóout, out when you are bid to.ó [Puts her out and locks the door.] Good for nothing, you say.
Aquil. Why, what are you good for?
Anto. In the first place, madam, I am old, and consequently very wise, very wise, Madonna, díye mark that? in the second place, take notice, if you please, that I am a Senator, and when I think fit can make speeches, Madonna. Hurry durry, I can make a speech in the Senate-house now and thenówould make you hair stand on end, Madonna.
Aquil. What care I for your speeches in the Senate-house: if you would be silent here, I should thank you.
Anto. Why, I can make speeches to thee too, my lovely Madonna; for exampleómy cruel fair one.
[Takes out a purse of gold and at every pause shakes it.
Since it is my fate, that you should with your servant angry prove; thoí late at nightóI hope ítis not too late with this to gain reception for my loveóthereís for thee, my little Nicky Nackyótake it, here take itóI say take it, or Iíll fling it at your headóhow now, rebel!
Aquil. Truly, my illustrious Senator, I must confess your honour is at present most profoundly eloquent indeed.
Anto. Very well; come, now letís sit down and think uponít a littleócome sit I sayósit down by me a little, my Nicky Nacky, ha!ó[Sits down.] Hurry durryógood for nothingó
Aquil. No, sir, if you please I can know my distance and stand.
Anto. Stand: how? Nacky up and I down!
Nay, then, let me exclaim with the poet,
Show me a case more pitiful who can,
A standing woman, and a falling man.
Hurry durryónot sit downósee this, ye godsóYou wonít sit down?
Aquil. No, sir.
Anto. Then look you now, suppose me a bull, a basan-bull, the bull of bulls, or any bull. Thus up I get and with my brows thus bentóI broo, I say I broo, I broo, I broo. You wonít sit down, will you?óI brooó[Bellows like a bull, and drives her about.
Aquil. Well, sir, I must endure this. Now your [she sits down] honour has been a bull, pray what beast will your worship please to be next?
Anto. Now Iíll be a Senator again, and thy lover, little Nicky Nacky! [He sits by her.] Ah toad, toad, toad, toad! spit in my face a little, Nackyóspit in my face prithee, spit in my face, never so little: spit but a little bitóspit, spit, spit, spit, when you are bid, I say; do prithee spitónow, now, now, spit: what, you wonít spit, will you? Then Iíll be a dog.
Aquil. A dog, my lord?
Anto. Ay, a dogóand Iíll give thee this tíother purse to let me be a dogóand to use me like a dog a little. Hurry durryó I willóhere ítis.
[Gives the purse.
Aquil. Well, with all my heart. But let me beseech your dogship to play your tricks over as fast as you can, that you may come to stinking the sooner, and be turned out of doors as you deserve.
Anto. Ay, ayóno matter for thatótható[He gets under the table]óshanít move meóNow, bow wow wow, bow wow Ö
[Barks like a dog.
Aquil. Hold, hold, hold, sir, I beseech you: what isít you do? If curs bite, they must be kicked, sir. Do you see, kicked thus.
Anto. Ay, with all my heart: do kick. kick on, now I am under the table, kick againókick harderóharder yet, bow wow wow, wow, bowóíod Iíll have a snap at thy shinsóbow wow wow, wow, bowóíod she kicks bravely.ó
Aquil. Nay, then Iíll go another way to work with you: and I think hereís an instrument fit for the purpose.
[Fetches a whip and bell. What, bite your mistress, sirrah! out, out of doors, you dog, to kennel and be hangedóbite your mistress by the legs, you rogueó
[She whips him.
Anto. Nay, prithee Nacky, now thou art too loving: Hurry durry, íod Iíll be a dog no longer.
Aquil. Nay, none of your fawning and grinning: but be gone, or hereís the discipline: what, bite your mistress by the legs, you mongrel? out of doorsóhout hout, to kennel, sirrah! go.
Anto. This is very barbarous usage, Nacky, very barbarous: look you, I will not goóI will not stir from the door, that I resolveóhurry durry, what, shut me out?
[She whips him out.
Aquil. Ay, and if you come here any more to-night Iíll have my footmen lug you, you cur: what, bite your poor mistress Nacky, sirrah!
Maid. Heavens, madam! Whatís the matter?
[He howls at the door like a dog.
Aquil. Call my footmen hither presently.
Enter two Footmen.
Maid. They are here already, madam, the house is all alarmed with a strange noise, that nobody knows what to make of.
Aquil. Go all of you and turn that troublesome beast in the next room out of my houseóIf I ever see him within these walls again, without my leave for his admittance, you sneaking rogues, Iíll have you poisoned all, poisoned, like rats; every corner of the house shall stink of one of you; go, and learn hereafter to know my pleasure. So now for my Pierre:
Thus when godlike lover was displeased,
We sacrifice our fool and heís appeased.
Belv. Iím sacrificed! I am sold! betrayíd
Inevitable ruin has enclosed me!
No sooner was I to my bed repaired
To weigh, and (weeping) ponder my condition,
But the old hoary wretch, to whose false care
My peace and honour was entrusted, came
(Like Tarquin) ghastly with infernal lust.
O thou, Roman Lucrece! thou couldst find friends
To vindicate thy wrong,
I never had but one, and heís proved false;
He that should guard my virtue, has betrayed it;
Left me! undone me! O that I could hate him!
Where shall I go! O whither whither wander?
Jaff. Can Belvidera want a resting place
When these poor arms are open to receive her?
Oh, ítis in vain to struggle with desires
Strong as my love to thee; for every moment
Iím from thy sight, the heart within my bosom
Moans like a tender infant in its cradle
Whose nurse has left it; come, and with the songs
Of gentle love persuade it to its peace.
Belv. I fear the stubborn wanderer will
not own me,
íTis grown a rebel to be ruled no longer,
Scorns the indulgent bosom that first lulled it,
And like a disobedient child disdains
The soft authority of Belvidera.
Jaff. There was a timeó
Belv. Yes, yes, there was a time
When Belvideraís tears, her cries, and sorrows,
Were not despised; when if she chanced to sigh,
Or look but sadóthere was indeed a time
When Jaffeir would have taíen her in his arms,
Eased her declining head upon his breast,
And never left her till he found the cause.
But let her now weep seas,
Cry, till she rend the earth; sigh till she burst
Her heart asunder; still he bears it all;
Deaf as the wind, and as the rocks unshaken.
Jaff. Have I been deaf? am I that rock
Against whose root tears beat and sighs are sent?
In vain have I beheld thy sorrows calmly!
Witness against me, heavens, have I done this?
Then bear me in a whirlwind back again,
And let that angry dear one neíer forgive me!
O thou too rashly censuríst of my love!
Couldst thou but think how I have spent this night,
Dark and alone, no pillow to my head,
Rest in my eyes, nor quiet in my heart,
Thou wouldst not, Belvidera, sure thou wouldst not
Talk to me thus, but like a pitying angel
Spreading thy wings come settle on my breast,
And hatch warm comfort there ere sorrows freeze it.
Belv. Why, then, poor mourner, in what
Hast thou been talking with that witch the night?
On what cold stone hast thou been stretched along.
Gathering the grumbling winds about thy head,
To mix with theirs the accents of thy woes!
Oh, now I find the cause my love forsakes me!
I am no longer fit to bear a share
In his concernments: my weak female virtue
Must not be trusted; ítis too frail and tender.
Jaff. O Portia! Portia! what a soul was thine!
Belv. That Portia was a woman, and when
Big with the fate of Rome (Heaven guard thy safety!)
Concealed from her the labours of his mind,
She let him see her blood was great as his,
Flowed from a spring as noble, and a heart
Fit to partake his troubles, as his love:
Fetch, fetch that dagger back, the dreadful dower
Thou gavíst last night in parting with me; strike it
Here to my heart; and as the blood flows from it
Judge if it run not pure as Catoís daughterís
Jaff. Thou art too good, and I indeed
Unworthy so much virtue: teach me how
I may deserve such matchless love as thine,
And see with what attention Iíll obey thee.
Belv. Do not despise me: thatís the all I ask.
Jaff. despise thee! Hear meó
Belv. Oh, thy charming tongue
Is but too well acquainted with my weakness,
Knows, let it name but love, my melting heart
Dissolves within my breast; till with closed eyes
I reel into thy arms, and allís forgotten.
Jaff. What shall I do?
Belv. Tell me! be just, and tell me
Why dwells that busy cloud upon thy face?
Why am I made a stranger? why that sigh,
And I not know the cause? Why, when the world
Is wrapt in rest, why chooses then my love
To wander up and down in horrid darkness
Loathing his bed, and these desiring arms?
Why are these eyes bloodshot with tedious watching?
Why starts he now? and looks as if he wished
His fate were finished?
Tell me, ease my fears;
Lest when we next time meet, I want the power
To search into the sickness of thy mind,
But talk as wildly then as thou lookíst now.
Jaff. O Belvidera!
Belv. Why was I last night delivered to a villain?
Jaff. Ha, a villain!
Belv. Yes! to a villain! Why at such an
Meets that assembly all made up of wretches
That look as hell had drawn íem into league?
Why, I in this hand, and in that a dagger,
Was I delivered with such dreadful ceremonies?
ďTo you, sirs, and to
your honour I bequeath her,
And with her this: wheneíer I prove unworthy,
You know the rest, then strike it to her heartĒ?
Oh! whyís that rest concealed from me? must I
Be made the hostage of a hellish trust?
For such I know I am; thatís all my value?
But by the love and loyalty I owe thee,
Iíll free thee from the bondage of these slaves,
Straight to the Senate, tell íem all I know,
All that I think, all that my fears inform me!
Jaff. Is this the Roman virtue! this the
That boasts its purity with Catoís daughterís!
Would she have eíer betrayed her Brutus?
For Brutus trusted her: wert thou so kind,
What would not Belvidera suffer for thee?
Jaff. I shall undo myself, and tell thee all.
Belv. Look not upon me, as I am a woman,
But as a bone, thy wife, thy friend, who long
Has had admission to thy heart, and there
Studied the virtues of thy gallant nature;
Thy constancy, thy courage and thy truth,
Have been my daily lesson: I have learnt them,
Am bold as thou, can suffer or despise
The worst of fates for thee, and with thee share them
Jaff. O you divinest Powers! look down
My prayers! instruct me to reward this virtue!
Yet think a little ere thou tempt me further:
Think I have a tale to tell, will shake thy nature,
Melt all this boasted constancy thou talkíst of
Into vile tears and despicable sorrows:
Then if thou shouldst betray me!
Belv. Shall I swear?
Jaff. No: do not swear: I would not
Thy tender nature with so rude a bond:
But as thou hopest to see me live my days,
And love thee long, look this within thy breast;
Iíve bound myself by all the strictest sacraments
Divine and humanó
Jaff. To kill thy fatheró
Belv. My father!
Jaff. Nay, the throats of the whole
Shall bleed, my Belvidera: he amongst us
That spares his father, brother, or his friend,
Is damned: how rich and beauteous will the face
Of Ruin look, when these wide streets run blood;
I and the glorious partners of my fortune
Shouting, and striding oíer the prostrate dead,
Still to new waste; whilst thou, far off in safety,
Smiling, shalt see the wonders of our daring,
And when night comes, with praise and love receive me.
Jaff. Have a care, and shrink not even in
For if thou dostó
Belv. I know it, thou wilt kill me.
Do, strike thy sword into this bosom: lay me
Dead on the earth, and then thou wilt be safe:
Murder my father! thoí his cruel nature
Has persecuted me to my undoing,
Driven me to basest wants, can I behold him,
With smiles of vengeance, butchered in his age?
The sacred fountain of my life destroyed?
And canst thou shed the blood that gave me being,
Nay, be a traitor too, and sell thy country?
Can thy great heart descend so vilely low,
Mix with hired slaves, bravos, and common stabbera,
Nose- slitters, alley-lurking villains! join
With such a crew and take a ruffianís wages
To cut the throats of wretches as they sleep?
Jaff. Thou wrongíst me, Belvidera! Iíve
With men of souls: fit to reform the ills
Of all mankind: thereís not a heart amongst them,
Butís as stout as death, yet honest as the nature
Of man first made, ere fraud and vice were fashions.
Belv. Whatís he, to whose curst hands
last night thou gavíst me?
Was that well done? Oh! I could tell a story
Would rouse thy lion-heart out of its den
And make it rage with terrifying fury.
Jaff. Speak on, I charge thee!
Belv. O my love! if eíer
Thy Belvideraís peace deserved thy care,
Remove me from this place: last night, last nightó
Jaff. Distract me not, but give me all the truth.
Belv. No sooner wert thou gone, and I
Left in the power of that old son of mischief;
No sooner was I lain on my sad bed,
But that vile wretch approached me; loose, unbuttoned,
Ready for violation: then my heart
Throbbíd with its fears: oh, how I wept and sighed
And shrunk and trembled; wished in vain for him
That should protect me.Thou, alas! wert gone!
Jaff. Patience, sweet Heaven, till I make vengeance sure!
Belv. He drew the hideous dagger forth
thou gavíst him,
And with upbraiding smiles, he said, ďBehold it;
This is the pledge of a false husbandís love:Ē
And in my arms then pressed, and would have clasped me;
But with my cries I scared his coward heart,
Till he withdrew, and muttered vows to hell.
These are thy friends! with these thy life, thy honour,
Thy love, allís staked, and all will go to ruin.
Jaff. No more: I charge thee keep this
Clear up thy sorrows, look as if thy wrongs
Were all forgot, and treat him like a friend,
As no complaint were made. No more, retire;
Retire, my life, and doubt not of my honour;
Iíll heal its failings and deserve thy love.
Belv. Oh, should I part with thee, I fear
In anger leave me, and return no more.
Jaff. Return no more! I would not live
Another night to purchase the creation.
Belv. When shall we meet again?
Jaff. Anon at twelve!
Iíll steal myself to thy expecting arms,
Come like a travelled dove and bring thee peace.
Jaff. By all our loves!
Belv. íTis hard to part:
But sure no falsehood ever looked so fairly.
Farewellóremember twelve. [Exit Belvidera.
Jaff. Let Heaven forget me
When I remember not thy truth, thy love.
How curst is my condition, tossed and justled,
From every corner; Fortuneís common fool,
The jest of rogues, an instrumental ass
For villains to lay loads of shame upon,
And drive about just for their ease and soorn.
Ente r Pierre.
Jaff. Who calls!
Pierr. A friend, that could have wished
Tí have found thee otherwise employed: what, hunt
A wife on the dull soil! sure a staunch husband
Of all hounds is the dullest? wilt thou never,
Never be weaned from caudles and confections?
What feminine tale hast thou been listening to,
Of unaired shirts; catarrhs and toothache got
By thin-soled shoes? Damnation! that a fellow
Chosen to be a sharer in the destruction
Of a whole people, should sneak thus in corners
To ease his fulsome lusts, and fool his mind.
Jaff. May not a man then trifle out an
With a kind woman and not wrong his calling?
Pierr. Not in a cause like ours.
Jaff. Then, friend, our cause
Is in a damned condition: for Iíll tell thee,
That canker-worm called Lechery has touched it,
íTis tainted vilely: wouldst thou think it, Renault
(That mortified old withered winter rogue)
Loves simple fornication like a priest;
I found him out for watering at my wife:
He visited her last night like a kind guardian:
Faith, she has some temptations, thatís the truth onít.
Pierr. He durst not wrong his trust!
Jaff. íTwas something late, though,
To take the freedom of a ladyís chamber.
Pierr. Was she in bed?
Jaff. Yes, faith, in virgin sheets
White as her bosom, Pierre, dished neatly up,
Might tempt a weaker appetite to taste.
Oh, how the old fox stunk, I warrant thee,
When the rank fit was on him!
Pierr. Patience guide me!
He used no violence?
Jaff. No, no! out onít, violence!
Played with her neck; brushed her with his grey-beard,
Struggled and towzed, tickled her till she squeaked a little
May be, or soóbut not a jot of violenceó
Pierr. Damn him!
Jaff. Ay, so say I: but hush, no more
All hitherto is well, and I believe
Myself no monster yet: though no man knows
What fate heís born to: sure ítis near the hour
We all should meet for our concluding orders:
Will the ambassador be here in person?
Pierr. No: he has sent commission to that
To give the executing charge.
Iíd have thee be a man, if possible,
And keep thy temper; for a brave revenge
Neíer comes too late.
Jaff. Fear not, Iím cool as patience:
Had he completed my dishonour, rather
Than hazard the success our hopes are ripe for,
Iíd bear it all with mortifying virtue.
Pierr. Heís yonder coming this way through
His thoughts seem full.
Jaff. Prithee retire, and leave me
With him alone: Iíll put him to some trial,
See how his rotten part will bear the touching.
Pierr. Be careful, then.
Jaff. Nay, never doubt, but trust me.
What, be a devil! take a damning oath
For shedding native blood! can there be a sin
In merciful repentance? O this villain!
Ren. Perverse! and peevish! what a slave
To let his itching flesh thus get the better of him!
Despatch the tool her husbandóthat were well.
Ren. My friend, my near ally!
The hostage of your faith, my beauteous charge, is very well.
Jaff. Sir, are you sure of that?
Stands she in perfect health? beats her pulse even?
Neither too hot nor cold?
Ren. What means that question?
Jaff. Oh, women have fantastic
Inconstant as their wishes, always wavering,
And neíer fixed; was it not boldly done
Even at first sight to trust the thing I loved
(A tempting treasure too!) with youth so fierce
And vigorous as thine? but thou art honest.
Ren. Who dares accuse me?
Jaff. Cursed be him that doubts
Thy virtue: I have tried it, and declare,
Were I to choose a guardian of my honour
Iíd put it into thy keeping; for I know thee.
Ren. Know me!
Jaff. Ay, know thee: thereís no falsehood
Thou lookst just as thou art: let us embrace.
Now wouldst thou out my throat or I out thine?
Ren. You dare not doít.
Jaff. You lie, sir.
Jaff. No more.
íTis a base world, and must reform, thatís all.
Enter SPINOSA, THEODORE, ELIOT, REVILLIDO, DURAND, BRAMVEIL, and the rest of the Conspirators.
Ren. Spinosa, Theodore!
Spin. The same.
Ren. You are welcome!
Spin. You are trembling, sir.
Ren. íTis a cold night indeed, I am
Full of decay and natural infirmities;
We shall be warm, my friend, I hope, to-morrow.
Pierr. íTwas not well done, thou shouldst
have stroked him
And not have galled him.
Jaff. Damn him, let him chew onít.
Heaven! where am I? beset with cursed fiends,
That wait to damn me: what a devilís man,
When he forgets his natureóhush, my heart.
Ren. My friends, ítis late: are we
Bram. Iím ready.
Ren. Durand and Brabe.
Dur. Command us, We are both prepared!
Ren. Mezzana, Revillido,
Ternon, Retrosi; oh, you are men, I find,
Fit to behold your fate, and meet her summons.
To-morrowís rising sun must see you all
Decked in your honours! are the soldiers ready?
Omn. All, all.
Ren. You, Durand, with your thousand
St. Markís: you, captain, know your charge already:
íTis to secure the ducal palace: you,
Brabe, with a hundred more must gain the Secque.
With the like number Bramveil to the Procuralle.
Be all this done with the least tumult possible,
Till in each place you post sufficient guards:
Then sheathe your swords in every breast you meet.
Jaff. O reverend cruelty! damníd bloody villain!
Ren. During this execution, Durand, you
Must in the midst keep your battalia fast,
And, Theodore, be sure to plant the cannon
That may command the streets; whilst Revillido,
Mezzana, Ternon, and Retrosi, guard you.
This done, weíll give the general alarm,
Apply petards, and force the arsínal gates;
Then fire the city round in several places,
Or with our cannon, if it dare resist,
Batterít to ruin. But íbove all I charge you
Shed blood enough, spare neither sex nor age,
Name nor condition; if there live a Senator
After to- morrow, thoí the dullest rogue
That eíer said nothing, we have lost our ends;
If possible, letís kill the very name
Of Senator, and bury it in blood.
Jaff. Merciless, horrid slave!óAy, blood
Shed blood enough, old Renault: how thou charmíst me!
Ren. But one thing more, and then
farewell till Fate
Join us again, or separate us ever:
First letís embrace, Heavín knows who next shall thus
Wing ye together: but letís all remember
We wear no common cause upon our swords;
Let each man think that on his single virtue
Depends the good and fame of all the rest,
Eternal honour or perpetual infamy.
Letís remember through what dreadful hazards
Propitious Fortune hitherto has led us,
How often on the brink of some discovery
Have we stood tottering, and yet kept our ground
well, the busiest
searchers neíer could follow
Those subtle tracks which puzzled all suspicion:
You droop, sir.
Jaff. No: with a most profound attention
Iíve heard it all, and wonder at thy virtue.
Ren. Thoí there be yet few hours ítwixt
them and Ruin.
Are not the Senate lulled in full security,
Quiet and satisfied, as fools are always!
Never did so profound repose forerun
Calamity so great: nay, our good fortune
Has blinded the most piercing of mankind;
Strengthened the fearfulíst, charmíd the most suspectful,
Confounded the most subtle; for we live,
We live, my friends, and quickly shall our life
Prove fatal to these tyrants: letís consider
That we destroy oppression, avarice,
A people nursed up equally with vices
And loathsome lusts, which Nature most abhors,
And such as without shame she cannot suffer.
Jaff. O Belvidera, take me to thy arms
And show me whereís my peace, for I have lost it.
Ren. Without the least remorse then
With fire and sword tí exterminate these tyrants,
And when we shall behold those curst tribunals,
Stained by the tears and sufferings of the innocent,
Burning with flames rather from Heavín than ours,
The raging furious and unpitying soldier
Pulling his reeking dagger from the bosoms
Of gasping wretches; death in every quarter,
With all that sad disorder can produce,
To make a spectacle of horror: then,
Then let us call to mind, my dearest friends,
That there is nothing pure upon the earth,
That the most valued things have most alloys,
And that in change of all those vile enormities,
Under whose weight this wretched country labours,
The means are only in our hands to crown them.
Pierr. And may those Powers above that are
To gallant minds record this cause, and bless it.
Ren. Thus happy, thus secure of all we
Should there, my friends, be found amongst us one
False to this glorious enterprise, what fate,
What vengeance were enough for such a villain?
Eliot. Death here without repentance, hell hereafter.
Ren. Let that be my lot, if as here I
Lifted by Fate amongst her darling sons,
Thoí Iíd one only brother, dear by all
The strictest ties of nature; thoí one hour
Had given us birth, one fortune fed our wants,
One only love, and that but of each other,
Still filled our minds: could I have such a friend
Joined in this cause, and had but ground to fear
Meant foul play; may this right hand drop from me.
If Iíd not hazard all my future peace,
And stab him to the heart before you: who
Would not do less? Wouldst not thou, Pierre, the same?
Pierr. Youíve singled me, sir, out for
this hard question,
As if ítwere started only for my sake!
Am I the thing you fear? Here, hereís my bosom,
Search it with all your swords! am I a traitor?
Ren. No: but I fear your late commended
Is little less: come, sirs, ítis now no time
To trifle with our safety. Whereís this Jaffeir?
Spin. He left the room just now in strange disorder.
Ren. Nay, thereís danger in him: I
During the time I took for explanation,
He was transported from most deep attention
To a confusion which he could not smother.
His looks grew full of sadness and surprise,
All which betrayed a wavering spirit in him,
That laboured with reluctancy and sorrow;
Whatís requisite for safety must be done
With speedy execution: he remains
Yet in our power: I for my own part wear
Ren. And I could wish it!
Ren. Buried in his heart.
Pierr. Away! weíre yet all friends;
No more of this, ítwill breed ill blood amongst us.
Spin. Let us all draw our swords, and
search the house,
Pull him from the dark hole where he sits brooding
Oíer his cold fears, and each man kill his share of him.
Pierr. Who talks of killing? whoís heíll
shed the blood
Thatís dear to me! isít you? or you? or you, sir?
What, not one speak? how you stand gaping all
On your grave oracle, your wooden god there;
Yet not a word: then, sir, Iíll tell you a secret,
Suspicionís but at best a cowardís virtue! [To RENAULT.
Ren. A cowardó [Handles his sword
Pierr. Put, put up the sword, old man,
Thy hand shakes at it; come, letís heal this breach,
I am too hot; we yet may live as friends.
Spin. Till we are safe, our friendship cannot be so.
Pierr. Again: whoís that?
Spin. íTwas I.
Theo. And I.
Revill. And I.
Eliot. And all.
Ren. Who are on my side?
Spin. Every honest sword;
Letís die like men and not be sold like slaves.
Pierr. One such word more, by Heavín Iíll
to the Senate
And hang ye all, like dogs in clusters.
Why peep your coward swords half out their shells?
Why do you not all brandish them like mine?
You fear to die, and yet dare talk of killing?
Ren. Go to thy Senate and betray us,
Secure thy wretched life, we fear to die
Less than thou daríst be honest.
Pierr. Thatís rank falsehood.
Fearíst not thou death? fie, thereís a knavish itch
In that salt blood, an utter foe to smarting.
Had Jaffeirís wife proved kind, heíd still been true.
Fohóhow that stinks?
Thou die! thou kill my friend, or thou, or thou,
Or thou, with that lean witheríd wretched face!
Away! disperse all to your several charges,
And meet to-morrow where your honour calls you;
Iíll bring that man, whose blood you so much thirst for,
And you shall see him venture for you fairlyó
Hence, hence, I say. [Exit RENAULT angrily.
Spin. I fear weíve been to blame;
And done too much.
Theo. íTwas too far urged against the man you loved.
Revill. Here, take our swords and crush íem with your feat
Spin. Forgive us, gallant friend.
Pierr. Nay, now yeíve found
The way to melt and cast me as you will:
Iíll fetch this friend and give him to your mercy:
Nay, he shall die if you will take him from me;
For your repose Iíll quit my heartís jewel,
But would not have him torn away by villains
And spiteful villainy.
Spin. No; may you both
For ever live and fill the world with fame!
Pierr. Now you are too kind. Whence rose
all this discord?
Oh, what a dangerous precipice have we scaped!
How near a fall was all we had long been building!
What an eternal blot had stained our glories,
If one, the bravest and the best of men,
Had fallen a sacrifice to rash suspicion,
Butchered by those whose cause he came to cherish:
Oh, could you know him all as I have known him,
How good he is, how just, how true, how brave,
You would not leave this place till you had seen him;
Humbled yourselves before him, kissed his feet,
And gained remission for the worst of follies;
Come but to-morrow all your doubts shall end,
And to your loves me better recommend,
That Iíve preserved your fame, and saved my friend.
Enter JAFFEIR and BELVIDERA.
Jaff. Where dost thou lead me? Every step
Methinks I tread upon some mangled limb
Of a rackíd friend: O my dear charming ruin!
Where are we wandering?
Belv. To eternal honour;
To do a deed shall chronicle thy name,
Among the glorious legends of those few
That have savíd sinking nations: thy renown
Shall be the future song of all the virgins,
Who by thy piety have been preserved
From horrid violation: every street
Shall be adorníd with statues to thy honour,
And at thy feet this great inscription written,
Remember him that proppíd the fall of Venice.
Jaff. Rather, remember him, who after all
The sacred bonds of oaths and holier friendship,
In fond compassion to a womanís tears
Forgot his manhood, virtue, truth and honour,
To sacrifice the bosom that relieved him.
Why wilt thou damn me?
Belv. O inconstant man!
How will you promise? how will you deceive?
Do return back, replace me in my bondage,
Tell all thy friends how dangerously thou lovíst me,
And let thy dagger do its bloody office;
O that kind dagger, Jaffeir, how ítwill look
Stuck through my heart, drenchíd in my blood to thí hilts!
Whilst these poor dying eyes shall with their tears
No more torment thee, then thou wilt be free:
Or if thou thinkíst it nobler, let me live
Till Iím a victim to the hateful lust
Of that infernal devil, that old fiend
Thatís damned himself and would undo mankind:
Last night. my loveó
Jaff. Name, name it not again,
It shows a beastly image to my fancy,
Will wake me into madness. Oh, the villain!
That durst approach such purity as thine
On terms so vile: destruction, swift destruction
Fall on my coward-head, and make my name
The common scorn of fools if I forgive him;
If I forgive him, if I not revenge
With utmost rage and most unstaying fury,
Thy suffering, thou dear darling of my life.
Belv. Delay no longer, then, but to the
And tell the dismalíst story ever utteríd,
Tell íem what bloodshed, rapines, desolations,
Have been prepared, how nearís the fatal hour!
Save thy poor country, save the reverend blood
Of all its nobles, which to-morrowís dawn
Must else see shed: save the poor tender lives
Of all those little infants which the swords
Of murtherers are whetting for this moment:
Think thou already hearst their dying screams,
Think that thou seest sad distracted mothers
Kneeling before thy feet, and begging pity
With torn dishevellíd hair and streaming eyes,
Their naked mangled breasts besmearíd with blood.
And even the milk with which their fondled babes.
Softly they hushíd, dropping in anguish from íem.
Think thou seest this, and then consult thy heart.
Belv. Think too, if [that] thou lose this
What miseries the next day bring upon thee.
Imagine all the horrors of that night,
Murder and rapine, waste and desolation,
Confusedly ranging. Think what then may prove
My lot! the ravisher may then come safe,
And midst the terror of the public ruin
Do a damníd deed; perhaps to lay a train
May catch thy life; then where will be revenge,
The dear revenge thatís due to such a wrong?
Jaff. By all Heavenís powers, prophetic
truth dwells in thee,
For every word thou speakíst strikes through my heart
Like a new light, and shows it howít has wandered;
Just what thouíst made me, take me, Belvidera,
And lead me to the place where Iím to say
This bitter lesson, where I must betray
My truth, my virtue, constancy and friends:
Must I betray my friends! Ah, take me quickly,
Secure me well before that thoughtís renewed;
If I relapse once more, allís lost for ever.
Belv. Hast thou a friend more dear than Belvidera?
Jaff. No, thouírt my soul itself; wealth,
All present joys, and earnest of all future,
Are summíd in thee: methinks when in thy arms
Thus leaning on thy breast, one minuteís more
Than a long thousand years of vulgar hours.
Why was such happiness not given me pure?
Why dashíd with cruel wrongs, and bitter wantings?
Come, lead me forward now like a tame lamb
To sacrifice, thus in his fatal garlands,
Deckíd fine and pleasíd, the wanton skips and plays,
Trots by the enticing flattering priestessí side,
And much transported with his little pride,
Forgets his dear companions of the plain
Till, by her bound, heís on the altar lain,
Yet then too hardly bleats, such pleasureís in the pain.
Enter Officer and six Guards.
Offic. Stand, who goes there?
Jaff. Friends, Belvidera! hide me from my
By heaven, Iíd rather see the face of hell,
Than meet the man I love.
Offic. But what friends are you?
Belv. Friends to the Senate and the State of Venice.
Offic. My orders are to seize on all I
At this late hour, and bring íem to the Council,
Who now are sitting.
Jaff. Sir, you shall be obeyed.
Hold, brutes, stand off, none of your paws upon me.
Now the lotís cast, and Fate do what thou wilt!
SCENE [II.]óThe Senate-house
Where appear sitting, the Duke of VENICE, PRIULI, ANTONIO, and eight other Senators.
Duke. Antony, Priuli, Senators of Venice,
Speak; why are we assembled here this night?
What have you to inform us of, concerns
The State of Venice, honour, or its safety?
Priu. Could words express the story I have to tell you,
Fathers, these tears were useless, these sad tears
That fall from my old eyes; but there is cause
We all should weep; tear off these purple robes,
And wrap ourselves in sackcloth, sitting down
On the sad earth, and cry aloud to Heaven.
Heaven knows if yet there be an hour to come
Ere Venice be no more.
Priu. Nay, we stand
Upon the very brink of gaping ruin.
Within this cityís formed a dark conspiracy,
To massacre us all, our wives and children,
Kindred and friends, our palaces and temples
To lay in ashes: nay, the hour too, fixíd;
The swords, for aught I know, drawn eíen this moment,
And the wild waste begun: from unknown hands
I had this warning: but if we are men
Letís not be tamely butchered, but do something
That may inform the world in after ages,
Our virtue was not ruiníd though we were.
[A noise without.
Room, room, make room
for some prisonersó
Second Senator. Letís raise the city.
Enter Officer and Guard.
Priu. Speak there, what disturbance?
Offic. Two prisoners have the guard seizíd in the streets,
Who say they come to inform this reverend Senate
About the present danger.
Enter JAFFEIR and BELVIDERA guarded.
All. Give íem entranceó
Well, who are you?
Jaff. A villain.
Anto. Short and pithy.
The man speaks well.
Would every man that hears me Would deal so honestly, and own his title.
Duke. íTis rumouríd that a plot has been
Against this State; that you have a share inít too.
If youíre a villain, to redeem your honour,
Unfold the truth and be restored with mercy.
Jaff. Think not that I to save my life
I know its value better; but in pity
To all those wretches whose unhappy dooms
Are fixíd and sealíd. You see me here before you,
The sworn and covenanted foe of Venice;
But use me as my dealings may deserve
And I may prove a friend.
Duke. The slave capitulates;
Give him the tortures.
Jaff. That you dare not do,
Your fears wonít let you, nor the longing itch
To hear a story which you dread the truth of,
Truth which the fear of smart shall neíer get from me.
Cowards are scared with threatínings; boys are whippíd
Into confessions: but a steady mind
Acts of itself, neíer asks the body counsel.
Give him the tortures! Name but such a thing
Again, by Heaven Iíll shut these lips for ever,
Not all your racks, your engines, or your wheels
Shall force a groan awayóthat you may guess at.
Anto. A bloody-minded fellow, Iíll
A damníd bloody-minded fellow.
Duke. Name your conditions.
For myself full pardon,
Besides the lives of two and twenty friends,
[Delivers a list
Whose names are here
enrolled: nay, let their crimes
Be neíer so monstrous, I must have the oaths
And sacred promise of this reverend Council,
That in a full assembly of the Senate
The thing I ask be ratified. Swear this,
And Iíll unfold the secrets of your danger.
All. Weíll swear.
Duke. Propose the oath.
Jaff. By all the hopes
Ye have of peace and happiness hereafter,
All. We all swear.
Jaff. To grant me what Iíve asked,
All. We swear.
Jaff. And as ye keep the oath,
May you and your posterity be blest
Or curst for ever.
All. Else be curst for ever.
Jaff. Then hereís the list, and withít
the full disclose
Of all that threatens you.
[Delivers another paper.
Now Fate, thou hast caught me.
Anto. Why, what a disgraceful catalogue
of cut-throats is here!
Iíll warrant you not one of these fellows but has a face like a lion.
I dare not so much as read their names over.
Duke. Give orders that all diligent
search be made
To seize these men, their characters are public;
The paper intimates their rendezvous
To be at the house of a famed Grecian courtesan
Called Aquilina; see that place secured.
Anto. What, my Nicky Nacky, Hurry Durry,
Nicky Nacky in the plotóIíll make a speech. Most noble Senators,
What headlong apprehension drives you on,
Right noble, wise and truly solid senators,
To violate the laws and rights of nations?
The lady is a lady of renown.
íTis true, she holds a house of fair reception,
And though I sayít myself, as many more
Can say as well as I.
Second Senator. My lord, long speeches
Are frivolous here when dangers are so near us;
We all well know your interest in that lady,
The world talks loud onít.
Anto. Verily, I have done,
I say no more.
Duke. But since he has declared
Himself concerned, pray, captain, take great caution
To treat the fair one as becomes her character,
And let her bed-chamber be searched with decency.
You, Jaffeir, must with patience bear till morning
To be our prisoner.
Jaff. Would the chains of death
Had bound me fast ere I had known this minute.
Iíve done a deed will make my story hereafter
Quoted in competition with all ill ones:
The history of my wickedness shall run
Down through the low traditions of the vulgar,
And boys be taught to tell the tale of Jaffeir.
Duke. Captain, withdraw your prisoner.
Jaff. Sir, if possible,
Lead me where my own thoughts themselves may lose me,
Where I may doze out what Iíve left of life,
Forget myself and this dayís guilt and falsehood.
Cruel remembrance, how shall I appease thee!
More trailors; room, room, make room there.
Duke. Howís this? guards!
Where are our guards? shut up the gates, the treasonís
Already at our doors.
Offic. My lords, more traitors:
Seized in the very act of consultation;
Furnished with arms and instruments of mischief.
Bring in the prisoners.
Enter PIERRE, RENAULT, THEODORE, ELIOT, REVILLIDO, and other Conspirators, in fetters, guarded.
Pierr. You, my lords and fathers
(As you are pleased to call yourselves) of Venice;
If you sit here to guide the course of Justice,
Why these disgraceful chains upon the limbs
That have so often laboured in your service?
Are these the wreaths of triumph ye bestow
On those that bring you conquests home and honours?
Duke. Go on: you shall be heard, sir.
Anto. And be hanged too, I hope.
Pierr. Are these the trophies Iíve deservíd
Your battles with confederated powers?
When winds and seas conspiríd to overthrow you,
And brought the fleets of Spain to your own harbours:
When you, great Duke, shrunk trembling in your palace,
And saw your wife, thí Adriatic, ploughíd
Like a lewd whore by bolder prows than yours,
Steppíd not I forth, and taught your loose Venetians,
The task of honour and the way to greatness,
Raisíd you from your capitulating fears
To stipulate the terms of sued-for peace?
And this my recompense? If Iím a traitor
Produce my charge; or show the wretch thatís base enough
And brave enough to tell me Iím a traitor.
Duke. Know you one Jaffeir?
[All the Conspirators murmur.
Pierr. Yes, and know his virtue,
His justice, truth; his general worth and sufferings
From a hard father taught me first to love him.
Enter JAFFEIR guarded.
Duke. See him brought forth.
Pierr. My friend too bound! nay then
Our fate has conquered us, and we must fall.
Why droops the man whose welfareís so much mine
Theyíre but one thing? these reverend tyrants, Jaffeir,
Call us all traitors: art thou one, my brother?
Jaff. To thee I am the falsest, veriest
That eíer betrayed a generous trusting friend,
And gave up honour to be sure of ruin.
All our fair hopes which morning was to have crowníd
Has this cursíd tongue oíerthrown.
Pierr. So, then, allís over;
Venice has lost her freedom; I my life;
No more, farewell.
Duke. Say, will you make confession
Of your vile deeds and trust the Senateís mercy?
Pierr. Cursed be your Senate: cursed your
The curse of growing factions and division
Still vex your councils, shake your public safety,
And make the robes of government you wear,
Hateful to you, as these base chains to me.
Duke. Pardon or death?
Pierr. Death, honourable death!
Ren. Deathís the best thing we ask or you can give.
All Conspir. No shameful bonds, but honourable death.
Duke. Break up the council: captain,
guard your prisoners.
Jaffeir, you are free, but these must wait for judgment.
[Exeunt all the Senators
Pierr. Come, whereís my dungeon? lead me
to my straw:
It will not be the first time Iíve lodged hard
To do your Senate service.
Jaff. Hold one moment.
Pierr. Whoís he disputes the judgment of
Jaff. By Heaven, you stir not.
I must be heard, I must have leave to speak;
Thou hast disgracíd me, Pierre, by a vile blow:
Had not a dagger done thee nobler justice?
But use me as thou wilt, thou canst not wrong me,
For I am fallen beneath the basest injuries;
Yet look upon me with an eye of mercy,
With pity and with charity behold me;
Shut not thy heart against a friendís repentance,
But as there dwells a god-like nature in thee
Listen with mildness to my supplications.
Pierr. What whining monk art thou? what
That wouldst encroach upon my credulous ears
And cantíst thus vilely? hence. I know thee not.
Dissemble and be nasty: leave me, hypocrite.
Jaff. Not know me, Pierre?
Pierr. No, I know thee not: what art thou?
Jaff. Jaffeir, thy friend, thy once
loved, valued friend!
Though now deservedly scorned, and used most hardly.
Pierr. Thou Jaffeir! Thou my once loved
By heavens, thou liest; the man, so callíd, my friend,
Was generous, honest, faithful, just and valiant,
Noble in mind, and in his person lovely,
Dear to my eyes and tender to my heart:
But thou a wretched, base, false, worthless coward,
Poor even in soul, and loathsome in thy aspect,
All eyes must shun thee, and all hearts detest thee.
Prithee avoid, nor longer cling thus round me,
Like something baneful, that my natureís chillíd at.
Jaff. I have not wrongíd thee, by these
tears I have not.
But still am honest, true, and hope too, valiant:
My mind still full of thee, therefore still noble;
Let not thy eyes then shun me, nor thy heart
Detest me utterly; oh, look upon me,
Look back and see my sad sincere submission!
How my heart swells, as even ítwould burst my bosom;
Fond of its gaol, and labouring to be at thee!
What shall I do? what say to make thee hear me?
Pierr. Hast thou not wronged me? daríst thou
Jaffeir, that once loved, valued friend of mine,
And swear thou hast not wronged me? whence these chains?
Whence the vile death which I may meet this moment?
Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou false one?
Jaff. Allís true, yet grant one thing, and Iíve done asking.
Pierr. Whatís that?
Jaff. To take thy life on such conditions
The Council have proposíd: thou and thy friends
May yet live long, and to be better treated.
Pierr. Life! ask my life! confess! record
A villain for the privilege to breathe,
And carry up and down this cursed city
A discontented and repining spirit,
Burthensome to itself a few years longer,
To lose it, may be, at last in a lewd quarrel
For some new friend, treacherous and false as thou art!
No, this vile world and I have long been jangling,
And cannot part on better terms than now,
When only men like thee are fit to live inít.
Jaff. By all thatís justó
Pierr. Swear by some other powers,
For thou hast broke that sacred oath too lately.
Jaff. Then by that hell I merit, Iíll not
Till to thyself at least thouírt reconciled,
However thy resentment deal with me.
Pierr. Not leave me!
Jaff. No, thou shalt not force me from
Use me reproachfully, and like a slave,
Tread on me, buffet me, heap wrongs on wrongs
On my poor head: Iíll bear it all with patience,
Shall weary out thy most unfriendly cruelty,
Lie at thy feet and kiss íem though they spurn me,
Till, wounded by my sufferings, thou relent,
And raise me to thy arms with dear forgiveness.
Pierr. Art thou notó
Pierr. A traitor?
Pierr. A villain?
Pierr. A coward, a most scandalous coward,
Spiritless, void of honour, one who has sold
Thy everlasting fame for shameless life?
Jaff. All, all, and more, much more: my faults are numberless
Pierr. And wouldst thou have me live on terms like thine? Base as thou art falseó
Jaff. No, ítis to me thatís granted.
The safety of thy life was all I aimíd at,
In recompense for faith and trust so broken.
Pierr. I scorn it more because preservíd
And as when first my foolish heart took pity
On thy misfortunes, sought thee in thy miseries,
Relieved thy wants, and raised thee from thy state
Of wretchedness in which thy fate had plungíd thee,
To rank thee in my list of noble friends;
All I received in surety for thy truth,
Were unregarded oaths; and this, this dagger,
Given with a worthless pledge, thou since hast stolín,
So I restore it back to thee again,
Swearing by all those powers which thou hast violated,
Never from this cursíd hour to hold communion,
Friendship or interest with thee, though our years
Were to exceed those limited the world.
Take itófarewellófor now I owe thee nothing.
Jaff. Say thou wilt live, then.
Pierr. For my life, dispose it
Just as thou wilt, because ítis what Iím tired with.
Jaff. O Pierre!
Pierr. No more.
Jaff. My eyes wonít lose the sight of
But languish after thine, and ache with gazing.
Pierr. Leave meónay, then, thus, thus, I
throw thee from me
And curses, great as is thy falsehood, catch thee.
Heís gone, my father, friend, preserver,
And hereís the portion he has left me.
[Holds the dagger up.
This dagger, well
remembered, with this dagger
I gave a solemn vow of dire importance,
Parted with this and Belvidera together;
Have a care, memíry, drive that thought no farther;
No, Iíll esteem it as a friendís last legacy,
Treasure it up within this wretched bosom,
Where it may grow acquainted with my heart,
when they meet, they
start not from each other.
So; now for thinking: a blow, callíd traitor, villain,
Coward, dishonourable coward, fough!
O for a long sound sleep, and so forget it!
Down, busy devil.ó
Belv. Whither shall I fly?
Where hide me and my miseries together?
Whereís now the Roman constancy I boasted?
Sunk into trembling fears and desperation!
Not daring now to look up to that dear face
Which used to smile even on my faults, but down
Bending these miserable eyes to earth,
Must move in penance, and implore much mercy.
Jaff. Mercy, kind Heaven, has surely endless
Hoarded for thee of blessings yet untasted;
Let wretches loaded hard with guilt as I am,
Bow [with] the weight and groan beneath the burthen,
Creep with a remnant of that strength theyíve left,
Before the footstool of that Heaven theyíve injured.
O Belvidera! Iím the wretchedíst creature
Eíer crawled on earth: now if thou hast virtue, help me.
Take me into arms, and speak the words of peace
To my divided soul, that wars within me,
And raises every sense to my confusion;
By Heavín, Iím tottering on the very brink
Of peace; and thou art all the hold Iíve left.
Belv. Alas! I know thy sorrows are most
I know thouíst cause to mourn; to mourn, my Jaffeir,
With endless cries, and never-ceasing wailings,
Jaff. Oh, I have lost what canít be
My friend too, Belvidera, that dear friend,
Who,next to thee, was all my health rejoiced in,
Has used me like a slave; shamefully used me;
íTwould break thy pitying heart to hear the story.
What shall I do? resentment, indignation,
Love, pity, fear and memíry, how Iíve wronged him,
Distract my quiet with the very thought onít,
And tear my heart to pieces in my bosom.
Belv. What has he done?
Jaff. Thouídst hate, me, should I tell thee.
Jaff.Oh, he has usíd me! yet, by Heaven,
I bear it:
He has usíd me, Belvidera, but first swear
That when Iíve told thee, thouílt not loathe me utterly,
Though vilest blots and stains appear upon me;
But still at least with charitable goodness,
Be near me in the pangs of my affliction,
Not scorn me, Belvidera, as he has done.
Belv.Have I then eíer been false that now
Speak, whatís the cause Iím grown into distrust,
Why thought unfit to hear my loveís complaining?
Jaff. Bear my failings, for they are
O my dear angel! in that friend Iíve lost
All my soulís peace; for every thought of him
Strikes my sense hard, and deads it in my brains;
Wouldst thou believe it?
Jaff.Before we parted,
Ere yet his guards had led him to his prison,
Full of severest sorrows for his suffírings,
With eyes oíerflowing and a bleeding heart,
Humbling myself almost beneath my nature,
As at his feet I kneelíd, and sued for mercy,
Forgetting all our friendship, all the dearness,
In which weíve lived so many years together,
With a reproachful hand, he dashed a blow,
He struck me, Belvidera, by Heaven, he struck me,
Buffeted, called me traitor, villain, coward.
Am I a coward? am I a villain? tell me:
Thouírt the best judge, and madíst me, if I am so.
Belv.Oh! forgive him, Jaffeir.
And if his sufferings wound thy heart already,
What will they do to-morrow?
When thou shalt see him stretchíd in all the agonies
Of a tormenting and a shamful death,
His bleeding bowels, and his broken limbs,
Insulted oíer by a vile butchering villain;
What will thy heart to then? oh, sure ítwill stream
Like my eyes now.
Jaff.What means thy dreadful story?
Death, and to-morrow? broken limbs and bowels!
Insulted oíer by a vile butchering villain!
By all my fears I shall start out to madness,
With barely guessing if the truthís hid longer.
Belv.The faithless Senators, ítis theyíve
They say according to our friendís request,
They shall have death, and not ignoble bondage:
Declare their promised mercy all as forfeited,
False to their oaths, and deaf to intercession;
Warrants are passed for public death to-morrow.
Jaff.Death! doomed to die! condemned unheard! unpleaded!
Belv.Nay, cruellíst racks and torments
To force confessions from their dying pangs.
Oh, do not look so terribly upon me,
How your lips shake, and all your face disordered!
What means my love?
Jaff.Leave me, I charge thee, leave
Wake in my heart.
Jaff.No more, but leave me.
Jaff.Oh! by Heaven I love you with that
I would not have thee stay a moment longer,
Near these cursíd hands; are they not cold upon thee?
[Pulls the dagger half out of his bosom and puts it back again.
Belv.No, everlasting comfortís in thy
To lean thus on thy breast is softer ease
Than downy pillows deckíd with leaves of roses.
Jaff.Alas! thou thinkíst not of the
thorns ítis filled with:
Fly ere they [gall] thee: thereís a lurking serpent,
Ready to leap and sting thee to thy heart;
Art thou not terrified?
Jaff.Call to mind.
What thou hast done, and whither thou hast brought me.
Jaff.Whereís my friend? my friend, thou
Nay, shrink not, now ítis too late, thou shouldst have fled
When thy guilt first had cause, for dire revenge
Is up and raging for my friend. He groans,
Hark how he groans, his screams are in my ears
Already; see, theyíve fixíd him on the wheel,
And now they tear himóMurther! perjuríd Senate!
MurtheróOh!óhark thee, traitress, thou hast done this:
[Fumbling for his dagger.
Thanks to thy tears and
false persuading love.
How her eyes speak! O thou bewitching creature!
Madness cannot hurt thee: come, thou little trembler,
Creep, even into my heart, and there lie safe:
íTis thy own citadelóha!óyet stand off,
Heaven must have justice, and my broken vows
Will sink me else beneath its reaching mercy;
Iíll wink and then ítis doneó
Belv.What means the lord
Of me, my life and love? whatís in thy bosom,
[Draws the dagger, offers to stab her.
Thou graspíst at so?
Nay, why am I thus treated?
What wilt thou do? Ah! do not kill me, Jaffeir,
Pity these panting breasts, and trembling limbs,
That used to clasp thee when thy looks were milder,
That yet hang heavy on my unpurgíd soul,
And plunge it not into eternal darkness.
Jaff.No, Belvidera, when we parted last
I gave this dagger with thee as in trust
To be thy portion, if I eíer proved false.
On such condition was my truth believíd:
But now ítis forfeited and must be paid for.
[Offers to stab her again.
Jaff.Nay, no struggling.
Belv.Now, then, kill me.
[Leaps upon his neck and kisses him.
While thus I cling about
thy cruel neck,
Kiss thy revengeful lips and die in joys
Greater than any I can guess hereafter.
Jaff.I am, I am a coward; witnessít,
Witness it, earth, and every being witness;
íTis but one blow; yet, by immortal love,
I cannot bear a thought to harm thee;
[He throws away the dagger and embraces her.
The seal of Providence
is sure upon thee,
And thou wert born for yet unheard-of wonders:
Oh, thou wert either born to save or damn me!
By all the power thatís given thee oíer my soul,
By thy resistless tears and conquering smiles,
By the victorious love that still waits on thee,
Fly to thy cruel father: save my friend,
Or all our future quietís lost for ever:
Fall at his feet, cling round his reverend knees;
Speak to him with thy eyes, and with thy tears
Melt his hard heart, and wake dead nature in him;
Crush him in thy arms, and torture him with thy softness:
Nor, till thy prayers are granted, set him free,
But conquer him, as thou hast vanquishíd me.
Enter Priuli, solus.
Priu.Why, cruel Heaven, have my unhappy
Been lengtheníd to this sad one? Oh, dishonour
And deathless infamy is fallín upon me!
Was it my fault? Am I a traitor? No.
But then, my only child, my daughter, wedded;
There my best blood runs foul, and a disease
Incurable has seized upon my memory,
To make it rot and stink to after ages.
Cursed be the fatal minute when I got her;
Or would that Iíd been anything but man,
And raised an issue which would neíer have wrongíd me.
The miserablest creatures, man excepted,
Are not the less esteemed, though their posterity
Degenerate from the virtues of their father;
The vilest beasts are happy in their offsprings,
While only man gets traitors, whores and villains.
Cursed be the names, and some swift blow from Fate
Lay his head deep, where mine may be forgotten.
EnterBelvidera in a long mourning veil.
Belv.Heís there, my father, my inhuman
That, for three years, has left an only child
Exposed to all the outrages of Fate,
And cruel ruinóoh!ó
Priu.What child of sorrow
Art thou that comíst thus wrapt in weeds of sadness,
And movíst as if thy steps were towards a grave?
Belv.A wretch, who from the very top of
Am fallen into the lowest depths of misery,
And want your pitying hand to raise me up again.
Priu.Indeed thou talkíst as thou hadst
Would I could help thee!
Belv.íTis greatly in your power.
The world, too, speaks you charitable, and I,
Who neíer asked alms before, in that dear hope
Am come a-begging to you, sir.
Belv.O well regard me, is this voice a
Consider, too, when beggars once pretend
A case like mine, no little will content íem.
Priu. What wouldst thou beg for?
Belv. Pity and forgiveness;
[Throws up her veil.
By the kind tender names
of child and father,
Hear my complaints and take me to your love.
Priu. My daughter?
Belv. Yes, your daughter, by a mother
Virtuous and noble, faithful to your honour,
Obedient to your will, kind to your wishes.
Dear to your arms: by all the joys she gave you,
When in her blooming years she was your treasure,
Look kindly on me; in my face behold
The lineaments of hers youíve kissíd so often,
Pleading the cause of your poor cast-off child.
Priu. Thou art my daughter?
Belv. Yesóand youíve oft told me,
With smiles of love and chaste paternal kisses,
Iíd much resemblance of my mother.
Hadst thou inherited her matchless virtues
Iíd been too blessíd.
Belv. Nay, do not call to memory
My disobedience, but let pity enter
Into your heart, and quite deface the impression;
For could you think how mineís perplexed, what sadness,
Fears and despairs distract the peace within me,
Oh, you would take me in your dear, dear arms,
Hover with strong compassion oíer your young one,
To shelter me with a protecting wing,
From the black gatheríd storm, thatís just, just breaking.
Priu. Donít talk thus.
Belv. Yes, I must, and you must hear too.
I have a husband.
Priu. Damn him.
Belv. Oh, do not curse him!
He would not speak so hard a word towards you,
On any terms, [howeíer] he deal with me.
Priu. Ha! what means my child?
Belv. Oh, thereís but this short moment
íTwixt me and Fate, yet send me not with curses
Down to my grave, afford me one kind blessing
Before we part: just take me in your arms,
And recommend me with a prayer to Heaven,
That I may die in peace, and when Iím deadó
Priu. How my soulís catched!
Belv. Lay me, I beg you. lay me
By the dear ashes of my tender mother:
She would have pitied me, had Fate yet spared her.
Priu. By heaven, my aching heart
forebodes much mischief;
Tell me thy story, for Iím still thy father.
Belv. No, Iím contented.
Belv. No matter.
Priu. Tell me.
By yon blest Heaven, my heart runs oíer with fondness.
Belv. O my husband, my dear husband
Carries a dagger in his once kind bosom,
To pierce the heart of your poor Belvidera.
Priu. Kill thee?
Belv. Yes, kill me. When he passíd his
And covenant, against your State and Senate,
He gave me up as hostage for his truth,
With me a dagger and a dire commission
Wheneíer he failed, to plunge it through this bosom.
I learnt the danger, chose the hour of love
To attempt his heart, and bring it back to honour.
Great love prevailíd and blessíd me with success:
He came, confessed, betrayed his dearest friends.
For promisíd mercy; now theyíre doomed to suffer,
Gallíd with remembrance of what then was sworn,
If they are lost, he vows to appease the gods
With this poor life, and make my blood the atonement.
Belv. Think you saw what passíd at our
Think you beheld him like a raging lion,
Pacing the earth and tearing up his steps,
Fate in his eyes, and roaring with the pain
Of burning fury; think you saw his one hand
Fixíd on my throat, while the extended other
Graspíd a keen threatíning dagger: oh, ítwas thus
We last embracíd when, trembling with revenge,
He draggíd me to the ground, and at my bosom
Presented horrid death, cried out: ďMy friends,
Where are my friends?Ē swore, wept, ragíd, threateníd, lovíd,
yet loved, and that dear
love preserved me,
To this last trial of a fatherís pity.
I fear not death, but cannot bear a thought
That that dear hand should do the unfriendly office;
If I was ever then your care, now hear me;
Fly to the Senate, save the promised lives
Of his dear friends, ere mine be made the sacrifice.
Priu. O my heartís comfort!
Belv. Will you not, my father?
Weep not, but answer me.
Priu. By Heaven, I will.
Not one of íem but what shall be immortal.
Canst thou forgive me all my follies past,
Iíll henceforth be indeed a father; never,
Never more thus expose, but cherish thee,
Dear as the vital warmth that feeds my life,
Dear as these eyes that weep in fondness oíer thee.
Peace to thy heart. Farewell.
Belv. Go, and remember
ĎTis Belvideraís life her father pleads for.
Hum, hum, ha,
Signor Priuli, my lord
Priuli, my lord, my lord, my lord: [how] we lords love to call one another by
our titles! My lord, my lord, my lordópox on him, I am a lord as well as he;
and so let him fiddleóIíll warrant him heís gone to the Senate-house, and Iíll
be there too, soon enough for somebody. íOd, hereís a tickling speech about the
plot, Iíll prove thereís a plot with a vengeanceówould I had it without book;
let me seeó
Most reverend Senators,
That there is a plot, surely by this time, no man that hath eyes or understanding in his head will presume to doubt, ítis as plain as the light in the cucumberónoóhold thereócucumber does not come in yetóítis as plain as the light in the sun, or as the man in the moon, even at noonday; it is indeed a pumpkinplot, which, just as it was mellow, we have gathered, and now we have gathered it, prepared and dressed it, shall we throw it like a pickled cucumber out at the window? no: that it is not only a bloody, horrid, execrable, damnable and audacious plot, but it is, as I may so say, a saucy plot: and we all know, most reverend fathers, that what is sauce for a goose is sauce for a gander: therefore,I say, as those bloodthirsty ganders of the conspiracy would have destroyed us geese of the Senate, let us make haste to destroy them, so I humbly move for hangingóha! hurry durryóI think this will do, thoí I was something out, at first, about the sun and the cucumber.
Aquil. Good-morrow, Senator.
Anto. Nacky, my dear Nacky, morrow, Nacky, íod I am very brisk, very merry, very pert, very jovialóha- a-a-a-aókiss me, Nacky; how dost thou do, my little Tory, rory strumpet, kiss me, I say, hussy, kiss me.
Aquil. Kiss me, Nacky, hang you, sir, coxcomb, hang you, sir.
Anto. Hayty, tayty, is it so indeed, with all my heart, faithó her then up go we, faithóher then up go we, dum dum derum dump.
Aquil. Do you intend to die in your bedó?
Anto. About threescore years hence, much may be done, my dear.
Aquil. Youíll be hanged, signior.
Anto. Hanged, sweetheart, prithee be quiet, hanged quotha, thatís a merry conceit, with all my heart, why thon jokíst, Nacky, thou art given to joking, Iíll swear; well, I protest, Nacky, nay, I must protest, and will protest that I love joking dearly, man. And I love thee for joking, and Iíll kiss thee for joking, and towse thee for joking, and íod, I have a devilish mind to take thee aside about that business for joking too, íod I have, and Hey then up go we, dum dum derum dump.
Aquil. See you this, sir?
[Draws a dagger.
Anto. O Lud, a dagger! O Lud! it is naturally my aversion, I cannot endure the sight onít, hide it for Heavenís sake, I cannot look that way till it be goneóhide it, hide it, oh, oh, hide it!
Aquil. Yes, in your heart Iíll hide it.
Anto. My heart; what, hide a dagger in my heartís blood?
Aquil. Yes, in thy heart, thy throat, thou
Thou hast helpíd to spoil my peace, and Iíll have vengeance
On thy cursed life, for all the bloody Senate,
The perjuríd faithless Senate: whereís my lord,
My happiness, my love, my good, my hero,
Doomíd by thy accursed tongue, amongst the rest,
Tí a shameful wrack? By all the rage thatís in me
Iíll be whole years in murthering thee.
Anto. Why, Nacky,
Wherefore so passionate? what have I done? whatís the matter, my dear Nacky? am not I thy love, thy love, thy happiness, thy lord, they hero, thy Senator, and everything in the world, Nacky?
Aquil. Thou! thinkíst thou, thou art fit
to meet my joys;
To bear the eager clasps of my embraces?
Give me my Pierre, oró
Anto. Why, heís to be hangíd, little
Trussed up for treason, and so forth, child.
Aquil. Thou liest: stop down thy throat
that hellish sentence,
Orí ítis thy last: swear that my love shall live,
Or thou art dead.
Aquil. Swear to recall his doom
Swear at my feet, and tremble at my fury.
Anto. I do. Now if she would but kick a
little bit, one kick now.
Aquil. Swear, oró
Anto. I do, by these dear fragrant foots
And little toes, sweet as, e-e-e-e my Nacky Nacky Nacky.
Anto. Nothing but untie thy shoe-string a
little, faith and troth,
Thatís all, thatís all, as I hope to live, Nacky, thatís all.
Aquil. Ney, thenó
Anto. Hold, hold, thy love, thy lord, thy hero Shall be preservíd and safe.
Aquil. Or may this poniard
Rust in thy heart.
Anto. With all my soul.
Anto. Adieu. Why, what a bloody-minded, inveterate, termagant strumpet have I been plagued with! Oh- h-h yet more! nay then I die, I dieóI am dead already.
[Stretches himself out.
Jaff. Final destruction seize on all the
Bend down, ye heavens, and shutting round this earth,
Crush the vile globe into its first confusion;
Scorch it, with elemental flames, to one curst cinder,
And all us little creepers inít, called men,
Burn, burn to nothing: but let Venice burn
Hotter than all the rest: here kindle hell
Neíer to extinguish, and let souls hereafter
Groan here, in all those pains which mine feels now.
Belv. My lifeó
Jaff. My plagueó
[Turning from her.
Belv. Nay then I see my ruin
If I must die!
Jaff. No, Deathís this day too busy,
Thy fatherís ill-timed mercy came too late.
I thank thee for thy labours though and him too,
But all my poor betrayíd unhappy friends
Have summons to prepare for Fateís black hour;
And yet I live.
Belv. Then be the next my doom.
I see thouíst passíd my sentence in thy heart,
And Iíll no longer weep or plead against it,
But with the humblest, most obedient patience
Meet thy dear hands, and kiss íem when they wound me;
Indeed Iím willing, but I beg thee do it
With some remorse, and where thou givíst the blow,
View me with eyes of a relenting love,
And show me pity, for ítwill sweeten justice.
Jaff. Show pity to thee?
Belv. Yes, and when thy hands,
Chargíd with my fate, come trembling to the deed,
As thou hast done a thousand thousand dear times,
To this poor breast, when kinder rage has brought thee,
When our stinged hearts have leaped to meet each other,
And melting kisses sealed our lips together,
When joys have left me gasping in thy arms,
So let my death come now, and Iíll not shrink fromít.
Jaff. Nay, Belvidera, do not fear my cruelty,
Nor let the thoughts of death perplex thy fancy,
But answer me to what I shall demand
With a firm temper and unshaken spirit.
Belv. I will when Iíve done weepingó
Jaff. Fie, no more onító
How long isít since the miserable day
We wedded firstó
Jaff. Nay, keep in thy tears,
Lest they unman me too.
Belv. Heaven knows I cannot;
The words you utter sound so very sadly
These streams will followó
Jaff. Come, Iíll kiss íem dry, then.
Belv. But wasít a miserable day?
Jaff. A cursíd one.
Belv. I thought it otherwise, and youíve
In the transporting hours of warmest love
When sure you spoke the truth, youíve sworn you blessed it.
Jaff. íTwas a rash oath.
Belv. Then why am I not cursíd too?
Jaff. No, Belvidera; by the eternal
I dote with too much fondness.
Belv. Still so kind?
Still then do you love me?
Jaff. Nature, in her workings,
Inclines not with more ardour to creation,
Than I do now towards thee: man neíer was blessíd,
Since the first pair first met, as I have been.
Belv. Then sure you will not curse me.
Jaff. No, Iíll bless thee.
I came on purpose, Belvidera, to bless thee.
íTis now, I think, three years weíve livíd together.
Belv. And may no fatal minute ever part
Till, reverend grown, for age and love, we go
Down to one grave, as our last bed, together,
There sleep in peace till an eternal morning.
Jaff. When will that be?
Belv. I hope long ages hence.
Jaff. Have I not hitherto (I beg thee
Thy very fears) used thee with tenderís love?
Did eíer my soul rise up in wrath against thee?
Did eíer I frown when Belvidera smiled,
Or, by the least unfriendly word, betray
A bating passion? have I ever wronged thee?
Jaff. Has my heart, or have my eyes eíer
To any other woman?
Belv. Never, neveró
I were the worst of false ones should I accuse thee;
I own Iíve been too happy, blessíd above
My sexís charter.
Jaff. Did I not say I came to bless thee?
Jaff. Then hear me, bounteous Heaven!
Pour down your blessings on this beauteous head,
Where everlasting sweets are always springing,
With a continual giving hand: let peace,
Honour, and safety, always hover round her:
Feed her with plenty, let her eyes neíer see
A sight of sorrow, nor her heart know mourning:
Crown all her days with joy, her nights with rest,
Harmless as her own thoughts; and prop her virtue,
To bear the loss of one that too much lovíd,
And comfort her with patience in our parting.
Belv. How, parting! parting!
Jaff. Yes, for ever parting.
I have sworn, Belvidera, by yon heaven,
That best can tell how much I lose to leave thee,
We part this hour for ever.
Belv. Oh, call back
Your cruel blessings, stay with me and curse me!
Jaff. No, ítis resolvíd.
Belv. Then hear me too, just Heaven!
Pour down your curses on this wretched head
With never-ceasing vengeance: let despair,
Danger or infamy, nay, all surround me:
Starve me with wantings: let my eyes neíer see
A sight of comfort, nor my heart know peace,
But dash my days with sorrow, night with horrors
Wild as my own thoughts now, and let loose fury
To make me mad enough for what I lose,
If I must lose him; if I must, I will not.
O turn and hear me!
Jaff. Now hold, heart, or never.
Belv. By all the tender days weíve livíd
By all our charming nights, and joys that crowníd em:
Pity my sad condition, speak, but speak.
Belv. By these arms that now cling round
By this dear kiss and by ten thousand more,
By these poor streaming eyesó
jaff. Murther! unhold me:
[Draws his dagger.
By the immortal destiny
that doomíd me
To this cursíd minute, Iíll not live one longer.
Resolve to let me go or see me falló
Belv. Hold, sir, be patient.
Jaff. Hark, the dismal bell
[Passing bell tolls.
Tolls out for death; I
must attend its call too,
For my poor friend, my dying Pierre expects me:
He sent a message to require Iíd see him
Before he died, and take his last forgiveness.
Farewell for ever.
[Going out looks back at her.
Belv. Leave thy dagger with me.
Bequeath me something.óNot one kiss at parting?
O my poor heart, when wilt thou break?
Jaff. Yet stay,
We have a child, as yet a tender infant.
Be a kind mother to him when I am gone:
Breed him in virtue and the paths of honour,
But let him never know his fatherís story:
I charge thee guard him from the wrongs my fate
May do his future fortune or his name.
[Approaching each other.
O that my arms were
Thus round thee ever! But my friends, my oath!
This and no more.
Belv. Another, sure another,
For that poor little one youíve taíen care of,
Iíll giveít him truly.
Jaff. So, now farewell.
Belv. For ever?
Jaff. Heaven knows for ever; all good angels guard thee.
Belv. All ill ones sure had charge of me
Cursíd be my days, and doubly cursíd my nights,
Which I must now mourn out in widowíd tears;
Blasted be every herb and fruit and tree;
Cursíd be the rain that falls upon the earth,
And may the general curse reach man and beast;
Oh, give me daggers, fire or water!
How I could bleed, how burn, how drown, the waves
Huzzing and booming round my sinking head,
Till I descended to the peaceful bottom!
Oh, thereís all quiet, here all rage and fury:
The airís too thin, and pierces my weak brain:
I long for thick substantial sleep: hell, hell,
Burst from the centre, rage and roar aloud,
If thou art half so hot, so mad as I am.
Enter Priuli and Servants.
[They seize her.
Priu. Run, seize and bring her safely
Guard her as you would life: alas, poor creature!
Belv. What? to my husband then conduct me
Are all things ready? shall we die most gloriously?
Say not a word of this to my old father.
Murmuring streams, soft shades, and springing flowers,
Lutes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of amber.
Scene opening discovers a Scaffold and a Wheel prepared for the executing of Pierre, then enter other Officers, Pierre and Guards, a Friar, Executioner, and a great rabble.
Offic. Room, room thereóstand all by, make room for the prisoner.
Pierr. My friend not come yet?
Father. Why are you so obstinate?
Pierr. Why you so troublesome, that a poor
wretch Canít die in peace,
But you, like ravens, will be croaking round him?
Fath. Yet, Heavenó
Pierr. I tell thee Heaven and I are
I neíer broke peace withít yet, by cruel murthers,
Rapine or perjury, or vile deceiving,
But lived in moral justice towards all men,
Nor am a foe to the most strong believers,
Howeíer my own short-sighted faith confine me.
Fath. But an all-seeing Judgeó
Pierr. You say my conscience
Must be mine accuser: Iíve searchíd that conscience,
And find no records there of crimos that scare me.
Fath. íTis strange you should want faith.
Pierr. You want to lead
My reason blindfold, like a hamperíd lion,
Checkíd of its nobler vigour; then, when baited
Down to obedient tameness, make it couch,
And show strange tricks, which you call signs of faith.
So silly souls are gullíd and you get money.
Away, no more: Captain, I would hereafter
This fellow write no lies of my conversion,
Because he has crept upon my troubled hours.
Jaff. Hold: eyes, be dry!
Heart, strengthen me to bear
This hideous sight, and humble me, to take
The last forgiveness of a dying friend,
Betrayíd by my vile falsehood, to his ruin.
Pierr. Yet nearer.
Jaff. Crawling on my knees,
And prostrate on the earth, let me approach thee:
How shall I look up to thy injured face,
That always used to smile, with friendship on me?
It darts an air of so much manly virtue,
That I, methinks, look little in thy sight,
And stripes are fitter for me than embraces.
Pierr. Dear to my arms, though thouíst
undone my fame,
I cannot forget to love thee; prithee, Jaffeir,
Forgive that filthy blow my passion dealt thee;
Iím now preparing for the land of peace,
And fain would have the charitable wishes
Of all good men, like thee, to bless my journey.
Jaff. Good! I am the vilest creature;
worse than eíer
Sufferíd the shameful fate thouírt going to taste of.
Why was I sent for to be used thus kindly?
Call, call me villain, as I am, describe
The foul complexion of my hateful deeds,
Lead me to the rack, and stretch me in thy stead,
Iíve crimes enough to give it its full load,
And do it credit. Thou wilt but spoil the use onít,
And honest men hereafter bear its figure
About íem, as a charm from treacherous friendship.
Offic. The time grows short, your friends are dead already.
Pierr. Yes, dead, Jaffeir, theyíve all
died like men too,
Worthy their character.
Jaff. And what must I do?
Pierr. O Jaffeir!
Jaff. Speak aloud thy burtheníd soul,
And tell thy troubles to thy tortured friend.
Pierr. Couldst thou yet be a friend, a
I might hope comfort from thy noble sorrows.
Heavín knows I want a friend.
Jaff. And I a kind one,
That would not thus scorn my repenting virtue,
Or think when heís to die, my thoughts are idle.
Pierr. No! live, I charge thee, Jaffeir.
Jaff. Yes, Iíll live,
But it shall be to see thy fall revenged
At such a rate, as Venice long shall groan for.
pierr. Wilt thou?
Jaff. I will, by Heavín.
Pierr. Then still thouírt noble,
And I forgive thee, ohóyetóshall I trust thee?
Jaff. No: Iíve been false already.
Pierr. Dost thou love me?
Jaff. Rip up my heart, and satisfy thy doubtings.
Pierr. Curse on this weakness.
Jaff. Tears! Amazement! Tears!
I never saw thee melted thus before,
And know thereís something labouring in thy bosom
That must have vent: though Iím a villain, tell me.
Pierr. Seest thou that engine?
[Pointing to the Wheel.
Pierr. Isít fit a soldier, who has livíd
Fought nationsí quarrels, and been crowníd with conquest,
Be exposed a common carcase on a wheel?
Pierr. Speak! isít fitting?
Pierr. Yes, isít fitting?
Jaff. Whatís to be done?
Pierr. Iíd have thee undertake
Something thatís noble, to preserve my memory
From the disgrace thatís ready to attaint it.
Offic. The day grows late, sir.
Pierr. Iíll make haste! O Jaffeir,
Though thouíst betrayíd me, do me some way justice.
Jaff. No more of that: thy wishes shall
I have a wife, and she shall bleed, my child too
Yield up his little throat, and all tí appease theeó
[Going away, Pierre holds him.
Pierr. Noóthisóno more!
[He whispers Jaffeir.
Jaff. Ha! isít then so?
Pierr. Most certainly.
Jaff. Iíll doít
Pierr. Come, now Iím ready.
[He and Jaffeir ascend the scaffold.
Captain, you should be a
gentleman of honour.
Keep off the rabble, that I may have room
To entertain my fate and die with decency.
[Takes off his gown, Executioner prepares to bind him.
Pierr. Hence, tempter.
Offic. Stand off, priest.
Pierr. I thank you, sir.
Youíll think onít.
Jaff. íTwonít grow stale before to-morrow.
Pierr. Now, Jaffeir! now I am going. Now;ó
[Executioner having bound him.
Jaff. Have at thee,
Thou honest heart, thenóhereó
And this is well too.
[Then stabs himself.
Fath. Damnable deed!
Pierr. Now thou hast indeed been faithful.
This was done noblyóweíve deceived the Senate.
Pierr. Ha! ha! ha!óoh! oh!ó
Jaff. Now, you cursíd rulers,
Thus of the blood yeíve shed I make libation,
And sprinkle it mingling: may it rest upon you,
And all your race: be henceforth peace a stranger
Within your walls; let plagues and famine waste
Your generationsóO poor Belvidera!
Sir, I have a wife, bear this in safety to her.
A token that with my dying breath I blessed her,
And the dear little infant left behind me.
Iím sickóIím quietó
Offic. Bear this news to the Senate,
And guard their bodies till thereís farther order:
Heaven grant I die so well!
[Scene shuts upon them