One only shadow of a hope is left me;
The noble-minded Hastings, of his goodness,
Has kindly underta'en to be my advocate,
|And move my humble suit to angry Gloster.||125|
ALIC. Does Hastings undertake to plead your
But wherefore should he not? Hastings has eyes;
The gentle lord has a right tender heart,
Melting and easy, yielding to impression,
And catching the soft flame from each new
J. SH. Away, you flatterer!
Nor charge his generous meaning with a weakness
Which his great soul and virtue must disdain.
Too much of love thy hapless friend has proved;
|Too many giddy, foolish hours are gone,||135|
So thou, my dearest, truest, best Alicia,
Vouchsafe to lodge me in thy gentle heart
|A partner there; I will give up mankind,||140|
ALIC. (embracing). Live! live and reign forever in
Safe and unrivalled there possess thy own;
|And you, ye brightest of the stars above,||145|
Which here to this my other self I vow.
If I not hold her nearer to my soul,
|Than ev'ry other joy the world can give,||150|
Let not my faithless ghost have peace hereafter,
Nor taste the bliss of your celestial fellowship.
J. SH. Yes, thou art true, and only thou art
(Giving a casket.)
Receive this all that I can call my own,
And let it rest unknown and safe with thee:
|That if the state's injustice should oppress me,||160|
And shelter from the storm.
ALIC. My all is thine;
One common hazard shall attend us both,
|And both be fortunate or both be wretched.||165|
And all things shall be well. Think not, the good,
The gentle deeds of mercy thou hast done
|Shall die forgotten all; the poor, the pris'ner,||170|
Shall cry to heav'n, and pull a blessing on thee;
Ev'n man -- the merciless insulter, man --
|Man, who rejoices in our sex's weakness,||175|
J. Sh. Why should I think that man will do for me
What yet he never did for wretches like me?
|Mark by what partial justice we are judged;||180|
That man, the lawless libertine, may rove
Free and unquestioned through the wilds of love;
|While woman, sense and nature's easy fool,||185|
And in the softer paths of pleasure stray;
Ruin ensues, reproach and endless shame,
|And one false step entirely damns her fame.||190|
In vain with tears the loss she may deplore,|
In vain look back to what she was before;
She sets, like stars that fall, to rise no more.
Enter ALICIA, speaking to JANE SHOREas entering.
ALIC. No farther, gentle friend; good angels
And spread their gracious wings about your slum-bers.
-- The drowsy night grows on the world, and now
The busy craftsman and o'er-labored hind
|Forget the travail of the day in sleep.||5|
And watch the wasting of the midnight taper.
Such vigils must I keep; so wakes my soul,
|Restless and self-tormented! O false Hastings!||10|
What noise is that?
What visitor is this who with bold freedom
Breaks in upon the peaceful night and rest
With such a rude approach?
Enter a Servant.
SERV. One from the court;
|Lord Hastings (as I think) demands my lady.||15|
ALIC. Hastings! Be still my heart, and try to
With his own arts -- with falsehood. -- But he comes.