L. HAST. Curse on my failing hand! Your better
Has giv'n you vantage o'er me; but perhaps
Your triumph may be bought with dear repentance.
J. SH. Alas! what have you done! Know you
The mightiness that waits upon this lord? 285
DUM. Fear not, my worthiest mistress; 'tis a cause
In which heav'n's guard shall wait you. Oh, pursue,
Pursue the sacred counsels of your soul
Which urge you on to virtue; let not danger,
Nor the encumb'ring world, make faint your purpose! 290 Assisting angels shall conduct your steps, Bring you to bliss, and crown your end with peace.
J. SH. Oh, that my head were laid, my sad eyes
And my cold corse wound in my shroud to rest;
My painful heart will never cease to beat, 295 Will never know a moment's peace till then.
DUM. Would you be happy? Leave this fatal
Fly from the court's pernicious neighborhood,
Where innocence is shamed, and blushing modesty
Is made the scorner's jest; where hate, deceit, 300 And deadly ruin, wear the masks of beauty, And draw deluded fools with shows of pleasure.
J. SH. Where should I fly, thus helpless and for-lorn,
Of friends and all the means of life bereft?
DUM. Bellmour, whose friendly care still wakes to serve you, 305 Has found you out a little peaceful refuge.
Far from the court and the tumultuous city,
Within an ancient forest's ample verge,
There stands a lonely but a healthful dwelling,
Built for convenience and the use of life. 310 Around it fallows, meads, and pastures fair, A little garden, and a limpid brook,
By nature's own contrivance, seem disposed --
No neighbors but a few poor simple clowns,
Honest and true, with a well-meaning priest. 315 No faction, or domestic fury's rage, Did e'er disturb the quiet of that place
When the contending nobles shook the land
With York and Lancaster's disputed sway.
Your virtue, there, may find a safe retreat 320 From the insulting pow'rs of wicked greatness.
J. SH. Can there be so much happiness in store!
A cell like that is all my hopes aspire to.
Haste then, and thither let us wing our flight,
Ere the clouds gather and the wintry sky 325 Descends in storms to intercept our passage.
DUM. Will you then go? You glad my very soul.
Banish your fears, cast all your cares on me;
Plenty, and ease, and peace of mind shall wait you,
And make your latter days of life most happy. 330 O lady! -- but I must not, cannot tell you How anxious I have been for all your dangers,
And how my heart rejoices at your safety.
So when the spring renews the flow'ry field,
And warns the pregnant nightingale to build, 335 She seeks the safest shelter of the wood, Where she may trust her little tuneful brood,
Where no rude swains her shady cell may know,
No serpents climb, nor blasting winds may blow;
Fond of the chosen place, she views it o'er, 340 Sits there and wanders through the grove no more. Warbling she charms it each returning night,
And loves it with a mother's dear delight. Exeunt.
Enter ALICIA with a paper.
ALIC. This paper to the great Protector's hand
With care and secrecy must be conveyed;
His bold ambition now avows its aim,
To pluck the crown from Edward's infant brow
And fix it on his own. I know he holds 5 My faithless Hastings adverse to his hopes
And much devoted to the orphan king;
On that I build. This paper meets his doubts,
And marks my hated rival as the cause
Of Hastings' zeal for his dead master's sons. 10 O jealousy! Thou bane of pleasing friendship, Thou worst invader of our tender bosoms;
How does thy rancor poison all our softness,
And turn our gentle natures into bitterness!
-- See where she comes! Once my heart's dearest blessing, 15 Now my changed eyes are blasted with her beauty, Loathe that known face, and sicken to behold her.
Enter JANE SHORE.
J. SH. Now whither shall I fly to find relief?
What charitable hand will aid me now?
Will stay my failing steps, support my ruins, so
And heal my wounded mind with balmy comfort? 20 O my Alicia!
ALIC. What new grief is this?
What unforeseen misfortune has surprised thee,
That racks thy tender heart thus?
J. SH. O Dumont!
ALIC. Say! What of him?
J. SH. That friendly, honest man, 25 Whom Bellmour brought of late to my assistance;
On whose kind cares, whose diligence and faith,
My surest trust was built, this very morn