Venice Preserv'd/Act II

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Scene I.[edit]

    —The Rialto.

     Enter Jaffier, L.

     Jaf. (L. C.) I'm here; and thus the shades of light
     around me,
     I look as if all hell were in my heart.
[17] And I in hell. Nay, surely 'tis so with me!—
     For every step I tread, methinks some fiend
     Knocks at my breast, and bids me not be quiet.
     I've heard how desperate wretches like myself,
     Have wandered out at this dead time of night,
     To meet the foe of mankind in his walk.
     Sure I'm so cursed, that, though of Heav'n forsaken,
     No minister of darkness cares to tempt me.
     Hell! hell! why sleep'st thou? [Turns, L.

     Enter Pierre, R. S. E.

     Pierre. Sure I've staid too long: [Coming forward.
     The clock has struck, and I may lose my proselyte.
     Speak, [Seeing Jaffier,] who goes there?

     Jaf. (L.) A dog, that comes to howl
     At yonder moon. What's he, that asks the question?

     Pierre. A friend to dogs, for they are honest creatures,
     And ne'er betray their masters; never fawn
     On any that they love not. Well met, friend.

     [Advancing toward, R. C.]

     Jaffier!

     Jaf. The same.

     Pierre. (R. C.) Where's Belvidera?

     Jaf.For a day or two,
     I've lodged her privately, till I see farther
     What fortune will do with me. Pry'thee, friend,
     If thou wouldst have me fit to hear good counsel,
     Speak not of Belvidera—

     Pierre. (C.) Speak not of her?

     Jaf. Oh, no! nor name her?

     Pierre. May be, I wish her well.

     Jaf.Whom well?

     Pierre. Thy wife; thy lovely Belvidera!
     I hope a man may wish his friend's wife well,
     And no harm done?

     Jaf. [Retiring, L.] You're merry, Pierre.

     Pierre. [Following.] I am so:
     Thou shalt smile, too, and Belvidera smile:
     We'll all rejoice, Here's something to buy pins;
     Marriage is chargeable. [Gives him a purse.

     Jaf. (L.) I but half wished
     To see the devil, and he's here already! Well!
     What must this buy? Rebellion, murder, treason?
[18] Tell me [Turning R.] which way I must be damned for
     this.

     Pierre. (L. C.) When last we parted, we'd no qualms
     like these,
     But entertained each other's thoughts, like men
     Whose souls were well acquainted. Is the world
     Reformed since our last meeting? What new miracles
     Have happened? Has Priuli's heart relented?
     Can he be honest?

     Jaf. Kind Heaven, let heavy curses
     Gall his old age, till life become his burden;
     Let him groan under't long, linger an age
     In the worst agonies and pangs of death
     And find its ease, but late!

     Pierre. Nay, couldst thou not
     As well, my friend, have stretched the curse to all
     The senate round, as to one single villain?

     Jaf. But curses stick not; could I kill with cursing,
     By Heaven, I know not thirty heads in Venice
     Should not be blasted! Senators should rot,
     Like dogs, on dunghills. Oh, for a curse
     To kill with! [Crosses, R.

     Pierre. Daggers, daggers are much better.

     Jaf. (R. C.) Ha!

     Pierre. Daggers.

     Jaf. But where are they?

     Pierre. Oh! a thousand
     May be disposed, in honest hands, in Venice.

     Jaf. Thou talk'st in clouds.

     Pierre. But yet a heart, half wronged
     As thine has been, would find the meaning, Jaffier!

     Jaf. A thousand daggers, all in honest hands!
     And have not I a friend will stick one here?

     Pierre. (C.)Yes, if I thought thou wert not to be cherished
     To a nobler purpose, I would be that friend:

     [Lays his hand on Jaffier's arm
     But thou hast better friends; friends, whom thy wrongs
     Have made thy friends; friends, worthy to be called so.
     I'll trust thee with a secret. There are spies
     This hour at work. But, as thou art a man,
     Whom I have picked and chosen from the world,
[19] Swear that thou wilt be true to what I utter;
     And when I've told thee that, which only gods,
     And men like gods, are privy to, then swear,
     No chance, or change, shall wrest it from thy bosom.

     Jaf. (R.) When thou wouldst bind me, is there need of oaths?
     Is coward, fool, or villain, in my face?
     If I seem none of these, I dare believe
     Thou wouldst not use me in a little cause;
     For I am fit for honour's toughest task,
     Nor ever yet found fooling was my province:
     And, for a villainous, inglorious enterprize,
     I know thy heart so well, I dare lay mine
     Before thee, set it to what point thou wilt.

     Pierre. Nay, 'tis a cause thou wilt be fond of, Jaffier
      For it is founded on the noblest basis;
     Our liberties, our natural inheritance!
     We'll do the business, and ne'er fast and pray for't;
     Openly act a deed, the world shall gaze
     With wonder at, and envy when 'tis done.

     Jaf. For liberty!

     Pierre. For liberty, my friend. [Jaffier crosses, L.

     Thou shalt be freed from base Priuli's tyranny,
     And thy sequestered fortunes healed again;
     I shall be free from those opprobrious wrongs
     That press me now, and bend my spirit downward;
     All Venice free, and every growing merit
     Succeed to its just right; fools shall be pulled
     From wisdom's seat; those baleful unclean birds,
     Those lazy owls, who, perched near fortune's top,
     Sit only watchful with their heavy wings
     To cuff down new-fledged virtues, that would rise
     To nobler heights, and make the grove harmonious.

     Jaf. What can I do? [Crosses to R. D.

     Pierre. Canst thou not kill a senator?

     Jaf. By all my wrongs, thou talk'st as if revenge
     Were to be had! and the brave story warms me.

     [Crosses, L.

     Pierre. Swear, then!

     Jaf. I do, [Kneels, L. C.] by all those glittering stars,
     And yon great ruling planet of the night!
     By all good spirits above, and ill below!
[20] By love and friendship, dearer than my life,
     No power, nor death, shall make me false to thee!

     Pierre. Here we embrace, and I'll unlock my heart.
     A council's held hard by, where the destruction
     Of this great empire's hatching; there I'll lead thee.
     But be a man; for thou'rt to mix with men
     Fit to disturb the peace of all the world,
     And rule it when tis wildest.

     Jaf. I give thee thanks
     For this kind warning. Yes, I'll be a man;
     And charge thee, Pierre, whene'er thou see'st my fears
     Betray me less, to rip this heart of mine
     Out of my breast, and show it for a coward's.
     Come, let's be gone, for from this hour I chase
     All little thoughts, all tender human follies,
     Out of my bosom: vengeance shall have room—
     Revenge! [Going, R.

     Pierre. And liberty!

     Jaf. Revenge! revenge! [Exeunt, r

Scene II.[edit]

     —A Room in the House of Aquilina.
     Enter Renault, L. S. E.

     Ren. (C.) Why was my choice ambition
     The worst ground
     A wretch can build on! 'tis, indeed, at distance,
     A goodly prospect, tempting to the view;
     The height delights us, and the mountain top
     Looks beautiful, because 'tis nigh to heaven;
     But we ne'er think how sandy's the foundation,
     What storm will batter, and what tempest shake us.
     Who's there ]

     Enter Spinosa, L.

     Spin. (L. C.) Renault, good morrow, for by this time,
     I think, the scale of night has turned the balance,
     And weighs up morning. Has the clock struck twelve?

     Ren. (R.) Yes; clocks will go as they are set: but man
     Irregular man's ne'er constant, never certain.
     I've spent at least three precious hours of darkness
     In waiting dull attendance; 'tis the curse
     Of diligent virtue to be mixed, like mine,
[21] With giddy tempers, souls but half resolved.

     Spin. (L.) Hell seize that soul amongst us it can frighten!

     Ren. (C.) What's then the cause that I am here alone?
     Why are we not together?

     Enter Elliot, L.

     Oh, sir, welcome!
     You are an Englishman: when treason's hatching,
     One might have thought you'd not have been behind hand.

     Elliot. Frenchman, you are saucy.

     Ren. (L. C.) How? [Puts his hand to his sword.

     Enter Bedamar, Mezzana, Durand, and Theodore, L.—
     Mezzana, Durand, and Theodore stand back, L.

     Beda. [Crossing, C.] At difference? fie!
     Is this a time for quarrels? Thieves and rogues
     Fall out and brawl: should men of your high calling,
     Men, separated by the choice of Providence
     From the gross heap of mankind, and set here
     In this assembly, as in one great jewel,
     T' adorn the bravest purpose it e'er smiled on;
     Should you, like boys, wrangle for trifles?

     Ren. (R. C.) Boys!

     Beda. (C.) Renault, thy hand.

     Ren. I thought I'd given my heart,
     Long since, to every man that mingles here;
     But grieve to find it trusted with such tempers,
     That can't forgive my froward age its weakness.

     Beda. Elliot, thou once hadst virtue. I have seen
     Thy stubborn temper bend with godlike goodness,
     Not half thus courted. 'Tis thy nation's glory
     To hug the foe that offers brave alliance.
     Once more, embrace, my friends—
     United thus, we are the mighty engine,
     Must twist this rooted empire from its basis.
     Totters it not already?

     Elliot. (L.) 'Would 'twere tumbling!

     Beda. Nay, it shall down: this night we seal its ruin.

     Enter Pierre, L. D.
     Oh, Pierre! thou art welcome.
[22] Come to my breast; for, by its hopes, thou look'st
     Lovelily dreadful; and the fate of Venice
     Seems on thy sword already. Oh, my Mars!
     The poets that first feigned a god of war,
     Surely prophesied of thee!

     Pierre. (L.) Friends, was not Brutus
     (I mean that Brutus, who, in open senate,
     Stabbed the first Caesar that usurped the world),
     A gallant man?

     Ren. (R. C.) Yes, and Catiline too;
     Though story wrong his fame; for he conspired
     To prop the reeling glory of his country,
     His cause was good.

     Beda. (L. C.) And ours as much above it,
     As, Renault, thou'rt superior to Cethegus,
     Or Pierre to Cassius.

     Pierre. Then to what we aim at!
     When do we start? Or must we talk forever?

     Beda. (C.) No, Pierre, the deed's near birth: fate seems
     to have set
     The business up, and given it to our care;
     I hope there's not a heart or hand amongst us,
     But what is firm and ready.

     Elliot. (L. C.) All.
     We'll die with Bedamar.

     Beda. Oh, men,
     Matchless, as will your glory be hereafter:
     The game is for a matchless prize, if won;
     If lost, disgraceful ruin.

     Pierre. Ten thousand men are armed at your nod,
     Commanded all by leaders fit to guide
     A battle for the freedom of the world:
     This wretched state has starved them in its service;
     And, by your bounty quickened, they're resolved
     To serve your glory, and revenge their own:
     They've all their different quarters in this city,
     Watch for the alarm, and grumble 'tis so tardy.

     Beda. I doubt not, friend, but thy unwearied diligence
     Has still kept waking, and it shall have ease;
     After this night, it is resolved, we meet
     No more, till Venice owns us for her lords.

     Pierre. How lovelily the Adriatic, then,
[23] Dressed in her flames, will shine! Devouring flames!
     Such as shall burn her to the watery bottom,
     And hiss in her foundation!

     Beda. Now, if any
     Amongst us here, that own this glorious cause,
     Have friends or int'rest he would wish to save,
     Let it be told—the general doom is sealed;
     But I'd forego the hopes of a world's empire,
     Rather than wound the bowels of my friend.

     Pierre. I must confess, you there have touched my
     weakness.
     I have a friend—hear it; and such a friend!
     My heart was ne'er shut to him. Nay, I'll tell you,
     He knows the very business of this hour; [All start
     But he rejoices in the cause, and loves it:
     We've changed a vow to live and die together,
     And he's at hand, to ratify it here.

     Ren. How! all betrayed!

     Pierre. (C.) No; I've dealt nobly with you.
     I've brought my all into the public stock:
     I'd but one friend, and him I'll share amongst you:
     Receive, and cherish him; or if, when seen
     And searched, you find him worthless—as my tongue
     Has lodged this secret in his faithful breast,
     To ease your fears, I wear a dagger here,
     Shall rip it out again, and give you rest,
     Come forth, thou only good I e'er could boast of.

     Enter Jaffier, with a Dagger in his hand. L. D.

     Beda. (C.) His presence bears the show of manly virtue!

     Jaf. (L.) I know you'll wonder all, that, thus uncalled
     I dare approach this place of fatal councils;
     But I'm amongst you, and, by Heaven, it glads me
     To see so many virtues thus united
     To restore justice, and dethrone oppression.
     Command this steel, if you would have it quiet,
     Into this breast; but, if you think it worthy
     To cut the throats of reverend rogues in robes,
     Send me into the cursed assembled Senate:
     It shrinks not, though I meet a father there.
     Would you behold the city flaming? here's
[24] A hand, shall bear a lighted torch at noon
     To th' arsenal, and set its gates on fire!

     Ren. (C.) You talk this well, sir.

     Jaf. Nay, by Heaven, I'll do this!
     Come, come, I read distrust in all your faces!
     You fear me villain, and, indeed, 'tis odd
     To hear a stranger talk thus, at first meeting,
     Of matters that have been so well debated:
     But I come ripe with wrongs, as you with counsels.
     I hate this senate—am a foe to Venice;
     A friend to none but men resolved like me
     To push on mischief Oh, did you but know me,
     I need not talk thus!

     Beda. Pierre, I must embrace him;
     My heart beats to this man, as if it knew him.

     Ren. I never loved these huggers.

     Jaf. Still, I see
     The cause delights me not. Your friends survey me,
     As I were dangerous. But I come armed
     Against all doubts, and to your trusts will give
     A pledge, worth more than all the world can pay for.
     My Belvidera! Hoa! my Belvidera! [Calls at L.

     Beda. (L. C.) What wonder next?

     Jaf. Let me entreat you, sirs,
     As I have henceforth hope to call you friends,
     That all but the ambassador, and this
     Grave guide of councils, with my friend, that owns me,
     Withdraw awhile, to spare a woman's blushes.

     [Exeunt all but Bedamar, Renault, Jqffier, and Pierre
     who stand back on L.

     Beda. Pierre, whither will this ceremony lead us?

     Jaf. My Belvidera! Belvidera! [ Calling

     Bel. [ Within, L. D.] Who,
     Who calls so loud, at this late peaceful hour?
     That voice was wont to come in gentle whispers,
     And fill my ears with the soft breath of love.

     Enter Belvidera, L.

     Thou hourly image of my thoughts, where art thou?

     Jaf. Indeed, 'tis late.

     Bel. Alas! where am I? whither is't you lead me?
     Methinks I read distraction in your face,—
[25] You shake and tremble, too! your blood runs cold!
     Heav'ns guard my love, and bless his heart with patience!
     Jaf. That I have patience, let our fate bear witness.

     [Join hands.

     Who has ordained it so, that thou and I,
     (Thou, the divinest good man e'er possessed,
     And I, the wretched'st of the race of man,)
     This very hour, without one tear, must part.

     Bel. Part! must we part? Oh! am I then forsaken!
     Why drag you from me? [Draunng to the R.] whither are
     you going?
     My dear! my life! my love!

     Jaf. (C.) Oh, friends! [To Renault, &c.

     Bel. (C.) Speak to me! [To Jaffier

     Jaf. Take her from my heart,
     She'll gain such hold else, I shall ne'er get loose.
     I charge you, take her, but with tenderest care
     Relieve her troubles and assuage her sorrows.

     [She leans on Jaffier.

     Ren. [Advancing to her.] Rise, madam, and command
     among your servants—

     Jaf. To you, sirs, and your honours, I bequeath her,

     [They lay hold of her.

     And with her, this; whene'er I prove unworthy—

     [Gives a Dagger to Renault.

     You know the rest. Then strike it to her heart;
     And tell her, he, who three whole happy years,
     Lay in her arms, and each kind night repeated
     The passionate vows of still increasing love,
     Sent that reward, for all her truth and sufferings.

     Bel. [Held between Bed. & Ren.] Oh, thou unkind one!
     Have I deserved this from you?
     Look on me, tell me, speak, thou dear deceiver,
     Why am I separated from thy love?
     If I am false, accuse me; but if true,
     Don't, pr'ythee don't, in poverty forsake me,

     [Breaks away, and runs back to Jaffier

     But pity the sad heart, that's torn with parting.

     [They retake her

     Yet, hear me; yet, recall me. Jaffier, Jaffier!

     [Exeunt Bedamar, &c, dragging her L. S. E., Jaffier R.