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SCENE I.-A Street in Venice.
To rifle me of all my heart held dear.
May all your joys in her prove false, like mine; Enter PRIULI and JAFFIER.
A sterile fortune, and a barren bed, Pri. No more! I'll hear no more! Begone Attend you both; continual discord make and leave me.
Your days and nights bitter and grievous : still Jaf. Not hear me! By my suffering but you shall! May the hard hand of a vexatious need My lord, my lord, I'm not that abject wretch Oppress and grind you ; till at last you find You think me. Patience! where's the distance The curse of disobedience all your portion! throws
Jaf. Half of your curse you have bestowed in Me back so far, but I may boldly speak
vain; In right, though proud oppression will not hear me? Heaven has already crowned our faithful loves Pri. Have you not wronged me?
With a young boy, sweet as his mother's beauty, Jaf. Could my nature e'er
May helive to prove more gentle than bisgrandsire: Have brooked injustice, or the doing wrongs, And happier than his father! I need not now thus low have bent myself,
Pri. Rather live To gain a hearing from a cruel father.
To bait thee for his bread, and din your ears Wronged you !
With hungry cries ; whilst his unhappy mother Pri. Yes, wronged me! In the nicest point, Sits down and weeps in bitterness of want. The honour of my house, you have done me wrong.
Jaf. You talk as if ’twould please you. You may reinember (for I now will speak,
Pri. 'Twould, by heaven! And urge its baseness) when you first came home Once she was dear indeed; the drops that fell From travel, with such hopes as made you look- From my sad heart, when she forgot her duty,
The fountain of iny life was not so preciousBy all men's eyes, a youth of expectation, But she is gone, and, if I am a man, Pleased with your growing virtue, I received you, I will forget her. Courted, and sought to raise you to your
merits: Jaf. Would I were in my grave! My house, my table, nay, my fortune too,
Pri. And she too with thee: My very self was yours; you might have used me For, living here, you're but my cursed rememTo your best service; like an open friend
brancers, I treated, trusted you, and thought you mine: I once was happy. When, in requital of my best endeavours,
Jaf. You use me thus, because you know my soul You treacherously practised to undo me; Is fond of Belvidera. You perceive Seduced the weakness of my age's darling,
My life feeds on her, therefore thus you treat me. My only child, and stole her from my bosom. Oh! could my soul ever have known satiety, Oh Belvidera!
Were I that thief, the doer of such wrongs Jaf. 'Tis to me you owe her!
As you upbraid me with, what hinders me Childless you had been else, and in the grave But I might send her back to you with contumely, Your name extinct; no more Priuli heard of. And court my fortune, where she would be kinder? You may remember, scarce five years are past, Pri. You dare not do it. Since in your brigantine you sailed to see Jaf. Indeed, my lord, I dare not. The Adriatic wedded by our duke;
My heart, that awes me, is too much my master: And I was with you : your umskilful pilot
years are past, since first our vows were Dashed us upon a rock; when to your boat
plighted, You made for safety; entered first yourself; During which time, the world must bear me witThe affrighted Belvidera, following next, As she stood trembling on the vessel's side,
I've treated Belvidera like your daughter, Was by a wave washed off into the deep; The daughter of a senator of Venice: When instantly I plunged into the sea,
Distinction, place, attendance, and observance, And, buffetting the billows to her rescue, Due to her birth, she always has commanded. Redeemed her life with half the loss of mine. Out of my little fortune I've done this; Like a rich conquest, in one hand I bore her, Because (though hopeless e'er to win your naAnd with the other dashed the saucy waves,
ture) That thronged and pressed to rob me of my prize. The world might see I loved her for herself; I brought her, gave her to your despairing arms: Not as the heiress of the great Priuli. Indeed you thanked me; but a nobler gratitude Pri. No more. Rose in her soul: for from that hour she loved me, Jaf. Yes, all, and then adieu for ever. 'Till for her life she paid me with herself. There's not a wretch, that lives on common cha. Pri. You stole her from me; like a thief you
rity, stole her,
But's happier than me: for I have known At dead of night! that cựrsed hour you cliose, The luscious sweets of plenty; every night
Have slept with soft content about my head, Yet, Jaffier, for all this, I am a villain.
Pier. Yes, a most notorious villain ; Whose blossom ’scaped, yets withered in the To see the sufferings of my fellow-creatures, ripening.
And own myself a man: to see our senators Pri. Home, and be humble ; study to retrench; Cheat the deluded people with a shew Discharge the lazy vermin of thy hall,
Of liberty, which yet they ne'er must taste of. Those pageants of thy folly:
They say, by them our hands are free from fetReduce the glittering trappings of thy wife
ters; To bumble weeds, fit for thy little state : Yet, whom they please, they lay in basest bonds; Then, to some suburb cottage both retire; Bring whom they please to infamy and sorrow; Drudge to feed loathsome life; get brats and Drive us, like wrecks, down the rough tide of starve
power, Home, home, I say.
[E.rit. While no hold's left to save us from destruction, Jaf. Yes, if my heart would let me
All that bear this are villains, and I one, This proud, this swelling heart : home I would go, Not to rouse up at the great call of nature, But that my doors are hateful to my eyes, And check the growth of these domestic spoilers, Filled and dammed up with gaping creditors ; That make us slaves, and tell us, 'tis our charter. Watchful as fowlers, when their game will spring. Jaf. Oh, Aquilina! Friend, to lose such beauty! I've now not fifty ducats in the world,
The dearest purchase of thy noble labours! Yet still I am in love, and pleased with ruin. She was thy right by conquest, as by love. Oh! Belvidera! Oh' she is my wife
Pier. OŃ! Jaffier! I had so fixed my heart
That, wheresoe'er 1 framed a scheme of life,
For time to come, she was my only joy,
With which I wished to sweeten future cares: Pier. My friend, good-morrow.
I fancied pleasures; none but one, that loves How fares the honest partner of my heart? And doats as I did, can imagine like them: What, melancholy! not a word to spare me? When in the extremity of all these hopes, Jaf. I'm thinking, Pierre, how that damned in the most charming hour of expectation, starving quality,
Then, when our eager wishes soared the highest, Called honesty, got footing in the world. Ready to stoop and grasp the lovely game,
Pier. Why, powerful villany first set it up, A haggard owl, a worthless kite of prey, For its own ease and safety. Honest men With his foul wings, sailed in, and spoiled my Are the soft easy cushions, on which knaves
quarry. Repose and fatten. Were all mankind villains, Jaf. I know the wretch, and scorn him as thou They'd starve each other; lawyers would want
hatest him. practice,
Pier. Curse on the common good, that's so proCut-throats rewards : each man would kill his
Where every slave, that heaps up wealth enough Himself; none would be paid or hanged for mur- To do much wrong, becomes the lord of right! der.
I, who believed no ill could e'er come near me,
Found in the embraces of my Aquilina
Barely to keep him warm; that filthy cuckoo too
Was, in my absence, crept into my nest,
Puer. I did, and drove
The matter was complained of in the senate, Pier. So, indeed, men think me;
I summoned to appear, and censured basely, But they are mistaken, Jaffier: I am a rogue For violating something they called privilege As well as they;
This was the recompence of all my service. A fine, gay, bold-faced villain, as thou seest me. Would I'd been rather beaten by a coward! ”Tis true, I pay my debts, when they’re con- A soldier's mistress, Jaffier, is his religion ; tracted;
When that's profaned, all other ties are broken:
Jaf. I think no safety can be here for virtue,
And grieve, my friend, as much as thou, to live Whilst two young virgins, on whose arms she In such a wretched state as this of Venice,
leaned, Where all agree to spoil the public good ; Kindly looked up, and at her grief grew sad, And villains fatten with the brave man's labours. As if they catched the sorrows, that fell from her!
Pier. We have neither safety, unity, nor peace, Even the lewd rabble, that were gathered round For the foundation's lost, of common good : To see the sight, stood mute, when they beheld Justice is lame, as well as blind, amongst us;
her, The laws (corrupted to their ends that make Governed their roaring throats, and grumbled
pity. Serve but for instruments of some new tyranny,
I could have hugged the greasy rogues: they That every day starts up, to enslave us deeper.
pleased me. Now,could this glorious cause but find out friends Juf. I thank thee for this story, from my soul; To do it right, oh, Jaffier! then might'st thou Since now I know the worst, that can befal me. Not wear these seals of woe upon thy face; Ah, Pierre! I have a heart, that could have borne The proud Priuli should be taught humanity, The roughest wrong, my fortune could have done And learn to value such a son as thou art.
me; I dare not speak, but my heart bleeds this mo- But, when I think what Belvidera feels, ment.
The bitternes, her tender spirit tastes of, Jaf. Cursed be the cause, though I, thy friend, I own myself a coward: bear my weakness, be part on't!
If, throwing thus my arms about thy neck, Let me partake the troubles of thy bosom, I play the boy, and blubber in thy bosom. For I am used to misery, and perhaps
Oh ! I shall drown thee with my sorrows.
What! starve, like beggars' brats, in frosty weaLet it proceed. There's virtue in thy friendship,
ther, Would make the saddest tale of sorrow pleasing, Under a hedge, and whine ourselves to death! Strengthen my constancy, and welcome ruin. Thou, or thy cause, shall never want assistance, Pier, Then thou art ruined!
Whilst I have blood or fortune fit to serve thee : Jaf. That I long since knew;
Command my heart! thou art every way its masI and ill fortune have been long acquainted.
Pier. I passed this very moment by thy doors, Jaf. No, there's a secret pride in bravely dying. And found them guarded by a troop of villains : Pier. Rats die in holes and corners ; dogs run The sons of public rapine were destroying.
mad: They told me, by the sentence of the law, Man knows a braver remedy for sorrowThey had commission to seize all thy fortune: Revenge, the attribute of gods; they stamped it Nay, more, Priuli's cruel hand had signed it. With their great image on our natures. Die! Here stood a ruffian with a horrid face,
Consider well the cause, that calls upon thee, Lording it o'er a pile of massy plate,
And, if thou’rt base enough, die then. RememTumbled into a heap for public sale ;
ber, There was another, making villainous jests Thy Belvidera suffers ; Belvidera ! At thy undoing: he had taken possession Die-damn first-What! be decently interred Of all thy ancient, most domestic, ornaments, In a church-yard, and mingle thy brave dust Rich hangings intermixed and wrought with gold; With stinking rogues, that rot in winding-sheets, The very bed, which on thy wedding-night Surfeit-slain fools, the common dung o'th' soil ! Received thee to the arms of Belvidera,
Juf. Oh! The scene of all thy joys, was violated
Pier. Well said, out with’t, swear a littleBy the coarse hands of filthy dungeon villains, Juf. Swear! by sea and air ; by earth, by heaAnd thrown amongst the common lumber.
ven and hell, Jaf. Now thank heaven
I will revenge my Belvidera's tears. Pier. Thank heaven! for what?
Hark thee, my friend-Priuli is—a senator, Jaf. That I'm not worth a ducat.
Pier. A dog. Pier. Curse thy dull stars, and the worse fate Jaf. Agreed. of Venice,
Pier. Shoot him.
Pier. I'll tell thee;
There we two will meet, and talk of precious That's doomed to banishment, caine weeping Mischiefforth,
Will keep me waking.
Tell me why, good Heaven,
Barren as our misfortunes, where my soul Thou mad'st me what I am, with all the spirit, May have its vent, where I may tell aloud Aspiring thougbts, and elegant desires,
To the high heavens, and every list’ning planet, That fill the happiest man? Ah, rather, why With what a boundless stock my bosom’s fraught; Didst thou not form me sordid as my fate, Where I may throw my eager arms about thee, Base-minded, dull, and fit to carry burthens ? Give loose to love, with kisses kindling joy, Why have I sense to know the curse, that's on And let off all the fire that's in my heart. me!
Jaf. Oh, Belvidera! doubly I'm a beggar ; Is this just dealing, nature ?-Belvidera ! Undone by fortune, and in debt to thee.
Want, worldly want, that hungry meagre fiend, Enter BELVIDERA.
Is at my heels, and chaces me in view. Poor Belvidera !
Canst thou bear coldand hunger? Can these limbs, Bel. Lead me, lead me, my virgins,
Framed for the tender offices of love, To that kind voice. My lord, my love, my refuge! Endure the bitter gripes of smarting poverty? Happy my eyes, when they behold thy face ! When banished by our miseries abroad My heavy heart will leave its doleful beating (As suddenly we shall be), to seek out At sight of thee, and bound with sprightly joys. In some far climate, where our names are stranOh smile! as when our loves were in the spring,
gers, And cheer my fainting soul.
For charitable succour; wilt thou then, Jaf. As when our loves
When in a bed of straw we shrink together, Were in the spring! Has then our fortune chang- And the bleak winds shall whistle round our ed ?
heads; Art thou not Belvidera, still the same,
Wilt thou then talk thus to me? Wilt thou then Kind, good, and tender, as my arms first found | Hush my cares thus, and shelter me with love? thee?
Bil. Oh! I will love thee, even in madness If thou art altered, where shall I have harbour?
love thee; Where ease my loaded heart? Oh! where com- Though my distracted senses should forsake me, plain?
I'd find some intervals, when my poor heart Bel. Does this appear like change, or love de- Should 'swage itself, and be let loose to thine. caying,
Though the bare earth be all our resting-place, When thus I throw myself into thy bosom, Its roots our food, some clift our habitation, With all the resolution of strong truth! I'll make this arm a pillow for thine head; Beats not my heart, as 'e would alarum thine And, as thou sighing liest, and swelled with sore To a new charge of bliss ?- I joy more in thee,
row, Than did thy mother, when she hugged thee first, Creep to thy bosom, pour the balm of love And blessed the gods for all her travail past. Into thy soul, and kiss thee to thy rest; Jaf. Can there in woman be such glorious Then praise our God, and watch thee till the faith?
morning. Sure all ill stories of thy sex are false!
Jaf. Hear this, you heavens, and wonder how Oh woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
you made hier! To teinper man; we had been brutes without Reign, reign, ye monarchs, that divide the world; you!
Busy rebellion ne'er will let you know Angels are painted fair to look like you; Tranquillity and happiness like mine! There's in you all, that we believe of heaven; Like gaudy ships the obsequious billows fall, Amazing brightness, purity and truth,
And rise again, to lift you in your pride; Eternal joy, and everlasting love.
They wait but for a storm, and then devour you Kel. If love be treasure, we'll be wondrous 1, in my private bark already wrecked, rich;
Like a poor merchant driven to unknown land, I have so much, my heart will surely break with it: That had by chance packed up his choicest treaVows can't express it. When I would declare How great's my joy, I'm dumb with the big In one dear casket, and saved only that; thought;
Since I must wander further on the shore, I swell, and sigh, and labour with my longing. Thus hug my little, but my precious store, 0! lead me to some desert wide and wild, Resolved to scorn and trust my fate no more.
And let us love to-night.
Pier. No: there's fool,
There's fool about thee. When a woman seils Aqui. Byall thy wrongs, thou’rt dearer tomyarms Her flesh to fools, her beauty's lost to me; Than all the wealth of Venice. Prithee stay, They leave a taint, a sully, where they have passed ;
Tbere's such a baneful quality about them, Comes here, receive admittance. So, good. E’en spoils complexions with their nauseousness;
night. They infect all they touch: I cannot think Aqui. Must we ne'er meet again? embrace no Of tasting any thing a fool has palled.
more? Aqui. I loathe and scorn that fool thou mean’st, Is love so soon and utterly forgotten? as much
Pier. As you henceforward treat your fool, Or more than thou canst; but the beast has gold,
I'll think on't. That makes him necessary ; power too,
Aqui. Cursed be all fools—I die, if he forTo qualify my character, and poise me
sakes me; Equal with peevish virtue, that beholds
And how to keep him, Heaven or hell instruct My liberty with envy. In their hearts
[Ereunt. They're loose as I am; but an ugly power Sits in their faces, and frights pleasure from them.
SCENE II.-The Rialto. Pier. Much good may't do you, madam, with
Enter JAFFIER. your senator. Aqui. My senator! Why, canst thou think that Jaf. I am here; and thus, the shades of nigh
wretch E'er filled thy Aquilina's arms with pleasure ? I look as if all hell were in my heart, Think’st thou, because I sometimes give him And I in hell. Nay surely 'tis so with me! leave
For every step I tread, methinks some fiend To foil himself at what he is unfit for;
Knocks at my breast, and bids me not be quiet. Because I force myself to endure and suffer him, I've heard how desperate wretches, like myself
, Think'st thou, I love him? No; by all the joys Have wandered out at this dead time of night, Thou ever gav'st me, his presence is my penance. To meet the foe of mankind in his walk. The worst thing an old man can be's a lover, Sure I'm so cursed, that, though of Heaven forA mere memento mori to poor woman.
saken, I never lay by his decrepid side,
No minister of darkness cares to tempt me. But all that night I ponder on my grave.
Hell, hell! why sleepest thou ?
Enter PIERRE. For then, my Pierre, I might have cause, with Pier. Sure I've staid too long : pleasure,
The clock has struck, and I may lose my proseTo play the hypocrite. Oh! how I could weep
lyte. Over the dying dotard, and kiss him too,
there? In hopes to smother him quite; then, when the Jaf. A dog, that comes to howl time
At yonder moon. What's he, that asks the quesWas come to pay my sorrows at his funeral,
tion? (For he has already made me heir to treasures Pier. A friend to dogs, for they are honest Would make me out-act a real widow's whin
And ne'er betray their masters; never fawn How could I frame my face to fit my mourning! On any, that they love not. Well met, friend: With wringing hands attend him to his grave; Jaffier ? Fall swooning on his hearse; take mad possession Juf. The same. O Pierre, thou art come in Even of the dismal vault, where he lay buried;
season ; There, like the Ephesian matron, dwell, till thou, I was just going to pray. My lovely soldier, com’st to my deliverance; Pier. Ah, that's mechanic! Then, throwing up my veil, with open arms Priests make a trade on't, and yet starve by it And laughing eyes, run to new-dawning joy. Pier. No more: I've friends to meet me here No praying; it spoils business, and time's precious. to-night,
Where's Belvidera?And must be private. As you prize my friend, Juf. For a day or two ship,
I've lodged her privately, till I see farther, Keep up your coxcomb; let him not pry, nor lis- What fortune will do for me. Prithee, friend, ten,
If thou woudst have me fit to hear good counsel, Nor frisk about the house, as I have seen him, Speak not of Belvidera Like a tame mumping squirrel with a bell on; Pier. Not of her: Curs will be abroad to bite him, if you do.
Jaf. Oh, no! Aqui. What, friends to meet ! May’nt I be of Pier. Not name her? May be I wish her well. your council ?
Juf. Whom well? Pier. How! a woman ask questions out of bed! Pier. Thy wife; thy lovely Belvidera. Go to your senator; ask him what passes I hope a man may wish his friend's wife well, Amongst his brethren; he'll hide nothing from And no harm dove. you:
Jaf. You are merry, Picrrc. But pump not me for politics. No more!
Pier. I am so : Give order, that whoever in my name
Thou shalt smile too, and Belvidera smile :