GLOST. My good Lord Chamberlain! 60 W'are much beholden to your gentle friendship.
L. HAST. My lord, I come an humble suitor to you.
GLOST. In right good time! Speak out your pleasure freely.
L. HAST. I am to move your highness in behalf Of Shore's unhappy wife.
GLOST. Say you? of Shore? 65 L. HAST. Once a bright star that held her place
The first and fairest of our English dames
While royal Edward held the sovereign rule.
Now sunk in grief, and pining with despair,
Her waning form no longer shall incite 70 Envy in woman, or desire in man. She never sees the sun but through her tears,
And wakes to sigh the livelong night away.
GLOST. Marry! the times are badly changed with
From Edward's days to these. Then all was jollity, 75 Feasting and mirth, light wantonness and laughter, Piping and playing, minstrelsy and masquing,
Till life fled from us like an idle dream,
A show of mommery without a meaning.
My brother -- rest and pardon to his soul! -- 80 Is gone to his account; for this his minion, The revel-rout is done. -- But you were speaking
Concerning her. -- I have been told that you
Are frequent-in your visitation to her.
L. HAST. No farther, my good lord, than friendly pity 85 And tender-hearted charity allow.
GLOST. Go to! I did not mean to chide you for
For, sooth to say, I hold it noble in you
To cherish the distressed. -- On with your tale.
L. HAST. Thus is it, gracious sir, that certain officers, 90 Using the warrant of your mighty name,
With insolence unjust and lawless power
Have seized upon the lands which late she held
By grant from her great master Edward's bounty.
GLOST. Somewhat of this, but slightly, have I heard; 95 And though some counsellors of forward zeal,
Some of most ceremonious sanctity
And bearded wisdom, often have provoked
The hand of justice to fall heavy on her,
Yet still in kind compassion of her weakness 100 And tender memory of Edward's love, I have withheld the merciless, stern law
From doing outrage on her helpless beauty.
L. HAST. Good hear'n, who renders mercy back
With open-handed bounty shall repay you' 105 This gentle deed shall fairly be set foremost, To screen the wild escapes of lawless passion
And the long train of frailties flesh is heir to.
GLOST. Thus far, the voice of pity pleaded
Our farther and more full extent of grace 110 Is given to your request. Let her attend, And to ourself deliver up her griefs.
She shall be heard with patience, and each wrong
At full redressed. But I have other news
Which much import us both, for still my fortunes 115 Go hand in hand with yours; our common foes, The queen's relations, our new-fangled gentry,
Have fall'n1, their haughty crests. -- That for your privacy. Exeunt.
An apartment in JANE SHORE'S house.
Enter BELLMOURand DUMONT.
BELL How she has lived, you've heard my tale
The rest, your own attendance in her family,
Where I have found the means this day to place you,
And nearer observation best will tell you.
See! with what sad and sober cheer she comes. 5
Enter JANE SHORE.
Sure, or I read her visage much amiss,
Or grief besets her hard. -- Save you, fair lady,
The blessings of the cheerful morn be on you,
And greet your beauty with its opening sweets.
J. SH. My gentle neighbor! your good wishes still 10 Pursue my hapless fortunes. Ah! good Bellmour,
How few, like thee, enquire the wretched out,
And court the offices of soft humanity;
Like thee, reserve their raiment for the naked,
Reach out their bread to feed the crying orphan, 15 Or mix their pitying tears with those that weep! Thy praise deserves a better tongue than mine
To speak and bless thy name. Is this the gentleman
Whose friendly service you commended to me?
BELL. Madam! it is.
J. SH. (aside). A venerable aspect! 20 Age sits with decent grace upon his visage,
And worthily becomes his silver locks;
He wears the marks of many years well spent,
Of virtue, truth well tried, and wise experience;
A friend like this would suit my sorrows well. 55 (To DUMONT.) Fortune, I fear me, sir, has meant you ill,
Who pays your merit with that scanty pittance
Which my poor hand and humble roof can give.