the air, and water, seemed concerned -- but 10 that's not strange; the world is punished, and nature feels a shock when Providence permits a good man's fall! Just heaven! Then what should I be? -- for him that was my father's only brother, and since his death has been to me a father, who took me up 15 an infant, and an orphan; reared me with tenderest care, and still indulged me with most paternal fondness. Yet here I stand avowed his destined murderer. I stiffen with horror at my own impiety. 'Tis yet unperformed. What if I quit my bloody 20 purpose, and fly the place! (Going, then stops.) But [whither], oh whither, shall I fly? My master's once friendly doors are ever shut against me; and without money Millwood will never see me more, and life is not to be endured without her. She's got such 25 firm possession of my heart, and governs there with such despotic sway -- ay, there's the cause of all my sin and sorrow! 'Tis more than love; 'tis the fever of the soul and madness of desire. In vain does nature, reason, conscience, all oppose it; the im 30 petuous passion bears down all before it, and drives me on to lust, to theft, and murder. O conscience! feeble guide to virtue, thou only show'st us when we go astray, but wantest power to stop us in our course. -- Ha, in yonder shady walk I see my uncle. 35 He's alone. Now for my disguise! (Plucks out vizor.) This is his hour of private meditation. Thus daily he prepares his soul for heaven -- whilst I -- but what have I to do with heaven? Ha! No struggles, conscience! 40
Hence, hence, remorse, and ev'ry thought that's good:
The storm that lust began must end in blood.
(Puts on the vizor, draws a pistol and exit.)
A close walk in a wood.
UN. If I were superstitious, I should fear some danger lurked unseen, or death were nigh. A heavy melancholy clouds my spirits; my imagination is filled with gashly forms of dreary graves and bodies changed by death, when the pale, lengthened 5 visage1 attracts each weeping eye, and fills the musing soul, at once, with grief and horror, pity and aversion. I will indulge the thought. The wise man prepares himself for death by making it familiar to his mind. When strong reflections hold the 10 mirror near, and the living in the dead behold their future selves, how does each inordinate passion and desire cease, or sicken at the view! The mind scarce moves; the blood, curdling and chilled, creeps slowly through the veins -- fixed, still, and motionless 15 we stand -- so like the solemn object of our thoughts, we are almost at present -- what we must be hereafter, till curiosity awakes the soul and sets it on inquiry.
Enter GEORGE BARNWELLat a distance.
-- O Death, thou strange mysterious power, 20 seen every day, yet never understood but by the incommunicative dead, what art thou? The extensive mind of man, that with a thought circles the earth's vast globe, sinks to the center, or ascends above the stars; that worlds exotic finds, or thinks it finds 25 -- thy thick clouds attempts to pass in vain: lost and bewildered in the horrid gloom, defeated she2 returns more doubtful than before, of nothing certain -- but of labor lost.
(During this speech, BARNWELL sometimes presents the pistol and draws it back again.)
BARN. (throwing down the pistol). Oh, 'tis im 30 possible!
(Uncle starts and attempts to draw his sword.)
UN. A man so near me, armed and masked!
BARN. Nay, then there's no retreat.
(Plucks a poniard from his bosom, and stabs him.)
UN. Oh! I am slain! All-gracious heaven, regard the prayer of thy dying servant! Bless, 35 with the choicest blessings, my dearest nephew; forgive my murderer, and take my fleeting soul to endless mercy!
(BARNWELL throws off his mask, runs to him, and, kneeling by him, raises and chafes him.)
BARN. Expiring saint! O murdered, martyred uncle! Lift up your dying eyes, and view your 40 nephew in your murderer! Oh, do not look so tenderly upon me! Let indignation lighten from your eyes, and blast me ere you die! -- By heaven, he weeps in pity of my woes. Tears, -- tears, for blood! The murdered, in the agonies of death, weeps for 45 his murderer. -- Oh, speak your pious purpose -- pronounce my pardon then -- and take me with you! -- He would, but cannot. -- Oh, why, with such fond affection, do you press my murdering hand? -- What! will you kiss me? (BARNWELL kisses his uncle, 50____________________