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Dashed us upon a rock; when to your boat
You made for safety; entered first yourself;,
The affrighted Belvidera, following next,
As she stood trembling on the vessel's side,
Was by a wave washed off into the deep;
When instantly I plunged into the sea,
And, buffetting the billows to her rescue,
Redeemed her life with half the loss of mine.
Like a rich conquest, in one hand I bore her,
And with the other dashed the saucy waves,
That thronged and pressed to rob me of my prize.
I brought her, gave her to your despairing arms:
Indeed you thanked me; but a nobler gratitude
Rose in her soul: for from that hour she loved
Till for her life she paid me with herself.
Pri. You stole her from me; like a thief you stole her,
At dead of night! that cursed hour you chose,
To rifle me of all my heart held dear.
May all your joys in her prove false, like mine;
A sterile fortune, and a barren bed,
Attend you both; continual discord make
Your days and nights bitter and grievous: still
May the hard hand of a vexatious need
Oppress and grind you; till at last you find
The curse of disobedience all your portion!
Jaf Half of your curse you have bestowed in
Heaven has already crowned our faithful loves
With a young boy, sweet as his mother's beauty:
May he live to prove more gentle than his grand-
And happier than his father!
Pri. Rather live
I've treated Belvidera like your daughter,
The daughter of a senator of Venice:
Distinction, place, attendance, and observance,
Due to her birth, she always has commanded.
Out of my little fortune I've done this;
Because (though hopeless e'er to win your na-
The world might see I loved her for herself;
Not as the heiress of the great Priuli.
Pri. No more.
Jaf. Yes, all, and then adieu for ever. There's not a wretch, that lives on common charity,
But's happier than me: for I have known
The luscious sweets of plenty; every night
Have slept with soft content about my head,
And never waked, but to a joyful morning:
Yet now must fall, like a full ear of corn,
Whose blossom 'scaped, yet's withered in the
Pri. Home, and be humble; study to retrench;
Discharge the lazy vermin of thy hall,
Those pageants of thy folly:
Reduce the glittering trappings of thy wife
To humble weeds, fit for thy little state:
Then, to some suburb cottage both retire;
Drudge to feed loathsome life; get brats and
Cut-throats rewards: each man would kill his
Himself; none would be paid or hanged for murder.
Honesty! 'twas a cheat invented first
To bind the hands of bold deserving rogues,
That fools and cowards might sit safe in power,
And lord it uncontrouled above their betters.
Juf. Then honesty is but a notion?
Pier. Nothing else;
Like wit, much talked of, not to be defined.
He, that pretends to most, too, has least share in
Tis a ragged virtue: Honesty! no more of it.
Jaf. Sure thou art honest?
Pier. So, indeed, men think me;
But they are mistaken, Jaffier: I am a rogue
As well as they;
A fine, gay, bold faced villain, as thou seest me.
'Tis true, I pay my debts, when they're con-
I steal from no man; would not cut a throat,
To gain admission to a great man's purse,
Or a whore's bed; I'd not betray my friend
To get his place or fortune; I scorn to flatter
A blown-up fool above me, or crush the wretch
Yet, Jaffier, for all this, I am a villain.
Jaf. A villain!
Pier. Yes, a most notorious villain;
To see the sufferings of my fellow-creatures,
And own myself a man: to see our senators
Cheat the deluded people with a shew
Of liberty, which yet they ne'er must taste of.
They say, by them our hands are free from
Jaf. I know the wretch, and scorn him as thou hatest him.
Pier. Curse on the common good, that's so
Where every slave, that heaps up wealth enough
To do much wrong, becomes the lord of right!
I, who believed no ill could e'er come near me,
Found in the embraces of my Aquilina
A wretched, old, but itching senator;
A wealthy fool, that had bought out my title;
A rogue, that uses beauty like a lamb-skin,
Barely to keep him warm; that filthy cuckoo
Was, in my absence, crept into my nest,
And spoiling all my brood of noble pleasure.
Jaf. Didst thou not chase him thence?
Pier. I did, and drove
The rank old bearded Hirco stinking home.
The matter was complained of in the senate,
I summoned to appear, and censured basely,
For violating something they called privilege-
This was the recompence of all my service.
Would I'd been rather beaten by a coward!
A soldier's mistress, Jaffer, is his religion;
When that's profaned, all other ties are broken:
That even dissolves all former bonds of service;
And from that hour I think myself as free
To be the foe, as e'er the friend, of Venice-
Nay, dear revenge, whene'er thou call'st, I'm
Jaf. I think no safety can be here for virtue,
And grieve, my friend, as much as thou, to live
In such a wretched state as this of Venice,
Where all agree to spoil the public good;
fet-And villains fatten with the brave man's labours.
Yet, whom they please, they lay in basest bonds;
Bring, whom they please, to infamy and sorrow;
Drive us, like wrecks, down the rough tide of
While no hold's left to save us from destruction.
All that bear this are villains, and I one,
Not to rouse up at the great call of nature,
And check the growth of these domestic spoilers,
That make us slaves, and tell us, 'tis our charter.
Jaf. Oh, Aquilina! Friend, to lose such beauty!
The dearest purchase of thy noble labours!
She was thy right by conquest, as by love.
Pier. Oh! Jaffier! I had so fixed my
That, wheresoe'er I framed a scheme of life,
For time to come, she was my only joy,
With which I wished to sweeten future cares':
I fancied pleasures; none but one, that loves
And doats as I did, can imagine like them :
When in the extremity of all these hopes,
In the most charming hour of expectation,
Then, when our eager wishes soared the highest,
Ready to stoop and grasp the lovely game,
A haggard owl, a worthless kite of prey,
With his foul wings, sailed in, and spoiled my
Pier. We have neither safety, unity, nor peace,
For the foundation's lost of common good;
Justice is lame, as well as blind, amongst us;
The laws (corrupted to their ends that make
Serve but for instruments of some new tyranny,
That every day starts up, to enslave us deeper.
Now, could this glorious cause but find out friends
To do it right, oh, Jaffer! then mightest thou
Not wear these seals of woe upon thy face;
The proud Priuli should be taught humanity,
And learn to value such a son as thou art.
I dare not speak, but my heart bleeds this mo
Jaf. Cursed be the cause, though I, thy friend,
be part on't!
Let me partake the troubles of thy bosom,
For I am used to misery, and perhaps
May find a way to sweeten it to thy spirit.
Pier. Too soon 'twill reach thy knowledge
Jaf. Then from thee
Let it proceed. There's virtue in thy friendship,
Would make the saddest tale of sorrow pleasing.
Strengthen my constancy, and welcome rain.
Pier. Then thou art ruined!
Jaf. That I long since knew;
I and ill fortune have been long acquainted
Pier. I passed this very moment by thy doors,
And found them guarded by a troop of villains:
The sons of public rapine were destroying.
They told me, by the sentence of the law,
They had commission to seize all thy fortune:
Nay, more, Priuli's cruel hand had signed it,
Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face,
Lording it o'er a pile of massy plate,
Tumbled into a heap for public sale;
There was another, making villainous jests
At thy undoing: he had taken possession
Of all thy ancient, most domestic, ornaments,
Rich hangings intermixed and wrought with gold;
The very bed, which on thy wedding-night
Received thee to the arms of Belvidera,
The scene of all thy joys, was violated
By the coarse hands of filthy dungeon villains,
And thrown amongst the common lumber.
Jaf. Now thank heaven-
Pier. Thank heaven! for what?
Jaf. That I am not worth a ducat.
Pier. Curse thy dull stars, and the worse fate of Venice,
Where brothers, friends, and fathers, are all false; Where there's no truth, no trust; where inno
Stoops under vile oppression, and vice lords it.
Hadst thou but seen, as I did, how at last
Thy beauteous Belvidera, like a wretch
That's doomed to banishment, came weeping
Shining through tears, like April suns in showers, That labour to o'ercome the cloud that loads them;
Whilst two young virgins, on whose arms she leaned,
Kindly looked up, and at her grief grew sad, As if they catched the sorrows, that fell from her; Even the lewd rabble, that were gathered round To see the sight, stood mute, when they beheld her, Governed their roaring throats, and grumbled pity;
I could have hugged the greasy rogues: they pleased me.
Jaf. I thank thee for this story, from my soul; Since now I know the worst, that can befal me. Ah, Pierre! I have a heart, that could have borne The roughest wrong, my fortune could have done
Whilst I have blood or fortune fit to serve thee: Command my heart! thou art every way its mas
Jaf. No, there's a secret pride in bravely dying. Pier. Rats die in holes and corners; dogs run mad:
Man knows a braver remedy for sorrow→→→ Revenge, the attribute of gods; they stamped it With their great image on our natures. Die! Consider well the cause, that calls upon thee: And, if thou art base enough, die then. Remember,
Thy Belvidera suffers; Belvidera!
Die-damn first-What! be decently interred
In a church-yard, and mingle thy brave dust
With stinking rogues, that rot in winding-sheets,
Surfeit-slain fools, the common dung of the soil!
Pier. Well said, out with it, swear a little
Jaf. Swear! by sea and air; by earth, by hea-
ven and hell,
I will revenge my Belvidera's tears.
Hark thee, my friend-Priuli-is-a senator.
Pier. A dog.
Pier. Shoot him.
Jaf. With all my heart.
No more; where shall we meet at night?
Pier. I'll tell thee;
On the Rialto, every night at twelve,
I take my evening's walk of meditation;
There we two will meet, and talk of precious
Bel. Lead me, lead me, my virgins, To that kind voice. My lord, my love, my refuge! Happy my eyes, when they behold thy face! My heavy heart will leave its doleful beating At sight of thee, and bound with sprightly joys. Oh smile! as when our loves were in the spring, And cheer my fainting soul.
Were in the spring! Has then our fortune changed?
Art thou not Belvidera, still the same,
Kind, good, and tender, as my arms first found
If thou art altered, where shall I have harbour? | Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty? Where ease my loaded heart? Oh! where complain?
Bel. Does this appear like change, or love de-
When thus I throw myself into thy bosom,
With all the resolution of strong truth!
Beats not my heart, as 'twould alarum thine
To a new charge of bliss?—I joy more in thee,
Than did thy mother, when she hugged thee first,
And blessed the Gods for all her travail past.
Jaf. Can there in woman be such glorious
Sure all ill stories of thy sex are false !
Oh woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee To temper man: we had been brutes without you!
Angels are painted fair to look like you:
There's in you all, that we believe of heaven;
Amazing brightness, purity and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.
Bel. If love be treasure, we'll be wondrous
I have so much, my heart will surely break with it:
Vows can't express it. When I would declare
How great my joys, I'm dumb with the big
I swell, and sigh, and labour with my longing.
O! lead me to some desert wide and wild,
Barren as our misfortunes, where my soul
May have its vent, where I may tell aloud
To the high heavens, and every list'ning planet,
With what a boundless stock my bosom's fraught;
Where I may throw my eager arms about thee,
Give loose to love, with kisses kindling joy;
And let off all the fire, that's in my heart.
Jaf. Oh, Belvidera! doubly I ain a beggar:
Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee.
Want, worldly want, that hungry meagre fiend,
Is at my heels, and chaces me in view.
Canst thou bear cold and hunger? Can these limbs,
Framed for the tender offices of love,
When banished by our miseries abroad
(As suddenly we shall be), to seek out
In some far climate, where our names are
For charitable succour; wilt thou then,
When in a bed of straw we shrink together,
And the bleak winds shall whistle round our
Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then
Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love?
Bel. Oh! I will love thee, even in madness
Though my distracted senses should forsake me,
I'd find some intervals, when my poor heart
Should 'swage itself, and be let loose to thine.
Though the bare earth be all our resting-place,
Its roots our food, some clift our habitation,
I'll make this arm a pillow for thy head;
And, as thou sighing liest, and swelled with
Creep to thy bosom, pour the balm of love
Into thy soul, and kiss thee to thy rest;
Then praise our God, and watch thee till the
Jaf. Hear this, you heavens! and wonder how you made her:
Reign, reign, ye monarchs, that divide the world;
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know
Tranquillity and happiness like mine!
Like gaudy ships the obsequious billows fall,
And rise again, to lift you in your pride;
They wait but for a storm, and then devour you;
1, in my private bark already wrecked,
Like a poor merchant driven to unknown land,
That had by chance packed up his choicest trea-
In one dear casket, and saved only that;
Since I must wander further on the shore,
Thus hug my little, but my precious store,
Resolved to scorn and trust my fate no more.
There's fool about thee. When a woman sells
Her flesh to fools, her beauty's lost to me;
They leave a taint, a sully-where they have
There's such a baneful quality about them,
E'en spoils complexions with their nauseousness;
They infect all they touch: I cannot think
Of tasting any thing a fool has palled.
Aqui. I loathe and scorn that fool thou mean'st, as much
Or more than thou canst; but the beast has gold,
That makes him necessary; power too,
To qualify my character, and poise me
Equal with peevish virtue, that beholds
My liberty with envy. In their hearts
They're loose as I am; but an ugly power
Sits in their faces, and frights pleasure from them.
Pier. Much good may it do you, madam, with
To foil himself at what he is unfit for;
Because I force myself to endure and suffer him,
Thinkest thou, I love him? No; by all the joys
Thou ever gavest me, his presence is my penance.
The worst thing an old man can be is a lover,
A mere memento mori to poor woman.
I never lay by his decrepid side,
But all that night I pondered on my grave.
Pier. Would he were well sent thither!
Aqui. That's my wish too:
For then, my Pierre, I might have cause, with
To play the hypocrite. Oh! how I could weep
Over the dying dotard, aud kiss him too,
In hopes to sinother him quite; then, when the
Was come to pay my sorrows at the funeral,
(For he has already made me heir to treasures
Would make me out-act a real widow's whining)
How could I frame my face to fit my mourning!
With wringing hands attend him to his
Fall swooning on his hearse; take mad possession
Even of the dismal vault, where he lay buried;
There, like the Ephesian matron, dwell, till thou,
My loveliest soldier, comest to my deliverance;
Then, throwing up my veil, with open arms
And laughing eyes, run to new-dawning joy.
Pier. No more: I've friends to meet me here
And must be private. As you prize my friend-
Keep up your coxcomb; let him not pry, nor lis
Nor frisk about the house, as I have seen him,
Like a tame mumping squirrel with a bell on;
Curs will be abroad to bite him, if you do.
Aqui. What, friends to meet! Mayn't I be of
Pier. How! a woman ask questions out of bed!
Go to your senator; ask him what passes
Amongst his brethren; he'll hide nothing from
But pump not me for politics. No more!
Give order, that whoever in my name
Comes here, receive admittance. So good-night.
Aqui. Must we ne'er meet again? embrace no
Is love so soon and utterly forgotten?
Pier. As you henceforward treat your fool,
I'll think on't.
Aqui. Cursed be all fools-I die, if he for-
And how to keep him, IIcaven or hell instruct
But entertained each other's thoughts like men,
Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world
Reformed, since our last meeting? What new
Jaf. I am here; and thus, the shades of night Have happened? Has Priuli's heart relented?
I look as if all hell were in my heart,
And I in hell. Nay surely 'tis so with me!
Jaf. Kind Heaven, let heavy curses
Gall his old age; cramps, aches, rack his bones,