The Fair Penitent
The Fair Penitent. A Tragedy.
By Nicholas Rowe, Esq.
Adapted for Theatrical Representation, as performed at the Theatres-Royal, Drury-Lane and Covent-Garden.
Regulated from the Prompt-Books. By Permission of the Managers.
"The Lines distinguished by inverted Commas, are omitted in the Representations."
LONDON; Printed for the Proprietors, under the Direction of John Bell, British Library, Strand, Bookseller to his Royal Highness the PRINCE of WALES.
Some pages missing here —Ed.
in short, every part of her character is just, and that DEDICATION she is the best reward for one of the greatest heroes this age has produced. This, Madam, is what you must allow people every where to say; those whom you shall leave behind you in England will have something further to add, the loss we shall suffer by your Grace's journey to Ireland; the Queen's pleasure, and the impatient wishes of that nation, are about to deprive us of our public ornaments. But there is no arguing against reasons so prevalent as these. Those who shall lament your Grace's absence, will yet acquiesce in the wisdom and justice of her Majesty's choice: among all whose royal favours, none could be so agreeable, upon a thousand accounts, to that people, as the Duke of Ormond. With what joy, what acclamations shall they meet a Governor, who, beside their former obligations to his family, has so lately ventured his life and fortune for their preservation! What duty, what submission shall they not pay to that authority which the Queen has delegated, to a person so dear to them? And with what honour, what respect, shall they receive your Grace, when they look upon you as the noblest and best pattern her Majesty could send them, of her own royal goodness, and personal virtues? They shall behold your Grace with the same pleasure the English shall take, whenever it shall be their good fortune to see you return again to your native country. In England, vi your Grace is become a public concern; and as your going away will be attended with a general sorrow, so your return shall give as general a joy; and to none of those many, more than to,
Madam, Your Grace's most obedient, and Most humble servant.
WAS the son of JOHN ROWE, Esq. Serjeant at Law —A place called Little Berkford, in Bedfordshire, had the honour of the birth of this Poet, in the year 1663.—A private seminary at Highgate gave him the rudiments of learning, and, that he might be perfect as a classic, he was sent to Westminster, under Busby.
His father, designing him for his own profession, entered him at 16 years of age a Student of the Middle Temple, but he was destined to rise alone in the Temple of the Muses—He had some law there is no doubt, but he had more poetry.
Business of a graver nature, however, he at a distant period accepted—he was Under-Secretary to the Duke of Queensberry, when that Nobleman was Secretary of State.
Under the reign of George I. he united two emoluments not often combined, for he became Poet Laureat and Land-Surveyor of the Customs—He viii was, further, Clerk of the Prince's Council, &c. but death frustrated the honours of Office, Dec. 6, 1718, in the 45th year of his age.
He sought the public approbation by various channels—He edited SHAKSPERE—he translated LUCAN, and he composed the following PLAYS.
|Fair Penitent||1703||Jane Shore||1713|
Two pages (ix, x) missing here —Ed.
Let no nice taste the poet's art arraign, xi
If some frail vicious characters be feign:
Who writes, should still let nature be his care,
Mix shades with lights, and not paint all things fair,
But shew you men and women as they are.
Witb def'rence to the fair, he bade me say,
Few to perfection ever found the way:
Many in many parts are known t' excel,
But 'twere too hard for one to act all well;
Whom justly life would through each scene commend,
The maid, the wife, the mistress and the friend:
This age, 'tis true, has one great instance seen,
And Heav'n, in justice, made that one a queen.
|Sciolto a nobleman of Genoa||Mr. Aickin.|
|Altamont, a young lord, in love with Calista||Mr. Barrymore.|
|Horatio, his friend||Mr. Benfley.|
|Lothario, a young lord and enemy to Altamont||Mr. Palmer.|
|Rossano, his friend||Mr. Williames.|
|Calista, daughter to Sciolto||Mrs. Siddons.|
|Lavinia, sister to Altamont, and wife to Horatio||Mrs. Ward.|
|Lucilla, confident to Calista||Miss Palmer.|
|Sciolto, a nobleman of Genoa||Mr. Aickin.|
|Altamont, a young lord, in love with Calista||Mr. Farren.|
|Horatio, his friend||Mr. Hurley.|
|Lothario, a young lord and enemy to Altamont||Mr. Holman.|
|Rossano, his friend||Mr. Evatt.|
|Calista, daughter to Sciolto||Miss Brunton.|
|Lavinia, sister to Altamont, and wife to Horatio||Miss Chapman.|
|Lucilla, confident to Calista||Miss Stuart.|
|Servants to Sciolto.|
Scene, Sciolto's palace and garden, with some part of the street near it, in Genoa.
THE FAIR PENITENT.
ACT I. SCENE I.
A garden belonging to SCIOLTO's palace. Enter ALTAMONT and HORATIO.
Let this auspicious day be ever sacred,
No mourning, no misfortunes happen on it:
Let it be mark'd for triumphs and rejoicings:
Let happy lovers ever make it holy,
Choose it to bless their hopes, and crown their wishes,
This happy day, that gives me my Calista.
HOR. Yes, Altamont; to-day thy better stars
Are join'd to shed their kindest influence on thee;
Sciolto's noble hand that rais'd thee first,
Half dead and drooping o'er thy father's grave,
Completes it's bounty, and restores thy name
To that high rank and lustre which it boasted,
Before ungrateful Genoa had forgot
The merit of thy god-like father's arms;
Before that country, which he long had serv'd
In watchful councils, and in winter-camps,
Had cast off his white age to want and wretchedness,
And made their court to faction by his ruin. 14
ALT. Oh, great Sciolto! Oh, my more than father!
Let me not live, but at thy very name 20
My eager heart springs up, and leaps with joy. f
When I forget the vast, vast debt I owe thee—
Forget! (but 'tis impossible) then let me
Forget the use and privilege of reason,
Be driv'n from the commerce of mankind,
To wander in the desert among brutes,
"To bear the various fury of the seasons,
"The night's unwholesome dew and noon-day's heat,"
To be the scorn of earth and curse of Heav'n!
HOR. So open, so unbounded was his goodness,
It reached ev'n me, because I was thy friend.
When that great man I lov'd, thy noble father,
Bequeath'd thy gentle sister to my arms,
His last clear pledge and legacy of friendship,
That happy tie made me Sciolto's son;
He call'd us his, and, with a parent's fondness,
Indulg'd us in his wealth, bless'd us with plenty,
Heal'd all our cares, and sweeten'd love itself.
ALT. By Heav'n he found my fortunes so abandoned,
That nothing but a miracle could raise 'em: 40
My father's bounty, and the state's ingratitude,
Had stripp'd him bare, nor left him ev'n a grave.
Undone myself and sinking with his ruin,
I had no wealth to bring, nothing to succour him,
But fruitless tears.
HOR. Yet what thou could'st, thou didst,
And did'st it like a son; when his hard creditors,
Urg'd and assisted by Lothario's father, 15
(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 ranson for his bones;
With piety uncommon didst give up
Thy hopeful youth to slaves who ne'er knew mercy,
Sour, unrelenting, money-loving villains,
Who laugh at human nature and forgiveness,
And are like fiends, the factors of destruction.
Heav'n, who beheld the pious act, approv'd it,
And bade Sciolto's bounty be its proxy,
To bless thy filial virtue with abundance. 60
ALT. But see he comes, the author of my happiness,
The man who sav'd 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 wond'rous goodness stirs. But 'tis impossible,
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 honest;
"Goodness innate, and worth hereditary 16
"Are in thy mind; thy noble father's virtues
"Spring freshly forth, and blossom in thy youth.
"ALT. Thus Heav'n from nothing rais'd his fair creation,
"And then, with wondrous joy, beheld its beauty,
"Well pleas'd to see the excellence he gave." 81
SCI. O, noble youth! I swear since first I knew thee,
Ev'n from that day of sorrows when I saw thee,
Adorn'd and lovely in thy filial tears,
The mourner and redeemer of thy father,
I set thee down, and seal'd thee for my own:
Thou art my son, ev'n near me as Calista.
Horatio and Lavinia too are mine; [Embraces HOR.
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 ev'n chides thee for delaying,
And swears thou com'st not with a bridegroom's haste.
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, 100
There is one pain that hangs upon my heart.
SCI. What means my son?
ALT. When at your intercession,
Two pages (17, 18) missing here —Ed.
Are gently lifted up and down by tides. 19
I snatch'd the glorious golden opportunity,
And with prevailing, youthful ardor press'd her,
'Till with short sighs, and murmuring reluctance,
The yielding fair one gave me perfect happiness.
Ev'n all the live-long night we pass'd 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 no more beat high with transport,
No more I sigh'd, 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? 180
LOTH. With uneasy fondness
She hung upon me, wept, and sigh'd, and swore
She was undone; talk'd of a priest, and marriage;
Of flying with me from her father's pow'r;
Call'd 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,
Escap'd the persecution. Two hights since,
By message urg'd and frequent importunity,
Again I saw her. Straight with tears and sighs,
With swelling breasts, with swooning, with distraction,
With all the subtleties and powerful arts
Of wilful woman lab'ring for her purpose,
Again she told the same dull nauseous tale.
Unmov'd, I begg'd her spare th' ungrateful subject,
Since I resolv'd, that love and peace of mind
Might flourish long inviolate betwixt us,
Never to load it with the marriage chain; 200
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. "Ev'n 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, 'twas wild and loud.
Mad as the priestess of the Delphic god,
Enthusiastic passion swell'd her breast,
Enlarged her voice, and ruffled all her form.
Proud and disdainful of the love I proffer'd,
She call'd me Villain! Monster! Base Betrayer!
At last, in very bitterness of soul,
With deadly imprecations on herself,
She vow'd severely ne'er to see me more;
Then bid me fly that minute: I obey'd,
And, bowing, left her to grow cool at leisure. 220
ROS. She has relented since, else why this message,
To meet the keeper of her secrets here
LOTH. See the person whom you nam'd!
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 means
To treat injuncture with her new ally,
And make her husband party to th' 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, tho' cruel, should disclaim you,
And judge you to be number'd with the brutes.
LOTH. I see thou'st learn'd to rail.
LUC. I've learnt to weep:
That lesson my sad mistress often gives me:
By day shee seeks some melancholy shade, 240
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 fast.
Then, ever and anon, she wrings her hands,
And cries, false, false Lothario!
LOTH. Oh, no more!
I swear thou'lt 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 youth,
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!
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. 260
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. [Lothario reads.
Your cruelty—Obedience to my father—Give my hand to Altamont.
By Heav'n 'tis well! such ever be the gifts
With which I greet the man whom my soul hates.
But to go on!
Weakness—to-morrow—last trouble—lost Calista.
Women, I see, can change as well as men.
She writes me here, forsaken as I am,
That I should bind my brows with mournful willow,
For she has giv'n 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 pleasure;
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: 280
Wound not her heart with this unmanly triumph;
And, tho' 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.
He must not see us here. To-morrow early
Be at the garden gate.
LOTH. Bear to my love
My kindest thoughts, and swear I will not fail her.
[Lothario putting up the letter hastily, drops it as he goes out.
[Exeunt Lothario and Rossano one way, Lucilla another.
HOR. Sure 'tis the very error of my eyes;
Waking I dream, or I beheld Lothario;
He seem'd conferring with Calista's woman:
At my approach they started, and retir'd.
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!—'Sdeath! Calista's name!
Confussion and misfortunes! [Reads.
Your cruelty has at length determined me, and I
have resolv'd this morning to yield a perfect 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 robb'd
Damnation to the rest— [Reads again.
But, Oh! I fear, could I retrieve 'em, I should again
be undone by the too faithless, yet too lovely Lothario.
This is the last weakness of 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;
At sight of this black scroll, the gentle Altamont
(For, Oh! I know his heart is set upon thee) 320
Shall droop, and hang his discontented head,
Like merit scorn'd 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 Heav'n;
"Then sighing, to his ev'ry care speaks peace,
"And bids his heart be satisfied with happiness.
"Oh, wretched husband! while she hangs about thee
"With idle blandishments, and plays the fond one,
"Ev'n then her hot imagination wanders,
"Contriving riot, and loose 'scapes of love;
"And while she clasps thee close, makes thee a monster."
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 heap'd on us!
Hold, let me take a moment's thought—
LAV. My lord!
Trust me, it joys my heart that I have found you.
Enquiring wherefore you had left the company, 341
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,
Sooth you to rest, and soften all your pains.
HOR. It were unjust—No, let me spare my friend,
Lock up the fatal secret in my breast,
Nor tell him that which will undo his quiet.
LAV. What means my lord?
HOR. Ha! said'st thou, my Lavinia?
LAV. Alas! you know not what you make me suffer.
Why are you pale? Why did you start and tremble?
Whence is that sigh? and wherefore are your eyes
Severely raised to Heav'n? 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. Wou'd I had met 361
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 was Horatio's better half,
"Since now you mourn unkindly by yourself,
"And rob me of my patnership of sadness?
"Witness, ye holy pow'rs, 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 all,
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?
Two pages (27, 28) missing here. Page 29 is into Act II. —Ed.
If thou wilt sooth me, tell 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 wand'ring 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 woes you to be happy.
CAL. Away! I think not of him. My sad soul
Has form'd a dismal melancholy scene,
Such a retreat as I would wish to find; 20
An unfrequented vale, o'ergrown with trees
Mossy and old, within whose lonesome shade
Ravens, and birds ill-omen'd 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 die in.
LUC. Alas, for pity!
CAL. There I fain would hide me
From the base world, from malice, and from shame;
For 'tis the solemn counsel of my soul
Never to live with public loss of honour:
'Tis fix'd 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! Scorn'd by the women,
And pity'd by the men! Oh, insupportable!
LUC. Can you perceive the manifest destruction,
The gaping gulf that opens just before you, 41
And yet rush on, tho' 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 lab'ring heart that swells with indignation,
Heaves to discharge the burthen; 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 show'rs,
It swells in haste, and falls again as soon; 60
Still as it ebbs the softer thoughts flow in,
And the deceiver Love supplies its place.
CAL. I have been wrong'd enough to arm my temper -
Against the smooth delusion; but alas!
(Chide not my weakness, gentle maid, but pity me)
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 pow'rs, whose gracious providence
"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 me,
"And fatal love may never be my bane." [Exit.
CAL. Ha, Altamont! Calista, now be wary,
And guard thy soul's accesses with dissembling: 80
Nor let this hostile husband's eyes explore
The warring passions, and tumultuous thoughts,
That rage within thee, and deform thy reason.
ALT. Begone, my cares, I give you to the winds,
Far to be borne, far from the happy Altamont;
"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 ev'n all my hours be good and joyful.
CAL. If I were ever mistress of such happiness,
Oh! wherefore did I play th' 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 profane
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, 100
And kindle into joy.
CAL. I tell thee, Altamont,
Such hearts as ours were never pair'd above:
Ill-suited to each other; join'd, not match'd;
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. Ev'n 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 happiness,
To know none fair, none excellent but thee;
If still to love thee with unwearied constancy,
"Through ev'ry season, ev'ry change of life,
"Thro' wrinkled age, thro' sickness and misfortune,"
Be worth the least return of grateful love,
Oh, then let my Calista bless this day, 120
And set it down for happy.
CAL. 'Tis the day
In which my father gave my hand to Altamont;
As such, I will remember it for ever.
Enter SCIOLTO, HORATIO, and LAVINIA.
SCI. Let mirth go on, let pleasure know no pause,
But fill up ev'ry 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 ev'ry gentle passion,
Teach the cold maid to lose her fears in love,
And the fierce youth to languish at her feet.
Begin: ev'n age itself is chear'd with music;
It wakes a glad remembrance of our youth.
Calls back past joys, and warms us into transport.
"BY MR. CONGREVE.
"Ah, stay! ah, turn! ah, whither would you fly,
"Too charming, too relentless maid?
"I fellow not to conquer, but to die; 140
"You of the fearful are afraid.
"In vain I call; for she, like fleeting air,
"When pressed by some tempestuous wind,
"Flies swifter from the voice of my despair,
"Nor casts one pitying look behind."
SCI. Take care my gates be open, bid all welcome;
All who rejoice with me to-day are friends;
Let each indulge his genius, each be glad,
Jocund and free, and swell the feast with mirth;
The sprightly bowl shall chearfully go round,
None shall be grave, nor too severely wise;
Losses and disappointments, cares and poverty,
The rich man's insolence, and great man's scorn,
In wine shall be forgotten all. To-morrow
Will be too soon to think, and to be wretched.
Oh, grant, ye pow'rs, that I may see these happy, [Pointing to ALT. and CAL.
Completely blest, and I have life enough;
And leave the rest indifferently to fate. [Exeunt.
HOR. What if, while all are here intent on revelling,
I privately went forth, and sought Lothario?
This letter may be forg'd; perhaps the wantonness
Of his vain youth, to stain a lady's fame;
Perhaps his malice to disturb my friend.
Oh, no! my heart forebodes it must be true.
Methought, ev'n now, I mark'd the starts of guilt
That shook her soul; tho' damn'd dissimulation
Screen'd her dark thoughts, and set to public view
A specious face of innocence and beauty.
"Oh, false appearance! What is all our sovereignty,
"Our boasted pow'r? When they oppose their arts,
"Still they prevail, and we are found their fools."
With such smooth looks, and many a gentle word,
The first fair she beguil'd her easy lord;
Too blind with love and beauty to beware,
He fell unthinking in the fatal snare;
Nor could believe that such a heav'nly face
Had bargained with the devil, to damn her wretched race. [Exit.
The Street near SCIOLTO's Palace. Enter LOTHARIO and ROSSANO.
LOTH. To tell thee then the purport of my thoughts;
The loss of this fond paper would not give me
A moment of disquiet, were it not 180
My instrument of vengeance on this Altamont;
Therefore I mean to wait some opportunity
Of speaking with the maid we saw this morning.
ROS. I wish you, Sir, to think upon the danger
Of being seen; to-day their friends are round 'em;
And any eye that lights by chance on you,
Shall put your life and safety to the hazard. [They confer aside.
HOR. Still I must doubt some mystery of mischief,
Some artifice beneath. Lothario's father!
I knew him well; he was sagacious, cunning,
Fluent in words, and bold in peaceful counsels,
But of a cold, inactive hand in war;
Yet, with these coward's virtues, he undid
My unsuspecting, valiant, honest friend.
This son, if fame mistakes not, is more hot,
More open and unartful—Ha! he's here! [Seeing him.
LOTH. Damnation! He again!—This second time
To-day he has cross'd me, like my evil genius.
HOR. I sought you, Sir.
LOTH. 'Tis well then I am found. 200
Hor. 'Tis well you are. The man who wrongs my friend
To the earth's utmost verge I would pursue.
No place, tho' e'er so holy should protect him;
No shape that artful fear e'er form'd should hide him,
'Till he fair answer made, and did me justice.
LOTH. Ha! dost thou know me, that I am Lothario?
As great a name as this proud city boasts of.
Who is this mighty man, then, this Horatio,
That I should basely hide me from his anger,
Lest he should chide me for his friend's displeasure?
HOR. The brave, 'tis true, do never shun the light;
Just are their thoughts, and open are their tempers,
Freely without disguise they love and hate,
Still they are found in the fair face of day,
And Heav'n and men are judges of their actions.
LOTH. Such let 'em be of mine; there's not a purpose
Which my soul e'er fram'd, or my hand acted,
But I could well have bid the world look on,
And what I once durst do, have dar'd to justify.
HOR. Where was this open boldness, this free spirit,
When but this very morning I surpriz'd thee, 221
In base, dishonest privacy, consulting
And bribing a poor mercenary wretch,
To sell her lady's secrets, stain her honour,
And, with a forg'd contrivance, blast her virtue?—
At sight of me thou fled'st.
LOTH. Ha! fled from thee?
HOR. Thou fled'st, and guilt was on thee, like a thief,
A pilferer, descry'd in some dark corner,
Who there had lodg'd, with mischievous intent,
To rob and ravage at the hour of rest,
And do a midnight murder on the sleepers.
LOTH. Slave! villain! [Offers to draw, ROSSANO holds him.
ROS. Hold, my lord! think where you are,
Think how unsafe and hurtful to your honour
It were to urge a quarrel in this place,
And shock the peaceful city with a broil.
LOTH. Then since thou dost provoke my vengeance, know
I would not, for this city's wealth, for all
Which the sea wafts to our Ligurian shore, 240
But that the joys I reap'd with that fond wanton,
The wife of Altamont, should be as public
As is the noon-day sun, air, earth, or water,
Or any common benefit of nature.
Think'st thou I meant the shame should be conceal'd?
Oh, no! by hell and vengeance, all I wanted
Was some fit messenger to bear the news
To the dull doating husband: now I have found him,
And thou art he.
HOR. I hold thee base enough
To break through law, and spurn at sacred order,
And do a brutal injury like this.
Yet mark me well, young lord; I think Calista
Too nice, too noble, and too great of soul,
To be the prey of such a thing as thou art.
'Twas base and poor, unworthy of a man,
To forge a scroll so villainous and loose,
And mark it with a noble lady's name:
These are the mean dishonest arts of cowards,
Strangers to manhood, and to glorious dangers; 260
Who, bred at home in idleness and riot,
Ransack for mistresses th' unwholesome stews,
And never know the worth of virtuous love.
LOTH. Think'st thou I forg'd the letter? Think so still,
'Till the broad shame come staring in thy face,
And boys shall hoot the cuckold as he passes.
HOR. Away! no woman could descend so low:
A skipping, dancing, worthless tribe you are;
Fit only for yourselves: you herd together;
And when the circling glass warms your vain hearts,
You talk of beauties that you never saw,
And fancy raptures that you never knew.
"Legends of saints who never yet had being,
"Or being, ne'er were saints, are not so false
"As the fond tales which you recount of love."
LOTH. But that I do not hold it worth my leisure;
I could produce such damning proof——
HOR. 'Tis false!
You blast the fair with lies, because they scorn you,
Hate you like age, like ugliness and impotence: 280
Rather than make you blest, they would die virgins,
And stop the propagation of mankind.
LOTH. It is the curse of fools to be secure,
And that be thine and Altamont's. Dream on;
Nor think upon my vengeance till thou feel'st it.
HOR. Hold, Sir; another word, and then farewel:
Tho' I think greatly of Calista's virtue,
And hold it far beyond thy pow'r to hurt;
Yet, as she shares the honour of my Altamont,
That treasure of a soldier, bought with blood,
And kept at life's expence, I must not have
(Mark me, young Sir) her very name profan'd.
Learn to restrain the licence of your speech;
'Tis held you are too lavish. When you are met
Among your set of fools, talk of your dress,
Of dice, of whores, of horses and yourselves;
'Tis safer, and becomes your understandings.
LOTH. What if we pass beyond this solemn order,
And, in defiance of the stern Horatio,
Indulge our gayer thoughts, let laughter loose, 300
And use his sacred friendship for our mirth?
HOR. 'Tis well, Sir, you are pleasant—
LOTH. By the joys
Which my soul yet has uncontrol'd pursu'd,
I would not turn aside from my least pleasure,
Tho' all thy force were arm'd to bar my way;
But like the birds, great Nature's happy commoners,
That haunt in woods, in meads, and flow'ry gardens,
Rifle the sweets and taste the choicest fruits,
Yet scorn to ask the lordly owner's leave.
HOR. What liberty has vain presumptuous youth,
That thou should'st dare provoke me unchastis'd?
But henceforth, boy, I warn thee, shun my walks.
If in the bounds of yon forbidden place
Again thou'rt found, expect a punishment,
Such as great souls, impatient of an injury,
Exact from those who wrong 'em much, ev'n death;
Or something worse: an injur'd husband's vengeance
Shall print a thousand wounds, tear thy fair form,
And scatter thee to all the winds of Heav'n. 320
LOTH. Is then my way in Genoa prescrib'd,
By a dependent on the wretched Altamont,
A talking Sir, that brawls for him in taverns,
And vouches for his valour's reputation?
HOR. Away! thy speech is fouler than thy manners.
LOTH. Or, if there be a name more vile, his parasite;
A beggar's parasite!
HOR. Now learn humanity, [Offers to strike him, ROSSANO interposes.
Since brutes and boys are only taught with blows.
LOTH. Damnation! [They draw.
ROS. Hold, this goes no further here.
Horatio, 'tis too much; already see
The crowd are gath'ring to us.
LOTH. Oh, Rossano!
Or give me way, or thou'rt no more my friend.
ROS. Sciolto's servants, too, have ta'en th' alarm; 41
You'll be oppressed by numbers. Be advis'd,
Or I must force you hence. Tak't on my word
You shall have justice done you on Horatio.
Put up, my lord. 340
LOTH. This wo'not brook delay;
West of the town a mile, among the rocks,
Two hours ere noon, to-morrow, I expect thee,
Thy single hand to mine.
HOR. I'll meet thee there.
LOTH. To-morrow, Oh, my better stars! to-morrow
Exert your influence; shine strongly for me;
'Tis not a common conquest I would gain,
Since love as well as arms, must grace my triumph. [Exeunt LOTHARIO and ROSSANO.
HOR. Two hours ere noon to-morrow! ha! ere that
He sees Calista! Oh, unthinking fool——
What if I urg'd her with the crime and danger?
If any spark from Heav'n remain unquench'd
Within her breast, my breath perhaps may wake it.
Could I but prosper there, I would not doubt
My combat with that loud vain-glorious boaster.
Were you, ye fair, but cautious whom ye trust,
Did you but think how seldom fools are just,
So many of your sex would not in vain
Of broken vows, and faithless men, complain: 360
Of all the various wretches love has made,
How few have been by men of sense betray'd?
Convinc'd by reason, they your pow'r confess,
Pleas'd to be happy, as you're pleas'd to bless, 42
And conscious of your worth can never love you less. [Exit.
ACT III. SCENE I.
An apartment in SCIOLTO's Palace. Enter SCIOLTO and CALISTA.
SCIOLTO. Now, by my life, my honour, 'tis too much!
Have I not mark'd thee, wayward as thou art,
Perverse and sullen all this day of joy?
When ev'ry heart was cheer'd, and mirth went round,
Sorrow, displeasure, and repining anguish,
Sat on thy brow; "like some malignant planet,
"Foe to the harvest and the healthy year,
"Who scowls adverse, and lours upon the world;
"When all the other stars, with gentle aspect,
"Propitious shine, and meaning good to man."
CAL. Is then the task of duty half perform'd?
Has not your daughter giv'n herself to Altamont,
Yielded the native freedom of her will
To an imperious husband's lordly rule,
To gratify a father's stern command?
SCI. Dost thou complain?
CAL. For pity do not frown then,
If in despite of all my vow'd obedience,
A sigh breaks out, or a tear falls by chance:
For, Oh! that sorrow which has drawn your anger, 43
Is the sad native of Calista's breast:
"And once possessed, will never quit its dwelling,
"Till life, the prop of all, shall leave the building,
"To tumble down, and moulder into ruin.
SCI. Now by the sacred dust of that dear saint
That was thy mother; "by her wond'rous goodness,
"Her soft, her tender, most complying sweetness,"
I swear, some sullen thought that shuns the light,
Lurks underneath that sadness in thy visage.
But mark me well, tho' by yon Heav'n I love thee
As much, I think, as a fond parent can;
Yet should't thou, (which the pow'rs above forbid)
E'er stain the honour of thy name with infamy,
I'll cast thee off, as one whose impious hands
Had rent asunder nature's nearest ties,
Which, once divided, never join again.
To-day I've made a noble youth thy husband!
Consider well his worth; reward his love;
Be willing to be happy, and thou art so. [Exit SCIOLTO.
CAL. How hard is the condition of our sex,
Thro' ev'ry state of life the slaves of man!
In all the dear delightful days of youth
A rigid father dictates to our wills,
And deals out pleasure with a scanty hand.
To his, the tyrant husband's reign succeeds;
Proud with opinion of superior reason,
He holds domestic bus'ness and devotion
All we are capable to know, and shut us, 44
Like cloistered ideots, from the world's acquaintance,
And all the joys of freedom. Wherefore are we
Born with high souls, but to assert ourselves,
Shake off this vile obedience they exact,
And claim an equal empire o'er the world?
HOR. She's here! yet, Oh! my tongue is at a loss.
Teach me, some pow'r, that happy art of speech,
To dress my purpose up in gracious words;
Such as may softly steal upon her soul,
And never waken the tempestuous passions.
By heav'n she weeps!—Forgive me, fair Calista,
If I presume on privilege of friendship, 60
To join my grief to yours, and mourn the evils
That hurt your peace, and quench those eyes in tears.
CAL. To steal, unlook'd for, on my private sorrow,
Speaks not the man of honour, nor the friend,
But rather means the spy.
HOR. Unkindly said!
For, Oh! as sure as you accuse me falsely,
I come to prove myself Calista's friend.
CAL. You are my husband's friend, the friend of Altamont!
HOR. Are you not one? Are you not join'd by Heaven,
Each interwoven with the other's fate?
Are you not mixt like streams of meeting rivers,
Whose blended waters are no more distinguished,
But roll into the sea, one common flood? 45
Then who can give his friendship but to one?
Who can be Altamont's and not Calista's?
CAL. Force, and the wills of our imperious rulers,
May bind two bodies in one wretched chain;
But minds will still look back to their own choice,
"So the poor captive in a foreign realm, 80
"Stands on the shore, and sends his wishes back
"To the dear native land from whence he came."
HOR. When souls that should agree to will the same,
To have one common object for their wishes,
Look different ways, regardless of each other,
Think what a train of wretchedness ensues:
Love shall be banish'd from the genial bed,
The night shall all be lonely and unquiet,
And ev'ry day shall be a day of cares.
CAL. Then all the boasted office of thy friendship,
Was but to tell Calista what a wretch she is.
Alas! what needed that.
HOR. Oh! rather say,
I came to tell her how she might be happy;
To sooth the secret anguish of her soul;
To comfort that fair mourner, that forlorn one,
And teach her steps to know the paths of peace.
CAL. Say thou, to whom this paradise is known,
Where lies the blissful region? Mark my way to it,
For, Oh! 'tis sure I long to be at rest. 100
HOR. Then—to be good is to be happy—Angels
Are happier than mankind, because they're better.
Guilt is the source of sorrow! 'tis the fiend, 46
Th' avenging fiend that follows us behind
With whips and stings. The blest know none of this,
But rest in everlasting peace of mind,
And find the height of all their heav'n is goodness.
CAL. And what bold parasite's officious tongue
Shall dare to tax Calista's name with guilt?
HOR. None should; but 'tis a busy, talking world,
That with licentious breath blows like the wind,
As freely on the palace as the cottage.
CAL. What mystic riddle lurks beneath thy words,
Which them would'st seem unwilling to express,
As if it meant dishonour to my virtue?
Away with this ambiguous shuffling phrase,
And let thy oracle be understood.
CAL. Ha! what would'st thou mean by him?
HOR. Lothario and Calista! thus they join 120
Two names, which Heav'n decreed should never meet.
Hence have the talkers of this populous city
A shameful tale to tell, for public sport,
Of an unhappy beauty, a false fair one,
Who plighted to a noble youth her faith,
When she had giv'n her honour to a wretch.
CAL. Death and confusion! Have I liv'd to this?
Thus to be treated with unmanly insolence!
To be the sport of a loose ruffian's tongue!
Thus to be us'd! thus! like the vilest creature,
That ever was a slave to vice and infamy.
HOR. By honour and fair truth, you wrong me much; 47
For, on my soul, nothing but strong necessity
Could urge my tongue to this ungrateful office.
I came with strong reluctance, as if death
Had stood across my way, to save your honour,
Your's and Sciolto's, your's and Altamont's;
Like one who ventures through a burning pile;
To save his tender wife with all her brood
Of little fondlings, from the dreadful ruin. 140
CAL. Is this the famous friend of Altamont,
For noble worth and deeds of arms renown'd?
Is this the tale-bearing officious fellow,
That watches for intelligence from eyes;
This wretched Argus of a jealous husband,
That fills his easy ears with monstrous tales,
And makes him toss, and rave, and wreak at length
Bloody revenge on his defenceless wife,
Who guiltless dies, because her fool ran mad?
HOR. Alas! this rage is vain; for if your fame
Or peace be worth your care, you must be calm,
And listen to the means are left to save 'em.
'Tis now the lucky minute of your fate.
By me your genius speaks, by me it warns you,
Never to see that curst Lothario more;
Unless you mean to be despis'd, be shunn'd
By all our virtuous maids and noble matrons;
Unless you have devoted this rare beauty
To infamy, diseases, prostitution——
CAL. Dishonour blast thee, base, unmanner'd slave!
That dar'st forget my birth, and sacred sex, 161
And shock me with the rude, unhallow'd sound! 48
HOR. Here kneel, and in the awful face of Heav'n
Breathe out a solemn vow, never to see,
Nor think, if possible, on him that ruin'd thee;
Or, by my Altamont's dear life, I swear,
This paper; nay, you must not fly—This paper, [Holding her.
This guilty paper shall divulge your shame—
CAL. What mean'st thou by that paper? What contrivance
Hast thou been forging to deceive my father;
To turn his heart against his wretched daughter,
That Altamont and thou may share his wealth?
A wrong like this will make me ev'n forget
The weakness of my sex.—Oh, for a sword,
To urge my vengeance on the villain's hand
That forg'd the scroll!
HOR. Behold! Can this be forg'd?
See where Calista's name— [Shewing the letter near.
CAL. To atoms thus [Tearing it.
Thus let me tear the vile, detested falshood, 180
The wicked, lying evidence of shame.
CAL. Henceforth, thou officious fool,
Meddle no more, nor dare, ev'n on thy life,
To breathe an accent that may touch my virtue.
I am myself the guardian of my honour,
And will not bear so insolent a monitor.
ALT. Where is my life, my love, my charming bride,
Joy of my heart, and pleasure of my eyes.
"The wish, and care, and business of my youth?
"Oh, let me find her, snatch her to my breast,
"And tell her she delays my bliss too long,
"Till my soft soul ev'n sickens with desire."
Disordered!—and in tears!—Horatio too!
My friend is in amaze—What can it mean?
Tell me, Calista, who has done thee wrong,
That my swift sword may find out the offender,
And do thee ample justice.
CAL. Turn to him.
ALT. Horatio! 200
CAL. To that insolent.
ALT. My friend!
Could he do this? He, who was half myself?
"One faith has ever bound us, and one reason
"Guided our wills. Have I not found him just,
"Honest as truth itself? And" could he break
The sanctity of friendship? Could he wound
The heart of Altamont in his Calista?
CAL. I thought what justice I should find from thee!
Go fawn upon him, listen to his tale,
Applaud his malice, that would blast my fame,
And treat me like a common prostitute.
Thou art, perhaps, confederate in his mischief,
And wilt believe the legend, if he tells it.
ALT. Oh, impious! what presumptuous wretch shall dare 50
To offer at an injury like that?
Priesthood, nor age, nor cowardice itself,
Shall save him from the fury of my vengeance.
CAL. The man who dar'd to do it was Horatio;
Thy darling friend; 'twas Altamont's Horatio. 220
But mark me well; while thy divided heart,
Doats on a villain that has wrong'd me thus,
No force shall drag me to thy hated bed.
Nor can my cruel father's pow'r do more
Than shut me in a cloister: there, well pleas'd,
Religious hardships will I learn to bear,
To fast and freeze at midnight hours of pray'r:
Nor think it hard, within a lonely cell,
With melancholy speechless saints to dwell;
But bless the day I to that refuge ran.
Free from the marriage chain, and from that tyrant, man. [Exit CALISTA.
ALT. She's gone; and as she went, ten thousand fires
Shot from her angry eyes; as if she meant
Too well to keep the cruel vow she made.
Now, as thou art a man, Horatio, tell me,
What means this wild confusion in thy looks;
As if thou wert at variance with thyself,
Madness and reason combating within thee,
And thou wert doubtful which should get the better?
HOR. I would be dumb for ever; but thy fate 240
Has otherwise decreed it. Thou hast seen
That idol of thy soul, that fair Calista,
Thou hast beheld her tears. 51
ALT. I have seen her weep;
I have seen that lovely one, that dear Calista,
Complaining in the bitterness of sorrow,
That thou, my friend, Horatio, thou hast wrong'd her.
HOR. That I have wrong'd her! had her eyes been fed
From that rich stream which warms her heart, and number'd
For ev'ry falling tear a drop of blood,
It had not been too much; for she has ruin'd thee,
Ev'n thee, my Altamont. She has undone thee.
ALT. Dost thou join ruin with Calista's name?
What is so fair, so exquisitely good?
Is she not more than painting can express,
Or youthful poets fancy when they love?
"Does she not come, like wisdom, or good fortune,
"Replete with blessings, giving wealth and honour?
"The dowry which she brings is peace and pleasure,
"And everlasting joys are in her arms." 260
HOR. It had been better thou had'st liv'd a beggar,
And fed on scraps at great men's surly doors,
Than to have match'd with one so false, so fatal.—
ALT. It is too much for friendship to allow thee.
Because I tamely bore the wrong thou didst her,
Thou dost avow the barb'rous, brutal part,
And urge the injury ev'n to my face.
HOR. I see she has got possession of thy heart;
She has charm'd thee, like a syren, to her bed,
With looks of love, and with enchanting sounds:
Too late the rocks and quicksands will appear, 52
When thou art wreck'd upon the faithless shore,
Then vainly wish thou had'st not left thy friend,
To follow her delusion.
ALT. If thy friendship
Do churlishly deny my love a room,
It is not worth my keeping; I disclaim it.
HOR. Canst thou so soon forget what I've been to thee?
I shar'd the task of nature with thy father,
And form'd with care thy unexperienced youth 280
To virtue and to arms.
Thy noble father, Oh, thou light young man!
Wou'd he have us'd me thus? One fortune fed us;
For his was ever mine, mine his, and both
Together flourish'd, and together fell.
He call'd me friend, like thee: wou'd he have left me
Thus, for a woman, and a vile one, too?
ALT. Thou canst not, dar'st not mean it! Speak again,
Say, who is vile; but dare not name Calista.
HOR. I had not spoke at first, unless compell'd,
And forc'd to clear myself; but since thus urg'd,
I must avow, I do not know a viler.
ALT. Thou wert my father's friend; he lov'd thee well;
"A kind of venerable mark of him
"Hangs round thee, and protects thee from my vengeance."
I cannot, dare not lift my sword against thee,
But henceforth never let me see thee more. [Going out.
HOR. I love thee still, ungrateful as thou art,
And must and will preserve thee from dishonour,
Ev'n in despite of thee. [Holds him.
ALT. Let go my arm. 301
HOR. If honour be thy care, if thou would'st live
Without the name of credulous, wittol husband,
Avoid thy bride, shun her detested bed,
The joys it yields are dash'd with poison—
To urge me but a minute more is fatal.
HOR. She is polluted, stain'd—
ALT. Madness and raging!
HOR. Dishonoured by the man you hate—
ALT. I pr'ythee loose me yet, for thy own sake,
If life be worth the keeping—
HOR. By Lothario.
ALT. Perdition take thee, villain, for the falsehood! [Strikes him.
Now, nothing but thy life can make atonement.
HOR. A blow! thou hast us'd me well— [Draws.
ALT. This to thy heart——
HOR. Yet hold—By Heav'n his father's in his face!
Spite of my wrongs, my heart runs o'er with tenderness, 321
And I could rather die myself than hurt him.
ALT. Defend thyself; for by my much wrong'd love,
I swear, the poor evasion shall not save thee.
HOR. Yet hold—"thou know'st I dare—think how we've liv'd— [They fight; ALTAMONT presses on HORATIO, who retires.
"Nay then, 'tis brutal violence; and thus,
"Thus Nature bids me guard the life she gave. [They fight.
LAVINIA enters, and runs between their swords.
LAV. My brother, my Horatio! Is it possible!
Oh, turn your cruel swords upon Lavinia.
If you must quench your impious rage in blood,
Behold, my heart shall give you all her store,
To save those dearer streams that flow from yours.
ALT. 'Tis well thou hast found a safe-guard; none but thus,
No pow'r on earth could save thee from my fury.
"LAV. O fatal, deadly sound!"
HOR. Safety from thee!
Away, vain boy! Hast thou forgot the rev'rence
Due to my arm, thy first, thy great example,
Which pointed out thy way to noble daring,
And shew'd thee what it was to be a man?
LAV. What busy, meddling fiend, what foe to goodness, 340
Could kindle such a discord? "Oh, lay by
"Those most ungentle looks, and angry weapons,
"Unless you mean my griefs and killing fears
"Should stretch me out at your relentless feet,
"A wretched corse, the victim of your fury,"
HOR. Ask'st thou what made us foes? 'Twas base ingratitude, 55
'Twas such a sin to friendship, as Heav'n's mercy,
That strives with man's untoward, monstrous wickedness,
Unwearied with forgiving, scarce could pardon.
He who was all to me, child, brother, friend,
With barb'rous, bloody malice, sought my life.
ALT. Thou art my sister, and I would not make thee
The lonely mourner of a widow'd bed;
Therefore, thy husband's life is safe: but warn him,
No more to know this hospitable roof.
He has but ill repaid Sciolto's bounty.
We must not meet; 'tis dangerous. Farewel. [He is going out, LAVINIA holds him.
LAV. Stay, Altamont, my brother, stay; "if ever
"Nature, or what is nearer much than nature,
"The kind consent of our agreeing minds, 360
"Have made us dear to one another, stay,
"And speak one gentle word to your Horatio.
"Behold, his anger melts, he longs to love you,
"To call you friend, then press you hard, with all
"The tender, speechless joy of reconcilement."
ALT. It cannot, shall not be—you must not hold me.
LAV. Look kindly, then.
ALT. Each minute that I stay,
Is a new injury to fair Calista.
From thy false friendship, to her arms I'll fly;
"There, if in any pause of love I rest,
"Breathless with bliss, upon her panting breast,
"In broken, melting accents, I will swear, 56
"Henceforth to trust my heart with none but her;"
Then own, the joys which on her charms attend,
Have more than paid me for my faithless friend. [ALTAMONT breaks from LAVINIA, and exit.
HOR. Oh, raise thee, my Lavinia, from the earth.
It is too much; this tide of flowing grief,
This wond'rous waste of tears, too much to give
To an ungrateful friend, and cruel brother. 380
LAV. Is there not cause for weeping? Oh, Horatio!
A brother and a husband were my treasure,
'Twas all the little wealth that poor Lavinia
Sav'd from the shipwreck of her father's fortunes.
One half is lost already. If thou leav'st me;
If thou should'st prove unkind to me, as Altamont,
Whom shall I find to pity my distress,
To have compassion on a helpless wanderer,
And give her where to lay her wretched head?
HOR. Why dost thou wound me with thy soft complainings?
Tho' Altamont be false, and use me hardly,
Yet think not I impute his crimes to thee.
Talk not of being forsaken; for I'll keep thee
Next to my heart, my certain pledge of happiness.
"Heav'n form'd thee gentle, fair, and full of goodness,
"And made thee all my portion here on earth:
"It gave thee to me, as a large amends
"For fortune, friends, and all the world beside."
LAV. Then you will love me still, cherish me ever,
And hide me from misfortune in your bosom. 400
"Here end my cares, nor will I lose one thought, 57
"How we shall live, or purchase food and raiment.
"The holy Pow'r, who cloaths the senseless earth,
"With woods, with fruits, with flow'rs, and verdant grass,
"Whose bounteous hand feeds the whole brute creation,
"Knows all our wants, and has enough to give us."
HOR. From Genoa, from falshood and inconstancy,
To some more honest, distant clime we'll go.
Nor will I be beholden to my country,
For aught but thee, the partner of my flight.
"LAV. Yes, I will follow thee; forsake, for thee,
"My country, brother, friends, ev'n all I have.
"Tho' mine's a little all; yet were it more,
"And better far, it should be left for thee,
"And all that I would keep, should be Horatio.
"So, when a merchant sees his vessel lost,
"Tho' richly freighted from a foreign coast,
"Gladly, for life, the treasure he would give;
"And only wishes to escape, and live:
"Gold, and his gains, no more employ his mind;
"But, driving o'er the billows with the wind, 421
"Cleaves to one faithful plank, and leaves the rest behind. [Exeunt.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
A Garden. Enter ALTAMONT. 58
ALTAMONT. "With what unequal tempers are we form'd?
"One day the soul, supine with ease and fulness,
"Revels secure, and fondly tells herself
"The hour of evil can return no more;
"The next, the spirits, pall'd and sick of riot,
"Turn all to discord, and we hate our beings,
"Curse the past joy, and think it folly all,
"And bitterness and anguish. Oh, last night!
"What has ungrateful beauty paid me back,
"For all the mass of friendship which I squander'd?
"Coldness, aversion, tears, and sullen sorrow,
"Dash'd all my bliss, and damp'd my bridal bed.
"Soon as the morning dawn'd, she vanish'd from me,
"Relentless to the gentle call of love.
"I've lost a friend, and I have gain'd—a wife!
"Turn not to thought, my brain; but let me find
"Some unfrequented shade; there lay me down,
"And let forgetful dulness steal upon me,
"To soften and assuage this pain of thinking." [Exit.
LOTHARIO and CALISTA discovered.
LOTH. Weep not, my fair; but let the God of Love
Laugh in thy eyes, and revel in thy heart,
Kindle again his torch, and hold it high, 59
To light us to new joys. Nor let a thought
Of discord, or disquiet past, molest thee;
But to a long oblivion give thy cares,
And let us melt the present hour in bliss.
CAL. Seek not to sooth me with thy false endearments,
To charm me with thy softness: 'tis in vain:
Thou can'st no more betray, nor I be ruin'd.
The hours of folly, and of fond delight,
Are wasted all, and fled; those that remain
Are doom'd to weeping, anguish, and repentance.
I come to charge thee with a long account,
Of all the sorrows I have known already.
And all I have to come; thou hast undone me.
LOTH. Unjust Calista! dost thou call it ruin,
To love as we have done; to melt, to languish,
To wish for somewhat exquisitely happy,
And then be blest ev'n to that wish's height?
To die with joy, and straight to live again; 40
Speechless to gaze, and with tumultuous transport—
CAL. Oh, let me hear no more; I cannot bear it;
'Tis deadly to remembrance. Let that night,
That guilty night, be blotted from the year;
"Let not the voice of mirth or music know it;
"Let it be dark and desolate; no stars
"To glitter o'er it; let it wish for light,
"Yet want it still, and vainly wait the dawn;"
For 'twas the night that gave me up to shame,
To sorrow, to the false Lothario.
LOTH. Hear this, ye powers! mark, how the fair deceiver 60
Sadly complains of violated truth;
She calls me false, ev'n she, the faithless she,
Whom day and night, whom heav'n and earth have heard
Sighing to vow, and tenderly protest,
Ten thousand times, she would be only mine;
And yet, behold, she has given herself away,
Fled from my arms, and wedded to another,
Ev'n to the man whom most I hate on earth.—
CAL. Art thou so base to upbraid me with a crime,
Which nothing but thy cruelty could cause? 61
If indignation raging in my soul,
For thy unmanly insolence and scorn,
Urg'd me to a deed of desperation,
And wound myself to be reveng'd on thee,
Think whom I should devote to death and hell,
Whom curse as my undoer, but Lothario;
Hadst thou been just, not all Sciolto's pow'r,
Not all the vows and pray'rs of sighing Altamont,
Could have prevail'd, or won me to forsake thee.
LOTH. How have I fail'd in justice, or in love?
Burns not my flame as brightly as at first?
Ev'n now my heart beats high, I languish for thee,
My transports are as fierce, as strong my wishes,
As if thou ne'er hadst blest me with thy beauty.
CAL. How didst thou dare to think that I would live
A slave to base desires, and brutal pleasures,
To be a wretched wanton for thy leisure,
To toy, and waste an hour of idle time with? 61
My soul disdains thee for so mean a thought. 80
LOTH. The driving storm of passion will have way,
And I must yield before it. Wert thou calm,
Love, the poor criminal, whom thou hast doom'd,
Has yet a thousand tender things to plead,
To charm thy rage, and mitigate his fate.
Enter behind them ALTAMONT.
ALT. "I have lost my peace"—Ha! do I live and wake?
CAL. Hadst thou been true, how happy had I been!
Not Altamont, but thou, hadst been my lord.
But wherefore nam'd I happiness with thee?
It is for thee, for thee, that I am curst;
For thee my secret soul each hour arraigns me,
Calls me to answer for my virtue stain'd,
My honour lost to thee: for thee it haunts me;
With stern Sciolto vowing vengeance on me:
With Altamont complaining for his wrongs—
ALT. Behold him here— [Coming forward.
CAL. Ah! [Starting.
ALT. The wretch! whom thou hast made.
Curses and sorrows hast thou heaped upon him, 99
And vengeance is the only good that's left. [Drawing.
LOTH. Thou hast ta'en me somewhat unawares, 'tis true:
But love and war take turns, like day and night,
And little preparation serves my turn,
Equal to both, and arm'd for either field.
We've long been foes, this moment ends our quarrel! 62
Earth, Heav'n, and fair Calista judge the combat!
CAL. Distraction! Fury! Sorrow! Shame! and death!
"ALT. Thou hast talked too much, thy breath is poison to me;
"It taints the ambient air; this for my father,
"This for Sciolto, and this last for Altamont."
[They fight; Lothario is wounded once or twice, and then falls.
LOTH. Oh, Altamont! thy genius is the stronger!
Thou hast prevail'd!—My fierce ambitious soul
Declining droops, and all her fires grow pale;
Yet let not this advantage swell thy pride,
I conquered in my turn, in love I triumph'd.
Those joys are lodg'd beyond the reach of fate;
That sweet revenge comes smiling to my thoughts,
Adorns my fall, and cheers my heart in dying. [Dies.
CAL. And what remains for me, beset with shame,
Encompassed round with wretchedness? There is 120
But this one way to break the toil, and 'scape.
[She catches up LOTHARIO's sword, and offers to kill herself; ALTAMONT runs to her, and wrests it from her.
ALT. What means thy frantic rage?
CAL. Off! let me go.
ALT. Oh! thou hast more than murder'd me! yet still,
Still art thou here! and my soul starts with horror,
At thought of any danger that may reach thee.
CAL. Think'st thou I mean to live? to be forgiv'n? 63
Oh, thou hast known but little of Calista!
If thou had'st never heard my shame, if only
The midnight moon and silent stars had seen it,
I would not bear to be reproach'd by them,
But dig down deep to find a grave beneath,
And hide me from their beams.
SCIOLTO within. What, ho! my son!
"ALT. It is Sciolto calls; come near and find me;
"The wretched'st thing of all my kind on earth."
CAL. Is it the voice of thunder, or my father?
Madness! Confussion! let the storm come on,
Let the tumultuous roar drive all upon me;
Dash my devoted bark, ye surges, break it! 240
'Tis for my ruin that the tempest rises.
When I am lost, sunk to the bottom low,
Peace shall return, and all be calm again.
SCI. Ev'n now Rossano leap'd the garden wall—
Ha! Death has been among you—Oh, my fears!
Last night thou had'st a diff'rence with thy friend,
The cause thou gav'st me was a damn'd one,
Did'st thou not wrong the man who told thee truth?
Answer me quick——
ALT. Oh! press me not to speak;
Ev'n now my heart is breaking, and the mention
Will lay me dead before you. See that body,
And guess my shame: my ruin! Oh, Calista!
SCI. It is enough! but I am slow to execute,
And justice lingers in my lazy hand; 64
Thus let me wipe dishonour from my name,
And cut thee from the earth, thou stain to goodness—
[Offers to kill CALISTA, ALTAMONT holds him.
ALT. Stay thee, Sciolto, thou rash father, stay.
Or turn the point on me, and through my breast
Cut out the bloody passage to Calista: 160
So shall my love be perfect, while for her
I die, for whom alone I wish'd to live.
CAL. No, Altamont; my heart that scorn'd thy love,
Shall never be indebted to thy pity.
Thus torn, defac'd, and wretched as I seem,
Still I have something of Sciolto's virtue.
Yes, yes, my father, I applaud thy justice;
Strike home, and I will bless thee for the blow:
Be merciful, and free me from my pain;
'Tis sharp, 'tis terrible, and I could curse
The cheerful day, men, earth, and heav'n, and thee,
Ev'n thee, thou venerable good old man,
For being author of a wretch like me.
ALT. Listen not to the wildness of her raving:
Remember nature! Should thy daughter's murder
Defile that hand, so just, so great in arms,
Her blood would rest upon thee to posterity,
Pollute thy name, and sully all thy wars.
CAL. Have I not wrong'd his gentle nature much?
And yet behold him pleading for my life! 180
Lost as thou art to virtue, Oh, Calista!
I think thou can'st not bear to be outdone;
Then haste to die, and be oblig'd no more.
SCI. Thy pious care has giv'n me time to think, 65
And sav'd me from a crime; then rest, my sword;
To honour have I kept thee ever sacred,
Nor will I stain thee with a rash revenge.
But mark me well, I will have justice done:
Hope not to bear away thy crimes unpunish'd:
I will see justice executed on thee,
Ev'n to a Roman strictness; and thou, nature,
Or whatsoe'er thou art that plead'st within me,
Be still; thy tender strugglings are in vain.
CAL. Then am I doom'd to live, and bear your triumph?
To groan beneath your scorn and fierce upbraiding,
Daily to be reproach'd, and have my misery
At morn, at noon, at night told over to me,
"Lest my remembrance might grow pitiful,
"And grant a moment's interval of peace;"
Is this, is this the mercy of a father? 200
I only beg to die, and he denies me,
SCI. Hence, from my sight! thy father cannot bear thee;
Fly with thy infamy to some dark cell,
Where, on the confines of eternal night,
Mourning, misfortune, cares, and anguish dwell;
Where ugly shame hides her opprobrious head,
And death and hell detested rule maintain;
There howl out the remainder of thy life,
And wish thy name may be no more remember'd.
CAL. Yes, I will fly to some such dismal place,
And be more curs'd than you can wish I were;
This fatal form that drew on my undoing, 66
Fasting, and tears, and hardship shall destroy;
Nor light, nor food, nor comfort will I know,
Nor ought that may continue hated life.
Then, when you see me meagre, wan, and chang'd,
Stretch'd at my length, and dying in my cave,
On that cold earth I mean shall be my grave,
Perhaps you may relent, and sighing say,
At length her tears have wash'd her stains away;
At length 'tis time her punishment should cease;
Die, thou poor suff'ring wretch, and be at peace. [Exit CALISTA.
SCI. Who of my servants wait there?
Enter two or three Servants.
Raise that body, and bear it in. On your lives,
Take care my doors be guarded well, that none
Pass out, or enter, but by my appointment. [Exeunt Servants, with LOTHARIO's body.
ALT. There is a fatal fury in your visage,
It blazes fierce, and menaces destruction.
"My father, I am sick of many sorrows,
"Ev'n now my easy heart is breaking with 'em;
"Yet, above all, one fear distracts me most;"
I tremble at the vengeance which you meditate
On the poor, faithless, lovely, dear Calista.
SCI. Hast thou not read what brave Virginius did?
With his own hand he slew his only daughter,
To save her from the fierce Decemvir's lust,
He slew her, yet unspotted, to prevent
The shame which she might know. Then what should I do? 67
But thou hast ty'd my hand,—I wo' not kill her;
Yet, by the ruin she has brought upon us, 240
The common infamy that brands us both,
She shall not 'scape.
ALT. You mean that she shall die then?
SCI. Ask me not what, nor how I have resolv'd,
For all within is anarchy and uproar.
Oh, Altamont! What a vast scheme of joy
Has this one day destroy'd! Well did I hope
This daughter would have blest my latter days;
That I should live to see you the world's wonder,
So happy, great, and good that none were like you,
While I, from busy life and care set free,
Had spent the evening of my age at home,
Among a little prattling race of yours:
There, like an old man, talk'd a-while, and then
Laid down and slept in peace. Instead of this,
Sorrow and shame must bring me to my grave—
"Oh, damn her! damn her!"
Enter a Servant.
SERV. Arm yourself, my lord:
Rossano, who but now escaped the garden,
Has gather'd in the street a band of rioters, 260
Who threaten you and all your friends with ruin,
Unless Lothario be return'd in safety. [Exit.
SCI. By Heav'n, their fury rises to my wish,
Nor shall misfortune know my house alone,
But thou, Lothario, and thy race shall pay me 68
For all the sorrows which my age is curs'd with.
I think my name as great, my friends as potent,
As any in the state; all shall be summoned;
I know that all will join their hands to ours,
And vindicate thy vengeance. When our force
Is full, and arm'd, we shall expect thy sword
To join with us, and sacrifice to justice.— [Exit SCIOLTO.
"ALT. There is a stupid weight upon my senses;
"A dismal sullen stillness, that succeeds
"The storm of rage and grief, like silent death,
"After the tumult and the noise of life.
"Would it were death, as sure 'tis wond'rous like it,
"For I am sick of living; my soul's pall'd,
"She kindles not with anger or revenge:
"Love was th' informing, active fire within: 280
"Now that is quench'd, the mass forgets to move,
"And longs to mingle with its kindred earth."
[A tumultuous noise, with clashing of swords, as at a little distance.
Enter LAVINIA with two Servants, their swords drawn.
LAV. Fly, swiftly fly; to my Horatio's aid,
Nor lose your vain officious cares on me;
Bring me my lord, my husband, to my arms;
He is Lavinia's life; bring him me safe,
And I shall be at ease, be well and happy. [Exeunt Servants.
ALT. Art thou Lavinia? Oh? what barb'rous hand
Could wrong thy poor defenceless innocence, 69
And leave such marks of more than savage fury?
LAV. My brother! Oh, my heart is full of tears;
Perhaps ev'n now my dear Horatio bleeds—
Not far from hence, as passing to the port,
By a mad multitude we were surrounded.
Who ran upon us with uplifted swords,
And cry'd aloud for vengeance, and Lothario.
My lord, with ready boldness, stood the shock,
To shelter me from danger; but in vain,
Had not a party from Sciolto's palace
Rush'd out, and snatch'd me from amidst the fray.
ALT. What of my friend? 301
LAV. Ha! by my joys, 'tis he! [Looking out.
He lives, he comes to bless me, he is safe!—
Enter HORATIO, with two or three Servants, their swords drawn.
1ST. SER. 'Twere at the utmost hazard of your life
To venture forth again, till we are stronger:
Their number trebles ours.
HOR. No matter, let it;
Death is not half so shocking as that traitor.
My honest soul is mad with indignation,
To think her plainness could be so abus'd,
As to mistake that wretch, and call him friend;
I cannot bear the sight.
ALT. Open, thou earth,
Gape wide, and take me down to thy dark bosom,
To hide me from Horatio.
HOR. Oh, Lavinia! 70
Believe not but I joy to see thee safe?
Would our ill fortune had not drove us hither:
I could ev'n wish we rather had been wreck'd
On any other shore, than sav'd on this. 320
LAV. Oh, let us bless the mercy that preserv'd us,
That gracious pow'r that sav'd us for each other:
And, to adorn the sacrifice of praise,
Offer forgiveness too; be thou like Heav'n,
And put away th' offences of thy friend,
Far, far from thy remembrance.
"ALT. I have mark'd him,
"To see if one forgiving glance stole hither:
"If any spark of friendship were alive,
"That would by sympathy at meeting glow,
"And strive to kindle up the flame a-new;
"'Tis lost, 'tis gone; his soul is quite estrang'd,
"And knows me for its counterpart no more.
"HOR. Thou know'st thy rule, thy empire in Horatio;
"Nor canst thou ask in vain, command in vain,
"Where nature, reason, nay, where love is judge;
"But when you urge my temper to comply
"With what it most abhors, I cannot do it.
"LAV. Where didst thou get this sullen gloomy hate?
"It was not in thy nature to be thus; 340
"Come, put it off, and let thy heart be cheerful,
"Be gay again, and know the joys of friendship,
"The trust, security, and mutual tenderness,
"The double joys, where each is glad for both; 71
"Friendship, the wealth, the last retreat and strength,
"Secure against ill fortune, and the world."
HOR. I am not apt to take a light offence.
But patient of the failings of my friends,
And willing to forgive; but when an injury
Stubs to the heart, and rouses my resentment,
(Perhaps it is the fault of my rude nature)
I own, 1 cannot easily forgive it.
ALT. Thou hast forgot me.
ALT. Why are thy eyes
Impatient of me then, scornful, and fierce?
HOR. Because they speak the meaning of my heart;
Because they're honest, and disdain a villain.
ALT. I've wrong'd thee much, Horatio.
HOR. True, thou hast. 360
When I forget it, may I be a wretch,
Vile as thyself, a false perfidious fellow,
An infamous, believing, British husband,
ALT. I've wrong'd thee much, and Heav'n has well aveng'd it.
1 have not since we parted, been at peace,
Nor known one joy sincere; "our broken friendship
"Pursu'd me to the last retreat of love,
"Stood glaring like a ghost, and made me cold with horror.
"Misfortunes on misfortunes press upon me,
"Swell o'er my head like waves, and dash me down;
"Sorrow, remorse, and shame, have torn my soul!
"They hang, like winter, on my youthful hopes, 72
"And blast the spring and promise of my year."
"LAV. So flow'rs are gathered to adorn a grave,
"To lose their freshness amongst bones and rottenness,
"And have their odours stifled in the dust,"
Canst thou hear this, thou cruel, hard Horatio?
Canst thou behold thy Altamont undone?
"That gentle, that dear youth! Canst thou behold him,"
His poor heart broken, death in his pale visage, 380
And groaning out his woes, yet stand unmov'd?
HOR. The brave and wise I pity in misfortune;
But when ingratitude and folly suffers,
'Tis weakness to be touch'd.
ALT. I wo' not ask thee
To pity or forgive me; but confess,
This scorn, this insolence of hate, is just;
'Tis constancy of mind, and manly in thee.
But, Oh! had I been wrong'd by thee, Horatio,
There is a yielding softness in my heart
Cou'd ne'er have stood it out; but I had ran,
With streaming eyes, and open arms, upon thee,
And press'd thee close, close!
HOR. I must hear no more,
Thy weakness is contagious; I shall catch it,
And be a tame, fond wretch.
LAV. Where would'st thou go?
Would'st thou part thus? you shall not, 'tis impossible;
For I will bar thy passage, kneeling thus.
Perhaps thy cruel hand may spurn me off, 400
But I will throw my body in thy way, 73
And thou shalt trample o'er my faithful bosom,
Tread on me, wound me, kill me, ere thou pass.
ALT. Urge not in vain thy pious suit, Lavinia,
I have enough to rid me of my pain.
Calista, thou hadst reach'd my heart before;
To make all sure, my friend repeats the blow:
But in the grave our cares shall be forgotten,
There love and friendship cease. [Falls.
[LAVINIA runs to him, and endeavours to raise him.
"LAV. Speak to me, Altamont.
"He faints! he dies! Now, turn and see thy triumph!
"My brother! But our cares shall end together;
"Here will I lay me down by thy dear side.
"Bemoan thy too hard fate, then share it with thee,
"And never see my cruel lord again."
[HORATIO runs to ALTAMONT, and raises him in his arms.
HOR. It is too much to bear! Look up, my Altamont!
My stubborn, unrelenting heart has killed him.
"Look up and bless me; tell me that thou liv'st.
"Oh! I have urg'd thy gentleness too far; [He revives.
"Do thou and my Lavinia both forgive me:" 420
A flood of tenderness comes o'er my soul;
I cannot speak—I love, forgive, and pity thee—
ALT. I thought that nothing could have stay'd my soul;
That long ere this her flight had reach'd the stars;
But thy known voice has lur'd her back again. 74
Methinks, I fain wou'd set all right with thee,
Make up this most unlucky breach, and then,
With thine and Heaven's forgiveness on my soul,
Shrink to my grave, and be at ease for ever.
HOR. By heav'n, my heart bleeds for thee; e'n this moment,
I feel thy pangs of disappointed love.
"Is it not pity that this youth should fall,
"That all his wond'rous goodness should be lost,
"And the world never know it? Oh, my Altamont!"
Give me thy sorrows, let me bear 'em for thee,
And shelter thee from ruin.
LAV. Oh, my brother,
Think not but we will share in all thy woes;
We'll sit all day, and tell sad tales of love:
And when we light upon some faithless woman, 440
Some beauty, like Calista, false and fair,
We'll fix our grief, and our complaining there!
We'll curse the nymph that drew the ruin on,
And mourn the youth that was, like thee, undone.
ACT V. SCENE I.
A Room hung with Black; on one side LOTHARIO's Body on a Bier; on the other a Table, with a Scull and other Bones, a Book and a Lamp on it.
CALISTA is discovered on a Couch, in Black; her Hair hanging loose and disordered. After soft Music, she rises and comes forward.
"Hear, you midnight phantoms, hear,
"You who pale and wan appear,
"And fill the wretch who wakes with fear;
"You, who wander, scream and groan
"Round the mansions once your own;
"You, who still your crimes upbraid;
"You who rest not with the dead;
"From the coverts where you stray,
"Where you lark and shun the day,
"From the charnel and the tomb,
"Hither haste ye, hither come.
"Chide Calista for delay,
"Tell her, 'tis for her you stay;
"Bid her die and come away.
"See the sexton with his spade,
"See the grave already made;
"Listen, fair one to thy knell,
"This music is thy passing bell."
CAL. 'Tis well! these solemn sounds, this pomp of horror, 76
Are fit to feed the frenzy in my soul. 20
Here's room for meditation ev'n to madness;
Till the mind burst with thinking. This dull flame
Sleeps in the socket. Sure the book was left
To tell me something;—for instruction then—
He teaches holy sorrow and contrition,
And penitence.—Is it become an art, then?
A trick that lazy, dull, luxurious gownmen
Can teach us to do over? I'll no more on't; [Throwing away the book.
I have more real anguish In my heart,
Than all their pedant discipline e'er knew.
What charnel has been rifled for these bones?
Fie! this is pageantry;—they look uncouthly,
But what of that, if he or she that own'd 'em
Safe from disquiet sit, and smile to see
The farce their miserable relicts play?
But here's a sight is terrible indeed!
Is this that haughty, gallant, gay, Lothario,
That dear perfidious—Ah!—how pale he looks!
How grim with clotted blood, and those dead eyes!
Ascend, ye ghosts, fantastic forms of night, 40
In all your diff'rent dreadful shapes ascend,
And match the present horror, if you can.
SCI. This dead of night, this silent hour of darkness,
Nature for rest ordain'd, and soft repose; 77
And yet distraction, and tumultuous jars,
Keep all our frighted citizens awake:
"The senate, weak, divided, and irresolute,
"Want pow'r to succour the afflicted state.
"Vainly in words and long debates they're wise,
"While the fierce factions scorn their peaceful orders,
"And drown the voice of law in noise and anarchy."
Amidst the general wreck, see where she stands, [Pointing to Calista.
Like Helen, in the night when Troy was sack'd,
Spectatress of the mischief which she made.
CAL. It is Sciolto! Be thyself, my soul;
Be strong to bear his fatal indignation,
That he may see thou art not lost so far,
But somewhat still of his great spirit lives
In the forlorn Calista.
SCI. Thou wert once 60
CAL. Happy were it I had dy'd,
And never lost that name.
SCI. That's something yet;
Thou wert the very darling of my age:
I thought the day too short to gaze upon thee,
That all the blessings I could gather for thee,
By cares on earth, and by my pray'rs to Heav'n,
Were little for my fondness to bestow;
Why didst thou turn to folly, then, and curse me?
CAL. Because my soul was rudely drawn from yours;
A poor imperfect copy of my father, 78
"Where goodness, and the strength of manly virtue,
"Was thinly planted, and the idle void
"Fill'd up with light belief, and easy fondness;"
It was, because I lov'd, and was a woman.
SCI. Hadst thou been honest, thou hadst been a cherubim;
But of that joy, as of a gem long lost,
Beyond redemption gone, think we no more.
Hast thou e'er dar'd to meditate on death? 80
CAL. I have, as on the end of shame and sorrow.
SCI. Ha! answer me! Say, hast thou coolly thought?
'Tis not the stoick's lessons got by rote,
The pomp of words, and pedant dissertations,
That can sustain thee in that hour of terror;
Books have taught cowards to talk nobly of it,
But when the trial comes, they stand aghast;
Hast thou considered what may happen after it?
How thy account may stand, and what to answer?
CAL. I've turn'd my eyes inward upon myself,
Where foul offence and shame have laid a11 waste;
Therefore my soul abhors the wretched dwelling,
And longs to find some better place of rest.
SCI. 'Tis justly thought, and worthy of that spirit
That dwelt in ancient Latian breasts, when Rome
Was mistress of the world. I wou'd go on,
And tell thee all my purpose; but it sticks
Here at my heart, and cannot find a way.
CAL. Then spare the telling, if it be a pain,
And write the meaning with your poignard here. 100
SCI. Oh! truly guess'd—see'st thou, this trembling hand— [Holding up a dagger.
Thrice justice urg'd—and thrice the slackening sinews
Forgot their office, and confess'd the father.
At length the stubborn virtue has prevail'd,
It must, it must be so—Oh! take it then, [Giving the dagger.
And know the rest untaught.
CAL. I understand you.
It is but thus, and both are satisfy'd.
[She offers to kill herself: SCIOLTO catches hold of her arm.
SCI. A moment, give me yet a moment's space.
The stern, the rigid judge has been obey'd;
Now nature, and the father, claim their turns.
I've held the balance with an iron hand,
And put off ev'ry tender human thought,
To doom my child to death; but spare my eyes
The most unnatural sight, lest their strings crack,
My old brain split, and I grow mad with horror.
CAL. Ha! is it possible; and is there yet
Some little dear remains of love and tenderness
For poor, undone Calista, in your heart?
SCI. Oh! when I think what pleasure I took in thee, 120
What joys thou gav'st me in thy prattling infancy,
Thy sprightly wit, and early blooming beauty;
How have I stood, and fed my eyes upon thee,
Then, lifting up my hands, and wond'ring, blest thee;
By my strong grief, my heart ev'n melts within me;
I could curse Nature, and that tyrant, honour, 80
For making me thy father, and thy judge;
Thou art my daughter still.
CAL. For that kind word,
Thus let me fall, thus humbly to the earth,
Weep on your feet, and bless you for this goodness.
Oh! 'tis too much for this offending wretch,
This parricide, that murders with her crimes,
Shortens her father's age, and cuts him off,
Ere little more than half his years be number'd.
SCI. Would it were otherwise—but thou must die.—
CAL. That I must die, it is my only comfort;
Death is the privilege of human nature,
And life without it were not worth our taking:
"Thither the poor, the prisoner, and the mourner, 140
"Fly for relief, and lay their burthens down."
Come then, and take me into thy cold arms,
Thou meagre shade; here let me breathe my last,
Charm'd with my father's pity and forgiveness,
More than if angels tun'd their golden viols,
And sung a requiem to my parting soul.
SCI. I'm summoned hence; ere this my friends expect me.
There is I know not what of sad presage,
That tells me, I shall never see thee more;
If it be so, this is our last farewel,
And these the parting pangs, which nature feels,
When anguish rends the heart-strings—Oh, my daughter! [Exit SCIOLTO.
CAL. Now think, thou curst Calista, now behold
The desolation, horror, blood, and ruin, 81
Thy crimes and fatal folly spread around,
That loudly cry for vengeance on thy head;
Yet Heav'n, who knows our weak, imperfect natures,
How blind with passions, and how prone to evil,
Makes not too strict inquiry for offences
But is aton'd by penitence and pray'r: 160
Cheap recompence! here 'twould not be received,
Nothing but blood can make the expiation,
And cleanse the soul from inbred, deep pollution.
And see, another injur'd wretch is come,
To call for justice from my tardy hand.
ALT. Hail to you, horrors! hail, thou house of death;
And thou, the lovely mistress of these shades,
Whose beauty gilds the more than midnight darkness,
And makes it grateful as the dawn of day.
Oh, take me in, a fellow-mourner, with thee,
I'll number groan for groan, and tear for tear;
And when the fountain of thy eyes are dry,
Mine shall supply the stream, and weep for both.
CAL. I know thee well, thou art the injur'd Altamont;
Thou com'st to urge me with the wrongs I've done thee;
But know, I stand upon the brink of life,
And in a moment mean to set me free
From shame and thy upbraiding.
ALT. Falsely, falsely
Dost thou accuse me! When did I complain, 180 82
Or murmur at my fate? "For thee I have
"Forgot the temper of Italian husbands,
"And fondness has prevail'd upon revenge."
I bore my load of infamy with patience,
"As holy men do punishment from Heav'n;"
Nor thought it hard, because it came from thee.
Oh, then, forbid me not to mourn thy loss,
To wish some better fate had rul'd our loves,
And that Calista had been mine, and true.
CAL. Oh, Altamont! 'tis hard for souls like mine,
Haughty and fierce, to yield they've done amiss.
But, Oh, behold! my proud disdainful heart
Bends to thy gentler virtue. Yes, I own,
Such is thy truth, thy tenderness, and love;
"Such are the graces that adorn thy youth,"
That, were I not abandoned to destruction,
With thee I might have liv'd for ages bless'd,
And dy'd in peace within thy faithful arms.
ALT. Then happiness is still within our reach.
Here let remembrance lose our past misfortunes, 200
Tear all records that hold the fatal story;
Here let our joys begin, from hence go on,
In long successive order.
CAL. What! In death?
ALT. Then, art thou fix'd to die?—But be it so;
We'll go together; my advent'rous love
Shall follow thee "to those uncertain beings.
"Whether our lifeless shades are doom'd to wander
"In gloomy groves, with discontented ghosts;
"Or whether thro' the upper air we fleet, 83
"And tread the fields of light; still I'll pursue thee,"
'Till fate ordains that we shall part no more.
CAL. Oh, no! Heav'n has some other better lot in store
To crown thee with. Live, and be happy long;
Live, for some maid that shall deserve thy goodness,
Some kind, unpractis'd heart, that never yet
Has listen'd to the false ones of thy sex,
Nor known the arts of ours; she shall reward thee,
Meet thee with virtues equal to thy own,
Charm thee with sweetness, beauty, and with truth; 220
Be blest in thee alone, and thou in her.
HOR. Now, mourn indeed, ye miserable pair;
For now the measure of your woes is full.
ALT. What dost thou mean, Horatio?
HOR. Oh, 'tis dreadful!
The great, the good Sciolto dies this moment.
CAL. My father!
ALT. That's a deadly stroke, indeed.
HOR. Not long ago he privately went forth,
Attended but by few, and those unbidden.
I heard which way he took, and straight pursu'd him;
But found him compass'd by Lothario's faction,
Almost alone, amidst a crowd of foes.
Too late we brought him aid, and drove them back;
Ere that, his frantic valour had provok'd
The death he seem'd to wish for from their swords.
CAL. And dost thou bear me yet, thou patient earth?
Dost thou not labour with thy murd'rous weight?
And you, ye glitt'ring, heav'nly host of stars,
Hide your fair heads in clouds, or I shall blast you; 240
For I am all contagion, death, and ruin,
And nature sickens at me. Rest, thou world,
This parricide shall be thy plague no more;
Thus, thus I set thee free. [Stabs herself.
HOR. Oh, fatal rashness!
ALT. Thou dost instruct me well. To lengthen life,
Is but to trifle now.
[ALTAMONT offers to kill himself; HORATIO prevents him, and wrests his sword from him.
HOR. Ha! what means
The frantic Altamont? Some foe to man
Has breath'd on ev'ry breast contagious fury,
And epidemic madness.
Enter SCIOLTO, pale and bloody, supported by servants.
CAL. Oh, my heart!
Well may'st thou fail; for see, the spring that fed
The vital stream is wasted, and runs low.
My father! will you now, at last, forgive me,
If, after all my crimes, and all your suff'rings,
I call you once again by that dear name?
Will you forget my shame, and those wide wounds?
Lift up your hand, and bless me, ere I go
Down to my dark abode? 260
SCI. Alas, my daughter!
Thou hast rashly ventured in a stormy sea, 85
Where life, fame, virtue, all were wreck'd and lost.
But sure thou hast borne thy part in all the anguish,
And smarted with the pain. Then, rest in peace:
Let silence and oblivion hide thy name,
And save thee from the malice of posterity;
And may'st thou find with Heav'n the same forgiveness,
As with thy father here.—Die, and be happy.
CAL. Celestial sounds! Peace dawns upon my soul,
And ev'ry pain grows less—Oh, gentle Altamont!
Think not too hardly of me when I'm gone;
But pity me—Had I but early known
Thy wond'rous worth, thou excellent young man,
We had been happier both—Now, 'tis too late;
And yet my eyes take pleasure to behold thee;
Thou art their last dear object—Mercy, Heav'n! [She dies.
ALT. Cold! dead, and cold! and yet thou art not chang'd,
But lovely still. Hadst thou a thousand faults,
What heart so hard, what virtue so severe, 280
But at that beauty must of force relented,
Melted to pity, love, and to forgiveness?
SCI. Oh, turn thee from that fatal object, Altamont,
Come near, and let me bless thee, ere I die.
To thee, and brave Horatio, I bequeath
My fortunes—Lay me by thy noble father,
And love my memory, as thou hast his;
For thou hast been my son—Oh, gracious Heav'n! 86
Thou that hast endless blessings still in store
For virtue, and for filial piety,
Let grief, disgrace, and want be far away;
But multiply thy mercies on his head.
Let honour, greatness, goodness, still be with him,
And peace in all his ways— [He dies.
ALT. Take, take it all:
To thee, Horatio, I resign the gift,
While I pursue my father, and my love,
And find my only portion in the grave.
HOR. The storm of grief bears hard upon his youth,
And bends him, like a drooping flower, to earth. 300
By such examples are we taught to prove
The sorrows that attend unlawful love.
Death, or some worse misfortune, soon divide,
The injur'd bridegroom from his guilty bride,
If you would have the nuptial union last,
Let virtue be the bond that ties it fast. [Exeunt omnes.
You see the tripping dame could find no favour;
Dearly she paid for breach of good behaviour;
Nor could her loving husband's fondness save her.
Italian ladies lead but scurvy lives,
There's dreadful dealings with eloping wives:
Thus 'tis, because these husbands are obey'd
By force of laws, which for themselves they made.
With tales of old prescriptions they confine
The right of marriage-rules to their male line,
And huff and domineer by right divine.
Had we the pow'r, we'd make the tyrants know
What 'tis to fail in duties which they owe;
We'd teach the saunt'ring squire, who loves to roam,
Forgetful of his own dear spouse at home;
Who snores, at night, supinely by her side;
'Twas not for this the nuptial knot was ty'd.
The plodding petty-fogger, and the cit,
Have learn'd, at least, this modern way of wit,
Each ill-bred, senseless rogue, tho' ne'er so dull,
Has th' impudence to think his wife a fool;
He spends the night, where merry wags resort,
With joking dubs, and eighteen-penny port;
While she, poor soul, 's contented to regale,
By a sad sea-coal fire, with wigs and ale.
Well may the cuckold-making tribe find grace, EPILOGUE
And fill an absent husband's empty place.
If you wou'd e'er bring constancy in fashion,
You men must first begin the reformation.
Then shall the golden age of love return,
No turtle for her wandering mate shall mourn;
No foreign charms shall cause domestic strife,
But every married man shall toast his wife;
Phillis shall not be to the country sent,
For carnivals in town to keep a tedious Lent;
Lampoons shall cease, and envious scandal die,
And all shall live in peace, like my good man and I.
|This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.|