British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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And let off all the fire that's in my heart.

JAFF. O Belvidera! double I am a beggar --

Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee. 355
Want! worldly want! that hungry, meager 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? 360
When banished by our miseries abroad, (As suddenly we shall be) to seek out
In some far climate where our names are strangers)
For charitable succor; wilt thou then,
When in a bed of straw we shrink together, 365
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 370
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 clift our habitation,
I'll make this arm a pillow for thy head; 375
As thou sighing li'st, 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 heav'ns, and wonder how

you made her! 380

Reign, reign, ye monarchs that divide the world! Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know
Tranquillity and happiness like mine.
Like gaudy ships, th'obsequious billows fall

And rise again, to lift you in your pride; 385
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, 390

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.




[AQUILINA'S house.]


AQUIL. By all thy wrongs, thou art dearer to my arms
Than all the wealth of Venice; prithee, stay,
And let us love tonight.

PIERRE. No: there's fool,
There's fool about thee. When a woman sells

Her flesh to fools, her beauty's lost to me; 5
They leave a taint, a sully where th'ave passed; There's such a baneful quality about 'em,
Even spoils complexions with their own nauseous-ness;
They infect all they touch; I cannot think
Of tasting any thing a fool has palled. 10

AQUIL. I loathe and scorn that fool thou mean'st, 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 15
My liberty with envy. In their hearts, Are loose as I am; but an ugly power
Sits in their faces, and frights pleasures from 'em.

PIERRE. Much good may't do you, madam, with your senator.

AQUIL. My senator! why, canst thou think that

wretch 20
E'er filled thy Aquilina's arms with pleasure? Think'st thou, because I sometimes give him leave
To foil1 himself at what he is unfit for,
Because I force myself to endure and suffer him,
Think'st thou I love him? No, by all the joys 25
Thou ever gav'st me, his presence is my penance; The worst thing an old man can be's 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. 30

PIERRE. Would he were well sent thither!

AQUIL. That's 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 35
Was come to pay my sorrows at his funeral, (For he has already made me heir to treasures
Would make me out-act a real widow's whining)
How could I frame my face to fit my mourning!
With wringing hands attend him to his grave; 40
Fall swooning on his hearse; take mad possession Even of the dismal vault where he lay buried;
There like the Ephesian matron2 dwell, till thou,
My lovely soldier, comest to my deliverance;
Then throwing up my veil, with open arms 45
And laughing eyes, run to new dawning joy.

354] Q3 doubly I'm.
372] Q1Q2 swage; Q3 'swage.
1] Q3 thou'rt.
8] Q3 E'en, and omits own.
17] Q3 They're for Are.
This story, given by Petronius in the Satyricon, had been used by George Chapman in the plot of The Widow's Tears (printed 1612).


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