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Who, that had reason, soul, or sense, would bear it
A moment longer ? Then this honest wretch!—
I must dismiss him—Why should I detain
A grateful, gen'rous youth, to perish with me?
His service may procure him bread elsewhere,
Though I have none to give him.—Pr'ythee, Randal,
How long hast thou been with me?
Rand. Fifteen years. .
I was a very child when first ye took me,
To wait upon your son, my dear young master.
I oft have wish'd I'd gone to India with him,
Though you, desponding, give him o'er for lost.
- [OLD WILMoT wipes his Eyes,

I am to blame: this talk revives your sorrow
For his long absence.

O. Wilm. That cannot be reviv'd
Which never died.

Rand. The whole of my intent
Was to confess your bounty, that supplied
The loss of both my parents: I was long
The object of your charitable care.

O. Wilm. No more of that: Thou'st serv'd me

longer since

Without reward; so that account is balanced,
Or, rather, I'm the debtor. I remember,
When Poverty began to show her face
Within these walls, and all my other servants,
Like pamper'd vermin from a falling house,
Retreated with the plunder they had gain'd,
And left me, too indulgent and remiss
For such ungrateful wretches, to be crush'd
Beneath the ruin they had help'd to make,
That you, more good than wise, refus’d to leave me.

Rand. May, I beseech you, sir!—

O. Wilm. With my distress,
In perfect contradiction to the world,
Thy love, respect, and diligence, increas'd.
Now, all the recompence within my power,

Is to discharge thee, Randal, from my hard
Unprofitable service.
Rand. Heaven forbid!
Shall I forsake you in your worst necessity ?
Believe me, sir, my honest soul abhors
The barb'rous thought !
O. Wilm. What canst thou feed on air 2
I have not left wherewith to purchase food
For one meal more 1
Rand. Rather than leave you thus,
I'll beg my bread, and live on others' bounty
While I serve you.
O. Wilm. Down, down, my swelling heart,
Or burst in silence " 'Tis thy cruel fate
Insults thee by his kindness—He is innocent
Of all the pain it gives thee.—Go thy ways:
I will no more suppress thy youthful hopes
Of rising in the world.
Rand. "Tis true, I'm young,
And never try'd my fortune, or my genius,
Which may, perhaps, find out some happy means,
As yet unthought of, to supply your wants.
O. Wilm. Thou tortur'st me: I hate all obligations
Which I can ne'er return : And who art thou,
That I should stoop to take 'em from thy hand?
Care for thyself, but take no thought for me!
I will not want thee—trouble me no more,
Rand. Be not offended, sir, and I will go.
I ne'er repin’d at your commands before;
But Heaven's my witness, I obey you now,
With strong reluctance, and a heavy heart!
Farewell, my worthy master! [Going.
O. Wilm. Farewell!—Stay;
As thou art yet a stranger to the world,
Of which, alas, I've had too much experience 1
I should, methinks, before we part, bestow
A little counsel on thee.—Dry thy eyes:
If thou weep'st thus, I shall proceed no farther.
Dost thou aspire to greatness, or to wealth 2

Quit books, and the unprofitable search Of wisdom there, and study humankind: No science will avail thee without that; But that obtain'd, thou needst not any other. This will instruct thee to conceal thy views, And wear the face of probity and honour, Till thou hast gain'd thy end: which must be ever Thy own advantage, at that man's expense Who shall be weak enough to think thee honest. Rand. You mock me, sure | . O. Wilm. I never was more serious. Rand. Why should you counsel, what you scorn'd to practise 2 O. Wilm. Because that foolish scorn has been my ruin. I've been an idiot, but would have thee wiser, And treat unankind, as they would treat thee, Randal, As they deserve, and I’ve been treated by them: Thou'st seen by me, and those who now despise me, How men of fortune fall, and beggars rise; Āhun my example ; treasure up my precepts; /The world's before thee—be a knave, and prosper. ! What, art thou dumb: [After a long Pause. Rand. Amazement ties my tongue. Where are your former principles? O. Wilm. No matter; Suppose I have renounc'd them : I have passions, And love thee still ; therefore would have thee think, The world is all a scene of deep deceit. And he, who deals with mankind on the square, Is his own bubble, and undoes himself. Farewell, and mark my counsel, boy. [Erit. Rand. Amazement Is this the man I thought so wise and just 2 What, teach and counsel me to be a villain! Sure grief has made him frantic, or some fiend Assum'd his shape: I shall suspect my senses. High minded he was ever, and improvident,

But pitiful, and generous, to a fault.
Pleasure he lov’d, but honour was his idol.
O fatal change . O horrid transformation!
So a majestic temple, sunk to ruin,
Becomes the loathsome shelter and abode
Of lurking serpents, toads, and beasts of prey;
And scaly dragons hiss, and lions roar,
Where wisdom taught, and music charm'd before.


CHARLoTTE's House.


Char. What terror and amazement must they feel Who die by shipwreck!

Mar. "Tis a dreadful thought !

Char. Ay; is it not, Maria?—To descend, Living, and conscious, to the wat'ry tomb Alas! had we no sorrows of our own, The frequent instances of others' woe, Must give a gen'rous mind a world of pain. But you forget you promis'd me to sing. Though cheerfulness and I have long been strangers, Harmonious sounds are still delightful to me. There's sure no passion in the human soul, But finds its food in music. I would hear The song, compos'd by that unhappy maid, Whose faithful lover 'scap'd a thousand perils From rocks and sands, and the devouring deep; And after all, being arriv'd at home, . . Passing a narrow book, was drowned there, And perish'd in her sight,

scene II.] FATAL curiosity. 13


Cease, cease, heart-easing tears .
Adieu, you flatt'ring fears,
Which seven long tedious years
Taught me to bear.
Tears are for lighter woes;
Fear no such danger knows,
As fate remorseless shows, -
Endless despair 1
Dear cause of all my pain,
On the wide stormy main,
Thou wast preserv'd in vain,
Though still ador'd.
Hadst thou dy'd there unseen,
My wounded eyes had been
Sav'd from the direst scene
Maid e'er deplor’d.
[CHARLoTTE finds a Letter.

Char. What's this?—A letter superscrib'd to me! None could convey it here, but you, Maria. Ungen'rous, cruel maid to use me thus ! To join with flatt'ring men, to break my peace, And persecute me to the last retreat?

Mar. Why should it break your peace to hear the


Of honoe love? This letter is

Char. No matter whence: return it back unopen'd: I have no love, no charms, but for my Wilmot, Nor would have any.

Mar. Alas! Wilmot's dead; Or, living, dead to you.

Char. I'll not despair: Patience shall cherish hope; Nor wrong his honour by unjust suspicion. I know his truth, and will preserve my own.


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