BELV. Think too, if thou lose this present minute, 60 What miseries the next day bring upon thee.
Imagine all the horrors of that night,
Murder and rapine, waste and desolation,
Confusedly ranging. Think what then may prove
My lot! The ravisher may then come safe, 65 And 'midst the terror of the public ruin Do a damned deed -- perhaps to lay a train
May catch thy life; then where will be revenge,
The dear revenge that's due to such a wrong?
JAFF. By all heaven's powers, prophetic truth dwells in thee; 70 For every word thou speak'st strikes through my
Like a new light, and shows it how't has wandered.
Just what th'hast made me, take me, Belvidera,
And lead me to the place where I'm to say
This bitter lesson, where I must betray 75 My truth, my virtue, constancy, and friends. Must I betray my friends? Ah, take me quickly,
Secure me well before that thought's renewed;
If I relapse once more, all's lost forever.
BELV. Hast thou a friend more dear than Belvidera? 80
JAFF. No, th'art my soul itself; wealth, friendship,
All present joys, and earnest of all future,
Are summed in thee: methinks, when in thy arms
Thus leaning on thy breast, one minute's more
Than a long thousand years of vulgar hours. 85 Why was such happiness not given me pure? Why dashed with cruel wrongs, and bitter wantings?
Come, lead me forward now like a tame lamb
To sacrifice; thus in his fatal garlands,
Decked fine, and pleased, the wanton skips and plays, 90 Trots by the enticing, flattering priestess' side, And much transported with his little pride,
Forgets his dear companions of the plain|
Till by her, bound, he's on the altar lain;
Yet then too hardly bleats, such pleasure's in
Enter Officer and Six Guards.
OFFICER. Stand! Who goes there?
JAFF. Friends, Belvidera! Hide me from my
By heaven, I'd rather see the face of hell
Than meet the man I love.
OFFIC. But what friends are you?
BELV. Friends to the Senate and the state of Venice. 100
OFFIC. My orders are to seize on all I find
At this late hour, and bring 'em to the Council,
Who now are sitting.
JAFF. Sir, you shall be obeyed.
Hold, brutes, stand off! none of your paws upon me!
Now the lot's cast, and, Fate, do what thou wilt. Exeunt guarded. 105
Where appear sitting, the DUXE OF VENICE, PRIULI, ANTONIO, and eight other Senators.
DUKE. Anthony, Priuli, senators of Venice,
Speak; why are we assembled here this night?
What have you to inform us of, concerns
The state of Venice, honor, or its safety?
PRIU. Could words express the story I have to tell you, 5 Fathers, these tears were useless -- these sad tears
That fall from my old eyes; but there is cause
We all should weep, tear off these purple robes,
And wrap ourselves in sack-cloth, sitting down
On the sad earth, and cry aloud to heaven. 10 Heaven knows if yet there be an hour to come Ere Venice be no more!
ALL SENATORS. How!
PRIU. Nay, we stand
Upon the very brink of gaping ruin.
Within this city's formed a dark conspiracy
To massacre us all, our wives and children, 15 Kindred and friends, our palaces and temples To lay in ashes -- nay, the hour, too, fixed;
The swords, for aught I know, drawn even this mo-ment,
And the wild waste begun. From unknown hands
I had this warning: but if we are men, 20 Let's not be tamely butchered, but do something That may inform the world in after ages,
Our virtue was not ruined, though we were.
(A noise without: 'Room, room, make room for
2D SENATOR. Let's raise the city!
Enter Officer and Guard.
PRIU. Speak there -- what disturbance? 25
OFFIC. Two prisoners have the guard seized in
Who say they come to inform this reverend Senate
About the present danger.
Enter JAFFEIR and BELVIDERA, guarded.
ALL. Give 'em entrance --
Well, who are you?
JAFF. A villain.
ANT. Short and pithy.
The man speaks well.
JAFF. Would every man that hears me 30 Would deal so honestly, and own his title.