British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

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

ever wronged me, I know is false; the rest may be so

too -- there's all my hope. 70

TR. Trust not to that; rather suppose all true than lose a moment's time: even now the horrid deed may be a doing -- dreadful imagination! -- or it may be done, and we be vainly debating on the means to

prevent what is already past. 75

THOR. [aside]. This earnestness convinces me that he knows more than he has yet discovered. -- What ho! without there! who waits?

Enter a Servant.

-- Order the groom to saddle the swiftest horse and

prepare to set out with speed! An affair of life 80
and death demands his diligence. Exit Servant.

-- [To LUCY.] For you, whose behavior on this occasion I have no time to commend as it deserves, I must engage your farther assistance. Return and

observe this Millwood till I come. I have your 85
directions, and will follow you as soon as possible.

Exit LUCY.

-- Trueman, you, I am sure, will not be idle on this occasion. Exit THOROWGOOD.

TR. He only who is a friend can judge of my

distress. Exit. 90


SCENE II

MILLWOOD'S house.

Enter MILLWOOD.

MILL. I wish I knew the event1 of his design; the attempt without success would ruin him. -- Well! what have I to apprehend from that? I fear too much. The mischief being only intended, his friends,

in pity of his youth, turn all their rage on me. I 5
should have thought of that before. Suppose the deed done: then, and then only, I shall be secure. Or what if he returns without attempting it at all?

Enter BARNWELL, bloody.

But he is here, and I have done him wrong; his

bloody hands show he has done the deed, but 10
show he wants the prudence to conceal it.

BARN. Where shall I hide me? [whither] shall I fly to avoid the swift, unerring hand of Justice?

MILL. Dismiss your fears. Though thousands

had pursued you to the door, yet being entered 15
here, you are safe as innocence. I have such a cavern, by art so cunningly contrived, that the piercing eyes of Jealousy and Revenge may search in vain, nor find the entrance to the safe retreat. There will
I hide you if any danger's near. 20

BARN. Oh, hide me -- from myself if it be possible; for while I bear my conscience in my bosom, though I were hid where man's eye never saw nor light e'er dawned, 'twere all in vain. For oh! that

inmate -- that impartial judge, will try, convict, 25
and sentence me for murder, and execute me with never-ending torments. Behold these hands all crimsoned o'er with my dear uncle's blood! Here's a sight to make a statue start with horror, or turn a
living man into a statue. 30

MILL. Ridiculous! Then it seems you are afraid of your own shadow, or, what's less than a shadow, your conscience.

BARN. Though to man unknown I did the ac

cursed act, what can we hide from heaven's all- 35
seeing eye?

MILL. No more of this stuff! What advantage have you made of his death? or what advantage may yet be made of it? Did you secure the keys of his

treasure -- those no doubt were about him. 40
What gold, what jewels, or what else of value have you brought me?

BARN. Think you I added sacrilege to murder? Oh! had you seen him as his life flowed from him in a

crimson flood, and heard him praying for me by 45
the double name of nephew and of murderer! (alas, alas! he knew not then that his nephew was his murderer) how would you have wished, as I did, though you had a thousand years of life to come, to have
given them all to have lengthened his one hour! 50
But, being dead, I fled the sight of what my hands had done, nor could I, to have gained the empire of the world, have violated, by theft, his sacred corpse.

MILL. Whining, preposterous, canting villain, to

murder your uncle, rob him of life, nature's first, 55
last, dear prerogative, after which there's no injury -- then fear to take what he no longer wanted, and bring to me your penury and guilt! Do you think I'll hazard my reputation -- nay, my life, to enter
tain you? 60

BARN. O Millwood! this from thee! -- but I have done; if you hate me, if you wish me dead, then are you happy -- for oh! 'tis sure my grief will quickly end me.

MILL. (aside). In his madness he will discover265
all and involve me in his ruin. We are on a precipice from whence there's no retreat for both -- then to preserve myself. (Pauses.) There is no other way, -- 'tis dreadful; but reflection comes too late when
danger's pressing -- and there's no room for 70
choice. It must be done. (Rings a bell.)

Enter a Servant.

-- Fetch me an officer, and seize this villain: he has

____________________
74] O1O2MD4 we are.
80] O1 prepare himself to.
87] O1O2MD4 would not.
SCENE II. 12] O1O2MD4D5 whether; D6O7 whither.
14] O1 those fears.
24] O1 om. oh!
35-36] O1 heav'n's omniscient eye.
65] O1O2 om. (Aside).
71] O1O2 done. (Stamps.)
1
Outcome.
2
Reveal.

-619-

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