British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

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

When York and Lancaster drew forth the battles;

When, like a matron butchered by her sons, 195
And cast beside some common way a spectacle Of horror and affright to passers-by,
Our groaning country bled at every vein;
When murders, rapes, and massacres prevailed;
When churches, palaces, and cities blazed; 200
When insolence and barbarism triumphed, And swept away distinction? Peasants trod
Upon the necks of nobles. Low were laid
The reverend crosier and the holy mitre,
And desolation covered all the land. 205
Who can remember this, and not, like me, Here vow to sheath a dagger in his heart
Whose damned ambition would renew those horrors,
And set, once more, that scene of blood before us?

GLOST. How now! So hot!

L. HAST. So brave, and so resolved. 210

GLOST. Is then our friendship of so little moment That you could arm your hand against my life?

L. HAST. I hope your highness does not think I meant it;
No, heaven forefend that e'er your princely person
Should come within the scope of my resent-

ment. 215

GLOST. O noble Hastings! nay, I must embrace you! (Embraces him.)
By holy Paul! y'are a right honest man;
The time is full of danger and distrust,
And warns us to be wary. Hold me not

Too apt for jealousy and light surmise 220
If, when I meant to lodge you next my heart, I put your truth to trial. Keep your loyalty,
And live your king and country's best support:
For me, I ask no more than honor gives --
To think me yours, and rank me with your
friends. 225

L. HAST. Accept what thanks a grateful heart should pay.
O princely Gloster! judge me not ungentle,
Of manners rude, and insolent of speech
If, when the public safety is in question,

My zeal flows warm and eager from my tongue. 230

GLOST. Enough of this: to deal in wordy compli-ment
Is much against the plainness of my nature.
I judge you by myself, a clear true spirit,
And as such once more join you to my bosom.

[Embraces him.]

-- Farewell, and be my friend. Exit GLOSTER.

L. HAST. I am not read, 235
Not skilled and practised in the arts of greatness, To kindle thus, and give a scope to passion.
The duke is surely noble; but he touched me
Ev'n on the tend'rest point, the master-string
That makes most harmony or discord to me. 240
I own the glorious subject fires my breast, And my soul's darling passion stands confessed --
Beyond or love's or friendship's sacred band,
Beyond myself I prize my native land.
On this foundation would I build my fame, 245
And emulate the Greek and Roman name; Think England's peace bought cheaply with my blood,
And die with pleasure for my country's good. Exit.


ACT IV

[SCENE I]

Scene continues.

Enter DUKE OF GLOSTER, RATCLIFFE, and
CATESBY.

GLOST. This was the sum of all, that he would brook
No alteration in the present state.
Marry! at last, the testy gentleman
Was almost moved to bid us bold defiance;

But there I dropped the argument, and changing 5
The first design and purport of my speech, I praised his good affection to young Edward,
And left him to believe my thoughts like his.
Proceed we then to this fore-mentioned matter
As nothing bound or trusting to his friendship. 10

RAT. Ill does it thus befall. I could have wished This lord had stood with us. His friends are wealthy,
Thereto, his own possessions large and mighty;
The vassals and dependants on his power

Firm in adherence, ready, bold, and many. 15
His name had been of 'vantage to your highness, And stood our present purpose much in stead.

GLOST. This wayward and perverse declining from us
Has warranted at full the friendly notice

Which we this morn received. I hold it certain, 20
This puling, whining harlot rules his reason, And prompts his zeal for Edward's bastard brood.

CAT. If she have such dominion o'er his heart,
And turn it at her will, you rule her fate

And should, by inference and apt deduction, 25
Be arbiter of his. Is not her bread, The very means immediate to her being,
The bounty of your hand? Why does she live
If not to yield obedience to your pleasure,
To speak, to act, to think as you command? 30

RAT. Let her instruct her tongue to bear your message,
Teach every grace to smile in your behalf
And her deluding eyes to gloat for you;
His ductile reason will be wound about,

Be led and turned again, say and unsay, 35
Receive the yoke, and yield exact obedience.

____________________
214] Q1 foresend.
6] Q1 purpose.

-519-

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