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Enter BELMOUR and DUMONT.
Dum. You saw her, then?
Bel. I met her, as returning,
In solemn penance, from the public cross.
Before her, certain rascal officers,
Slaves in authority, the knaves of justice,
Proclaimed the tyrant Gloster's cruel orders.
On either side her marched an ill-looked priest,
Who, with severe, with horrid haggard eyes,
Did, ever and anon, by turns, upbraid her,
And thunder, in her trembling ear, damnation.
Around her, numberless, the rabble flowed,
Shouldering each other, crowding for a view,
Gaping and gazing, taunting and reviling.
Some pitying-But those, alas! how few!
The most-such iron hearts we are, and such
The base barbarity of human kind-
With insolence, and lewd reproach, pursued her,
Hooting and railing, and, with villanous hands
Gathering the filth from out the common ways,
To hurl upon her head.
Dum. Inhuman dogs!
How did she bear it?
Bel. With the gentiest patience;
Submissive, sad, and lowly, was her look;
A burning taper in her hand she bore,
And on her shoulders, carelessly confused,
With loose neglect, her lovely tresses hung;
Upon her cheek a faintish flush was spread;
Feeble she seemed, and sorely smit with pain,
While barefoot as she trod the flinty pavement,
Her footsteps all along were marked with blood.
Yet, silent still she passed, and unrepining;
Her streaming eyes bent ever on the earth,
Except, when in some bitter pang of sorrow,
To Heaven she seemed, in fervent zeal, to raise,
And beg that mercy man denied her here.
Dum. When was this piteous sight?
Bel. These last two days.
You know my care was wholly bent on you,
To find the happy means of your deliverance.
Which, but for Hastings' death, I had not gained.
During that time, although I have not seen her,
Yet divers trusty messengers I have sent,
To wait about, and watch a fit convenience
To give her some relief; but all in vain;
A churlish guard attend upon her steps,
Who menace those with death that bring her
And drive all succour from her.
Dum. Let them threaten;
Let proud oppression prove its fiercest malice;
So Heaven befriend my soul, as here I vow
To give her help, and share one fortune with her.
Bel. Mean you to see her, thus, in your own
Dum. I do.
Bel. And have you thought upon the consequence?
Dum. What is there I should fear?
Bel. Have you examined
Into your inmost heart, and tried at leisure
The several secret springs that move the passions?
Has mercy fixed her empire there so sure,
That wrath and vengeance never may return?
Can you resume a husband's name, and bid
That wakeful dragon, fierce resentment, sleep?
Dum. Why dost thou search so deep, and urge
To conjure up my wrongs to life again?
I have long laboured to forget myself,
To think on all time backward, like a space
Idle and void, where nothing e'er had being;
But thou hast peopled it again: Revenge
And jealousy renew their horrid forms,
Shoot all their fires, and drive me to distraction.
Bel. Far be the thought from me! My care
To arm you for the meeting: better were it
Never to see her, than to let that name
Recall forgotten rage, and make the husband
Destroy the generous pity of Duniont.
Dum. O thou hast set my busy brain at work,
And now she musters up a train of images,
Which, to preserve my peace, I had cast aside,
And sunk in deep oblivion-Oh, that form!
That angel face on which my dotage hung!
How have I gazed upon her, till my soul
With very eagerness went forth towards her,
And issued at my eyes-Was there a gem
Which the sun ripens in the Indian mine,
Or the rich bosom of the ocean yields;
What was there art could make, or wealth could
Which I have left unsought to deck her beauty?
What could her king do more?-And yet she fled.
Bel. Away with that sad fancy——————
Dum. Oh, that day!
The thought of it must live for ever with me.
I met her, Belmour, when the royal spoiler
Bore her in triumph from my widowed home!
Within his chariot, by his side she sat,
And listened to his talk with downward looks,
'Till sudden, as she chanced aside to glance,
Her eyes encountered mine-Oh! then, my friend!
Oh! who can paint my grief and her amaze-
As at the stroke of death, twice turned she pale,
And twice a burning crimson blushed all o'er her;
Then, with a shriek, heart-wounding, loud she
While down her cheeks two gushing torrents ran,
Fast falling on her hands, which thus she wrung-
Moved at her grief, the tyrant ravisher,
With courteous action, wcoed her oft to turn;
Earnest he seemed to plead, but all in vain;
Even to the last she bent her sight towards me, And followed me-till I had lost myself.
Bel. Alas! for pity! Oh! those speaking tears! Could they be false? Did she not suffer with you?
For though the king by force possessed her per
Her unconsenting heart dwelt still with you;
If all her former woes were not enough,
Look on her now; behold her where she wanders,
Hunted to death, distressed on every side,
With no one hand to help; and tell me then,
If ever misery were known like hers?
Dum. And can she bear it? Can that delicate
Endure the beating of a storm so rude?
Can she, for whom the various seasons changed,
To court her appetite and crown her board,
For whom the foreign vintages were pressed,
For whom the merchant spread his silken stores,
Entreat for bread, and want the needful raiment,
To wrap her shivering bosom from the weather?
When she was mine, no care came ever nigh her;
I thought the gentlest breeze, that wakes the
Too rough to breathe upon her; chearfulness
Danced all the day before her, and at night
Soft slumbers waited on her downy pillow-
Now sad and shelterless, perhaps, she lies,
Where piercing winds blow sharp, and the chill
Drops from some pent-house on her wretched
Drenches her locks, and kills her with the cold. It is too much—Hence with her past offences! They are atoned at full-Why stay we, then? Oh! let us haste, my friend, and find her out.
Bel. Somewhere about this quarter of the town, I hear the poor abandoned creature lingers: Her guard, though set with strictest watch to keep
All food and friendship from her, yet permit her To wander in the streets, there choose her bed, And rest her head on what cold stone she pleases. Dum. Here let us then divide; each in his round
To search her sorrows out; whose hap it is First to behold her, this way let him lead Her fainting steps, and meet we here together. [Exeunt. Enter JANE SHORE, her hair hanging loose on her shoulders, and bare-footed.
J. Sh. Yet, yet endure, nor murmur, oh, my
Do they not cover thee like rising floods,
And press thee like a weight of waters down?
Does not the hand of righteousness afflict thee?
And who shall plead against it? Who shall say
To power almighty, thou hast done enough;'
When this unfriendly door, that bars my passage,
Flew wide, and almost leaped from off its hinges,
To give me entrance here; when this good house
Has poured forth all its dwellers to receive me :
When my approaches made a little holiday,
And every face was dressed in smiles to meet me :
But now 'tis otherwise; and those, who blessed me,
Now curse me to my face. Why should I wan-
Stray further on, for I can die even here!
[She sits down at the door.
Enter ALICIA in disorder, two Servants follow-
Alic. What wretch art thou, whose misery and
Hang on my door; whose hateful whine of woe
Breaks in upon my sorrows, and distracts
My jarring senses with thy beggar's cry?
J. Sh. A very beggar, and a wretch, indeed;
One driven by strong calamity to seek
For succours here; one perishing for want,
Whose hunger has not tasted food these three
And humbly asks, for charity's dear sake,
A draught of water and a little bread.
Alic. And dost thou come to me, to me for bread?
I know thee not-Go-hunt for it abroad, Where wanton hands upon the earth have scattered it,
Or cast it on the waters-Mark the eagle,
And hungry vulture, when they wind the prey;
Watch where the ravens of the valley feed,
And seek thy food with them-I know thee not.
J. Sk. And yet there was a time, when my
Has thought unhappy Shore her dearest blessing,
And mourned the live-long day she passed with-
See his pale bloody head shoots glaring by me! Give me him back again, thou soft deluder, Thou beauteous witch!
J. Sh. Alas! I never wronged you-
Oh! then be good to me; have pity on me;
Thou never knewest the bitterness of want,
And may'st thou never know it. Oh! bestow
Some poor remain, the voiding of thy table,
A morsel to support my famished soul.
Alic. Avaunt! and come not near ine-
J. Sh. To thy hand
I trusted all; gave my whole store to thee,
Nor do I ask it back; allow me but
The smallest pittance! give me but to eat,
Lest I fall down, and perish here before thee.
Alic. Nay! tell not me! Where is thy king,
And all the smiling cringing train of courtiers,
That bent the knee before thee?
J. Sh. Oh! for mercy!
Alic. Mercy! I know it not-for I am miser-
I'll give thee misery, for here she dwells;
This is her house, where the sun never dawns;
The bird of night sits screaming o'er the roof,
Grim spectres sweep along the horrid gloom,
And nought is heard but wailings and lamentings.
Hark! something cracks above! it shakes, it
And see, the nodding ruin falls to crush me! 'Tis fallen, 'tis here! I felt it on my brain! 1 Ser. This sight disorders her— 2 Ser. Retire, dear lady— And leave this woman
Alic. Let her take my counsel: Why shouldst thou be a wretch! Stab, tear thy heart,
And rid thyself of this detested being!
I will not linger long behind thee here.
A waving flood of bluish fire swells o'er me→
And now 'tis out, and I am drowned in blood.
Ha! what art thou? thou horrid headless trunk-
It is my Hastings! see, he wafts me on!
Away! I go, I fly! I follow thee!
But come not thou, with mischief-making beauty,
To interpose between us! look not on him!
Give thy fond arts and thy delusions o'er,
For thou shalt never, never part us more.
[She runs off, her servants following. J. Sh. Alas! she raves; her brain, I fear, is turned.
mercy look upon her, gracious Heaven,
Nor visit her for any wrong to me.
Sure I am near upon my journey's end;
My head runs round, my eyes begin to fail,
And dancing shadows swim before my sight.
I can no more. [Lies down] Receive me, thou
Thou common parent, take me to thy bosom,
And let me rest with thee.
Is hasting to thy aid
J. Sh. Dumont! ha! where!
[Raising herself, and looking aghast. Then Heaven has heard my prayer; his very
Renews the springs of life, and cheers my soul.
Has he then escaped the snare?
He comes unlike to that Dumont you knew;
For now he wears your better angel's form,
And comes to visit you'with peace and pardon.
The minister of Heaven's inquiring justice.
Array thyself all terrible for judgment,
Wrath in thy eyes, and thunder in thy voice;
Pronounce my sentence, and if yet there be
A woe I have not felt, inflict it on me.
Sh. The measure of thy sorrows is compleat!
And I am come to snatch thee from injustice.
The hand of power no more shall crush thy
Nor proud oppression grind thy humble soul.
J. Sh. Art thou not risen by miracle from death?
Thy shroud is fallen from off thee, and the grave
J. Sh. Speak, tell me! Which is he? And ha! Was bid to give thee up, that thou mightst come what would
This dreadful vision! see it comes upon me
It is my husband--Ah!
Sh. She faints! support her!
Sustain her head, while I infuse this cordial
Into her dying lips-from spicy drugs,
Rich herbs and flowers, the potent juice is drawn;
With wondrous force it strikes the lazy spirits,
Drives thein around, and wakens life anew.
Bel. Her weakness could not bear the strong
see, she stirs! And the returning blood
Faintly begins to blush again, and kindle
Upon her ashy cheek-
Sh. So-gently raise her
J. Sh. Ha! What art thou? Belmour!
Bel. How fare you, lady?
J. Sh. My heart is thrilled with horror—
Bel. Be of courage-
Your husband lives! 'tis he, my worthiest friend—
J. Sh. Still art thou there! Still dost thou ho-
ver round me!
Oh, save me, Belmour, from his angry shade!
Bel. 'Tis he himself! he lives! look up-
J. Sh. I dare not!
Oh! that my eyes could shut him out for ever
Sh. Am I so hateful, then, so deadly to thee,
To blast thy eyes with horror? Since I'm grown
A burthen to the world, myself, and thee,
Would I had ne'er survived to see thee more!
J. Sh. Oh! thou most injured-dost thou live,
Fall then, ye mountains, on my guilty head;
Hide me, ye rocks, within your secret caverns;
Cast thy black veil upon my shame, O night!
And shield me with thy sable wings for ever.
Sh. Why dost thou turn away? Why tremble
Why thus indulge thy fears? and in despair,
Abandon thy distracted soul to horror?
Cast every black and guilty thought behind thee,
And let them never vex thy quiet more.
My arins, my heart, are open to receive thee,
To bring thee back to thy forsaken home,
With tender joy, with fond forgiving love,
And all the longings of my first desires.
The messenger of grace and goodness to me,
To seal my peace, and bless me e'er I go.
Oh! let me then fall down beneath thy feet,
And weep my gratitude for ever there;
Give me your drops, ye soft descending rains,
Give me your streams, ye never ceasing springs,
That my sad eyes may still supply my duty,
And feed an everlasting flood of sorrow.
Sh. Waste not thy feeble spirits-I have long
Beheld, unknown, thy mourning and repentance;
Therefore my heart has set aside the past,
And holds thee white, as unoffending innocence:
Therefore in spite of cruel Gloster's rage,
Soon as my friend had broke my prison doors,
I flew to thy assistance. Let us haste,
Now while occasion seems to sinile upon us,
Forsake this place of shame, and find a shelter.
J. Sh. What shall I say to you? But I obey-
Sh. Lean on my arm-
J. Sh. Alas! I'm wondrous faint:
But that's not strange; I have not eat these three days.
Sh. Oh, merciless! Look here, my love, I've brought thee
J. Sh. How can you be so good?
But you were ever thus. I well remember
With what fond care, what diligence of love,
You lavished out your wealth to buy me plea-
Preventing every wish; have you forgot
The costly string of pearl you brought me home,
And tied about my neck?- How could I leave
Sh. Taste some of this, or this
J. Sh. You are strangely altered—
Say, gentle Belmour, is he not? How pale
Your visage is become? Your eyes are hollow;
Nay, you are wrinkled too-Alas, the day!
My wretchedness has cost you many a tear,
And many a bitter pang, since last we parted.
Sh. No more of that- -Thou talkest, but
dost not eat.
J. Sh. My feeble jaws forget their common
My tasteless tongue cleaves to the clammy roof,
J. Sh. No, arm thy brow with vengeance, and And now a general loathing grows upon me.
Must she then die! Oh, my poor penitent! Speak peace to thy sad heart: she hears me not; Grief masters every sense-help me to hold her! Enter CATESBY, with a guard.
Cat. Seize on them both, as traitors to the state!
Bel. What means this violence?
[Guards lay hold on Shore and Belmour. Cat. Have we not found you,
In scorn of the protector's strict command,
Assisting this base woman, and abetting
Sh. Infamy on thy head!
Thou tool of power, thou pandar to authority!
I tell thee, knave, thou knowest of none so vir-
And she that bore thee was an Æthiop to her. Cat. You'll answer this at full-Away with them.
Sh. Is charity grown treason to your court? What honest man would live beneath such rulers! I am content that we should die together
Cat. Convey the men to prison; but for her, Leave her to hunt her fortune as she may. J. Sh. I will not part with him—for me!— for me!
Oh! must he die for me!
[Following him as he is carried off-She falls. Sh. Inhuman villains!
[Breaking from the guards. Stand off! The agonies of death are on herShe pulls, she gripes me hard with her cold hand. J. Sh. Was this blow wanting to compleat my ruin?
Oh! let him go, ye ministers of terror,
He shall offend no more, for I will die,
And yield obedience to your cruel master.
Tarry a little, but a little longer,
And take my last breath with you.
Sh. Oh, my love! Why have I lived to see this bitter moment, This grief, by far surpassing all my former? Why dost thou fix thy dying eyes upon me, With such an earnest, such a piteous look, As if thy heart were full of some sad meaning, Thou could'st not speak?J. Sh. Forgive me!- -but forgive me!
Sh. Be witness for me, ye celestial host,
Such mercy and such pardon as my soul
Accords to thee, and begs of Heaven to shew
May such befall me at my latest hour,
And make my portion blest or cursed for ever!
J. Sh. Then all is well, and I shall sleep in
'Tis very dark, and I have lost you nowWas there not something I would have bequeathed you?
But I have nothing left me to bestow, Nothing but one sad sigh. Oh! mercy, Heaven! [Dies.
Bel. There fled the soul,
And left her load of misery behind.
Sh. Oh, my heart's treasure! Is this pale sad visage
All that remains of thee? Are these dead eyes The light that cheered my soul? Oh, heavy hour! But I will fix my trembling lips to thine, 'Till I am cold and senseless quite, as thou art. What, must we part, then?-will you[To the guards taking him away. Fare thee wellNow execute your tyrant's will, and lead me [Kissing her. To bonds, or death, 'tis equally indifferent.
Bel. Let those, who view this sad example,
What fate attends the broken marriage vow; And teach their children, in succeeding times, No common vengeance waits upon these crimes, When such severe repentance could not save From want, from shaine, and an untimely grave. [Exeunt omnes.