Billeder på siden

Jaf. Can there in woman be such glorious faith? Sure, all ill stories of thy sex are false ! Oh, woman! lovely woman!

Nature made thee

To temper man: we had been brutes without you!
Angels are painted fair, to look like you:
There's in you all that we believe of Heav'n;
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love!

Bel. If love be treasure, we'll be wondrous rich;
Oh! 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 ev'ry list'ning planet,
With what a boundless stock my bosom's fraught.
Jaf. Oh, Belvidera! doubly I'm 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,
Fram'd for the tender offices of love,

Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty?
When banish'd by our miseries abroad
(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?

Bel. Oh! I will love, even in madness love thee! Though my distracted senses should forsake me, I'd find some intervals when my poor heart Should 'suage itself, and be let loose to thine. Though the bare earth be all our resting place, Its roots our food, some cliff our habitation, I'll make this arm a pillow for thine head; And, as thou sighing liest, and swell'd 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. Jaf. Hear this, you Heav'ns, and wonder how you

made her!

Reign, reign, ye monarchs, that divide the world;
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know
Tranquillity and happiness like mine;

Like gaudy ships, the obsequious billows fall,
And rise again, to lift you in your pride;
They wait but for a storm, and then devour you!
1, in my private bark already wreck'd,
Like a poor merchant, driven to unknown land,
That had, by chance, pack'd up his choicest treasure
In one dear casket, and sav'd only that:
Since I must wander farther on the shore,
Thus hug my little, but my precious store,
Resolv'd to scorn and trust my fate no more. [Exeunt.

[Jaffier joins with Pierre and others in a conspiracy against the senate. He communicates the secret to Belvidera, and she, anxious to save her father's life, prevails on Jaffier to disclose the whole to the senators. The betrayed conspirators are condemned to death.]

Scene A Street. Enter JAFFIER.

Jaf. Final destruction seize on all the world! Bend down, ye heav'ns, and, shutting round the earth, Crush the vile globe into its own confusion!

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Jaf. 'Twas a rash oath.

Bel. Then why am I not curs'd too.

Jaf. No, Belvidera; by th' eternal truth,

I dote with too much fondness.

Bel. Still so kind?

Still, then, do you love me?

Jaf. Man ne'er was bless'd,

Since the first pair first met, as I have been.
Bel. Then sure you will not curse me?
Jaf. No, I'll bless thee.

I came on purpose, Belvidera, to bless thee.
'Tis now, I think, three years we've liv'd together.
Bel. And may no fatal minute ever part us,
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.
Jaf. Did not say I came to bless thee?

Bel. You did.

Jaf. 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 ne'er 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 lov'd; And comfort her with patience in our parting. Bel. How? parting, parting?

Jaf. Yes, for ever parting!

I have sworn, Belvidera, by yon Heav'n,
That best can tell how much I lose to leave thee,
We part this hour for ever.

Bel. Oh! call back

Your cruel blessing; stay with me, and curse me.
Jaf. Now hold, heart, or never.

Bel. By all the tender days we've liv'd together,
Pity my sad condition; speak, but speak.
Jaf. Murder! unhold me:

Or by th' immortal destiny that doom'd me

[Draws his dagger. Resolve to let me go, or see me fallTo this curs'd minute, I'll not live one longer:

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 I'd see him
Before he died, and take his last forgiveness.
Farewell for ever!

Bel. Leave thy dagger with me:

Bequeath me something. Not one kiss at parting? Oh, my poor heart, when wilt thou break!

Jaf. Yet stay:

We have a child, as yet a tender infant: Be a kind mother to him when I am gone:

[blocks in formation]

Bel. All ill ones, sure, had charge of me this moment. Oh, give me daggers, fire or water:

How I could bleed, how burn, how drown, the waves
Huzzing and foaming round my sinking head,
Till I descended to the peaceful bottom!
Oh! there's all quiet-here, all rage and fury!
The air's 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.


[blocks in formation]

Jaf. Dead!

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

[Stabs him. [Stabs himself.

Pier. Now thou hast indeed been faithful! This was nobly done!-We have deceived the senate. Jaf. Bravely.

Pier. Ha, ha, ha-oh! oh!

[Falls down on the scaffold, and dies. Jaf. Now, ye curs'd rulers,

Thus of the blood ye've shed, I make libation,
And sprinkle it mingling. May it rest upon you
And all your race. Oh, poor Belvidera!
Sir, I have a wife; bear this in safety to her,
A token that, with my dying breath, I bless'd her,
And the dear little infant left behind me.

Pier. Yes, dead, Jaffier; they've all died like men I'm sick-I'm quiet. too,

Worthy their character.

Jaf. And what must I do?

Pier. Oh, Jaffier!

Jaf. Speak aloud thy burden'd soul,

And tell thy troubles to thy tortur'd friend.

Pier. Friend! Couldst thou yet be a friend, a generous friend,

I might hope comfort from thy noble sorrows.
Heaven knows I want a friend!

Jaf. And I a kind one,

That would not thus scorn my repenting virtue, Or think, when he's to die, my thoughts are idle. Pier. No! live, I charge thee, Jaffier.

Jaf. Yes, I will live :

But it shall be to see thy fall reveng'd,

At such a rate, as Venice long shall groan for.
Pier. Wilt thou?

Jaf. I will, by Heaven!

Pier. Then still thou'rt noble,

And I forgive thee. Oh!-yet-shall I trust thee! Jaf. No; I've been false already.

Pier. Dost thou love me?

Jaf. Rip up my heart, and satisfy thy doubtings. Pier. Curse on this weakness! Jaf. Tears? Amazement! Tears? I never saw thee melted thus before; And know there's something labouring in thy bosom, That must have vent; though I'm a villain, tell me. Pier. Seest thou that engine? [Pointing to the wheel. Jaf. Why?


[The scene closes upon them. Scene-Apartment in PRIULI'S House. Enter PRIULI, BELVIDERA distracted, and two of her


Pri. Strengthen her heart with patience, pitying Heaven.

Bel. Come, come, come, come, come; nay, come to bed,

Pr'ythee, my love. The winds! hark how they whistle!
And the rain beats! Oh, how the weather shrinks me!
I say you shall not go; you shall not:
Whip your ill-nature; get you gone, then. Oh!
Are you returned? See, father, here he's come again :
Am I to blame to love him? O, thou dear one,
Why do you fly me? are you angry still, then?
Jaffier, where art thou? Father, why do you do thus ?
Stand off-don't hide him from me. He's there some-

Stand off, I say! What! gone? Remember, tyrant,
I may revenge myself for this trick one day.

Enter CAPTAIN, and whispers PRIULI.

Pri. News-what news?

Capt. Most sad, sir;

Jaffier, upon the scaffold, to prevent

A shameful death, stabb'd Pierre, and next himself; Both fell together.

Bel. Ha! look there!

My husband bloody, and his friend too! Murder! Who has done this? Speak to me, thou sad vision On these poor trembling knees I beg it. Vanish'd!

[blocks in formation]

Pri. Oh! lead me into some place that's fit for

Where the free air, light, and the cheerful sun,
May never enter; hang it round with black,
Set up one taper, that may light a day

As long as I've to live; and there all leave me:
Sparing no tears when you this tale relate,
But bid all cruel fathers dread my fate.


With all his dreadful bristles raised on high;
They seem'd a grove of spears upon his back:
Foaming, he came at me, where I was posted,
Whetting his huge long tusks, and gaping wide,
As he already had me for his prey;
Till, brandishing my well-pois'd javelin high,
With this bold executing arm I struck
The ugly brindled monster to the heart.


Another tragic poet of this period was NATHANIEL LEE, who possessed no small portion of the fire of genius, though unfortunately 'near allied' to madness. Lee was the son of a Hertfordshire clergyman, and [Exeunt Omnes. received a classical education, first at Westminster school, and afterwards at Trinity college, Cambridge. He tried the stage both as an actor and author, was four years in bedlam from wild insanity; but recovering his reason, resumed his labours as a dramatist, and though subject to fits of partial derangement, continued to write till the end of his life. He was the author of eleven tragedies, besides assisting Dryden in the composition of two pieces, Edipus and the Duke of Guise. The unfortunate poet was in his latter days supported by charity: he died in London, and was buried in St Clement's church, April 6, 1692. The best of Lee's tragedies are the Rival Queens, or Alexander the Great, Mithridates, Theodosius, and Lucius Junius Brutus. In praising Alexander, Dryden alludes to the power of his friend in moving the passions, and counsels him to despise those critics who condemn

Where am I? Sure I wander 'midst enchantment,
And never more shall find the way to rest.
But O Monimia! art thou indeed resolv'd
To punish me with everlasting absence!
Why turn'st thou from me? I'm alone already!
Methinks I stand upon a naked beach
Sighing to winds and to the seas complaining;
Whilst afar off the vessel sails away,
Where all the treasure of my soul's embark'd!
Wilt thou not turn? O could those eyes but speak!
I should know all, for love is pregnant in them!
They swell, they press their beams upon me still!
Wilt thou not speak? If we must part for ever,
Give me but one kind word to think upon,
And please myself with, while my heart is breaking.
The Orphan.

[Picture of a Witch.]

Through a close lane as I pursued my journey,
And meditating on the last night's vision,
I spied a wrinkled hag, with age grown double,
Picking dry sticks, and mumbling to herself;
Her eyes with scalding rheum were gall'd and red,
And palsy shook her head; her hands seemed wither'd;
And on her crooked shoulder had she wrapp'd
The tatter'd remnant of an old striped hanging,
Which served to keep her carcass from the cold.
So there was nothing of a piece about her.
Her lower weeds were all o'er coarsely patched
With different coloured rags-black, red, white, yellow,
And seem'd to speak variety of wretchedness.
I ask'd her of the way, which she informed me;
Then craved my charity, and bade me hasten
To save a sister.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Wish'd Morning 's come; and now upon the plains,
And distant mountains, where they feed their flocks,
The happy shepherds leave their homely huts,
And with their pipes proclaim the new-born day.
The lusty swain comes with his well-fill'd scrip
Of healthful viands, which, when hunger calls,
With much content and appetite he eats,
To follow in the field his daily toil,
And dress the grateful glebe that yields him fruits.
The beasts that under the warm hedges slept,
And weather'd out the cold bleak night, are up;
And, looking towards the neighbouring pastures, raise
Their voice, and bid their fellow-brutes good morrow.
The cheerful birds, too, on the tops of trees,
Assemble all in choirs; and with their notes
Salute and welcome up the rising sun.

[Killing a Boar.]

Forth from the thicket rush'd another boar,
So large, he seem'd the tyrant of the woods,

The too much vigour of his youthful muse. We have here indicated the source both of Lee's strength and of his weakness. In tenderness and genuine passion, he excels Dryden; but his style often degenerates into bombast and extravagant frenzya defect which was heightened in his late productions by his mental malady. The author was aware of his weakness. It has often been observed against me,' he says in his dedication of Theodosius, 'that I abound in ungoverned fancy; but I hope the world will pardon the sallies of youth: age, despondency, and dulness, come too fast of themselves. I discommend no man for keeping the beaten road; but I am sure the noble hunters that follow the game must leap hedges and ditches sometimes, and run at all, or never come into the fall of a quarry.' He wanted discretion to temper his tropical genius, and reduce his poetical conceptions to consistency and order; yet among his wild ardour and martial enthusiasm are very soft and graceful lines. Dryden himself has no finer image than the following:

Speech is morning to the mind;

It spreads the beauteous images abroad,
Which else lie furled and clouded in the soul.

Or this declaration of love:

I disdain

All pomp when thou art by: far be the noise
Of kings and courts from us, whose gentle souls
Our kinder stars have steer'd another way.
Free as the forest-birds we'll pair together,
Fly to the arbours, grots, and flowery meads,
And, in soft murmurs, interchange our souls:
Together drink the crystal of the stream,
Or taste the yellow fruit which autumn yields;
And when the golden evening calls us home,
Wing to our downy nest, and sleep till morn.
The heroic style of Lee (verging upon rhodomon-
tade) may be seen in such lines as the following,
descriptive of Junius Brutus throwing off his dis-

guise of idiocy after the rape of Lucrece by Tar- The violated genius of thy country
quin :-

As from night's womb the glorious day breaks forth,
And seems to kindle from the setting stars;

So, from the blackness of young Tarquin's crime
And furnace of his lust, the virtuous soul
Of Junius Brutus catches bright occasion.
I see the pillars of his kingdom totter:
The rape of Lucrece is the midnight lantern
That lights my genius down to the foundation.
Leave me to work, my Titus, O my son !
For from this spark a lightning shall arise,
That must ere night purge all the Roman air,
And then the thunder of his ruin follows.

[Scene between Brutus and Titus, his son.] [Titus having joined the Tarquin conspiracy, is condemned by his own father to suffer the death of a traitor. Brutus takes a last farewell of him.]

Rears his sad head, and passes sentence on thee:
This morning sun, that lights thy sorrows on
To the tribunal of this horrid vengeance,

Shall never see thee more.

Tit. Alas! my lord,

Why art thou moved thus? why am I worthy of thy


Why should the godlike Brutus shake to doom me?
Why all these trappings for a traitor's hearse?
The gods will have it so.

Bru. They will, my Titus;

Nor Heaven, nor earth, can have it otherwise;
Nay, Titus, mark; the deeper that I search,
My harass'd soul returns the more confirm'd.
Methinks I see the very hand of fire
Moving the dreadful wheels of this affair,
That whirl thee, like a machine, to thy fate;
To fix the reeling spirits of the people,
It seems as if the gods had pre-ordain'd it,
And settle the loose liberty of Rome.

Brutus. Well, Titus, speak ; how is it with thee now? 'Tis fix'd: O, therefore, let not fancy fond thee:

I would attend awhile this mighty motion,
Wait till the tempest were quite overblown,
That I might take thee in the calm of nature
With all thy gentler virtues brooding on thee.
So hush'd a stillness, as if all the gods

Look'd down and listen'd to what we were saying:
Speak, then, and tell me, O my best beloved,
My son, my Titus, is all well again?

Titus. So well, that saying how, must make it nothing;

So well, that I could wish to die this moment,
For so my heart with powerful throbs persuades me :
That were indeed to make you reparation-
That were, my lord, to thank you home, to die;
And that for Titus too, would be most happy.
Bru. How's that, my son would death for thee be

Tit. Most certain, sir; for in my grave I 'scape
All those affronts which I in life must look for,
All those reproaches which the eyes, and fingers,
And tongues of Rome will daily cast upon me;
From whom, to a soul so sensible as mine,
Each single scorn would be far worse than dying:
Besides, I 'scape the stings of my own conscience,
Which will for ever rack me with remembrance,
Haunt me by day, and torture me by night,
Casting my blotted honour in the way
Where'er my melancholy thoughts shall guide me.
Bru. But is not death a very dreadful thing?
Tit. Not to a mind resolv'd. No, sir; to me
It seems as natural as to be born:

Groans, and convulsions, and discolour'd faces,
Friends weeping round us, blacks, and obsequies,
Make it a dreadful thing; the pomp of death
Is far more terrible than death itself.

Yes, sir; I call the powers of heaven to witness,
Titus dares die, if so you have decreed;
Nay, he shall die with joy, to honour Brutus,
To make your justice famous through the world,
And fix the liberty of Rome for ever.
Not but I must confess my weakness too:
Yet it is great thus to resolve against it,
To have the frailty of a mortal man,
But the security of the immortal gods.

Bru. O Titus, O thou absolute young man!
Thou flattering mirror of thy father's image,
Where I behold myself at such advantage!
Thou perfect glory of the Junian race!
Let me endear thee once more to my bosom;
Groan an eternal farewell to thy soul;
Instead of tears, weep blood, if possible:
Blood, the heart-blood of Brutus, on his child;
For thou must die, my Titus; die, my son:
I swear the gods have doom'd thee to the grave.

So fix'd thy death, that 'tis not in the power
Of gods or men to save thee from the axe.

Tit. The axe? O heaven! Then must I fall so basely? What! Shall I perish by the common hangman?

Bru. If thou deny me this, thou giv'st me nothing. Yes, Titus, since the gods have so decreed That I must lose thee, I will take th' advantage Of thy important fate-cement Rome's flaws, And heal their wounded freedom with thy blood; I will ascend myself the sad tribunal, And sit upon my sons; on thee, my Titus: Behold thee suffer all the shame of death, The lictor's lashes bleed before the people; Then with thy hopes and all thy youth upon thee, See thy head taken by the common axe, Without a groan, without one pitying tear, If that the gods can hold me to my purpose, To make my justice quite transcend example.

Tit. Scourg'd like a bondman? Ha! a beaten slave!
But I deserve it all: yet here I fail;
The image of this suffering quite unmans me.
O sir, O Brutus, must I call you father,
Yet have no token of your tenderness?
No sign of mercy? What! not bate me that?
Can you resolve on all th' extremity
Of cruel rigour? to behold me too?

To sit unmov'd and see me whipt to death?
Where are your bowels now? Is this a father?
Ah! sir, why should you make my heart suspect
That all your late compassion was dissembled ?
How can I think that you did ever love me?

Bru. Think that I love thee by my present passion,
By these unmanly tears, these earthquakes here,
These sighs that twitch the very strings of life:
Think that no other cause on earth could move mo
To tremble thus, to sob, or shed a tear,
Nor shake my solid virtue from her point,
But Titus' death: O, do not call it shameful,
That thus shall fix the glory of the world.
I own thy sufferings ought t' unman me thus,
To make me throw my body on the ground,
To bellow like a beast, to gnaw the earth,
To tear my hair, to curse the cruel fates
That force a father thus to drag his bowels.
Tit. O rise, thou violated majesty,
Rise from the earth; or I shall beg those fates
Which you would curse, to bolt me to the centre.
I now submit to all your threaten'd vengeance:
Come forth, you executioners of justice,
Nay, all you lictors, slaves, and common hangmen;
Come, strip me bare, unrobe me in his sight,
And lash me till I bleed; whip me like furies;
And when you'll have scourg'd me till I foam and

[blocks in formation]

JOHN CROWNE was patronised by Rochester, in opposition to Dryden, as a dramatic poet. Between 1661 and 1698, he wrote seventeen pieces, two of which, namely, the tragedy of Thyestes, and the comedy of Sir Courtly Nice, evince considerable talent. The former is, indeed, founded on a repulsive classical story. Atreus invites his banished brother, Thyestes, to the court of Argos, and there at a banquet sets before him the mangled limbs and blood of his own son, of which the father unconciously partakes. The return of Thyestes from his retirement, with the fears and misgivings which follow, are vividly described:

[Extract from Thyestes.]

Thy. O wondrous pleasure to a banish'd man,
I feel my lov'd long look'd-for native soil!
And oh my weary eyes, that all the day

Had from some mountain travell'd toward this place,
Now rest themselves upon the royal towers
Of that great palace where I had my birth.
O sacred towers, sacred in your height,
Mingling with clouds, the villas of the gods,
Whither for sacred pleasures they retire:
Sacred, because you are the work of gods;
Your lofty looks boast your divine descent;
And the proud city which lies at your feet,
And would give place to nothing but to you,
Owns her original is short of yours.

And now a thousand objects more ride fast
On morning beams, and meet my eyes in throngs:
And see, all Argos meets me with loud shouts !
Phil. O joyful sound!

Thy. But with them Atreus too

[blocks in formation]

How miserable a thing is a great man!
Take noisy vexing greatness they that please;
Give me obscure and safe and silent ease.
Acquaintance and commérce let me have none
With any powerful thing but Time alone:
My rest let Time be fearful to offend,
And creep by me as by a slumbering friend;
Till, with ease glutted, to my bed I steal,
As men to sleep after a plenteous meal.
Oh, wretched he who, call'd abroad by power,
To know himself can never find an hour!
Strange to himself, but to all others known,
Lends every one his life, but uses none;
So, e'er he tasted life, to death he goes,
And himself loses ere himself he knows.


We oft by lightning read in darkest nights; And by your passions I read all your natures, Though you at other times can keep them dark.

[Love in Women.]

These are great maxims, sir, it is confess'd;
Too stately for a woman's narrow breast.
Poor love is lost in men's capacious minds;
In ours, it fills up all the room it finds.

[Inconstancy of the Multitude.]

I'll not such favour to rebellion show,
To wear a crown the people do bestow;
Who, when their giddy violence is past,
Shall from the king, the Ador'd, revolt at last;
And then the throne they gave they shall invade,
And scorn the idol which themselves have made.


I hate these potent madmen, who keep all Mankind awake, while they, by their great deeds, Are drumming hard upon this hollow world, Only to make a sound to last for ages.


A more popular rival and enemy of Dryden was

Phil. What ails my father that he stops, and shakes, THOMAS SHADWELL (1640-1692), who also wrote

And now retires?

Thy. Return with me, my son,

And old friend Peneus, to the honest beasts,
And faithful desert, and well-seated caves;
Trees shelter man, by whom they often die,
And never seek revenge; no villany
Lies in the prospect of a humble cave.

Pen. Talk you of villany, of foes, and fraud?
Thy. I talk of Atreus.

Pen. What are these to him?

Thy. Nearer than I am, for they are himself.
Pen. Gods drive these impious thoughts out of your


Thy. The gods for all our safety put them there. Return, return with me.

seventeen plays, chiefly comedies, in which he affected to follow Ben Jonson. Shadwell, though only known now as the Mac-Flecknoe of Dryden's satire, possessed no inconsiderable comic power. His pictures of society are too coarse for quotation, but they are often true and well-drawn. When the Revolution threw Dryden and other excessive loyalists into the shade, Shadwell was promoted to the office of poetlaureate. SIR GEORGE ETHEREGE (1636-1694) gave a more sprightly air to the comic drama by his Man of Mode or Sir Fopling Flutter, a play which contains the first runnings of that vein of lively humour and witty dialogue which were afterwards displayed by Congreve and Farquhar. Sir George was a gay libertine, and whilst taking leave of a festive party

« ForrigeFortsæt »