British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview

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 forever. (Going out, looks back at her.)

BELV. Leave thy dagger with me; 115
Bequeath me something. -- Not 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 honor, 120
But let him never know his father's story. I charge thee guard him from the wrongs my fate
May do his future fortune or his name.
Now -- nearer yet -- (approaching each other)
Oh, that my arms were riveted
Thus round thee ever! -- But my friends, my
oath! (Kisses her.) 125
This and no more.

BELV. Another, sure another,
For that poor little one you've ta'en such care of;
I'll give't him truly.

JAFF. [kissing her]. So! -- now farewell.

BELV. Forever?

JAFF. Heaven knows, forever; all good angels guard thee. [Exit.]

BELV. All ill ones sure had charge of me this mo

ment. 130
Curst be my days, and doubly curst my nights, Which I must now mourn out in widowed tears;
Blasted be every herb and fruit and tree;
Curst be the rain that falls upon the earth,
And may the general curse reach man and
beast. 135
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, there's all quiet; here, all rage and fury: 140
The air's too thin, and pierces my weak brain: I long for thick, substantial sleep. Hell, hell,
Burst from the center, rage and roar aloud
If thou art half so hot, so mad as I am.

Enter PRIULI and Servants.

Who's there?

PRIU. Run, seize and bring her safety

home. (They seize her.) 145
Guard her as you would life. Alas, poor creature!

BELV. What? To my husband then conduct me quickly.
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, 150
Lutes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of amber.

Exeunt.


[SCENE III]

Scene opening, discovers a scaffold and a wheel prepared for the executing of PIERRE; then enter Officers, PIERRE, and Guards, a Friar, Executioner, and a great Rabble.

OFFIC. Room, room there! Stand all by; make room for the prisoner.

PIERRE. My friend not come yet?

FATHER. Why are you so obstinate?

PIERRIE. Why you so troublesome, that a poor

wretch cannot die in peace, 5
But you, like ravens, will be croaking round him?

FATH. Yet, heaven --

PIERRE. I tell thee, heaven and I are friends.
I ne'er broke peace with't yet by cruel murders,
Rapine, or perjury, or vile deceiving;

But lived in moral justice towards all men, 10
Nor am a foe to the most strong believers, Howe'er my own short-sighted faith confine me.

FATH. But an all-seeing Judge --

PIERRE. You say my conscience
Must be mine accuser: I have searched that con-science,
And finds no records there of crimes that scare

me. 15

FATH. 'Tis strange you should want faith.

PIERRE. You want to lead
My reason blindfold, like a hampered lion,
Checked of its nobler vigor; then, when baited
Down to obedient tameness, make it couch,
And show strange tricks which you call signs of

faith. 20
So silly souls are gulled and you get money. Away, no more! -- Captain, I would hereafter
This fellow wrote no lies of my conversion,
Because he has crept upon my troubled hours.

Enter JAFFEIR.

JAFF. Hold. Eyes, be dry; heart, strengthen me

to bear 25
This hideous sight, and humble me [to] take The last forgiveness of a dying friend,
Betrayed by my vile falsehood to his ruin!
-- O Pierre!

PIERRE. Yet nearer.

JAFF. Crawling on my knees,

And prostrate on the earth, let me approach thee. 30
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. 35

____________________
SCENE III. 22]Q1Q2I would; Q3I'd have.
26] 1727 ed. Supplies to, an emendation frequently adopted.

-147-

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