Imatges de pÓgina
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Ere yet a few short days pass o'er my head,
Abandon'd to the very utmost wretchedness.
The hand of pow'r has seiz'd almost the whole
Of what was left for needy life's support;
Shortly thou wilt behold me poor, and kneeling
Before thy charitable door for bread.

Alic. [Takes her hand.] Joy of my life, my dearest Shore, forbear

[Part.

To wound my heart with thy foreboding sorrows:
Raise thy sad soul to better hopes than these,
Lift up thy eyes, and let them shine once more,
Bright as the morning sun above the mist.
Exert thy charms, seek out the stern protector,
And sooth his savage temper with thy beauty;
Spite of his deadly, unrelenting nature,
He shall be mov'd to pity, and redress thee.

Jane S. My form, alas! has long forgot to please!
The scene of beauty and delight is chang'd;
No roses bloom upon my fading cheek,
Nor laughing graces wanton in my eyes;

But haggard grief, lean-looking, sallow care,
And pining discontent, a rueful train,
Dwell on my brow, all hideous and forlorn;
One only shadow of a hope is left me;
The noble-minded Hastings, of his goodness,
Has kindly underta'en to be my advocate,
And move my humble suit to angry Gloster.

Alic. Does Hastings undertake to plead your cause?
But wherefore should he not? Hastings has eyes:
The gentle lord has a right tender heart,
Melting and easy, yielding to impression,

And catching the soft flame from each new beauty;-
But yours shall charm him long.

Jane S. [Turns R.] Away, you flatterer!

Nor charge his gen'rous meaning with a weakness,
Which his great soul and virtue must disdain.
Too much of love thy hapless friend has prov'd, ́
Too many giddy, foolish hours are gone,
And in fantastic measures danc'd away:
May the remaining few know only friendship,
So thou, my dearest, truest, best Alicia,
Vouchsafe to lodge me in thy gentle heart,
A partner there; I will give up mankind,
Forget the transports of increasing passion,
And all the pangs we feel for its decay.

Alic. Live! live and reign for ever in my bosom:
[Embracing.

Safe and unrivall'd there possess thy own;
And you, the brightest of the stars above,
Ye saints that once were women here below,
Be witness of the truth, the holy friendship,
Which here to this my other self I vow.
If I do not hold her nearer to my soul,
Than every other joy the world can give,
Let poverty, deformity, and shame,
Distraction, and despair seize me on earth,
Let not my faithless ghost have peace hereafter,
Nor taste the bliss of your celestial fellowship.

[Kneels.

[Rises. Jane S. Yes, thou art true, and only thou art true; Therefore these jewels, once the lavish bounty Of royal Edward's love, I trust to thee;

[Gives a casket. Receive this, all that I can call my own, And let it rest unknown, and safe with thee: That if the state's injustice should oppress me, Strip me of all, and turn me out a wanderer, My wretchedness may find relief from thee, And shelter from the storm.

Alic. My all is thine;

One common hazard shall attend us both,

And both be fortunate, or both be wretched.

But let thy fearful doubting heart be still;
The saints and angels have thee in their charge,
And all things shall be well. Think not, the good,
The gentle deeds of mercy thou hast done,
Shall die forgotten all; the poor, the pris'ner,
The fatherless, the friendless, and the widow,

Who daily own the bounty of thy hand,

Shall cry to heaven, and pull a blessing on thee.
Ev'n man, the merciless insulter man,

Man, who rejoices in our sex's weakness,

Shall pity thee, and with unwonted goodness,

Forget thy failings, and record thy praise.

Jane S. (L. c.) Why should I think that man will do

for me,

What yet he never did for wretches like me?

Mark by what partial justice we are judg'd;
Such is the fate unhappy women find,

And such the curse entail'd upon our kind,

That man, the lawless libertine, may rove,
Free and unquestion'd through the wilds of love;
While woman,' sense and nature's easy fool,
If poor, weak woman swerve from virtue's rule-
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; (R.)
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.

[Exeunt, R.

END OF ACT I.

ACT II.

SCENE I.-An Apartment in Jane Shore's House.

Enter ALICIA, R.

Alic. (R.) The drowsy night grows on the world, and

now

The busy craftsmen and the o'er-labour'd hind
Forget the travail of the day in sleep:
Care only wakes, and moping pensiveness;
With meagre 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! O, false Hastings!
Thou hast destroy'd my peace.

What noise is that?

[Knocking without, L.

What visitor is this, who with bold freedom,
Breaks in upon the peaceful night and rest,

With such a rude approach?

Enter a SERVANT, L.

Serv. (L.) One from the court.

Lord Hastings (as I think), demands my lady.

[Crosses, and exit, R. Alic. (c.) Hastings! Be still, my heart, and try to

meet him,

With his own arts! with falsehood-But he comes.

LORD HASTINGS, L. speaking without to a Servant. Has. [Enters L.] Dismiss my train, and wait alone without.

Alicia here! Unfortunate encounter.

But be it as it may.

Alic. (c.) 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.

Has. (L. c.) "Tis true I would not over-rate a cour-
tesy,

Nor let the coldness of delay hang on it,

To nip and blast its favour like a frost;

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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.

Alic. My friend! my lord..

Has. Yes, lady, yours; none has a right more ample To task my pow'r than you.

Alic. I want the words,

To pay you back a compliment so courtly;
But my heart guesses at the friendly meaning,
And wou'dn't die your debtor.

Has. "Tis well, madam.

But I would see your friend.

Alic. O, 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 'twou'dn't be; my wrongs will tear their way,
And rush at once upon thee.

Has. Are you wise?

Have you the use of reason? Do you wake?
What means this raving, this transporting passion?
Alic. O, thou cool traitor! thou insulting tyrant!
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 doated on thee

With love, with truth, and tenderness unutterable! Has. (c.) 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?

Alic. (L. C.) What proof, alas! have I not giv'n of love?

What have I not abandon'd to thy arms?
Have I not set at nought my noble birth,
A spotless fame, and an unblemish'd race,
The peace of innocence, and pride of virtue?
My prodigality has given thee all;

And now I've nothing left me to bestow,
You hate the wretched bankrupt you have made.
Has. Why am I thus pursu'd from place to place,
Kept in the view, and cross'd at every turn?
In vain I fly, and, like a hunted deer,
Scud o'er the lawns, and hasten to the covert :
E'er 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.
Alic. Hither you fly, and here you seek repose;
Spite of the poor deceit, your arts are known,
Your pious, charitable, midnight visits.

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[Crosses to his R.
Has. If you are wise, and prize your peace of mind,
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,

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