A Series of Plays in which it is attempted to delineate The Stronger Passions of the Mind, Volume One/De Monfort Act 3
ACT III.— SCENE I.
Jane. Thanks, gentle brother.—
(Pointing to the book.)
Thy willing mind has been right well employ'd.
Did not thy heart warm at the fair display
Of peace and concord and forgiving love?
De Mon. I know resentment may to love be turn'd;
Tho' keen and lasting, into love as strong:
And fiercest rivals in th' ensanguin'd field
Have cast their brandish'd weapons to the ground,
Joining their mailed breasts in close embrace,
With gen'rous impulse fir'd. I know right well
The darkest, fellest wrongs have been forgiven
Seventy times o'er from blessed heavenly love:
I've heard of things like these; I've heard and wept.
But what is this to me?
Jane.All, all, my brother!
It bids thee too that noble precept learn,
To love thine enemy.
De Mon. Th' uplifted stroke that would a wretch destroy
Gorg'd with my richest spoil, stain'd with my blood,
I would arrest and cry, hold! hold! have mercy:
But when the man most adverse to my nature;
Who e'en from childhood hath, with rude malevolence,
Withheld the fair respect all paid beside,
Turning my very praise into derision;
Who galls and presses me where'er I go,
Would claim the gen'rous feelings of my heart,
Nature herself doth lift her voice aloud,
And cries, it is impossible.
Jane. (Shaking her head.)—Ah Monfort, Monfort!
De Mon. I can forgive th' envenom'd reptile's sting,
But hate his loathsome self.
Jane. And canst thou do no more for love of heaven?
De Mon. Alas! I cannot now so school my mind
As holy men have taught, nor search it truly:
But this, my Jane, I'll do for love of thee;
And more it is than crowns could win me to,
Or any power but thine. I'll see the man.
Th' indignant risings of abhorrent nature;
The stern contraction of my scowling brows,
That, like the plant, whose closing leaves do shrink
At hostile touch, still knit at his approach;
The crooked curving lip, by instinct taught,
In imitation of disgustful things,
To pout and swell, I strictly will repress;
And meet him with a tamed countenance,
E'en as a townsman, who would live at peace,
And pay him the respect his station claims,
I'll crave his pardon too for all offence
My dark and wayward temper may have done;
Nay more, I will confess myself his debtor
For the forbearance I have curs'd so oft.
Life spar'd by him, more horrid than the grave
With all its dark corruption! This I'll do.
Will it suffice thee? More than this I cannot.
Jane. No more than this do I require of thee
In outward act, tho' in thy heart, my friend,
I hop'd a better change, and still will hope.
I told thee Freberg had propos'd a meeting.
De Mon. I know it well.
Jane.And Rezenvelt consents.
He meets you here; so far he shews respect.
De Mon. Well, let it be; the sooner past the better.
Jane. I'm glad to hear you say so, for, in truth,
He has propos'd it for an early hour.
'Tis almost near his time; I came to tell you.
De Mon. What, comes he here so soon? shame on his speed!
It is not decent thus to rush upon me.
He loves the secret pleasure he will feel
To see me thus subdued.
Jane. O say not so! he comes with heart sincere.
De Mon. Could we not meet elsewhere? from home—i' the fields,
Where other men—must I alone receive him?
Where is your agent, Freberg, and his friends,
That I must meet him here?
(Walks up and down very much disturbed.)
Now did'st thou say?—how goes the hour?—e'en now!
I would some other friend were first arriv'd.
Jane. See, to thy wish comes Freberg and his dame.
De Mon. His lady too! why comes he not alone?
Must all the world stare upon our meeting?
Enter Count Freberg and his Countess.
Freb. A happy morrow to my noble marquis
And his most noble sister.
Your face, methinks, forbodes a happy morn
Open and cheerful. What of Rezenvelt?
Freb. I left him at his home, prepar'd to follow:
He'll soon appear. (To De Monfort.) And now, my worthy friend,
Give me your hand; this happy change delights me.
(De Monfort gives hint his hand coldly, and they walk to the bottom of the stage together, in earnest discourse, whilst Jane and the Countess remain in the front.)
Lady. My dearest madam, will you pardon me?
I know Count Freberg's bus'ness with De Monfort,
And had a strong desire to visit you,
So much I wish the honour of your friendship.
For he retains no secret from mine ear.
Jane, archly. Knowing your prudence.—You are welcome, madam,
So shall Count Freberg's lady ever be.
(De Monfort and Freberg returning towards the front of the stage, still engaged in discourse.)
Freb. He is indeed a man, within whose breast,
Firm rectitude and honour hold their seat,
Tho' unadorned with that dignity
Which were their fittest garb. Now, on my life!
I know no truer heart than Rezenvelt.
De Mon. Well, Freberg, well, there needs not all this pains
To garnish out his worth; let it suffice.
I am resolv'd I will respect the man,
As his fair station and repute demand.
Methinks I see not at your jolly feasts
The youthful knight, who sung so pleasantly.
Freb. A pleasant circumstance detains him hence;
Pleasant to those who love high gen'rous deeds
Above the middle pitch of common minds;
And, tho' I have been sworn to secrecy,
Yet must I tell it thee.
This knight is near a kin to Rezenvelt
To whom an old relation, short while dead,
Bequeath'd a good estate, some leagues distant.
But Rezenvelt, now rich in fortune's store,
Disdain'd the sordid love of further gain,
And gen'rously the rich bequest resign'd
To this young man, blood of the same degree
To the deceas'd, and low in fortune's gifts,
Who is from hence to take possession of it.
Was it not nobly done?
De Mon.'Twas right, and honourable.
This morning is oppressive, warm, and heavy:
There hangs a foggy closeness in the air;
Dost thou not feel it?
Freb. O no! to think upon a gen'rous deed
Expands my soul, and makes me lightly breath.
De Mon. Who gives the feast to night? His name escapes me.
You say I am invited.
Freb.Old Count Waterlan.
In honour of your townsman's gen'rous gift
He spreads the board.
De Mon. He is too old to revel with the gay.
Freb. But not too old is he to honour virtue.
I shall partake of it with open soul;
For, on my honest faith, of living men
I know not one, for talents, honour, worth,
That I should rank superiour to Rezenvelt.
De Mon. How virtuous he hath been in three short days!
Freb. Nay, longer. Marquis, but my friendship rests
Upon the good report of other men;
And that has told me much.
(De Monfort aside, going some steps hastily from Freberg, and rending his cloak with agitation as he goes.)
This fool besets me so.
(Suddenly correcting himself, and joining the Ladies, who have retired to the bottom of the stage, he speaks to Countess Freberg with affected cheerfulness.)
Untarnish'd with the vigils of the night.
Lady. Praise us not rashly, 'tis not always so,
De Mon. He does not rashly praise who praises you;
For he were dull indeed—
(Stopping short, as if he heard something.)
Lady.How dull indeed?
De Mon. I should have said—It has escap'd me now
(Listening again, as if he heard something.)
Jane to De Mon. What, hear you ought?
De Mon. (hastily.)'Tis nothing.
Lady to De Mon. Nay, do not let me lose it so, my lord.
Some fair one has bewitch'd your memory,
And robs me of the half-form'd compliment.
Jane. Half-utter'd praise is to the curious mind,
As to the eye half-veiled beauty is,
More precious than the whole. Pray pardon him.
Some one approaches.(Listening.)
Freb. No, no, it is a servant who ascends;
He will not come so soon.
Mon. (Off his guard.) 'Tis Rezenvelt: I heard his well-known foot!
From the first stair-case, mounting step by step.
Freb. How quick an ear thou hast for distant sound!
I heard him not.
(De Monfort looks embarrassed, and is silent.)
(De Monfort, recovering himself, goes up to receive Rezenvelt, who meets him with a cheerful countenance.)
De Mon. to Rez. I am, my lord, beholden to you greatly
This ready visit makes me much your debtor.
Rez. Then may such debts between us, noble marquis.
Be oft incurr'd, and often paid again.
To Jane. Madam, I am devoted to your service,
And ev'ry wish of yours commands my will.
To Countess. Lady, good morning. (To Freb.) Well, my gentle friend,
You see I have not linger'd long behind.
Freb. No, thou art sooner than I look'd for thee.
Rez. A willing heart adds feather to the heel,
And makes the clown a winged mercury.
De Mon. Then let me say, that with a grateful mind
I do receive these tokens of good will;
And must regret that, in my wayward moods,
I have too oft forgot the due regard
Your rank and talents claim.
Rez.No, no, De Monfort,
You have but rightly curb'd a wanton spirit,
Which makes me too, neglectful of respect.
Let us be friends, and think of this no more.
Freb. Ay, let it rest with the departed shades
Of things which are no more; whilst lovely concord,
Follow'd by friendship sweet, and firm esteem,
Your future days enrich. O heavenly friendship!
Thou dost exalt the sluggish souls of men,
By thee conjoin'd, to great and glorious deeds;
As two dark clouds, when mixd in middle air,
The vivid lightning's flash, and roar sublime.
Talk not of what is past, but future love.
De Mon. (With dignity.) No, Freberg, no, it must not. (To Rezenvelt.) No, my lord.
I will not offer you an hand of concord
And poorly hide the motives which constrain me.
I would that, not alone these present friends,
But ev'ry soul in Amberg were assembled,
That I, before them all, might here declare
I owe my spared life to your forbearance.
(Holding out his hand.) Take this from one who boasts no feeling warmth,
But never will deceive.
(Jane smiles upon De Monfort with great approbation, and Rezenvelt runs up to him with open arms.)
Rez. Away with hands! I'll have thee to my breast.
Thou art, upon my faith, a noble spirit!
De Mon. (Shrinking back from him.) Nay, if you please, I am not so prepar'd—
My nature is of temp'rature too cold—
I pray you pardon me. (Jane's countenance changes.)
But take this hand, the token of respect;
The token of a will inclin'd to concord;
The token of a mind that bears within
A sense impressive of the debt it owes you;
And cursed be its power, unnerv'd its strength,
If e'er again it shall be lifted up
To do you any harm.
Rez. Well, be it so, De Monfort, I'm contented;
I'll take thy hand since I can have no more.
(Carelessly.) I take of worthy men whate'er they give.
Their heart I gladly take; if not, their hand;
If that too is withheld, a courteous word,
Or the civility of placed looks;
And, if e'en these are too great favours deem'd,
'Faith, I can set me down contentedly
With plain and homely greeting, or, God save ye!
(De Monfort aside, starting away from him some paces.)
(Jane seems greatly distressed, and Freberg endeavours to cheer her,)
Freb. to Jane. Cheer up, my noble friend; all will go well;
For friendship is no plant of hasty growth.
Tho' planted in esteem's deep-fixed soil,
The gradual culture of kind intercourse
Must bring it to perfection.
(To the Countess.) My love, the morning, now, is far advanced;
Our friends elsewhere expect us; take your leave.
Lady to Jane. Farewell! dear madam, till the ev'ning hour.
Freb. to De Mon. Good day, De Monfort. (To Jane.) Most devoutly yours.
Rez. to Freb. Go not too fast, for I will follow you.
[Exeunt Freberg and his Lady.
(To Jane.) The Lady Jane is yet a stranger here:
She might, perhaps, in the purlieus of Amberg
Find somewhat worth her notice.
Jane. I thank you, Marquis, I am much engaged;
I go not out to-day.
Rez. Then fare ye well! I see I cannot now
Be the proud man who shall escort you forth,
And shew to all the world my proudest boast,
The notice and respect of Jane De Monfort.
De Mon. (Aside, impatiently.) He says farewell, and goes not!
Jane to Rez. You do me honour.
Rez. Madam, adieu! (To Jane.) Good morning, noble marquis. [Exit.
(Jane and De Monfort look expressively to one another, without speakings and then Exeunt, severally.)
A splendid Banquetting Room. De Monfort, Rezenvelt, Freberg, Master of the House, and Guests, are discovered sitting at table, with wine, &c. before them.
Pleasant is the mantling bowl,
And the song of merry soul;
And the red lamps cheery light,
And the goblet glancing bright;
Whilst many a cheerful face, around,
Listens to the jovial sound.
Social spirits, join with me;
Bless the God of jollity.
Freb. to De Mon. (Who rises to go away.) Thou wilt not leave us, Monfort? wherefore so?
De Mon. (Aside to Freberg.) I pray thee take no notice of me now.
Mine ears are stunned with these noisy fools;
Let me escape.[Exit, hastily.
Master of the House. What, is De Monfort gone?
Freb. Time presses him.
Rez. It seem'd to sit right heavily upon him,
We must confess.
Master to Freb. How is your friend? he wears a noble mien.
But most averse, methinks, from social pleasure.
Is this his nature?
Freb. No, I’ve seen him cheerful,
And at the board, with soul-enliven'd face,
Push the gay goblet round.—But it wears late.
We shall seem topers more than social friends,
If the returning sun surprise us here.
(To Mast.) Good rest, my gen'rous host; we will retire.
You wrestle with your age most manfully,
But brave it not too far. Retire to sleep.
Mast. I will, my friend, but do you still remain,
With noble Rezenvelt, and all my guests.
Ye have not fourscore years upon your head;
Do not depart so soon. God save you all!
[Exit Master, leaning upon a Servant.
Freb. to the Guests. Shall we resume?
Guests.The night is too far spent.
Freb. Well then, good rest to you.
Rez. to Guests.Good rest, my friends.
[Exeunt all but Freberg and Rezenvelt.
Freb. Alas! my Rezenvelt!
I vainly hop'd the hand of gentle peace,
From this day's reconciliation sprung,
These rude unseemly jarrings had subdu'd:
But I have mark'd, e'en at the social board,
Such looks, such words, such tones, such untold things,
Too plainly told, 'twixt you and Monfort pass,
That I must now despair.
Yet who could think, two minds so much refin'd,
So near in excellence, should be remov'd,
So far remov'd, in gen'rous sympathy.
Rez. Ay, far remov'd indeed.
Freb. And yet, methought, he made a noble effort,
And with a manly plainness bravely told
The galling debt he owes to your forbearance.
Rez. 'Faith! so he did, and so did I receive it;
When, with spread arms, and heart e'en mov'd to tears,
I frankly proffer'd him a friend's embrace:
And, I declare, had he as such receiv'd it,
I from that very moment had forborne
All opposition, pride-provoking jest,
Contemning carelessness, and all offence;
And had caress'd him as a worthy heart,
From native weakness such indulgence claiming:
But since he proudly thinks that cold respect,
The formal tokens of his lordly favour,
So precious are, that I would sue for them
As fair distinction in the world's eye,
Forgetting former wrongs, I spurn it all;
And but that I do bear the noble woman,
His worthy, his incomparable sister,
Such fix'd profound regard, I would expose him;
And as a mighty bull, in senseless rage,
Rous'd at the baiter's will, with wretched rags
Of ire-provoking scarlet, chaffs and bellows,
I d make him at small cost of paltry wit,
With all his deep and manly faculties,
The scorn and laugh of fools.
Freb. For heaven's sake, my friend! restrain your wrath;
For what has Monfort done of wrong to you,
Or you to him, bating one foolish quarrel,
Which you confess from slight occasion rose,
That in your breasts such dark resentment dwells,
So fix'd, so hopeless?
Rez. O! from our youth he has distinguish'd me
With ev'ry mark of hatred and disgust.
For e'en in boyish sports I still oppos'd
His proud pretensions to pre-eminence;
Nor would I to his ripen'd greatness give
That fulsome adulation of applause
A senseless croud bestow'd. Tho' poor in fortune,
I still would smile at vain-assuming wealth:
But when unlook'd-for fate on me bestow'd
Riches and splendour equal to his own,
Tho' I, in truth, despise such poor distinction,
Feeling inclin'd to be at peace with him,
And with all men beside, I curb'd my spirit,
And sought to soothe him. Then, with spiteful rage,
From small offence he rear'd a quarrel with me,
And dar'd me to the field. The rest you know.
In short, I still have been th' opposing rock.
O'er which the stream of his o'erflowing pride
Hath foam'd and bellow'd. See'st thou how it is?
Freb. Too well I see, and warn thee to beware.
Such streams have oft, by swelling floods surcharg’d,
Borne down with sudden and impetuous force
The yet unshaken stone of opposition,
Which had for ages stopp'd their flowing course.
I pray thee, friend, beware.
Rez. Thou canst not mean—he will not murder me?
Freb. What a proud heart, with such dark passion toss'd,
May, in the anguish of its thoughts, conceive,
I will not dare to say.
Rez. Ha, ha! thou know'st him not.
Full often have I mark'd it in his youth,
And could have almost lov'd him for the weakness;
He's form'd with such antipathy, by nature,
To all infliction of corporeal pain,
To wounding life, e'en to the sight of blood,
He cannot if he would.
Freb.Then fy upon thee!
It is not gen'rous to provoke him thus.
But let us part; we'll talk of this again.
Something approaches.—We are here too long.
Rez. Well, then, to-morrow I'll attend your call.
Here lies my way. Good night.[Exit.
Grim. Forgive, I pray, my lord, a stranger's boldness.
I have presum'd to wait your leisure here,
Though at so late an hour.
Freb.But who art thou?
Grim. My name is Grimbald, sir,
A humble suitor to your honour's goodness,
Who is the more embolden'd to presume,
In that the noble Marquis of De Monfort
Is so much fam'd for good and gen'rous deeds.
Freb. You are mistaken, I am not the man.
Grim. Then, pardon me; I thought I could not err.
That mien so dignified, that piercing eye
Assur'd me it was he.
Freb. My name is not De Monfort, courteous stranger;
But, if you have a favour to request,
I may, perhaps, with him befriend your suit.
Grim. I thank your honour, but I have a friend
Who will commend me to De Monfort's favour:
The Marquis Rezenvelt has known me long,
Who, says report, will soon become his brother.
Freb. If thou would'st seek thy ruin from De Monfort,
The name of Rezenvelt employ, and prosper;
But, if ought good, use any name, but his.
Grim. How may this be?
Freb.I cannot now explain.
Early to-morrow call upon Count Freberg;
So am I call'd, each burgher knows my house,
And there instruct me how to do you service.
Grim. (Alone.) Well, this mistake may be of service to me;
And yet my bus'ness I will not unfold
To this mild, ready, promise-making courtier;
I've been by such too oft deceiv'd already:
But if such violent enmity exists
Between De Monfort and this Rezenvelt,
He'll prove my advocate by opposition.
For, if De Monfort would reject my suit,
Being the man whom Rezenvelt esteems,
Being the man he hates, a cord as strong,
Will he not favour me? I'll think of this.
A lower Apartment in Jerome's House, with a wide folding glass door, looking into a garden, where the trees and shrubs are brown and leafless. Enter De Monfort with his arms crossed, with a thoughtful frowning aspect, and paces slowly across the stage, Jerome following behind him with a timid step, De Monfort hearing him, turns suddenly about.
De Mon. (Angrily.) Who follows me to this sequester'd room?
Jer. I have presum'd, my lord. 'Tis somewhat late:
I am inform'd you eat at home to-night;
Here is a list of all the dainty fare
My busy search has found; please to peruse it.
De Mon. Leave me: begone! Put hemlock in thy soup,
Or deadly night-shade, or rank hellebore,
And I will mess upon it.
Your honour's life is all too precious, sure—
De Mon. (Sternly.) Did I not say begone?
Jer. Pardon, my lord, I'm old, and oft forget.
De Mon. (Looking after him as if his heart smote him.) Why will they thus mistime their foolish zeal,
That I must be so stern?
O! that I were upon some desert coast!
Where howling tempests and the lashing tide
Would stun me into deep and senseless quiet;
As the storm-beaten traveler droops his head,
In heavy, dull, lethargick weariness,
And, midst the roar of jarring elements,
Sleeps to awake no more.
What am I grown? All things are hateful to me.
Man. Nay, good, my lord! I heard you speak aloud,
And dreamt not, surely, that you were alone.
De Mon. What, dost thou watch, and pin thine ear to holes,
To catch those exclamations of the soul,
Which heaven alone should hear? Who hir'd thee, pray?
Who basely hir'd thee for a task like this?
Man. My lord, I cannot hold. For fifteen years,
Long-troubled years, I have your servant been,
Nor hath the proudest lord in all the realm,
With firmer, with more honourable faith
His sov'reign serv'd, than I have served you;
But, if my honesty is doubted now,
Let him who is more faithful take my place,
And serve you better.
De Mon. Well, be it as thou wilt. Away with thee.
Thy loud-mouth'd boasting is no rule for me
To judge thy merit by.
Enter Jerome hastily, and pulls Manuel away.
Jer. Come, Manuel, come away; thou art not wise.
The stranger must depart and come again,
For now his honour will not be disturb'd.
[Exit Manuel sulkily.
De Mon. A stranger said'st thou.
(Drops his handkerchief.)
Jer. I did, good sir, but he shall go away;
You shall not be disturb'd.
(Stooping to lift the handkerchief.)
You have dropp'd somewhat.
De Mon. (Preventing him.) Nay, do not stoop, my friend! I pray thee not!
Thou art too old to stoop.—
I am much indebted to thee.—Take this ring—
I love thee better than I seem to do.
I pray thee do it—thank me not.—What stranger?
Jer. A man who does most earnestly entreat
To see your honour, but I know him not.
De Mon. Then let him enter.[Exit Jerome.
A pause. Enter Grimbald.
De Mon. You are the stranger who would speak with me?
Grim. I am so far unfortunate, my lord,
That, though my fortune on your favour hangs,
I am to you a stranger.
De Mon. How may this be? What can I do for you?
Grim. Since thus your lordship does so frankly ask,
The tiresome preface of apology
I will forbear, and tell my tale at once.—
In plodding drudgery I've spent my youth,
A careful penman in another's office;
And now, my master and employer dead,
They seek to set a stripling o'er my head,
And leave me on to drudge, e'en to old age,
Because I have no friend to take my part.
It is an office in your native town,
For I am come from thence, and I am told
You can procure it for me. Thus, my lord,
From the repute of goodness which you bear,
I have presum'd to beg.
De Mon. They have befool'd thee with a false report.
Grim. Alas! I see it is in vain to plead.
Your mind is pre-possess'd against a wretch,
Who has, unfortunately for his weal,
Offended the revengeful Rezenvelt.
De Mon. What dost thou say?
Grim. What I, perhaps, had better leave unsaid.
Who will believe my wrongs if I complain?
I am a stranger, Rezenvelt my foe.
Who will believe my wrongs?
De Mon. (Eagerly catching him by the coat.)
I will believe them!
Though they were base as basest, vilest deeds,
In ancient record told, I would believe them.
Let not the smallest atom of unworthiness
That he has put upon thee be conceal'd.
Speak boldly, tell it all; for, by the light!
I'll be thy friend. I'll be thy warmest friend,
If he has done thee wrong.
Grim. Nay, pardon me, it were not well advis'd,
If I should speak so freely of the man,
Who will so soon your nearest kinsman be.
De Mon. What canst thou mean by this?
Grim.That Marquis Rezenvelt
Has pledg'd his faith unto your noble sister,
And soon will be the husband of her choice.
So, I am told, and so the world believes.
De Mon. 'Tis false! 'tis basely false!
What wretch could drop from his envenom'd tongue
A tale so damn'd?—It chokes my breath—
(Stamping with his foot.) What wretch did tell it thee?
Grim. Nay, every one with whom I have convers'd
Has held the same discourse. I judge it not.
But you, my lord, who with the lady dwell,
You test can tell what her deportment speaks;
Whether her conduct and unguarded words
Belie such rumour.
(De Monfort pauses, staggers backwards, and sinks into a chair; then starting up hastily.)
De Mon. Where am I now? 'midst all the cursed thoughts
That on my soul like stinging scorpions prey'd,
This never came before——Oh, if it be!
The thought will drive me mad.—Was it for this
She urged her warm request on bended knee?
Alas! I wept, and thought of sister's love,
No damned love like this.
Fell devil! 'tis hell itself has lent thee aid
To work such sorcery! (Pauses,) I'll not believe it.
I must have proof clear as the noon-day sun
For such foul charge as this! Who waits without!
(Paces up and down furiously agitated.)
Grim. (Aside.) What have I done? I've carried this too far.
I've rous'd a fierce ungovernable madman.
De Mon. (In a loud angry voice.) Where did she go, at such an early hour,
And with such slight attendance?
Jer. Of whom inquires your honour?
De Mon. Why, of your lady. Said I not my sister?
Jer. The Lady Jane, your sister?
De Mon. (In a faultering voice.) Yes, I did call her so.
Jer. In truth, I cannot tell you where she went.
E'en now, from the short-beechen walk hard-by,
I saw her through the garden-gate return.
The Marquis Rezenvelt, and Freberg's Countess
Are in her company. This way they come,
As being nearer to the back apartments;
But I shall stop them, if it be your will,
And bid them enter here.
De Mon. No, stop them not. I will remain unseen,
And mark them as they pass. Draw back a little.
(Grimbald seems alarm'd, and steals off unnoticed. De Monfort grasps Jerome tightly by the hand, and drawing back with him two or three steps, not to he seen from the garden, waits in silence with his eyes fixed on the glass-door.)
De Mon. I hear their footsteps on the grating sand.
How like the croaking of a carrion bird,
That hateful voice sounds to the distant ear!
And now she speaks—her voice sounds cheerly too—
O curse their mirth!—
Now, now, they come, keep closer still! keep steady!
(Taking hold of Jerome with both hands.)
Jer. My lord, you tremble much.
De Mon.What, do I shake?
Jer. You do, in truth, and your teeth chatter too.
De Mon. See! see they come! he strutting by her side.
(Jane, Rezenvelt, and Countess Freberg appear through the glass-door, pursuing their way up a short walk leading to the other wing of the house.)
Utt'ring with confidence some nauseous jest.
And she endures it too,—Oh! this looks vilely!
Ha! mark that courteous motion of his arm—
What does he mean?—He dares not take her hand!
(Pauses and looks eagerly.) By heaven and hell he does!
(Letting go his hold of Jerome, he throws out his hands vehemently, and thereby pushes him against the scene.)
Jer. Oh! I am stunn'd! my head is crack'd in twain:
Your honour does forget how old I am.
De Mon. Well, well, the wall is harder than I wist.
Begone! and whine within.
[Exit Jerome, with a sad rueful countenance.
(De Monfort comes forward to the front of the stage, and makes a long pause, expressive of great agony of mind.)
It must be so; each passing circumstance;
Her hasty journey here; her keen distress
Whene'er my soul's abhorrence I express'd;
Ay, and that damned reconciliation,
With tears extorted from me: Oh, too well!
All, all too well bespeak the shameful tale.
I should have thought of heav'n and hell conjoin'd,
The morning star mix'd with infernal fire,
Ere I had thought of this—
Hell's blackest magick, in the midnight hour,
With horrid spells and incantation dire,
Such combination opposite, unseemly,
Of fair and loathsome, excellent and base,
Did ne'er produce.—But every thing is possible,
So as it may my misery enhance!
Oh! I did love her with such pride of soul!
When other men, in gayest pursuit of love,
Each beauty follow'd, by her side I stay'd;
Far prouder of a brother's station there,
Than all the favours favour'd lovers boast.
We quarrel'd once, and when I could no more
The alter'd coldness of her eye endure,
I slipp'd o' tip-toe to her chamber door;
And when she ask'd who gently knock'd—Oh! oh!
Who could have thought of this?
(Throws himself into a chair , covers his face with his hand, and hursts into tears. After some time he starts up from his seat furiously.)
Detested of my soul! I will have vengeance!
I'll crush thy swelling pride—I'll still thy vaunting—
I'll do a deed of blood—Why shrink I thus?
If, by some spell or magick sympathy,
Piercing the lifeless figure on that wall
Could pierce his bosom too, would I not cast it?
(Throwing a dagger against the wall.)
Shall groans and blood affright me? No, I'll do it.
Tho' gasping life beneath my pressure heav'd,
And my soul shudder'd at the horrid brink,
I would not finch.—Fy, this recoiling nature!
O that his sever'd limbs were strew'd in air,
So as I saw him not!
(Enter Rezenvelt behind, from the glass door. De Monfort turns round, and on seeing him starts back, then drawing his sword, rushes furiously upon him.)
Now open villany, now open hate!
Defend thy life.
Rez.De Monfort, thou art mad.
De Mon. Speak not, but draw. Now for thy hated life!
(They fight: Rezenvelt parries his thrusts with great skill, and at last disarms him.)
Rez. No, Monfort, but I'll take away your sword.
Not as a mark of disrespect to you,
But for your safety. By to-morrow's eve
I'll call on you myself and give it back;
And then, if I am charg'd with any wrong,
I'll justify myself. Farewell, strange man!
(De Monfort stands for some time quite motionless, like one stupified. Enter to him a Servant: he starts.)
De Mon. Ha! who art thou?
Ser.'Tis I, an' please your honour.
De Mon. (Staring wildly at him.) Who art thou?
Ser. Your servant Jacques.
De Mon.Indeed I know thee not.
Leave me, and when Rezenvelt is gone,
Return and let me know.
Ser.He's gone already, sir.
De Mon. How, gone so soon?
Ser.Yes, as his servant told me,
He was in haste to go, for night comes on,
And at the ev'ning hour he must take horse,
To visit some old friend whose lonely mansion
Stands a short mile beyond the farther wood;
And, as he loves to wander thro' those wilds
Whilst yet the early moon may light his way,
He sends his horses round the usual road,
And crosses it alone.
I would not walk thro' those wild dens alone
For all his wealth. For there, as I have heard,
Foul murders have been done, and ravens scream;
And things unearthly, stalking thro' the night,
Have scar'd the lonely trav'ller from his wits.
(De Monfort stands fixed in thought.)
I've ta'en your mare, an please you, from her field,
And wait your farther orders.
(De Monfort heeds him not.)
Her hoofs are sound, and where the saddle gall'd
Begins to mend. What further must be done?
(De Monfort still heeds him not.)
His honour heeds me not. Why should I stay?
De Mon. (Eagerly, as he is going.) He goes alone saidst thou?
Ser. His servant told me so.
De Mon.And at what hour?
Ser. He 'parts from Amberg by the fall of eve.
Save you, my lord? how chang'd your count'nance is!
Are you not well?
De Mon.Yes, I am well: begone!
And wait my orders by the city wall:
I'll that way bend, and speak to thee again.
(De Monfort walks rapidly two or three times across the stage; then siezes his dagger from the wall; looks steadfastly at its point, and Exit, hastily.)