Page images

Hor. Yet what thou couldest, thou didst, And didst it like a son; when his hard creditors, Urged and assisted by Lothario's father, (Foe to thy house, and rival of their greatness) By sentence of the cruel law forbid His venerable corpse to rest in earth, Thou gav'st thyself a ransom for his bones; With piety uncommon didst give up

Thy hopeful youth to slaves, who ne'er knew


Sour, unrelenting, money-loving villains,
Who laugh at human nature and forgiveness,
And are, like fiends, the factors of destruction.
Heaven, who beheld the pious act, approved it,
And bade Sciolto's bounty be its proxy,
To bless thy filial virtue with abundance.

Alt. But see, he comes, the author of my happiness,

The man who saved my life from deadly sorrow, Who bids my days be blest with peace and plenty, And satisfies my soul with love and beauty! Enter SCIOLTO; he runs to ALTAMONT, and embraces him.

Sci. Joy to thee, Altamont! Joy to myself! Joy to this happy morn that makes thee mine; That kindly grants what nature had denied me, And makes me father of a son like thee!

Alt. My father! Oh, let me unlade my breast,
Pour out the fulness of my soul before you;
Shew every tender, every grateful thought,
This wondrous goodness stirs. But it is impos-

And utterance all is vile; since I can only
Swear you reign here, but never tell how much.
Sci. It is enough; I know thee, thou art ho-

Goodness innate, and worth hereditary,
Are in thy mind; thy noble father's virtues
Spring freshly forth, and blossom in thy youth.
Alt. Thus Heaven from nothing raised his

faint creation,

And then, with wondrous joy, beheld its beauty, Well pleased to see the excellence he gave.

Sci. O, noble youth! I swear, since first I knew thee,

Even from that day of sorrows when I saw thee,
Adorned and lovely in thy filial tears,
The mourner and redeemer of thy father,
I set thee down, and sealed thee for my own:
Thou art my son, even near me as Calista.
Horatio and Lavinia too are mine;

[Embraces Horatio.
All are my children, and shall share my heart.
But wherefore waste we thus this happy day?
The laughing minutes summon thee to joy,
And with new pleasures court thee as they pass;
Thy waiting bride even chides thee for delaying,
And swears thou com'st not with a bridegroom's

Alt. Oh! could I hope there was one thought of Altamont,

One kind remembrance in Calista's breast,
The winds, with all their wings, would be too slow
To bear me to her feet. For oh, my father!
Amidst the stream of joy that bears me on,
Blest as I am, and honoured in your friendship,
There is one pain that hangs upon my heart.
Sci. What means my son ?

Alt. When at your intercession,
Last night, Calista yielded to my happiness,
Just ere we parted, as I sealed my vows
With rapture on her lips, I found her cold,
As a dead lover's statue on his tomb;
A rising storm of passion shook her breast,
Her eyes a piteous shower of tears let fall,
And then she sighed, as if her heart were break-

With all the tenderest eloquence of love,
I begged to be a sharer in her grief:
But she, with looks averse, and eyes that froze


Sadly replied, her sorrows were her own,
Nor in a father's power to dispose of.

Sci. Away! it is the cozenage of their sex ;
One of the common arts they practise on us :
To sigh and weep then when their hearts beat

With expectation of the coming joy.
Thou hast in camps and fighting fields been bred,
Unknowing in the subtleties of women.
The virgin bride, who swoons with deadly fear,
To see the end of all her wishes near,
When blushing, from the light and public eyes,
To the kind covert of the night she flies,
With equal fires to meet the bridegroom moves,
Melts in his arms, and with a loose she loves.

Enter LOTHARIO and ROSSANO. Loth. The father, and the husband! Ros. Let them pass.

They saw us not.

Loth. I care not if they did;


Ere long I mean to meet them face to face,
And gall them with my triumph o'er Calista.
Ros. You lov'd her once.

Loth. I liked her, would have married her,
But that it pleased her father to refuse me,
To make this honourable fool her husband:
For which, if I forget him, may the shame
I mean to brand his name with, stick on mine!
Ros. She, gentle soul, was kinder than her fa-

Loth. She was, and oft in private gave me hearing;

Till, by long listening to the soothing tale,
At length her easy heart was wholly mine.
Ros. I have heard you oft describe her, haugh-

ty, insolent,

And fierce with high disdain: it moves my wonder,

That virtue, thus defended, should be yielded
A prey to loose desires.

Loth. Hear then, I will tell thee: Once in a lone and secret hour of night, When every eye was closed, and the pale moon And stars alone shone conscious of the theft, Hot with the Tuscan grape, and high in blood, Haply I stole unheeded to her chamber. Ros. That minute sure was lucky. Loth. Oh, it was great!

I found the fond, believing, love-sick maid, Loose, unattired, warm, tender, full of wishes; Fierceness and pride, the guardians of her ho


Were charmed to rest, and love alone was waking.
Within her rising bosom all was calm,
As peaceful seas that know no storms, and only
Are gently lifted up and down by tides.
I snatched the glorious golden opportunity,
And with prevailing, youthful ardour pressed her,
'Till with short sighs, and murmuring reluctance,
The yielding fair one gave me perfect happiness.
Even all the live-long night we passed in bliss,
In ecstacies too fierce to last for ever;
At length the morn and cold indifference came;
When, fully sated with the luscious banquet,
I hastily took leave, and left the nymph
To think on what was past, and sigh alone.
Ros. You saw her soon again?
Loth. Too soon I saw her:

For, Oh! that meeting was not like the former: I found my heart beat high no more with transport,

No more I sighed, and languished for enjoyment; Twas past, and reason took her turn to reign, While every weakness fell before her throne. Ros. What of the lady?

Loth. With uneasy fondness

She hung upon me, wept, and sighed, and swore She was undone; talked of a priest, and marriage;

Of flying with me from her father's power;
Called every saint, and blessed angel down,
To witness for her that she was my wife.
I started at that name.

Ros. What answer made you?

Loth. None; but pretending sudden pain and illness,

Escaped the persecution. Two nights since,
By message urged and frequent importunity,
Again I saw her. Straight with tears and sighs,
With swelling breasts, with swooning, with dis-

With all the subtleties and powerful arts
Of wilful woman, labouring for her purpose,
Again she told the same dull nauseous tale.
Unmoved, I begged her spare the ungrateful sub-

Since I resolved, that love and peace of mind
Might flourish long inviolate betwixt us,
Never to load it with the marriage chain;
That I would still retain her in my heart,
My ever gentle mistress and my friend!

But for those other names of wife and husband,

They only meant ill-nature, cares, and quarrels.
Ros. How bore she this reply?
Loth. Even as the earth,

When, winds pent up, or eating fires beneath,
Shaking the mass, she labours with destruction.
At first her rage was dumb, and wanted words;
But when the storm found way, it was wild and

Mad as the priestess of the Delphic god,
Enthusiastic passion swelled her breast,
Enlarged her voice, and ruffled all her form.
Proud, and disdainful of the love I proffered,
She called me villain! monster! base betrayer!
At last, in very bitterness of soul,
With deadly imprecations on herself,
She vowed severely never to see me more;
Then bid me fly that minute: I obeyed,
And, bowing, left her to grow cool at leisure.
Ros. She has relented since, else why this

To meet the keeper of her secrets here
This morning?

Loth. See the person whom you named!


Well, my ambassadress, what must we treat of?
Come you to menace war, and proud defiance,
Or does the peaceful olive grace your message?
Is your fair mistress calmer! Does she soften?
And must we love again? Perhaps she ineans
To treat in juncture with her new ally,
And make her husband party to the agreement.
Luc. Is this well done, my lord! Have you
put off

All sense of human nature? Keep a little,
A little pity, to distinguish manhood,

Lest other men, though cruel, should disclaim


And judge you to be numbered with the brutes.
Loth. I see thou hast learned to rail.
Luc. I have learned to weep:
That lesson my sad mistress often gives me :
By day she seeks some melancholy shade,
To hide her sorrows from the prying world;
At night she watches all the long, long hours,
And listens to the winds and beating rain,
With sighs as loud, and tears that fall as fat;
Then, ever and anon, she wrings her hands,
And cries, false, false Lothario!

Loth. Oh, no more!

I swear thou wilt spoil thy pretty face with crying,

And thou hast beauty that may make thy fortune:
Some keeping cardinal shall doat upon thee,
And barter his church treasure for thy freshness.
Luc. What! shall I sell my innocence and

For wealth or titles, to perfidious man!
To man, who makes his mirth of our undoing!
The base, profest betrayer of our sex!
Let me grow old in all misfortunes else,
Rather than know the sorrows of Calista!
M m

Loth. Does she send thee to chide in her behalf?

I swear thou dost it with so good a grace, That I could almost love thee for thy frowning. Luc. Read there, my lord, there, in her own sad lines, [Giving a letter. Which best can tell the story of her woes, That grief of heart which your unkindness gives her.

[Loth. reads. Your cruelty-Obedience to my father-Give my hand to Altamont! By Heaven it is well! such ever be the gifts, With which I greet the man whom my soul hates. [Aside.

But to go on!

"Wish-heart-honour-too faithlessWeakness-to-morrow-last trouble-lost Calista.

Women, I see, can change as well as men.
She writes me here, forsaken as I am,

'fect obedience to my father, and to give my hand to Altamont, in spite of my weakness for 'the false Lothario. I could almost wish I had 'that heart, and that honour to bestow with it, ' which you have robbed me of: Damnation! to the rest― [Reads again. 'But, Oh! I fear, could I retrieve them, I should again be undone by the too faithless, yet too lovely Lothario. This is the last weakness of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

my pen, and to-morrow shall be the last in 'which I will indulge my eyes. Lucilla shall 'conduct you, if you are kind enough to let me see you; it shall be the last trouble you shall meet with from

'The lost CALISTA. The lost, indeed! for thou art gone as far As there can be perdition. Fire and sulphur ! Hell is the sole avenger of such crimes. Oh, that the ruin were but all thy own! Thou wilt even make thy father curse his age;

That I should bind my brows with mournful wil- At sight of this black scroll, the gentle Altamont


For she has given her hand to Altamont: Yet, tell the fair inconstant

Luc. How, my lord!

Loth. Nay, no more angry words: say to Calista,

The humblest of her slaves shall wait her plea


If she can leave her happy husband's arms,
To think upon so lost a thing as I am.

Luc. Alas! for pity, come with gentler looks; Wound not her heart with this unmanly triumph: And, though you love her not, yet swear you do,

So shall dissembling once be virtuous in you.
Loth. Ha! who comes here?

Luc. The bridegroom's friend, Horatio.
To-morrow early

He must not see me here.

Be at the garden gate.

Loth. Bear to my love

My kindest thoughts, and swear I will not fail


[Lothario putting up the letter hastily, drops it as he goes out. [Exeunt Lothario and Rossano one way, and Lucilla another.


Hor. Sure it is the very error of my eyes; Waking I dream, or I beheld Lothario; He seemed conferring with Calista's woman: At my approach they started, and retired. What business could he have here, and with her? I know he bears the noble Altamont Profest and deadly hate-What paper's this? [Taking up the letter. Ha! To Lothario!-'s death! Calista's name! [Opening it. Confusion and misfortunes! Reads it. Your cruelty has at length determined me, ' and I have resolved this morning to yield a per

(For, Oh! I know his heart is set upon thee)
Shall droop, and hang his discontented head,
Like merit scorned by insolent authority,
And never grace the public with his virtues.
Perhaps even now he gazes fondly on her,
And, thinking soul and body both alike,
Blesses the perfect workmanship of Heaven!
Then sighing, to his every care speaks peace,
And bids his heart be satisfied with happiness.
Oh, wretched husband! while she hangs about

With idle blandishments, and plays the fond one,
Even then her hot imagination wanders,
Contriving riot, and loose 'scapes of love;
And whilst she clasps thee close, makes thee a

What if I give this paper to her father?
It follows, that his justice dooms her dead,
And breaks his heart with sorrow! hard return
For all the good his hand has heaped on us!
Hold, let me take a moment's thought-
- Enter LAVINIA.

Lav. My lord!
Trust me, it joys my heart that I have found you.
Enquiring wherefore you had left the company,
Before my brother's nuptial rites were ended,
They told me you had felt some sudden illness.
Where are you sick? Is it your head? your heart?
Tell me, my love, and ease my anxious thoughts,
That I may take you gently in my arms,
Soothe you to rest, and soften all your pains.

Hor. It were unjust-No, let me spare my

Lock up the fatal secret in my breast,
Nor tell him that which will undo his quiet.
Lav. What means my lord?

Hor. Ha! saidst thou, my Lavinia ?

Lav. Alas! you know not what you make me


Why are you pale? Why did you start and tremble?

Whence is that sigh? and wherefore are your eyes | He thinks the priest has but half blessed his mar

Severely raised to Heaven! The sick man thus,
Acknowledging the summons of his fate,
Lifts up his feeble hands and eyes for mercy,
And, with confusion, thinks upon his exit.

Hor. Oh, no! thou hast mistook my sickness quite;

These pangs are of the soul. Would I had met
Sharpest convulsions, spotted pestilence,
Or any other deadly foe to life,

Rather than heave beneath this load of thought! Lav. Alas! what is it? Wherefore turn you from me?

Why did you falsely call me your Lavinia,
And swear I wss Horatio's better half,
Since now you mourn unkindly by yourself,
And rob me of my partnership of sadness?
Witness, ye holy powers, who know my truth,
There cannot be a chance in life so miserable,
Nothing so very hard, but I could bear it,
Much rather than my love should treat me coldly,
And use me like a stranger to his heart.

Hor. Seek not to know what I would hide from


But most from thee. I never knew a pleasure,
Ought that was joyful, fortunate, or good,
But straight I ran to bless thee with the tidings,
And laid up all my happiness with thee:
But wherefore, wherefore should I give thee pain?
Then spare me, I conjure thee; ask no further;
Allow my melancholy thoughts this privilege,
And let them brood in secret o'er their sorrows.
Lav. It is enough; chide not, and all is well!
Forgive me if I saw you sad, Horatio,
And ask to weep out part of your misfortunes:
I would not press to know what you forbid me.
Yet, my loved lord, yet you must grant me this,
Forget your cares for this one happy day;
Devote this day to mirth, and to your Altamont;
For his dear sake, let peace be in your looks.
Even now the jocund bridegroom waits your

[blocks in formation]

Simplicity from ill, pure native truth,
And candour of the mind, adorn thee ever;
But there are such, such false ones, in the world,
'Twould fill thy gentle soul with wild amazement,
To hear their story told.

Lav. False ones, my lord!

Hor. Fatally fair they are, and in their smiles The graces, little loves, and young desires, inhabit;

But all that gaze upon them are undone;
For they are false, luxurious in their appetites,
And all the Heaven they hope for, is variety:
One lover to another still succeeds,
Another, and another after that,

And the last fool is welcome as the former;
Till, having loved his hour out, he gives place,
And mingles with the herd that went before him.
Lav. Can there be such, and have they peace

of mind?

Have they, in all the series of their changing,
One happy hour? If women are such things,
How was I formed so different from my sex?
My little heart is satisfied with you;
You take up all her room, as in a cottage
Which harbours some benighted princely stranger,
Where the good man, proud of his hospitality,
Yields all his homely dwelling to his guests,
And hardly keeps a corner for himself.

Hor. Oh! were they all like thee, men would
adore them,

And all the business of their lives be loving;
The nuptial band should be the pledge of peace,
And all domestic cares and quarrels cease;
The world should learn to love by virtuous rules,
And marriage be no more the jest of fools.




Cal. BE dumb for ever, silent as the grave, Nor let thy fond officious love disturb My solemn sadness with the sound of joy! If thou wilt soothe me, tell me some dismal tale Of pining discontent, and black despair; For, oh! I've gone around through all my thoughts, But all are indignation, love, or shame, And my dear peace of mind is lost for ever! Luc. Why do you follow still that wandering fire,

That has misled your weary steps, and leaves you Benighted in a wilderness of woe,

That false Lothario? Turn from the deceiver;

Turn, and behold where gentle Altamont,
Kind as the softest virgin of our sex,
And faithful as the simple village swain,
That never knew the courtly vice of changing,
Sighs at your feet, and wooes you to be happy.

Cal. Away! I think not of him. My sad soul
Has formed a dismal melancholy scene,
Such a retreat as I would wish to find;
An unfrequented vale, o'ergrown with trees,
Mossy and old, within whose lonesome shade
Ravens, and birds ill-omened, only dwell
No sound to break the silence, but a brook
That, bubbling, winds among the weeds: no mark
Of any human shape that had been there,
Unless a skeleton of some poor wretch,
Who had long since, like me, by love undone,

Sought that sad place out, to despair and dié in! Luc. Alas, for pity!

Cal. There I fain would hide me


Alt. Begone, my cares, I give you to the winds,

From the base world, from malice, and from Far to be borne, far from the happy Altamont;


For 'tis the solemn counsel of my soul
Never to live with public loss of honour:
'Tis fixed to die, rather than bear the insolence
Of each affected she that tells my story,
And blesses her good stars that she is virtuous.
To be a tale for fools! Scorned by the women,
And pitied by the men! Oh, insupportable!
Luc. Can you perceive the manifest destruc-

The gaping gulf that opens just before you,
And yet rush on, though conscious of the danger?
Oh, hear me, hear your ever faithful creature!
By all the good I wish, by all the ill

My trembling heart forebodes, let me intreat you,
Never to see this faithless man again;
Let me forbid his coming.

Cal. On thy life

I charge thee no: my genius drives me on;
I must, I will behold him once again:
Perhaps it is the crisis of my fate,

And this one interview shall end my cares.
My labouring heart, that swells with indignation,
Heaves to discharge the burden; that once done,
The busy thing shall rest within its cell,
And never beat again.

Luc. Trust not to that:
Rage is the shortest passion of our souls!
Like narrow brooks, that rise with sudden showers,
It swells in baste, and falls again as soon;
Still, as it ebbs, the softer thoughts flow in,
And the deceiver Love supplies its place.

Cal. I have been wronged enough to arm my temper

Against the smooth delusion; but alas!

For from this sacred æra of my love,
A better order of succeeding days
Comes smiling forward, white and lucky all,
Calista is the mistress of the year;

She crowns the season with auspicious beauty,
And bids even all my hours be good and joyful.

Cal. If I were ever mistress of such happiness, Oh! wherefore did I play the unthrifty fool, And, wasting all on others, leave myself Without one thought of joy to give me comfort! Alt. Oh, mighty Love! Shall that fair face


This thy great festival with frowns and sadness!
I swear it shall not be, for I will woo thee
With sighs so moving, with so warm a transport,
That thou shalt catch the gentle flame from me,
And kindle into joy.

Cal. I tell thee, Altamont,

Such hearts as ours were never paired above:
Ill-suited to each other; joined, not matched;
Some sullen influence, a foe to both,
Has wrought this fatal marriage to undo us.
Mark but the frame and temper of our minds,
How very much we differ. Even this day,
That fills thee with such ecstacy and transport,
To me brings nothing that should make me
bless it,

Or think it better than the day before,
Or any other in the course of time,
That duly took its turn, and was forgotten.

Alt. If to behold thee as my pledge of happi


To know none fair, none excellent but thee: If still to love thee with unwearied constancy, Through every season, every change of life,

(Chide not my weakness, gentle maid, but pity Through wrinkled age, through sickness and mis


A woman's softness hangs about me still :
Then let me blush, and tell thee all my folly.
I swear I could not see the dear betrayer
Kneel at my feet, and sigh to be forgiven,
But my relenting heart would pardon all,
And quite forget 'twas he that had undone me.
Luc. Ye sacred powers, whose gracious provi-

Is watchful for our good, guard me from men, From their deceitful tongues, their vows, and flatteries!

Still let me pass neglected by their eyes,
Let my bloom wither, and my form decay,
That none may think it worth his while to ruin


And fatal love may never be my bane! [Exit.
Cal. Ha, Altamont! Calista, now be wary,
And guard thy soul's accesses with dissembling:
Nor let this hostile husband's eyes explore
The warring passions, and tumultuous thoughts,
That rage within thee, and deform thy reason.

[blocks in formation]

In which my father gave my hand to Altamont; As such, I will remember it for ever.

Enter SCIOLTO, HORATIO, and LAVINIA. Scio. Let mirth go on, let pleasure know no pause,

But fill up every minute of this day!
'Tis yours, my children, sacred to your loves;
The glorious sun himself for you looks gay;
He shines for Altamont and for Calista.
Let there be music; let the master touch
The sprightly string, and softly-breathing flute,
Till harmony rouse every gentle passion,
Teach the cold maid to loose her fears in love,
And the fierce youth to languish at her feet,
Begin: even age itself is cheared with music;
It wakes a glad remembrance of our youth,

« PreviousContinue »