Thomas Otway.

The works of Mr. Thomas Otway, in two volumes (Volume 1) online

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The world, too, speaks you charitable; and I,
Who ne'er asked alms before, in that dear hope
Am come a-begging to you, sir.

_Priu._ For what?

_Belv._ Oh, well regard me; is this voice a strange one?
Consider, too, when beggars once pretend
A case like mine, no little will content them.

_Priu._ What wouldst thou beg for?

_Belv._ Pity and forgiveness. [_Throws up her veil._
By the kind tender names of child and father,
Hear my complaints, and take me to your love.

_Priu._ My daughter!

_Belv._ Yes, your daughter, by a mother
Virtuous and noble, faithful to your honour,
Obedient to your will, kind to your wishes,
Dear to your arms: by all the joys she gave you,
When in her blooming years she was your treasure,
Look kindly on me; in my face behold
The lineaments of hers you've kissed so often,
Pleading the cause of your poor cast-off child.

_Priu._ Thou art my daughter.

_Belv._ Yes; - and you've oft told me
With smiles of love, and chaste paternal kisses,
I'd much resemblance of my mother.

_Priu._ Oh!
Hadst thou inherited her matchless virtues,
I'd been too blest.

_Belv._ Nay, do not call to memory
My disobedience, but let pity enter
Into your heart, and quite deface the impression;
For could you think how mine's perplexed, what sadness,
Fears, and despairs distract the peace within me,
Oh! you would take me in your dear, dear arms,
Hover with strong compassion o'er your young one,
To shelter me with a protecting wing,
From the black gathered storm, that's just, just breaking.

_Priu._ Don't talk thus.

_Belv._ Yes, I must, and you must hear too.
I have a husband -

_Priu._ Damn him!

_Belv._ Oh! do not curse him;
He would not speak so hard a word towards you
On any terms, howe'er he deal with me.

_Priu._ Ha! what means my child?

_Bel._ Oh, there's but this short moment
'Twixt me and fate: yet send me not with curses
Down to my grave; afford me one kind blessing
Before we part; just take me in your arms,
And recommend me with a prayer to Heaven,
That I may die in peace; and when I'm dead -

_Priu._ How my soul's catched!

_Belv._ Lay me, I beg you, lay me
By the dear ashes of my tender mother:
She would have pitied me, had fate yet spared her.

_Priu._ By Heaven, my aching heart forebodes much mischief.
Tell me thy story, for I'm still thy father.

_Belv._ No, I'm contented,

_Priu._ Speak.

_Belv._ No matter.

_Priu._ Tell me.
By yon blest Heaven, my heart runs o'er with fondness!

_Belv._ Oh!

_Priu._ Utter it.

_Belv._ Oh, my husband, my dear husband
Carries a dagger in his once kind bosom,
To pierce the heart of your poor Belvidera.

_Priu._ Kill thee?

_Belv._ Yes, kill me. When he passed his faith
And covenant against your state and Senate,
He gave me up as hostage for his truth;
With me a dagger, and a dire commission,
Whene'er he failed, to plunge it through this bosom.
I learnt the danger, chose the hour of love
To attempt his heart, and bring it back to honour.
Great Love prevailed, and blessed me with success;
He came, confessed, betrayed his dearest friends
For promised mercy. Now they're doomed to suffer,
Galled with remembrance of what then was sworn,
If they are lost, he vows to appease the gods
With this poor life, and make my blood the atonement.

_Priu._ Heavens!

_Belv._ Think you saw what passed at our last parting;
Think you beheld him like a raging lion,
Pacing the earth, and tearing up his steps,
Fate in his eyes, and roaring with the pain
Of burning fury; think you saw his one hand
Fixed on my throat, whilst the extended other
Grasped a keen threatening dagger; oh! 'twas thus
We last embraced; when, trembling with revenge,
He dragged me to the ground, and at my bosom
Presented horrid death; cried out "My friends!
Where are my friends?" swore, wept, raged, threatened, loved;
For he yet loved, and that dear love preserved me
To this last trial of a father's pity.
I fear not death, but cannot bear a thought
That that dear hand should do the unfriendly office.
If I was ever then your care, now hear me;
Fly to the Senate, save the promised lives
Of his dear friends, ere mine be made the sacrifice.

_Priu._ Oh, my heart's comfort!

_Belv._ Will you not, my father?
Weep not, but answer me.

_Priu._ By Heaven, I will.
Not one of them but what shall be immortal.
Canst thou forgive me all my follies past?
I'll henceforth be indeed a father; never,
Never more thus expose, but cherish thee,
Dear as the vital warmth that feeds my life;
Dear as these eyes that weep in fondness o'er thee.
Peace to thy heart! Farewell.

_Belv._ Go, and remember
'Tis Belvidera's life her father pleads for. [_Exeunt severally._

_Enter_ ANTONIO.

_Ant._ Hum, hum, hah; Signior Priuli, my lord Priuli, my lord,
my lord, my lord! How we lords love to call one another by
our titles! My lord, my lord, my lord - Pox on him! I am a
lord as well as he; and so let him fiddle. I'll warrant him
he's gone to the Senate-house, and I'll be there too, soon
enough for somebody. Odd! here's a tickling speech about the
plot; I'll prove there's a plot with a vengeance - would I had
it without book; let me see: - "Most reverend senators, - That
there is a plot, surely by this time, no man that hath eyes
or understanding in his head will presume to doubt; 'tis as
plain as the light in the cucumber" - no - hold there - cucumber
does not come in yet - "'tis as plain as the light in the sun,
or as the man in the moon, even at noon-day: it is indeed a
pumpkin-plot, which, just as it was mellow, we have gathered,
and now we have gathered it, prepared and dressed it, shall we
throw it like a pickled cucumber out at the window? no: that it
is not only a bloody, horrid, execrable, damnable and audacious
plot; but it is, as I may so say, a saucy plot; and we all
know, most reverend fathers, that what is sauce for a goose is
sauce for a gander: therefore, I say, as those blood-thirsty
ganders of the conspiracy would have destroyed us geese of the
Senate, let us make haste to destroy them; so I humbly move for
hanging." Ha, hurry durry! I think this will do; though I was
something out, at first, about the sun and the cucumber.

_Enter_ AQUILINA.

_Aquil._ Good-morrow, senator.

_Ant._ Nacky, my dear Nacky! 'morrow, Nacky! Odd! I am very
brisk, very merry, very pert, very jovial - ha-a-a-a-a - kiss me,
Nacky; how dost thou do, my little tory rory strumpet? Kiss me,
I say, hussy, kiss me.

_Aquil._ Kiss me, Nacky! hang you, sir coxcomb, hang you, sir!

_Ant._ Hayty tayty, is it so indeed? with all my heart, faith!
"Hey then up go we,"[77] faith - "hey then up go we," dum dum
derum dump. [_Sings._

_Aquil._ Signior.

_Ant._ Madonna.

_Aquil._ Do you intend to die in your bed?

_Ant._ About threescore years hence much may be done, my dear.

_Aquil._ You'll be hanged, signior.

_Ant._ Hanged, sweetheart! pr'ythee be quiet: hanged quoth-a!
that's a merry conceit, with all my heart; why, thou jokest,
Nacky; thou art given to joking, I'll swear; well, I protest,
Nacky, nay, I must protest, and will protest, that I love
joking dearly, mun. And I love thee for joking, and I'll kiss
thee for joking, and towze thee for joking; and odd, I have a
devilish mind to take thee aside about that business for joking
too; odd I have, and, "Hey then up go we," dum dum derum dump.
[_Sings._

_Aquil._ See you this, sir? [_Draws a dagger._

_Ant._ O laud, a dagger! O laud! it is naturally my aversion,
I cannot endure the sight on't; hide it, for Heaven's sake, I
cannot look that way till it be gone - hide it, hide it, oh, oh,
hide it!

_Aquil._ Yes, in your heart I'll hide it.

_Ant._ My heart! what, hide a dagger in my heart's blood?

_Aquil._ Yes, in thy heart, thy throat, thou pampered devil;
Thou'st helped to spoil my peace, and I'll have vengeance
On thy cursed life, for all the bloody Senate,
The perjured faithless Senate. Where's my lord,
My happiness, my love, my god, my hero,
Doomed by thy accursed tongue, amongst the rest,
To a shameful rack? By all the rage that's in me,
I'll be whole years in murdering thee.

_Ant._ Why, Nacky, wherefore so passionate? what have I done?
what's the matter, my dear Nacky? Am not I thy love, thy
happiness, thy lord, thy hero, thy senator, and every thing in
the world, Nacky?

_Aquil._ Thou! think'st thou, thou art fit to met my joys; To
bear the eager clasps of my embraces? Give me my Pierre, or -

_Ant._ Why, he's to be hanged, little Nacky; trussed up for
treason, and so forth, child.

_Aquil._ Thou liest; stop down thy throat that hellish sentence,
Or 'tis thy last: swear that my love shall live,
Or thou art dead.

_Ant._ Ah!

_Aquil._ Swear to recall his doom;
Swear at my feet, and tremble at my fury.

_Ant._ I do. Now if she would but kick a little bit, one kick
now; ah!

_Aquil._ Swear, or -

_Ant._ I do, by these dear fragrant foots, and little toes,
sweet as - e-e-e-e my Nacky, Nacky, Nacky.

_Aquil._ How!

_Ant._ Nothing but untie thy shoe-string a little, faith and
troth, that's all, that's all, as I hope to live, Nacky, that's
all.

_Aquil._ Nay, then -

_Ant._ Hold, hold; thy love, thy lord, thy hero Shall be
preserved and safe.

_Aquil._ Or may this poniard Rust in thy heart!

_Ant._ With all my soul.

_Aquil._ Farewell! [_Exit._

_Ant._ Adieu! Why, what a bloody-minded, inveterate, termagant
strumpet have I been plagued with! Oh, yet more! nay then, I
die, I die - I am dead already. [_Stretches himself out. Scene
closes._

[Illustration]


SCENE II. - _A Street near_ PRIULI'S _House_.

_Enter_ JAFFIER.

_Jaff._ Final destruction seize on all the world!
Bend down, ye Heavens, and, shutting round this earth,
Crush the vile globe into its first confusion;
Scorch it with elemental flames to one curst cinder,
And all us little creepers in't, called men,
Burn, burn, to nothing! but let Venice burn
Hotter than all the rest; here kindle hell
Ne'er to extinguish; and let souls hereafter
Groan here, in all those pains which mine feels now!

_Enter_ BELVIDERA.

_Belv._ My life! [_Meeting him._

_Jaff._ My plague! [_Turning from her._

_Belv._ Nay, then I see my ruin,
If I must die!

_Jaff._ No, Death's this day too busy;
Thy father's ill-timed mercy came too late.
I thank thee for thy labours though, and him too:
But all my poor, betrayed, unhappy friends
Have summons to prepare for fate's black hour;
And yet I live.

_Belv._ Then be the next my doom.
I see thou hast passed my sentence in thy heart,
And I'll no longer weep or plead against it;
But with the humblest, most obedient patience
Meet thy dear hands, and kiss them when they wound me.
Indeed I'm willing, but I beg thee do it
With some remorse; and, when thou givest the blow,
View me with eyes of a relenting love,
And show me pity, for 'twill sweeten justice.

_Jaff._ Show pity to thee?

_Belv._ Yes; and when thy hands,
Charged with my fate, come trembling to the deed,
As thou hast done a thousand thousand dear times
To this poor breast, when kinder rage has brought thee,
When our stinged hearts have leaped to meet each other,
And melting kisses sealed our lips together,
When joys have left me gasping in thy arms,
So let my death come now, and I'll not shrink from it.

_Jaff._ Nay, Belvidera, do not fear my cruelty,
Nor let the thoughts of death perplex thy fancy;
But answer me to what I shall demand,
With a firm temper and unshaken spirit.

_Belv._ I will when I've done weeping -

_Jaff._ Fie, no more on't.
How long is't since the miserable day
We wedded first?

_Belv._ Oh!

_Jaff._ Nay, keep in thy tears,
Lest they unman me too.

_Belv._ Heaven knows I cannot;
The words you utter sound so very sadly,
These streams will follow -

_Jaff._ Come, I'll kiss them dry then.

_Belv._ But was't a miserable day?

_Jaff._ A cursed one.

_Belv._ I thought it otherwise; and you've oft sworn
In the transporting hours of warmest love,
When sure you spoke the truth, you've sworn you
blessed it.

_Jaff._ 'Twas a rash oath.

_Belv._ Then why am I not cursed too?

_Jaff._ No, Belvidera; by the eternal truth,
I dote with too much fondness.

_Belv._ Still so kind!
Still then do you love me?

_Jaff._ Nature, in her workings,
Inclines not with more ardour to creation,
Than I do now towards thee; man ne'er was blest,
Since the first pair first met, as I have been.

_Belv._ Then sure you will not curse me?

_Jaff._ No, I'll bless thee.
I came on purpose, Belvidera, to bless thee.
'Tis now, I think, three years we've lived together.

_Belv._ And may no fatal minute ever part us,
Till reverend grown, for age and love, we go
Down to one grave, as our last bed, together;
There sleep in peace till an eternal morning!

_Jaff._ When will that be? [_Sighing._

_Belv._ I hope long ages hence.

_Jaff._ Have I not hitherto - I beg thee tell me
Thy very fears - used thee with tenderest love?
Did e'er my soul rise up in wrath against thee?
Did I e'er frown when Belvidera smiled,
Or, by the least unfriendly word, betray
Abating passion? have I ever wronged thee?

_Belv._ No.

_Jaff._ Has my heart, or have my eyes e'er wandered
To any other woman?

_Belv._ Never, never.
I were the worst of false ones, should I accuse thee.
I own I've been too happy, blest above
My sex's charter.

_Jaff._ Did I not say I came
To bless thee?

_Belv._ Yes.

_Jaff._ Then hear me, bounteous Heaven!
Pour down your blessings on this beauteous head,
Where everlasting sweets are always springing:
With a continual-giving hand, let peace,
Honour, and safety always hover round her;
Feed her with plenty; let her eyes ne'er see
A sight of sorrow, nor her heart know mourning:
Crown all her days with joy, her nights with rest
Harmless as her own thoughts, and prop her virtue
To bear the loss of one that too much loved;
And comfort her with patience in our parting!

_Belv._ How, parting, parting!

_Jaff._ Yes, for ever parting;
I have sworn, Belvidera, by yon Heaven,
That best can tell how much I lose to leave thee,
We part this hour for ever.

_Belv._ Oh, call back
Your cruel blessing; stay with me and curse me!

_Jaff._ No; 'tis resolved.

_Belv._ Then hear me too, just Heaven!
Pour down your curses on this wretched head,
With never-ceasing vengeance; let despair,
Danger or infamy, nay, all surround me.
Starve me with wantings; let my eyes ne'er see
A sight of comfort, nor my heart know peace;
But dash my days with sorrow, nights with horrors
Wild as my own thoughts now, and let loose fury
To make me mad enough for what I lose,
If I must lose him - if I must! I will not. -
Oh, turn and hear me!

_Jaff._ Now hold, heart, or never.

_Belv._ By all the tender days we have lived together,
By all our charming nights, and joys that crowned them,
Pity my sad condition; speak, but speak!

_Jaff._ Oh!

_Belv._ By these arms that now cling round thy neck,
By this dear kiss, and by ten thousand more,
By these poor streaming eyes -

_Jaff._ Murder! unhold me!
By the immortal destiny that doomed me [_Draws his dagger._
To this cursed minute, I'll not live one longer.
Resolve to let me go, or see me fall -

_Belv._ Hold, sir, be patient.

_Jaff._ Hark, the dismal bell [_Passing-bell tolls._
Tolls out for death! I must attend its call too;
For my poor friend, my dying Pierre expects me;
He sent a message to require I'd see him
Before he died, and take his last forgiveness.
Farewell for ever!

_Belv._ Leave thy dagger with me.
Bequeath me something. - Not one kiss at parting?

[JAFFIER, _going out, looks back at her_.

O my poor heart, when wilt thou break?

_Jaff._ Yet stay,
We have a child, as yet a tender infant:
Be a kind mother to him when I'm gone,
Breed him in virtue and the paths of honour,
But let him never know his father's story;
I charge thee guard him from the wrongs my fate
May do his future fortune, or his name.
Now - nearer yet! [_Approaching each other._] Oh that my arms
were rivetted
Thus round thee ever! But my friends, my oath -
This, and no more. [_Kisses her._

_Belv._ Another, sure another,
For that poor little one you've ta'en care of;
I'll give't him truly.

_Jaff._ So, now farewell.

_Belv._ For ever?

_Jaff._ Heaven knows for ever; all good angels
guard thee! [_Exit._

_Belv._ All ill ones sure had charge of me this moment.
Cursed be my days, and doubly cursed my nights,
Which I must now mourn out in widowed tears;
Blasted be every herb, and fruit, and tree;
Cursed be the rain that falls upon the earth,
And may the general curse reach man and beast!
Oh, give me daggers, fire, or water;
How I could bleed, how burn, how drown, the waves
Huzzing and booming round my sinking head,
Till I descended to the peaceful bottom!
Oh, there's all quiet, here all rage and fury;
The air's too thin, and pierces my weak brain;
I long for thick substantial sleep. Hell! hell!
Burst from the centre, rage and roar aloud,
If thou art half so hot, so mad as I am!

_Enter_ PRIULI _and_ Servants.

Who's there?

_Priu._ Run, seize and bring her safely home;
Guard her as you would life. Alas, poor creature!

[_They seize her._

_Belv._ What! to my husband? then conduct me quickly.
Are all things ready? shall we die most gloriously?
Say not a word of this to my old father.
Murmuring streams, soft shades, and springing flowers,
Lutes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of amber. [_Exeunt._

[Illustration]


SCENE III. - _A Public Place. A scaffold and wheel in centre._

_Enter_ Officers, PIERRE, _and_ Guards, _a_ Friar,
Executioner, _and a great_ Rabble.

_Offi._ Room, room there - stand all by, make room
for the prisoner.

_Pier._ My friend not come yet?

_Friar._ Why are you so obstinate?

_Pier._ Why you so troublesome, that a poor wretch
Can't die in peace,
But you like ravens will be croaking round him?

_Friar._ Yet Heaven -

_Pier._ I tell thee Heaven and I are friends:
I ne'er broke peace with it yet, by cruel murders,
Rapine or perjury, or vile deceiving;
But lived in moral justice towards all men;
Nor am a foe to the most strong believers,
Howe'er my own short-sighted faith confine me.

_Friar._ But an all-seeing Judge -

_Pier._ You say my conscience
Must be my accuser: I have searched that conscience,
And find no records there of crimes that scare me.

_Friar._ 'Tis strange you should want faith.

_Pier._ You want to lead
My reason blindfold, like a hampered lion,
Checked of its nobler vigour; then, when baited
Down to obedient tameness, make it couch,
And show strange tricks, which you call signs of faith:
So silly souls are gulled, and you get money.
Away, no more! Captain, I'd have hereafter
This fellow write no lies of my conversion,
Because he has crept upon my troubled hours.

_Enter_ JAFFIER.

_Jaff._ Hold: eyes, be dry; heart, strengthen me to bear
This hideous sight, and humble me to take
The last forgiveness of a dying friend,
Betrayed by my vile falsehood to his ruin!
O Pierre!

_Pier._ Yet nearer.

_Jaff._ Crawling on my knees,
And prostrate on the earth, let me approach thee:
How shall I look up to thy injured face,
That always used to smile with friendship on me?
It darts an air of so much manly virtue,
That I, methinks, look little in thy sight,
And stripes are fitter for me than embraces.

_Pier._ Dear to my arms, though thou'st undone my fame,
I can't forget to love thee: pr'ythee, Jaffier,
Forgive that filthy blow my passion dealt thee;
I'm now preparing for the land of peace,
And fain would have the charitable wishes
Of all good men, like thee, to bless my journey.

_Jaff._ Good! I'm the vilest creature, worse than e'er
Suffered the shameful fate thou'rt going to taste of.
Why was I sent for to be used thus kindly?
Call, call me villain, as I am; describe
The foul complexion of my hateful deeds;
Lead me to the rack, and stretch me in thy stead,
I've crimes enough to give it its full load,
And do it credit: thou wilt but spoil the use on't,
And honest men hereafter bear its figure
About them, as a charm from treacherous friendship.

_Offi._ The time grows short; your friends are dead already.

_Jaff._ Dead!

_Pier._ Yes, dead, Jaffier; they've all died like men too,
Worthy their character.

_Jaff._ And what must I do?

_Pier._ Oh, Jaffier!

_Jaff._ Speak aloud thy burthened soul,
And tell thy troubles to thy tortured friend!

_Pier._ Friend! Couldst thou yet be a friend, a generous friend,
I might hope comfort from thy noble sorrows.
Heaven knows I want a friend!

_Jaff._ And I a kind one,
That would not thus scorn my repenting virtue,
Or think, when he's to die, my thoughts are idle.

_Pier._ No! live, I charge thee, Jaffier.

_Jaff._ Yes, I will live,
But it shall be to see thy fall revenged
At such a rate as Venice long shall groan for.

_Pier._ Wilt thou?

_Jaff._ I will, by Heaven!

_Pier._ Then still thou'rt noble,
And I forgive thee. Oh - yet - shall I trust thee?

_Jaff._ No; I've been false already.

_Pier._ Dost thou love me?

_Jaff._ Rip up my heart, and satisfy thy doubtings.

_Pier._ Curse on this weakness! [_He weeps._

_Jaff._ Tears! amazement! tears!
I never saw thee melted thus before;
And know there's something labouring in thy bosom
That must have vent: though I'm a villain, tell me.

_Pier._ Seest thou that engine? [_Pointing to the wheel._

_Jaff._ Why?

_Pier._ Is't fit a soldier, who has lived with honour,
Fought nations' quarrels, and been crowned with conquest,
Be exposed a common carcass on a wheel?

_Jaff._ Ha!

_Pier._ Speak! is't fitting?

_Jaff._ Fitting?

_Pier._ Yes, is't fitting?

_Jaff._ What's to be done?

_Pier._ I'd have thee undertake
Something that's noble, to preserve my memory
From the disgrace that's ready to attaint it.

_Offi._ The day grows late, sir.

_Pier._ I'll make haste. Oh, Jaffier,
Though thou'st betrayed me, do me some way justice.

_Jaff._ No more of that: thy wishes shall be satisfied;



Online LibraryThomas OtwayThe works of Mr. Thomas Otway, in two volumes (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 30)