Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

he is my tenant and my slave; in hell -ha! save me from the thought-in hell he'll be my equal! No matter; reflection comes too late; my hand, already heavy with the weight of blood, can rise with murderous and fatal aim no more. What, ho! within there! *

Enter WHEATSHEAF. Farmer. Be it your honour's lordship do please to call ? lord B. (Signs to farmer to approach.) Nearer, still nearer, I

say; what fear'st thou?

Farmer. Fear, my lord? Saving your lordship's presence, I ha' nothing to be afeard on. A man-is a man; and zoa long as he can do zoa(striking his bosom,) he needn't fear ony body, I do take it.

Lord B. (Groans deeply. +) Ah! he cuts me to the soul! No more of this. Listen to me, farmer. Thou know'st this world contains one living creature hateful to my sight. (Mysteriously.), Thou know'st the rest, too. I

Farmer. (Looking cautiously about.) My lord

Lord B. Listen, and reply not. Ere earth be canopied by the shades of night—(More mysteriously.) Thou understand’st me. Farmer. (Trembling, and grasping his own hair.) My lord Lord B. Silence. Hast thou decided ? Farmer. (Irresolutely.) My lord

Lord B. Peace! (Draws his hand from his breeches-pocket, and gives the farmer a piece of money.) This is the reward of thy obedience.

Farmer. (Looking at the money.) My lord-

Lord B. Enough. (Draws his other hand from his bosom, and delivers to the farmer a knife.) This is the instrument which must rid me of my tormentor.

Farmer. I do tremble zoa, and the words do stick in my throat for all the world like the teeth of a rake in a gravelly zoil.

Lord B. Quickly decide.
Farmer. (Attempts to strike his bosom, but fails.) I can't do zoa.
Lord B. No more of this trifling.

Farmer. (Throws down the money.) Dom thee, lie there. (Strikes his bosom gently.) I can do zoa a little better now. (Throws down the knife.) Dom thee, lie there, too. (Strikes his bosom violently.) My lord, I ha' decided : I can do zoa as well as ever.

Lord B. What means all this?

Farmer. I'll tell’ee what it do mean: Thee beest a lord-but can thee do zoa? (Striking his bosom.)

Lord B. I understand; thou refusest me! Then await my vengeance.

Farmer. Vengeance! I tell’ee what: saving your lordship’s presence, thof I be poor the sun do shine over my head ; when I do sow the seed on my ground, the corn do grow; and if the ears do be full, and the crop do be good, I do get as much an acre for my harvest as your lordship’s honour do for yours.

Lord B. He plants a dagger in my heart. (Groaning piteously.) S

Farmer. (Taking Lord Bluedevil kindly by the hand.) And I tell’ee what: when I do lay down my head at night, I can do zoa; (striking his bosom ;) and thof you be a lord, if you did but know the pleasure of doing zoa- -but be a man, my lord-here be somebody coming-here, take a good book to comfort you. (Gives him the Pilgrim's Progress.)

This speech is very strongly written, as I have heard it said of many other of the serious parts of the same author's comedies. Undoubtedly he often exhibits great power of (melodramatic) writing.

+ Peculiarity of the MODERN THALIA.

# Similar scenes of confidence, between lords and clod-hoppers, are common in our author's plays.

§ More COMEDY !!

Enter Dame WHEATSHEAF, hastily. Farmer. Dom thee, what dost thee want here?

Dume. Ifackins! what dost thee want here! why, here be my Lady Rosevalley, and my Lord Dashtown, and Squire Chevychace, and a mort o'fine folks, coming up

to farm. Farmer. Then let 'em come and welcome, deame; for thof we be poor, we be honest.

Lord B. (Sinks into a chair, and rests his head on the table.) Oh! for a cordial to cheer my sinking heart.

Dame. We ha' gotten no cordials; but ye be heartily welcome to a draught oʻgood home-brew'd yeale.

Farmer. Hold thy dom fool's tongue, wool'ee, missus ? Enter Lady RosevaLLEY, LORD Dashtown, SQUIRE CHEVYCHACE, and

several Ladies and Gentlemen. Lady R. I declare I never was so fatigued in my life. One would imagine people never sat down in these wild regions; for there appears to be no preparation for such an event. (Looking about the room, but not perceiving Lord Bluedevil.)

All.* (Laugh.) Ha! ha! ha!

Lord Dush. Damme, you are right, my lady; damn'd right. Give me Bond-street for a morning's airing, and leave country rambles to country clod-poles. Eh, farmer? (Tapping farmer on the shoulder.)

Lady R. Vastly well indeed. (Laughs.) Ha! ha! ha!
All. (Laugh.) Ha! ha! ha!

Farmer. I don't rightly understand what you may mean by clod-pole, my lord; but look'ee, my lord ; (striking his bosom ;) can you do zoa?

Lord Dash. Yes, farmer; and, damme, though I'm a man of fashion, damme, I'm not without a heart, damme.

Squire Chevy. Yoicks, tally-ho! broke cover! turned up Old Bluedevil here.

Lady R. Merciful powers! he seems grief-worn and exhausted : give him air. (They all crowd about him.)

Farmer. (Taking Lady Rosevalley aside.) And well he may be. O miss, -my lady, I should say; if I thought you were as good as you're pratty - but stop-can you do zoa? (Striking his bosom.)

Lady R. O farmer, I can, indeed; indeed I can.

Dame. (Aside.) Mercy on me! I hope she's not going to fall in love with my Gaffer: 'twouldn't be the first time a fine young lady has fallen in love with a farmer at first sight."

Farmer. Can you ? then I'll tell’ee. (Mysteriously.) You must know, that my lord

Lord B. (Rushing wildly forward.) Spare me, spare me the dreadful trial. Fiends—torments-furies-serpents hissing and whizzing in my ears -darkness—the shades of night-the gloom of despair.-Be silent as the grave, I charge thee !--no-1 charge thee, speak !-Blazon the horrible design-let it be shouted and gazetted to the execrating world. . I would have instigated him to- -ha !

Farmer. To murder!

The audience is not necessarily included in this direction. It is with regret I allow, that in scenes of this kind, in which he endeavours to represent the things of fashion-where, in short, he attempts to imitate Reynolds, Mr. M-n totally fails. Mr. Reynolds, till he began to write Exiles and Virgins of the Sun (in imitation of kim), displayed such a fund of whim, so extraordinary a facility at catching the passing follies of the day, such an inexhaustible vain of gaiety, easy and unforced gaiety, as atoned for many of the faults by which his pieces were distigured. Mr. M-n's serious comedy (I repeat it) is very serious indeed : but justice forces me to acknowledge, that his attempts at pleasantry are, in general, laboured and heavy. † As in A Cure for the Heart Ache.

More strong writing.

All. Murder! whom?

Farmer. (Dashing a tear from one eye, and looking compassionately with the other.) A poor old cock, that has crowed afore his gate five years come Michaelmas. But I hadn't the heart to do it.

Lord B. Support me. Farmer, draw near : it shall not die. O, farmer, thou hast given peace to my heart, and quiet to my conscience. Thou hast taught me, that where vice exists, there virtue cannot be ; and that a virtuous tenant is happier than a guilty landlord.

Farmer. But, my lord- (pointing to his bosom,) you understand me?

Lord B. Yes, farmer; and I may now proudly boast, that I also (striking his bosom,) can do so.

Farmer. (Coming forward.) And yet, thof I zay it as shouldn't zay it, unless our koind friends shed the sun-shine of their smiles, to ripen our harvest, we cannot hope-to do zoa.

(All the characters strike their bosoms, and the curtain falls.)

[ocr errors]

OSMYN,

A PERSIAN TALE.

PART II.

If you are one that loves to sit by fires
0' winter nights, listening to gossips'tales;
Or sights by mariners seen on midnight decks,
When seas are roaring ; or old soldiers' songs;
Or pilgrim wonders brought from holy shores
Where the brown Arab rides, and Turkish spears

Undiadem the Greek; come, list to me!
The sun was wheeling up his golden sphere,
Whelming the twilight stars—the scatter'd rear
Of night's blue legions. Earth was bath'd in rose.
The west was wall’d with hills, whose crowning snows
Hung high in morn, unmelted by its beams.
Solemn the echo of the thousand streams
That down their sable sides, like strings of pearl,
Glitter'd and shook in every passing whirl
Of the light dallying wind, then rush'd a river
Proud and deep channeld: many an empty quiver,
And shield and helmet-crest in carnage dyed,
And broken spearshaft eddy'd down that tide.
Darkly the blood of battle stain'd the foam
As it danced onwards to the cavern'd dome,
Delved in the bosom of the precipice,
Where toss'd from bed to bed, with flash and hiss,
The cataract its freight of corpses bore.

Young Osmyn stood upon the sanguine shore
Rapt in the severish, dim imaginings
That sorrow on the youthful spirit brings-
The midnight of the mind. So stood he mazed ;
And as upon the crowded stream he gazed,
Sweeping the dead beneath the gloomy arch,
He thought he saw a living army's march ;
And then he would have follow'd, and defied
The sadness of his spirit in the tide
Through sick world-weariness. A feeble gleam,
Catching his eye's droop'd beauty, broke the dream.
He saw a targe among the sedges thrown,
It bore a diamond cypher—'twas his own!
Then, like the sudden lifting of a shroud,
Or the night's awful countenance when the cloud

For the First Part, sec No. XII. for December, 1920, vol. ii. p. 618.

Melts in the wind-the fearful past was clear.
Upon that champaign, morn had seen him rear
His royal banner for the Persian throne,
The banner that the evening saw undone.
Press'd to that bank, and cumber'd with the dead,
He made his final desperate stand, and shed,
Till spear and shaft were gone, the Turkman's gore;
Then plunged within the stream, and felt no more.
But softer memories came: he ask'd the wave
For what sweet vale beyond it left the cave.
Along the mountain ridge he strain'd his eyes,
And thought upon his Peri Paradise !

He stood alone ;-the satrap and the slave
Lay round him: What was earth ? A mightier grave!
He wander'd like the final wreck of man.
The jackall, with his jaws gore-dripping, ran
Sporting around the wanderer in wild rings:
The vulture on the corpse upraised his wings,
Then, cower'd again upon his ghastly food :
The wolf glared on the man of solitude;
Then with strange fearlessness, that seem'd to feel
A ruin'd presence, tore his way through steel,
And gorged upon his check'd repast of blood.

The mists rolld off; the sudden sunbeams show'd
The heron-plumage waving o'er his tent,
That, with its tapestries gold and ruby blent,
Look'd like the cloud-pavilions, when the sun,
Grown old, reposes on his western throne.
All now was desolate its halls around;
The ever-echoing trumpets, and the sound
Of the imperial crowding chieftainry,
Were gone: he saw upon the champaign lie
Peasant and noble, mouldering bone by bone,
And felt in soul that he was all undone.

But plunderers had been busy there: the floor
Glitter'd with fragments that the victor tore
From the gem-crusted throne, and starry roof;
And blood was smoking still ; the sullen proof
Of the barbarian's quarrel for the spoil.

He heard a distant cry: the wild turmoil
Came near, the clash of swords, and shout and ban.
He grasp'd a spear, and rush'd amid the clan;
Their arrows shower'd upon him, and he fell,
Calling for death in mercy. But their yell
Told that they knew their captive. On the ground
They chain’d him, dropping blood from many a wound;
Then sprang upon their rugged steeds, and bore
The prince where camp'd their Turkman emperor.

Their march stray'd on through ways of dreariness,
Deserts of yellow quagmire, where the press
Of the fleet hoof broke up the quivering soil,
Plunging them bridle-deep. With desperate toil
They reach'd the Ghaut, and upwards urged their steeds ;
Rousing the panther from his bed of reeds,
And sending, like an arrow from the string,
The rushing eagle, that with turning wing
Hover'd above them, screaming for his prey :
They climb’d (the thunders pioneer'd their way)
Up precipices, plunged in cataract-streams,
Were lost in valleys where the noon-day's beams

Twinkled and vanish'd, like the sickly lamp
Hung in a watch-tower, when the autumnal damp
Saddens the night; at length their weary track
Wound upwards, till the thin and floating rack,
Surging in silver at their feet, was rent;
And downwards, seen through the pure element,
As in the bottom of a crystal sea,
Tissued the earth imperial pageantry.
There lay the Turkman camp: with chargers spurr’d,
And barbarous shouts, down rush'd they, like the bird
Of Himmaleh, the thunder-bearing king,
That tempests the still'd ocean with his wing,
And clouds the day-light as he stoops from heaven.

'Twas morning on the brow; but yellow even
Was shining on them as they reached the plain.
The panting steed was breathed; and fix'd the vane;
For now had come the hour of Moslem prayer;
And, flushing in the western purple glare,
Myriads of proud dark faces were upraised
With silent lips, and solemn eyes, that gazed
As if they saw a parting God. The Sun
Died in the west; the evening rite was done.
Then torch and cresset sent their colour'd rays

Through the tent-curtains; and the wood-fire's blaze
Show'd the rude warriors in their loosen'd mail,
Listening with eager ears to jest and tale
Of Indian mimes, that in their circle bow'd,
Subtle as tigers crouch'd; then clanging loud,
With lifted arms, the cymbals' quivering rims,
Writhed, serpent-like, their lithe and glossy limbs.

Thus pass’d they many a furlong, and the tents
Still cluster'd round them. The chained elephants
Lifted their trunks, and roar’d, as they pass'd by:
The muzzled bloodhounds set up ban and cry:
The dromedaries, flung their loads beside
Like stranded barks, heaved up: with eye of pride
And red, small nostril snuffing the cool air,
The Arab charger bounded from the lair,
His rider's weedy bed. Anon a lamp
Rose on their eyes, as when the vapoury swamp
Sends up its meteor, rivaling the moon.
Above the Sultan's tent that glory shone.

They reach'd the central camp: the centinel
Gave the more piercing challenge; and the swell
Of the chill breezes labour'd heavily
Through the thick crowding standards, that on high
Listed their folds, then sank them, like the wings
Of mighty night-birds. There in lingering rings,
Sitting upon their chargers, with their swords
Dropping from sleepy fingers, watch'd pale hordes,
Longing to see the waning of that lamp;
For there the chieftains of the imperial camp
Were gather'd to the feast of victory.

The captive's name was told: a sudden cry Burst through the proud pavilion ; and its porch Thicken'd with wonderers; and the wind-toss'd torch Glanced on a waving sheet of fiery eyes And swarthy brows, turban'd with scarlet dyes, And turquoise helm’d. 'Twas tenfold victory To see that captive in their bondage lie. Yet murmurs rose, and pityings, through the crowd,

« AnteriorContinua »