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Produced by Delphine Lettau and the Online Distributed
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[Illustration]




PERCY.

A TRAGEDY,
IN FIVE ACTS.

BY MRS. HANNAH MORE.

CORRECTLY GIVEN,
AS PERFORMED AT THE THEATRES ROYAL.

[Illustration]

London:
PRINTED BY AND FOR D. S. MAURICE,

_Fenchurch Street;_

SOLD BY
T. HUGHES, 35, LUDGATE STREET; J. BYSH, 52, PATERNOSTER ROW;
J. CUMMING, DUBLIN; J. SUTHERLAND, EDINBURGH; &c. &c.




REMARKS.


This tragedy, in which Mrs. Hannah More is supposed to have been
assisted by Garrick, was produced at Covent Garden Theatre, in 1778,
with success; and revived, in 1818, at the same Theatre.

The feuds of the rival houses of Percy and of Douglas have furnished
materials for this melancholy tale, in which Mrs. More[1] has embodied
many judicious sentiments and excellent passages, producing a forcible
lesson to parental tyranny. The victim of her husband's unreasonable
jealousy, _Elwina's_ virtuous conflict is pathetic and interesting;
while _Percy's_ sufferings, and the vain regret of Earl _Raby_, excite
and increase our sympathy.

[1] Of this estimable lady, a contemporary writer says, "This lady has
for many years flourished in the literary world, which she has richly
adorned by a variety of labours, all possessing strong marks of
excellence. In the cause of religion and society, her labours are
original and indefatigable; and the industrious poor have been at
once enlightened by her instructions, and supported by her bounty."

As a dramatic writer, Mrs. More is known by her "Search after
Happiness," pastoral drama; "The Inflexible Captive," - "Percy,"
and "Fatal Falsehood," tragedies; and by her "Sacred Dramas."




DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Percy, Earl of Northumberland Mr. Lewis.
Earl Douglas Mr. Wroughton.
Earl Raby, Elwina's Father Mr. Aickin.
Edric, Friend to Douglas Mr. Whitefield.
Harcourt, Friend to Percy Mr. Robson.
Sir Hubert, a Knight Mr. Hull.

Elwina Mrs. Barry.
Birtha Mrs. Jackson.

Knights, Guards, Attendants, &c.

SCENE, - Raby Castle, in Durham.




PERCY.




ACT THE FIRST.


SCENE I. A GOTHIC HALL.

_Enter Edric and Birtha._

_Bir._ What may this mean? Earl Douglas has enjoin'd thee
To meet him here in private?

_Edr._ Yes, my sister,
And this injunction I have oft receiv'd;
But when he comes, big with some painful secret,
He starts, looks wild, then drops ambiguous hints,
Frowns, hesitates, turns pale, and says 'twas nothing;
Then feigns to smile, and by his anxious care
To prove himself at ease, betrays his pain.

_Bir._ Since my short sojourn here, I've mark'd this earl,
And though the ties of blood unite us closely,
I shudder at his haughtiness of temper,
Which not his gentle wife, the bright Elwina,
Can charm to rest. Ill are their spirits pair'd;
His is the seat of frenzy, her's of softness,
His love is transport, her's is trembling duty;
Rage in his soul is as the whirlwind fierce,
While her's ne'er felt the power of that rude passion.

_Edr._ Perhaps the mighty soul of Douglas mourns,
Because inglorious love detains him here,
While our bold knights, beneath the Christian standard,
Press to the bulwarks of Jerusalem.

_Bir._ Though every various charm adorns Elwina,
And though the noble Douglas dotes to madness,
Yet some dark mystery involves their fate:
The canker grief devours Elwina's bloom,
And on her brow meek resignation sits,
Hopeless, yet uncomplaining.

_Edr._ 'Tis most strange.

_Bir._ Once, not long since, she thought herself alone;
'Twas then the pent-up anguish burst its bounds;
With broken voice, clasp'd hands, and streaming eyes,
She call'd upon her father, call'd him cruel,
And said her duty claim'd far other recompence.

_Edr._ Perhaps the absence of the good Lord Raby,
Who, at her nuptials, quitted this fair castle,
Resigning it to her, may thus afflict her.
Hast thou e'er question'd her, good Birtha?

_Bir._ Often,
But hitherto in vain; and yet she shews me
The endearing kindness of a sister's love;
But if I speak of Douglas - -

_Edr._ See! he comes.
It would offend him should he find you here.

_Enter Douglas._

_Dou._ How! Edric and his sister in close conference?
Do they not seem alarm'd at my approach?
And see, how suddenly they part! Now Edric, [_exit Birtha._
Was this well done? or was it like a friend,
When I desir'd to meet thee here alone;
With all the warmth of trusting confidence,
To lay my bosom naked to thy view,
And shew thee all its weakness, was it well
To call thy sister here, to let her witness
Thy friend's infirmity? - perhaps to tell her -

_Edr._ My lord, I nothing know; I came to learn.

_Dou._ Nay then thou dost suspect there's something wrong?

_Edr._ If we were bred from infancy together,
If I partook in all thy youthful griefs,
And every joy thou knew'st was doubly mine,
Then tell me all the secret of thy soul:
Or have these few short months of separation,
The only absence we have ever known,
Have these so rent the bands of love asunder,
That Douglas should distrust his Edric's truth?

_Dou._ My friend, I know thee faithful as thou'rt brave,
And I will trust thee - but not now, good Edric,
'Tis past, 'tis gone, it is not worth the telling,
'Twas wrong to cherish what disturb'd my peace;
I'll think of it no more.

_Edr._ Transporting news!
I fear'd some hidden trouble vex'd your quiet.
In secret I have watch'd - -

_Dou._ Ha! watch'd in secret?
A spy, employ'd, perhaps, to note my actions.
What have I said? Forgive me, thou art noble:
Yet do not press me to disclose my grief,
For when thou know'st it, I perhaps shall hate thee
As much, my Edric, as I hate myself
For my suspicions - I am ill at ease.

_Edr._ How will the fair Elwina grieve to hear it!

_Dou._ Hold, Edric, hold - thou hast touch'd the fatal string
That wakes me into madness. Hear me then,
But let the deadly secret be secur'd
With bars of adamant in thy close breast.
Think on the curse which waits on broken oaths;
A knight is bound by more than vulgar ties,
And perjury in thee were doubly damn'd.
Well then, the king of England -

_Edr._ Is expected
From distant Palestine.

_Dou._ Forbid it, Heaven!
For with him comes -

_Edr._ Ah! who?

_Dou._ Peace, peace,
For see Elwina's here. Retire, my Edric;
When next we meet, thou shalt know all. Farewell. [_exit Edric._
Now to conceal with care my bosom's anguish,
And let her beauty chase away my sorrows!
Yes, I would meet her with a face of smiles -
But 'twill not be.

_Enter Elwina._

_Elw._ Alas, 'tis ever thus!
Thus ever clouded is his angry brow. [_aside._

_Dou._ I were too blest, Elwina, could I hope
You met me here by choice, or that your bosom
Shar'd the warm transports mine must ever feel
At your approach.

_Elw._ My lord, if I intrude,
The cause which brings me claims at least forgiveness:
I fear you are not well, and come, unbidden,
Except by faithful duty, to inquire,
If haply in my power, my little power,
I have the means to minister relief
To your affliction?

_Dou._ What unwonted goodness!
O I were blest above the lot of man,
If tenderness, not duty, brought Elwina;
Cold, ceremonious, and unfeeling duty,
That wretched substitute for love: but know,
The heart demands a heart; nor will be paid
With less than what it gives. E'en now, Elwina,
The glistening tear stands trembling in your eyes,
Which cast their mournful sweetness on the ground,
As if they fear'd to raise their beams to mine,
And read the language of reproachful love.

_Elw._ My lord, I hop'd the thousand daily proofs
Of my obedience - -

_Dou._ Death to all my hopes!
Heart-rending word! - obedience? what's obedience?
'Tis fear, 'tis hate, 'tis terror, 'tis aversion,
'Tis the cold debt of ostentatious duty,
Paid with insulting caution, to remind me
How much you tremble to offend a tyrant
So terrible as Douglas. - O, Elwina - -
While duty measures the regard it owes
With scrupulous precision and nice justice,
Love never reasons, but profusely gives,
Gives, like a thoughtless prodigal, its all,
And trembles then, lest it has done too little.

_Elw._ Indeed I'm most unhappy that my cares,
And my solicitude to please, offend.

_Dou._ True tenderness is less solicitous,
Less prudent and more fond; the enamour'd heart,
Conscious it loves, and blest in being lov'd,
Reposes on the object it adores,
And trusts the passion it inspires and feels. -
Thou hast not learnt how terrible it is
To feed a hopeless flame. - But hear, Elwina,
Thou most obdurate, hear me. -

_Elw._ Say, my lord,
For your own lips shall vindicate my fame,
Since at the altar I became your wife,
Can malice charge me with an act, a word,
I ought to blush at? Have I not still liv'd
As open to the eye of observation,
As fearless innocence should ever live?
I call attesting angels to be witness,
If in my open deed, or secret thought,
My conduct, or my heart, they've aught discern'd
Which did not emulate their purity.

_Dou._ This vindication ere you were accus'd,
This warm defence, repelling all attacks
Ere they are made, and construing casual words
To formal accusations, trust me, madam,
Shews rather an alarm'd and vigilant spirit,
For ever on the watch to guard its secret,
Than the sweet calm of fearless innocence.
Who talk'd of guilt? Who testified suspicion?

_Elw._ Learn, sir, that virtue, while 'tis free from blame,
Is modest, lowly, meek, and unassuming;
Not apt, like fearful vice, to shield its weakness
Beneath the studied pomp of boastful phrase
Which swells to hide the poverty it shelters;
But, when this virtue feels itself suspected,
Insulted, set at nought, its whiteness stain'd,
It then grows proud, forgets its humble worth,
And rates itself above its real value.

_Dou._ I did not mean to chide! but think, O think,
What pangs must rend this fearful doting heart,
To see you sink impatient of the grave,
To feel, distracting thought! to feel you hate me!

_Elw._ What if the slender thread by which I hold
This poor precarious being soon must break,
Is it Elwina's crime, or heaven's decree?
Yet I shall meet, I trust, the king of terrors,
Submissive and resign'd, without one pang,
One fond regret, at leaving this gay world.

_Dou._ Yes, madam, there is one, one man ador'd,
For whom your sighs will heave, your tears will flow,
For whom this hated world will still be dear,
For whom you still would live - -

_Elw._ Hold, hold, my lord,
What may this mean?

_Dou._ Ah! I have gone too far.
What have I said? - Your father, sure, your father,
The good Lord Raby, may at least expect
One tender sigh.

_Elw._ Alas, my lord! I thought
The precious incense of a daughter's sighs
Might rise to heaven, and not offend its ruler.

_Dou._ 'Tis true; yet Raby is no more belov'd
Since he bestow'd his daughter's hand on Douglas:
That was a crime the dutiful Elwina
Can never pardon; and believe me, madam,
My love's so nice, so delicate my honour,
I am asham'd to owe my happiness
To ties which make you wretched. [_exit Douglas._

_Elw._ Ah! how's this?
Though I have ever found him fierce and rash,
Full of obscure surmises and dark hints,
Till now he never ventur'd to accuse me.
Yet there is one, one man belov'd, ador'd,
For whom your tears will flow - these were his words -
And then the wretched subterfuge of, Raby -
How poor th' evasion! - But my Birtha comes.

_Enter Birtha._

_Bir._ Crossing the portico I met Lord Douglas,
Disorder'd were his looks, his eyes shot fire;
He call'd upon your name with such distraction,
I fear'd some sudden evil had befallen you.

_Elw._ Not sudden: no; long has the storm been gathering,
Which threatens speedily to burst in ruin
On this devoted head.

_Bir._ I ne'er beheld
Your gentle soul so ruffled, yet I've mark'd you,
While others thought you happiest of the happy,
Blest with whate'er the world calls great, or good,
With all that nature, all that fortune gives,
I've mark'd you bending with a weight of sorrow.

_Elw._ O I will tell thee all! thou couldst not find
An hour, a moment in Elwina's life,
When her full heart so long'd to ease its burthen,
And pour its sorrows in thy friendly bosom:
Hear then, with pity hear, my tale of woe,
And, O forgive, kind nature, filial piety,
If my presumptuous lips arraign a father!
Yes, Birtha, that belov'd, that cruel father,
Has doom'd me to a life of hopeless anguish,
To die of grief ere half my days are number'd;
Doom'd me to give my trembling hand to Douglas,
'Twas all I had to give - my heart was - Percy's.

_Bir._ What do I hear?

_Elw._ My misery, not my crime.
Long since the battle 'twixt the rival houses
Of Douglas and of Percy, for whose hate
This mighty globe's too small a theatre,
One summer's morn my father chas'd the deer
On Cheviot Hills, Northumbria's fair domain.

_Bir._ On that fam'd spot where first the feuds commenc'd
Between the earls?

_Elw._ The same. During the chace,
Some of my father's knights receiv'd an insult
From the Lord Percy's herdsmen, churlish foresters,
Unworthy of the gentle blood they serv'd.
My father, proud and jealous of his honour,
(Thou know'st the fiery temper of our barons,)
Swore that Northumberland had been concern'd
In this rude outrage, nor would hear of peace,
Or reconcilement, which the Percy offer'd;
But bade me hate, renounce, and banish him.
O! 'twas a task too hard for all my duty:
I strove, and wept; I strove - but still I lov'd.

_Bir._ Indeed 'twas most unjust; but say what follow'd?

_Elw._ Why should I dwell on the disastrous tale?
Forbid to see me, Percy soon embark'd
With our great king against the Saracen.
Soon as the jarring kingdoms were at peace,
Earl Douglas, whom till then I ne'er had seen,
Came to this castle; 'twas my hapless fate
To please him. - Birtha! thou can'st tell what follow'd:
But who shall tell the agonies I felt?
My barbarous father forc'd me to dissolve
The tender vows himself had bid me form - -
He dragg'd me trembling, dying, to the altar,
I sigh'd, I struggled, fainted, and complied.

_Bir._ Did Douglas know, a marriage had been once
Propos'd 'twixt you and Percy?

_Elw._ If he did,
He thought, like you, it was a match of policy,
Nor knew our love surpass'd our fathers' prudence.

_Bir._ Should he now find he was the instrument
Of the Lord Raby's vengeance?

_Elw._ 'Twere most dreadful!
My father lock'd this motive in his breast,
And feign'd to have forgot the chace of Cheviot.
Some moons have now completed their slow course
Since my sad marriage. - Percy still is absent.

_Bir._ Nor will return before his sov'reign comes.

_Elw._ Talk not of his return! this coward heart
Can know no thought of peace but in his absence.
How, Douglas here again? some fresh alarm!

_Enter Douglas, agitated, with letters in his hand._

_Dou._ Madam, your pardon -

_Elw._ What disturbs my lord?

_Dou._ Nothing. - Disturb! I ne'er was more at ease.
These letters from your father give us notice
He will be here to-night: - He further adds,
The king's each hour expected.

_Elw._ How? the king?
Said you, the king?

_Dou._ And 'tis Lord Raby's pleasure
That you among the foremost bid him welcome.
You must attend the court.

_Elw._ Must I, my lord?

_Dou._ Now to observe how she receives the news! [_aside._

_Elw._ I must not, - cannot. - By the tender love
You have so oft profess'd for poor Elwina,
Indulge this one request - O let me stay!

_Dou._ Enchanting sounds! she does not wish to go - [_aside._

_Elw._ The bustling world, the pomp which waits on greatness,
Ill suits my humble, unambitious soul; -
Then leave me here, to tread the safer path
Of private life; here, where my peaceful course
Shall be as silent as the shades around me;
Nor shall one vagrant wish be e'er allow'd
To stray beyond the bounds of Raby Castle.

_Dou._ O music to my ears! [_aside._] Can you resolve
To hide those wond'rous beauties in the shade,
Which rival kings would cheaply buy with empire?
Can you renounce the pleasures of a court,
Whose roofs resound with minstrelsy and mirth?

_Elw._ My lord, retirement is a wife's best duty,
And virtue's safest station is retreat.

_Dou._ My soul's in transports! [_aside_] But can you forego
What wins the soul of woman - admiration?
A world, where charms inferior far to yours
Only presume to shine when you are absent!
Will you not long to meet the public gaze?
Long to eclipse the fair, and charm the brave?

_Elw._ These are delights in which the mind partakes not.

_Dou._ I'll try her farther. [_aside._

[_takes her hand, and looks stedfastly at her as he speaks._

But reflect once more:
When you shall hear that England's gallant peers,
Fresh from the fields of war, and gay with glory,
All vain with conquest, and elate with fame,
When you shall hear these princely youths contend,
In many a tournament, for beauty's prize;
When you shall hear of revelry and masking,
Of mimic combats and of festive halls,
Of lances shiver'd in the cause of love,
Will you not then repent, then wish your fate,
Your happier fate, had till that hour reserv'd you
For some plumed conqueror?

_Elw._ My fate, my lord,
Is now bound up with yours.

_Dou._ Here let me kneel -
Yes, I will kneel, and gaze, and weep, and wonder;
Thou paragon of goodness! - pardon, pardon, [_kisses her hand._
I am convinc'd - I can no longer doubt,
Nor talk, nor hear, nor reason, nor reflect.
- I must retire, and give a loose to joy. [_exit Douglas._

_Bir._ The king returns.

_Elw._ And with him Percy comes!

_Bir._ You needs must go.

_Elw._ Shall I solicit ruin,
And pull destruction on me ere its time?
I, who have held it criminal to name him?
I will not go - I disobey thee, Douglas,
But disobey thee to preserve thy honour. [_exeunt._




ACT THE SECOND.


SCENE I. THE HALL.

_Enter Douglas, speaking._

See that the traitor instantly be seiz'd,
And strictly watch'd: let none have access to him. -
O jealousy, thou aggregate of woes!
Were there no hell, thy torments would create one.
But yet she may be guiltless - may? she must.
How beautiful she look'd! pernicious beauty!
Yet innocent as bright seem'd the sweet blush
That mantled on her cheek. But not for me,
But not for me, those breathing roses blow!
And then she wept - What! can I bear her tears?
Well - let her weep - her tears are for another;
O did they fall for me, to dry their streams
I'd drain the choicest blood that feeds this heart,
Nor think the drops I shed were half so precious.
[_he stands in a musing posture._

_Enter Lord Raby._

_Raby._ Sure I mistake - am I in Raby Castle?
Impossible; that was the seat of smiles;
And Cheerfulness and Joy were household gods.
I us'd to scatter pleasures when I came,
And every servant shar'd his lord's delight;
But now Suspicion and Distrust dwell here,
And Discontent maintains a sullen sway.
Where is the smile unfeign'd, the jovial welcome,
Which cheer'd the sad, beguil'd the pilgrim's pain,
And made Dependency forget its bonds?
Where is the antient, hospitable hall,
Whose vaulted roof once rung with harmless mirth,
Where every passing stranger was a guest,
And every guest a friend? I fear me much,
If once our nobles scorn their rural seats,
Their rural greatness, and their vassals' love,
Freedom and English grandeur are no more.

_Dou._ [_advancing._] My lord, you are welcome.

_Raby._ Sir, I trust I am;
But yet methinks I shall not feel I'm welcome
Till my Elwina bless me with her smiles:
She was not wont with ling'ring step to meet me,
Or greet my coming with a cold embrace;
Now, I extend my longing arms in vain;
My child, my darling, does not come to fill them.
O they were happy days, when she would fly
To meet me from the camp, or from the chace,
And with her fondness overpay my toils!
How eager would her tender hands unbrace
The ponderous armour from my war-worn limbs,
And pluck the helmet which oppos'd her kiss!

_Dou._ O sweet delights, that never must be mine!

_Raby._ What do I hear?

_Dou._ Nothing: inquire no farther.

_Raby._ My lord, if you respect an old man's peace,
If e'er you doted on my much-lov'd child,
As 'tis most sure you made me think you did,
Then, by the pangs which you may one day feel,
When you, like me, shall be a fond, fond father,
And tremble for the treasure of your age,
Tell me what this alarming silence means?
You sigh, you do not speak, nay more, you hear not;
Your lab'ring soul turns inward on itself,
As there were nothing but your own sad thoughts
Deserv'd regard. Does my child live?

_Dou._ She does.

_Raby._ To bless her father!

_Dou._ And to curse her husband!

_Raby._ Ah! have a care, my lord, I'm not so old -

_Dou._ Nor I so base, that I should tamely bear it;
Nor am I so inur'd to infamy,
That I can say, without a burning blush,
She lives to be my curse!

_Raby._ How's this?

_Dou._ I thought
The lily opening to the heaven's soft dews,
Was not so fragrant, and was not so chaste.

_Raby._ Has she prov'd otherwise? I'll not believe it,
Who has traduc'd my sweet, my innocent child?
Yet she's too good to 'scape calumnious tongues.
I know that Slander loves a lofty mark:
It saw her soar a flight above her fellows,
And hurl'd its arrow to her glorious height,
To reach her heart, and bring her to the ground.

_Dou._ Had the rash tongue of Slander so presum'd,
My vengeance had not been of that slow sort
To need a prompter; nor should any arm,
No, not a father's, dare dispute with mine,
The privilege to die in her defence.
None dares accuse Elwina, but -

_Raby._ But who?

_Dou._ But Douglas.

_Raby._ [_puts his hand to his sword._]
You? - O spare my age's weakness!
You do not know what 'tis to be a father;
You do not know, or you would pity me,
The thousand tender throbs, the nameless feelings,
The dread to ask, and yet the wish to know,
When we adore and fear; but wherefore fear?
Does not the blood of Raby fill her veins?

_Dou._ Percy; - know'st thou that name?

_Raby._ How? What of Percy?

_Dou._ He loves Elwina, and, my curses on him!
He is belov'd again.

_Raby._ I'm on the rack!

_Dou._ Not the two Theban brothers bore each other
Such deep, such deadly hate as I and Percy.

_Raby._ But tell me of my child.

_Dou._ [_not minding him._] As I and Percy!
When at the marriage rites, O rites accurs'd!
I seiz'd her trembling hand, she started back,
Cold horror thrill'd her veins, her tears flow'd fast.
Fool that I was, I thought 'twas maiden fear;
Dull, doting ignorance! beneath those terrors,
Hatred for me and love for Percy lurk'd.

_Raby._ What proof of guilt is this?

_Dou._ E'er since our marriage,
Our days have still been cold and joyless all;
Painful restraint, and hatred ill disguis'd,
Her sole return for all my waste of fondness.
This very morn I told her 'twas your will
She should repair to court; with all those graces,
Which first subdued my soul, and still enslave it,
She begg'd to stay behind in Raby Castle,
For courts and cities had no charms for her.
Curse my blind love! I was again ensnar'd,
And doted on the sweetness which deceiv'd me.
Just at the hour she thought I should be absent,
(For chance could ne'er have tim'd their guilt so well,)
Arriv'd young Harcourt, one of Percy's knights,
Strictly enjoin'd to speak to none but her;
I seiz'd the miscreant: hitherto he's silent,
But tortures soon shall force him to confess!

_Raby._ Percy is absent - They have never met.

_Dou._ At what a feeble hold you grasp for succour!
Will it content me that her person's pure?
No, if her alien heart dotes on another,
She is unchaste, were not that other Percy.
Let vulgar spirits basely wait for proof,
She loves another - 'tis enough for Douglas.

_Raby._ Be patient.

_Dou._ Be a tame convenient husband,
And meanly wait for circumstantial guilt?
No - I am nice as the first Cæsar was,
And start at bare suspicion. [_going._

_Raby._ [_holding him._] Douglas, hear me;
Thou hast nam'd a Roman husband; if she's false,
I mean to prove myself a Roman father. [_exit Douglas._
This marriage was my work, and thus I'm punish'd!

_Enter Elwina._

_Elw._ Where is my father? let me fly to meet him,
O let me clasp his venerable knees,
And die of joy in his belov'd embrace!

_Raby._ [_avoiding her embrace._] Elwina!

_Elw._ And is that all? so cold?

_Raby._ [_sternly._] Elwina!

_Elw._ Then I'm undone indeed! How stern his looks!


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