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Till warming up, by slow degrees, resentment
Began to swell his restless, haughty mind ;
And proud disdain provok'd him to exclaim
Aloud, against the partial power of fortune,
And faction's rage. I begg’d him to consider
His sad condition; nor repulse, with scorn,
The only hand that could preserve him.
Qu. Eliz. Ha! What !—-Said be nothing of a private import? No circumstance—no pledge—no ring? Not. None, madam! But, with contemptuous front, disclaim'd at once Your proffer'd grace; and scorn'd, he said, a life Upon such terms bestow’d. Qu. Eliz. Impossible! Could Essex treat me thus ?—-You basely wrong im, And wrest his meaning from the purpos'd point. Recall betimes the horrid words you've utter'd: Confess, and own the whole you've said, was false. Not. Madam, by truth, and duty, both compcll’d,
Against the pleadings of my pitying soul,
I must declare, (Heaven knows with what reluctance) That never pride insulted mercy more.
He ran ofer all the dangers he had past;
His mighty deeds; his service to the state;
Accus'd your majesty of partial leaning
To_ favourite lords, to whom he falls a sacrifice;
How much he feels from proud oppression's arm:
O1" jealous disappointment, and revenge. '
Qu. Eliz. Eternal silence seal thy venom’d lips !
What hast thou utter'd, wretch, to rouse at once
A whirlwind in my soul, which roots up pityK
And destroys my peace ?
Let him this instant to the block be led.
Upbraid me with my fatal fondness for him!
Thy envy'd glory, and thy father's spirit.
Accuse me of injustice too, and cruelty!
Yes, I'll this instant to‘ the Tower, forget
My regal state, and to his face confront him : Confound th’ audacious villain with my presence, And add new terrors to th’ uplifted axe. [Ez:it.
Enter Essex and SouuIAmrron.
Essex. Oh, name it not ! my friend shall live—he shall! I know her royal mercy, and her goodness, Will give you back to life, to length of days, And me to honour, loyalty, and truth. Death is still distant far. South. ln life's first spring,
' Our green affections grew apace and prosper'd;
The genial summer swell’d our joyful hearts,
To meet and mix each growing fruitful wish.
And what is death, did we consider right?
Shall we, who sought him in the paths of terror,
Shall we astonish’d shrink, like frighted infants,
Essex. Yet, still I trust long years remain of friendship.
Let smiling hope drive doubt and fear away,
And death be banish'd far; where creeping age,
I feel assurance rise within my breast,
That all will yet be well.
South. Count not on hope
We never can take leave, my friend, of life,
On nobler terms. Life ! what is life? A shadow! lts date is but th’ immediate breath we draw ;
Nor have we surety for a second gale;
Ten thousand accidents in ambush lie
For the embody'd dream.
A frail and fickle tenement it is,
Which, like the brittle glass, that measures time,
Essex. Such cold philosophy the heart disdains,
And friendship shudders at the moral tale.
My friend, the fearful precipice is past,
And danger dare not meet us more; Fly swift,
Of pardon to my friend—-of life and joy!
Lieut. I grieve to be the messenger of woe, But must, my lords, entreat you to prepare For instant death. Here is the royal mandate, That orders your immediate execution. Essex. Immediate execution! what, so sudden ?-No message from the queen, or Nottingham? - Lieut. None, sir. Essex. Deluded hopes ! Oh, worse than death ! Perfidious queen! to make a mock of life! My friend—my friend destroy'd! Why could not mine—- '
My life atone for both—my blood appease?
My bosom's better half, I can,—With thee,
I'll gladly seek the coast unknown, and leave
Ral. To you, my Lord Southampton, from the queen, A pardon comes : your life, her mercy spares. Essex. For ever blest, be that indulgent power Which saves my friend! This weight ta'en off, my soul Shall upward spring, and mingle with the bless’d. South. All-ruling Heavens! can this—can this be just ? Support me ! hold, ye straining heart-strings, hold, And keep my sinking frame from dissolution! Oh, ’tis too much for mortal strength to bear, Or thought to suffer!—No, l'll die with thee! They shall not part us, Essex! Essex. Live, oh, live ! Thou noblest, bravest, best of men and friends! Whilst life is worth thy wish—till time and thou Agree to part, and nature send thee to me ! Thou generous soul, farewell! Live, and be happy ! _ And, oh ! may life make largely up to thee Whatever blessing fate has thus cut off, From thy departing friend !
Lieut. My lord, my warrant I Strictly forbids to grant a moment's time. South. Oh, must we part for ever? Cruel fortune! Wilt thou then tear him hence ?—Severe divorce ! Let me cling round thy Isacred person still,2:11l clrastp tllegtrta my bosom close, and keep em <0, e a 15 ance. Essex. Oh, my friend ! we'll meet Again, where virtue finds a just reward !-;— Wherefactious malice never more can reach us! I need not bid thee guard my fame from wrongs ; And, oh! a dearer treasure to thy care I trust, than either life or fame—my wife ! Oh, she will want a friend ! Then take her to thy care—do thou pour bahn On her deep-wounded spirit, and let her find My tender helps in thee !—-I must be gone, My ever faithful, and my gallant friend! I pr'ythee, leave this woman's work.—-Farewell ! Take this last, dear embrace—Farewell for ever !South. My bursting breast! I fain would speak, but words . Are poor—Farewell !— But we shall meet again—embra‘cein one Eternal band, which never shall be loos’d. [E.rit. Essex. To death's concluding stroke, lead on, Li_eu~ tenant. My wife !—Now reason,fortitude, support me ! For now, indeed, comes on my sorest trial.
Enter Couivrnss or RurLAnn.
Oh, thou last, dear, reserve of fortune's malice!
Oh, com'st thou now to arrest my parting soul,