Imatges de pÓgina
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And worthily becomes his silver locks;

He wears the marks of many years well spent,
Of virtue, truth well try'd, and wise experience;
A friend like this would suit my sorrows well.

[Crosses to Dʊм.
Fortune, I fear me, sir, has meant you ill,
Who pays your merit with that scanty pittance,
Which my poor hand and humble roof can give.
But to supply those golden vantages,

Which elsewhere you might find, expect to meet
A just regard and value for your worth,

The welcome of a friend, and the free partnership
Of all that little good the world allows me.

Dum. You over-rate me much; and all my answer
Must be my future truth; let that speak for me,
And make up my deserving.

Jane S. Are you of England?

Dum. No, gracious lady, Flanders claims my birth: At Antwerp has my constant biding been,

Where sometimes I have known more plenteous days Than these which now my failing age affords.

Jane S. Alas! at Antwerp! O forgive my tears!
[Weeping.

They fall for my offences-and must fall
Long, long ere they shall wash my stains away.
You knew perhaps-O grief! O shame!-my husband.
Dum. I knew him well-but stay this flood of anguish.
The senseless grave feels not your pious sorrows:
Three years and more are past, since I was bid,
With many of our common friends, to wait him
To his last peaceful mansion. I attended,
Sprinkled his clay-cold corse with holy drops,
According to our church's rev'rend rite,

And saw him laid, in hallow'd ground, to rest.

Jane S. Oh that my soul had known no joy but him! That I had liv'd within his guiltless arms,

And dying slept in innocence beside him!

But now his honest dust abhors the fellowship,
And scorns to mix with mine.

Enter a SERVANT, L.

Ser. (L.) The lady Alicia

Attends your leisure.

Jane S. Say I wish to see her.

[Exit SERVANT, L.

Please, gentle sir, one moment to retire,

B

I'll wait you on the instant, and inform you
Of each unhappy circumstance, in which

Your friendly aid and counsel much may stead me.
[Exeunt BEL. and DUM. R.

Enter ALICIA, L.

Alic. (R.c.) Still my fair friend, still shall I find

you thus ?

Still shall these sighs heave after one another,
These trickling drops chase one another still,
As if the posting messengers of grief
Could overtake the hours fled far away,
And make old time come back?

Jane S. (R.c.) No, my Alicia,

Heaven and his saints be witness to my thoughts,
There is no hour of all my life o'er past,

That I could wish should take its turn again.

Alic. (c.) And yet some of those days my friend has known,

Some of those years might pass for golden ones,
At least if womankind can judge of happiness.
What could we wish, we who delight in empire,
Whose beauty is our sov'reign good, and gives us,
Our reasons to rebel, and pow'r to reign,
What could we more than to behold a monarch,
Lovely, renown'd, a conqueror, and young,
Bound in our chains, and sighing at our feet?

Jane S. Tis true, the royal Edward was a wonder,
The goodly pride of all our English youth;
He was the very joy of all that saw him.
Form'd to delight, to love, and to persuade.
But what had I to do with kings and courts?
My humble lot had cast me far beneath him;
And that he was the first of all mankind,
The bravest, and most lovely was my curse.

Alic. Sure something more than forture join'd your

loves :

Nor could his greatness, and his gracious form,
Be elsewhere match'd so well, as to the sweetness
And beauty of my friend.

Jane S. Name him no more:

He was the bane and ruin of my peace.

This anguish, and these tears, these are the legacies
His fatal love has left me. Thou wilt see me,

Believe me, my Alicia, thou wilt see me,

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?

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