A Series of Plays in which it is attempted to delineate The Stronger Passions of the Mind, Volume One/De Monfort Act 1
ACT I—SCENE I.
Jerome's House. A large old fashioned Chamber.
Jer. (speaking without.) This way good masters.
Enter Jerome, bearing a light, and followed by Manuel, and Servants carrying luggage.
Rest your burdens; here.
This spacious room will please the Marquis best.
He takes me unawares; but ill prepar'd:
If he had sent, e'en tho' a hasty notice,
I had been glad.
Man. Be not disturbed, good Jerome;
Thy house is in most admirable order;
And they who travel o'cold winter nights.
Think homeliest quarters good.
Jer. He is not far behind?
Man.A little way.
(To the servants.) Go you and wait below till he arrives.
Jer. (Shaking Manuel by the hand.) Indeed, my friend, I'm glad to see you here,
Yet marvel wherefore.
Man. I marvel wherefore too, my honest Jerome:
But here we are, pri'thee be kind to us.
Jer. Most heartily I will. I love your master:
He is a quiet and a lib'ral man:
A better inmate never cross'd my door.
Man. Ah! but he is not now the man he was.
Lib'ral he will, God grant he may be quiet
Jer. What has befallen him?
Man.I cannot tell thee;
But faith, there is no living with him now.
Jer. And yet, methinks, if I remember well,
You were about to quit his service, Manuel,
When last he left this house. You grumbled then.
Man. I've been upon the eve of leaving him
These ten long years; for many times is he
So difficult, capricious, and distrustful,
He galls my nature—yet, I know not how,
A secret kindness binds me to him still.
Jer. Some, who offend from a suspicious nature,
Will afterwards such fair confession make
As turns e'en the offence into a favour.
Man. Yes, some indeed do so: so will not he;
He'd rather die than such confession make.
Jer. Ay, thou art right, for now I call to mind
That once he wrong'd me with unjust suspicion,
When first he came to lodge beneath my roof;
And when it so fell out that I was proved
Most guiltless of the fault, I truly thought
He would have made profession of regret:
But silent, haughty, and ungraciously
He bore himself as one offended still.
Yet shortly after, when unwittingly
I did him some slight service, o'the sudden
He overpower'd me with his grateful thanks;
And would not be restrain'd from pressing on me
A noble recompense. I understood
His o'erstrain'd gratitude and bounty well.
And took it as he meant.
Man.'Tis often thus,
I would have left him many years ago,
But that with all his faults there sometimes come
Such bursts of natural goodness from his heart,
As might engage a harder churl than I
To serve him still.—And then his sister too,
A noble dame, who should have been a queen:
The meanest of her hinds, at her command,
Had fought like lions for her, and the poor,
E'en o'er their bread of poverty had bless'd her—
She would have griev'd if I had left my Lord.
Jer. Comes she along with him?
Man. No, he departed all unknown to her,
Meaning to keep conceal'd his secret route;
But well I knew it would afflict her much,
And therefore left a little nameless billet,
Which after our departure, as I guess,
Would fall into her hands, and tell her all.
What could I do? O 'tis a noble lady!
Jer. All this is strange—something disturbs his mind—
Belike he is in love.
Man.No Jerome, no.
Once on a time I serv'd a noble master,
Whose youth was blasted with untoward love,
And he with hope and fear and jealousy
For ever toss'd, led an unquiet life:
Yet, when unruffled by the passing fit,
His pale wan face such gentle sadness wore
As mov'd a kindly heart to pity him;
But Monfort, even in his calmest hour,
Still bears that gloomy sternness in his eye
Which sullenly repells all sympathy.
O no! good Jerome, no, it is not love.
Jer. Hear I not horses trampling at the gate?
He is arriv'd—stay thou—I had forgot—
A plague upon't! my head is so confus'd—
I will return i'the instant to receive him.
(A great bustle without. Exit Manuel with lights, and returns again lighting in De Monfort, as if just alighted from his journey.)
Man. Your ancient host, my lord, receives you gladly,
And your apartment will be soon prepar'd.
De Mon. 'Tis well.
Man. Where shall I place the chest you gave in charge?
So please you, say my lord.
De Mon. (Throwing himself into a chair.) Where-e'er thou wilt.
Man. I would not move that luggage till you came.
(Pointing to certain things.)
De Mon. Move what thou wilt, and trouble me no more.
(Manuel, with the assistance of other Servants, sets about putting the things in order, and De Monfort remains sitting in a thoughtful posture.)
Enter Jerome, bearing wine, &c. on a salver. As he approaches De Monfort, Manuel pulls him by the sleeve.
Man. (Aside to Jerome.)
No, do not now; he will not be disturb'd.
Jer. What not to bid him welcome to my house,
And offer some refreshment?
Man.No, good Jerome.
Softly, a little while; I pri'thee do.
(Jerome walks softly on tip-toes, till he gets behind De Monfort, then peeping on one side to see his face.)
Jer. (Aside to Manuel.) Ah, Manuel, what an alter'd man is here!
His eyes are hollow, and his cheeks are pale—
He left this house a comely gentleman.
De Mon. Who whispers there?
Man.'Tis your old landlord, Sir.
Jer. I joy to see you here—I crave your pardon—
I fear I do intrude.—
De Mon. No my kind host, I am oblig'd to thee.
Jer. How fares it with your honour?
De Mon.Well enough.
Jer. Here is a little of the fav'rite wine
That you were wont to praise. Pray honour me.
(Fills a glass.)
De Mon. (After drinking.) I thank you, Jerome, 'tis delicious.
Jer. Ay, my dear wife did ever make it so.
De Mon. And how does she?
Jer. Alas, my lord! she's dead.
De Mon. Well, then she is at rest.
Jer.How well, my lord?
De Mon. Is she not with the dead, the quiet dead,
Where all is peace. Not e'en the impious wretch,
Who tears the coffin from its earthy vault,
And strews the mould'ring ashes to the wind
Can break their rest.
Jer. Woe's me! I thought you would have griev'd for her.
She was a kindly soul! Before she died,
When pining sickness bent her cheerless head,
She set my house in order—
And but the morning ere she breath'd her last,
Bade me preserve some flaskets of this wine,
That should the Lord De Monfort come again
His cup might sparkle still. (De Monfort walks across the stage, and wipes his eyes.)
Indeed I fear I have distress'd you, sir:
I surely thought you would be griev'd for her.
De Mon. (Taking Jerome's hand.)
I am, my friend. How long has she been dead?
Jer. Two sad long years.
De Mon.Would she were living still!
I was too troublesome, too heedless of her.
Jer. O no! she lov'd to serve you.
(Loud knocking without.)
De Mon. What fool comes here, at such untimely hours,
To make this cursed noise. (To Manuel.) Go to the gate.[Exit Manuel.
All sober citizens are gone to bed;
It is some drunkards on their nightly rounds,
Who mean it but in sport.
Jer. I hear unusual voices—here they come.
Re-enter Manuel, shewing in Count Freberg and his Lady.
Freb. (Running to embrace De Monfort.) My dearest Monfort! most unlook'd-for pleasure.
Do I indeed embrace thee here again?
I saw thy servant standing by the gate,
His face recall'd, and learnt the joyful tidings.
Welcome, thrice welcome here!
De Mon. I thank thee, Freberg, for this friendly visit,
And this fair Lady too.(Bowing to the Lady.)
Lady.I fear, my Lord,
We do intrude at an untimely hour:
But now returning from a midnight mask,
My husband did insist that we should enter.
Freb. No, say not so; no hour untimely call,
Which doth together bring long absent friends.
Dear Monfort, wherefore hast thou play'd so sly,
To come upon us thus all suddenly?
De Mon. O! many varied thoughts do cross our brain,
Which touch the will, but leave the memory trackless;
And yet a strange compounded motive make
Wherefore a man should bend his evening walk
To th' east or west, the forest or the field.
Is it not often so?
Freb. I ask no more, happy to see you here
From any motive. There is one behind,
Whose presence would have been a double bliss;
Ah! how is she? The noble Jane de Monfort.
De Mon. (Confused.) She is—I have—I have left my sister well.
Lady. (To Freberg.) My Freberg, you are heedless of respect:
You surely meant to say the Lady Jane.
Freb. Respect! No, Madam; Princess, Empress, Queen,
Could not denote a creature so exalted
As this plain native appellation doth,
The noble Jane de Monfort.
Lady. (Turning from him displeased to Monfort.)
You are fatigued, my Lord; you want repose;
Say, should we not retire?
Freb.Ha! is it so?
My friend, your face is pale, have you been ill?
De Mon. No, Freberg, no; I think I have been well.
Freb. (Shaking his head.) I fear thou hast not, Monfort—Let it pass.
We'll re-establish thee: we'll banish pain.
I will collect some rare, some cheerful friends,
And we shall spend together glorious hours,
That gods might envy. Little time so spent
Doth far outvalue all our life beside.
This is indeed our life, our waking life,
The rest dull breathing sleep.
De Mon. Thus, it is true, from the sad years of life
We sometimes do short hours, yea minutes strike,
Keen, blissful, bright, never to be forgotten;
Which thro' the dreary gloom of time o'erpast
Shine like fair sunny spots on a wild waste.
But few they are, as few the heaven-fir'd souls
Whose magick power creates them. Bless'd art thou,
If in the ample circle of thy friends
Thou canst but boast a few.
Freb. Judge for thyself: in truth I do not boast.
There is amongst my friends, my later friends,
A most accomplish'd stranger. New to Amberg,
But just arriv'd; and will ere long depart.
I met him in Franconia two years since.
He is so full of pleasant anecdote,
So rich, so gay, so poignant is his wit,
Time vanishes before him as he speaks,
And ruddy morning thro' the lattice peeps
Ere night seems well begun.
De Mon.How is he call'd?
Freb. I will surprise thee with a welcome face:
I will not tell thee now.
Lady to Mon. I have, my Lord, a small request to make,
And must not be denied. I too may boast
Of some good friends, and beauteous country-women:
To-morrow night I open wide my doors
To all the fair and gay; beneath my roof
Musick, and dance, and revelry shall reign.
I pray you come and grace it with your presence.
De Mon. You honour me too much to be denied.
Lady. I thank you, Sir; and in return for this,
We shall withdraw, and leave you to repose.
Freb. Must it be so? Good night—sweet sleep to thee. (To De Monfort.)
De Mon. to Freb. Good night.(To Lady.) Good-night, fair Lady.
[Exeunt Freberg and Lady.]
De Mon. to Jer. I thought Count Freberg had been now in France.
Jer. He meant to go, as I have been inform'd.
De Mon. Well, well, prepare my bed; I will to rest.
De Mon. (alone.) I know not how it is, my heart stands back,
And meets not this man's love.—Friends! rarest friends!
Rather than share his undiscerning praise
With every table wit, and book-form'd sage,
And paltry poet puling to the moon,
Fd court from him proscription; yea abuse,
And think it proud distinction.[Exit.
A Small Apartment in Jerome's House: a table and breakfast set out. Enter De Monfort, followed by Manuel, and sets himself down by the table, with a cheerful face.
De Mon. Manuel, this morning's sun shines pleasantly:
These old apartments too are light and cheerful.
Our landlord's kindness has reviv'd me much;
He serves as though he lov'd me. This pure air
Braces the listless nerves, and warms the blood;
I feel in freedom here.
(Filling a cup of coffee, and drinking.)
Man.Ah! sure, my Lord,
No air is purer than the air at home.
De Mon. Here can I wander with assured steps,
Nor dread, at every winding of the path,
Lest an abhorred serpent cross my way,
And move—(Stopping short.)
Man.What says your honour?
There are no serpents in our pleasant fields.
De Mon. Think'st thou there are no serpents in the world
But those who slide along the grassy sod,
And sting the luckless foot that presses them?
There are who in the path of social life
Do bask their spotted skins in Fortune's sun,
And sting the soul—Ay, till its healthful frame
Is chang'd to secret, fest'ring, sore disease,
So deadly is the wound.
Man. Heaven guard your honour from such horrid skathe:
They are but rare, I hope?
De Mon. (Shaking his head.) We mark the hollow eye, the wasted frame,
The gait disturb'd of wealthy honour'd men,
But do not know the cause.
Man. 'Tis very true. God keep you well, my Lord!
De Mon. I thank thee, Manuel, I am very well.
I shall be gay too, by the setting sun.
I go to revel it with sprightly dames,
And drive the night away.
(Filling another cup, and drinking.)
Man. I should be glad to see your honour gay.
De Mon. And thou too shalt be gay. There, honest Manuel,
Put these broad pieces in thy leathern purse,
And take at night a cheerful jovial glass.
Here is one too, for Bremer; he loves wine;
And one for Jaques: be joyful all together.
Ser. My Lord, I met e'en now, a short way off,
Your countryman the Marquis Rezenvelt.
De Mon. (Starting from his seat, and letting the cup fall from his hand.) Who, say'st thou?
Ser.Marquis Rezenvelt, an' please you.
De Mon. Thou ly'st—it is not so—it is impossible.
Ser. I saw him with these eyes, plain as yourself.
De Mon. Fool! 'tis some passing stranger thou hast seen.
And with a hideous likeness been deceiv'd.
Ser. No other stranger could deceive my sight.
De Mon. (Dashing his clenched hand violently upon the table, and overturning every thing.) Heaven blast thy sight! it lights on nothing good.
Ser. I surely thought no harm to look upon him.
De Mon. What, dost thou still insist? Him must it be?
Does it so please thee well? (Servant endeavours to speak) hold thy damn'd tongue.
By heaven I'll kill thee. (Going furiously up to him.)
Man. (In a soothing voice.) Nay harm him not, my Lord; he speaks the truth;
I've met his groom, who told me certainly
His Lord is here. I should have told you so,
But thought, perhaps, it might displease your honour.
De Mon. (Becoming all at once calm, and turning sternly to Manuel.) And how dar'st thou to think it would displease me?
What is't to me who leaves or enters Amberg?
But it displeases me, yea ev'n to frenzy,
That every idle fool must hither come
To break my leisure with the paltry tidings
Of all the cursed things he stares upon.
Servant attempts to speak—De Monfort stamps with his foot.)
And speak of it no more.[Exit Servant.
De Mon. And go thou too; I choose to be alone.
(De Monfort goes to the door by which they went out; opens it, and looks.)
(Goes to the opposite door, opens it, and looks: then gives loose to all the fury of gesture, and walks up and down in great agitation.)
It is too much: by heaven it is too much!
He haunts me—stings me—like a devil haunts—
He'll make a raving maniack of me—Villain!
The air wherein thou draw'st thy fulsome breath
Is poison to me—Oceans shall divide! (Pauses.)
But no; thou think'st I fear thee, cursed reptile!
And hast a pleasure in the damned thought.
Though my heart's blood should curdle at thy sight,
I'll stay and face thee still.
(Knocking at the chamber door.)
Ha! Who knocks there?
Freberg. (Without.) It is thy friend, De Monfort.
De Mon. (Opening the door.) Enter, then.
Freb. (Taking his hand kindly.) How art thou now? How hast thou past the night?
Has kindly sleep refresh'd thee?
De Mon. Yes, I have lost an hour or two in sleep,
And so should be refresh'd.
Freb.And art thou not?
Thy looks speak not of rest. Thou art disturb'd.
De Mon. No, somewhat ruffled from a foolish cause,
Which soon will pass away.
Freb. (Shaking his head.) Ah no, De Monfort! something in thy face
Tells me another tale. Then wrong me not:
If any secret grief distracts thy soul,
Here am I all devoted to thy love;
Open thy heart to me. What troubles thee?
De Mon. I have no grief: distress me not, my friend.
Freb. Nay, do not call me so. Wert thou my friend,
Would'st thou not open all thine inmost soul,
And bid me share its every consciousness?
De Mon. Freberg, thou know'st not man; not nature's man,
But only him who, in smooth studied works
Of polish'd sages, shines deceitfully
In all the splendid foppery of virtue.
That man was never born whose secret soul,
With all its motley treasure of dark thoughts,
Foul fantasies, vain musings, and wild dreams,
Was ever open'd to another's scan.
Away, away! it is delusion all.
Freb. Well, be reserved then: perhaps I'm wrong.
De Mon. How goes the hour?
Freb. 'Tis early: a long day is still before us,
Let us enjoy it. Come along with me;
I'll introduce you to my pleasant friend.
De Mon. Your pleasant friend?
Freb.Yes, he of whom I spake.
(Taking his hand.)
There is no good I would not share with thee,
And this man's company, to minds like thine,
Is the best banquet-feast I could bestow.
But I will speak in mystery no more,
It is thy townsman, noble Rezenvelt.
(De Mon. pulls his hand hastily from Freberg, and shrinks hack.) Ha! What is this? Art thou pain stricken, Monfort?
Does it displease thee that I call him friend?
De Mon. No, all men are thy friends.
Free. No, say not all men. But thou art offended.
I see it well. I thought to do thee pleasure:
But if his presence is not welcome here,
He shall not join our company to-day.
De Mon. What dost thou mean to say? What is't to me
Whether I meet with such a thing as Rezenvelt
To-day, to-morrow, every day, or never.
Freb. In truth, I thought you had been well with him.
He prais'd you much.
De Mon. I thank him for his praise—Come, let us move:
This chamber is confin'd and airless grown.
I hear a stranger's voice!
Let him be told that we are gone abroad.
De Mon. (Proudly.) No; let him enter.
Who waits there? Ho! Manuel!
What stranger speaks below?
Man.The Marquis Rezenvelt.
I have not told him that you are within.
De Mon. (Angrily.) And wherefore dids't thou not? Let him ascend.
(A long pause. De Monfort walking up and down with a quick pace.)
Enter Rezenvelt, and runs freely up to De Monfort.
Rez. to De Mon. My noble Marquis, welcome.
De Mon.Sir, I thank yon,
Rez. (to Freb.) My gentle friend, well met. Abroad so early?
Freb. It is indeed an early hour for me.
How sits thy last night's revel on thy spirits?
Rez. light as ever. On my way to you,
E'en now, I learnt De Monfort was arriv'd,
And turn'd my steps aside; so here I am.
(Bowing gaily to De Monfort.)
De Mon. I thank you, Sir; you do me too much honour. (Proudly.)
Rez. Nay, say not so; not too much honour surely,
Unless, indeed, 'tis more than pleases you.
De Mon. (Confused.) Having no previous notice of your coming,
I look'd not for it.
Rez. Ay, true indeed; when I approach you next,
I'll send a herald to proclaim my coming,
And make my bow to you by sound of trumpet, Marquis.
De Mon.(to Freb. turning haughtily from Rezenvelt with affected indifference.)How does your cheerful friend, that good old man?
Freb. My cheerful friend? I know not whom you mean.
De Mon. Count Waterlan.
Freb.I know not one so named.
De Mon. (very confused.) O pardon me—it was at Bâle I knew him.
Freb. You have not yet enquired for honest Reisdale.
I met him as I came, and mention'd you.
He seem'd amaz'd; and fain he would have learnt
What cause procur'd us so much happiness.
He question'd hard, and hardly would believe
I could not satisfy his strong desire.
Rez. And know you not what brings De Monfort here?
Freb. Truly, I do not.
Rez.O! 'tis love of me.
I have but two short days in Amberg been,
And here with postman's speed he follows me,
Finding his home so dull and tiresome grown.
Freb. to De Mon. Is Rezenvelt so sadly miss'd with you?
Your town so chang'd?
De Mon.Not altogether so:
Some witlings and jest-mongers still remain
For fools to laugh at.
Rez. But he laughs not, and therefore he is wise.
He ever frowns on them with sullen brow
Contemptuous; therefore he is very wise.
Nay, daily frets his most refined soul
With their poor folly, to its inmost core;
Therefore he is most eminently wise.
Freb. Fy, Rezenvelt! You are too early gay;
Such spirits rise but with the ev'ning glass.
They suit not placid morn.
(To De Monfort, after walking impatiently up and down, comes close to his ear, and lays hold of his arm.)
De Mon. Nothing—Yet, what is't o'clock?
No, no—I had forgot—'tis early still.
(Turns away again.)
Freb. to Rez. Waltser informs me that you have agreed
To read his verses o'er, and tell the truth.
It is a dangerous task.
Rez. Yet I'll be honest:
I can but lose his favour and a feast.
(Whilst they speaks De Monfort walks up and down impatiently and irresolute; at last, pulls the bell violently.)
De Mon. to Ser. What dost thou want?—
Ser.I thought your honour rung.
De Mon. I have forgot—Stay; are my horses saddled?
Ser. I thought, my Lord, you would not ride to-day.
After so long a journey.
De Mon. (Impatiently.) Well—'tis good.
Begone!—I want thee not.[Exit Servant.
Rez. (Smiling significantly.) I humbly crave your pardon, gentle Marquis.
It grieves me that I cannot stay with you,
And make my visit of a friendly length.
I trust your goodness will excuse me now;
Another time I shall be less unkind.
(To Freberg.) Will you not go with me?
Freb. Excuse me, Monfort, I'll return again.
[Exeunt Rezenvelt and Freberg.
De Mon. (Alone, tossing his arms distractedly.)
Hell hath no greater torment for th' accurs'd
Than this man's presence gives—
Abhorred fiend! he hath a pleasure too,
A damned pleasure in the pain he gives!
Oh! the side glance of that detested eye!
That conscious smile! that full insulting lip!
It touches every nerve: it makes me mad.
What, does it please thee? Dost thou woo my hate?
Hate shalt thou have! determin'd, deadly hate.
Which shall awake no smile. Malignant villain!
The venom of thy mind is rank and devilish,
And thin the film that hides it.
Thy hateful visage ever spoke thy worth:
I loath'd thee when a boy.
That——should be besotted with him thus!
And Freberg likewise so bewitched is,
That like a hireling flatt'rer, at his heels
He meanly paces, off'ring brutish praise.
O! I could curse him too.[Exit.