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If, strongly charm'd, she leave the thorny way,
And in the softer paths of pleasure stray,
Ruin ensues, reproach and endless shame,
And one false step entirely damns her fame:
In vain with tears the loss she may deplore,
In vain look back on what she was before;
She sets, like stars that fall, to rise no more.




An Apartment in JANE SHore's House.

Enter Alicia, speaking to JANE SHORE as entering. Alicia. No farther, gentle friend; good angels

guard you,
And spread their gracious wings about your slumbers.
The drowsy night grows on the world, and now
The busy craftsman, and the o'er-labour'd hind
Forget the travail of the day in sleep:
Care only wakes, and moping pensiveness,

discontented looks they sit,
And watch the wasting of the midnight taper.
Such vigils must I keep, so wakes my soul,
Restless and self-tormented! Oh, false Hastings !
Thou hast destroy'd my peace.

[Knocking without. What noise is that?

With meagre

What visitor is this, who with bold freedom,
Breaks in upon the peaceful night and rest,
With such a rude approach?

Enter a SERVANT.
Serv. One from the court,
Lord Hastings (as I think) demands my lady.
Alicia. Hastings ! Be still my heart, and try to

meet him With his own arts ; with falsehood-But he comes. Enter LORD HASTINGS; speaks to a SERVANT as

entering. Hast. Dismiss my train, and wait alone without. Alicia here! Unfortunate encounter ! But be it as it may.

Alicia. When humbly, thus, The great descend to visit the afflicted, When thus, unmindful of their rest, they come, To sooth the sorrows of the midnight mourner, Comfort comes with them; like the golden sun Dispels the sullen shades with her sweet influence, And cheers the melancholy house of care.

Hast. 'Tis true, I would not over-rate a courtesy,
Nor let the coldness of delay hang on it,
To nip and blast its favour, like a frost;
But rather chose, at this late hour, to come,
That your fair friend may know I have prevail'd;
The Lord Protector has receiv'd her suit,
And means to show her grace.

Alicia. My friend, my lord !
Hast. Yes, lady, yours: none has a right more

To task my pow'r than you.

Alicia. I want the words,
To pay you back a compliment so courtly;
But my heart guesses at the friendly meaning,
And would not die your debtor.

Hast. "Tis well, madam.
But I would see your

Alicia. Oh, thou false lord !
I would be mistress of my heaving heart,
Stifle this rising rage, and learn from thee
To dress my face in easy dull indiff'rence:
But 'twill not be; my wrongs will tear their way,
And rush at once upon thee.

Hast. Are you wise?

you the use of reason? Do you wake? What means this raving, this transporting passion? Alicia. Oh, thou cool traitor! thou insulting ty

rant! Dost thou behold my poor distracted heart, Thus rent with agonizing love and rage, And ask me what it means ? Art thou not false? Am I not scorn'd, forsaken, and abandon'd, Left, like a common wretch, to shame and infamy, Giv’n up to be the sport of villains' tongues, Of laughing parasites, and lewd buffoons ; And all because my soul has doted on thee With love, with truth, and tenderness unutterable !

Hast. Are these the proofs of tenderness and love ? These endless quarrels, discontents, and jealousies, These never-ceasing wailings and complainings, These furious starts, these whirlwinds of the soul, Which every other moment rise to madness ?

Alicia. What proof, alas! have I not giv'n of love? What ha I not abandon’d to thy arms ? Have I not set at nought my noble birth, A spotless fame, and an unblemished race, The peace of innocence, and pride of virtue? My prodigality has giv’n thee all; And, now I've nothing left me to bestow, You hate the wretched bankrupt you have made.

Hast. Why am I thus pursu'd from place to place, Kept in the view, and cross’d at ev'ry turn? In vain I fly, and, like a hunted deer,

Scud o'er the lawns, and hasten to the covert;
Ere I can reach my safety, you o'ertake me
With the swift malice of some keen reproach,
And drive the winged shaft deep in my heart.

Alicia. Hither you fly, and here you seek repose;
Spite of the poor deceit, your arts are known,
Your pious, charitable midnight visits.
Hast. If you are wise, and prize our peace of

Yet take the friendly counsel of my love;
Believe me true, nor listen to your jealousy.
Let not that devil, which undoes your sex,
That cursed curiosity seduce you,
To hunt for needless secrets, which, neglected,
Shall never hurt your quiet; but once known,
Shall sit upon your heart, pinch it with pain,
And banish the sweet sleep for ever from you.
Go to—be yet advis’d-

Alicia. Dost thou in scorn,
Preach patience to my rage, and bid me tamely
Sit like a poor contented ideot down,
Nor dare to think thou'st wrong’d me? Ruin seize

And swift perdition overtake thy treachery.
Have I the least remaining cause to doubt?
Hast thou endeavour'd once to hide thy falsehood?
To hide it might have spoke some little tenderness,
And shown thee half unwilling to undo me;
But thou disdain'st the weakness of humanity,
Thy words, and all thy actions have confess'd it;
Ev’n now thy eyes avow it, now they speak,
And insolently own the glorious villainy.
Hast. Well, then, I own my heart has broke your

Patient I bore the painful bondage long,
At length my gen'rous love disdains your tyranny;
The bitterness and stings of taunting jealousy,
Vexatious days, and jarring, joyless nights,

Have driven him forth to seek some safer shelter,
Where he may rest his weary wings in peace.
Alicia. You triumph! do! and with gigantic

Defy impending vengeance. Heav'n shall wink;
No more his arm shall roll the dreadful thunder,
Nor send his light’nings forth : no more his justice
Shall visit the presuming sons of men,
But perjury like thine shall dwell in safety.

Hast. Whate'er my fate decrees for me hereafter, Be present to me now, my better angel ! Preserve me from the storm that threatens now, And if I have beyond atonement sinn'd, Let any

other kind of plague o’ertake me, So I escape the fury of that tongue. Alicia. Thy pray’r is heard—I go—but know,

proud lord, Howe'er thou scorn'st the weakness of my sex, This feeble hand may find the means to reach thee, Howe'er sublime in pow'r and greatness plac'd, With royal favour guarded round and grac'd; On eagle's wings my rage shall urge her flight, And hurl thee headlong from thy topmost height; Then, like thy fate, superior will I sit, And view thee fall'n, and grov'ling at my feet; See thy last breath with indignation go, And tread thee sinking to the shades below. [Exit. Hast. How fierce a fiend is passion! With what

wildness, What tyranny, untam'd it reigns in woman! Unhappy sex! whose easy yielding temper Gives way to ev'ry appetite alike; And love in their weak bosoms is a rage As terrible as hate, and as destructive. But soft ye now—for here comes one, disclaims Strife and her wrangling train; of equal elements, Without one jarring atom was she form’d, And gentleness and joy make up her being.

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